After the flight that would never end (13.5 hours), we arrived in Beijing. An airport full of smog and spice. So many people. We joined our agency’s group and once everyone had arrived, drove to our hotel. Adrenaline was running high and it seemed unreal to be here. In the country of her birth. It took an hour to drive from the airport to our hotel.
We woke up early because of jet lag (4:30am). The breakfast was a great mixture of Chinese and western food. Eggs, yogurt, dumplings, beans, steamed cabbage, and fried rice. We toured a Cloisonné Factory. After the factory we drove to The Great Wall. Although we enjoyed learning all about her country and a little of its history, walking on the Great Wall was amazing. It was breathtaking. Not only because of the beauty, but because of the steps as well! So many! They were huge at times, so we literally “climbed” the wall.
As we looked at the top of the wall, I knew for sure we wouldn’t be able to make it. It was too far. It would take so long. Yet, we took each stop and landing and looked around. We gathered our breath and continued on. One step at a time. As long as I kept my eyes focused on the next landing and not the top, I could do it. So much of climbing that Great Wall is like this adoption process. One step at a time. Oh and we made it to the top as well!
After the Great Wall, we went to lunch and a jade store. Here are a few pictures of some things made from jade. Each of these pieces were carved from one piece of jade. The ball is actually three balls inside of each other. With a dragon and phoenix, it represents a happy family.
After lunch we headed to where the 2008 Olympics were held.
We went to Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City. Modern and ancient right next to each other.
Then we rode on rickshaws to “Old Beijing” and ate lunch in a traditional Beijing home.
After lunch, we went to a Tea House and were able to sample several different teas.
We traveled via bullet train to Zhengzhou and it was a great experience! A little crazy making it on the train and off again, but we did it! It helped that we traveled with four other families. The hotel was amazing! We had an amazing breakfast every morning. Homade granola with real yogurt. Oh My. Delicious! The room was spacious and so comfortable! Plenty of room.
We received our daughter at the Civil Affiar’s office. She was grieving hard and withdrawing when we first received her. Food and kisses soon warmed her up to us a little. It was a very emotional day to say the very least. She went to sleep without a fuss that night. And slept all night long without making a peep.
This was the day we traveled to her orphanage. The city of Sanmenxia is a “rural” city of about 2 million people. We rode another train but had our guide with us the entire time. We went to the police station to have her picture taken for her passport and sat in a waiting room as we applied for her passport. Then, we took a cab to her orphanage. No words can be used to see the place our daughter lived for her early years. It was a whole entire day’s worth of emotions and feelings. Once again she went to sleep without a peep and slept all night.
We had some touring we were able to do while we were in the capital, Zhengzhou, waiting for her passport. We visited a park on the first day and then a museum the second day. Each day we had the evenings free and were able to explore across the street from our hotel. Each night she fussed a little more. Each day we saw a little more of her personality and she was slowly, ever so slowly, coming out her shell.
We flew from Zhengzhou to Guangzhou (which is about a two hour flight). Guangzhou is in the south of China and is the location of the U.S. consulate where we would apply for her visa. In Zhengzhou the weather was quite chilly, with a lot of wind and really dry air. Guangzhou is humid, hot, and tropical. It was an assault on our sinuses for sure! She did great on the plane, but we ended up feeding her snacks the entire trip to keep her from crying.
We had her medical appointment at a special clinic that was across the street from the U.S. consulate. Everyone applying for a U.S. visa must complete a medical exam. It was a little crazy. There was a special floor and section of the medical building that was just for adopting families. There were four stations. The first was just temperature and weight. The next was an ENT doctor who looked briefly (like 1-2 seconds) in her nose, mouth, and ears. Next was the general exam. The doctor looked over all of her referral paperwork and then examined her to make sure it lined up. We knew it wouldn’t. We knew the moment she was placed in our arms that she didn’t fully match her referral information. So, we just nodded knowingly as the doctor (through our guide’s translation) tried to explain that our girl was different than first described. We knew. Finally, the fourth station was blood work. That evening we relaxed in the hotel, processing all that had happened….just ready to be home.
We went touring on this day. We went to Shamian Island and shopped and walked around. It was so beautiful. There is a reason Guangzhou is called “The Garden City.” This little oasis used to be the location of the U.S. consulate and adoptive families used to stay here in this section of the city.
A free day, we decided to explore a large park next to our hotel. It was huge with a lake in the center. We walked along the path but it was a hot day and we hadn’t packed enough light clothes to be able to stay out in the heat for long.
The day of our visa appointment. We were nervous about this because the families who had appointments the day before had some hiccups. However, it all worked out and everyone went for their appointment Tuesday morning, March 17 – Happy St. Patrick’s Day – she was able to be issued a visa – no problem. The “appointment” consisted of us taking an oath saying that all of our paperwork we had filed (Remember the I-800?) was correct and truthful. Then, we walked over to counter and a U.S. consulate employee asked us a few questions and looked us over to make sure we were who we said we were and made sure our daughter matched her picture. Then we could leave.
After getting up early, packing up and checking out of our hotel. That afternoon we were issued our visa and immediately boarded a bus to head to Hong Kong. The ride to Hong Kong was much longer than we thought. We stayed a night in a hotel that was connected with the airport.
We flew out of Hong Kong and arrived in Chicago 14.5 hours later. After she fussed and only had two twenty-minute naps we were ready to get off that flight of horror. We were about an hour before landing in Chicago when she decides to start gagging. Yes, and then puking all over herself, Jason, and the seat. Oh it was miserable. I had put two shirts on her, so I had only packed an extra set of pants. So yeah. She soaked through two shirts and her pants. Thankfully, our flight was with our new friends who had been with us in China the entire time. I’ll be forever grateful to Kate for loaning me her girl’s shirt! After getting off the flight, we made our way through O’Hare and waited for our flight to Charleston. We arrived home 8pm that evening to a welcome sight: our family and friends!