Category Archives: China

I’m not gonna lie, this Chinese New Year has been a little intimidating. It’s the most celebrated holiday in China, so I don’t know, I felt like I had to go overboard by celebrating it. Thank you Jesus for grace. Not only was my wonton soup a disaster, but I didn’t even add the chicken in my chicken fried rice! I spent an hour folding wontons only for the pork dumplings to fall out in the boiling soup. It was still very good though. We ate on paper plates y’all. PAPER. PLATES. I said I would never be that mom who eats on paper. Never say never future moms because we eat on them often. Sweet P loved  everything and that’s all that mattered to me…


So I’ve learned a lot during this Chinese New Year, especially the fact that there is always next year to try again. 🙂 We did learn these things as well:

Meaning: Chinese New Year is the most celebrated holiday in China, with festivities taking place sometime in late January or early February, based on the Lunar calendar. New Year celebrations begin on the first new moon of the new year, and end with the first full moon. It’s 15 days and many businesses and schools close down. When the Chinese celebrate, they do it big! I wish we did that here!

Out with the old: Serious spring cleaning happens and it must be done before New Year’s Eve, not New Year’s Day to avoid the risk of sweeping away the new year’s luck.

Color: Red is the color of choice for decor and clothing. Red is a sign of good luck because of it’s symbolic association with fire, the sun, brightness life energy (the yang of yin and yang).

Celebrations: Firecrackers are very popular as they are believed to promote a change in energy, deliver new beginnings, and provide  protection from harm.

The Chinese Zodiac: Each month of the Lunar calendar is represented by an animal. People are said to be associated with the animal that represents their birth month and year. Traditionally, different personality attributes are also associated with each animal. The Zodiac animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. 2016 is the year of the Monkey!

**Edited to add** I get a lot of questions from people asking how we handle these things with our Christian faith. Honestly, I’m still not sure what we’ll do. I know that I don’t want Sweet P to grow up, start asking us questions about her heritage, and we have no idea what to say. I always want to be knowledgeable about her heritage because it’s who she is. We will always read her stories about her culture. As far as folklore that they believe in (dragons, zodiac animals, etc…) it will be no different than any other Frozen character or Santa…make believe.  

A few things we did accomplish were decorations: 

Couplets (red banners with words or art) hang over our doors and represent good wishes and well-being for the family.

Orange sounds like the Chinese word for wealth and the gold color symbolizes “gold” meaning to bring in good luck or wealth. So we put oranges out on our dining room table.

I saw another blog start a Fu tree, and I loved the idea. A traditional little Christmas tree decorated with Chinese ornaments during Chinese New Year. So we left our small tree out and left our Chinese ornaments on it.


The number one email I get from people is asking how we chose Holt as our adoption agency, and how did we like working with them. The agency you choose is the link between you and your child. You are relying on them to find the perfect match for your family so it’s a big deal! I’m here to give you some honest feedback on our experience with them and why we chose them.

Harry and Bertha Holt in 1955 arriving in the U.S. with their eight adopted Korean children. Image via Holt’s website.

We chose Holt International for a few reasons. One, because of their longstanding, 60 year relationship with China and international adoption. China highly respects them, and I honestly feel our process went so smoothly because of that close relationship. After 60 years, they know what they are doing! Secondly, Harry and Bertha Holt’s story really resonated with us. We love everything they stood for and how the agency still abides by those values today. Lastly, we chose them because of their great communication skills. I emailed a number of agencies requesting more information, and they were the quickest agency to respond (in less than 24 hours). Some agencies took weeks to respond, and that was a red flag for me. Trust me, during this process you want an agency that is quick in responding to emails! Holt is based out of Oregon and we’re in Tennessee, but that was never an issue. You can mail or fax them everything they need.

The only thing I wish I would’ve asked them was how they handle grant money. If you are awarded grant money during the adoption process, that company sends the money to Holt and Holt is the one that decides when the money is released to you. Holt does not release grant funds until after you return home with your child and the adoption is final (about one month later to be exact). This isn’t really a negative thing, it’s just not the way I had it planned out. As long as you don’t rely on grant funds before you travel, you’ll be good! It was actually a blessing to have those funds when we got home, since my hubby took leave from work.

So that’s my honest feedback. Basically if you are considering Holt, then we highly recommend them! We are 100% satisfied with Holt, and I would absolutely use them again. Don’t just take it from me, but pray about it and do your research on all agencies out there. Look around on Holt’s website, email them, call them, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. As always, contact me with any additional questions you may have.

find joy!




Today is a day to celebrate! One year ago today at 1:15 PM (I still have it on my phone) we received a phone call that forever changed our lives. Our adoption agency called and said “we have a file we’d like for you to look at. It’s a little girl, she’s almost three, and she has a heart defect”. Y’all, I lost it! I couldn’t believe what was happening. In fact, THIS is my face when she told me…

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 7.24.29 AM

Yes, I recorded our conversation as I did a lot during the adoption process. Many times I would get calls that I also wanted Casey to hear, but he would be at work. So I recorded them. The phone call was only about 10 minutes, but what followed were a million happy tears! I couldn’t wait to see her file and read all about my girl. It took what seemed like hours for her to email it to me. People say when you open the file to read the medical information before looking at pictures, but I immediately started searching for photos! I clicked on one, and there she was in that big ole pink jacket and little tiny smile. She was beautiful.

ClaireElayneI told myself I wouldn’t tell Casey until he got home from work, but I couldn’t wait. I emailed him the file, to which he quickly called me and said “that’s my girl”. I accomplished nothing that day because all I did was watch videos and look at pictures of her. I remember zooming in on every little finger, I wanted to memorize everything I could…

Today is a day to celebrate, because it was a year ago today that God introduced us to our daughter. Thank you Lord for blessing us!

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20

I have one simple tip that will save you a lot of time and sanity when you start the adoption process:

BUY A NOTEBOOK. This advice was given to me when we first started and I’m so thankful I listened. One location to keep all of your paperwork, ALL the copies, all the updates, everything. I know this information can be easily kept on your computer, but you want a place to have back-ups. Trust me, there will be LOTS of paperwork.

Don’t judge mine, it got messier as the process went on…


Here’s some examples of tabs I would create:
– Adoption agency
– Child Info. (keep a copy of your child’s file here)
– Copies
– Donations. We kept a list of ‘generous donations’ from people. It was very hard to keep up with who donated what, so having a list to look back on really helped.
– Homestudy agency
– Money (any checks you write, make copies and put here)
– Travel

Some other tips:

Make multiple copies. If someone says they need a copy of something, go ahead and make three. You’ll end up needing them down the road, I promise.

Buy some sticky notes. These helped a lot. Any letter, any approval, I would print out, and write the date on the sticky note. This really helped me with our adoption timeline I created later on. You can see that here. 


Another thing that’s nice is if you ever decide to adopt again, you’ll have a lot of the info you’ll need in one place. I hope this advice helps you. As always, contact me with any questions you might have. I’m here for you!

find joy!


Sweet P is unique in so many ways!

She was born with a form of CHD, a Congenital Heart Defect. Did you know 1 in 100 children are born with CHD? Our girl is 1 in 100! We 100% knew this when we accepted her into our family, but it’s not something we’ve wanted to share until we had her home from China and looked at. We’ve known that heart surgery was imminent, but her file was very limited and we never even saw pictures of her heart until she was home.

Her doctor’s at Vanderbilt have been great and they were very pleased with how her heart looked. Without going into much detail, they said that everything can be corrected during surgery. This is an answer to prayer!!! I can’t express to you how much of a relief this is! Bringing her home and having no idea what her heart looked like was scary.

So why are we sharing this? We need prayer warriors for our little heart warrior! Her surgery is scheduled for this Wednesday! A few ways that you can specifically pray are for the staff, nurses, and doctors. That she understands a little of what will be happening and isn’t totally blindsided. And of course for her, her heart, and a quick recovery!

Can you imagine? Traveling to China, adjusting to life with a toddler who is also grieving, then your baby having heart surgery all within a matter of 4 months? We’re weary y’all and I cry often… I’m not gonna lie. Surprisingly, I have such a God-given peace about the surgery itself. We’ve been preparing and praying for this since the day we received her health information from our adoption agency.

This is all so hard and difficult, but guess what??!

God is the author of my daughter’s life. He is the great healer, the prince of peace, our shield, our protector, our strength, light, and JOY. He is our refuge, rockhope, fortress, and strong tower. He is love. How anyone could go through something like this without Him is difficult to understand. I hope you know Him. If you don’t, reach out to me and I will be happy to tell you more about my Jesus. His love is free, and his grace and mercy are everlasting. 

Please say a special prayer for Sweet P this Wednesday, October 28th, the day of her surgery. We will be sure to keep everyone updated. We love you all!

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3


Photo by: Brittany Conner Photography