Monday, December 23, 2013

Day 15 and day 16 - Emma's finder and Kunming fun (kunming)

On Saturday we met with Emma's finder at her finding spot. She retold the story of Emma's finding and gave us a little gift (necklace trinket for Emma). She was able to tell us how she found her, what she was wearing, and all the details of that morning. This is what we currently know as Emma's first history. Short of her birth mother coming forward, this is the best we have in terms if Emma's birth history.

Emma's 'finding' spot and her finder

We then had a quick visit with an old friend Jane and her new baby Timothy (who is 2 weeks younger then Jake).

On Sunday we spent the morning with missionaries in kunming - such an interesting experience! We were connected to this family via a friend of a friend and we are glad we were able to connect!! 

We then spent the remainder of our time on Sunday and Monday with Fang enjoying china and kunming!! 

We are ready to head home but will somewhat surprisingly miss china!!

Candied fruit!

Cotton candy in green lake

Adorable pic, right?!


Dinner, yum!!

Shopping for tea!

After dinner family photo!

Fang and christy

Girls at green lake 

We leave shanghai tomorrow am! We land in dtw at noon tomorrow, Christmas Eve. :-)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Day 13 and 14 (kunming SWI and Foster Family visit)

We landed in kunming on Thursday morning and our guide called the orphanage (also called the SWI) immediately. We were able to get into the SWI by noon to meet with one if the directors. She seemed lovely and was probably a little overwhelmed by the 4 children creating chaos in her office.

The following day we were able to go to Emma's foster families home for a visit. It was very moving to meet the woman who cared for Emma for 12 months and the brother, sister, and father that clearly loved her.

Emma's foster dad

Emma's foster mother

Two families that love a little girl!

The foster mother gave Emma a very precious jade necklace. Very moving.

The foster family was so clearly in love with Emma. They still fostered the two older children that lived with Emma when she was in foster care. The older sister just bawled her eyes out and kept touching Emma's hand. It was so moving but so hard. Adoption is hard. Foster care is hard. That is the plain truth. This is Emma's history and we are forever grateful for it. We still don't know her birth parents but having uncovered this part of her life is just huge for her - and for us.

We came to Beijing and kunming on a whim that all of this would happen. At any point we could have been turned down like the countless other ppl before us. That did not happen though- doors were opened left and right and we were able to do everything we had hoped. Our guide has made it happen.

In addition, going forward, Matt and I will be helping Yunnan kids international, a non profit that supports Emma's orphanage. To that extent, While at the foster village, we scoped out future site of a special need playground for the rural villages that foster the cities orphans. Pretty cool stuff.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day 12 (Kunming)

We'll the other half of the tale starts off in guangzhou at 5am.  I woke to finish off packing and to get Alexis and Luke ready for our flight. We made it out the door on time to meet our guide (Lilly - fitting right :) ) and the driver to head to the airport. 

We arrived with enough time to pay for Luke's ticket and to check the 3 large pieces of luggage and Lilly escorted us to security. We split ways and that is when the fun begins. We make it up to the X-ray belt and metal detectors. I passed all our bags through and send the 3 backpacks and the trunkie through and then coaks Luke and Alexis through the metal detector. Then I proceed to fold up the Bob running double stroller. The crew of security folks argue with me to take it back to the ticket counter to have it checked through to kunming. I tell them that my kids need to come back with me along with all my bags.  We disagree and they refuse to send the kids back through and tell me my kids will be fine..... I yell to Alexis to help Luke and that I will be righ back.  

Running off I go to check the bob.....

I take the bob stroller back to check-in and they redirect me to oversized luggage, I tried to explain the situation with hand guestures and small English words and all I get is the run around. To make a long and somewhat comical story short I get directed to 5 different desks to try to check the stroller only to have to go back to security to retrieve my wallet and pay the extra fee to check the stroller. 

In the end the bob was checked, the kiddos remained calm while in the care of the Chinese version of the TSA and we narrowly caught our flight by sprinting to the gate with 3 backpacks, two compliant children, and a trunkie in a pare tree. 

Once again it seems the value of the double stroller seems to be lost in china

Day 11 and 12 (Beijing)

I traveled solo yesterday with 2 of the kids from guangzhou to beijing. It was a pretty average trip. We had planned to stay one night (to greet our new guide) and then head to kunming but i couldn't get a late night flight so that one night turned into two.

Matt flew from Guangzhou to Kunming with the other two kiddos. I chatted with him briefly today and I didn't get all the details but his flight sounded more traumatic then mine. :-)

We met our new guide and are headed to kunming in the morning. It's already 430 pm and we leave on a 630 am flight so no time for sightseeing. The kids missed naps and are starving so we are operating on basic necessaries only. That is ok - i imagine we will be back in beijing  at some point and we can sight see then. :-)

Kunming is known as the city of eternal spring but i heard it snowed there yesterday! Most buildings don't have central heat (including the one we are staying at) but I am assured by a friend the space heaters are enough! I guess a little unexpected Christmas snow may be nice.

Next post from kunming!

Ride to hotel down an ally - someone loved it!

Taxi around the city

Crib in hotel

At airport

Hotel room- pretty cool place!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Day 9 and 10 - garden hotel and Consulate Appt

Yesterday was our  'free' day in Guangzhou. It was rainy and cold so we had to he creative with our Christmas activities. The kids had been up since 5 so it's a lot of time to burn! We are meeting many other adoptive families while we here as well. Its a great experience for the girls to see all these kids being adopted to families all over the US.

Today we had our consulate appointment and closed out this half of the trip. Luke will be a US citizen in a week when we land in Detroit!


Movie night - Peter Pan for the 8th time !!

Saltine Gingerbread house

Emma at one if our many buffet breakfasts

In the playroom at the garden telling on his sisters

In the garden at garden hotel - it's freezing out!!

Snowflakes in our room

The remainder of the trip turns to Emma and learning as much about her history as possible. I leave tomorrow for beijing with just her and jake. We meet Matt in kunming on Thursday!! We had assumed it would be warm in kunming but just heard it snowed there!! Most buildings don't have central heat so we will see how that goes !!  ;-)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Day 8 - medical appt (Guangzhou)

Lingao had his medical appt today and he is cleared to come home to the US. We have one last appointment Monday at the US consulate and then he will be a US citizen when he lands in Detroit.

We did a bit of shopping this morning and visited what they call the 'pet market' and Alexis kinda went bonkers bc they had puppies. And she asked Santa for one thing only...a puppy. All day we had to explain that the puppy would die if it came in her luggage with us. Poor thing- the puppies were cute. Let me be clear though..we have had 3 children in 2 years..we are NOT getting a puppy. Matt is waivering a but but I am staying strong on this point.

We also are at a new hotel - nicer and cheaper so logistically on the up and up. There is only an outdoor pool but the girls were totally bent on going. No one actually got in but it was fun for the girls to see a pool on a roof top!


After (not so happy, it was cold!)

Lingao is doing SO well. He still misses his foster mama but he is coming out if his shell more and more every day. He had never eaten with a spoon and fork before us but he now wants to use utensils like us. A Very independent boy! Notice he uses them like chopsticks, lol!

We have a free day tomorrow, the US Consulate appt Monday, and on Tuesday I leave with Emma and Jake for Beijing to begin the second half of this trip...Emma's root finding!! More on that to come in the next few days!

A few more pics..

Medical appt - a bunch of us ppl adopting various special needs kiddos - pretty cool to see!!

I meant to post this picture yesterday regarding the travel debacle...Try to take our double stroller..we will make a new one!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Day 7- traveling to guangzhou

We spent the day traveling to Gz yesterday. Frankly speaking, it was kind of a hot mess. This happens once every trip I ever take - one day is just plain messy.

It started with our guide not getting a large enough car for the transport to the airport. She wasn't the one who picked us up on from the airport Sunday (she just sent a driver) so she wasn't aware of how far the car was loaded then, even without her. When I saw the car yesterday , I asked if there was a second car coming. When she said no I told her that car would only work if she stayed back. Probably not my nicest moment. let me back up though....

At that point , I was annoyed with the whole situation bc we paid the travel company $900 and all we received for that $900 were 2 airport transfer (1 way was literally a cab ride bc she didn't pick us up) and 3 hours of her time / van time to go to the appointments on Monday. No touring, no shopping. We were on our own the rest of the week. Even a Walmart trip was going to cost us more $$. At $150/hr I figured we were better off sending one adult to the grocery in a cab!! Meanwhile, all the other American families traveling with us paid the same amount (apparently the $900 is a flat fee in that province) and had at least a grocery trip and had a morning of  touring on one if those days off. I would have turned the touring down anyway but I was still annoyed.  All that said, the guide was super nice but I can tell you we didn't get $900 of service, even if we had been in NYC at the ritz it wouldn't have been that much.

Ok, so Back to yesterday and the car situation...Matt finally unpacks the entire car and has to jam luggage up by ourfeet in order to make is all fit. So, for the 40 min ride to the airport , it's Matt and I in the back with a shit ton of luggage and our 4 kids on our laps while our guide rode in the front seat with plenty of leg room. Nice. 

Then when we got to the airport our guide tried to tell us that the airline was making us check both double strollers. I knew this wasn't the case bc on the way to nanchang, while in the same airport and on the sane airline, we had used both strollers! I finally convinced them to allow the umbrella double to come with us and we checked big Bob the double stroller.

We said goodbye to the guide and eventually gate checked the stroller and took the 1.5 he flight to GZ. Unfortunately, while deboarding the plane, we realize they have sent the stroller to the luggage claim area! The Chinese just don't seem to see the value in the stroller the same was as Americans do. We know the point of the stroller is to get you and your kids through an airport without loosing anyone so a luggage check does no one ant good! I know we are Americans are lazy but I also think the 1 kid thing plays in to the cultural difference. Anyway , We made the best of the no stroller situation though (pics below!).

Our guide in GZ, lily, is great! She picked us up herself , quickly grabbed one stroller from us , she had gifts for outlr kids, she called a laundry service for us and had them pick up our dirty suitcase and deliver clean laundry 12 hours later AND she offered to take me, Emma, jake to the airport on Tuesday when we fly to beijing (Matt doesn't leave Gz for kunming until Wednesday). So she has been our bright light!

Unfortunately, when we checked into our hotel - a holiday inn- here in Gz, it was evident that our 'executive level' rooms had been smoked in. Our room was just noticeable but the girls room was like clam bake had just occurred. I can't really say I am surprised china everything says non smoking but then you will find ashtrays all over. Anyway, apparently there are no other rooms left so we have to switch hotels tomorrow. And tonight we had to all sleep in one hotel room. To add insult to injury I had booked an advance rate that required a two night stay so we are now paying more for all of us to stay on a semi stinky hotel room with one bed. Luckily our awesome guide is all over it for us and I trust tomorrow night will be better.

So..our day was not perfect . Our kids were was the adults that were the problem, lol. We actually had a ton iof fun in the airport , pics below!!

In lobby restaurant while Matt packed

Playing in lobby waiting for car to arrive

In lobby waiting some more..

He learned to do a selfie!

At the airport

Lingao loves 'Tiger Lillie' (what girls call this suitcase, they are in a Peter Pan phase and Alexis thought it was cut as an 'ie' Lillie

In airport

Our bed At 5 am!