At the airport - ready to go!
One of Jerry's friends gave us an envelope with a verse for each day, starting with the day we left. It was a great encouragement!
Our trip to China went very well. My plans to post here were thwarted by many factors - it is harder to get around China's firewall than I thought (my VPN wasn't the best one, but it was the only one that would work with my tablet's OS), we were so busy we fell into bed exhausted at the end of each day with no energy for long posts or e-mails, and we got quite sick (I was lucky enough to get sick twice!). However, even with the sickness, I would say that we could have asked for a better trip. We did not experience any jet lag on our way due to the fact that we flew over business class (yea for AA miles to upgrade our tickets!) and could lay down and sleep. We were also part of the most amazing travel group! I can honestly say that I really liked the 7 other families we were with. We all seemed to get along well, value similar things, and have lots in common! It was fun to be able to watch other kids going through the same process as Hannah, as well. We also had good guides with us. CCAI, our adoption agency, has a great staff in China! They knew exactly what they were doing, were super helpful, and were fun to get to know.
Check out all the leg room for international business class!!
Our flight path - close to the North Pole!
Our travel group touring Beijing.
We stood out even more thanks to this flag our guide held everywhere we went! But it was good to not lose the group.
It has been awesome getting to know Hannah. The first two days we had her, she was all charm and smiles - I think she was trying to "win our affections." Little did she know, she had done that long before we even met her. She oozes personality! She is loud, funny, goofy, smiley, stubborn, picky, ticklish, cuddly, and so darn stinkin' cute it is almost too much! She can throw a tantrum with the best of them, but she can also be as sweet as honey, smothering you with kisses. The funny thing is that she goes from one to the other at the drop of a hat! She definitely has not been told "no" very often in her life - and she does *not* like when we tell her "no." That was one of the things about China that I noticed consistently - when a child is not happy, everyone, even perfect strangers, try giving the child this or that to make them happy again! We will have some training to do with Hannah! :)
A silkworm cocoon - touring the silk factory.
We had a great laugh when we found silk GB boxers there!
Group meal at a local restaurant.
At the Forbidden City - the dragon head symbolizes the emperor and the turtle stands for long life, so this statue means, "Long live the emperor!"
Another meal where you don't know what you're eating until it actually comes.
Some food we declined eating...
Climbing the Great Wall
Jerry in front of the Bird's Nest.
Once we were done with our two days of touring in Beijing, we went to Zhengzhou, the capital of Hannah's province, and got Hannah the next morning. The day after that, we signed the papers that made Hannah's adoption official! It was decidedly unceremonious, which was a bit disappointing, but like all things Chinese- it was efficient. We had an opportunity to go to Hannah's orphanage, but we decided not to for a couple of reasons, but mostly because by that time, Hannah had started grieving and looking around at all the women we saw doing some "mommy shopping." We didn't want her to think we were taking her back, and we also didn't want her to want to go back! We did hire a tour guide to take us around her home city though, which was nice. We were able to get pictures for her of where she was from, although she was abandoned about an hour's drive outside the city in a very remote location, so we didn't see the exact spot. We have had so many miracles throughout this entire adoption process, but this added another one. Hannah was left in this very remote area where few people would pass by, at one day old. She probably hadn't eaten anything because her cleft was so severe it is doubtful her mom was able to nurse her at all. For all practical purposes, she should have died, but God has plans for this little girl! He had what would be equivalent to a "state trooper" drive by and actually spot her, care enough to stop and get her and take her right to a place where she could be cared for. She has not only survived, but this girl has thrived! Praise God! Also while in Zhengzhou, we had to have many papers notarized, we received Hannah's Chinese passport, and we received the paperwork we needed to get her US visa.
Right after getting Hannah - she's still not too sure...
Our first smiles!
McD's never tasted so good!
Next we flew to Guangzhou, the city all US adoptions go through. We didn't really have too much official to do there - we were primarily waiting for appointments and paperwork - so we went back to being tourists. Only now, our group was much larger and noisier with 8 new baby/toddler additions! We went to the zoo, out to eat as a group, on a river cruise to see the city at night, shopping, and more. We ordered Papa Johns pizza and ate at McDonald's - which was the only "cheap" fast option for food within walking distance of our hotel. This week culminated with our US Consulate appointment (also very unceremonious) and receiving Hannah's visa and our paperwork packet for her to enter the US.
In Kaifeng City - where Hannah is from.
The Iron Pagoda - 1000 years old - the most famous landmark in Kaifeng City.
Surprisingly, leaving China was a little bit sad. Although we missed home and our children, we had grown comfortable with China. We found we actually enjoyed the food, and had adjusted to the culture. We had learned to be assertive and to cross very crowded streets with hundreds of other people on foot, bicycle, and motor scooter. The reality of knowing we were leaving Hannah's birth country and headed back to a family that would never be what it was before was a big reality, too. Having Hannah means that a part of our hearts will always be tied to China because it was there that we received our fourth amazing blessing! I don't fully understand why it was God's plan for us to grow our family out of a painful situation for Hannah and her birth parents, but I love the way that no matter what it looks like from an earthly perspective, God orchestrated her birth and adoption from before the beginning of time, and that is downright amazing. She was meant to be our daughter, and it is obvious!
The 2nd tallest building in the world!
On the river cruise in Guangzhou
The flight home was long and frustrating. We flew like normal people (in coach) and had a bulkhead row, which was great for legroom, but horrible because the arm rests didn't lift so we couldn't lay Hannah flat to sleep across us as we had planned. We ran into delays on each of our flights (we flew GZ to Tokyo to DFW), and even were diverted to OK City for an hour due to weather! In all, it took 27 hours to get home. Once we landed we began the maze of customs, baggage claim, and immigration. Our immigration officer was very rude and told us that Hannah was not being admitted as a citizen as we had been told, and we are still straightening all of that out. We were so tired, so this was even more upsetting, and I was in tears by the time we were heading out to greet our family. Then when I saw my boys, the tears really overflowed! I hadn't realized just how much I missed them until I saw them! Hannah took all of this in stride and did amazingly well through it all. She observed her brothers and her grandparents closely while Jerry told her in Mandarin and English who they all were. As we suspected, she HATED her car seat! They don't use them in China, and she has never been restricted while travelling!
Celebrating the US on July 4!
Our first flight home was in "economy plus" - really nice! Too bad the long one wasn't...
Discovering American food - green peas are a hit!
These first two days have gone well. She loves her brothers, and they are delighted with her and discovering her "tricks"! They are constantly trying to get her to hug them or make her laugh. Not to say it has all been a bed of roses. The transition home has been hard. Hannah is jet lagged, and grieving, too. This comes out less during the day (she will get sad suddenly and want to snuggle), but really comes out at night. She really does not want to be left alone to sleep at night and is fighting sleep altogether! She has been up half the night or more each night, and we are exhausted. I have read many books on toddler adoption and the transition, and this is so normal, but the longer it goes on the harder it is to cope with it well due to lack of sleep! Please pray that Hannah will feel secure enough in our family and in her room to sleep at night! We all need it.
Andrew and Hannah have been great playmates! Drew is loving having someone more his size to play with.