Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Izaiah Repair Update

...this is a little complicated, but easier to communicate than calling everyone...

We took Izaiah to his first assessment with the cleft "team" at Children's Memorial Hospital today. It's been a long, long day with far too many details, as well as unknowns, to mention here. In extremely simple terms: they took an impression of his upper mouth, which they will use during the next few weeks to try to develop a plan for how to best begin the process of repairing it. So, no surgery date as of yet... we're now just in a planning phase. We are still hoping for surgery sometime in late January, but we'll see.

In a nutshell, the little round thing under his nose, which we call his "nubby", actually is 2 things: his upper lip (on the top portion), and his upper gum-line (on the lower portion), from which will eventually come his two upper front teeth! The problem is that this nub sticks out almost an inch from the rest of his existing (and healthy) upper gum line (which is normal and healthy on the right and left sides from the back, up to his canine teeth). So, we need to have his nub pulled further back into his mouth before his lip can even be closed. To accomplish this is going to be quite a task, which will involve surgically installing an "appliance" into the roof of his mouth, removing part of the bone on the back of the nub (to make it more pliable) and attaching it to the appliance with bands that will 'pull' the nub back toward his upper gum-line. Our apologies if this isn't clear. But anyhow, the hope is that after a few months, this will allow his nub to move backward so his lip can be closed properly, without his upper two front teeth sticking way out, which they will be if this is not done first.

All of this would've been much simpler had it been done when he was younger, but since the bone that holds his nubby has hardened with age, it will take some surgery and 'tools' to persuade everything back into place so that we can proceed as anyone would with a more 'common' cleft lip. The issue at hand now is whether or not this temporary appliance will be surgically anchored into his mouth with 'pins', or if it will be removable, almost like a retainer would be after having braces. There are serious advantages to either route (too complicated to discuss here), but we are praying and believing that the best decision will be reached by our incredibly competent and experienced team at C.M.H. Our two primary doctors, one being the surgeon and the other the orthodontist, have to sit down with the mold of his mouth and work their magical skills in planning this procedure. These two men have worked together for over 2 decades and we are so grateful that the Lord has led us to them, as they seem to be very interested, knowledgeable and prepared for the somewhat difficult work of bringing a long-term level of health and 'normality' to Izaiah.

Once again, we are pleading with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ to be interceding for wisdom for our doctors, the upcoming surgeries and recovery for our baby boy. This has been an emotional wrecking-ball every step of the way, not least of all today... and we haven't even had a surgery yet!!! And yet we know and believe that God is in control, and that as we place our trust in Him and ask Him to guide our every step, that He will continue to be faithful and lead us forward. We're also asking for everyone's understanding if we aren't able to return phone calls or emails. Adjusting to all of this is like trying to acclimate to life on Mars. And as all with children know, they consume every waking moment... even under more 'normal' circumstances! So again, our deepest thanks, and God's blessings on everyone who has shown us such graciousness and kindness. Please know that you are in our prayers. We'll update again when we know more.

Soli Deo Gloria!


Dr. Frank Vicari (Izaiah's Surgeon)


@ 1st Cleft Clinic


... a Little Too Big!!!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Big Day

This Wednesday at 10:00am, we will journey to Children's Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago to have Izaiah assessed for surgery(s) on his cleft lip and palate. Please join us in seeking the Lord for His perfect will during this critical and life-changing time of decision for our sweet boy, and that his surgeries will be scheduled quickly and expediently and will be performed with the highest level of skill.

Dr Frank Vicari comes with the highest accolades and experience, and we are just terribly excited to hear what he suggests is the best route to take to begin the process of bringing healing and wholeness to our son.

Our endless thanks, appreciation and prayers of blessing continue to pour out to all who are journeying with us along this incredible road.



Chilling' with Uncle Ry-Ry

Tubby Time

Monday, December 5, 2011

Post From Our Agency's Blog

We continue to feel encouraged as we welcome home more forever families. We rejoice with the families who recently returned home from China with their children and are thankful for the Lord's faithfulness to each of one of them.

America World China adoption3

We consider it a blessing to walk alongside each family throughout their process and have the pleasure to see the Lord's sovereignty and provision through each stage.

We rejoice with these families as they enter into the next exciting chapter of their lives!

America World China adoption4

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Alas... Rest

"Home, home again
  I like to be here, when I can
  When I come home cold and tired
  It's good to warm my bones
  Beside the fire"
                             -R. Waters

The Story Behind the Story

This is absolutely captivating!!!!


Bethlehemian Rhapsody

Wow... what a production!!!


Winter Dawns

Got our first dusting of snow last night.

2 Weeks Home

We've spent the last 2 weeks going through major adjustments and by God's great grace, we've come a very, very long way. Lily has gone from a state of deep sadness and hours of bedtime crying to spending the majority of her day with grins and smiles and going to bed without even a whimper... praise the Lord! She truly is a delight and is proving to be very curious and amazingly teachable. Adjusting has been easiest for Izaiah. He's been sleeping through the night for over a week now and is growing both in weight and awareness. Our pediatrician just saw the kids for the 2nd time and commented that "it's remarkable how much more light there is in his eyes than there was just 2 weeks ago". We're working with him constantly to develop muscle and dexterity. When he joined our family one month ago, he couldn't hold his head up in any direction. His neck now is strong, he's playing for extended periods in his Exersaucer, and we're now working on strengthening his core muscles and having him sit up on his own. He has so far to go to catch-up to where he should be, but with all the love, atttention and exercise he's getting, we're believing he'll get there quickly. Please be praying with us for him on his road to strength and healing.

One word we've exhausted recently: 'jetlag'. We were both quite surprised at the effects of this strange phenomenon. Extreme fatigue, sleeplessness, depression... all of the above. It took us a solid 10 days to really even notice a difference. We've wondered how people do the work of traversing the earth for a living.

To say it's good to be home is an understatement. We feel renewed with deep gratitude for the incredible blessings of everyday life here in America, and even just a place to call home. We're now looking forward to establishing new and necessary routines, as we continue to learn from and meet the needs of our new babies.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Update from Home

Life has been surreal and crazy since we arrived home, so we're sorry for delaying an update. We've had a very hard time with Lily adjusting to her new life here. We've commented to several people that this has to be one of the most difficult ages to adopt a child (as a toddler), since she's old enough to understand that she's been ripped away from the only world she knows, but too young to have any idea why. Sleep has been especially difficult for all of us, as Lily wakes up repeatedly throughout the night screaming and wanting attention. Shortly after she falls asleep again, she wakes up and repeats the pattern. As I (Erich) write this, she has awoken me and been sleeping again 7 times in less than 2 hours. This is leading to severe sleep deprivation for all of us (except for Izaiah, who sleeps his angelic sleep no matter how much noise there is). Lily is spending the majority of her days in a state of extreme sadness, unlike anything we've ever seen in a child this young. She whimpers and cries most of the day, often will not receive any consolation, and just wears a constant face of deep grief. We understand that all of this is a natural process, considering her circumstances, and we know that it will pass as she adjusts. But at the moment, all of this is being compounded with jet lag, the physical and emotional stress of the last 4 weeks, and other serious issues elsewhere in our family. We are pleading for prayer for this very difficult situation. We do have family and friends who are helping as much as they can, and we're grateful beyond words for everyone coming along side us. But until Lily can work through the stages of grief and achieve some semblance of normal sleep, this whole experience will continue to diminish our very weakened state.

There have certainly been moments of happiness. Izaiah seems to be improving at an almost alarming rate. When we got him 3 weeks ago, he was literally like a 'bobble head' doll, unable to hold his head up in any direction, was very weak and hated sitting up for more than a few seconds. His neck has already become much stronger and he's now able to not only hold up his head, but to turn it and look around; and he's doing it all for extended lengths of time. He also was not using his hands to grab or pickup anything, and is now doing both of these more and more every day. His spirit is just so bright, and he really is a very happy little boy, despite his continued sensitivity to external stimuli, especially changes in temperature on his skin. He continues to eat more and more all the time, and for the second time in 2 nights, he's requiring a middle of the night feeding, a very good sign that he's needing even more nutrition. We were shocked yesterday when mommy put him in his exercise activity 'jumper' and he thoroughly enjoyed it for quite some time! And Lily has had her moments too; yesterday she kissed mommy for the first time, which of course led to tears of joy! And she had her first T.V. experience with daddy as she sat spelled-bound and watched a little Star Wars, learning of the timeless struggle of the Rebel Alliance against the evil Galactic Empire!

So in summery, please pray for quick adjustments and adaptation for us all, but especially for our Lily Grace. Her heart has just been shattered over what she's experienced, and it seems to be even worse now that we're home (we feel that she senses that this is the end of the road, and so now she's free to grieve). We know and have not lost faith for a moment that this is the Lord's will for our lives. But like many things in life, there's a certain level of naiveté going into a something so different and difficult, and we're just a little overwhelmed by the emotional wreckage this all entails. But we also are convinced in the deepest part of our souls that nothing good in life comes easy... it has to be fought for. These babies are worth is. Adoption is worth it. And most importantly, our perfect, obedient, scourged, crucified and risen King is worthy and deserving of whatever He calls us to. Many of us who call Jesus the Lord of our lives are so often brought kicking and screaming into the Kingdom of God, as he frees us from our bondage to sin, and delivers us from our chains of slavery. And like ancient Israel, as He leads us from the filth and mire of servitude in our proverbial 'Egypt', and He brings us crying and screaming into our 'Promised Land', where he adopts us, shows us a far better existence, cloths us in His righteousness and gives us His Name.

Please continue in prayer for us, and that the Kingdom of God will soon become a reality for the millions of the worlds orphans.

In Christ alone,



Thursday, November 17, 2011


We're home! Too tired to post much at this time, but please know that your prayers for our travel were powerfully heard as the airline gave us an extra seat for the flight (which would have been a nightmare otherwise), and both kids did remarkably well considering the long duration. We're all emotionally and physically depleted and in need of deep rest and renewal. Please pray that we can re-calibrate quickly. It's 10:40pm and our bodies are telling us it's noon tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homeward Bound

We leave our hotel at 3:00 tomorrow, stop at the U.S. consulate to pickup the kids' passports (complete with brand-new U.S. Visa stamps!), then take a private van 3-4 hours south into Hong Kong. We'll stay at the airport hotel tomorrow night and depart for Chicago at 11:00am on Wednesday. Thanks to those praying with us about our flight. We've heard from so many people that it can be grueling. And of course, it's double our pleasure with two kids!  LOL!!! We think our plane is going to be loaded with many adopting families, so that should be of some comfort. We'll be fine and just all the more happy to see American soil! We had our big, final appointment at the U.S. consulate early this morning and took our "oath" with several other U.S. families, many of whom will actually be on our flight to Chicago. So as of this morning, after 6 years, mountains of work, 3 weeks of traversing China and a paper trail long enough to print a set of Britannica's, our adoption 'labor' is finished, we have our babies and they are officially Olsen's! Hallelujah and Amen!!!
This will probably be our last blog post until we arrive home. The outpouring of love we've received through emails, blog-posts and the felt-prayers of the saints has been overwhelming. It's been a tremendous joy to share this experience with so many people. We believe that as followers of Christ, we are all working together to hasten the day when the Kingdom of our Lord explodes into it's fullness, and encouragement and prayer are key 'building blocks' that the Spirit uses as He works in and through us, His Church, to the praise of His glorious grace.
With much love from China,
Erich, Jacquie, Lily and Izaiah Olsen
"Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying:
'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ,
 and He shall reign forever and ever!'
And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones
fell on their faces and worshiped God..."  -Revelation 11:15&16
"Thy Kingdom come
 Thy will be done
 On earth as it is
 In Heaven."  -Luke 11:2


Hand-painted for both kids on Shamian Island in Guangzhou by artist "Michael". They have the kids' Chinese and English names. Izaiah's has a tiger and Lily's has pandas.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brief Update

Nihau from Starbucks in Guangzhou (thank the good Lord for free Wi-Fi)! We had a great morning, visiting a historic house/museum with a lot of gardens and beautiful architecture, and bought a few gifts. The weather here is fantastic and we are really enjoying this town, but we're more anxious to get home with each passing day. It literally feels like we've been here for at least two months. Very strange indeed. 71 more hours! We're hoping to have free Internet at our hotel in Hong Kong on Tuesday so that we can make at least one more blog post.

"He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!". -Psalm 113:7-9

"In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." -John 14:2&3

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He's Growing!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Corrupting Our Daughter with Chicken McNuggets

Update from Guangzhou

Greetings from Guangzhou! This post has to be quick because we're paying by the hour... go figure, free internet everywhere in China, until we get to the American-owned hotel!    Though we have to say it really is a fabulous place and just may be among the nicest hotels in China; they've truly saved the best for last! It's been amazing today seeing all the U.S. families from all over China converge here in Guangzhou to finish out their adoptions. We were actually commenting that at the medical facility this morning, the Americans may have actually been the majority! We think there are probably well over 30 families staying in our hotel.
Our flight here yesterday went well for Lily and daddy and not so well for mommy and Izaiah. They separated us when they assigned our seats for reasons too complicated to mention here, but Izaiah screamed the whole flight and we're not sure why. It could've been pressure on his ears, though he was fine the first flight. We'll need lots of prayers for both babies, as well as us, for the excruciatingly long flight home. We had their medical exams this morning at a beautiful "island" location just a few miles from our hotel. All the buildings on the island were built as consulates for various European countries back in the 20's, so the whole area has a New Orleans/Parisian feel to it. Really nice, and at last, clean air! We've seen blue skies this morning literally for the first time since we left Chicago. We have our big appointment at the U.S. consulate on Monday, which will wrap up our paperwork and secure the American Visa's that the babies will need to enter the U.S., even though they'll be citizens as soon as we land on U.S. soil... a little convoluted, but I guess that's just how it works. Both kids continue to do better and better every day. It's been an amazingly long, trying and yet unforgettable and beautiful trip. We will never be the same. There is much to share with everyone once we're finally home. We'll check back just as soon as we can.
In Christ Alone,  Erich and Jac

Inside the Historic White Swan Hotel


Emma's Store!!! LOL!!!



Playing with the Kids! :)


Beautiful Day in Guangzohou


Thursday, November 10, 2011


We had a great day today. We visited a huge "park", which was really very beautiful, with a lake, several gardens, open square areas and stunning architecture everywhere. It was a clear, gorgeous sunny autumn day and was probably the nicest we've had in China. Our guide, Tina has been fabulous and very helpful in assisting us in adjusting to moving around with two babies. We made other stops and some religious and historic landmarks, and visited a shop specializing in porcelain, one of Jiangxi's primary cultural exports. The kids did very well today, but were worn down by all the days events and very tired by dinner time. We're praying for deep and restful sleep tonight. We depart Nanchang at 5:50pm for Guangzhou, where we will spend the last 4 days of our trip doing the American Visa end of our adoptions, before departing for Hong Kong for a night at the airport hotel. Then the long flight home.
Izaiah continues to eat well, and we believe he is gaining weight. He rolled over onto his belly by himself this afternoon for the first time, and we celebrated as if it was his first steps! He is a very happy little boy. Lily is improving every day as well. She was in much better spirits today and is extremely inquisitive. She shows great interest especially in things that open and close, snap together, etc. We stopped at a Nanchang Wal-Mart on Tuesday (YES, they have Wal-Mart's here!) and picked up some toddler Lego-type blocks, and she's just fascinated with them. She is very smart and is a bundle of joyous energy, and we can't wait to show her off to our family and friends!
Love to all.

Entrance to 'You Min Si' Buddist Temple


The Lake at Nanchang Park


Wednesday, November 9, 2011



Update from Nanchang

It has been difficult to find time these past few days to post an update but it is also hard to even know what to say.  We have had some very private moments as we all adjust.  Bonding is much more difficult than we could have imagined.  Even though we educated ourselves about the challenges, it is a very different picture when you experience it firsthand.  It's just heartbreaking to see these babies grieve as well as some of their characteristics that are a result of them being orphans.  Izaiah rocks himself back and forth, sometimes violently even, just to comfort himself.  We of course try not to let him do that as we show him we will rock him, but it is just his habit.  He does seem to be doing this much less though.  He is so very precious.
Lily has very different challenges.  When she plays with her toys, if she is feeling insecure, she will try to hold every single toy around her with the tightest little fist, just so that no one takes them from her.  We will work with her on being gentle and playing nicely with others.  We think she probably had to fend for herself at the orphanage so she has that survival spirit.  She seems to be very smart though and already likes to imitate us so if she sees us sharing and being gentle, she tries to do the same.  So very sweet!
Both of our children already recognize their American name when we call them; they will learn English very quickly.  It is an amazing but also tiring experience, for sure.  We pray every day that God provides our needs, sanity, patience, etc.  Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. 
Since we have been in Nanchang, we have spent most of our time in our hotel due to unfavorable weather conditions and/or not much to do around the surrounding area but it just gives us more intentional time to bond.  We did visit a museum and a historical castle and will go out tomorrow to browse some shops and visit a park.  It will be our last full day here as we fly to Guangzhou on Friday at 6 pm.  To us, it is just one more day closer before we get to go home.  Oh, and did I mention they have a Starbucks?!  (smile)
We need special prayers for Lily to be able to adjust to everything new and different around her.  She is still having such a hard time and has several tantrums each day, sometimes lasting nearly two hours, without exaggeration.  When this happens, we are unable to console her, so we just grieve with her and allow her to work through it.  So please pray that God heals her precious heart quickly... and that mommy and daddy have God's grace and wisdom to know how to care for her needs and love her through this. 
Much love to all.  Our hearts are longing for home.

...Nice Doggy!!!


Nanchang Museum


Ornate Decor Inside the Teng Pavilion


The Great "Pavilion" of Prince Teng, Nanchang China

Built originally for Prince Teng, the son of the Emperor of China in 653 AD, it's been rebuilt roughly 29 times. 3 levels on the outside and 9 inside, it is certainly one of the most impressive buildings we've been privileged to tour.

Pointing to Fenyi County, Lily's Birthplace


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thank You For Your Support!

We just wanted everyone to know that although we are not able to respond to everyone's posts to our blog, we read them each day and so appreciate the love and encouragement.  We look forward to receiving comments and/or e-mails from everyone at home, so thank you very much.  We have nine full days left here in China and are looking very forward to being home soon.  Love to all.

Update: Lily Grace

Yesterday was so hard for Lily that we are praying she has a good day today.  She did sleep hard throughout the night and is still sleeping at 7 am.  She needed that.  She cried so darn hard and really put up a fight when she was left with us.  Poor baby; she was just so scared but then she finally did start warming up to both of us.  She definitely has the fighting spirit of surviving in an orphanage.
We went to dinner last night and Lily ate very well.  She really opened up to us then and started to smile the most beautiful smile!  We have found that food is a great bonding tool.  She had a playful spirit and we heard her laugh.  We then went back to our room and tried giving Lily her first bath, which she did not like.  She did not want to sit in the water but would only squat down and looked afraid of the water.  We will be meeting with the orphanage director today and have many questions to ask including how they bathed her.
She did not want to go to sleep last night even though she was so tired.  Erich stood and rocked her and prayed over her until she fell asleep in his arms, which at that point only took a matter of minutes. 
Izaiah has been oblivious to our new family member and has been wonderfully happy throughout everything.  Lily doesn't seem to notice him much and is too overwhelmed getting used to us and her new surroundings. 
We have a busy day  ahead needing to complete lots of paperwork.  Please pray that our bonding with Lily progresses and that she will learn quickly to trust us and that we will have the wisdom needed to lovingly care for her precious heart.  Thank you so much for your prayers.  They are truly needed.  We are really starting to miss home and are now counting the days until we leave; we have 9 more full days here. 

Calm... after the Storm :)