Sunday, May 15, 2005

Saturday & Sunday

The remaining families all left Guangzhou today. Six left this morning around 6 a.m. We, along with one other family took the train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong at 10:30 a.m. We had planned in advance to make the 2 hour train journey in an attempt to see the country side between Guangzhou and Hong Kong. We had also decided many weeks before that we wanted to see Hong Kong and would spend one night there before we left China. The train ride was pleasant and was mostly urban between the two cities.

Chloe did well on her first train ride. We arrived at the train station in Hong Kong and caught a taxi to the Regal Airport Hotel. After checking into the hotel and preparing the baby backpack, we set out to tour Hong Kong. We took the express train into the city and went to the Peak Tram to see Hong Kong from atop the mountains. Chloe did so well as we trekked her all over the city. She was so pleasant and her personality is really starting to come out. She blows raspberries at you and shakes her head "no". She will also grab our faces in her little hands and put it close to hers and make a face at you. Now that she is feeling better her personality appears!!!

Chloe was quite the attention-getter on the tram and many Americans asked us about her. They all thought she was adorable (which of course she is). After the tour,we went back to the hotel, had dinner and packed for the long journey home. Hong Kong is a beautiful city and we were glad we took the short time we had to see it.

Sunday, May 15--

We woke early in the morning and had breakfast at the hotel. Both Matt and Shannon were nervous about how Chloe would do on her first plane ride. We checked in early and found out that our flight was delayed an hour. We walked through the duty-free shops at the airport and made a few purchases.

We finally boarded our Cathay Pacific flight to Tokyo and must say it was an enjoyable one. The stewardesses were very friendly and you would have thought we were royalty the way they treated us with Chloe. They gave us free diapers, Mustela diapering kits and offered to make Chloe baby food. The stewardesses would come and check on us and Chloe. All in all, it was a very impressive airline with impressive service. The 4 hour flight to Tokyo was great and Chloe did well.

After a brief layover in Tokyo, we boarded the American Airlines flight to Dallas. It was night for Chloe so she slept most of the flight. Many of the passengers commented as we exited the plane on how well she did. The service on American is sub-par as usual and we were amused when one of the stewardesses commented that there was a baby on board (2 hours into the flight). Chloe looked at her and blew her a raspberry as if on que. It was very funny and had our row laughing.

Daddy, the Brit, carried Chloe into her U.S. citizenship (which I thought was humorous). We were met by Grandpa and Grandma Dooley who began their doting and oohing and aahhing over their first grandchild.

Friday, May 13, 2005

U.S. Consulate Appointment & Red Couch

Friday the 13th was not an unlucky day for Chloe. Chloe sat in the highchair for the first time and received her visa from the U.S.
At 11 a.m. we all met in the hotel lobby and went down the street to the U.S. Consulate. We were ushered into a room with another group and were greeted by a U.S. official who told us the statistics of Chinese adoptions.

After that, we all raised our hands and swore that all our documents were accurate. And, that was it. Chloe was free to enter the U.S. and would become a U.S. citizen when she set foot on American soil. An important day, but pretty unremarkable in the delivery.After the consulate, the entire group met at the famous red couches of the White Swan Hotel and had the girls group photo taken (you can see it below).

In the afternoon, we all had a playdate in the hallway as we waited for the delivery of the girls' Chinese passports. Two of the families were leaving for the States' that evening and another 6 were leaving early in the morning. Most families packed.

Matt, Chloe and I went to the Lucy Bar for our last dinner in Guangzhou. It was a nice,cool evening. A very pleasant way to end our stay.

All U.S. families adopting from China must stay a minimum of four days in Guangzhou, where the U.S. consulate is located, to get their child's U.S. visa. Most of these families stay at the White Swan Hotel. Located on the 2nd floor of the hotel are red couches. Travel groups go there to have their daughters' photos taken after the U.S. has cleared them to enter the country. On the red couch in this photo are the babies of Qujiang SWI and then children of our travelmates. Chloe is in the white shirt in the center.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Hanging Out


Daddy and Chloe along the banks of the Pearl River.


Chloe woke up with a very bad cough and a runny nose. We had to stay in our rooms from10-11 a.m. today to wait for a call from the U.S. Consulate if there was problems with our paperwork. Luckily, none of us received a call!


At 11 a.m. we all boarded the bus to tour the Chen Family Temple. The temple was pretty, but the heat and humidity was unbelievable. When we returned from the tour, Chloe had a nap. After her nap, the three of us ventured off Shamian Island into Guangzhou proper. We walked through the marketplace and saw all sorts of oddities. We came across monkey skulls, bear paws and scorpions. We found out later that this is a medicinal market and you can buy these items and take them to a traditional doctor to brew you a tea for your ailment. We made our way to the large shopping center. We enjoyed touring the shops and felt very comfortable walking amongst all the locals. It was an enjoyable outing.


In the evening, we walked along the Pearl River and had a drink at the Lucy Bar in the park. Shannon went to Ike's rooms and finished some paperwork for the consulate appointment Friday. Ike gave Chloe a map of Shaoguan and some soil from the orphanage. The director had given these items to Ike for the girls. Inside he marked the location of the orphanage on the map. We were also able to locate Chloe's finding spot on the map. It was a very sweet gesture and will be a cherished item.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Qujiang SWI Visit

The happy family outside the entrance to Qujiang SWI.

Mommy and Chloe outside the SWI. The orphanage had a sign outside their door welcoming the girls and their families. Shannon is pointing to Chloe's Chinese name,Qu Le Wen.




Chloe, Mommy & one of Chloe's Nanny's inside the infant room beside Chloe's crib.



Chloe being held by the director of the SWI.




Chloe was up at 5 a.m. this morning and slept through the night. We took her to the local park on Shamian Island, just outside the White Swan Hotel. We watched the people swimming in the Pearl River and doing Tai Chi. At 8:30 a.m. we boarded the bus for the 3 hour drive to Chloe's orphanage, Qujiang. Everthing started well, she fell asleep in Daddy's lap. We stopped at a rest stop and changed her diaper. When we boarded the bus again, Chloe began to cry and cry and cry. Matt tried to calm her down, Shannon tried to calm her down and Ike tried to calm her down. Nothing worked. We finally arrived in the town where Chloe had lived for the first 11 months of her life. We met the orphanage director at a restaurant and had lunch. Shannon tried the local favorite, chicken toes (feet). Yum! Chloe was fussy all during lunch. The director told us she was hungry. After lunch, we went to the orphanage and took a tour. The nannies brought in some congee and milk for the babies. Chloe sucked down two bottles. Ok, maybe she was hungry! We toured the orphanage and saw where Chloe slept. We also learned that Kate (Le Qui) and Katarina (Le Mei) were Chloe's playmates. After the tour of the orphanage, we went to the local grocery and each family bought a case of formula for the orphanage. The director told us it is the necessities that they need most. The drive back from the orphanage to Guangzhou was not better,but worse. Chloe cried and wailed and screamed for the 3 hours back. We discovered that she was teething! We finally made it back to the hotel and took Chloe for a walk. She was calmer. Shannon was not. Matt handled both his girls well and tucked them into bed at 8 p.m.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Temple Visit

Shannon, being instructed by Ike, on how to light the three sticks on incense properly.

The Chambers' family at the Six Banyan Trees Buddhist temple.

Matt and Chloe enjoying our greatest purchase to date, a baby carrier!


We woke up very tired this morning. Chloe did not have a good night. If Shannon tried to lay her in her crib, she would pop up and cry and scream. Shannon ended up holding Chloe in her arms all night. Chloe would wake up every 1 1/2 hours and have to be soothed back to sleep. Chloe woke up in a cranky mood and would not take a bottle. Matt also woke up feeling ill.






We kept Chloe in her night clothes and took turns going to breakfast while one person stayed on "Chloe watch" in the room. Matt discovered that Chloe does better if she is out of the room and has something to occupy her (she is very inquisitive). We decided to take the group tour to the Buddhist temple. Before we boarded the bus, we went to the gift shop in the White Swan Hotel and bought a baby carrier. We brought the European hammock style which Chloe hated. The baby carrier was a godsend.






We went to the temple with the other families in our group. We all lit incense and said prayers for our daughters. After the temple, we went to another Friendship Store and shopped for jade and traditional Chinese clothing as gifts for Chloe.






In the afternoon, Chloe took a long and needed nap. We started her on a anti-histamine and discovered that her nose is stopped up. We then discovered Chloe had left us a present...a poopie! This is a momentous occasion for all the kids and parents and we are proud to report that Chloe delivered her surprise first in the group!






After the medicine and bowel relief, Chloe was on a turnaround. She played with two of her Quijiang sisters and went for a walk in her baby carrier with mommy and daddy around Shamian Island.

Monday, May 09, 2005

First Full Day Together






Chloe slept well on Sunday night, we didn't. We would sit up every couple of hours and check on her. Most of the other babies slept through the night and they are all beginning to settle in with their new families.
Chloe woke up about 5:45 a.m. and was in a happy mood. She took a bottle from Daddy and then had a bath (which she handled quite well). Around 10 a.m., we ventured out into the rain to take Chloe's passport photo. When we returned Chloe and her Daddy had an impromptu play date with her Qujiang sisters in the hotel hallway. Chloe got in only a few good moments of play as she became fussy. Though she struggles not to fall asleep, Mommy managed to get her down around 12:30 p.m. Daddy went in search of a USB port in Guangzhou so we could send photos to everyone back home. We are feeling bad that we cannot access Geocities in China. Matt did manage to find a USB port for the camera, but it didn't work! No photos!
At 3:30 p.m. we went to have Chloe's physical done for her visa. It was not a great experience. All the babies go through three stations: height and weight, ear, nose and throat and a physical exam. Being poked and inspected by strangers upset all the girls. Chloe became very upset and it was hard to calm her down the rest of the day.
Later in the evening we went to the Ox & Bridge Restaurant with the rest of the group. It was great, unfortunately we had to call our evening early as Chloe was fussy and cried all during dinner (welcome to parenthood).

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Forever Family Day



The day that we have waited 17 months for finally arrived!!! We departed Beijing on China Southern at 8:30 a.m. and landed in Guangzhou around 11:30 a.m. It had just finished raining and we were immediately greeted by the heat and humidity. In addition to Ike,our national guide, we met Li, our local guide. Li told us this was the cool spring weather. If we wanted to come back in July, then we would be greeted by 100 degree heat and 95% humidity. We arrived at the White Swan Hotel about 12:15 p.m. and we were to head out to meet our babies at 2:15 p.m. We checked in and prepared for Chloe's arrival. Shannon was all nerves. We stepped out on Shamian Island briefly to find something to eat. Shannon couldn't eat. Poor Matt settled for a Diet Pepsi and Pringles from the 7-Eleven. We went back to the room, unpacked and gathered together all of our documents needed for the Gotcha Day festivities.
At 2:15 p.m. all the families promptly boarded the bus with gifts and documentation in hand. The drive from the White Swan to the Guangzhou Civil Affairs office was the longest of our life! Shannon's heart was racing as we crowded into the elevator to go to the 5th floor. We entered the office and made our way down the red-carpeted corridor. We were the first group of families to receive our children that day. We were ushered into a large room with benches lining the wall and a meeting table in the center. It was very quiet except for the sound of babies playing across the hall...our babies! We all rushed to the door to sneak a peek, only to be met by the peering eyes of the nannies and orphanage director trying to do the same. We were told by Ike that the babies would be brought in one by one according to our family number of the itinerary sheet GWCA had given us. We were family #7. The chaos then erupted as families tried to find another family to record their gotcha moment. Then it began. Nine of the ten families were adopting from Qujiang SWI and one family was adopting from another orphanage.
We were told that this family would go first (which threw the order out of whack). The Civil Affairs official stood in the doorway and announced to everyone, "This child is...(and their Chinese name)". In walked the nanny either holding the hand of the child or carrying the child. One by one the process was repeated until it was our turn. The official announced, "This child is Qu Le Wen", and in came Chloe, carried by a nanny. She had so much hair!!! She did not cry, she went to Shannon and began to take in the scene. She was just as they described her to us, alert and always wanting to see the action. When all the babies had been presented to their new families, we took Chloe down the hall and discovered that she could crawl!! As we were shuffled from room to room, Chloe never cried, just looked around. She is really gorgeous and she is ours!!
After going to get the babies passport photos taken, we went back to the hotel. When we walked into the room, Chloe began to cry. She was tired, hungry and irritable after such a long day. She sucked down two bottles and then went to sleep. We are officially a family of three.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Beijing
















In the morning we met in the lobby of the hotel and met the other 9 families also adopting. We all boarded the bus and headed to Tiannamen Square where we had a group photo taken at the entrance to the Fordbidden City. There were lots of people out and about as Saturday marked the end to the week long Labor Day holiday in China. Ike guided us through the Forbidden City. We only got a small glimpse of how vast and beautiful it is. The weather was beautiful. As we exited the Forbidden City, Ike told us that we would meet some vendors. Ha! He must have been joking. We got to know some vendors intimately as the pressed against us trying to sell us knock-off watches and postards of China. Our group formed a protective circle to try to keep them out. Matt thought it was funny and amusingly checked out fake Breitling watches. We boarded the bus and headed to the Friendship Store (a government run store for foreigners that sells every kind of Chinese-made collectible). There, we had lunch and toured the cloissone factory. We then continued on to the Great Wall. I must now stop and apologize. I had, in the past, called those people unable to make it to the top of the Great Wall "wimps". Please accept my sincerest apologies. What a hike! Don't be fooled, it is a tough climb, the steps are not one certain shape, height or size. Each step varies, some are steep and short and some are steep and long!! If you have knee problems, this is not a climb for you. Shannon made it a goal to make it to the top and she did. What inspired her? Being passed by Chinese three-year-olds and Chinese women in high heels climbing and crawling up the steps.



Friday, May 06, 2005

Leaving for China!

Shannon at Narita Airport in Tokyo, waiting to go to Beijing.

It was a long series of flights! We left Dallas at 9:55 a.m. for Los Angeles and then headed from LA to Tokyo after a short stopover. The flight to Tokyo was 11 hours and 30 minutes. We then headed from Tokyo to Beijing (another 4 hour flight). When we arrived in Beijing at 9:55 p.m. (that is 8:55 a.m. CST) we were met by Ike, our GWCA/Adoption guide. We were then escorted to the Sino-Swiss Hotel. Before we went to bed, we had a nightcap at the Warp 8 Bar in the hotel. What a riot! There was a band playing 80s music and we were amused by the audience members who would jump on stage to join in!


 
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