Saturday, September 4, 2010

A new US Citizen!

Jade-Rose became a new US citizen when we landed in San Francisco this morning. Luckily for us, and I mean luckily for us, the man who handled our immigration paper work let us stay and finish with him instead of going into a second line which was over 20 people long. This was the flight with only two hours to go through customs, immigration, new citizen status, baggage claim, re-check in/boarding passes and re-security checks. We JUST made our flight to Chicago. We were one of the last people to board. If the immigration man made us go into the second line, which he was making everyone else do.... we would have missed our flight. Good intentions, people!!! YAY!

Right now I am posting this to you from my bed in the Sheraton Four Points in Chicago. A bed that does not feel like a kitchen table with just a sheet on top of it. It feels good to be on American soil again and to eat American food. We fly out in the morning to Miami, have about a 2 hour layover there, and then a short flight home tomorrow late afternoon.

I just wanted to let you know that we made it mostly home, safely. A train ride and two air flights down, only 2 more flights to go!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Last Blog Post from China!

Ni Hao y'all..
A big thanks to all of you who have been reading our travel/adoption blog. We really appreciate the comments and the e-mails of support as we are 8,000 miles from home. It has been a huge adventure, both in the lengthy travels abroad and the addition to our family.

Presently, it is 3pm China time on Friday, September 3rd. We will be leaving our hotel at 6:30am tomorrow morning to catch a train to Hong Kong. Then a flight out of the Hong Kong airport at 2pm to San Francisco on Cathay Pacific. We are scheduled to land at 11:35am (West Coast time) in SFO (did you notice we will land in SF before we fly out of China? You figure it out... LOL). Then a flight to Chicago has us landing 8:10pm Central time. We will spend the night in Chicago, catching a morning flight to Miami and then Tallahassee on American Airlines flight 3619 at 6:10pm on Sunday.

I have asked for prayers and protective light before on our journey, but we will really need it for our travels. You can see we have much to look forward to. At the beginning of my blog, I mentioned that our entire trip will be 9 planes and a train. Tomorrow morning will be our train portion and then 4 flights to go.

We will be 13 hours on our flight to San Francisco with 3 kids 6 and under. You KNOW we are going to need your prayers! The trip over went very well, and I have high hopes for tomorrow as well.

I may not be able to post in SF, as we only have a 2 hour layover and have to get through customs and immigration to catch the Chicago flight, but I may be able to post something from Chicago. If not, then you will all hear from me once we are home.

Feel free to join me in these intentions: I intend that our travels home from China are safe, easy, fast and comfortable. I intend that the children are calm, well-behaved and sleepy. I intend that our trip back home is as easy and stress-free as our trip over had been. I intend all of these things and So It Is, So It Is, So It Is.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Images of Guangzhou...

There are primarily two areas where Westerners/Americans stay while in Guangzhou. Historically, it has been Shamian Island. The island has many beautiful French Colonial buildings that were built by the French and British in the 1800's. It has quiet park like streets and seems to be of a different world than the rest of Guangzhou. It is here, where the famous White Swan hotel is. The hotel where in the early years of the Chinese adoption process, everyone stayed. It is very luxurious and the most expensive hotel to stay at while waiting out the adoption process. If the rooms had been larger, we probably would have stayed there, just for the historical aspect of it. But with three kids, we really needed a larger room (and better economics).

Here are some photos from Shamian Island and the White Swan:Here is one of our favorite sites on Shamian Island:Some from the White Swan Hotel:Then there is our part of Guangzhou. We are staying at the Holiday Inn Shifu in the downtown area of GZ on a famous pedestrian shopping area. It is also a 15 minute walk to Shamian Island.These pictures are the view from our hotel room. I don't know if it is clear in the pictures, but from our elevated perspective, we can see the "old" (and I mean ancient) buildings that look like what Americans would consider a "shanty town," and the elegant and new facade attached to the front of the buildings to hide what is really there. This was done because the Asian Games are coming to GZ in November. The government is trying to "clean up" the city as much as they can in preparation for the Games. From the street, you cannot tell what is behind it.Today we went to the US Consulate for our oath taking process. This is the final step in the adoption process and tomorrow we will receive Chen Jie's visa and will be able to leave the country. I was very proud of myself for not crying on Gotcha Day/Forever Family Day, but I did cry while taking the oath. I couldn't even get through it, I just let Dave speak for me and I kept my right hand raised.

We aren't able to take pictures while inside the Consulate, and the exterior just looks like an office building but here it is, an a picture of us after taking the oath.I'll wrap up with some of the typical Chinese markets and pedestrian traffic that we see everyday. The one nice thing about where we are staying as opposed to Shamian Island, is we see more of the "real" China. We also have more shopping and restaurant choices. We are less isolated. Some people might not like that, but Dave and I figure if we came all this way to China, By Golly we are going to see China.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Travels and Travails....

I haven't posted in a couple of days because I didn't think there was all that much interesting to share. We are just existing as a family and doing our day to day things. If day to day can be described as "living" in a luxury hotel with an extravagant buffet breakfast everyday ("luxury" at US budget hotel prices). Going out to eat at every meal and buying souvenirs in one form or another every day..... I'm afraid our girl will be in a bit of a shock once we are home and realize that life is not all luxury and fun and games everyday. Oh well..

I will gloss over some of the sightseeing that we have done. I have already described the events at the Great Wall and other Beijing sites.

In Hefei we went to the orphanage in Luan one day, and I also described the park near our hotel where our entourage liked to gather. In Hefei, we also went to the Hefei Aquarium. The Aquarium was actually very nice and indoors away from the heat. Do the Chinese use air conditioning? Sometimes and somewhat. In the aquarium I still found it a bit warm, even though the lighting was very low. Air conditioning is used only minimally.

Here are some pics from the aquarium:The highlight for Alex and Nathan were not the dolphins or sea lions or all of the unique and beautiful fish. The Hefei Aquarium had a Spongebob Squarepants play area. The boys could run around to their hearts content. And Chinese people could freely take their picture....Here is a group shot.I've told you in other posts that we are in Guangzhou and have been since last Friday night (it is Wednesday right now). One of the touristy things that we have done was to go to an animal safari. It was quite good, but excruciatingly hot. Tallahassee in the summer feels much cooler to give you a comparison. :-0

They had a great train ride around the park to see animals. Many of the animals come right up to you and are very close. The train ride was the best, the park was very nice and would be great in cooler weather. They did have an incredible panda exhibit. Since Dave and I used to live in Washington DC, we have seen a panda before. But nothing like this. Almost all of the pictures that I take are from my iPhone. My iPhone does not have a telephoto lens, so you can see how close we actually were to the pandas. They also looked happy, healthy and active, very unlike the DC panda.Dave and the kids also got to hold a baby white tiger. That was really cute. This safari had many white tigers. I think they must specialize in breeding them for other parks or zoos or magician couples.I'm trying not to bore you with too many "family photos." I will save that for a big slide show when I get home (ha, ha just kidding).

As for our travails. There has not been much. Chen Jie/Jade-Rose is still doing remarkably well. Monday was our first day with tears. She started to cry after she threw something in play and it hit Alex in the head. I tried to get her to hug him to apologize and to tell her not to do that again. That was the trigger. But then it clearly just became the gateway for other tears to come.

Dave took the boys to the pool and I held Jade for about an hour while she cried. I have never seen a child cry that long. I guess it all needed to come out. Better out then in. All of this was expected. I also expected her to push me away. She did a little bit. It was an interesting dynamic to observe her body language. We were laying on the bed together and she kept her arms around my neck the whole time, but was using her lower body to push me away at times. It was like she was fighting two different emotions needing to push away to be alone, but not wanting me to leave to make her alone. Poor little baby.

As the tears subsided a bit, I pulled out my laptop which was also on the bed and started to look at pictures. She LOVES to look at pictures of herself. I also clicked on some video that Dave took of our first day. The first moments when she was scared as she walked into the Civil Affairs office. Moments afterwards when she started blending in with our family. And video of her later all laughing and happy. By then she was happy in my arms as well, and we made it through our first emotional breakdown in this process of older child/international adoption.

We are still blessed and doing exceptionally well. Here is a pic of her on one of the famous red couches of the White Swan Hotel here in Guangzhou. This is a tradition established by adoptive parents many years ago when the first Chinese adoptions began. It started with groups of babies being all lined up on the couch for an official good luck portrait. Since we are not in a group, it is just Jade-Rose.Keep us in your prayers and protective light. I will especially need it next Saturday when we begin our travels home.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

She's not just Mommy's little girl....

Before I begin my next post topic, I thought I would catch you up on a couple of things. In my last post, I mentioned that we are now in Guangzhou. I don't know if it is because more Westerners are here for their adoptions (this is the city we ALL have to come to regardless of where in China our children come from) or because we are so close to Hong Kong, but I can finally access BLOGGER (sometimes...). I can't see any pictures and I cannot yet respond to your comments directly on the blog, but I can read my text and most importantly, read your comments! Thank you for the comments, it is so nice to feel we still have a connection back home.

Some of the comments have asked when we are coming home. We are scheduled to come home on Sunday, September 5th at 6:10pm on American Airlines, flight number 3619 out of Miami.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post......

I wanted you to know that Chen Jie is bonding with Dave just as much as she is bonding with me. Sometimes an adopted child prefers one parent over another in the beginning. So far, that is not happening on our front. Here are some pictures of Chen Jie/Jade-Rose with her Baba (Daddy in Chinese).

This one was our very first day.These three are from the great breakfast buffet at the Holiday Inn Hefei.This one is from Chen Jie's first airplane ride. Notice the smile. Nothing has fazed her so far....Happy girl playing with Daddy and a Chinese parasol.I hope y'all are enjoying our pictures and our story. It will mean alot to us if you can keep us in your prayers and positive intentions. So far, things are going very, very well.

A Trip back to the Beginning....

The next day we went to Chen Jie's orphanage or Children's Welfare Institute (CWI) in Luan. Luan is a city about an hour and a half west of Hefei. Our usual driver and Erin our facilitator brought us there. It was explained to Chen Jie ahead of time that we were just going for a visit and for her to say goodbye to her friends. We were worried, of course, that she would think we were bringing her back to the orphanage. She looked a little worried when Erin was explaining this to her, but in the end she was fine.

Here is the Luan CWI.We were greeted by the Director and by Madam Hu. Madame Hu is the main caretaker and has been for many, many years. If you are reading this blog post and have adopted from the Luan CWI, Madame Hu probably was your child's nanny. When she saw Chen Jie she fussed and fussed all over her and pretty much took charge and kept Chen Jie with her. Good thing I'm not the jealous type. Nor am I the talkative type necessarily, and Thank Goodness because such a chatterbox is Madame Hu! Even our facilitator Erin kept shaking her head and saying "My, she talks alot..." But she has a good heart and it was obvious she cares for the kids. Chen Jie's attachment to us has been great from the first hour of our introduction. That would only happen if she was well cared for in her orphanage. We feel very blessed that our daughter was cared for as best as possible. We take nothing for granted.

Madame Hu fussing over Chen Jie:Here are pictures within the CWI. Here is Chen Jie's crib. Yes, she still sleeps in a crib. All the kids do. Her group was the toddler group. They stay in that group until about age 6. Then they move to another room with older kids. In the hotels where we have been staying, Chen Jie also sleeps in a crib (they're big). I may have to make some accommodations back home with one of our toddler beds for her. Right now I have a full size bed in her room. I guess we will have to wait and see how that goes...

The center bed was hers.Here are pictures of Alex and Nathan distributing candy to the children. Most of them are much younger than Chen Jie as she was one of the last of her peer group to get adopted. They had expected us in May, and it is now the end of August, so you can see how long we were delayed. :-(Here is the poignant part of the story..... These photos are of Chen Jie's "finding place." This is where she was left, at approximately 3 days old. She was not left with any information or keepsakes, and the doctor's estimated that she was about 3 days old, so her birthday is also a guess.

She was found at the gate of the CWI. The white building you see behind the gate is the guard shack and a female guard found her in the morning around 10am.We are now in Guangzhou, the last major part of our trip. I am trying to catch up on blog posts. We will be here 8 days. Guangzhou is completely different from Beijing, Hefei and Luan. To help you visualize the amount of people the entire STATE of Florida has just over 18 million people. Guangzhou city has over 12 million. Dave says Guangzhou looks like the city in the movie Blade Runner, without the flying cars. I will let you guys figure that out...

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