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A Look Around Changsha

Marla, Reagan, and Me with the hosts BLOG

On Thursday we spent the morning at downtown at a festival where local artists showcased their embroidery, sculptures, and porcelain. We were led around by two of the students at the local university. These girls are going to school so that they can become embroiderers.

Attracting Attention BLOG

As we walked through the festival, I had wondered which was really on display, the art, or Reagan, Marla, and me? Again we were stopped quite frequently so everyone could have a look at the beautiful face buried in the baby carrier. We needed our guide Susan to translate so we could talk with them. One of the older women gave me a “thumbs up” after seeing Reagan. I am told that is like “Thank You” She was very sweet.

We saw some really outstanding things as we walked past all the different booths and even got to see how some of the things were made. At the end of our visit, both Marla and I bought a piece of embroidery. It is what the Hunan province is known for, so I wanted a small piece to take home and put away for Reagan.

This morning we had to go to the government office so I could proof read all the paperwork before they issued us the final adoption certificate and issue us Reagan’s visa. I was not expecting to get so emotional but as I stared down at the page and read what was written, I was envisioning our trip to Chenzhou…..her city, her finding place, and her birthmother who had to leave her. I have spent a majority of this week wavering between happy and sad. Happy that we have been matched with such a special little girl……….. but so very sad for the circumstances that brought her to us.

Walking Path BLOG

After we left the office, we went to Martyrs Park. It is a GIGANTIC PARK and in some ways, it kind of reminds me of Central Park in New York City. People gathered to sing, dance, and play cards. There were lots of young children there on a school trip. They were so adorable and caught our attention as soon as we walked through the gates.

Kids entering park BLOG

Kids entering park 2 BLOG

Marla and I went a little hog wild with the cameras today, it was hard to stop because everywhere we looked there was something so interesting. The people really intrigue me…… it is such a different way of life here in China. The first day as we drove down a city street, I saw a man squatting on the sidewalk holding a mug and brushing his teeth. I would bet that is part of his daily routine and is probably a common occurrence. I really can’t help myself and when I see something like this, I want to photograph it. I am not sure when I will ever make it back to China again, and I want to remember every detail and capture every moment that I possibly can so that Reagan might feel as though she has a little bit of her history…….her past and what life might have been like for her in China.

Card Games Men and Women BLOG

Concentration BLOG

The flute BLOG

I have taken pretty many photos the last few days and just quickly skimmed through to pick out my favorites. i Have not had a lot of time to sit and edit them in the way I would normally, but wanted to share them so you can see what we are experiencing.

coca cola BLOG

Motorcycle in doorway BLOG

At the water

Lucky Number 8 BLOG

RedBoots BLOG

Beautiful Bridge and Boat BLOG

Angry Food Vendor BLOG

Cooking the Food BLOG

Food Cart BLOG

It was a very cool day and extremely overcast. It really has been hazy ever since we have arrived. The sun peaks out every once in a while and then it disappears. Even though the weather has not been the best, it was great to be outdoors today. I think all three of us are going a little stir crazy in the hotel. We have had very busy mornings, but nothing to do in the afternoon or evenings.

After the park we went to “the friendship store” which is a big department store in Changsha. We spied a cute little restaurant and asked our guide if we could eat there. She had to get back to the Civil Affairs Office to finish our paperwork, but she was able to translate the menu and place our order for us before she left. Reagan, Marla, and I enjoyed a nice lunch and then we walked back to the hotel.

Once we got back, Reagan took her afternoon nap and Marla and I worked on downloading our photos.

Susan arrived back at the hotel close to 5pm to give me all of Reagan’s paperwork and certificates we need to take to Guangzhou to finish the adoption process. After we finished the paperwork we went out on the town for dinner. We had a wonderful meal and then decided to walk up the street to the little store and buy some wine to bring back to our room. As we walked up the street, Reagan was peering out of her little carrier in a way I had never seen before. Usually she snuggles up to me and will occasionally glance around, but not tonight. She was holding her head up high and looking around in all directions. Suddenly I realized that this was her first time being outside on the city streets at night. She had never experienced the bright lights and the loud sounds. Lots of firsts going on for this little girl this week……..and this mama too!

Unfortunately, we have not had a lot of opportunities to take pictures of Reagan out and about. When we are on the town, I keep her in the carrier. It is the easiest way for me to hold her and she really seems to like it.

When we get back to the room, she wants to be held and I am doing my best to do just that. Right now I think that is what she needs. She needs to feel secure and I am sure she is testing the waters to see how I am going to respond to her.

I was able to get just a few of her yesterday as she was eating her puffs on the bed. Another thing that she has decided she likes to eat!

Pretty Pink Polkadots BLOG

Still Sucking My Fingers BLOG

No FINGERS BLOG
I am really enjoying China, but the first few days have not been very easy. After 5 days with Reagan, I can clearly look back and see that Reagan really had no clue what was going on Monday when she was handed to me. Tuesday, she was downright MAD. She pulled away from me every time I held her and did an awful lot of crying that day. It broke my heart to watch her, but at the same time I was feeling so sad and sorry for myself. I wanted her to look up at me and instead she turned away or cried when I talked to her or when she saw my face. When I finally got her to bed that night, I sat here and cried to Marla and prayed that Wednesday would be a better day…….and it was.

Things are progressing gradually. We are taking little baby steps. Each day she gets a little more trusting of me. Today, she looked up at me and did not wince or pull away. She even let me kiss her face. Tonight when I fed her a bedtime bottle, she reached up and touched my face and looked me straight in the eye. She is slowly but surely coming out of her shell and getting used to her mama. I need to give her time to adjust. I know she is suffering the loss of the life that she knew and has now left behind. She does not understand that in the end this will all be for the better. It is so very difficult to watch her work through this. I have known for almost 5 years that this often happens when children are adopted after they have spent the majority of their lives in an orphanage. I thought I was prepared for it, but I was not….. I don’t think anything could have prepared me.

I must go to bed, but hope to update more tomorrow.

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  • Love Letters To China - I’m so happy to hear Reagan is slowly warming up to you. Time will heal…and soon she will be giving you those hugs and kisses I know you are longing for. You’re such a good mommy taking things nice and slow.

    Your pictures are magnificent. I can only imagine what it must be like to want to snap a picture at every turn. Reagan’s life book is going to be filled with wonderful memories for her to cherish a life time.

    Hugs…
    GraceReplyCancel

  • DiJo - Hi Lisa and Marla!!!! As expected your photos of life in China are not only beautiful, but poignant too. I think I enjoyed taking photos at Martyr Park more than anywhere when we were there during Chinese NY in February. Your photos of Chenzhou were so moving. Truly book worthy!
    I know each day Reagan is giving you a glimpse into her heart. And, I know sometimes it can be beautiful and heartbreaking in the same moment… You are experiencing the way God loves us all. Patiently and perfectly! Watching trust evolve is truly a miracle. I always say it is such a gift to see what love can do! Soon you will be onto Guangzhou and another step closer to being home with your precious girl! Hugs,, DianaReplyCancel

  • Patiently waiting for Chayse - Once again, stunning pictures! You are both learning about each other as the days go on and Reagan will definitely appreciate the moments that you have captured.
    ((hugs))ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - What wonderful progress you are both making…it does my soul good to read your words! China seems so interesting, no wonder its the only place my hubs wants to go for his 40th!! Take care of each other. Deborah from Scotland UKReplyCancel

  • Missy - I’m so glad Reagan is starting to trust you and giving you some good eye contact…that is HUGE!!! It takes time and each day will bring you closer together. It is such an emotional process you are going through and it will make you want to laugh one moment and cry the next. Loving her through it and letting her know you are always there will make her feel secure and loved in no time.
    Your pics BLOW ME AWAY!!! I could comment on them all, but instead will just let you know that I am LIVING for your posts and pics :) Have a great nights sleep! Hugs to you all!ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Hi Lisa,
    Happy (belated) Birthday! I’ve been following and I’ve been trying to comment, but for some reason I can’t get it to work (I’m going to be “Anonymous”-LOL). I’m so happy to hear Reagan is starting to come out of her shell. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
    Hugs,
    Michaela
    Orlando, FL
    LID: 05/24/06ReplyCancel

  • Jboo - So happy to read your update! Your photos and description take me there with you! What an amazing little girl you have there. I’m sure you are seeing that everyday she trusts a little more — so many changes in her young life. Enjoy your time in China!

    JanetReplyCancel

  • Teresa M. - She is beautiful–thanks for sharing your experiences. My family is starting this journey! I look forward to more posts!ReplyCancel

  • snekcip - Yet again another moving and wonderful post! That baby girl gets more precious with each post! Praying for smooth transition for that precious baby!ReplyCancel

  • Casey - I think that is an important point that it is almost impossible to completely prepare for watching the grief and loss for our child. And since days feel like years in many ways in those early days, it is even harder. Sounds like she is making amazing progress though… touching your face and eye contact are HUGE.

    Stunning pictures, Lisa. I SO wish I knew how to work a camera properly when we were in China!!ReplyCancel

  • Life is Like a Box of Chocolates - So beautiful! I love all the pictures of the people, the food and the various places! I think the photo’s of the kids on a field trip is just too cute!ReplyCancel

  • Truly Blessed - I thought I was prepared for it, but I was not….. I don’t think anything could have prepared me.

    That pretty much sums up adoption for me.

    So glad things are going well and that you’re enjoying your time in China. The photos are BEAUTIFUL!ReplyCancel

  • Special K - I love love love reading your updates and looking at all the photos!

    It sounds like Reagan is making progress. That’s wonderful. I’m sure she’ll be a totally different baby by the end of your trip.ReplyCancel

  • Debberoo - Just reading your post makes me cry. I cried a LOT in China. I had cried for what my daughter would be losing long before I met her but being in China, loving the people and the place so much just makes the loss so much more real. I think the worst was on the plane leaving Changsha, leaving our daughters Province, most likely leaving her birth family.

    I know it can be hard not to feel rejected but remember its nothing personal and its good that she feels loss (however hard and sad that is) because it shows that she was loved and well cared for before you. Trust me the harder you have to work for those first smiles the sweeter they are!

    Lastly, your photos are sooooo beautiful, I know life will be crazy for you for many months but when life is less busy I would so love to have copies of some of these for my daughter, all I have of Changsha are some terrible snaps!

    p.s Did you make it to the shoe dept at the Apollo/Friendship store?ReplyCancel

  • Debberoo - p.p.s I forgot to say Reagan is soooo sweet, love these photos and her outfit! Have you tried playing Chinese childrens music to her yet? Our daughter was very overwhelmed in the early days but she loved to listen to music and it gave us our first flash of her true personality.ReplyCancel

  • Jodee Leader - Wow! What an amazing journey! I am thoroughly enjoying each and every post! Your pictures are fabulous and I especially love seeing new pictures of Reagan. It looks like she is bonding so well! I am looking forward to your next post! I miss you!

    P.S. Tell Marla I am enjoying her posts too!ReplyCancel

  • Mama Zen - Spectacular photos!ReplyCancel

  • Patricia/NYC - Lisa, you captured China BEAUTIFULLY in these photos!!! You took me right back! :)

    You are such a wonderful momma…the empathy you have right now for your little girl and what she’s been through will help so very much when she gets older & starts asking those important questions.

    Baby steps, indeed…you’ll see sweet Reagan’s heart opening up to you more & more each day…bonding/attachment is a journey unto itself…and 5 years later, my sweet Kiara is still slowly giving her heart over to me and trusting more and more…ENJOY the process, it’s what makes it all solid! :)

    HUGS, friend!!!
    PatriciaReplyCancel

  • Bridget - Your pictures are amazing!!! I feel like I am in China when I look at all of your beautiful pictures. My favorite pictures are of all of the little children-they are so sweet.

    I am glad that Reagan is warming up to you. She just needs a little time to trust you and try to figure out what is going on. Your patience that you have displayed over the past five years will serve you well!! It won’t take her long to figure out how much you love her and care for her! Hang in there. Thank you again for all of your great posts and wonderful pictures!!

    -BridgetReplyCancel

  • Jonni - Lisa,

    It sounds like you guys are doing wonderful and I love the pics you and Marla took. Thanks for uploading them all. Reagan is so adorable! I love her cute little outfit and her hairbow. it sounds like you and she are bonding more and more every day. Things are tough while in China but every day she is going to get more and more bonded to you and you to her as well. What an amazing gift she is. Love you and hope you guys are getting some rest. Have safe travels to Guangzhou and I can’t wait to see more pics from there. By the way, Are you able to directly post to your Blogger blog while in China? Last Sept. they had it blocked I think.

    Hugs,
    jonniReplyCancel

  • Jenny Diedrich - my daughter, adopted in 2006, sucked her first two fingers just like reagan. i have so many pictures of her sitting on the bed with her fingers in her mouth and the same look on her face. your pictures remind of those first few wonderful, but sad days. she’s now almost 5 and that lost look is gone. she smiles constantly. congratulations, and enjoy. :)
    blessings to your family,
    jennyReplyCancel

  • ashia - your photos from this trip have been absolutely gorgeous! i l.o.v.e. the one of the little kids in the single file line. soooo precious! :) i’m so glad that reagan is starting to open up a little! thank you for sharing your journey with us! many blessings!!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle@BornInOurHearts - Another beautiful update!! Those children are just so adorable!! What a sight! I’m so glad to hear Reagan is warming up to her mama. Yay!! What’s not to love about her mama?!? 😉ReplyCancel

  • Wanda - Lisa, so glad to hear that Reagan is coming around. I know how tough those first few days are. And you’re right – we think we’re prepared but how can we be? She’s coming through it, as are you my dear. Very soon you’ll be all over each others faces.

    Again, I’m reliving Changsha with you. Just love all the photos that are amazingly beautiful, despite and hanging baby between you and your Canon.

    Get some rest lovey!! But post when you can. We’re all just eating up your words and pix back here, like hungry dogs.

    xoxoxoReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Congratulations on finally having sweet Reagan! I just have to say that these really are some of the most fabulous photos I have EVER seen! I feel like I am there then I see them ! Unreal- they are truly book worthy!!! She is going to cherish these forever as will you!

    Sounds like you are doing wonderfully with Reagan and giving her exactly what she needs! Can’t wait to read your next post! Safe travels!!ReplyCancel

  • Mimi - Hi Lisa, Marla and Reagan, another hungry dog here! I keep coming back too, and was worried earlier today that I’m getting addicted. But I’m not the only one! And I decided that it’s ok to be addicted to that sweet little face and your x2 wonderful photos.

    Lisa, you are a most wonderful mother. It must be so hard to hold back, and let her come to you at her pace. You will reap rich rewards for your patience and love. Poor wee girl is going through such grief.
    But it’ll get better and she’ll be a happy camper. I’m so glad Marla is with you- can’t imagine doing it alone.
    You’re making a rich tapestry for Reagan to see in the future.
    And finally, I too feel for her birth mother, and have been including her when sending love and light in your direction.ReplyCancel

  • Mimi - I keep forgetting to say Happy Birthday, Lisa. I can imagine how it is one of the best you’ve ever had!ReplyCancel

  • Colin and Jill Canada - Your pictures are incredible, so poignant. I love reading about your time in China. And your daughter is incredibly beautiful with her huge soulful eyes. Those two little fingers are bringing her much comfort right now.

    Time will bring big changes to this little one.

    JillReplyCancel

  • Nicolasa - Hi Lisa- first of all, GORGEOUS photos. Thanks so much for sharing. You are not kidding when you say there are so many things to look at. I am glad that Reagan is slowly warming up to. I am sure that must be really hard to work through. Thinking of you!ReplyCancel

  • Stefanie - REALLY powerful images, Lisa… keep on snapping away, you’ll never regret getting all those pictures!!
    Reagan is such a little beauty, and soon will be as in love with her mama as her mama is in love with her :)ReplyCancel

  • Killlashandra - Wow you’re amazing. Thank you for sharing all your wonderful pictures and your story. :)ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - So wonderful to see you with sweet Reagan with you! Your photos are absolutely amazing – quite a gift you girls have!!

    Blessings, AshleyReplyCancel

  • Number 6 and no more counting! - Thinking of you lots.

    Lea
    xoReplyCancel

  • Terri - I think I have visited your blog today about 10 times showing and reading your posts to my family and also showing friends at work!

    I’m so happy to hear reagan is coming out of her shell and I have loved reading every word in all your posts.

    Your pictures are amazing! I want more, more, more!!!
    I cant get enough!

    Happy Belated Birthday Lisa!!!ReplyCancel

  • Kayce - Fabulous pictures! Each one just draws me closer and closer to going back so very soon. China is quite an amazing place…such a different way of life and so beautiful all at the same time.

    Glad to hear all is going well with Reagan. I remember Jenny not doing much in the ergo for several days then one day she just popped up and looked around for the rest of our journey. Sweet memories!ReplyCancel

  • Football and Fried Rice - Gorgeous pictures of Reagan’s province! I am so glad that you are seeing things and snapping away so that you can remember them later. And what a blessing that reagan only wants to be held. There’s no better place for her right now!!ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Ankerich - What beautiful images of such a beautiful place! Some I would LOVE to frame myself!!! So thankful Reagan is doing so well and wants you all the time. That is such a good sign of bonding!!! I LOVE that she sucks her two fingers~ just like my Rosie!!!
    Blessings!ReplyCancel

  • Teresa - Hi Lisa I’m glad your trip is going well:) Reagan is just beautiful! I was in your shoes earlier this year when we brought Gabriella home from China…she cried and grieved for her foster family a lot and it WAS hard!! With Gods grace, and prayers from family and friends we worked through it…and each day things would get a little better. She reached a point about mid-way through our trip when the crying began to slow down and little by little she began to accept us…now my baby girl puts her little arms around my neck and says “I wuv you mama” and gives me the biggest wet toddler kiss you could ask for:) I’m praying for you and I don’t have a doubt in the world Reagan will be giving you those same kisses very soon:) Hugs and Prayers:)ReplyCancel

  • Life with Kaishon - Oh Lisa. This made me cry. She is so beautiful. And so loved. And you are both going through so many changes. I know you will overcome this time and everything will be much better soon. What a little doll!

    Your pictures are amazing. They look perfect. : ) If this editing is easier or quicker, I think you should do it all the time because everything looks magnificent!

    Praying your journey continues to go smoothly.

    LOVE her socks with lace : ) She is precious!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - I am really enjoying your updates. It is an amazing journey you are both going through. Enjoy your time in China.ReplyCancel

  • Sharie - Just as every adult grieves differently, our children do too. Reagan will get through this with your love and your help. It will never end; at least that’s been my experience with Amelia, but it does get easier.
    As I was typing this, I realized it really is like the grief I experience with the loss of my father. At first it was so hard I could hardly breathe…as the weeks went on I started to work through it, a year later it was tolerable, now 4 years later it still aches but there are days when I forget all about it, but I just went through his birthday, and I’m coming up on the anniversary of his death and those days and weeks are more difficult than others.
    This is so much like what our kids go through. Right now Reagan just lost everything, soon she’ll begin to tolerate the loss, then she’ll start to move on, but there will be things that will remind her of that loss – and that’s why you’re her mom…to help her work through them to help her understand that it’s ok to feel that way. Because you already seem to instinctively know just what she needs.ReplyCancel

  • Virginia - Oh she is as precious as can be! I’m so happy to hear she’s making some progress, slowly but surely. She seems quite content to “cocoon” in her little carrier..those things are great for bonding. You’re a great Mama. You already seem to know exactly what she needs, and you’re respectful of her feelings and you’re not “pushing” her…now all it’s going to take is time.ReplyCancel

  • S. - When I think back to how sad, sad, sad my little darling was that first week she was with us in China, it still almost makes me cry. When I see 18 month olds here at home, and I imagine what it would be like for them to leave everything they’ve ever known and to be handed over to total strangers – I am overwhelmed again at all she went through. Week 2 in China was like night and day from week 1. But it took probably a month at home before she could be around Daddy without being scared. Maybe you’d prepare Dad and siblings for early “rejection” when you get home. But she’ll come around, she’ll surely come around and love them too!ReplyCancel

  • Steffie B. - I have always told everyone that asks: This trip is not a fairy tale trip…it is grueling, it is hard, it is more emotional than anything I have ever experienced and it is BEYOND exhausting.

    You are doing great and Reagan is doing as well as she possibly can at this point. You need to get through a little more and then you will be on your way home….everything changes and everything gets better.

    Beautiful pictures….enjoy all that China has to offer!

    Hugs,
    SteffieReplyCancel

  • Kim - Another beautiful post. Your photos magically capture the country and people I have fallen in love with.
    And while my heart breaks for the roller coaster of emotions you and Reagan are both experiencing, it sounds like God is equipping you beautifully!
    Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,
    KimReplyCancel

  • a Tonggu Momma - You are right – nothing prepares you. Every child is different, every experience different, so even having adopted once before doesn’t make it magically easier the second time around. I am glad she is coming out of her shell, my friend. You are a strong woman, with a great friend at your side, and God watching over all of you. (((hugs)))ReplyCancel

  • Norah - Your posts are so moving and emotional, and they bring back such strong memories for me. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Dita - Another glimpse of this amazing country through your lens. I am so happy that glimpses of your daughter are surfacing and that slowly but surely the days are bringing you closer to one another. The bond is growing every day and these images and words you have captured will be a lasting memory for both of you!

    Miss you!

    xoxoxo
    DitaReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Hello,
    Your daughter is gorgeous and I have enjoyed following your journey. I was in Changsha 6 years ago adopting my daughter. I do not have the photography skills that you do! I would love to have a copy of the photo you took in hunan of the bridge/lake. Is there a way I could pay you for a copy of the image? You captured Hunan brilliantly. I would like a large print to hang in my house.
    polly

    pollyheb@yahoo.comReplyCancel

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