Zhapo Dajiao Bay ~ Hailing Island

Most adoptions from China require around a two week stay. Typically the first week is in the child’s province and the second week in Guangzhou. Since our daughter is from the same province that Guangzhou is located in, we could have spent our entire trip in Guangzhou. We got most of our official stuff done in the first few days, but we must wait for our daughter’s visa to be processed. We have one more big appointment later this week before we can return home. Instead of staying in Guangzhou, we traveled to Yangxi and Hailing Island.

Chris is very travel savvy and coordinated everything for us. We got to spend a day and night at Zhapo Dajiao Bay on the island. It is a resort area – very beautiful. It is not ‘western friendly’, in the sense that no one speaks english, there aren’t picture menus and not much is written in english (like in the bigger cities). However, if you are ever in southern China and don’t mind those things – we highly recommend visiting. If we had known ahead of time how great Yangxi and Zhapo Daijao Bay were, we would have stayed longer. Both are so much more slow paced…we Okies like slow pace:)

Little One rocked two headbands today…and we were still asked if she was girl.

(headbands from My Little Dear / LuLu & ChaCha)

She is smiling more just on her own without us working to make her smile. When she smiles really big her nose is all scrunched up in the cutest way.

Zhapo Dajiao Bay on Hailing Island

Chris found it online and read a few reviews (Chinese reviews translated with Google Translator). We really weren’t sure what we’d find once we arrived. I think we’ve told the boys at least 20 times a day “remember it’s an adventure”…for walking, food, hotels, etc. This adventure turned out really well.

In the bay area you have to pay a few dollars to swim. The boys played in the sand to their heart’s delight.

And not to their delight, they were interrupted on numerous occasions for photo ops. They handled it all well. They asked if they could charge for posing in photos….smart boys. We told them “no”.

It is so fun to have a snuggly baby in our arms again. So fun!

Group shots are an extra fee, no discounts. If we had let the boys charge, they could have made a killing today!

These girls were so giggly. They wanted a photo with our 6 year old but were too shy to ask. He was completely oblivious.

Still oblivious to his fan club, he started dancing on the beach. Giggles and laughter from the ladies ensued.

Trying to be sneaky with his camera phone. I think my way of coping was to take photos of people taking photos. Total coping mechanism.

My other coping mechanism when people are staring and photographing me…act awkward because I am not sure how else to handle being uncomfortable:)


So peaceful….southern China is beautiful.

Being the great traveler he is, Chris knew there was a free local beach on the other side of the bay…we like free. We also like Lonely Planet. The books are great, but they also have translator apps that don’t require data service. Chris downloaded a Cantonese translator before we left so we were able to communicate the gist of what we needed.

The free beach. According to the Google maps he looked at there were no buildings near the beach. I think Google needs to do a little updating.

These pics are for their younger brother…they want him to see the building that looks like a Star Wars ship and the ‘pirate’ boat.

Hands. Lovely hands. Her hands are definitely related to coping and comfort. The more we learn her, the more we know that looking at her hands soothes her and is kind of like a retreat for her. The reality of living the majority of everyday in a crib means you find ways to comfort and cope. She must have found her hands. I am thankful it wasn’t a toy or an object that had to be left behind. I’m thankful her hands get to go with her anywhere and everywhere. I look forward to when she allows us to be that steady comfort in her life.

The boys didn’t know what to think about walking up to an aquarium and picking out their dinner.

She was so cute in the stroller tonight with her arms stretched out taking it all in happily. Back in April we got an update on her with new pictures. One of the pictures had her sticking her tongue out and it just stole my heart. I so giddy that I had my camera out fast enough to capture her doing it tonight as her daddy pushed her stroller. Goodness I love this girl.

Enough Mommy.

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  • Tessa - She is such a sweetie! I can’t believe that you get asked if she is a boy! Her eyes and long eyelashes are so beautiful and scream “girl!” to me. Loving the headbands … and the fact that you guys are celebrities in China – so funny!

  • Rachel - Ashley Ann, I’m a new reader of your blog, and totally am a fan. I love seeing how your faith itself out in creativity, family, and adoption. I can see you bringing glory to Christ in what you love and pursue. Keep it up!

    Little One is gloriously beautiful. She may be a fan of her hands, but I love her dark, luminous eyes. She’s awesome!

    haha I am ethnically Chinese (my parents are from Hong Kong) but I grew up in the States and don’t speak the language, so I still feel awkward when I’m in China. I’m reliving some of those memories through you. :) Have you tried chicken feet yet?

  • Danielle C. - Oh my goodness this little girl has stolen my heart. I’m so happy for your family. I look forward every day to reading your posts and seeing your beautiful pictures and family. I’ve never been so inspired by a person or family before. Thank you so much for sharing and being an absolute inspiration for me.

  • Rachel - Inspirational story! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  • Sharon @ Discovering blog - I found your blog via Design Mom, and have just spent the last few hours (shh! don’t tell my boss) absorbed into your beautiful world. Your pictures are stunning, and the love you have surrounding you is just breathtaking.

    You have an amazing ability to capture love and beauty, and it has been a pleasure poking around your blog.

  • Meg - Joining the others in saying what a captivating little girl you have! Your story is just amazing; I love watching it unfold. And it helps that you have really rockin pictures. What a keepsake these will be for her! I know you said that about the ones from her hometown but I think all of them, plus your posts, will help to know how you loved her from the beginning & embraced her culture. Just awesome, thank you so much for sharing!

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - I don’t know how people think she is a boy. . .she looks like a girl!
    That is adorable about your son’s fanclub. Perhaps blonde hair is rare. What a lovely day together, your time on the beach was. I bet you miss your other two children so much! SOOOOON!!!!!

  • Abigail - I have thought it with each of these wonder-filled pictures of your little “Song” looking at her hands…but I wonder what wonderful plans God has for her to accomplish using those 2 outstretched hands?!?!

  • RachaelB - Love all the pictures! Reading these updates are some of the best 5 minutes of my day.

  • Sarah W. - Thank you for sharing. I love hearing about your adventure and this part of your life and seeing your sweet boys and new baby girl!

  • erin - She is absolutely adorable! I LOVE the headbands on her–she wears them so well. And putting her hand up at you taking pictures is so stinkin cute! I can’t wait to see more! Thank you for sharing all of your adventures with us!

  • Sharon - Ahhh…the self soothing hands. Isn’t just amazing at how our children learned to cope with the life they have lived? Your little one, it is her hands. One of ours, it was her hand to her ear, where she would just rub it. Our 2nd one, he did this “foot thing”. Now we rarely see those behaviors, only if they are nervous about leaving home for say church camp. You WILL grow to be her source of comfort, as she learns to love and trust. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.

    Way cool that you were brave enough to get out and about in the country. We didn’t work up to that until our 2nd trip! The kids can’t wait until we make our return trip sometime over the next few years.

    All the best as you continue bonding with your little one.


  • jenn - thank you for taking us all along with you on your journey. It’s beautiful and inspiring.

  • Susannah - These posts are totally taking me back to growing up in Taiwan. I wish I had thought the way your sons did and charged for people taking pictures with me. I don’t think my parents would have let me either, though. :-)

    Your daughter seems to be doing so well and I’m so impressed by how good of travelers your sons are!

  • Stoich91 - Beautiful, beautiful photos. What a fun adventure, and what wonderful memories. The paparazzi photos really crack me up; I’m almost afraid to go to China, now! :D Maybe it is a blonde hair thing? Either way, so happy to see your precious bambinos soaking in the last bits of summer before you head home. I can’t wait to see Firecracker’s face! :D haha

  • Laree @ Ever Heard of Euless - I haven’t commented yet since you first got the chance to hold your little one – honestly, every time I’ve tried I’ve ended up crying with the beauty of your story.

    But the shot of you holding your daughter on the beach posing for pictures – it was just to precious to not comment on. Your little one will look at pictures like that later in life and rejoice at the love and happiness your family has.

    Thank you for sharing this joy with us!

  • Tracy - We have always wanted to adopt and all you are doing is making me want time to speed up to where we can be in this position! :) So glad that she is handling the changes so wonderfully and it’s so nice to see you guys being able to enjoy the country. The boys look like such great sports and your little one looks like she is just doing fabulous considering all the drastic changes she has been through this week! Kiddos are so resilient!

    I wish we were that “easy” at travel but I have a feeling if/when we make it there we’ll be too overwhelmed with change ourselves that we won’t be in mind set to do anything but stay in our own comfort zone. ;) What a great experience for everyone! You’ll have to take her back to visit when she is older. :) And won’t the boys have such a great story to tell when they get back to school! :)

  • Jenny - I’m so glad you are still blogging while over there! Seriously every day I think well they might be somewhere crazy and can’t get online….then I see your post and all your beautiful pictures and it makes me so happy to read more of y’alls story! Keep em coming, I love seeing her “open up” a little more each day in the pics. PS your boys seem awesome, does she let them hold her?

  • Rachel B. - Amazing how Little One loves her hands and that they are her way to cope and feel comfort. Amazing how Jesus does the same thing for us. Praying for you all.

  • Nicci - You and your pictures have made me cry every day that I have read your blog since you guys left to bring your daughter home! How wonderful that you can be the ones to bring such a good change in someone’s life! She is a doll.

  • Amy Beachy - she is so precious!

  • Teri - Her feet are killing me. Have you ever seen such cute little feet? She is so sweet, honestly. And what a joy to get to know her and be with her. It’s so great she’s learned to soothe herself and that she’ll get to know the comfort of a forever family, too. My heart is so happy for you all.

  • Jen - I find myself opening my Google reader every morning just to see if you have posted your goings on in China with your adorable little girl. Thank you for sharing these very touching moments with your readers. Only recently God has been tugging on my heart about adoption and your little girl has sealed the deal for me. May God continue to bless you and your family!

  • Lori - Thank you so, so much for sharing everything with us. Little One is a doll…I’m fascinated with her hand-coping. It makes sense; when things seem a little overwhelming retreat to home base just for a minute. ‘Those are my hands. I’m still me.’ My sister and bro-in-law got the paparazzi treatment too when they brought their daughter home from China. AND I’m pretty sure our husbands have the exact same swim trunks (Target?).

  • Caroline - Thank you for sharing your story in sich a honest and detailed manner. Your family has been a blessing to me, and in return I’ve been praying for you, through all the steps you took, are taking and will be taking on this journey. May God grant you all wishes of your hearts, for I know by the sparkle in your eyes that you are a family who delight yourselves in Him. I’m also praying about the attachment process and i’m really glad that eveything is going to the right direction. Praise Jesus!
    Blessings from Sao Paulo- Brazil

  • kathryn - Just beautiful! Words are insufficient to express God’s goodness and the reflection of His love as you chart your journey for us. Little one is gorgeous (and so are the rest of you:)). We traveled to China when I was 11 (1982). A family of 4 children, all blonde. the Chinese borders had only just been opened to Western children under 12. We had crowds of people just follow us down the street. Camera’s probably not quite so prevalent then :0 I remember people kept touching our hair.

  • nancy - God bless those little hands. Those glorious perfect little hands. What a blessing.

  • giozi - I’m a fan too !!!!!!!!!!! ha ha ha and my daughter he he

    Oh your little girl look so adapted. I’m very happy. You look great super happy too.

  • Amy D - Love that you are starting to get to know her! My favorite pictures of Little One are the ones in which you or Chris are holding her. We’re just waiting on a visa too, and considering heading to a beach while we wait! This sure makes me REALLY consider it :)

  • Rachel - I wake up every morning looking forward to reading your posts about your beautiful adoption story…I know it might not be perfect, but it is truly an amazing story and your new little one is beautiful! many hugs!

  • Carla - The swimsuit shots are killing me! So adorable! Looks like a beautiful place to get to know your daughter!

  • Anne-Scarlett M. - God has written y’all in to such a beautiful story. What a blessed little girl and what a bless mommy + family. It was meant to be. From the start, it was meant to be.

  • lyn - Thank you for updating your blog. It brings me great joy to see parents take such care, love and interest in their children. She is beautiful! I love the sticking out her tongue.

  • Rebecca A. - She is amazing!

  • Melany - Your daughter is so incredibly precious that each picture of her brings tears to my eyes. I can’t even imagine what a blessing it must be for you as her mother. What a beautiful gift God has given you :-)

  • Sharon Osborn - I too wanted to thank you for being so faithful with your blogging. After praying for you and your family for the past years, my heart is just bursting with gratitude to God for this new happiness for your family! Can’t wait to see Little One meeting Firecracker!!!

  • Vanessa - Good on you for stepping out in faith and embracing your little one’s country! What an adventure and what rich memories! So special. Thank you for such great posts. I’m impressed and inspired as per usual!

  • Amy - When we went to Thailand in November with our five year old – we were shocked that people in Taiwan (where our layover was) wanted to take pictures of the little white girl. Then when we got to Thailand and went out away from the big cities it was the same. People would call out in the open air markets in Thai “take a picture of the cute white girl!” our daughter developed her fake “picture posing” smile on that trip.

    These photos and this story of your family adopting is one of the first things that I think of when I wake up everyday and one of the things that I read before I go to bed each night. I’m praying for you all and just wanted you to know how thankful I am that you’re sharing this story. While adoption may not be an option for my family, reading this story has been eye & heart opening for me. Thank you.

  • Kelly - I love seeing all these pictures! So so happy for y’all that your daughter is now with you :)

  • NanaDoll - so glad that you are sharing your awesome adventure with us! it is amazing!

  • Lindsay W. - I have so enjoyed reading your journey and am celebrating with you and your family! We pray for your family faithfully and even my husband was in tears reading your post on meeting your daughter. Just wanted to say, the picture of you holding her with her headband on, my first thought was “she’s home”. You’re arms are her home…so happy for you!!!

  • Jessica R - The pictures in the pink bathing suit completely melt my heart! It makes me so sad to think of a year spent in a crib with only her hands, but like you said, I’m so glad that she still has that method of comfort. Though, it looks like she is so happy and at peace with your family already. I can NOT wait to see the photos of when she meets FireCracker! Oh my goodness, I can’t wait for that.

  • jenny - Your boys look like they are having the time of their lives! And your sweet little girl is just so very cute! I cannot wait until the day when my kids are exploring China too! My heart is so full and longs to be there. Your photos and blog posts are blessing me in so many ways.
    thank you for sharing! :)

  • Eva - What an awesome hubby to plan an excursion like that!!!! How fun!!!!

  • Cheryl Bonfils-Rasmussen - The hands…yes, so observant of you to recognize this as an act of soothing. Good for you! Our daughter’s soothing was to lick a blanket as if she was eating a corn cob left to right. Still does and she is 6 but she does it if she is happy, resting or just for the pleasure of it. Your daughter is a gem and a really happy kiddo. We enjoy every moment of you rblog- tonight my best friend Holly and her 2 daughters and 2 sons from China will join us with her husband and we’ll celebrate un-labor day heheheh

  • Nicole L. - My girls came in while I was reading this post and could not stop exclaiming about how cute and adorable Little One is. My oldest asked me about her lips and I explained a little. The youngest then said,”Oh. Well, even if she had lips like ours she’d still be adorable!”

  • Elizabeth - The beach looks so beautiful…and my boys would LOVE to see that “pirate” ship in person. how cool!
    seeing little ones hands & the story that is behind them ~ just completely overwhelms me! I’m so so glad she has you all to LOVE her, to hold those hands & gradually feel her embrace you w. those lovely little hands.

  • Brook @ BeingBrook - We lived in Japan for 6 years and people would want pictures with the kids all the time there too. Bugged me SO much at first but I had to get over it fast. We would go to a tourist site with the kids and have them stand for a picture and as we were taking pictures of our kids there would be tourists on both sides of us taking the same picture. Our youngest son was born in Japan and as a toddler when he heard the Japanese word for cute he would run to me or his Dad for protection because he knew he had seconds before some Grandma scooped him up or would want to touch him. LOL. So happy for your family!

  • Hope Winen - AWWW! she is so beautiful! I love the photos taken, really captures how happy she looks with you and your family :)

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