Stromberg's Adoption Dream

The journey to our little girl in China


In the two weeks we have been traveling, certain phrases have made their way into our everyday vocabulary. Two of the phrases were coined by a veteran adoptive family. This family is back to adopt their second daughter and the last time they traveled with…drumroll please…17 other families. Oh my! Now that is a BIG group!

The first phrase is “80%” or “eh..about 80%”
You speak this phrase in reference to something being almost, nearly, or kinda tasting like “home” or “American” or “the way you’re used to it” And typically the phrase is said with a little shrug or twinkle in ones eye.

Here are some ways this phrase can be used.
“How was the burger from the hotel retaurant?” “Eh, 80%.”
“How did you like the grilled cheese?” “About 80%.”
“Good ketchup on the fries?” “80.”

We have been using this phrase a fair amount because at this point in the trip we just can’t eat Chinese food for every meal. Just can’t do it. The way I wouldn’t eat a hamburger everyday at home. Not that the food is bad, because it’s not. It’s very good, or most of it has been, but man are we all craving ‘western’ fare. In truth our days revolve around entertaining the children and looking forward (or not) to the next meal. It’s something to do. We are touring, napping, or eating, when we’re not doing something adoption paper-work related and the desire for ‘westsern fare’ was the birth of the 80% comment. The last time the veteran CCAI family was here they ordered grilled cheese sandwiches and felt they were good, but somehow, something was off, something was different. Maybe the cheese was only partially melted, or the cheese was only partially cheese, but no matter, something made the grilled cheese, 20% not quite right. And boom, there it was “80%.” It’s the perfect phrase. And it need not only apply to food. It can also be applied to street signs, that when translated into English, almost, but don’t quite make sense. Signs such as, “No stepping” “No Funning” “No noises” “No Matches”. Yeah, 80%

Now, we must share that two dining endeavors proved to be 100% there. One is good old McDonalds. But this is only 100% because it’s not really food so you can’t mess it up. True? True. The second is Starbucks. Totally 100%. Way to go Starbucks.

The second Phrase of the Trip:”Survive and Advance.”
The veterans shared this one right off the bat. They shared that when they had come to adopt their first daughter, she lived on poundcake for two weeks. The idea behind this phrase is, “Hey you’re in China, and you were just handed a baby, a tiny stranger. So just do what you need to do to get through the day. And if all they eat is pound-cake, so be it.” Survive and Advance. This has been very helpful to Lars and I. It was helpful when Lydia barfed all over herself and Lars. We cleaned it up, put her in new clothes, apologized to the van. Looked at each other and said a silent, “Survive and Advance” with our eyes. Or when she didn’t eat for two days, spitting out food, throwing it on the floor, having a screaming fit in her highchair. We called it, left the beautiful breakfast buffet with hungry stomachs, walked by all the other babies happily eating, took a breath, looked at sweet, spent, Lydia, and chose an attitude of “Survive and Advance” as we headed towards the elevator. Or when she can’t settle to bed, with huge crocodile tears streaming down her face. And she won’t even reach for us, because she has kind of blankly ‘gone inside’ somewhere. We gently pick her up, let her cry into our shoulders and after a LONG eventually, she falls asleep. Another fit over, another day done. “Survive and Advance.”

The last phrase is one Lars and I are using just between the two of us. And all parents know this well. But somehow, it’s more poignant with this dear child, in this scenario of family forming.
“It’s not about us, it’s about her.”
This phrase is us recognizing that this go-around of parenting, and especially while on this trip, it’s very important for us to remember it’s not about us, it’s about her. We may want her to buck-up and eat the food we’re presenting her with. We may want her to stay in her stroller, or drink more water, or stop yelling, or sleep in her crib. But here’s the thing. A few very short days ago, she was sleeping in a metal crib in a concrete room, with 19 others babies vying for the nannies attention as they cried. And Praise Jesus, that day is done. There will be time for order and correction and proper eating habits and appropriate behaviors and sleeping in cribs. But, not now. Now is the time for extra patience and letting her lead the way. Now is the time for holding her little hand as she falls to sleep next to us on the bed. Now is the time for extra snacks and in-proper meals and whatever the heck she wants. We are building trust. We are proving ourselves present. We are becoming safe and familiar and constant. We are becoming something she has never known. We are becoming family.

We are here Lydia. And it’s not about us, it’s about you.

Visit to the Pearl Market



Lunch on Beautiful Shaiman Island







Back at the hotel for some group pictures.


Our solution to Lydia’s nightly scratching ritual.








A fun visit to the zoo on a beautiful day.

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5 thoughts on “80%

  1. Thanks for sharing your new phrases and secret messages between each other, all with the hope and prayer and taking the steps for building trust with Lydia, surviving another day, experiencing the new and unknown together, and becoming family. My thoughts and prayers are with you. God bless you all!

    P.S. Thanks for the pictures! I especially liked the one of the three of you and of Lydia running, and the group picture. I also found the sequence with the six children on a couch interesting… with the first picture showing one girl crying, the second showing two more getting ready to cry, and the third showing four crying and one possibly getting ready to cry.

  2. Linda Wright on said:

    I like the phrase “survive and advance”…… we need to use this phrase regarding our weather this winter. Start getting ready to return to COLD weather. We need to “survive and advance” toward SPRING! Liddy will need those mittens and more when she gets off the plane:)

  3. Whatever the heck she wants INDEED. And yay for Starbucks 🙂 Love you much! And Sam’s quote after seeing this post: “WHY would a baby want to see that scary hippo!?!” Ha!

  4. Vernadene on said:

    Your constant love and being there for her is what she needs for sure. It will take time and that will take a lot of patience. God bless all three of you in this endeavor.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing all the excitement and emotions of the last two weeks. Joel and I enjoy reading the blog each day. And it has been tender to see how much my boys love to follow it as well…looking and laughing at the sweet pictures of little Lydia. My favorites…Lydia wearing headbands! And the pictures of Lars following behind Lydia as she is walking aimlessly…oh the life of a toddler! Your blog has helped my boys learn about adoption and how we are all one big family in Christ. I saw your boys running at church last Sunday and they looked happy! We can’t wait to have you all home 🙂

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