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.

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