We are home!!!!

We made it. Its 8:30 and we are in our house and all 3 kids are in bed and fast asleep. How long they remain asleep remains to be seen, I'm sure we will be awake at some point tonight. We've been told by friends that it takes 4 or 5 nights to recover from the jet lag. Tonight is night 3 and we're praying for a miracle!  Even if they wake up it will be so nice to be at our own house. 

Ava lovd her room, and was really loving the crib too, until it was time to go to sleep. 


Click to see some more pictures.....

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Zoo, Last Post from China, and 13 years!

It's 7:18pm on Tuesday March 13 in China (6:18am on March 13 in Houston).

13 Years ago today, Jessica and I were married!  We celebrated by going to the Zoo.  And the zoo was amazing! So much good video that I'll post when we get back to the U.S.  Zoe even held and fed a baby Tiger!!!!  I didn't get any photos, but their is some nice video of that.  They let you get super close to the animals at this zoo, and we got to see Tigers

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Zoe and Alex have loved this!

So how are Zoe and Alex doing? They are loving China! They want to move here and live in a hotel. A really nice hotel in a really nice, new part of Guangzhou. The part of Guangzhou we are staying in has all been built within the last 10 years. There are no motorbikes, no honking, and everything is very clean and well organized. It is the very opposite of Hefei.

Zoe and Alex have been amazingly helpful at times. They've pushed the stroller for us, held Ava's bottle (although she really prefers to hold it herself), fetched numerous items for us in times of stress, and been very loving towards Ava. It's been

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Last day in Hefei... On to Guangzhou

Current time in China, March 9 - 9:23am,  Current time in Houston - 7:23pm - March 8

Sleep schedule has finally normalized!!!!!  Girls went to bed at 7:45, woke up at 6:00am, that works for me! Thakns for the prayers!

We finally get a change of scenery tonight.  We have to wait for Queenie to get here with some paperwork. Check that paperwork, and then she goes back to finish off the local paperwork with the Anhui province (like a state in America).

Then we fly to Guangzhou. Ava's first flight, let's hope she prefers flying to driving.  The flight is about 2 hours. While in Guangzhou we will be staying at The Garden Hotel, looks pretty nice, but I'm betting the room will be a bit smaller than the very nice set up we have here at the Holiday Inn Hefei. Good news is that the weather is about 20 degrees warmer in Guangzhou. Right now, it's 39 here in Hefei, and 59 in Guangzhou. More pictures are below, but first, some more...... China observations....

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Not the zoo! And some thoughts on being a celebrity

So our guide (her name is Queenie) decided to throw out another option instead of the zoo this morning. Because it was 39 degrees and a bit drizzly she offered to take us to an indoor playground at the fancy mall. Big Win! The playground was super fun, and the older girls needed somewhere to run around and let off steam. They've been couped up in hotel rooms for too long. This was perfect.  Then we had a pretty good meal in the mall, and made it back just in time for Ava to take her 1:00pm nap.  Added bonus, it was only a 5 minute car ride to the mall.  Did Ava cry the whole way?
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Ava is learning a lot


Ava can't walk, and hasn't ever eaten real food, but we are working on both like crazy right now.  Because of her cleft palate anything she eats might get shot out of her nose, so that is an adventure. It also has to be really small, so we are sticking to mashed banana and yogurt right now. The noodles at lunch (very small) were a moderate success. She is doing great, and we've had a lot of laughs today, much better than yesterday. Thank you for the prayers.  Keep praying for sleep normalization.


We got her!

It's been a wild time, and a bit challenging. The good news is Ava took to all of us immediately. She laughed and laughed with us off and on all day. We went to the grocery store and out to eat, and she was a champ. She played with the girls and played with us a ton. She seems very curious and very funny. She loves to have fun and giggle and laugh. She also seems very healthy, but we have a lot to learn about where she is developmentally. He can cruise, but probably not walk on her own yet. She loves to touch and scratch things, very tactile.

The bad news is we are trapped in some kind of bizarre sleep netherworld. Ava was supposed to nap for 2 hours at 1:00pm yesterday. We tried to put her down but she cried and cried and cried and cried. We couldn't let her cry it out in the crib because the crib the hotel provided has sides slow low that she jumped right out. Thankfully I was ready and caught her or she would have landed hard on her face! So she missed her nap.

Her bedtime is 7:00pm and we had her asleep in our bed by 7:30pm and she is still asleep. However, she wakes up and cries for 20 seconds about once an hour.

Our older girls on the other hand are in a totally different schedule. Yesterday they woke up at 1:30am. We couldn't get them to sleep, so they were just up. That came back to bite us yesterday afternoon when they put themselves down for a nap at 3:00pm!!! That nap lasted until about 2 hours ago (1:00am). Right now (3:00am) we are awake, I'm typing this, the girls are watching Mary Poppins, and Jessica is laying in bed with Ava. So we are basically functioning with 3 kids on 2 different sleep schedules. Jessica and I are very tired! Irrationally tired. Please pray we can all get on a semi-normal sleep schedule!!!!!!!!


This is us with Ava's foster mother and an orphanage worker.  The foster mother has a 6 year old at home as well.

Everyone is a helper!

I had her asleep like this for a few minutes, but she freaked when I tried to lay her down.

We have some better pictures and a ton of video, but I can't upload the video, and some of the pictures are in the other room, where she is sleeping.

A few observations from China

It's 5:24 pm in Hefei and 3:24am in Houston.  I'm super exhausted, having just awoke from a 2 hour nap. All the girls are still asleep. We're gonna try to wake them up in a few minutes and stay awake for 3 hours, then go to bed and see if we can get adjusted to the new time zone.  They are bringing Ava to our hotel room tomorrow, and she'll be with us permanently after that!  That should happen at roughly 9:30am tomorrow (7:30pm in Houston).

A few funny things I've noticed since we've been here (the past 24 hours).

1. If you are a male, from China, and are in a public restroom, you WILL walk into the bathroom and the first

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good morning from Hefei!

We slept a solid 5 hours last night, but at 5:30 we were all wide awake, so we got up and took much needed showers. Then we went to the top floor of the hotel (Holiday Inn Hefei) and ate breakfast in the rotating restaurant. It was one of the great breakfast buffets of all time and is included with the room. Needless to say the hotel is very nice. We have two adjoining rooms and they are well furnished. Thanks for all the prayers and encouragements.

We have no access to Facebook or Twitter (although I am getting email notifications when people mention me on Twitter). I'm trying to figure out a way to circumvent this, but I'm not hopeful. You can email us or post in the comments on this site, also FaceTime works perfectly and I'm on Skype as derekbonesteel.

I'll post some humorous China observations later.

PS- 9:34am here on Sunday (7:34pm on Saturday in Houston)

We have arrived in Hefei....Finally!


We were so tired on the flight from Shanghai to Hefei we all 4 crashed out.  I was asleep before we took off.  Best hour of sleep ever!

Current time in Hefei, China  = 11:34 pm.  Current time in Houston = 9:36am.

 Haven't figured out how to view/post on Facebook or Twitter yet, so someone may need to post links on my wall or something for that to work.

We just put the girls to bed.  All said and done, we left Jessica's parents house at 4:30am on Friday, and we arrived in our hotel room at roughly 8:45am on Saturday. For 28 hours of travelling I don't feel that bad.  Although we are super tired, I think I'll stay up for a little while and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..............

Our adoption and God's Provision

So here is the long awaited followup to our announcement about adopting our third daughter from China.  We have indeed, decided to call her Ava, so barring any last minute changes of heart, that will be her name.

What follows is the story of how God has provided for all of our needs. I hope it encourages and amazes you.

International adoptions are expensive. Actually, all adoptions are expensive. I can’t personally speak to the specific expenses for any other kind of adoption. All we know is that for an American family to adopt from China through our agency, the cost comes out to roughly $22,000. This includes the travel costs for 2 people.  Since this amount is nearly half of our families annual income, just entertaining the idea of adopting is a matter of faith, or lunacy. Sometimes those two things are relatively similar.

When we started praying about it in the summer of 2010 we knew that the expense would be a big challenge.  Last Christmas we decided to definitely pursue adopting another girl from China. Soon after we made this decision we received some extra income that we weren’t counting on, that made paying for the first $11,000 in expenses totally doable!  That was awesome.

So in January of 2011 we (mostly Jessica) started doing paperwork, filling out forms, organizing all of our official documents, and all the rest of the stuff you have to do to adopt. By August, it was all finished and sent away, we were approved, and the whole process was...in process. 

By this point we had paid out roughly $11,000 in expenses.  We were in Colorado on a family vacation, and Jessica reminded me that we would have start paying for the rest of the expenses pretty soon (sometime in the next year) now that the paperwork was done. She was concerned about how we were going to come up with $11,000.  We had already talked about and looked into various options for ways to raise that amount, via an online fundraiser. Jessica was feeling burdened about the work to raise the money by certain deadlines. I was relatively laid back about it (I know, this sounds like a lie, but it’s true). I figured we have lots of friends and acquaintances that would be happy to donate to something like this, and we could get 100 people to give a 100 dollars, or some catchy idea like that. After discussing this for a day or two, we prayed about it.

It wasn’t a desperate prayer, or an urgent prayer, or even a very specific prayer.  It was simply a prayer acknowledging that we needed help, and we were open to any kind of solution God would provide. Including a solution we hadn’t considered.

The next day Jessica received an email from one of the staff at our church, Cindi Lomax, asking if we knew anyone who was adopting from China and might need help with the expenses.  Now, at this point, Cindi did not know we were adopting again. The only people who knew were our closest friends and our family. We kept it a secret for 8 months!!!!  Therefore, it was totally random that Cindi happened to send us that email. Yeah, random, totally, wink, wink.

Jessica responded to her immediately, letting her in on the secret that we were, in fact, adopting from China again. She had no way of knowing that we had just prayed about our expenses in the past 24 hours.

We exchanged a few emails with Cindi, where she was a bit cryptic. She was trying to figure out what the Lord was up to. She asked us to send her an email, sharing “our heart” in the adoption process.  After that she asked us to send a list of our remaining expenses, which totaled roughly $11,000.

Cindi responded, telling us that there was a family at our church that felt that God was specifically telling them to help someone bring a child home from China.  Our church has quite a few adoptive families, and a clear vision for helping families who want to adopt.

However, at the time, our church had an emphasis on adopting from Columbia. So, it was odd for Cindi to hear a family say that they felt like the Lord was clearly telling them to help someone adopt from China.

A little while later she informed us that the family who was looking to help someone bring a girl home from China would help us, and that they would cover ALL the remaining adoption expenses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had not dreamed or imagined that someone would be willing to be so generous, or that this would be the method by which God provided.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

We have another daughter....almost!

We are very pleased to announce that we have been matched with a one year old girl in China!


Her name is  Ding Si Xiu - and she was born in Septermber of 2010.  She has a cleft lip and a cleft palate. The lip has already been repaired, and we will do what is necessary to repair the palate in the next few years when we bring her back to the USA!

We think we will name her Ava SiXiu Bonesteel, but that isn't in stone yet, more like wet cement.

As best we know, we will be travelling to China to bring her home sometime in March, but that could change as well.  

Pictures seen here


We are thrilled to be matched with this little girl and our whole family is anxious and excited to travel to China and bring her home to be a part of our growing family!

Thank you so much for all of your prayers, love, encouraging words and support!

There is more to this story, and in the next few days I plan on writing it up so you can hear about God's work in our lives and his provision for bringing Ava to our family.