Introducing Emily Grace Mei Venn

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Swan Coach House in Atlanta

Emily went to her first ladies' tea luncheon. My mother, Emily and I were invited to join my mother's cousins and sister for a nice ladies' luncheon at the Swan Coach House in Atlanta. Emily did very well. She was such a good baby. She was very excited about the fresh muffins and playing with the spoons to make us all laugh.

Home with Emily

We are getting adjusted and Emily Grace is finally go over her ear infection and she feels so much better now. We all had our nights and days mixed up for a while, but we finally got it together. She probably thinks our lives are boring, now, since we aren't in an airport flying somewhere every other day or touring some beautiful sight. Oh well, that's life. Ha I think that she likes her room and is amazed by all of her toys and such. She sings and talks all of the time (just like her mommy) She loves trying to walk and wants to do it ALL of the time. My parents have come each day to help since David went back to work and I worry about Poppy's back because he is the one that walks her all over the house. He is determined to teach her how to walk and I keep thinking that it is ok if it takes her a while because I know once she starts, I will be chasing her all over the house from that point further. (The upside is that it will be my new exercise routine) Ha Emily Grace is silly and loves to entertain others and make them laugh. Everyday more of her little personality comes out and We are totally in love with this little Angel!!

Flight Home

Our flight home was approximately 17 hours. I have to say that it wasn't so bad. I found the secret to traveling that far with an infant. Those of you getting ready to travel to China, be sure to pay attention :-) Ask for the "bulk head seating" and request the infant basinette (sp?) Emily was able to stand and play between our legs and the wall of the "bulk head seating" and the basinette attached to the wall and left us with decent leg room and allowed Emily to stretch out and sleep comfortably. It was our saving grace. I could then get up and move around while the baby slept!! I strongly urge those of you traveling to do this on your way home from China. For this reason, Emily remained content and never cried during the entire flight home!!! What a blessing for us and everyone around us. :-)

Hong Kong

As I mentioned earlier, The US was having some computer problems issuing all the visas for the babies. This problem affected about 1/2 of the families in our group, but David and I were the only ones that had to reschedule our flight for a day later. This created several issues for us. First, David spent tons of time trying to find us an available flight for that week and also we were trying to decide if we should stay and take it easy in Guanzhou with the other adopting families (the later group) or go it alone and head into Hong Kong and spend a day and night there. We wanted to see Hong Kong anyway so we decided on the latter at the last minute. David and I seem to never chose the easier route. :-) For this reason, we packed in such a hurry that we forgot several things and for that I will always be sorry. However, we really did enjoy Hong Kong. We arrived during "tea time." It was so different from China there. Everyone was so dressed up and everyone spoke with a beautiful British accent alone with their Cantonese. Their names were Agnes, Esther, and Angus and such. It was so interesting to be a part of world that seemed so similar to the last one we were in, but in fact, was soooo different. We were starving when we arrived and ALL of the restaurants were serving tea and tiny sandwiches or cake. So we had tea in tiny ornate cups with several several sandwiches. It was fun. The city was beautiful and it was actually warm/hot (except for the wind) We loved it there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Update: We are home!!

I still need to upload our pictures from Hong Kong and I will. The website that I use to load our pictures is having issues. If the slideshow is showing up very tiny, just scroll down a bit and click on "view all images" and you can see a larger version of the pictures. Aslo, please keep checking because I will continue to post new pictures of our little Emily Grace Mei!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Families and their new babies

Here are the idividual families with their babies. Not every family participated in the photo shoot.

Last night in Guanzhou

On our last day in Guanzhou, we discovered that the US did not have our visa for Emily due to some kind of computer hang up. This happened to about half of the families in our group, but it really only delayed David and I from leaving on the day that we were scheduled. We did receive her Visa the following morning, but it was too late for our flight. For this reason, David and I decided to spend a day and night in Hong Kong. We were due to fly out of Hong Kong anyway, so we just stayed there a little longer than scheduled. It proved to be better for Emily. She had been suffering from an ear infection and I thought that the extra day of healing with antibiotics would be easier on her ears rather than jump on a 17 hour flight home with an aching ear.
Nonetheless, on the last day we dresses our babies in their traditional dress and took pictures. Emily didn't feel well and wasn't quite up for a photo shoot.


Guanzhou is a city in the Guandong province. This is where we were scheduled to meet with the Chinese Consulate and where we were to receive Emily's visa to go the US. This is also where most families stay at the White Swan Hotel. We did not. We stayed at the Mariotte Apartments. Literally, they were apartments that were serviced by a hotel. They said that it would give us more room. It did. We had several rooms and a full kitchen, but no pots and pans. Ha This is where Emily visited the doctor and this is also where we visited Shaiman Island. The island was beautiful. It looked like Savannah Georgia. That island is where David's credit cards caught on fire because there was great shopping to be had there. That is where we bought Emily's squeaky shoes. They literally squeak with every step. She laughs out loud with each step. It is too cute!!!

More about the village

Mary, our guide, was the one who thought that it would be beneficial for us all to see a village similar to one from which our daughters came. She told us her heart-felt story. She, herself, came from "the village" and in her words...she made it out. She was the only one in her village to ever go to college. She said that it is so hard for a child born inside "the village" to find the resources to go to college or to ever have any guidance to do so for that matter. She also told about how hard it was for the families in the village to deal with the one child rule in China. I had heard that the rule had been lifted to help encourage families to keep their daughters, but she said that the rule continues. She also said that families in the rural area that had tried to ignore the rule and couldn't afford to pay the tax required to keep a second child had their homes taken from them. She said that they have reluctantly complied with this rule. Most babies that are abandoned in China come from the rural areas since they need males to help on the farm. She expressed her gratitude to us for traveling half way around the world to aquire these sweet babies to give them a future. She talked highly about their chances for a quality education. It was very moving.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rural Chinese Village

While in Nanchang, we visited a rural Chinese Village. The people who lived here were mostly farmers. We visited the village because our tour guides wanted us to see a village similar to the ones from which our daughters most likely came. Emily Grace's village could be just like the one in the following pictures or slightly better or even slightly worse. The experience was very moving and very emotional for all of us. Also, since our groups daughters were all in foster care, our daughters were probably living in villages like this one until the day that we got them all. We were given the chance to visit inside their homes and interact with the villagers. It was very much like being in the middle of a National Geographic documentary. The villages have power only to supply lighting, but that is it. They do not have central heat or air. They do not even have doors on their houses. They pretty much have two to three rooms per house. Most of the homes have concrete floors but some have dirt, but even the ones with conrete, the floors are very dirty. They do not have indoor plumbing and the outhouses are used by all that live in the village. Chickens walk freely through out the homes and pigs and ducks and such are kept in cages just outside of the home so the meat is very fresh. They have well pumps for their water which are centrally located for all who live there. We arrived at lunch time and all of the homes were cooking and it smelled amazing. The people were very kind and friendly. They were all clean and very covered in several layers of clothes since it was so cold. Now, I know why Emily was dressed so warmly when we got her. She had just left her village the day we got her. The smell of that morning's cooked breakfast still lingered in her clothes. I cried a lot on that tour to think of how she had been living for her first 13 months, but conversly I do know that she was happy there. It is clear that she was well loved and happy. Who am I to think that she has a it better now? Love is love!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Cute Pictures of Emily Grace

Here are a few cute pics of our sweet little Angel. We are totally in love with her!!!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Happy Easter!

Today we celebrated Emily's first Easter with us. The Easter bunny also visits kids in China as Emily was treated to a white chocolate egg and chick treat as well as her very own pair of Easter bunny ears. Happy to Easter to all of our family and friends!

Interesting Dinner with Friends...

We went to dinner last night with some good friends from our group. It was an authentic Chinese restaurant that had some very interesting choices on the menu. Some of the items served were boiled chicken claws, stir fried pig intestines, barbecued baby pig, sauteed beef tongue with onion, ox tail soup and braised fish intestines with egg in clay pot. Yummy! Actually, the food was excellent! We had the seafood dumplings (safe choice) and our friend Julia tried the boiled chicken claws and, go figure, she said that it tasted like chicken!

Emily goes to the doctor in China

All of the babies in our group went to the doctor to receive a final checkup. It was very basic and included height and weight measurements, temperatures, and ear, nose and throat testing. Everything checked out fine, however Emily did not like being poked and prodded at all.

Emily walking (or trying to)...

Nothing brings a smile to Emily's face more than her trying to walk! We walk back in forth in the hotel room over and over again each day and night trying to help her develop her muscles and balance. She is getting the hang of this walking thing pretty quickly and expect her to be able to walk on her own very soon. Also, we have a picture of many of the families in our group with their babies all eating breakfast at the hotel.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Amy's Birthday in China (April 8th)

Today was Amy's birthday and what a better way to celebrate than with a new baby girl! We are in Guangzhou which is a very international city. The people speak Cantonese and eat Cantonese food which is a little different than the other parts of China that we have stayed. We toured a museum today and also went to a Chinese Tea House. I surprised Amy and had the Tea House treat everyone to dessert in honor of Amy's birthday. It was a great day!

Saturday, April 7, 2007


We loved Nanchang as well. In Nanchang, we obviously met our beautiful baby, but we enjoyed the city too. We would take frequent strolls throughout the city and talk with the people and enjoy the culture. David and I made these walks with our new good friends, Phil, Julia and their new baby Dora. We all loved meeting and talking with the people. We also went to a rural village just outside the city that should be similar to the villages from which our daughters came. It was one of the most interesting experiences of our lives.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

About Emily Grace Mei

We have already nicknamed Emily "Our Asian Tiger" as she definitey has spirit. She is very independent and inquisitive and has quite the temper when she is hungry or tired. Every day gets better, but the "tiger" still roars occasionaly! Emily is the tiniest baby in our group and weighed approximately 16.5 lbs. when we got her. We expect that to change very soon as she has never met a piece of food that she does not like! She eats more than we do at a sitting. Although she is the tiniest baby in our group, her feet and toes are very big. She is in 9 month clothing, but wears a size 03 infant shoe. We think she is going to be tall just like her mom. We know that God has blessed us with the perfect baby and could not be more pleased! She is attaching well and every day gets even better. Recently, we went for a walk in Nanchang which was really cool! Many of the people came up to us and told us in broken English that they had never seen a westerner before. They all were very nice and friendly. They call America the "Beautiful Country" and all wish that some day they could travel to America. The children all followed us around town and talked to us. It was a wonderful experience.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Gotcha Day

Monday, April 2nd was our "Gotcha Day" which is the day that we finally met our beautiful baby girl, Emily Grace! What an amazing and emotional experience! We found out that Emily was with her foster mother literally up until minutes before we got her. She has been grieving the loss of her foster mother heavily. She cries for her "Na Na" (grandmother in Chinese) over and over and it breaks out heart for her. We are so happy and can't believe that we are finally parents! Each hour is a little better than the last. The first couple of hours were extremely trying as she was inconsolible. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We will include more posts and pictures in the coming days.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Great Wall

Today, we visited the Great Wall!! Wow!! It was incredible!!! It was still cold and windy, but we still had a great time. It is more amazing in person than any photo ever seen. I didn't realize that the steps were going to be that steep. I tried to take pictures of them so everyone at home could really see. Going up the steps wasn't as fearful as coming down. Did I mention how really old these steps were? Restoration can only do so much. Did you knwo that the great wall is 4500 miles long? I can't even imagine traveling the length of such a wall. We also, went to a jade factory and learned about jade jewlery and how really expensive good quality jade really is. After having a real Peking Duck dinner, we went to a Chinese Acrobat show. WOW!!! It was fantastic. These people can contort their bodies into more directions than I can even bother to imagine. Tomorrow is GOTCHA DAY!!! We should meet Emily Grace around 3:30-4:00 pm. Pray for us!! This will be a day full of emotion for us all. More tomorrow...