Wednesday, November 29, 2006

We are HOME!!

It has never felt so good to be home. Once again, I have no idea how many hours we have been awake, and I don't think I want to know. It was sad saying good bye to so many new friends who have become like family to us. We all have a bond that goes beyond understanding. I'm so thankful for each and every family. We arrived at O'hare to rain and thunderstorms but because of our huge plane, we were not delayed! (everyone on the plane cheered). We decided at the last minute to upgrade our seats to Economy Plus, and let me tell you, it was worth every single penny!! We had a whole row of 4 to ourselves, and a whole row of 3 to ourselves, with plenty of leg room. The kids were able to get some sleep and stretch out. Russ and I tried to stay awake to make sure Addison didn't roll off the seats where she was sleeping. We may have closed our eyes once or twice! :-) After the pictures on the plane, Addison is taking her first step on American soil, and is now officially a US Citizen!! We were so excited to have my Dad and Nancy and Lisa meet us at the airport. And we were thrilled that my aunt and uncle drove all the way from southern Illinois to welcome their newest great niece!! I love them to pieces and feel as if they brought a little piece of Heaven with them of my mom and Grandma Walton. (Love you Uncle Dick and Aunt Donna!!) Addison had her first ride in a car seat, and we are thankful we survived the crazy roads and drivers of China where we had NO car seat or seat belts! All THREE of our kids are sound asleep in their beds, and Russ and I are following right behind. I will try to update with pictures when I can, so check back! Thanks for following our journey, a journey that is not ending, but just beginning!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Our last day in China

It's hard to believe we are heading home tomorrow! It feels like this journey has taken forever, and yet it's a little bittersweet for this part to be over. I am anxious to get home, and to get settled back into a routine again. We think Addison might have an ear infection, she is still running a fever. Thankfully, we already have a dr. appt. set up for Thursday. Russ and I are coming down with some kind of cold. So please pray us through the next 36-48 hours. We had our final oath ceremony today at the American Consulate, where we received Addison's Chinese passport, Visa, and final adoption documents. When she touches ground in the USA she will become an American citizen!! For anyone that is meeting us at the airport, we arrive at Ohare on Wednesday morning at 11:35 am. United Airlines flight 0896 from Hong Kong. I cannot wait to get home!! I love this verse, and wanted to share it with all of you, giving thanks to God our Father. Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. We are so thankful for Addison, for our loving family, and wonderful friends who have shared in this journey with us.

With much love and gratitude,

The Carlson's Russ, Becki, Alyssa, Riley AND Addison!!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

One week ago today.....

One week ago, we had just met Addison. It's hard to believe it's only been a week. It feels like a lifetime. Addison is just a part of our family, and I feel like I have known her forever. We are all so in love with this precious little girl, and I can't imagine not having her as part of our life. God is so good to have blessed us with this gift.
Today was a much better day. Thanks for so many prayers. Riley felt much better today, and was eating again by supper tonight. Addison has still run a little bit of a temperature, but she is much better than yesterday. Today was a major shopping day, and it was SO much fun!! After we got home, Russ said "Addison has been in our family for a week, and she already owns more shoes than I do"!! He is now outnumbered by the girls, so I guess he better get used to lots of shoes!
Yesterday, Alyssa and I did a little bit of sightseeing with our group. We visited a folk art museum and a tea house. I think we have done enough sightseeing, we didn't have too much fun! I"m posting a picture from the tea house. Tonight after shopping, we had dinner with our friends Amy, Geoff, and their new daughter Sarah. The picture I posted of them, they are holding "restroom admission" tickets. Yes, you needed an admission to get into the squatty potty! Too funny!
And Mia Maria, and Claire, I posted a picture for you both, I thought of you when I saw the sign!!
That's all for tonight. Tomorrow is our last day, and I will try to post one last time before we leave. It feels a little sad to be leaving China, but I know it will be good to get home and see so many of you that we are missing so much!

Sunday, November 26, 2006


It was not a great day today, and sorry I have no pictures to post. Riley was up all night last night, very sick to his stomach. I slept with Addison, who also kept waking up and crying. Finally this morning, I thought to take her temp, and she was burning up. We thought it was just coincidence that they were both sick, and that Riley probably ate something that didn't agree with him. Unfortunately more babies and kids in our group are sick today, and more keep getting sick. We appreciate all your prayers for us, as we get ready to fly home on Wednesday. I'm glad Riley got it over with now, but it was awful, and I'm hoping none of the rest of us get it. Thanks for the prayers. I do have to tell you one quick story. We have not been able to get Addison to eat any food, whatsoever. She will have nothing to do with food, even though the info. we got says she likes baby cereal and soup, etc. We have been trying and trying to feed her food. No way no how!! So tonight we cut the hole in her bottle a little bigger and added some cereal to her formula. She chugged that bottle down! When she finished she sat up and gave us the biggest smile we have ever seen! We all made such a big deal out of it, we were clapping and saying Yah Addison. So she tried really hard to clap, and kept on smiling! My heart melted. Have I mentioned she is the cutest little thing I have ever seen??!! Hope to have good pictures and good news tomorrow! Will keep you all posted.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

We're in Guangzhou!!

Hello from Guangzhou! This is our last stop before we come home. We flew here late yesterday. It wasn't too bad, if you consider stinky dirty diaper, screaming for a hot bottle, and being spit up on, not bad.......!! I can only laugh! I'm hoping she got it all out of her system so our 14 hour plane ride home will go a little smoother. (hey, a girl can hope, right?!)
It has been nice to meet up again with all the families that went to different provinces. But we also feel such a strong connection and bond to the 10 families we traveled with to Jiangxi. It is an unexplainable closeness, they feel like our family. It was awesome to share such a wonderful experience with all of our new friends.
This morning all of the babies had their medical exams, and I use that term loosely, as the hearing check was shaking a rattle to see if she responded! We did find out that Addison is now 19 pounds (not the 22 pounds her last update told us). Russ spent the afternoon filling out paperwork for our consulate appt. on Monday, and I stayed with Addison while she napped. She has become a new person since we arrived here! It has been so fun to watch her personality coming out. She likes to be on the floor now, and to play with toys. She can sit, and is just starting to crawl. She tries to pull up on things, but she doesn't have enough strength in her legs yet. She also has a hard time controlling her head, I think she doesn't have enough muscles in her neck yet, either. It's sad to think of what her past year has entailed, but I"m trying my best to make up for it now in kisses and love!!
I posted a picture of the kids and I in Jiangxi with our 2 guides, Amy and Sherry. They were wonderful!I also posted a funny picture of a "squatty potty". I have so far avoided using one, but Alyssa has braved them several times! (by the way, it's bring your own TP, too!)
Tonight we went out for dinner to a Japanese restaurant. It feels sort of funny to come all the way to China, only to eat out at a Japanese place! But it was excellent, and worth it.
Tomorrow is more sight seeing in the morning. It has been nice to have the afternoons free for Addison to take a nap. She is a very good sleeper. Sleeps all night, and has been taking 2 naps a day. I won't complain.
Sorry I haven't had time to answer all the e-mails and comments, but just know how grateful I am to know so many people care about and love our family.
Will try to post again tomorrow!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving from China!!!

Happy Thanksgiving! It was not a holiday in China, today! We left this morning to visit a typical village in rural China. Of the 1.3 billion people in China, 75% of them live in the conditions that we visited. It was very eye opening. All of the babies in our group came from villages like we visited. It made me want to hug Addison closer and get her home. We took a lot of pictures, but they feel very personal for Addison, and I think I will save them to someday share with her when she has questions about her heritage. I think about the sacrifice her birthmom had to endure, in order to give Addison a better life. She was abandoned, but these babies are abandoned in places where they know they will be found, and then cared for. You cannot imagine how poor these people are, and the conditions they live in. And yet, they were the most kind, polite and content people I have ever met. It was very humbling.
We were also able to visit some porcelain shops today, which Jiangxi is known for its beautiful porcelain. I was able to pick up a couple of little souvenirs to someday pass on to Addison. For thanksgiving lunch, we were VERY thankful for some McDonalds!!
Before dinner tonight, our group of 11 families met for some time of prayer and thanksgiving. It was an awesome time as we thanked our father for giving us the ultimate example of adoption and unconditional love. Then we tried to get all the babies to sit for a group picture. You will see in the pictures we weren't very successful!! We ate together as a group at our hotel restaurant buffet. They had prepared one small turkey and were surprised when it didn't feed our whole group! Riley and I tried a few things, and finally settled on eating some chocolate cake and coke!! Happy Thanksgiving to us! ha
Tomorrow we finish up a few formalities of paperwork, and then fly out of here to Guangzhou,
our last stop. We are feeling ready to come home. My jeans are fitting looser, and I am out of M&M's.
Russ and I want to share how thankful we are for all of our friends and family today. We thank God for the gift of this precious little life He has entrusted to us, and we thank Him for the precious lives of our other 2 children. We are blessed beyond measure, and thank each of you for being a part of our lives.
With much love and thankfulness
Russ Becki Alyssa Riley and Addison

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wednesday in Jiangxi

Another day of touring. Today was a little slower. We visited a beautiful 6 story pavillion. It overlooks the Gan River, which is Addison's Chinese Surname (last name). I posted a picture of us overlooking it. It was windy, and rainy today. But it hasn't been terribly cold. After the pavillion, we ate lunch at Pizza Hut! Pizza Hut pizza has never tasted so good to me! I think I will lose a few pounds before we get home. Although my dark chocolate M&M's are holding me over (thanks Lisa!!).
About Addison..........what can I say? We are all so in love with this precious little girl. She has been a little fussy the past two days, but with all of our traveling, touring and appointments, her schedule is pretty messed up. It will be good to get home, and let her take some normal naps. I think she would take 2 naps a day if she could. She falls asleep while we are driving places, and then gets woken up. Considering her life has been completely turned upside down, I think she is doing wonderful. She has slept all night every night since we have gotten her. She loves to be held. She has this funny habit of when she is tired she will put the back of her hand really close to her mouth and then makes this adorable sucking sound. The funny thing is, she doesn't actually suck her hand, her hand is just close to her mouth. If she is upset, or if she is tired she will do that. She will drink a bottle if it is HOT! We were told this by our guides that the babies like their bottles hot, and that it will make them sweat. They weren't kidding! I have been worried to give her such hot bottles, but if they aren't hot enough she will cry and not drink it. She also doesn't eat any food. I am wondering if she was only fed bottles in her orphanage? It's like she doesn't know what to do with food if you put it in her mouth. We're working on that one! We took her to a play room in the hotel this afternoon, and she was very happy for about half an hour. (a little longer than her "happy time" yesterday). She made a few sounds, and was laughing and smiling. It feels so good to see her happy. She still adores Alyssa, and Alyssa has been great with her, and a big help. I've forgotten how much longer it takes just to get out the door in the morning when you have a baby! But I'm not complaining, I"m loving every minute.
I got some pretty funny pictures of Addison giving her goofy grin! It doesn't happen often, but when it does, we all just crack up at her! I also posted a picture of the "hair girls" from our group! Notice the cute piggy tails!!
Hope everyone is doing well, and looking forward toThanksgiving with friends and family. We all have so much to be thankful for.
With lots of love! Becki, Russ and kids!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Official Adoption Day

We had a hard time with our internet connection last night, sorry these pictures are late! Tuesday morning we left early to go back to the civil affairs office. Everything went so quick, we were in and out of there in no time. We paid our money, had our official picture taken for the adoption certificate, and met with the officials to promise to always love and care for Addison, to never abandon her, provide her with a good education, and never abuse her. They asked us if this child "was satisfactory to us"? Of course, we both said "YES!!" Then we left that building, went to one more officials office, and made the same promises, paid a little more money, and we were done! I don't think I realized the seriousness of the day, until I had time to reflect on it later. What a precious gift we have been entrusted with. Wow. God is so Good to to bring this little blessing into our lives. This is not a road I ever envisioned walking down, but when God stretches us, the blessings we get in return are priceless. I pray we can live a life worthy of this calling! Ok, onto the pictures (which I know is the only thing everyone wants to see anyway! :) ) The document is our official Adoption Certificate. Alyssa spent some time playing with Addison on the floor yesterday, and we saw the first few glimpses of her funny personality. She has been SO quiet, and withdrawn. For a short while she would laugh and smile with me and Alyssa. I had a hard time catching her smiling because she would put her head way down and then give this funny grin. I think I caught one good one. She makes this funny scratching thing with her fingers, too. Everything she sees she scratches at. Unfortunately, she does it to her nose in her sleep. We have tried to trim her nails, but she will have no part of that. We're trying!! I think that's all for today . Wednesday we are doing some more sight seeing. The day should be a little more relaxing then all the previous days. Thanks for all the prayers, comments and e-mails. They are definitely getting us through this time. Love to everyone!! Becki, Russ, Alyssa, Riley AND Addison!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Gotcha Day!!

Proverbs 25:25 Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.
What an awesome day!! It's almost 11 PM here, and our room is quiet! We left our hotel in Beijing at 9 am, to go to the airport. Our flight was delayed because of the "foggies", as our guide called it. So when we arrived in Nanchang, we were running way behind schedule. We stopped at our hotel long enough to tear apart our suitcases trying to find cheerios, a toy and a bottle. We drove about 20 minutes to the Civil Affairs office, and while driving, all of the families prayed together on our bus. It has been such a joy to share in this experience with so many brothers and sisters in Christ. When we pulled into the civil affairs office, there were vans dropping off orphanage workers all carrying babies. We were all so excited to see the babies, but then were told these were not our babies. We went up to the 26th floor, rounded a corner, and there was a whole room filled with babies! Because we were running so late, we went into the room, and they immediately started calling names for people to come get their babies. We were able to videotape one family getting their baby, and they videod ours. I"m so glad, because it all happened so fast, I hardly remember what happened! Addison didn't cry when she was first handed to me. I could hardly believe how big she looked, and how much hair she has! We had been trying to pick her out in the chaos of the room, before she was handed to us. We couldn't find her. We were looking at all the babies hands, and didn't see any that had the hemangioma in her referral picture. When they handed her to us, she was bundled up with lots of layers. She was holding a piece of candy in one hand and a rattle in the other. She would not let go!! She did fine for quite awhile, then she would look and see there was a stranger holding her, and she would start crying. As quickly as they took us in the room to get the babies, they got us right back out and on the bus. The official adoption and paperwork will be tomorrow. Addison cried a lot off and on when we first got her back to the hotel. We got a bottle ready for her, and she chugged that thing down! Poor girl was hungry! We went down stairs in our hotel for dinner, and she had some soup broth. I tried to feed her congee (a Chinese baby favorite), but she didn't seem to know what to do with food in her mouth! Guess we'll have to work on that one. Russ and I keep looking at each other, wondering if this all really happening, it sort of feels a little surreal. Riley took a little while to warm up to her, but once he got to hold her, he warmed up really quick. Addison learned the dropping game while we were at dinner. She would drop her rattle, and Riley would pick it up! Tonight after we had her in her crib, he came in to look at her, and said "She's the cutest baby I have ever seen". Alyssa is so in love! She cried and cried from before the time we got her, all the way until we were back on the bus. It was very sweet.
So, we are now in our room, the kids are sleeping in their room, and Addison is asleep in her crib. Supposedly she has a 1AM feeding, so we may be up again in a few hours. I"ll try to post as many pictures as I can. The first one is our last family photo of our family of 4! The rest you can just enjoy looking at. Oh, I almost forgot......her hemangioma is almost GONE! I can't believe it, but it actually looks really good. She did come to us with a scratch on her forehead. I think she has gotten into the habit of itching there, I"ve seen her trying to do that a few times.
We haven't seen her smile yet, but she is still the cutest thing I have ever seen!
That's all for now! Thanks so much for all the prayers and support. I have definitely felt them the past couple of days.
Enjoy the pics!!