Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Photo Shoot Outtakes!

We gathered tonight for a very informal Christmas card photo shoot, and here are a few outtakes that didn't make the final cut. Enjoy!

Sister smoochin'!

In this photo, Maddie is studying an ornament that once hung on my grandmother's tree--so special!

We call this one: "Googely Eyes"!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Welcome to America, hope you enjoy your stay!"

Taken on our one month anniversary

We are home! 
After a 15 hour flight from Hong Kong and a 13 hour time difference, on September 14, 2013 we walked off our Cathay Pacific flight and down the O'Hare airport hallway ready to see our family! September 14 is also our wedding anniversary; 11 years ago at approximately the same time of day, Ryan and I were walking down the aisle at Rockefeller Chapel ready to get our life together started. Now, we find ourselves walking down a completely different aisle towing along three amazing girls that we have the pleasure of calling our daughters. Talk about living the dream...

11 years ago

Our American Citizen
Madeleine became a citizen as soon as our plane touched American soil, and that was a very emotional moment for me. Maybe it was the weary feeling from the trip and the plane ride, but I could not get the Lee Greenwood song out of my head, and had to choke back tears as we were flying over our sweet home Chicago. I was doing pretty well, but then lost it when the pilot came on the announcement system immediately after we touched down and said, "Welcome to America, we hope you enjoy your stay". I wonder if he knows the depth of meaning his words held for our family at that moment.

This is your family, Madeleine
We were greeted by our family at the airport, and what a sweet site they were! Unfortunately we don't have too many pictures but here are some of what we were able to snap:

Maddie, this is your Nana!

Maddie, you have a great grandma too!
Meet your Auntie Meggie!

Madeleine, this is your Auntie, she was the first one to hold you!
Maddie, your cousin Giana!
It is miraculous how this wonderful, friendly, loving, smart, and comical little girl has fit so seamlessly into her family. It has been said many times already, but worth mentioning over and over again, it is as if she was made specifically for us, and us for her. When we first met and she was placed into my arms by her orphanage caretaker, she rubbed my cheeks, kissed me over and over, and said, "Mama, mama, mama". She was not scared or confused, but rather more along the lines of "It's about time you got here to pick me up Mama"! I had so much time to prepare myself for that moment, and it went nothing like I thought it would--it was more perfect and blessed than anything I rehearsed or imagined. I felt God's hands holding the both of us at that moment...that's the only reason I was still standing. 

Although Madeleine's adoption is complete, our journey is still in progress and I'd like to take this opportunity to recognize some important players on our ride:

This is one incredible adoption organization. I don't have a comparison agency as this is our first and only agency used for adoption, but I really don't need one to know how special they are. I'd be happy to discuss details with anyone at the stage of researching agencies. 

My Mom and Dad
Thank you for making this all possible. You tirelessly help us raise our children and run our home. Where would I be without you?

To Ryan's Mom and Dad
Thank you for your constant and unconditional love and support. Thank you for extending that unconditional love to a little girl on the other side of the world whom you never even met. You have proved that it is possible to fall in love with a picture!

To my sister and niece
Thank you for putting your own lives on hold to run mine while we were in China. I slept without an ounce of worry that my beloved dogs were being loved and well taken care of. Thank you for being as excited about Maddie as me! She's just as much my dream come true as yours!

To all our friends and family
Thank you for your love and support from the beginning. It was a highlight for us and the girls to wake up each morning and see who looked at our blog, left a comment, or sent us an email. We felt your love all the way in China! 

To China
Thank you for my daughter, I am eternally grateful. But, I'm sickened by your immoral policies and antediluvian culture that force families to abandon their children. These are human rights violations of the primary order, and although I appreciate that you open your borders to international adoption, please realize that you have just created an entire cohort of educated and strong women whose moral compass will teach them not to tolerate your injustices, and will fight back with every ounce of their being. I will see to it that my daughter leads the charge.   

To God
I now understand why I had to wait so long to hold her in my arms. It had to be Maddie, and the timing had to be perfect. Thank you for bringing us together in such a blessed way.

To Keegan
You astound me each and every day with your innate compassion and kindness. Thank you for welcoming your sister into our lives and for always putting her needs before yourself. 

To Regina
I love you thirty, fifty, one hundred, and even if we had one million kids, we would still be best buddies! God has a special plan for you and I can't wait to see what happens next! 

To Ryan
Although cliche, our love for each other grows each day, and because of that love there is now one less orphan in the world. Thank you for enjoying this ride with me.

And finally, To Madeleine
You are my dream come true. You are my fairy tale. You are my everything.

The Duggan Family

Friday, September 13, 2013

Almost home.

I tentatively titled this post, "Day 16... more chinese food" but I figured I'd focus on the brighter side of things and talk about our preparation to come home.  Maddie was successfully granted a U.S. Visa to enter the U.S. with us, so we will be bringing her home : )  We were waiting to get her passport back with the visa from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou Thursday afternoon, and as soon as we secured that, we headed out back to Hong Kong.  Leaving Guangzhou was somewhat bittersweet.  We were all VERY ready to leave, but this also meant parting ways with our travel companions and in-China support network.  I was a bit skeptical at first that such strong bonds could be created when traveling with a group of people, but the shared experiences, triumphs, and tribulations will surely tie us together for life.  We were blessed to have so many great families on this trip.  However, life goes on, and so does our trip.  We took some group photos, said our goodbyes, and hopped in a van to Hong Kong.  When we found out we'd be traveling back through Hong Kong, Darlene had the idea to take a quick day trip to Hong Kong Disneyland as a reward to the girls (and to herself) for a successful trip with limited meltdowns.  This served as a time for us to celebrate, as a family, the best way we know how - spending some time with the Mouse.  Hong Kong feels like the closest thing to home this whole trip.  It truly is a modern-day city that feels like any other metropolitan area in the U.S.  We navigated the public transportation system with no problem, went to a local grocery store and found all our familiar snacks, and have pretty fast wifi in our hotel room.  We'll have one last night in Hong Kong, and be on our flight to Chicago tomorrow morning.  We leave Hong Kong around 11AM on Saturday the 14th, and get to Chicago at 2PM on Saturday the 14th - talk about super fast flying...  We can't wait to see our family!

Maddie wore her USA gear to the U.S. Consulate for our Visa appointment

We spent a LOT of time at the pool both to stay cool and alleviate boredom.

Darlene feeding the local feral cat colony

The girls got some Chinese dresses, which they wore our last day in Guangzhou for our group photos.

Here's the motley crew!

And here are all the "babies" that were adopted.


Maddie's first ride was the winnie the pooh ride, and her second was the carousel.  She enjoyed all the rides (whew).

Entrance to "It's a small world"  

The castle at Disneyland is MUCH smaller than Disney World.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Racoons in a Zoo

Took a trip to the Guangzhou zoo.  Two things of interest here:  1.  The animals seem much closer to the people than in any zoo I've ever been.  The gorge that typically separates you from the lions seemed a bit too shallow and not wide enough.  2.  Racoons are foreign enough to the Chinese that they are a specimen in the zoo.


Begging bear

White tigers

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tears and Cheers!

Yesterday was Maddie's official checkup in order to receive her immigrant visa.  We arrived at the Guangzhou clinic in the morning, and luckily they had a small section of the clinic quartered off just for adopted children.  Most of the checkup went pretty well, and everyone seemed to cooperate.  Since she's over 2 years old, Maddie required an additional blood draw to test for TB.  Unfortunately we couldn't be with her in that room, and as nurses scurried in and out of the room, we tried to grab glimpses of the happenings inside, but they quickly closed the door behind them.  There seemed to be a bit of tension in the room for which we attributed an inability to find a vein suitable for tapping.  As she emerged from the room, tears filled her eyes, and we immediately presented her with her reward - a strawberry sucker.  She recovered quickly, and then we could inspect her arms to find multiple venapuncture wounds on both arms.

After naps, we went for a dinner cruise on the Pearl River.  The girls thought it was awesome.  The food was adequate, the views spectacular, and the entertainment, well, entertaining.  They really light-up the buildings and bridges along the river.  Of course the girls were, once again, treated to a photo shoot.

ENT Check

Big sister Regina demonstrating "Ahhhhh"

Keegan and Regina's new best friends

Just reward for a job well done.

The lobby of the clinic has a wine vending machine.

Getting ready to board the boat.

Colorful spire along the Pearl River

Regina getting a ball spinning demonstration.

Chinese paparazzi