All posts by Rob

On a mission to yield my life as a husband, father, friend, software developer, martial artist, and mini-rancher to Jesus Christ.

A Mile In My Shoes

Or, more accurately, 13.1 of those miles.  This past weekend I officially registered to run the half-marathon in this year’s Chosen Marathon at the end of October.  This is an event that is all about celebrating adoption, and raising money for orphanages and families who are adopting.  Both Tabby and I were planning on participating in their inaugural race back in 2010 to raise money to bring Judah home.  An early training injury and the craziness of moving into a new house while trying to sell our old house took that idea completely off of our radar–until a couple of months ago when a Facebook post by Jen Hatmaker resurrected it.

Like many families, when we found ourselves making that first call to an adoption agency, it was out of obedience to a burden the Lord had put on our hearts.  It wasn’t because we had stacks of disposable income laying around and were thinking, “Hey, you know what we should do with this money?”  Adoption is an expensive proposition, no two ways about it.  For most, it is God-sized.  There were times during the process where the money we needed showed up just as we needed it–and even once just after we mailed a check in faith that the money would come in time to cover it.  We were fortunate enough that finances never held up the already long process of bringing Judah home; but that’s not the case for everyone.

So, even though we’ve got our Cheeky Monkey home now, we’d like do what little we can to help out those families who have opened their hearts to being the forever family for a child in need of one.  Families who might be relying on the money raised from this event to keep the process moving toward the day when that new member is home for good.  There is no official “sponsor me” sign-up, but that’s exactly what I’m fixin-ta-do (that’s Texas-talk) here.  I’ve been training for 2 months now and have logged 144 miles.  By race-day on October 27, I’ll have put more than 550 miles of pavement behind me in preparation for the 13.1 in front of me.  I’ve never run anything longer than a 10k (6.2 miles), and that was back in high school.  This will definitely be a challenge, but it will be worth it to meet other families and hear their adoption stories and hopefully raise some money for them.  I encourage you to go over to Chosen Marathon and see what it is all about; especially the options under the Donate menu.  While it certainly would be easiest for us to collect and make a single donation, it wouldn’t be tax-deductible for you that way.  So you can still pretend to sponsor me–pick a flat amount, an amount per mile, an amount if I finish under a certain time (my goal is under 2 hours), whatever–but your donation will either to to the general race fund, to the ABBA fund, or to a specific team.  I wish there was a short profile for each of the teams who are directly supporting individual families, but there isn’t.  You can see the list here.  If the Lord moves on your heart to support one of those families specifically, then by all means your donation can go toward their team.

If you would like to add fuel to my fire, send an email to adoption@whapham.com and let us know how you can help.  The run is still almost four months away, so expect that I’ll bug you again at some point.  Oh, and, no, that’s not actually a photo of me running. But I’m told I’ve got chicken legs–so it’s probably pretty close.

The Real Journey

A quick update for all of you who have been following along with our adventure.  We are finally back on American soil after a very long day of travel.  (Prepare for one giant run-on sentence, because that’s what the day felt like.)  We left our hotel at 6:00 am China time, took a 3 hour van ride from Guangzhou to the Hong Kong airport, stood in way too many lines and passed through way too many security checkpoints there, left Hong Kong at 11:30 am China time, flew 12 hours and landed in San Francisco 3 hours earlier than we left (Pacific time, of course), made it through immigration and customs, went to the wrong gate, carried and dragged two exhaused kids to the right gate (which had to be THE furthest gate in the entire place), nearly slept through the entire 3 1/2 hour flight to DFW, then drove to home-sweet-home during rush hour, arriving around 7:00 pm to put a not-so-tidy bow on 26 hours of vans, planes, and automobiles.

But we are HOME!  Judah did remarkably well on the flights (thank you, Jesus) and seems to have taken to his new home rather well.  In no small way due to our kids keeping the house afloat for the two weeks we were gone, and the Legos waiting for him to play with last night (big thanks, Kat).  We managed to get nearly 8 hours of sleep last night–even the one who has spent his entire life a half a day off from our time.  Of course, by noon, we were all exhausted again and all four of us crawled up in our bed and managed to “nap” for over 3 hours.

We would love to spend time reflecting on the trip and sharing our thoughts and all of the things we forgot to mention in the updates while in China, but the brain-fog is still too thick.  We were way overestimating ourselves when we said “come out Friday and meet Judah!”  That will have to wait.  But we promise it will happen.  And we promise now that we have an actual usuable internet connection that we will share photos from the trip.  All in due time.  After some more napping.  The adoption process is over, but the adoption journey has just begun.

Stay tuned…

Life is a Zoo

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A day without paperwork or appointments or anything adoption related.  Jack, our guide, took our group to the Guangzhou Zoo for the morning.  The weather here is  beautiful–about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than Shanghai–and the grounds of the zoo were beautiful too.  Before we even got in the park, Judah was already talking about seeing monkeys and tigers and pandas.  Of course, any animal that didn’t hold his attention only got a brief glimpse and he was ready to leave the rest of the group behind and set off toward the next exhibit.  All-in-all, he has gotten much better about staying with mama and baba; and we have gotten better about not freaking out when he decides to run ahead a bit.  Both he and Grace had their picture taken on a camel, we saw some Chinese acrobats balancing on things that no human should be able to balance on, and Grace got to finally see a panda–in China!

We also spent about an hour in the little amusement park that had there.  Let’s just say that some of these rides made the parking lot carnival rides back home look perfectly safe.  But he took on everything without fear (well, except for one ride that he had his eyes closed most of the time).  Everything that big sister rode on, he rode too.

There was some afternoon shopping and pool time.  Tabby and the grandmother from the other Gladney family staying at the hotel with us had an authentic Chinese tea ceremony with jasmine tea and “tea food”.  Then we all descended upon the Arabic restaurant next to the hotel for some dining adventure and a belly dancing show.  Grace and one of the girls from the other family even got dragged up on stage to dance along.

Tomorrow is pretty much a free day for us too–just a short visit back to the doctor’s to check the results of Judah’s TB test.  And Tuesday we have our U.S. Consulate appointment where we get his travel Visa and have the U.S. side of the adoption finalized.  We are definitely enjoying Guangzhou.  The weather and the scenery and the pace is much more relaxing that when we were in Shanghai.  I think we will be a bit sad to leave when Thursday morning comes.

Thanks again for all the texts with updates from home and encouraging words and Scripture.  It is good for us to be able to keep in touch with home.  And, just because a day goes by without a blog update doesn’t mean we’re dead in a ditch somewhere in China.  (You know who you are.)  Everything is going great–except that the longer I sit here writing, the longer I’m making the Crazy Monkey wait to crawl up in bed and watch a movie.  So over and out for now.

Have Chopsticks, Will Travel

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So first off, jet lag is real–very real. We may have been cocky enough to think that depriving ourselves of sleep before traveling to the other side of the world would do the trick. But let me tell you, it did not. In fact, it’s not even 6:30 pm here and we just had to wake grace up because she was about to fall alseep watching a Chinese nature show. I do not look forward to the fact that, after two weeks here, we will probably just be getting acclimated to the 13-hour time difference when we’ll have to get on a plane and return to Texas-time.

But enough about our weariness–time for the day’s update. Today we were going to meet up in the morning with our guide, Ming Ming, and another family who is also adopting a little girl from Shanghai, and have a guided tour day. In our minds, that meant that she would be with us the entire time, translating, helping bargain with the street vendos, telling us what not to eat, and guide-stuff like that. But unfortunately the other family had missed their flight in from Tokyo yesterday and so it would just us. Cool–private tour…not so much. Ming Ming had to go to the airport to get the other family to we were taken to the Shanghai Museum and turned loose on our own for an hour and a half. She returned long enough to pick us up and takes us to Peoples Square, wow – amazing, what I can only describe as China’s equivalent of times square. Hugh buildings and wide streets filled with every upscale store you can imagine. It was literally a sea of people and you can see how much the culture enjoys being outside and active, it felt like millions of people were there. It was obvious we were tourist and so we got to practice saying “no, thank you” in Chinese a LOT today. But, we did get a cool pair of light-up roller skates for Grace! It was cooler then yesterday and so we stopped at a Starbuck’s, just because something war, and familiar sounded homey. (Sorry, Kat…this one didn’t have gift cards. But we’re not giving up.) I, Rob, decided to live a little and try the green tea latte. It was surprising…sorta like warm grass clippings and milk. Well I tried, but I wont be doing that again. We then went in search of dumplings for lunch, some specific type Tabby had read was a must try and like yesterday we found ourselves in a food court chain but unlike yesterday there was absolutely nothing in English, there were no pictures of dishes to point and mumble at, and there were things to eat that non of us even remotely recognized. It was total immersion in the sites, smells and sounds of Shanghai. True adventure on out part. Thankfully, the dumpling restaurant had a hand-written menu behind the counter and the girl there, seeing our panic at ordering, pulled it out and saved our 9 year old from what surely have been misadventure. We had another delicous meal, even though we still arent exacly sure what ws in the dumblings it was much tastier than the chlorophyl latte.

After hopping in a cab and being relieved the whole show-your-hotel-card thing worked, a quick trip to the Happy Magic Family Mart (ok, it’s just Family Mart; but my version sounds more Chinese), we went back to the park by our hotel for a walk and so Grace could try out her cool skate things. There were more people there this time, and ALL of them were enamoured with the beautiful blonde-headed girl we had with us. We met an older gentleman who spoke a little English and was happy to chat and walk a bit. Saw some beautiful caged birds all over the park, much like our Jays in size and shape but colored differently, and as strange as it sounds they made a beautiful song that just seemed to be very Asian in melody. If Tabby could have taken one home she would have…add to the collection! Everyone was still very interested in us, mostly Grace, especially when we decided to sit down on a bench to watch a woman practicing Tai Chi. How cool right?! We quickly found ourselves in a conversation with an older Chinese man and woman. I say conversation in the loosest sense of the word. They spoke even less English than we spoke Chinese. After at least a good 20 minutes, we may have said a total of 10 words that the other understood (mamma, babba, dei dei for brother and mei mei for litte sister and of all things orange, pickle and London…go figure) and I’m sure they were amused by it all just as much as we were. It was good insight into what Judah will be experiencing and feeling, although we laughed and enjoyed the exchange it was stimulating and exhausting at the same time, we wanted so badly to understand. It made our hearts soften even more for Judah as he won’t get to go back to the land where he understands everyone after a couple of weeks, like we will.

Tomorrow is finally the day, though. At 9:30 a.m. China Time we will get our boy! The reality of that hit us in a big way today. After nearly two years of hurry up and wait, praying, fund-raising, and praying, waiting, and praying some more, we have finally reached the beginning of this new path God has put us on. We are nervous and scared and overwhelmed. We pick him up and spend about and hour at the SWI and then Ming Ming leaves and its just us and Judah for a day! Extreme parenting. Please pray we will not fear and that we are able to just love him and make him feel safe…and wanted.
I promise we will take more pictures than you will care to see, and will undoubtedly recount this whole tale if you happen to ask “How was China?” Thank you to everyone that has texted us encouragement and Truth from the Word. It really does mean a lot to know that Judah’s “extended family” back home has got our backs.

Stay tuned…the good stuff is about to come…

Disaster Averted

What would our first-time international adventure be without a last-minute, life-threatening technological disaster? I’ll set the stage (to make it a bit more dramatic). So earlier today Tabby lets me know that our new Android tablet isn’t working anymore.  This is the new Android tablet that we sold her Nook and 17″ laptop to get.  The new Android tablet that was going to be our sanity for two 14-hour plane rides. The new Android tablet that was going to allow us to actually communicate with the world as we know it while on the other side of the world.

I couldn’t do much over the phone tech support, so the problem child had to wait until I got home from work.  After a little troubleshooting and online help-seeking, I announced that a trip to Home Depot had to be made in order to get some really little screwdrivers.  I turned a blind-eye to the fine print about blah, blah, blah, voiding warranty, blah, blah, blah, and tore that baby open in search of the loose cable that would solve the world’s problems.  I did find a loose cable…but the heavens didn’t part and there were no choirs of angels singing Hallelujia.

To make matters worse, I had spent enough time back and forth to Home Depot and trying to find the problem that it was now 8:50 pm.  The only store in the area that I knew actually had a replacement in stock closed at 9:00…and was at least 15 minutes away.  There was a frenzy of smart phone activity that I’m sure caused a temporary network slowdown.  Apologies if you’re with AT&T and were trying to do something important.  A voice sounded out that Fry’s had one and they were open until 10:00.  To the Batmobile!  But before I even made it to the main road, the call came in that they actually closed at 9:00…BUT…a Wal-Mart 30 minutes away had one.  New destination–only to be halted by a phone call 10 minutes later with the grim news that they didn’t actually have any in stock; nor did any Wal-Mart anywhere on the planet.  It was now 9:15.  My only hope was to responsibly obey the speed limit (HA!) in hopes that my old friend Best Buy would have mercy on me even though they shut their doors at 9:00.  It was almost 9:25 by the time I set foot in the parking lot.  I must have looked frazzled or desperate or both because no one tackled or tazed me as I came in through the out door declaring that I had an electronics emergency.  (Like that hadn’t heard that one before.)  Shout out to the gracious peeps at the Best Buy in Rockwall, because less than 10 minutes later I emerged with a brand-new tablet in hand.  Let’s keep it our little secret that we will be returning said tablet as soon as we are back in the States and sending our broken one off for warranty repair.

Because of their Good Samaritan attitude, you will continue to get updates like this one while we are in China.  Well, not exactly like this one because it’s nearly 1:30 am and I’m rambling because we’re trying to stay up until we board the plane for Shanghai at 11:00 am in a brazen display of nose-thumbing at the jet lag and 13-hour time difference.  Yes, I’d like some more Chicken Express sweet tea, please.