Saying Goodbye is Never Easy

October 28, 2010

Tonight I am writing what will be my last post from China. I kind of have a heavy heart. There is a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. My feelings are mixed as we gather up our belongings and pack our bags for the long flight home tomorrow.

How is it that I am so excited and anxious to get off that plane and see my family and friends, who I miss so dearly, yet I am so very sad that our trip has come to an end?

When we set out on this journey almost 5 years ago, I never imagined in my wildest dreams what I have experienced these last two weeks. They have been nothing short of miraculous on so many different levels.

This trip is not for the faint of heart and it is far from a dream vacation, but it has been an experience of a lifetime that I will never ever forget. I pray that I will retain every last detail so that one day I can share it with my daughter.

Instead of writing about what we did today, I wanted to share some of the more memorable moments of our two weeks in China.

Waiting with the Nanny BLOG
I never posted this picture, but Marla took it the second she realized the cute little girl sitting on the bench with the tell tale two fingers in her mouth, was Reagan. She was supposedly not even there yet, but when we looked up from our paperwork there she was sitting with her Nanny with her little arm wrapped through the strap of her purse. Yes, she was destined to be my daughter she already has a love of handbags.

Reagan Day Over the Shoulder BLOG
That very first day I could not stop staring at Reagan. I was fixated on her and almost could not believe that I was there and she was with me. The one thing that struck me immediately was her eyes. She has the most beautiful and expressive eyes I have ever seen on a child. She does not need to speak a word. Her eyes really say it all, don’t they?

As cute as can be BLOG
Reagan has blossomed right before us.

Going for the bow BLOG
I was so very worried those first few days in Changsha as we watched her basically shutdown. You tell yourself it is normal, but in the back of your mind you pray that it is only temporary and that they will pull out of it quickly.

Playing with Jewelry BLOG
Thankfully she did!

Looking Back BLOG
She has a smile that could light up a room and she is not afraid to use it to get what she wants.

Marla Susan and Lisa BLOG
I feel the need to talk a little bit about the people that have surrounded me on this trip. I feel incredibly blessed to have had Marla along with me every step of the way. I honestly do not know what I would have done without her by my side. Words cannot express how much it means to me and to my family that she was able to make the trip....and capture all those spectacular images along the way for us. She and Derek made lots of sacrifices to make it happen and we are so grateful for their generosity. They will always be Aunt Marla and Uncle Derek to Miss Reagan and will always hold a special place in our hearts. I think we might be making our way to Texas before too long for a visit because we are certainly going to miss Aunt Marla. We had such a good time together. In addition to all the special and tender moments that Marla got to witness, there were lots of laughs and funny stories that neither of us will ever forget. We might have to share a few of those once we get home!

While in Changsha we had the most incredible guide, Susan. She was PERFECT in every way and tended to our every need. Marla and I already miss her and told her that when we bring our daughters back to China for a Heritage Tour, she HAS TO be our guide again. She was born and raised in Changsha and knew it like the back of her hand. In addition, she did everything within her power to grant our wish to go to the orphanage and accompanied us that very special day.

As I am sure you all know from my previous post, that day was unsurpassable. I can’t imagine this trip without the day we got to spend in Chenzhou.

View from the orphanage BLOG
We were immediately taken with the sights and sounds of the city. It was very different from where we were staying in Changsha. It was only within a matter of minutes of looking at the orphanage surroundings for me to realize how different Reagan’s life would be if she were not adopted. It hit me hard and deep and I could not shake that eerie feeling the rest of the day.

Man in the straw hat BLOG
I found myself walking the city streets and inspecting every inch of the city....her city.

Girl Eating Rice Front BW BLOG
With each person we saw or came into contact with, I had to wonder if they could somehow be related to my daughter.

The Boy Who Touched Our Hearts BLOG
As for the children of Chenzhou, I would be lying if I said that they did not haunt my dreams, especially the young boy in the orange who said “Hi Mama” every time he saw us. I know he touched your hearts as he did ours. When I looked through my photos, I realized I had another one of him. He sat on that little bench eating his rice as happy as could be. He had the sweetest personality and it broke my heart to think of him day after day eating there in the room full of crying babies. How could a child be happy living that kind of life? I would imagine it is because he does not know anything different.

The door to Reagan's Room BLOG
Room 512, the baby room. Reagan’s room.
She lived 10 months of her life in this room and when we walked through the door I was overcome by what I saw; babies from 4 weeks to 12 months old, some waiting for families, some who will never have families.

Reagan's Crib at the Orphanage BLOG
Reagan’s crib was empty the day we visited. I would assume by now it is occupied by another child. I only pray that child is as fortunate as our daughter and will find a forever family.

China is a country that I am not sure I will ever fully understand, but I have grown to love and respect.

I entered this country two weeks ago and was handed a child who was essentially a stranger and now I am leaving with a beautiful, loving little girl who is officially my daughter. There is no greater gift.

China will forever hold a piece of my heart and I know that I will sob as the plane pulls away from the gate. It is such a bittersweet feeling for me. Although Reagan will have a very good life in America, I am about to take my daughter away from everything familiar. Everything she once knew will be left behind and the only pieces to her past are tucked into her suitcase. A note handwritten by her birthmother and the outfit she was wearing the day she was found.

Thank you for following our journey.
Your prayers, comments, and emails have meant so much to us.
I will continue to post about China once I get home as I have lots of photos and things that I didn't have time to cover while here.
Praying for a safe and uneventful trip home


Patiently waiting for Chayse said...

Beautiful Post Lisa! Thank you for sharing your journey to bring Reagan home.
Safe Travels! (((hugs)))

Stefanie said...

Beautifully said... leaving truly is bittersweet.
China will always have a part of your heart now!
Blessings for a safe and speedy journey HOME :)

The Byrd's Nest said...

I had the same feelings when we left. Praying for your trip home with your precious Reagan...I know the family can't wait to love on her in person:)

Anonymous said...

have a safe trip home, congrats to Reagan on a new chapter of life that is about to begin!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this incredible journey. Have a safe flight home!


Jboo said...

Such a sweet post! Know those feelings exactly. So true that you and your family have been so blessed to have sweet Reagan in your family.

Wishing you speedy and safe travels home!


Anonymous said... will never forget this time and reading your posts brings me back to March 2006 when we met our beautiful daughter from Chenzhou...have a wonderful trip home and thank you for sharing this amazing journey...Jess from MA.

carolinagirl said...

Beautiful, beautiful post Lisa! You have captured the essence of the international adoption trip perfectly. I love your raw emotion, and as I read your post so many of my own memories surfaced. Thank you for sharing this unforgettable experience with us all.

JMCS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JMCS said...


There are just no words for the beautiful post you wrote. Your images and words are so expressive and honest. I am so glad you, Marla and Reagan had this wonderful experience of a lifetime. I hope you have a safe trip home and can't wait to see your images once you arrive home at the airport. I have a feeling that this may not be your last adoption trip to China. These children are so wonderful, it makes you want to go back. :)


Bridget said...

Once again you brought a tear to my eye as I read your post. You captured your time in China perfectly with your wonderful pictures and beautiful words that describe, your feelings, your emotions, and especially the love you have for Reagan! It is hard to leave behind what you have witnessed and what your sweet girl knows as home. You will take with you memories that will never be forgotten and ones you will forever share with your daughter. It has been a privilige to follow along with you on your amazing journey. May your travels be safe and uneventful. God speed to your family back home and I look forward to following along as the chapter at home is just about to begin! Hugs to you, Reagan and Marla!


Faith Hope Love Photography said...

What a wonderful are one of the most inspiring writers ever....and then add these great pictures! I wish I could write 1/2 as well as you. Praying for safe and easy travels for all of you!

Briana's Mom said...

It has been an honor to follow your journey to Miss R. Leaving China is definitely bittersweet - I completely understand that. Safe travels home my friend.

Love Letters To China said...

What beautiful words you have written. They make me want to hug my sweet little boy even tighter than before.

Safe travels Lisa! Praying for a smooth and uneventful flight.


Debbie said...

Oh my! I have followed your blog for the last 2 years (while we waited in the UK to adopt our Gracie) and I wanted to say a big "Thank You" for letting us get an insight into your lives. It has been incredibly exciting to watch your experiences in China and you at last have your amazing daughter Reagan! I have not cried reading your previous posts but this one has truly "got" me!! I can totally relate to the "bitter-sweet" you talk about, Lisa. We wish you a very safe and uneventful (heres hoping Reagan is an angel on the plane!) journey home to the arms of your loving family. Take care. Debbie x

frogglet said...

I hope you have a safe and uneventful trip home. I am so happy that you found me and were so kind to give a complete stranger such an amazing gift! Thank you so much.

Patricia said...

Beautiful, touching post of your incredible journey...leaving China is definitely bittersweet and a part of your heart will always be there...Praying with you and for your for a safe, quick & uneventful trip home...thanks for the privilege of letting us follow you on your magnificent journey! :)

Special K said...

Beautiful words that touched my heart. I'm just so glad you chose to share this journey with us. And so very happy that you have found Reagan. She's your daughter. :)

Be safe on your trip home.

ww said...

Thanks for sharing this heart-felt post and amazing photos. Thanks for sharing your incredible journey - look forward to continuing to follow your beautiful family. Blessings and safe travels, Wendy

Everything Beautiful Shay said...

Nothing left to say... I know exactly how you feel and pray you home safe and sound!!!

Wanda said...

Lisa - you put beautiful words and images to what so many of us feel. Thank you sharing so generously and lovingly.

Safe travels home my friend. Can't wait to see Dita's images capturing your first moments home!!


Susan said...

I still cry every time I think about that wonderful day when we were handed our daughters, now 7 years and 3 years later. Till this day, I remember every feeling, every sentiment, every emotion as if it had just happened. You WILL never forget this most amazing day, ever!

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

Thanks for letting me share the adventure of a lifetime... like you said... it isn't a dream vacation but an experience of a lifetime... to me... alot of it was a blur... I spent alot of time just hoovering (for the want of a better word) over Shauna... and missed alot of China and we spent all our time on Shamian - which I loved but really loved walking over the foot bridge to 'real China'... next time I am there... it will be a dream vacation... we have waited a LONG time for our babies... and now... time for you to get home to your family and enjoy the next chapter of your lives... hugs...

elliotts said...

What a beautiful post, Lisa! Thank you again for sharing such a beautiful journey. Our dossier is being wired to China tomorrow...we are so excited!


Kayce said...

An amazing journey it is and one that will never leave you. I still feel as though we were just there yesterday and I long so greatly to go back tomorrow. Something there just seeps into your soul and will never leave. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, it has been both beautiful and memory filled! Have safe travels home and know you're in our prayers!

snekcip said...

Praying for a safe return to the states and that God continue to surround your family with HIS grace and undying love.

karen said...

You have such a beautiful story and photos to share with Reagan. Wishing you safe traveling home to the rest of your family.

Jodee said...

Wow! What an amazing journey. Thanks so much for letting us come along with you. I enjoyed each and every post, and I can't wait to chat with you when you get home.

Hope you have a safe and smooth flight home!

Faith, Hope, and Love said...

tears are flowing...
That was so incredibly beautiful, Lisa. Praying that sweet little boy will one day say "hi" to his forever mommy. Praying for safe travels home with your little China treasure! Thank you to you and Marla for sharing your magical journey. I'm sure there was a bond made that will never be broken.

Jeanne said...

I have been following your blog for a long time but this is the first time I have left a comment. I
have two grand daughters adopted from China and following your journey these past weeks I feel I have learnt so much about their country. Your writing and photos are incredibly candid and surreal, thank you so much for sharing. Your daughter is adorable and I know will bring you and your family so much joy. I look forward to watching the progress of this precious girl as she flourishes in her new family. My love to you from the UK.

Number 6 and no more counting! said...

beautiful post. God speed.


Anonymous said...


I came across your blog and was mesmerized by your writing and photos. That little boy in the orange shirt has touched me deeply. I realize that you are very busy, but if you have time, could you provide information as to whether it's possible to sponsor him or donate to his orphanage? Thanks so much, and wishing you the best in this new journey.

Jewels of My Heart said...

I remember how hard it is to say goodbye. When you are home your heart yearns for China.
God's speed home.....
I haven't been able to follow your journey in China but seeing your daughter in her Mama's arms brings a smile to my heart... Welcome home little one....
Thank You Jesus for answered prayers....
God bless you all,\

Michelle R Photography said...

Oh, Lisa, this post brought me to tears. I won't begin to understand the policies and beliefs of China, but I love that country so much. I know your feelings all too well. As much as you want to come home, it is so tough to leave the country of your child's birth. Thank you for allowing us to follow along with you. You & Marla allowed us all to enjoy this journey with you. You have traveled such a long road to get here, but this journey is about to be complete and you will embark on a different path with your family. No longer chasing, waiting & hoping, but enjoying and living your lives together. Congratulations, Lisa, Pat, Nick, Sarah & Reagan!!!


Cindy said...

Thank you for the post, brought tears to my eyes. China will always be a special place in your heart for you and your family. Safe travels.
Thank you for letting us follow you in this wonderful journey.

Freckles & Dimples Photography said...

beautiful post, thank you for sharing your journey to Reagan...

Mimi said...

Lisa, you're amazing!
Tears in my eyes again as I read this last post from China.
It's been an amazing journey, life-changing indeed.
You're words are so beautiful, so sensitive, so full of the unconditional love that is your gift to Reagan, and in spite of the difficult beginning to her precious life, she is a lucky girl.
Thank you once again for sharing the journey with us. If I was 10 years younger, I would be logging in to adopt, I really would.
Have a safe trip home, all three of you.

Jenney said...

I am crying as I read this. Thanks for sharing your journey.

Unknown said...

I don't write a comment every time your blog posts make me cry, but the past 8 or 9 have done so. It's mostly happy crying! You are so incredibly blessed to have been given Reagan as your daughter. It's so easy to tell that she is already very much loved, and she will live a full, happy life with you as her momma.

The other thing making me cry is a sad thing, which is thinking about all of the babies in China and around the world that don't have a mother, and may never have a mother. I can feel it in my heart that part of my future will be adopting. I had always considered it, but I am now absolutely certain. Thank you for detailing your journey, as your photos and stories have pushed me permanently in that direction.

Anonymous said...

I can't thank you enough for sharing this experience! My husband and I have enjoyed following your journey to your daughter. We will be traveling in the next month or so for our 17 month old daughter- our first child! It has meant a lot to us to read about your experience and see your beautiful pictures. Thanks.

groovy mama said...

I LOVE CHINA...i ache for it and i want to go back so bad to capture and recapture LIFE in their simplest form, far from how we all live!

The photo you took at the little boy is amazing, but what pulls at me is the little girl and how turned/clubbed her feet are....heartaching!

Congrats on daughter....they are such FUN!

Dita said...

The perfect post to end your days in China. I so look forward to the many, many more photos and posts of China that are yet to come once you are settled.

Your trip, your words and photo-documentation of it all for us back home almost simultaneously, has actually been life changing for so many, from reading the comments left here.

I can't wait to see your two blonde heads peak out from the baggage claim tomorrow....with that gorgeous raven-haired angel of yours snuggled up close to you.

I'll be clicking away through my tears.

I'll be right there to welcome you home (with all my Darlings)

Congratulations on the arrival of your beautiful new daughter and on the first day of FOREVER with your very special family.

We are so blessed to have all of you in our lives and look forward to many special days ahead watching Reagan, Sarah and Nick grow in the love that you and Pat shower upon each of your precious children.

We love you,
Dita, JR, Wonderboy and Sweetie

Unknown said...

What a wonderful trip you have had. And your baby. Your precious sweet baby is now in your arms. I love her eyes. And her expressions! I am so thankful that she gets to be a part of your family. I know that you will love and adore her very, very much! I can't wait to see the kids when they meet her. I know they will love her incredibly much! Sending love for your journey home. So happy for you!

TanyaLea said...

Oh Lisa~ this was so perfectly and beautifully written. Khloe has been home exactly 5 months today, and I have been doing a lot of reflecting on how much has changed since we've come home. You are exactly right when you said it is not exactly classified as a dream vacation, but a trip of a lifetime indeed! Yes, welcome to the club, friend... China will forever have a piece of your heart now! Thank you for doing such a beautiful job journaling. I felt myself reliving so much through your photos and words. Praying for safe and happy travels as you prepare ot return home, and that God's peace will comfort your heart during this time of transition. Your life will never again be the same... but that's a good thing!! :)

Blessings & Hugs,

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful Mama's heart with us....

Safe travels home with that darling angel baby.

All my best,


Lori Lynn said...

Congratulations on winding up one of the most fabulous, emotional and memorable journeys of your life. I look forward seeing your amazing photography skills capture your baby's beauty and personality. I too noticed how special her eyes are. They remind me a bit of my Chloe's eyes. When we were in China, people would come up to us and say "big eyes".

I wish you a safe and smooth transition back to your home life.

hm said...

Beautiful words along with amazing pictures...your story and your feelings about your experience are so close to my heart.

I too cried when I left my daughters homeland, I too felt the bitter sweetness you described. I often think about our days in China, although difficult at times nothing short of wonderful!!!

May you have a safe trip home and I wish you and your family a lifetime of happiness together with your "SPICY" girl.

Thank you for sharing


Sharon said...

You couldn't have said all that more perfect. It's strange to know the exact feelings that you are feeling...but I do... twice... Safe travels!

Kim said...

Another beautiful post that captures your heart in words and photographs. What a blessing to follow along on this sacred journey!
Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,

Jackson & Theo's Mama said...

so I was reading this post at work and began welling up with tears. what a beautiful journey. I had to stop reading it because I can't be crying at work. I can't wait to finish it when I get home.

by the way, Reagan is beautiful.

Virginia said...

Beautifully put. I had/have so many of the same feelings during our trip and toward China. You put it into words better than I could. And the photo's, wow, they capture so much. Reagan is just blossoming and oh so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your journey.

Gin =)

Aleasing said...

Lisa, I have to try and let you know the magnificant impact your story has had on my heart! My daughter (The Bonnie 5) introduced me to your blog several months ago. She too enjoys photography and writing a blog as a daily record for her 3 precious children.
I have been following your journey to China. Your commentary has made it so real to feel all the emotions of being introduced to your precious daughter. As for Marla, if each of us can find just one friend in our entire life-time like her, we are truly blessed.
It will be another wonderful journey to watch Reagan grow and adjust to her new family. She is a very very lucky little girl.
Wishing you all a most happly life together. Thank you again ^_^

Shari said...

Beautifully said. I felt exactly the same when we left China - what feels like OH so long ago. I hope you had a safe trip home, and Miss Reagan is enjoying her big brother and sister.

Natalie said...

I have been following your beautiful blog for some time now and want to congratulate you on a beautiful new daughter, Reagan.

I love your beautiful photos and you truely have a gift for words and writing.

I am a biological Mom of 5 and adoptive Mom of 3 and have so enjoyed reading your story. I was actually born in China many, many years ago and seeing the pictures brought back many memories to me.

You have a wonderful family and you certainly have the gift of mothering.

May the Lord bless you and your family always.


The 5 Bickies said...

Welcome home girls! I am just as excited to follow along on this leg of your journey at home! You have done such a beautiful job of documenting your trip and I have felt so many of your emotions right along with you. Blessings to you all!

Rosie Grey said...

This is so wonderful -thanks so much for sharing!

a Tonggu Momma said...

"China is a country that I am not sure I will ever fully understand, but I have grown to love and respect."


Sophie said...

I've visited your blog a couple of times and all your pictures are spectacular. The way you capture every image amazes me, once you are settled I would love to take an online class.

Congratulations on your precious daughter, she is absolutely beautiful. My daughter sucks her two little fingers too, I think it's so sweet.

You have a lovely family and I look forward to seeing the rest of your pictures from your trip.

Formerly known as Frau said...

Im beaming with happiness for you and your family!

Mia_h_n said...

I have followed your blog for a while now and your often raw and emotional words and beautiful pictures have often brought tears to my eyes, but I was especially moved by this post.

As an adult adoptee I can say that not all adoptive parents are that aware of what the adoption process also is, besides bringing a new family together. Not because they are "bad parents" but simply because they get overwhelmed and focused on "from this day forward" and forget to remember all that came before.

I'm not saying it would necessarily be a good thing to almost make your child half birth country/half adoption country which can make it very difficult to feel at home and like you fit in at either, but to be aware of the depth of loss your child has encountered might help you to understand her possible future struggles with her past.
For a parent to be able to say "of course a loss and abandonment of that magnitude will be difficult, no matter at what age it happened" will be unusual, at least to my generation of adoptees. Most APs are more enclined to say "we loved you SO much so why is the past still a problem?".

I do sense a difference in awareness between my parents' generation and your's, and hopefully that'll make a difference in accepting the depth of adoptees' scars and that they are from before the adoptive family entered the picture and that they can't be loved away.

(Disclaimer: I speak in GENERAL terms so if it doesn't apply to you as an AA (or AP for that matter), it doesn't apply to you)

I have no doubt you'll be a great mom (not saying you weren't already!) and I can't wait to hopefully be allowed to watch from the sidelines :)

Football and Fried Rice said...

What an amazing post, Lisa! I loved watching Reagan let her guard down & come to realize that she was loved! I can't wait to see your three kids together!

Sara said...

You have brought me to tears again...

What a life's experience.

Lisa, thank you for sharing this journey. I know that when I see my friends with little girls adopted from China, I will always think of you. And as the years go by, your amazing experience will come to my mind and I will think of you...

I will think about how you longed for your child...well before she was born.

I will think about the love you had for your little girl, even before you touched her delicate skin.

I will think of those little eyes...the eyes that changed from an overwhelmed little baby, to the eyes of a baby who trusted her new mother and loved her.

Your photos have spoken thousands and thousands of words...I am thankful for that.

What a lovely little girl God has entrusted to your family.

God bless you...truly bless you and your family.


Halie said...

Thank you for letting us all share this wonderful journey with you and your family.

I have been considering adoption for quite a while and your courage is giving me enough strength to actually look into it more seriously.

Thank you for opening up my eyes.

May your family be blessed with everything that your heart desires.

Safe trip.

Betty Jo said...

What a wonderful post and your blog is awesome. Congratulations on receiving your new daughter. She is beautiful and completes the rest of your beautiful family. ♥

3 Peanuts said...

Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you and praying for your family during this joyful yet challenging time of adjusting:)