Last night marked our one month home all together. Hard to believe and yet it also seems so long ago. So much has changed in that time. Katie Ann became a U.S. Citizen when we landed on American soil. She has learned to feed herself with her fingers, babble different sounds, and move about on her own & in better ways. 

We continue to marvel at what the Lord has done. Praying we would be faithful to His call & for wisdom in the task of parenting. 

Here’s our latest picture of Katie Ann. Thank you to our sweet friends the Wickershams for the gift of this little dress for our little girl from China. :) 

  

I don’t remember where I saw it first, but I saw this idea where you could have wooden peg dolls painted to look like your family. And I thought-this is a great idea for adoption! A toy you can practice so many things with. Like-this is mama & this is dada & they go together. And these are all the kids & they go together. And put ’em all together & what do you get…? Joy! (Ok & maybe some fun chaos!) :)

I have a way super talented friend who happens to live close by & happens to already paint things like wooden peg dolls (though previously more for sports family art) and she painted our family for me before we went to China! So I took them with us! And we get them out some & we start talking about family. And what ours (now hers) looks like. So here we are…the wooden peg Hagemeiers (note-Will is a tad short due to my hurry…):

  
Pretty fun, huh?! Thanks Michelle Gray! We LOVE them!! 

If anyone is ever interested in this for yourself or a gift for someone else-let me know & I’ll get her contact information to you!

Today marks one month that Katie Ann has been in our family. One month ago she was a child waiting for a family to love & to be loved. I think about the other children we saw at her orphanage that were still waiting. And I wonder about them. Are they still waiting? I bet some of them have families coming. Do they all? And honestly I sorta wanna protect my heart from hurting…to think & hope they all have families. But daggonit. Reality. But there’s hope! Maybe more families will choose to go & adopt them! Maybe it’s you?… 

Adoption is not glamorous. It is not easy. It is not quick. It is not cheap. It costs lots of time & lots of money & lots of effort. But it is beautiful. It is an experiential picture of redemption. And I am so grateful for our family’s journey through adoption thus far. 

This is a picture that was taken on Katie Ann’s Gotcha Day. 

 
I’d love to tell you that we were immediately attached. But that wasn’t the case for us. In all raw honesty-Nick & I were terrified in this moment. All the “what ifs” came flooding in & freezing my mind in an almost paralyzed state. As always, the Lord provided. We prayed and prayed. And the peace that surpasses understanding came over us. We knew that the future would still be uncertain (as it is for all our children), but we had confidence that we had acted on the call to adopt one of His children and that he would provide what we need along the way. 

And He has. So much grace has surrounded our family in the past month…

Our family coming & cleaning our home top to bottom & doing all our laundry when we returned. 

Meals. Food that has nourished our family in the past weeks from family & friends. 

Our kids’ friends inviting them to play for a well-needed break for them. 

Cards & notes of encouragement. 

Therapy friends giving advice on how to begin helping Katie Ann find her groove. 

And more…more than I can write. And I’m so thankful for all of you & the care you have shown our family. 

The joy of watching her blossom-watching her little personality start to show…AND the joy of watching Will, Clara & Fritz’s hearts grow in love & serving are an incredible blessing. 

Please know-it’s not perfect. WE are not perfect. But man…God is so so good. And perfect. And His love. It’s extravagant. 

  

I already thought of things I forgot…

Like the Tegu blocks pocket set is a great travel toy. Has its own pouch. Magnetic blocks with a variety of ideas online for different things to build with a set. My boys especially liked them. 

Here’s a picture of some building ideas with the Tegu blocks:

  
A cheap pack of glow sticks were a big hit one night in China. The kids passed them out to several kids along the way. Neat intercultural interactions. :)

Also-if you are traveling to a place (like China) that has different style bathrooms than we do-make sure you pack the lil travel toilet paper!!! You’ll be SO glad you did!

If you are traveling with children that will be drinking from bottles or sippy cups…one product that I used daily (not on the flight days-the days we were staying in hotels) was a travel dish drainer with bottle brush made by Oxo. (I also packed a tiny bottle of dish soap) So all folded up it looks like this:

 
And unfolded:

  

And with the brush twisted together:

  

It worked really great for us!

I forgot to mention that also in the kids’ backpacks were their travel journals. Only Will & Clara had them as Fritz isn’t quite to the stage of being able to write. They were pretty cool lil journals. The kids wrote an entry for everyday (sometimes lengthy & exuberant & sometimes short & to the point)… ;) There were also places for them to write at the beginning a little bit about where they were going & how they were getting there, etc. 

   
 So the kids’ only carry on was their backpack. Nick & I each had a rolling carry on bag & our personal item bag (computer bag for N & big purse for me). On the way home we also had the diaper bag as our airline allowed that for a lap ticket. In my rolling carry on I packed one change of clothes, 2 pair clean unders & a pair of pj’s for everyone. I also had a small pack of about every kind of wipe you can imagine-make up remover wipes, baby wipes, flushable wipes, Clorox wipes & antibacterial wipes for hands. Good grief-overkill! 

For the trip through security….Nick was in charge of electronics. For the U.S. flights we didn’t have to remove the iPad’s from the kids’ bags, but we did have to for the in-China flights. I had all the liquids for the kids & I which barely half-filled a quart bag. We also tried to keep things simple in wearing comfy, easily removable shoes, layers, no belts & minimal to no jewelry. I don’t believe we actually ever had to take our shoes off. 

I brought a chapter book to read to Fritz but we didn’t get very far into it. I must’ve not picked very well because he quickly lost interest. 

Nick’s tip is to at some point skip while holding hands with your child through the airport. :) We really enjoyed our kids. Most of it was really awesome…they are fun & cool people to hang out with. I bet yours are too. Go ahead-take them with you. Watch them grow & learn. And enjoy every minute of it. :)

The then-5 Hagemeiers boarded a plane bound for China to get our 6th member. :) Seems so long ago now. I prepared and prepared for that day for our kiddos as none of them had flown before and it was such a long series of flights & airports. With the help of a few friends & sister who had flown with kids before, I compiled our things to help our trip be the most successful & fun as I hoped it could be. I thought I’d share and reflect on some of those “traveling with kids” things we learned…

  
**Each child had a backpack of their own….to carry THEMSELVES. 

*this means it can’t be too heavy to carry

  
In each backpack we packed:

1-snacks for trip (1 quart Baggie with a granola bar, an applesauce pouch {we had NO issues or problems with security with these} some assorted candy based on each kid’s faves, & a couple all-fruit leather strips

2-Each child was given a quart sized Baggie to put into it any/all toys to be packed & played with. This of course means they had to be SMALL. And no toys outside that bag were taken. {besides the “surprises” that will be listed below}

3-an iPad {our kids don’t own their own tablets but we had or borrowed enough to tailor one per kid based on their interests} Each iPad was loaded with several downloaded books-we used the Overdrive App to download books checked out from our library for FREE, as well as game apps, music & a couple movies each downloaded from previously purchased movies via the Disney Anywhere App. 

4-Headphones in a lil cloth pouch to keep the cord from getting crazy in the backpack. {Headphones are a MUST on the planes as no sound can be on due to bothering other passengers}

5-A doodle/coloring/puzzle book along with a small pack of twist up crayons (no sharpeners needed or breaking, several colors, etc) & a couple mechanical pencils

6-a pair of earplugs (which we didn’t end up needing & I probably wouldn’t pack for my crew again…but then again there was that poor screaming child a few rows back on the flight on the way home that surely had a super hoarse voice the next day…)

7-a pack of Kleenex 

8-SURPRISES!!! This was super fun! I spent a lot of time in the months ahead of our trip shopping for fun tiny surprise gifts for the kids. Something fun & new to occupy their time when you are about half way through a 15 hour flight that feels like it may never end… Examples: a void Rubik’s cube for Will, lil angry birds transformers for Fritz & tiny Lalaloopsy sisters dolls for Clara. I had a tiny surprise for them on the long flights to & from China & one for midway through the trip. 

8-a neck pillow. With a snap at the front! This way it can snap onto a place on the outside of the backpack & not have to fit inside. 

9-a small special blankie. Helps with sleeping on the plane. (If they have one/sleep with one)

10-their stuffed animal. Our stipulation for this was it had to fit in an outside (drink) pocket of their backpack safely without worrying about it falling out. 

11-an EMPTY Tervis tumbler with lid that went in the other outside “drink” pocket on their backpack. This is especially important for littler ones who are prone to spilling. A little turbulence and a filled to the brim drink from the stewardess can be a mess really quick. So the Tervis is handy to just dump the drink into, put lid on & a much more secure beverage can be enjoyed. 

I had a small zippy makeup bag that I put all our toothbrushes & toothpaste into (I moved the toothpaste to it after we got on the planes) to make it easier to take kids to brush teeth when we “prepared” for bedtime on the long flights. Going through a lil bedtime regimen helped signal to them that it was time for sleep. 

I also had a few extra snacks in my carry on bag as the plane food is sometimes not the greatest-especially to kids. I packed one cleaned & washed apple each in its own sandwich Baggie to keep it clean in my bag & to have a place to stash the core afterwards. I’m also glad we picked up a couple extra bottles of water before getting on the plane as it’s just so dry & it’s nice to not have to ask or go hunting for drinks constantly. I also was glad I had my Chapstick & extra packs of Kleenex as the dry air caused both our boys to have more than one nose bleed either on the plane or when it was NOT convenient when we were getting our luggage, etc. 

We also took a friend’s advice and had a fast from all “screens” one whole week prior to leaving. This made all the iPad things like-new again & gave a healthy break before so much screen time was sure to occur. 

We spent time explaining to the kids about security & airport procedures & courtesy on planes. We showed them how they could scoot themselves up in their chair by strategically placing their feet where the arm rests were on the seat in front of them or using their arms to push on their own arm rests in order to avoid “kicking” the seat in front of them. 

They were super excited about the whole thing- the plane rides, the destination & the goal-to bring home their sweet sister!

  

Sweet Katie Ann survived her first trip to the pediatrician. Bless their hearts-the staff really were great…it’s just a lot to catch up on. 

She weighed in at 21 lb 14 oz & was 30.5 in long. That put her in the 25th percentile for size for kids her age. 

She is of course delayed in her development & we have already got the ball rolling to start therapies. 

And before we left she received a finger stick blood “draw” to check blood work, a TB skin stick & 3 immunization shots in her sweet chubby thighs. Poor baby was SAD and so was I.  We go back tomorrow to have her TB test read. And we go back again in 4 weeks for more shots & again 8 weeks after that for another shot…and THEN we’ll be caught up. 

She seemed fine today though. But last night’s sleep had some interruptions and I’m gonna blame it on the shots. 

We did have one small victory today-she took a whole bottle of half apple juice, half water. We have worked on that for a while. Every time she’d see that the bottle wasn’t white, but clearish, she’s push it away. Refusing to even put her lips on it to try it. And she’s been struggling with constipation so we really want her to drink some water. 

If you’d like to pray for us-we’d love prayer for Katie Ann’s water intake to improve & her tummy to adjust to our food, for continued good rest, patience for teaching her things & continued bonding & attachment. (That is going well by the way!) :) 

Thanks friends!

We’ve been working hard on adjusting to the time change. The 2 biggest kids got to go to school for a couple days. They were excited to see their friends & teachers & share about their trip. Clara participated in the school talent show in the hula hoop group. She was terrific & showed some serious hula hoopin’ skills. 

 
Katie Ann ate her first corn on the cob this week & thought it was pretty tasty. Lucky for her, God picked Grandpa Charley to be her grandpa. :)

 
The boys got some super fun time in with some of their friends while we girls had our first girl date to Tupelo for desserts & drinks. We tried the pecan pie, banana pudding (KA’s new fave), root beer float for C & sparkling blueberry punch to share. 

  

Tomorrow morning I’ll take KA for her first pediatrician check up. And I think there’ll be immunizations… Poor baby. Part of it. 
It really has been such a blessing already to see small gains in different areas of her development. She’s babbling so much more, eating more foods, standing better… Little things. That can turn into big things. And she’s a little thing that has our hearts. 💗 

 

 
We are so thankful to be home. ALL TOGETHER. It was a long journey from Guangzhou China to Johnson City, TN. About 31 hours in total. Sooo glad those hours are done. And happy to be sleeping in our own beds. Well…attempting sleep. Jet lag is for REAL. And really hard. 

Thank you so much for your outpouring of love & support through this part of the journey…the going. We appreciate the sweet notes & comments and enjoy reading each one. Thank you!!

If you would like to pray for us – a few specific requests would be for good sleep, for all to adjust soon to the time zone we live in, for the big kids as they enjoy their last couple days of school & for our family to continue to bond together & find our new “normal”. 

Thank you friends! Will write more later as we (have more energy) & continue to process what we saw & experienced in China & through adoption. 

We’re anxious to get home and honestly a little overwhelmed by the 15+ hour flight from Hong Kong tomorrow.  We head out from our hotel at 6am, drive in a van 3 hours to Hong Kong, do the customs thing and then head US way at 1:30pm. So we start heading your way at 6pm Thursday your time and should arrive home around midnight Friday your time. Whewee. We’re blessed to have parents heading to TN to make the transition easier. Prayers for safe travels and for the kids to handle it ok would be wonderful. 

Today was pretty low key. We slept in, ate breakfast, got group pics taken at 10:30, had a departure meeting at 11, and then Molly and Will headed out on the town with Jason to wrap up some shopping for souveniers. Fritz, Clara, Katie Ann, and I did the McDonalds thing for hopefully the last time in awhile. After W and M returned, we walked around a bit, met with the group to get the kiddos’ visas to get to the U.S., and said goodbye to three of the groups who headed to HK or will be heading there earlier than us in the morning. It was pretty emotional. There’s comfort in having several others around you that are walking the same walk you’re walking. We will miss them and hope to stay in touch with them. They were all very gracious with Will, Clara, and Fritz.  Simply put, we had a great group. 

Here are some pics from today…

Us  
KA in her pretty dress  
The adopted kiddos in our group…  
The whole group…

    
This evening we packed, got some room service for supper, played some chess, watched some National Geographic, and prepped for tomorrow.  We are very very ready to be home!

Will mentioned just a few minutes ago that it’ll be nice to not worry about drinking water from the faucet. Little things that we take for granted  :)

KA did ok drinking today. Not normal but ok. The transition to non-sugary formula and/or no formula will be a toughy. We saved that for home. But she’s really broadened her eating horizons in a few short days with us. It’s been cool to see. She continues to get stronger and is more alert every day. We’re excited to show her cheesy grin off :). Now there are white teeth in her mouth as opposed to mostly black teeth 10 days ago. It’s hard to describe what some family love can do. It truly is a great depiction of what Christ did for us.  I knew that beforehand but living it has most certainly driven the point home.  Thanks again for the many many ways in which you have supported us. YOU have played a part in bringing Katie Ann home. And for that, the 6 of us are indebted and grateful. We will try to check in Saturday!

Blessings

The Hagemeiers 

I often wonder what’s going on inside Katie Ann’s little mind. Her world has been rocked. Sometimes she seems like she thinks it’s a pretty sweet deal. Other times it’s hard to tell. I think she’s young enough and delayed enough that she didn’t grieve much. At least it didn’t appear she grieved. But one thing has really changed over the last 9 days…her yearning to be held. She REALLY likes to be held now. If she is put down, she wails loudly and does that “not sure if she’s gonna breathe in again” cry. It really is exhausting to listen to and she’s exhausting to hold.  Plus she’s a hot little chick in a hot and humid city, so after about 5 minutes of holding her I’m a sweaty beast. But you can’t fault her…being held feels pretty darn good most of the time. Going without for nearly 2 years has to be life changing. Hard to imagine. So we’re doing our best to hold her and hold it together. We’re ready for home. I ask for prayers for Molly for peace and patience. And for me to know how to best help her these next couple days. Thanks in advance for those prayers.  

KA in her favorite place 

  
Today we got up early and went to the U.S. Consulate to apply for KA’s visa. I learned today that the U.S. Consulate in GZ is the busiest US Consulate in the world. They grant about 2000 visas per day, 24 of which are for kiddos being adopted. We got through the lines of folks outside, got our passports checked, got through security, and then waited like in the license branch. When they called our number, we handed in all of our paperwork and then took a seat again to wait to speak with an officer. A little while later, we spoke with her, she verified KA’s medical conditions with us and then told us we were good to go and could get her visa tomorrow. Pretty simple really. No photos allowed so none to share. 

This is Fritz with our awesome CCAI rep Jason. They were Twinkies today. Fritz thought that was fun :)

  
After the consulate trip, we went to a pearl market and to an 8 story toy and souvenier market. 

This pic is Will with the free pearl they gave him to show his class at school when he gets back :). He was way pumped. 

  
Kiddos having the snack that smiles back for a treat.   
The souvenier place was too flea market like for me. Kind of drove me nuts. We were hungry, wet from rain, and tired. Not a good combo.  However we were able to get several gifts purchased. Hope to finish up shopping tomorrow. 

This is M in the little dress shop :)

  
 We got back to the hotel around 2, grabbed some McDs and ate in the room. I ran 30 minutes on the treadmill and then M and C went to the jacuzzi. The jacuzzis are in the men’s and women’s locker rooms. Kinda different. The gent’s jacuzzi is out of order. Bummer for Will and Fritz.

This evening we ate dinner at the buffet place in the hotel. Fritz tried boiled shrimp for the first time. He liked them :). Ate one tail with the shell on before we could tell him differently :). Cracked Will up. These shrimp were eyeballs and everything. Made for interesting dinner conversation. 

We watched a little bit of the movie Brave and called it a night. KA would crack up when the other kids cracked up. 

  
KA didn’t do a very good job taking in liquids today. We’re a little concerned about that because she’s been a little constipated anyway. Prayers for good liquid intake tomorrow and a good poop are appreciated. 
Look forward to seeing many of you soon!  

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