Monday, July 30, 2007

We Are Home!

Sorry about the delayed update but jet lag has really hit us hard. We started our departure from China with a short 30 minute flight from Guangzhou to Hong Kong (Kristy's first plane ride). Than the 8 hour layover in Hong Kong which seemed minor in comparison to the 14 hour flight from Hong Kong to Chicago. United had overbooked the flight and were looking for 36 people to delay their trip until the next day. They were offering $400 or $300 and a hotel room but we didn't think it was worth it. Kristy slept most of the trip. There was a group of about 30 elementary school children from Guangdong that sat near us. They were on an educational tour of the US and Canada. They were extremely quiet throughout the entire flight. When we landed in Chicago and went through customs and immigration (going through a rude and obnoxious immigration officer) Kristy became a U.S. citizen. We spent the night in Chicago before flying to Columbia the next afternoon. Kristy had a tough time on this flight. We are not sure if it was jet lag or her ears were hurting. We arrived back in Columbia around 4:45 pm on Saturday to a group of family and friends. The pictures are from the various airports we were in on the way back home. This will be the last post on this blog. I will make further updates on our family of 5 from our main blog

Thursday, July 26, 2007

In Hong Kong Airport

We had to get up real early to get to the airport at Guangzhou for our 8:35 am flight to Hong Kong. We have a long layover and will get to Chicago at 6:55 pm (Chicago time) tonight. The airport has some beautiful views of the mountains and the South China Sea. I may be able to blog tonight in Chicago if Kristy doesn't wear us out too much. Thanks for all of your comments, today is the first we have been able to read them. China's Great Firewall has been blocking our view.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Last Day in China!

Kristy surprised us this morning by deciding that she wanted to feed herself with a spoon. We aren't sure if this is a first time or not.
Our guide took us to the Guangzhou Zoo this morning. This zoo is the third largest zoo in China. I think we were just as much a curiosity as some of the animals. We saw a lot of animals from China, southeast Asia, Africa, South America, and North America. We saw the biggest chimpanzee I had ever seen. Most of the enclosures were the old style concrete and bars. The giant panda's cage was also concrete and bars. They had two pandas both were a sleep and only one was in view. The one in view was in a dark cage and too far for a decent picture, very disappointing. They even had some dogs on display (hmm). There was one strange exhibit where handlers were involved. The exhibit had parrots, a red panda, a chained up monkey, a dalmatian, a chimpanzee, and a very large python. When a number of people gathered they did a really disturbing exhibition. They uncovered the python that was on a picnic table and then brought the chimp to the table and forced it to antagonize the python. The python coiled up and hissed the first time and than the chimp did not want to continue with the exhibition. He kept on being pulled over to the table and told to either bang the table or whip at the python with a towel. One time when he really resisted the handler whipped him with a towel. We stood there with our mouths open not believing what we were seeing but the Chinese people were laughing at the entire exhibition. That was not the end of it either. The handler than told the chimp to get a stick and he started swinging it at the chained dalmatian. The dalmatian snarled and growled at it. We couldn't believe what we were seeing. Kelly wanted to get a souvenir at the gift shop but decided not to out of protest. We looked around a little longer and than left.
We are spending the afternoon finishing last minute stuff and packing up to come home so this will be our last blog from China. We have enjoyed our time here and have learned a lot of culture from Kristy's home country. We hope to bring her back here some day so that she will be able to see where she came from. The pictures today are from the Guangzhou Zoo and Kristy at breakfast this morning. The red colored animal is a red panda. We leave early Friday morning for Hong Kong and have an 8 hour layover (ugh). We leave from Hong Kong at 5:20 pm for a 13.5 hour flight to Chicago. We will spend Friday night in Chicago and get into Columbia at around 4:45 pm Saturday.

US Consulate Appointment

Kristy continues to show us more of her personality everyday. She is slow to wake up in the morning, is wired in the evening, loves the pool. Actually she is fearless in the pool which kind of scares us. We are starting to get some actual words out of her. She can say hot, doggie, gone-gone, shay shay (thank you in Chinese).
Our guide took our paperwork to the US Consulate in Guangzhou this morning and was able to get them to change our swearing in ceremony from Friday to today. We went to the consulate in the afternoon, went through several security checks, had our passport copies compared to our faces, then as a group (with 23 other families) sweared that all the paperwork we have filled out is true to the best of our knowledge. We received Kristy's Chinese passport with a US visa. When we go through immigration in Chicago and the customs officer stamps her visa she will be a US citizen. We don't have an pictures since cameras were not allowed in the consulate.
This morning after breakfast we walked around to take in the local culture. We walked to the park and found that there was some kind of celebration going on. The speakers were all speaking in Chinese so we did not know what the reason for the celebration. They had speakers, singers, dancers, and a presentation of hand to hand combat by military personnel. I have attached pictures of the performers. Tomorrow our guide will take us to the Guangzhou Zoo to see the pandas among other animals.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Shopping and a Danny's Bagels Rescue

After breakfast we went shopping for family and friends. We also ordered Chinese dresses for Kourtney and Kelly. We're buying Kristy's from the rack. We didn't do much else except get our CWA group picture done (we only have two families in the agency group this trip). We made an emergency call for some pizza to Danny's Bagels. Danny is a New Yorker that married a Chinese woman and opened a bagel/pizza/sandwich shop in Guangzhou 10 years ago. The pictures today is of our group picture (us and Michelle and new daughter Xiang Yi) and a couple pictures of Kristy (she is learning to use a remote already.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Six Banyan Temple and the Pearl Market

Today we went to tour the Six Banyan Temple which is a active Buddhist temple as opposed to the Chen Family Temple. It was built in the 6th century and has beautiful ornate architecture and landscaping. We were offered an opportunity to light incense as an offering for Kristy's future but I politely declined. After the tour we went into downtown Guangzhou which is much different than being on Shamian Island. On our way to the Pearl Market we went through a pedestrian street that reminded me a lot like Times Square in New York City with more people. We didn't get a chance to experience much of the pedestrian street and the locals stared at us. We went to the Pearl Market which is basically an indoors mall with stores that sell pearls. There are numerous stores that have mountains of pearls and you are allowed to bargain with the sellers. We were able to bargain for 3 strands of pearls that each of the girls will get on their wedding day. Kristy had a couple of firsts today. The first one was swimming in the hotel pool. She was tentative at first but later got into it. She even put her face in the water and thought it was funny. She also discovered that she likes ice cream. She tried it 3 times before and did not like the cold feeling. That has all changed now. Todays pictures are of the temple, Judy negotiating with a salesman at the pearl market, the woman making the strands of pearls (see the bags of pearls in back of her), the empress in her Tinkerbell swimsuit, and her first ice cream that she likes.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday Worship Service in Guangzhou

Christianity was entirely in Chinese (Cantonese to be exact) and we later found out thet the 11:00 service was in both Chinese and English. We thought about staying for the second service but the little one probably would not have put up with a second sitting. As we arrived at the church we heard them singing "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name." They were singing in Chinese but you could tell by the tune. The church was filled to capacity of about 300. Since we were in the Chinese language serviceWe were scheduled to tour the Six Banyan (Buddhist) Temple this morning but did not feel right about doing that on Sunday so I called our guide and asked to reschedule it. There is a Christian church in the same block as the hotel so we went there this morning. The 9:30 service at Shamian Chapel of Guangdong we were the only westerners in the church. There were all ages of Chinese at the service. The sermon was given by a woman and we wished we understood Chinese better because there were parts that apparently were funny. The pictures today are from the church (it is currently under renovations), one of Kelly holding a bag of KFC chicken flavored potato chips she found, and Kristy helping her mama with her hair in the bathtub. Kourtney stayed in the hotel recovering from being sick the day before. We are ready to be back home as we are tired of eating out every meal, living out of suitcases, etc. but must wait for the U.S. Consulate to process our paperwork to make Kristy a U.S. citizen.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Medical Exam Day and Guangzhou

Today Kristy takes her required (by the US) medical medical exam for entry into the U.S. She weighed 12.2 kg (27 pounds) and is 87 cm (34.25 inches) long. She is a big girl for 2 years old. The locals are amazed at her size. exam before entering the US. We had a rough night last night. Kelly had a 102 degree fever and got sick once. Kourtney did not have a fever at all and was up all night and into the morning being sick. Kristy passed her The other parts of her exam included ENT and heart. Since she is a cleft affected child they had to look at the repair. We did not do anything else today because Kourtney and Judy were napping all day recovering.

A little information about where we are staying. We are staying on Shamian Island in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong. Shamian Island is an island surrounded by the Pearl River, the 3rd largest river in China. It once was owned by England and you can tell by the architecture. The island now caters to adoptive families since thousands of adoptive families have to go through Guangzhou each year. The locals speak the Cantonese dialect, Mandarin is the official language of China. The language differences between Beijing and Guangzhou are subtle but the locals will correct you if you use the Beijing pronunciation. The local park Shamian Park is a focal point for the locals. If you go there you will see people playing hacky-sack, badminton, mahjong. They will exercise by ballroom dancing or tai chi (favorite of the senior citizens). You may also see people playing musical instruments or singing. The Chinese really know who to take life leisurely. We are staying at the White Swan Hotel which is a 5 star hotel. The staff at this hotel really are customer service centric. They have operators at each floor to open the elevator for you every time. They have a small shopping mall in the hotel. They have a waterfall with a pond that have huge carp. The hotel has two pools, an exercise room, an arcade, and several restaurants. The most disappointing part of the hotel is when you first get to your room and see the beds. They are bigger than a twin but smaller than a double. The most famous part of the hotel is the breakfast bar. The breakfast bar has almost everything you can think of and a lot that you can't. Ever had stir fried rice or noodles for breakfast? How about dumplings (pork or fish)? Fried green beans? Baked beans? Tater tots? The french toast is the best. All kinds of breads, eggs anyway you want them. All kinds of fruits. It is extremely hot and humid here. The weather is very similar to Columbia or Charleston but the locals are a lot tougher than the Americans. Most shops have fans or little airconditioners. Some shop owners do not turn those on until they see you walk in their shop. I'll leave you with pictures from Guangzhou and the White Swan. The waterfall at the White Swan, a license plate from the wall of Lucy's restaurant, a building from the view of our room, and a picture from Gotcha Day. Oh yeah, I couldn't resist the picture of a menu item from one of the local restaurants. Yes that is a duck with the head still on it. All of you "Christmas Story" fans will know that this is also called Chinese turkey.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Free Day in Guangzhou

We did not have any appointments or tours scheduled today so it was a shopping day. We got some Christmas ornaments (cloisonnes), Chinese children CD's, childrens books, and squeaky shoes for Kristy. Squeaky shoes are what they sound like. The shoes squeak when the walk in them. The children love them. We saw a little boy in the Forbidden City wearing them. You can take the squeaks out of the shoes. I'm trying to finish this with a 2 year old octopus on my lap. The girls went shopping after lunch while Kristy and I napped. We went to dinner at a local deli shop and had some traditional Chinese food. We had a pork soup, rice, beef, and I had fish (the fin came with it at no extra charge). I'm just grateful that I didn't get the head as it is not uncommon to have that served. Kristy had a little of everybodies dinner (this girl can eat). We did not do much today because everyone has some form of the Shantou flu that Kristy brought with her so I will leave a few pictures.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chen Family Temple Tour

We visited the Chen Family Temple this morning. The temple was taken over by the Chinese government during the Cultural Revolution and is still run by the government. It is mostly a museum today but the government allows the family to come to the temple on the 1st and 15th day of each month to worship their ancestors. There were several shops in the temple and we got some art work by a hand painter. Part of the grounds is a park and the locals go to parks to play musical instruments, play games, and exercise. There were several groups playing hack-sack. They use a shuttle-cock which resembles a badminton birdie. One man asked me and Elvin (our guide) to play with him. It is a lot harder than juggling a soccer ball but I was able to get it going after a while. Kristy is being a Daddy's girl today (which could easily change tomorrow some I am not too complacent). I even got a dada from her. It could have easily been a lucky sound but I'll take it. The rest of the day was a leisure day since we did not have any appointments.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Great Day 2

Today we had a lot of improvement in the bonding process. She asked all four of to hold her at various times of the day. She also had her first temper tantrum. After breakfast we took her to the Swan Room to play. There were at least 15 other families come in during our 2 hours there. She started smiling more and more and we got a lot of laughs from her. She loved running and being chased. We came back to the room before we went to lunch and we had to change her clothes because a couple of buttons were missing. She did not want to get changed at all and started crying. When we finally got her changed the tantrum started. She tried to look for comfort from her jie jie's (older sisters). They left the room because they can't stand to hear her cry. I held her while she went through her tantrum. The tantrum started getting really bad so of course Judy knew what to do. Put her on the floor and ignore her. The tantrum was over in 3 minutes and we went to lunch. She let me carry her to lunch and even smiled at me in the deli. She is feeling a lot better today. Her temperature is back to normal but she has a lot of drainage. The medicine has helped her. The medicine we got at the clinic is very interesting. They gave us three different medicines to mix together and give her. One is liquid childrens Bufferin which is orange flavored. The second is called Ceclor which is a bubble gum flavored powder. the third one is the antibiotic which is very interesting. This is a Chinese medicine which looks and smells like Soy sauce (I am not joking). The three needed to be mixed together and given to her with an eye dropper. To our surprise she loved it which is good because it took 10 eye droppers full to get it in her. Her personality is really starting to come out today. Right now she is receiving rasberries on the belly from her jie jie's and is laughing uncontrollably. This afternoon we went back to the Civil Affairs office and received our official final adoption paper, so it is officially done with the Chinese government. We also went to the Guangzhou Police Station to turn in the paperwork for her Chinese passport. We receive her passport in 5 business days and then we finalize the U.S. part to get her U.S. citizenship. After dinner we went shopping again. The girls are getting into the bargaining part of Chinese shopping. I helped Kourtney get a silk blanket at 100 yuan when it was originally 120 yuan (that's $16 to $13.35) last night (see attached photo). Tonight she didn't like a price for a spoon and I told her to walk out of the store and see what happens. As soon as she walked to the doorway she got her price. I know this is long so I will attach the photos now.


Well the first 24 hours went along as expected as far as attachment. She was clinging to Judy most of the time and would get upset if she left her sight. Judy had to hold her when we went shopping before dinner, she refused the stroller. We went into a shop where some young Chinese women were working. Of course it is always good business to pay a lot of attention and give compliments to the family about the new child. One of the women put her arms out to hold her and she went right to her. When it was time for Judy to get her again she freaked out. We think the woman may have resembled a caretaker. After another woman gave her a toy to play with she stopped but than reached out for the woman to take her and when we stopped that she got upset again. Judy rushed her out of the store and I took the toy. Needless to say I had to but the toy and we aren't going back there again. New one holds her except us for a while. This is a common issue with new adoptees and will stop after awhile. We are starting day 2 and usually after 3 days their personality comes out along with their trust in the family. She is starting to smile more and we got a few laughs out of her.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Finishing the Adoption with China

There isn't much excitement the day after Gotcha Day. We finished the last little bit of paperwork with the Chinese government so in the eyes of China the adoption is complete. Our next phase is getting all the paperwork done to become a US citizen. This will take up the remainder of our time. We aren't doing much in the afternoon because she now has tonsillitis. She came to us with a low grade fever and got up a couple of times last night. We took her to the hotel clinic and she has a fever or 102 with inflamed tonsils. She is now on antibiotics and a fever reducer. Right now she only wants mama to hold her. She allows the rest of us to be around her and feed her but don't try and hold her. She is eating fine but you can tell she doesn't feel great. The pictures today are of us finalizing the Chinese portion of the adoption (the young lady brought her from Shantou). Kristy playing in the Swan Room. The Swan Room is a play room for the children here in the hotel that Mattel sponsors. The last picture is of Kristy napping after medicine and lunch (yes June that is the blanket you made for her). We also received our adoption Barbie from the hotel. Every adopting family receives a commemorative Barbie which is a Barbie holding a Chinese baby.

We Have Our Daughter

We arrived in Guangzhou at 11:00 am and met our Hotel. This is a very famous hotel in the guide and got our room at the White Swan the world who adopts from China must complete the adoption in Guangzhou. We had time to get lunch at the world famous Lucy's. It was nice to have some western food for a change. We went to the Civil Affairs office at 2:30 pm and she was already there. After some passport checking she was lead out to us. It took her a few a little while for her to warm up to us and after a while the caretaker who brought her from Shantou (6 hour bus ride) slipped out the door. Kristy didn't Chinese adoption world because every family in cry at all during the exchange. It was time to leave and get some baby items in some downtown Guangzhou stores. We went to dinner where she gobbled down a bowl of congee at Lucy's (yes we went back). Congee is kind of like a stewed rice that Chinese babies eat. I know, enough with the details lets see the pictures.

Our Itinerary

July 13: Columbia, SC to Chicago. Chicago to Beijing

July 14: Arriving in Beijing, Staying in Wang Fu Jing Grand Hotel in Beijing

July 15: Sightseeing the Forbidden City and the Great Wall

July 16: GOTCHA DAY!

Fly from Beijing to Guangzhou at 07:50am,

Arriving Guangzhou at 10:55am

Kristy joins the family in the afternoon

July 17: Registration and notarization

July 18: Apply for Kristy's passport

July 19: Sightseeing Six Banyan Temple and Family Chen’s Temple

July 20: Free day

July 21: Free day

July 22: Free day

July 23: Free day

July 24: Getting legal documents, taking visa photo and Physical exam

July 25: Visa appointment at 11:00

July 26: Swearing in ceremony at the Consulate, getting the visa

July 27: Fly from Guangzhou to Hong Kong

July 27: Hong Kong to Chicago.

July 28: Chicago to Columbia, SC

Map of Chinese Provinces

Map of Chinese Provinces
Shan Le Jiao is living in the Guangdong Province

Guangdong Province Map

Guangdong Province Map
Shan Le Jiao's orphanage is in Shantou City