Friday, May 24, 2013

Journey: Gotcha Day part 2

This is part two of my Gotcha day posts...

Monday, April 21, 2013: After our long morning of paperwork, tears, and smiles we had some time to rest before our next outing. We headed back to the hotel and it was time for lunch. We had bought some noodles for David and got those ready. We weren't going to change him to a new outfit (I had read some things about needing to keep the kids feeling secure and changing their clothes can be detrimental) but I did need to change his diaper. We discovered that he was wearing not one, not two but 3 pairs of pants and 2 shirts, one of which was a sweatshirt. He had also been wearing a pretty heavy jacket. I had read about children in China being dressed in many layers and have now seen it for myself! His poor little checks were red for good reason, the kid was HOT!
Well, we stripped him out of his overly warm clothes and put only one layer back on. It was warm outside and we felt good with him wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt. They had put him in one layer that was an outfit that we had sent which made my heart happy- Thank you New Day!!!
Our first experience with David eating went surprisingly well! We made noodles and he slurped them up!! He seemed to really like them and did well despite having gone through such a traumatic morning. After his lunch we tried putting him down for a nap since he seemed really sleepy but that didn't go over with him so we played and watched David discover all the fun things in the hotel room.
He explored and we moved things (making a hotel room toddler ready is NOT easy!!!) and played with the cups and some other toys that we had brought with us. The time went by quickly and soon it was time to meet our guide in the lobby.
We went to the police station where we had to sign some more paperwork and give the pictures of David taken that morning. The police station would be getting his passport ready by Friday so we could leave the province.
After that outing we were done for the day with office visits so we could go "home" and be together. We hung out in my parents room for most of the evening. We didn't want to go out so we ordered room service and enjoyed playing with David and David enjoyed watching us. After dinner we headed back to our room and had our first bath time. David seemed a little nervous but once he was in the water he had a blast. We learned quickly that he loves bath time. The stacking cups made the bath even more fun!
We had a cradle in our room- the hotel did not have cribs. The cradle would have been good if David was a baby but with it being able to rock and move we were very nervous about him getting hurt so we decided he would sleep with us. We prepared our bed and he snuggled in between us!
Our first day of being parents was coming to an end and we had survived and had many smiles!!! We knew that God had ordained this day and for us to be David's parents. What an incredible day!!!
first lunch~ noodles of course!

at the police station

wearing mommy's shoes (one of his favorite activities)

dinner included some french fries!
An end to our first day together!!! We are SO BLESSED!!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Journey: Gotcha Day part 1

In honor of our Gotcha Day 1 month anniversary here is the first post (of two) on our Gotcha Day!

Monday, April 22nd: Today was THE DAY, the day we had been preparing for for what seemed like so long. We woke up as a couple who didn't have kids and within a couple of hours we were a family for three. It's amazing how fast things can change!
We left the hotel a little before 10am headed to the Civil Affairs office in Urumqi. I was totally keyed up and kept going over what we had and what we knew. We knew that David would be brought to the office though we weren't sure who would bring him. Would we see Wayne, from New Day? I had his backpack full of snacks and some toys including bubbles which seem to be a big hit for most adoptive families.
We got to the office building and were headed inside. David was already there! We rode the elevator up to the 4th floor with him and many people I didn't know. Our guide kept telling us this was our baby, loved it!!! When we got to the floor they took us into an office and handed David to us-just like that he was OURS!!! Yes, there was paperwork and stuff to get done but in our hearts our journey was complete!!! David looked between the two of us for a couple of minutes and then the tears started.
So, I thought I was prepared for him being sad and crying but really I wasn't. It broke my heart! Knowing that his whole world was totally changing was overwhelming to me. I cried with him and we tried to console him with smiles (through our own tears) and bubbles.
We weren't in the office long since we had signed most of the paperwork the day before so soon we were told we were going to the photo shop to get David's passport photo. He was sobbing but we all managed to make it out to the van and head to the photo shop. The photo shop was really a studio and they were very nice. We did a family picture that would be used for the "red book" and the he was placed in a high chair to do his photos. He was crying but stopped enough to get an okay photo. We piled back into the van and went to the civil affairs office to complete paperwork.
When we got back to the office the ladies who were with David at the beginning started trying to get him to eat. Poor David was sobbing and these pushy women kept shoving cake in his mouth. Luckily, our guide suggested we move out to the hallway. Steve and I found a nice window seat for us to get to know David privately. We sang to him, blew bubbles, gave him snacks, played peek-a-boo... we did what we could do to get him to calm down a little. Lily and the civil affairs officer came over and we stated why we wanted to adopt him and promised to love and educate him in the US. David had to have his fingerprint on some paperwork too so that was done. After an hour we were told we were leaving again to go to the notary office. David was still crying but not sobbing, progress! It was awesome having my parents with us to not only take pictures but to have the reminder that things were going to be "okay"!
We traveled to another building and headed up to a nice conference room. They poured us tea and we waited. While we waited I pulled out the stacking cups I had brought. They were a huge hit (and still are) and we finally saw a SMILE! We played with the cups, ate snack and drank tea while the people around us did paperwork and occasionally would ask us for something. We had to sign some more papers and pay some fees. Once again our guide was awesome and kept things moving while we spent time with David.
After about 2 hours we were told we could leave. We would meet Lily again at 3:30 to go to the police department to apply for David's passport.
Here are some pictures of the first part of David's Gotcha Day!!
One last picture of us without David

David's first picture- in the elevator


Then there were tears...

David taking his passport photo

All kids love bubbles!

Our first, of many, games of peek-a-boo

Getting David's fingerprint

and we have a SMILE!

He loved the stacking cups!!

My favorite photo of the day! My precious boys!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Journey: to Urumqi (Day 4)

Day 4, Post #3...

Sunday, April 21st:  Today we left the hotel early so we could get to the Beijing airport for our flight to Urumqi. The Beijing airport is huge and we were very glad to have our guide with us to help get us checked in and to the right place. We said "see ya soon" to the 2 other families and found our flight. Going through security in Beijing was not fun- they were very rude and had no patience for us that spoke only English. We almost missed our flight due to the security staff searching very thoroughly through our bags- they sent my mom's umbrella through the scanner all by itself... goodness! We just made it to the gate where we got on a bus that took us out to our airplane. Apparently, Beijing needs to build some more terminals!
Here's where a cool (GOD) thing happened... We board the plane, me going on first with Steve and then my parents following. As I entered the economy cabin who do I see? DAVID!!! Yes, David was on our flight from Beijing. I thought this could happen knowing that he would most likely leave his foster home on Sunday to travel back to his home province but when I saw him I nearly fell over!!! He was wearing the little jacket that I had sent back in December and was with someone from New Day. He looked right at me and waved!! I turned around to tell the family that he was on the flight... I was holding up the boarding at this point and was told to keep moving. It was the hardest thing not to grab him and hold him tight!!!!
So, we found our seats (not together and all in the middle of the row, yuck!) They were preparing for take off and I was straining my neck, crying, trying to see David. There ended up being a seat open next to me and Steve was able to move. We were so glad to sit next to each other and stare at our son. It was a long and short 4 hour flight. Long because I was anxious to get to Urumqi to get our son and short because I wanted to stare at him longer!! I was taking pictures of him whenever his caretaker would stand him up on his lap. I ended up taking so many that a flight attendant came over and asked me to stop- the nerve!! Asking me to stop taking pictures of my SON!! I figured I better follow the rules though as nothing was "official" at this point!
We made it to Urumqi and were ready to explore and discover the city where David was born. We didn't see David as we left- he was sitting much closer to the exit than we were but we knew tomorrow was THE DAY!!!
We were once again greeted at the airport by a guide and driver. Lily, our GWCA guide, was AWESOME!! She was great at answering questions and preparing us for what the city was like and what the next few days would be like. We traveled about 30 mins. to our hotel. Lily pointed out some important places like the Pizza Hut and KFC :) We made a stop by the bank to get our US currency (crisp $100 bills :) changed to RMB for some different costs. There's a long story about our visit to the bank.... too long to fit into this post!! Lily got us checked in and then asked us to meet her for dinner and a trip to the grocery store to stock up on things for David.
Lily took us to a Muslim restaurant for dinner. We had some local favorites including lamb with rice and a special kind of very long noodle.  After our meal we went to the store which was neat to explore a little. Lily helped us decide on some snacks and food items she thought David would enjoy and we bought some bottled water (a necessity while in China- you can't drink or even brush your teeth with the tap water) and some things to eat for meals during our stay (think ramen noodles, the Chinese form).
After our outing we headed back to the hotel for a little rest. Lily came over during the evening for us to sign and look over some paperwork. Lily knew that tomorrow would be hectic and she wanted to get as much paperwork out of the way- I really, really appreciate her doing this!!! We signed a dozen forms and even had to put our thumbprint on some forms. She suggested getting to bed early because tomorrow our entire world was going to change!! I took some sleeping medicine and tried to read some... it was a long night of tossing and turning. My mind was racing with so many different thoughts and prayers. Knowing that for 5 years we had been preparing for the next day, that the next day we would meet our son was just incredible.
Up next: GOTCHA DAY!!
David looking out and enjoying the view!

Seriously, it took a LOT of will power to stay in my seat!!

Urumqi is surrounded by beautiful mountains, one is second highest to Mt. Everest.
Snacks bought for David!

Sure, I'll put my fingerprint on anything you need me to!

Lily helping us get our paperwork in order!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Journey: Beijing (Day 3)

I now have my parents pictures and mine uploaded and saved for a total of more than 3,000 pictures! Don't worry I won't put all of them on the blog :)
Saturday, April 19th: This day was set aside for some touring of the famous sights in Beijing. You can't visit China without seeing the Great Wall, right?!? Our morning started off with us meeting the other 2 families from our agency who we would travel with while in Beijing and then again in Guangzhou. We were headed to 3 different provinces to meet and bring home our new children. There was a family from New Jersey who adopted a little boy who is 4, Jacob. The second family was a mom from Kingwood, Tx and her sister- who adopted a little girl just a few months older than our little guy, her name is Hannah. It was great to meet other families who were going to meet their new child in the next couple of days. We were all feeling a little excited and jet-lagged at the same time!
Our first stop on the tour was the Great Wall. It really is a GREAT wall! It goes on and on and on- and we were just at one point in the wall. If you combine all the sections of the wall it is over 13,000 miles long!!! I was totally overwhelmed with the thought that it was built with out machinery so many, many years ago- amazing!! The point we were at included a palace that was neat to explore. Steve climbed the furthest out of the 4 of us. I was okay going up but coming down was not good- it was very steep and uneven. I didn't climb far, instead I watched people try not to fall coming down from the higher levels. It was a pretty clear day so that made it nice to get some pictures of the different views of the wall.
Next stop was a jade factory and lunch. We got to see artist working on making different things out of jade including the "family ball" and many different pendants. We learned where jade comes from and about the different colors. Since I knew we were going shopping with a guide in Guangzhou who could get us a "good" deal, we didn't buy anything at the factory although they had a lot of stuff to look at! We had a yummy lunch in the restaurant upstairs of the factory. At this point I was not tired of all the rice and noddles, yet!
Last stop on our tour was Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is very large and includes a mausoleum and museum surrounding it. It is the gateway to the Forbidden City and is used for celebrations throughout the year. The Forbidden City is HUGE! As we entered and kept walking and walking I thought that it was a pretty big place, only to find out we weren't even inside yet!! Once inside it went on and... well you get the picture! The architecture was very neat and I enjoyed hearing from our guide about what life inside the city would be like back in the age of the Chinese dynasty's. The city has over 900 building and 9,999 rooms (or so it is said). It was neat to walk and imagine what life of the emperor would have been like.
We ended our tour day with dinner at our hotel with another former student from Baylor/Tsingua. Faye helped us on our dossier back in 2007- she translated some captions into Chinese for us which our agency thought was awesome! It was great to see Faye again and to hear about what she is doing now in Beijing. Her job takes her to many different places and will hopefully bring her back to the US again soon!
The GWCA group!

The Great Wall

Ready to climb the Great Wall!

Tiananmen Square with Forbidden City behind

Inside the Forbidden City

A lovely evening with Faye!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Journey: to Bejing (days 1 & 2)

Wednesday, April 17th:  Getting to Beijing was not as easy as planned. I have found that for some reason flying through O'Hare always has issues for us!! Our flight from DFW to O'Hare was no exception. There were thunderstorms in the Chicago area so our almost 2 hour flight ended up being 3+ hours and leaving DFW was 3 hours late (with 2 trips back to the gate to refuel, grrrrrrr!). When we got off the plane in Chicago we asked about our Beijing flight and they said "RUN" so that's what we did... we ran past the many people sleeping on cots in the open areas of the airport. Lucky for us American Airlines held the flight for us!! Thank goodness!! So with tired legs we made it onto the plane. One good thing was that because of weather and many delays there were not many people on the plane and we were able to stretch out which for a 13 hour flight is a good thing.
Friday, April 18th:  We landed in Beijing past 1am on Friday thanks to the 13 hour time difference. Thanks to our almost missed flight our luggage did not make the quick turn around in Chicago so we got to fill out some lovely paperwork in Chinese at 1am which was not easy. There was a driver waiting to take us to the hotel and our agency guide met us at the hotel. She got us checked in and we crashed for a few hours. Friday was a "free day" for us and we had made plans with our good friends from Tsingua University to go out to New Day and then visit the campus of Tsingua. I had donations for New Day but they were in my luggage which was still on it's way from Chicago, grrr! Bruce was so nice to take us out to visit New Day where David lived with his foster family. David's foster family actually lives about a mile from the main foster home so we didn't see him or they family (we were not allowed to meet his foster family per CCCWA rules). We did get a quick tour of New Day and met several staff members. It was AWESOME to talk to people who knew David and could tell us so much more about him. We also got to meet some of the kids which was very cool since I feel like I know then already thanks to their blog and facebook page. I especially wanted to meet Tally and Henry and I was able to. We also got to meet with the medical doctor on staff who gave us a LOT of information about David's growth and wellness. It was such a gift to get since most families who adopt don't get the specialized reports nor do their children get the very special care that David has had~ we are so BLESSED!!!
We left New Day and went to lunch at the university. We were so happy to see some of my parents past international students at lunch. They treated us to a very nice lunch and we had a lot of fun catching up with them. After lunch we visit Michael's school. Michael is in 6th grade and we got to know him well when his mom was a visiting professor at Baylor a couple of years ago. We walked into his classroom and found out that we were "show and tell", the students asked us questions and it was very neat!! They were taking pictures of us too- kinda weird! After sharing we were off to dinner with the family. They took us to a special restaurant that featured dumplings- we had many different varieties and it was very good. We were so very happy to see and spend time with Huang Lee, Bruce and Michael!! We were tired as we made it back to the hotel and anxious to find out about our luggage. It hadn't been delivered yet but when we awoke at 3am and called down to check, it was in the lobby. Missing luggage may seem like a small thing but when you're 6000+ miles away from home it becomes a BIG deal :)
Up next: Beijing day 2
In Waco, ready to fly to China!!

At New Day foster home!

With Hannah and Grace from New Day

lunch at Tsingua University with many students and a LOT of food!!

6th grade classroom, we were "show and tell" for the day :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Journey: HOME

We are HOME! After 18 great days in China we are adjusting to life as a family of three. It is certainly an adjustment but what fun it is!!
We are so blessed to be supported by a community of faith with family and friends who helped welcome us home at the airport on Sunday. I knew there would be a couple of people there but was totally overwhelmed to see so many smiling, joyful faces greeting us. We had been traveling for almost 26 hours so we were all a little bit rumpled but David did great. He didn't cry and just stared at everyone. It was awesome to have so many kids there as well. Kids that he will soon be playing with and growing up with, awesome!!!
My plan is to back track on the blog for the next couple of weeks since I didn't get to blog the beginning of our journey in China. I am so thankful that we are safe and healthy and remained so during our 18 days. David is adjusting well and will soon be out and about. We've already managed dinner out with Karen and a trip to Wal-mart today, fun times!!

Hello Waco!!!
Davis was a little surprised!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Journey: almost home!

It is Friday night in Guangzhou which means tomorrow morning we fly to Beijing, spend the night there and then begin the journey home early Sunday morning. We are almost packed and will hopefully not go to much over on our baggage allowance!
Yesterday was our CA (consulate appointment). We took the oath that everything we submitted was true and factual and signed David's visa so he can travel into the US legally. Our guide dropped the very important brown envelop with us today that we have to give to immigration upon our arrive in Chicago. When we arrive on US soil, David will become a citizen of the United States of America!! So, so, so happy that our time is finally here!!!
Today has been a good day even though it's been rainy. We split up for the day with my dad and Steve going to a museum area and my mom and me with David did some last minute shopping. We both had a lot of fun!!
Now that we've been with David for 12 days his personality is really coming out. Here are some things we know:
He loves bath time and playing in the water, we even made it to the pool a couple of days!
David loves fruit! Especially pineapple, pears, oranges and bananas! He will fit right in with his cousins!! He is very good at trying any kind if new food! We ate at a Mexican restaurant last night and he loved his quesadilla. He also loves ketchup!
Stairs are magnets for him! Whenever he sees stairs he heads right for them. He also likes ramps and inclines. He likes twisting caps on things too.
He is not a big fan of hats... I'm working on this one.
He says "goodbye, mama, dada, papa" in English, he says "up, open and ball" in Chinese. We think he recognizes his name now too!!!
When it's bedtime he cries for less than a minute and then will talk/babble to himself for awhile (tonight with us packing it was almost an hour)!
We are so excited to be parents to this precious little boy and feel so BLESSED to have been brought together by God!!!!