Friday, November 30, 2007

Day 13 - Good-Bye China

We've had a wonderful journey to Sarah Rose, but are happy to be going home. We fly to LA tonight, overnight there, then home to Cleveland on Sunday.

I will update the blog with photos once we are home, since I can't load them from here.

Thanks for following along and best wishes to those newly home and those waiting for their sweet ones. Thank you China for giving us two of your treasures in our two daughters.

Nancy, Reese, Elizabeth, and Sarah
Now a family of four

Day 12 - White Cloud Mountain & Consulate Appt

For our last little bit of touring, we went up White Cloud Mountain, which is just above the White Cloud Gardens we visited earlier. This mountain overlooks the city of Guangzhou and gives a real view of how big this city actually is. The air is much better up on the mountain and local retired people go up every day. You can hike up (probably about a 2 hour hike) or take the cable car. Parks here in China truly belong to the public and are a great source of entertainment for all. No matter which park you go to, you are likely to see tai chi (with and without swords), group sing-a-longs, Erhu (a two stringed instrument) and flute playing, ballroom dancing and feather hacky sack. Public performance is a daily part of life here. The tai chi group got a big kick out of Reese doing tai chi with Sarah strapped to him in the baby carrier, even though the extra weight throws his balance off!

Our US Consulate Oath ceremony was this afternoon. We appear at a window, so they can match our passports to our faces, then a short repetition of the oath and it is offical, we can leave the China and take Sarah to the US.

Day 11 - Sarah's first doll

Part of staying at the White Swan Hotel is a gift from Mattel of the Coming Home Barbie, which is a blonde Barbie carrying an Asian baby. Since this is a keepsake, we haven't let Sarah play with it, but she wants to in the worst way.

Today, we found Barbie equivalents, so both girls got new dolls. Sarah promptly took the two ponytails out of her doll's hair. A waitress at dinner, put the hair into one ponytail, which seemed to be what Sarah wanted, since it has stayed that way ever since. She is delighted that her doll has red shoes just like Sarah.

Day 10 - more shopping, more paperwork

Today is Wednesday with not much more to do until we leave on Saturday night. Nancy reviewed our paperwork with our facilitator so that all is ready for our US Consulate Oath taking ceremony on Friday.

Other than that, we just did more shopping, more time in the play room, sponsored by Mattel and a life saver because it lets the girls run and play with other kids.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day 9 - Lots of Shopping

Sarah has been such a daddy's girl, we decided to force the issue a bit to have her bond more with mom. After a tearful beginning to the day when Nancy took Sarah to breakfast 20 minutes earlier than Reese & Elizabeth, Sarah learned that daddy does come back and that mama can fed and care for her too. The rest of the day she was much better about going to both of us (though dad is still favorite!)

We have a lot of free time before we head home on Saturday, so we shopped 'til Reese dropped today. Sarah & Elizabeth played with mom while dad napped, then Sarah crashed too, so Elizabeth and Nancy ended up going to dinner with a family adopting a 6 year old from Elizabeth's city Gaozhou. The two girls had a great time together, despite the language barrier. Stickers translate to all languages!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Day 8 - visit to a Buddhist Temple

Today we visited a Buddhist temple called Six Banyan Temple. It had a pagoda that was 9 stories high on the outside and 17 stories high on the inside. Elizabeth and I climbed to the top with some others from our group.

We had a farewell dinner with our group last night since all but us have their US consulate appointment tomorrow and leave the following day. We have to wait to get Sarah's passport, then our consulate appointment before heading home. We are ready to come home now. Three weeks is a long time to be away from home.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day 7 - Off on a Safari!

Today we went to a safari park. It was filled with animals. The first part was a tram ride through the wilder and larger animals. The safari has 60 white tigers and almost as many giraffe. The second part was the walk through zoo where we saw 4 pandas, a koala area as well as other smaller animals.

Every day, we met others we have met on-line, so it is fun to meet in person and see the children we have all been waiting for. With the wait for the non special needs program in China being so long now, the hotel is filled with families adopting older or special needs children. It is so good to see these children bonding with their new families. One little girl in our group went so far as to tell her orphanage that she was American now and didn't have to listen to them anymore! It is also good to see so many families adding a second or third child. The older siblings are a huge help in connecting the new ones with the families.

Day 6 - Medical Exam

As part of the entrance requirements to the US, the new babies must have a simple medical exam, so we all lined up for the 3 exam stations: height and weight, ENT, and general physical exam. The doctor cannot believe Sarah was considered special needs and neither can our facilitator, so she passed the physical with flying colors. We can even tell the difference with just a week of better nutrition for her. Her skin is much smoother and she is definitely smart and active.

Sarah loves to imitate Elizabeth. Elizabeth drew a face with two eyes and Sarah copied by drawing a circle with two dots. Sarah now says "come draw" to Elizabeth.

We did lots of shopping in the afternoon. The streets of Sha Mian Island are lined with shops selling everything a tourist can want. Sarah finally has some new clothes that fit her. We just can't convince her to wear her new shoes. She has her mind made up on what she wants to wear already!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Day 5 - First Kisses

Sarah has been doing just fine in bonding with us (mostly daddy!). Today we visited a beautiful gardens. We borrowed a stroller from Sherry's Place and Sarah pushed it through the gardens which gave Reese's back a rest. After strolling the gardens, we had ice cream and convinced Sarah to get in the stroller to eat it. She then discovered it was fun to ride in it and makes brrrmmm brrrmmm noises to tell us she wants to go faster.

On the way to dinner tonight, there was a battle of wills as Reese wanted Sarah in the stroller and she wanted him to carry her. She threw a major, head flinging tantrum in the stroller that ended in a tearful compromise of her walking and holding daddy's hand. After a good dinner, she went back in the stroller with no problem, so two points for daddy!

The families we traveled with in Beijing arrive from their respective provinces tonight, so we will be with a group for the rest of our stay.

We ended the evening with another fun bubble bath for 2 girls and cuddles in bed. Sarah gave us her first kisses, starting with a peck on the cheek for daddy, then one each for mama and Elizabeth. Elizabeth continues to be a great big sister. She claims to do half of the diaper duty. Mom, of course, gets the first half!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Day 4 - Now a Daddy's Girl

After a couple of days of mama, Sarah has decided to be a real daddy's girl. She has very definite opinions about daddy holding her, so we are very glad we brought the hip hammock again. Yesterday we shopped! We bought some good pearls for Sarah for a wedding or other special event present (wonder why she loves daddy best?), then did some shopping in a jade market. Reese wanted to buy an erhu, which is a two stringed instrument very common in China, so we went to an instrument store where we found a good quality one.

Sarah is eating well. She loves drinkable yogurt, fruit and corn. She naps 2-3 hours a day, which gives everyone a nice break. Elizabeth is traveling well and loves being a big sister. She is a great help in dressing and diapering Sarah.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day 3 - a visit to a school

We visited a school on Sha Mian Island today. We met a 5th grade class who are learning English and got a nice tour by 3 5th grade girls. Reese then led the class doing animal tai chi in the public gardens in front of the school.

Sarah is doing well, but very clingy to mama. Just don't leave Reese & Elizabeth too far behind or she gets upset. If she is walking, she will turn and beckon them to come. She is already learning English words and can say nose, water, pink and red...and of course daddy and mama! She takes a 2 hour nap mid-day, allowing me this computer time. Elizabeth has her ups and downs (nothing in between!). She is a great big sister, making sure Sarah is cared for, but also wants her share of the attention and wants to be carried! Elizabeth proudly introduces her new sister whereever we go.

Day 2

Sarah has declared herself a mama's girl. She is doing great and eating well. We discovered she is a lefty! Still having trouble posting photos, but send them to my brother, so he may post them later.

Monday, November 19, 2007

We've got her!!!

The hand off started smoothly with Sarah reaching out to Momma's outstretched hand and sitting on her lap, but she soon went looking for the director. She seemed quite attached to Director Han, who is a very kind man and tried to help her know her new family. After some tears, the director left to give us space to get to know her. She quieted down in the van back to the hotel. A toy session, a pillow fight, bubble bath and a hat toss later, we all had a grand evening of fun. We all settled down to a good night's sleep and she woke with a smile this morning. Off to do more paperwork this morning, but another day of play ahead.

I can't figure out the photo load right now, so will try later. We are all doing well, especially Elizabeth who is a great big sister.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Update on Sarah!

This morning we met with our agency representative and got 4 updated photos and a status report from Nov. 2. Sarah is just one smiley girl! She has gained a couple pounds since June and grown almost an inch. The emotions in the room as we all saw new photos of our kids was tremendous.

While we will be a group of one starting Monday, we had 3 other families with us today, adopting children age 11 months, 15 months and 6 years old. One family has a 9 year old daughter from China, so Elizabeth has another new friend.

Hutong Village by Pedestrian Taxi

We got to see an old Chinese village by pedi-cab which is a large tricyle with space to sit on the back.

Hello, Room 119

Here is Elizabeth waving to all her friends from the Great Wall. Lots of steps!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

At the Great Wall

Here we are at the Great Wall. The weather was terrific (much better than the 86 degrees we had the last time here). We rode the cable car to the top and hiked around a bit.
We are still recovering from jet lag, but are doing better this evening. Tomorrow we meet with our adoption agency, do a bit more touring, before taking an early morning flight on Monday to Gaungzhou. We are glad to have a couple days to recover from the trip over, but are anxious to get Sarah. We have already met a couple of families adopting 2-3 year olds and are encouraged by how well they are making the adjustment. Our next post should be of a family of four!

Friday, November 16, 2007

In Beijing

We made it to Beijing after the 5 hour flight to LA, a 15 hour flight to Guangzhou, then 3 more hours to Beijing. We have no clue what time it is! We were up at 2 AM this morning, ready to begin our day.

Hopefully, by the time we get Sarah on Monday, we will be on China time.

Now, off to see the Great Wall!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In LA with a midnight flight to China

We've got the first 5 hours of flying behind us and Elizabeth is already tired of airplanes! The LA hotel has a nice pool, so we will swim and perhaps visit an aquarium here before flying out tonight. Today's goal is to tire Elizabeth out so she sleeps most of the 13 hours across the ocean.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

All packed and ready to go

We did a dry run of packing and miracle of miracle we have extra room. I guess this being our second trip allows for greater sense of selection and knowing what not to bring. I'll take the largest suitcase over to the Vets and use their scale to make sure its not too heavy but so far it looks like a go. I also know that many new clothes and other things will appear for the trip home to replace what we will be leaving. It feels strange to have everything ready and two days yet to wait. Elizabeth is jumping all around the house, hoping to pack yet one more stuff animal (she did manage to include another hand puppet). Other than needing some warm clothes and coats in Beijing we caught a break with the weather, should be just right for the bulk of the time.

Big Sister's Artwork

Last year as we were going through the paperchase and homestudy, Elizabeth started to integrate the idea of a little sister. On the right is her drawing from August 2006.

The one to the left is a version of her almost daily drawings depicting Elizabeth and Sarah at the playground. The detail of this one includes a big girl swing and a baby swing for little sister.

The one below is from this week. Elizabeth thinks about her new sister a lot.