Thursday, July 31, 2014

China: Day 1 In Beijing

 After a ridiculously long morning waiting for the rest of Beijing to wake up, we decided to venture out to find breakfast.  It was our only day of being on our own for breakfast and we weren't feeling terribly brave, so we ended up at McDonalds.  I've never been a McD's fan, but when I lived in China, it became a guilty pleasure.   I swear their food in China is better than it is in the States... or at least that's how I remembered it.  This McDonalds disappointed, BIG TIME!  First of all, the only item on two items on the "breakfast menu" were fish sandwiches and french fries.  No egg McMuffin... no pancakes!  With no backup plan, we decided a fish sandwich would have to do.  Oh, and "orange juice" that was more of an orange drink, kind of like Tang.  

 The girls survived fish sandwiches for breakfast, although the girls were not thrilled.  Then we went to use the restroom.  We walked in and BAM... squatty pottys!!  What?!?  When I was in China before, I learned that McDonalds was a safe haven with flushing toilets and air conditioning, but there we were, in a McDonalds with a decision to make... to wait, or not to wait.  Maddie's need was too great to wait, so after we were able to stop laughing (me at the girl's reaction, and them at how hard I was laughing) I got to demonstrate how to use a squatter toilet... that's right, we're making some memories on this trip...  although, they may want to forget this image of their mom sooner rather than later.  Then Maddie took a turn.   Let's just say, her first squatter experience was a mess.  Her aim wasn't helped at all by her hysterical laughter.  (jet lag was still making us giddy)  Luckily the stall took the hit and Maddie made a clean break.  Kaitlyn wisely decided she could hold it a little bit longer. 

 Then, with some time to kill, we decided to take a walk and explore the streets around our hotel.  

 Then our BIG event for the day... we visited Little Flowers, the foster care center that Jordan lived in for the first year of his life.  We were given a tour and were able to take pictures of the different rooms, his crib, some of the nannies that cared for him and get a better idea of what his life was like for that first year.  We are so grateful he was so well cared for.  Of course they told us that Min Jia (Jordan) was a favorite among many of the nannies.  I'm so glad we were able to fit this visit in to our trip.  I felt like it was important for us to document all of this for Jordan.  Unfortunately, we were asked not to share the pictures on social media, so all you get is a picture snapped on the say back to the hotel.  We played I Spy With My Little Eye... I chose grey and the girls both guessed "the sky" right away.  Yes, the air is terrible!!  Really, really terrible.

 We went out for a late lunch and I'm sad to admit, we decided on McDonalds once again because it was close by, we were all completely exhausted, and just wanted something fast.  McDonalds disappointed once again by telling us that, the fish sandwich was still the only option... not just for breakfast.  They weren't selling anything else for about a week.  Meat shortage?  I don't know.  But I did know that, we just could not tolerate another fish sandwich.  So, we went to the 7-11 we had spotted earlier, hoping for a hot dog, or at least a Slurpee... but that was just wishful thinking.  We were striking out left and right and really dragging at that point, so we got brave and went into a restaurant called "The Merry House".  It was smokey, stinky, and insanely hot inside and we were the only non-Chinese people there.  But the food looked good so we stayed.  Right away this woman (the one in blue started talking to Maddie... going on and on.  We couldn't understand her, but she kept on talking anyway and convinced Maddie to sit down next to her while we ordered.  She went on beaming at us and talking to Maddie.  When Maddie tried to get up, she insisted she stay.   So when our food was ready, we all sat down and ate lunch with her while she just kept on talking to us and we kept on smiling, nodding and occasionally shrugging.  I wish we could have understood what she was saying, she was so happy to just talk to us.  When I help up my camera and asked her if we could take a picture with her, she was thrilled.  She pulled a scarf out of her bag and pulled a friend into the picture.  Then she had Ryan take a picture of the girls and me with her.  She even had one of the girls sit on her lap... I'm so tired, I can't remember if it was Maddie or Kate.  But it was awesome.  So much more fun and memorable than McDonalds... if you don't count the squatter toilet experience. 

 I looked over and thought Ryan was shedding a tear, but between the spicy noodles he ordered and how very hot the restaurant was, he was just pouring sweat.  Did I mention that it is hot and humid and any building without AC is brutal!  But the food was actually good and very inexpensive.  

 After dinner we explored the shops around our hotel a little more then Maddie and Kaitlyn convinced us to take them swimming to cool off.  Ryan and I were just trying to do anything to keep us from falling asleep.  We didn't want a nap to keep us from sleeping through the night again.

Apparently swim caps are a requirement... so, much to the girl's joy, we had to buy them their own caps.  

And now, it's after 8pm, Ryan and the girls have been asleep for at least an hour, and I am done holding out.  I'm going to bed!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

China: Getting Here

 Yay!  We finally got Blogger to work!  ...I think.  I guess I'll find out when I hit "publish".  Anyway, after posting pics on Facebook, I realized I never blogged about taking Maddie and Kaitlyn with us to China.  So here's how it went down... we kept hearing how great it was to take a sibling along on the adoption trip to help with the transition of the newly adopted child.  If it could help Jordan feel more comfortable, we knew we wanted to take Maddie and Kaitlyn, but we also to open their eyes to the world and see where Jordan is coming from.  We knew it could be a priceless experience for the girls and they would be old enough to remember it.  We just couldn't afford to.  But our rental home finally sold, (yea, yea yea!!) freeing up enough money to take one of the girls.   We figured Maddie was the oldest, so we would take her, but we didn't tell either of the girls, because we didn't know how to.  We knew it would break Kaitlyn's heart to be left behind.  Maddie and Kaitlyn are two peas in a pod.So, we put off getting passports because we didn't know what we should do.  Finally, we decided to get both girls a passport, just in case we could somehow make it work.  When my parents heard we were taking Maddie, they decided to help out so Kaitlyn could come too.  We're so grateful and happy that both of our girls get to share in this experience!!

One of my favorite moments from yesterday: Ryan has been playing Chinese podcasts a lot in preparation for our trip, so when we got up to board our airplane, and Maddie dropped her neck pillow, a young man (Chinese) picked it up for her, and she told him "xie xie" (thank you in Chinese). He was surprised to hear her respond in Chinese. We ended up talking for a while. When our plane landed in China he found us again and helped us navigate the airport. When I told him he was so kind to take care of us he said he wanted to be nice to us because we must be nice to want to take care of a child who has medical needs. I wish I would have thought to take a picture with "Aaron", our first friend made on the trip.

Here we go!!

Such a looooong flight, but Air China took good care of us. Sometime between 2-3am Utah time, they were passing out meals. Maddie woke up and asked if it was breakfast since we had already had dinner. I looked and saw it was beef and noodles and told her no, it was "second dinner" At this point she was deliriously loopy and couldn't stop giggling.

Did I mention it was a really long flight?  The flight to China was 12 hours but the total travel time SLC to Beijing was 16 hours. The girls were troopers.  I had a hard time sitting that long!

We made it!!  Standing in the "foreigners" line in Beijing.

Another favorite moment: we knew getting from the airport to our hotel would be tricky with all of our luggage... we assumed we'd probably have to split up into two taxis. So when a van driver was in the taxi line and held up four fingers, we though "Yay! We can all ride together!" But when we showed him our hotel name card and he pointed to a price on a chart showing he wanted 580 yuan (about $100) We told him it was too much, we had only exchanged for 200 yuan because we were told that should be enough for two taxis. So, we moved on to see if we could get two taxis to take us, but that van driver followed us around telling the other drivers something in Chinese... we assume something like, "I already give them a price, don't give them a deal" And he kept telling us we had too much stuff for a taxi and that the high cost was because there was so much traffic. We knew we weren't getting anywhere with that van driver following us, so we kept walking until he gave up on us. We finally found a driver that, surprisingly, was willing to take all of us when I said I'd hold one of the large suitcases on my lap. He thought I was crazy, and laughed, but he did it and it only cost us 140 yuan! This picture was taken from behind a 50lb suitcase with a driver laughing and peeping at me in the rearview mirror.

Smashed in a taxi.  Definitely worth it!  We got to stick together and saved over $75 dollars.

When we got to the hotel, we settled in, tested out Skype with Ryan's parents, then went to bed because we were crazy tired.  Unfortunately, our bodies just thought we were taking an afternoon nap and we have all been wide awake since 12:30am.  Curse you jet lag!!!  So we decided to bite the bullet and get up for the day.  I started to work on figuring out our internet issues while Ryan and the girls watched China's Got Talent (in Chinese) and a table tennis tournament.  (we've since found a few english channels) We also spent a good 10 minutes laughing because, as hard as they tried, the neither of the girls could not pronounce the word "oxygen"... they usually CAN say it, but their tired brains just weren't working.  Maddie is a little bit OCD about how bad the air is and wants an "os-i-jigin" mask and was trying to tell us about it, but we couldn't stop laughing.  We are in for a rough day, but hopefully we'll be able to stay awake and get on a China schedule.  Thank you for all of the prayers and support!! 

Monday, July 28, 2014


We leave to China in about 11 hours and I'm a bit of a mess.... a happy mess.  We're nearly packed, and the house is somewhat clean and now that I'm starting to relax a little, the emotions are creeping in.  It's just that, after all we went through to be matched to Jordan and all of the paperwork and waiting... and waiting some more......  we are finally going to get Jordan.  Really?  Really!!

I grew up white water rafting.  It is something I did once or twice every summer from the time I was about 5 years old.  My family's river of choice:  The Snake River, near Jackson Hole Wyoming.  I really love that river.  Since I have little kids of my own, I haven't been rafting for several years, but I've been thinking about the river of my childhood a lot lately.  The first half of that river trip is mostly a relaxing float trip.  Sometimes we passed the time by jumping out of the raft to float alongside in our life jackets, or practiced paddling together.  Other times we just sat back to enjoy the beautiful backdrop of the canyon. The first major rapid on that stretch of the river is "Big Kahuna".  If you've never been rafting, I don't know exactly how to describe the feeling of anticipation when the first major rapid on the river comes into sight, but it's great.  And this adoption trip has me feeling the same way.  A mix of excitement, a smidgen of fear, and happiness to finally get the good stuff.  We're ready for the good stuff! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Travel Approval and a Whirlwind

We received Travel Approval on Monday and had our Consulate Appointment confirmed on Tuesday and then it was "go time".  Airplane tickets were searched and purchased, a hotel stay booked, train tickets planned and purchased, visits to former foster care organization homes coordinated and scheduled, then a packing whirlwind commenced.  So much to do!  So exhausting!!  So exciting!!!

This is the first picture of Jordan that Ryan and I ever saw.  Isn't he beautiful?  We've missed so much of his life so far.  I can't wait to go meet this little guy and get to be a part of his life from now on.  We leave to China on Tuesday, July 29th and get to hold Jordan in our arms Monday, August 4th.  This is finally happening!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Home Stretch

First of all, here are our most recent pictures of our dear Jordan:

Our little boy is getting a little bit bigger!  

I've been terrible at updating but now as we are in the home stretch, I'm going to try to do better. 

We hit two minor snags in the last month that delayed us a couple of weeks.  People who were at the same place as us in the process last month, before the I800 (our last immigration step), are actually in China right now!!  It's been frustrating to have other people's mistakes result in delays, but we're so close now ourselves, that we've too busy to really focus on that.  We should have travel approval this week or next week.  We're going to try to leave as soon as possible after travel approval. 

I met a woman (in an adoption group) that traveled to China in June to pick up their son that had been in the same foster home as Jordan.  She was kind enough to take some pictures and video of Jordan when they visited his foster home.  I don't even know how many times I've watched and re-watched the video footage.  It's so great to see Jordan's big smiles.  Although, I couldn't help but notice that every time the nannies say "mama" his face drops.  It breaks my heart just a tiny bit.  He is obviously in a good foster care situation and the nannies love him.  We'll be taking him from what he knows and probably loves.  The nannies have shown him our pictures and have told him that his mama is going to come for him.  He does not look thrilled.  I have to remind myself that his foster care home is temporary, if he wasn't being adopted, he would eventually end up back in an orphanage.  And that the best foster care organization/orphanage situation can not compare to being a part of a family.   And if he stayed where he is, he wouldn't have access to the doctors and medications that can make a huge difference for him.  We know that Jordan is meant to be a part of our family but I am preparing myself for a heartbreaking first few days, and hope that he will be able to feel our love for him and transition quickly.