Our Chinese Adoption

May 1, 2011

Well the day is finally here!  We are flying to China.  We started this adoption about a year and half ago.  There has been a huge amount of work to pull it off.  There were delays in the process, loads of paper work, home study updates, finger printing, background checks, etc.  Someone once said to me how nice and easy it would be to adopt and just have someone hand you your child.  For me, adoption has taken a lot more work, effort and patience than giving birth (although I was blessed to have easy pregnancies).  I am excited as we anticipate the weeks ahead.  We will be touring Beijing and Hong Kong before we get to meet little Gabriella.  Then once they bring her to us, we will have 12 days in Guangzhou, China with her to finalize the adoption.  It will be an adventure of a life time.  Matt and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary next month, so these next few weeks will be a celebration of that.  God is good and perfect in helping us create the perfect family for us. 

May 3, 2011

Today was a full and exciting day!  First, we went to Tiananmen Square.  It was huge!  We saw the Hero’s monument, the building for Mao’s remains, and a historic museum.  We then walked through the Outer City, Inner City, Imperial City and Forbidden City.  I had no idea how massive this was.  We had watched the movie, The Last Emperor, before we came which gave us a good understanding of what went on in the Forbidden City, but I was totally shocked at how big it was. 

We then went to an authentic little Chinese restaurant.  The food was very delicious.  We had noodles, kung pao chicken and fried shredded potatoes.  Then we climbed a ton of stairs to the top of the Drum Tower, where they have many very, very large drums that are hundreds of years old, and they do a drum show every couple of hours.  The last part of our tour today was a bicycle ride through Hotung.  This is the old part of Beijing.  We stopped at a market and saw all of the varieties of fruits, vegetables and meats.  When we finally got back to the hotel, Matt and I collapsed and took a four hour nap!  I think our bodies are still adjusting to the time change.  Fun times…….and one day closer to getting Gabriella!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today was another full day.  We first went to the Summer Palace.  It was very large and quite beautiful.  It is surrounded by a large lake.  We took a boat ride across to another small island.  Then in the afternoon we went to the Temple of Heaven.  The architecture was very beautiful.  The grounds were also very nice and peaceful.  It was a HUGE area and very park like.  Then this evening we met Dad Harmer and Lena and her sister for dinner at the Peking Duck Restaurant.  It is the oldest and most famous restaurant in Beijing.  We walked along the streets and did some street shopping.  Matt wants to wait to buy things until we get to Guangzhou so we don’t have to carry extra weight around.  We were very full from lunch and dinner, but that didn’t stop us from stopping at Hagan das across the street to get a yummy scoop of ice cream.  We got back to the hotel and Matt and I started playing Rummy.  That didn’t last for long because he started nodding off while we were playing.  Now he is fast asleep.  J

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today we climbed the Great Wall of China!  We climbed a ton of stairs.  We basically climbed up the mountain in stairs.  It was pretty impressive.  They say the Great Wall is about 3100 miles – approximately the same as crossing the United States!  It is difficult to imagine building such a massive thing.  Afterwards we went to The Sacred Way – the tombs of the Emperors in the Ming Dynasty.  We saw lots of animal statues that were supposed to guard and protect the tombs.  We went today with Amy and Peter Capian.  They are a couple from Rochester New York, and they are adopting a little boy.  This is their first child.  They were very nice, and hopefully we will see them in Guangzhou and let Gabriella ataynd Henry play together.  I can’t believe that we are finally going to get her in 4 more days!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Today we arrived in Hong Kong!  What a beautiful city.  I really had no idea.  It is all situated around a harbor and a couple of islands.  The sky line is spectacular, and it seems like there is an incredible view everywhere you go.  Today we got checked into our hotel – The Langham Place Hotel.  It is a beautiful facility with an impressive view of the city out the huge window in the room.  Then we ventured out.  We took the subway, bus and taxi to get around.  We rode the tram/cable car up to Victoria Peak which is basically the highest point in Hong Kong and gives an impressive view over all of Hong Kong.  There is a mall at the top of the peak, and we sat down to a very nice dinner – mostly raw fish.  Matt loved it, and I am slowly acquiring a taste for it.  We then rode the fairy back to the other part of the island to get back to our hotel.  The Ferry is a great place to view the city skyline from the water.  It is just an awesome view.   My favorite thing is to people watch.  And every time I see an adorable little Asian girl, I know that we are counting down the days till we get our Gabriella.  Just about 2 days from now, she will be in our arms.

Saturday, May 07, 2011
Today we relaxed by the pool in the morning, and then went out on the town for a big adventure.  We went to see the Big Buddha and the Loa Pin Monastery.  We rode a tram/gondola up to the top of the mountain where the Big Buddha sits.  It was huge!  Then at dusk, we took a harbor cruise.  The harbor is absolutely gorgeous! 

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Today was just a travel day.  We said goodbye to Hong Kong and flew to Guangzhou.  We are very pleasantly surprised at how nice Guangzhou feels.  We are staying at the White Swan Hotel.  This is traditionally the place where most adoptive families stay.  We are right along the water of the Pearl River and it is absolutely beautiful.  We are on Shamian Island.  There are palm trees around and cute little shops around our hotel.  There is a huge waterfall and gorgeous plants and flowers all around.  Tomorrow is the big day!

Monday, May 09, 2011 – Gotcha Day!

Today was pretty unbelievable.  So many emotions for everyone.  There were probably around 15-20 families that were picking up their children today.  We met at the Civil Affairs Office.  They brought out a child at a time to their families.  It was pretty traumatic for all the ones that I witnessed.  Little Gabriella was so scared and very sad for awhile.  She was screaming pretty hard.  We got her calmed down and then she actually finally fell asleep in my arms.  She is tiny!  She is 20 months today but feels and acts more like about a 6-8 month old.  She has such a pretty little face and big, beautiful eyes.  We took her for a walk around the island this afternoon and other Asians would stop and talk with us and comment on her big, beautiful eyes.  We’ve hardly gotten her to eat anything.  She won’t open her mouth to put any food in.  She is used to the bottle, so I mixed rice cereal and formula together tonight and put it in her bottle, and luckily she drank it up. 
At first she was very scared of Dad, but she has grown more used to him.  She even let him hold her for a minute tonight without crying.  We met the director of the orphanage, and he is a very sweet man.  I really give my hat to him and the nannies that take care of these children.  There were 22 other children around her age in the orphanage and man, many more at different ages.  We met a family today that was adopting a 13 year old girl that had lived in the orphanage.  As you can imagine, that is the only home these children have ever known, so leaving can be quite traumatic, but we understand that after a day or two they feel calm and secure in their new environment.  We have an appt. in the morning and more papers to sign, and the Chinese officials also conduct an interview with us.  Then the next day, we have a dr. appt. for her.  She has been sick with a cold for the last couple of weeks, so they said she is a little weak.  My goal is to see a smile on her face before we leave!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today has been a great day!  I was afraid I wouldn’t get a smile out of Gabriella, but we got her smiling and even giggling.  It takes some work, but she has warmed up to me and will occasionally smile.  That feels like a huge milestone.  We went to the office of Civil Affairs today and signed the adoption paperwork.  We had 2 interviews, and they asked us questions like why we were adopting, if we were happy with our child, how much income we had, and we had to promise to always love and care for her.  We took some photos with the other couple that Helen is facilitating and that also worked with Wasatch.  After that I took Gabriella down to the Swan Room to play.  She had fun and smiled and giggled.  I even got her to walk a little bit while holding on to my hand.  Her legs are pretty weak, but she was able to do it with assistance.  The island is spectacular.  It is absolutely gorgeous with lots of beautiful flowers and trees.  I plan on taking some nice pictures of her here among the flowers.  I continually get stopped by strangers to look and admire Gabriella. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today we had a relaxed morning, and I walked around the island and played in the play room with Gabriella.  She has become so animated and fun.  She laughs, giggles, squeals and just smiles with the cutest little grin.  In the afternoon, we went to do the medical exam.  She didn’t like it much, but it was pretty painless.  They just looked in her ears and mouth, took her temperature, measured her weight and height and then did a physical exam.  They said that she is normal but just small in size.  That is exactly what the orphanage has told us.  We are so overjoyed that each day she seems more alive and engaged with us.  After the exam, we went to apply for her visa/passport.  Most of the families were gathered there at the same time.  It is really fun to get to know the other couples and families.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today was a quiet day.  We just stayed on the island.  I love to walk around and see all of the beautiful flowers.  Gabriella had a couple of bouts with diarrhea, but she has been eating quite a bit.  She seems energized and happy.  She giggles and laughs all of the time.  While she was taking a nap, I did some shopping.  I got some beautiful Chinese dresses for Gabriella and Isabella, a tea set and pearls for Aubrey, and Matt got a cool sword for Hunter.  We still have some more shopping to do, but we will be here for another week.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Today we ventured out and did some sight seeing.  We went the the Buddhist  Temple of the 6 Banyon Trees.  There was a beautiful Pagodo that was built in about 1000 A.D.  It was a beautiful and peaceful place in the midst of a busy city.  There were people around burning incense and leaving flowers and fruit for the Buddha.  Then we took about a 20 minute walk to reach the tomb of one of the emperors.  It was just discovered about 20-25 years ago.  They had many of his treasures displayed as well as the actual tomb and surrounding rooms.  Gabriella was a trooper, and she was in the baby carrier.  She seems to have some digestive issues and really isn’t eating much.  She is sleeping great though.  She sleeps through the night so peacefully. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today was another quiet day on the island.  Matt and I actually spent an hour playing ping pong.  I won 5 games to 4, but he gave me a run for my money.  He has been winning Rummy, so it was time that I won something J.  We relaxed by the pool for a little while, and then met Helen to sign some adoption papers.  Both Gabriella and Matt took a long afternoon nap. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Today has been quite humid and a little bit rainy.  We shopped around the island, played in the playroom, and the most exciting thing we did was take a Pearl River Cruise.  We were on the Dragon boat, and the cruise was very enjoyable.  There was a nice breeze and the lights were pretty impressive on some of the buildings.  Gabriella of course enjoyed being outside.  Unfortunately, over the past couple of days she has not seemed to feel too well.  She seems to have lost her appetite and seems to get a tummy ache.  She also just seems sad.  I think it is part of the grieving process. 

 Monday, May 16, 2011

Today was an interesting day.  We met up with Helen and the Davidsons and Carpians.  We went to the Pearl and Jade Markets.  Then we went to the open food market.  That was quite an experience.  They had all sorts of things from snakes, scorpions, pigeons, turtles, etc.  It is so interesting how different our cultures are related to the things we eat.  Gabriella seems to have gotten her small appetite back.  She seemed much happier today.  Every bit of progress is great. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another day in Guangzhou.  Today we had an adventure and went to the city zoo.  It was a nice place with a lake right in the middle of it.  There were quite a few animals, and we saw the famous Chinese Panda Bear.  I was excited because today Gabriella was very animated and seemed so happy.  She would spontaneously kick her legs, reach for things, smile, coo and giggle.  It was probably the most animated we’ve seen her since we’ve had her.  We took her to the play room, and she loved to play.  She got down on the ground and was playing with a ball, and then she would walk around the room holding my hand.  We continue to meet many different families that are adopting.

 Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Today was a beautiful day.  We got up and went to the Baiyun Shan Gardens.  It was a beautiful little oasis just outside of Guangzhou.  I love how there are these beautiful places tucked in amidst the big crowded city.  We were going to ride a tram up the mountain and see the view as well, but little Gabriella was getting a bit impatient with all the heat.  I assume she hasn’t been out in the sun much, and after walking for about an hour around the gardens, she had had enough.  We had a relaxing rest of the day and ended it by sitting and eating our dinner out by the river.  The time that Matt and I have had together has been so wonderful.  It has been years since we’ve had this much time to spend together, relax, play games, read, etc.  It really has been such a blessing for us to experience this with Gabriella. 

 Thursday, May 19, 2011

Today was the big day.  We had our consulate appointment.  This is where we take an oath and officially adopt Gabriella.  We rode in a bus with about 10 other families there.  We had a little bit of a wait before we did the official business.  When they had us stand up, I was getting a little teary.  This was in a way the culmination of the last several years.  Even though it has only taken us 1 ½ years to adopt Gabriella, it was much longer in the making.  It was just weeks after Olivia passed away that the Lord opened up a window for me to see two beautiful girls – Isabella and Gabriella.  Getting them both here has been quite the journey, but now I can see the Lord’s hand every step of the way.  The timing was perfect to bring this little angel into our lives.  That is what she is.  She is an absolute joy – as is every one of our other children.  What a kiss from Heaven we’ve received.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Goodbye to Guangzhou and to China!  We love you and your people.  We have had such an amazing time while we’ve been here.  We’ve taken long walks in beautiful parks and gardens, we’ve seen amazing sites, we’ve met incredible people, we’ve eaten delicious food, and we met and adopted our little Gabriella.  This trip couldn’t have been more perfect.  Next month Matt and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and what a celebration this whole experience has been for us.  I couldn’t have asked for anything more perfect than to have come to China and experienced this culture and added an absolute angel to our family.  I feel like I’m constantly in awe at how the Lord works, how He heals hearts and lives, how He loves unconditionally, how He lets us wander and get lost but really never leaves us.  I am full of gratitude for how He continually blesses us with more than we expect or deserve.  Five and a half years ago I was crumpled on the floor in pain and heartache from losing Olivia.  I struggled for years after her passing (along with beautiful times of peace and understanding).  The Lord knows that I find my greatest joy in being a mother.  He let me hurt and struggle.  He knew what lay ahead.  He would bless me with not one, but two more little angels – Isabella and Gabriella.  What a treasure they are for our family.  I haven’t lost Olivia.  We will be reunited one day, and once again He will bless me with the opportunity to be a mother to her.  There is no end to His goodness.  Thank you for sharing in this journey with us! 

With Love and Gratitude,