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Darby Stickler  In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus. owner:@honey_bee_tees | Dothan, AL | kids | bees | chickens | adoption | spin® 🚴🏻‍♀️ | #moonpiestickler


We had about 15 hours of bliss together at home when I got hit with a high fever 🤒, I knew it was more than jet lag and drove myself to my doctor’s office 7:30 Monday morning begging for a walk in appointment, even though they don’t do them, 😷 they graciously obliged. Flu ➕ and I was on my way to take my Tamiflu as soon as possible. I have the sweetest new son who needs his momma. This is an unconventional way to cocoon. 😬 Sadly, I’m trying to keep distance from the kids because I do not want anyone to have this miserable illness! Justin has been a total champion, up most of the night with Hong Yi every night (please pray he sleeps through the night soon!), and managing the house and other kids, and trying to work! Hoping I turn the corner soon, have relief from fever & sore throat... and that I can sleep soon, myself. 🙏

We made it home late (maybe 10:30) Friday night to the most wonderful surprises from family & friends! From a completely stocked fridge & pantry (cleaned out and reorganized), clean laundry, 🇺🇸 American decor, signs, snacks, milk, toilet paper, paper towels.... y’all, nothing was overlooked! Our yard was even done and landscaped! To God be the glory for the kindness of these precious, selfless friends! Our deepest thanks to some of the crew (that we know about) from all of the above to watering plants, to keeping Moon Pie, there are so many to thank for their kindness. And to the @honey_bee_tees crew who didn’t skip a beat and received a massive order from a supplier while I was on the other side of the world @jessicaleerobinson @leslie_rebecca @danaywright @wrighbr & all high school helpers!... And to @seprice7 who kept Wiregrass Archaeological Consulting running smoothly, when you own small businesses you rely heavily on your teams, and we are thankful for ours! Many thanks to the home decorators, food stockers, meal preparers, and yard doers: @donastickler @kathiestickler @billygolf46 @mindyboone1 @erikampowell @dothan.nurseries @thestorywood @kkingdowling @jtheersink @cc_ranch @caroljparrish @ntstan @sarahtolleson @laurashatcher And @sanders9874 for organizing meals for us! Thank you, precious friend!!!! 😘 I know I’m forgetting people.... my excuse is running fever and flu 🤒 👎!

Thursday we began our long journey home: Guangzhou-> Hong Kong-> Seattle-> Atlanta-> 🚙Dothan! 🏡Hong Yi was such a good boy, but didn’t sleep on the flight from Hong Kong to Seattle, which set him up for a long day Friday, as we landed in Seattle at 7am. We had a few exhausted tears en route to Altanta, but besides that he held strong. We landed in Atlanta ? (after dark), got loaded up in the car and began our drive to home, sweet home!

This is a random photograph of the most important document from the US Consulate. We are en route to Hong Kong! 👍🚐💨 So thankful for a smooth adoption process! We have no complaints about our agency and are so thankful they advocated for both Hong Yi and our family! We weren’t in the process of adopting when we saw Hong Yi for the first time last November. There have been up and down moments, as there are with any adoption! But our sweet boy is forever ours. When we land in Seattle on Friday he will officially be a US citizen, the last step in this long process.

Our agency is Cradle of Hope out of Silver Spring, Maryland. You can use an adoption agency in any state, but to adopt from China you must have a Hague Accredited agency in your state complete your home study.

The safer (if such thing exists) route to adoption is to begin the process, send your Dossier to China, log into their system and pull files of waiting children. Our process was completely backwards, but still works! Just had us losing sleep, praying a lot, and collecting a few more grey hairs and wrinkles along the way! Worth all of it! 👵🏻👴🏻
By sharing some of our journey my prayer is that others will have less fear about considering adoption. Fear was our biggest hurdle in the whole process. I hope that you can see, that while the process is long, and requires a lot of money, travel, and patience, the amount of work pales in comparison to adding Hong Yi to our family. He’s so easy to love. Adopting him is not sacrifice of any kind whatsoever, it feels like the sweetest gift! We’ve only just begun our journey together, and while we know, like raising any child, there will be ups, downs and challenges, but most of all we are thankful to have found each other. ❤️ ps: if you’re new here, we hosted Hong Yi in our home this summer through Cradle of Hope’s “Bridge of Hope” hosting program. Sadly, due to recent changes with Chinese adoption laws the hosting programs are no longer allowed, this is my understanding. If you’re interested in hosting, I would reach out to Cradle of Hope to confirm, or check out their website.

Yesterday’s adventure included spending the afternoon at the Chimelong Safari Park! It was amazing and the kids loved it. 🦁🐯🐨🐼🐻🐗🐸🐫🦍🦒🐅 Today we pack up and drive to 🇭🇰 Hong Kong! We depart tomorrow from Hong Kong for our journey home! 🙌🇺🇸❤️

Yesterday started at the US Consulate! It felt so good to be there with our fellow Americans. The building itself is fairly new and beautiful: shake siding and slate shingles in the middle of a concrete jungle. We were one of about 8 families who were there to obtain visas for our newly adopted Chinese children. We were not allowed to take any electronic devices inside so I don’t have any pics. A few minutes into our appointment we connected with a couple from Auburn (WDE!) Andy and Kara Barfield which was really fun. Someone had recently told me they were also here adopting but in my jet lagged and chaotic state of mind I had forgotten! They aren’t staying at our hotel so we basically got to chat for a few minutes and that was it! Following our Consulate appointment we enjoyed the hotels play area/fountains and walked to a local sporting good store for a soccer ball and clean socks, about 9 pairs (true story). The girls and boys parted ways around 2. The girls and I met Ann again and went to the jade and pearl market and had a ball. Such an awesome cultural experience. I’ve heard it’s customary to put the jade bracelet on (as tight as you can possibly fit over your hand) and wear it until it breaks off. I almost bought the one I picked out for Erika because I thought it wouldn’t come off. We enjoyed seeing school children getting out of school. They go 7-4 everyday! 😳 Time to get our last full day started in Guangzhou. We are anxious to go home but also know we will miss China so much. It is so dear to us and we grieve that Hong Yi will be leaving such a beautiful place. We will work hard to keep it an important part of his life! ❤️ 🇨🇳 He continues to do so well! We are very proud of him! 💙🙏

Today we are 13 days into our trip and needed a day off! The kids have been champions and rolled with all the punches. Following yesterday’s all day excursion to Gui Lin, we had nothing on tap for today. We enjoyed a late breakfast and slow day around the hotel. Hong Yi has most certainly been overstimulated by all the changes in his life and today was a sweet day of respite. I braved the metro/subway and local Carefour supermarket, not sure I would make it out or back to the hotel in one piece. 😅 Tomorrow has an early start with our Consulate appointment! 🇺🇸Good night, y’all! Thanks for following along and for all your prayers, they are felt and appreciated! ❤️

Yesterday was a full and long day! We took an early(EARLY) bullet train to Gui Lin with Ann from Red Thread China. It is an absolutely beautiful place, but the river water was so low that we couldn’t take a boat out to see all that there is to see. Like everywhere we’ve been in China there are so many people everywhere and I think by 9pm we had all had enough. Hong Yi had his first meltdown in the subway station, while hundreds of people watched the 2 white people try to console him. 💆🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ We enjoyed a boat tour of a lake, another lunch of traditional Chinese food (including a full chicken cooked in a rice cooker 🤭), went to a local park and then made the long journey home! New Years Eve was uneventful and we all crashed as soon as our heads hit the pillows. Today we are enjoying a down day and recovering from all our travels yesterday! ❤️

Yesterday we spent our time exploring a section of Guangzhou called Haizhu Square on the Pearl River. Haizhu is known for the international wholesale market, primarily for shoes, trinkets, scarves, sunglasses, toys, etc! We tried a restaurant that ended up being delicious, I always take the job of ordering for us, which is entertaining and exhausting. The food is very reasonable and we can basically have a feast for $20-30 for 6 people! We bought a few things and then caught a ride back to the hotel. Justin and I had snacks in the lounge and the kids had Burger King #becauseChina 🍔 🍟🍦Hong Yi continues to do exceptionally well. I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it may not! He’s our precious boy and we are so glad he’s back with us. This trip has been amazing and we still have 6 days! Everyone is sleeping better and enjoying the adventure of China. We are all so thankful! ❤️

Yesterday was another great day in China! We took cabs to a local shopping section of town. Because there are 6 of us we had to take 2, JM and I got dropped off at a different location than the rest of the crew. 😬 Only took us about 45 minutes to find the other half of our family. #adventure We did some shopping at H&M where HY picked out some new dinosaur pants and a kitty rainbow top that didn’t make the cut. He put his Dino pants on after his bath last night and is still in them now! 💙 We ate at a local Cantonese restaurant for lunch... everything is an adventure because so few people speak English. Our lunch was delicious and then we began our trek home. We walked for blocks towards the hotel before grabbing a cab and packing in 1! 😳😂 We relaxed in our room last night and Justin and I slipped over to the lounge for a toast to Hong Yi and our new family 🥂 and some appetizers while Morgan kept things under control in the room. We had another late night pizza order and lots of laughs. Hong Yi is one happy, hilarious, and sweet child and our hearts are overjoyed he’s ours forever!!!!! ❤️👦🏻 We are about to start our day today 🌅 and it’s guaranteed to be another adventure! 🇨🇳 Thanks for continued prayers!

Yesterday was a great day! We started the day by running into a family we’ve connected with that applied to adopt Hong Yi when they learned he already had a family (us!)! After that Hong Yi had his medical appointment and was a total champion, didn’t shed a tear when he had to have blood drawn. We spent time in the hotel last night and had take out pizza! Hong Yi continues to amaze us with his resilience. He came to us from a very large orphanage and we’ve read while this is less than ideal for him to be in an institutionalized setting, it does make leaving the orphanage easier, as opposed to being in foster home with foster parents. His orphanage does not allow families to visit so we don’t know what type of setting he came from. We do believe he was well cared for because he is emotionally responsive, well fed, and super healthy. While he’s not shown significant signs of grieving, we expect him to have a harder time attaching to us. We know that hosting him in our home this summer also adds an element of ease to his transition. It was so incredibly painful to send him back to his orphanage this summer, but we are thankful to know him and not have any surprises.

🎄❤️🙌 Merry Christmas from Lanzhou, China! 🇨🇳

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