All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16.


Happy wonderful day of birth to Arden Shan.   The celebration of you, of us, and our journey we made together.  I thank God he put you in our lives.  We are blessed!  

Arden loves her birthday.  She cares about the birthdays of the  people she loves too.  Arden just plain loves birthdays.  


Do I smell birthday cake?


Arden's favorite cake is cheesecake and she wanted Chocolate.  Cheesecake Factory Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake.   They had four different kinds of chocolate cheesecake.  Decisions, decisions.


Well, I knew on Arden's birthday I better step up to the plate after she was so sweet on mine.  So, I served her breakfast in bed!  Pancakes, bacon and fruit!  No, I didn't fix it myself, but I did do the drive through at Steak N Shake.  : - )  Arden was probably a lot happier it came from there instead of my cooking anyway. 


Instead of a present she wanted cash for our upcoming trip to her birth city, Guangzhou.  We can't wait!  I don't know how Lael and Arden will feel about returning to their birth cities.  Lael has been back to China twice already, but not to her birth city of Wuhan.  And this is Lael's first time back to China as an adult and Arden's first time back at all.  


And Arden wants her birthday dinner out to be Harry and Izzy's.


Butter meets sugar--more cream cheese than anything.







Lael:  "I didn't get breakfast in bed on my birthday!"


Her cousin, Payton mailed her a present.  How sweet!  I know things like that mean a lot to Arden. 





Everyone had a long day.  They were exhausted, sleepy, and had bloodshot eyes.  They had gone to school,  sports and Lael and Arden had worked.  By this time they were ready for bed, but it was worth staying up to sing to Arden and eat cheesecake!




Arden's drawing to us while she was waiting on us in China.  How can you not love this?!


Let's go get our Arden! 


Another dream coming true... for me!



One proud Daddy.


Arden in the hotel bonding with her new sister, Bret.  Arden had already heard about Bret.  Arden's good friend in China, Michelle was Bret's biological sister.  Long story.



Looking out the window of the White Swan Hotel. 




Long day.  Lael and Arden touring Arden's birth city,  Guangzhou.  


Me asking Arden if I could trim her hair.  The answer was pretty much, "NO!"  Arden was picky about her hair then and still is.  

I was looking back at what I had written about Arden "Shan" right after we had gotten her:

"Shan is so cute and pretty! I’m not sure what she thinks of us. Bret thinks she belongs to her. She has about taken her over. She does as Bret says. I think Shan doesn’t want to be rude, but she is also probably relieved that Lael and Bret are already so crazy over her." 








More of what I wrote about Arden Shan:

"Shan seems a little nervous, but not overly shy. She is not a big eater (I guess you can tell that from the pictures). I think she thinks of food the same as she thinks of us—just weird and different. Last night the jet lag settled in on all of us. Lael and Bret crashed around 7 pm, and I almost had. I could tell Shan was a little bewildered with us. I heard her say “Daddy” and looked up to see her hand Mike an address book and hold her fingers up to her ear like she was making a phone call. I had already asked (by Judy, of course) who her best friend was, and she said a girl from school—not the orphanage. We got a little nervous about who the heck she wanted to call. She seemed scared and close to tears. We called Judy, and Judy talked to her. She told Judy she was very bored and wanted to know why we were going to sleep so early! Judy told her that we were very tired from all the flying and 'that would be her in 2 weeks after her long journey to the U.S.' Judy said she thought it was OK for her to call her friend. Mike dialed for her. She talked about 10 minutes and I think her friend must have had to go. In the middle of the conservation Shan said 'Daddy' and pointed to her new name. She wanted Mike to pronounce her new name and then I heard her telling her friend her entire new name. She very much wants to be called by her new name—Arden Shan. 

Shan, or I guess I should try and start saying Arden, can read English, but I don’t think she knows what she is reading. She counts and says her alphabet."

Cokie Lael and Arden

Back home.


Arden and her cousin Payton.

Arden's bday

Celebrating Arden's birthday.

Arden Lael and Payton

Arden sun tanning


Arden Shan Allen


Arden and Mom