Archive for the 'In China' Category

Zaijian Zhongguo (for now)

September 20th, 2007 | Category: In China

Well, the time for the return trip home has come. We spent today kind of leisurely walking around the Qing Ping while knocking out a few errands, and generally savoring our last hours here in China. It has been a wonderful trip. I think both Kelly and myself have found a new “gear” to go to, and the motivation for that is our Madison. I would also like to share some thoughts about what we have learned and experienced while being in this wonderful country. First and foremost, the Chinese people are very warm and inviting. I think that simplicity and all that it entails is a quality that most people here cling to, and in some fashions, guides their daily lives. We never once encountered anyone or any situation that ever felt awkward, unsafe or uninviting. Originally, we thought that this trip and its responsibilities would not allow for us to truly get a glimpse of what these people and this country are like. Could not have been more incorrect. Of course we are eager to come home, and show off this great gift, but at the same time, we know we will return someday, maybe sooner than not..:) I think China is a country of people whose heritage is amazing and complex. At the same time, the future appears to be now, and change is happening here at a tremendous speed. Before I came here, I thought that the forthcoming Olympic Games in Beijing were not only a chance of course for world class athletes to come and test themselves against the best that the world has to offer. But also an opportunity for China (as a government) to show everyone, on the biggest stage of them all, just how far they have come in technology, and economy. I now know that my take on this may be incorrect. I now feel that the government is also using these games as a motivational tool for their own people, as a way to say “look how far we as a people have come, and look what we are capable of” . Sounds maybe a bit cliche’ but if you get out into this culture a bit, its definitely something you can see and feel. It is visceral.

The language is beautiful, and I now can differentiate between Cantonese, and Mandarin. Not that I know whats being said, I’m just saying…………We have some fond memories of our ear for “Chinglish” most often spoken by some of our guides, (they’re English is better than my Chinese!) For example, in Beijing, our guide Lisa said what I thought to be “In Asian times” and was really Ancient times. She also would say what sounded like “where is your doctor from?”, she was saying “daughter”. This would often lead to some humorous exchanges, but we adapted and learned to try to speak Mandarin when we could, the exceptions being Hong Kong and Guangzhou where Cantonese is more prevalent. There, we just gave it our best.

Kelly and I, well, thats an area that I think has had some tremendous change as well. We came here not really knowing what to expect as new parents. This was obviously going to be different than having a child naturally, but in many ways we fell that these challenges were or are maybe as hard and complex. I kind of think I had my own “Grinch” moment on “Gotcha Day” ( “………..it grew ten times that day”) . Parenting, is extremely rewarding, just watching her explore and learn is so amazing. So much more to come. She is crawling now, and was not when we got her, change seems to happen every day in front of our eyes, she is constantly teaching us as well. In many ways,this truly feels like something that was always meant to be.

My wife is amazing as well. I cannot truly express how beautiful it is to see her and Madison interact with one another. Kelly has so much love to give this little girl, and Madison, while also giving it back in spades, laps it all up. Kelly taught me how to unselfishly open up and grow when we met, now she has done it again. I am forever grateful.

So its time to go, there is plenty more that could be said, and we will have much to share with all of you when we complete the trip back to Denver. Thank you for your supportive comments on the posts, its nice to hear that these posts have not been too boring. In some ways, it has been very therapeutic to put these in every night, so thanks for indulging me, and all of your thoughts, prayers and good wishes are appreciated.

Love to all of you!!

Kurt, Kelly and Madison.

19 comments

A trip to the Market (2 kinds) and Mission accomplished.

September 19th, 2007 | Category: In China

Well, with not too much stuff on either day (3 and 4) I decided to roll two posts into one. Now I must tell you, today was a historic day for our family unit. I will get to the weird stuff in a minute, but first the pressing info. Today Kelly and I, along with our Madison, officially became a family unit in the eyes of Uncle Sammy. This afternoon (actually, yesterday pm, as I am writing this at 12:30 Thurs am) we took the Oath at the US Consulate here in Guangzhou. It was administered by the Chief for American Citizen Services and Adoptions, Kathryn Gelner at 4:25 pm local. In the eyes of both governments we are a family now, Madison will “officially” become a US citizen once we clear immigration in San Francisco on Friday morning, but she has her visa, we took the Oath, and have signed all the necessary forms. So, its done now, mission completed. Just over 26 months of paperwork and what seemed like endless waiting, comes to a conclusion in a few short sentences. Hard to believe, I chuckle at the thought even now. When it was over, most of us just sort of looked at each other with some very large grins, and a few high fives were exchanged as well. I must admit, as proud of Madison’s homeland as I am (enamored is more like it), I got a little worked up taking that oath, and realizing that our journey was finally coming to its conclusion. Kelly did also. It has at times been hard, and frustrating, but today it is finished. Thanks to all of you out there as well, who have helped us realize our dreams of a beautiful daughter. We are very lucky people. You’re all going to love this girl, she is really a gift. You’ll see.

So Thursday will be a day to tie up the loose ends, pack, and re-pack. Take in one last day/night of outstanding and exotic eats, and pick up any last minute things not already acquired. Most of our group leaves on Thursday, but a number of us do not go until early Friday morning, so maybe we will have some company for dinner. It was somewhat sad to see some of them on Wednesday night at dinner and later at the hotel. Many of us bonded quite well through this journey. First on the web, then in person. We have not only shared this experience as adult parents, but our daughters will forever have a link to one-another. I expect that this will definitely mean visitors to Denver, but also new places for us to take Madison as well.

O.K. so the markets……….what can I say? The Qing Ping free market is well known for its, how shall we say??, wealth of diversity. Never in my life have I seen so many different things in one setting. there are blocks after blocks of spice and dry goods vendors. Selling every conceivable thing I know, and many I do not. Do you remember those scenes in the “Indiana Jones” movies?? The ones where he’s being pursued through the middle-eastern bazaar?? Well, its like that. Between the smell of the spices, animals, and incense, the food being cooked, the sounds of the marketeers selling their goods, and of course the things one sees, well, its a feast for all your senses. You see the usual assortment of schlock, from which I am now confident, every “Chinatown” type store receives its inventory. But you also see such an array of foodstuffs, some prepared (dumplings, noodles, stews, whole fish cooked) and many dry goods that are not ( dried vegetables, fruits, spices, grains, rices). There are of course some things that are a little “off the beaten path”. The dried Scorpions, Seahorses, Flies, Beetles, and Centipedes are something not many of us were used to seeing. But either were the “live” tubs of Scorpions, Ants, spiders and Centipedes. Say nothing of the Bengal Tigers paws, obtained through poaching I am sure. The Chinese consider some of these items delicacies, and incorporate them into their meals, while others grind them up and use the powder to ward of evil spirits, and are used in medicinal practices. Crazy? Sure, but then again, I am sure they would look at parts of our diet and say the same.

We also took time on Tuesday to visit the wholesale Pearl and jewelry market. Now I will tell you that some deals were had, even by us. But Tom Shane I ain’t, so we will see how we did when we get home. We had help from our CCAI Guangzhou guides for this part. They took us to a number of stores that reportedly sell only higher quality goods, and whose reputation they can trust.

Photo’s from both of these places are now in the gallery, so go check ’em out, there is plenty to see. We were not allowed to take anything into the Consulate, the only exceptions being the babies and a clear plastic ziploc with a diaper change in it. Security, and all that it entails.

I gotta go now, need some sleep, will post once more tomorrow night (Thursday in US) before we begin the trip home (26.5 hrs).

We are a family, and its soooo sweet.

Kurt

19 comments

Life on Shamian Island.

September 17th, 2007 | Category: In China

Is so far, quite comfortable. The White Swan Hotel is our residence now, located along the Pearl River (China’s 4th largest, soooo Clavenesque) the Swan plays host to hundreds (literally!) of adoptive families at a time. We flew from Nanchang on Saturday afternoon, and arrived here in Guangzhou around 6:30 pm. Our CCAI reps Jocelyn and Bruce were there to collect us with a beautifully large air-conditioned bus, and whisked us away to the Swan. The flight was uneventful (whew!) and Madison slept through almost the entire ride. We had thought that the whole ear popping thing would be a problem, but just pop in a few Cherrios or fruit puff graduates, and Viola! your set. The longer flight across the pacific will pose a stronger challenge, but we are confident we will get by. There are many other adoptive families on our flight to SFO, so its gonna be a mess, but what can you do? As I was stating earlier, the Swan is well known in adoptive circles, as everyone, well almost everyone, who comes here to adopt a Chinese child from the USA stays here. Not everyone, but almost. By the time we arrived, and checked in on Sat. nite it was about 8 pm, we got settled, fed Madison a bottle, and down she went. We scored a few snacks at the local market down the street and went to bed ourselves.

At breakfast on Sunday a.m., it looked like an adoption convention. After having a hotel to yourselves (as the novelty item to observe) in Nanchang, we were surrounded at breakfast by hundreds of families from the USA and elsewhere around the globe. Kinda cool to see so many others, but also a bit overwhelming at the same time. Its crazy at the breakfast buffet, combat eating. I’ll try to get a picture later this week. This is a very large hotel, with about 10 different restaurants, a waterfall, an enormous Koi pond under, and around said waterfall, lots of shopping and lots of personal attention. its like a Vegas property without the gambling. When you get on or off the elevator there is always a hotel employee to assist you in “pushing” the button to select up/down and your floor. They stand outside at the lobby area on each floor 24 hours of the day. Nice, but also kinda creepy at first. Guest service in China as a whole has been exemplary, but then again, we have been staying in very nice properties, so maybe its very different at the other end of the scale. Anyways, everyone is always smiling, and even in Nanchang and Beijing, you feel very safe. No matter where you go.

So Sunday Kelly did the visa paperwork (1.5 hrs) for Madison’s visa to enter the USA. Madison and dad just hung out in the room, played with our stacking cups, made raspberries at one another and watched South Africa beat the stuffing out of Bangladesh in Cricket. She also loves World Cup Rugby, who knew? We also had to take a photo for Madison’s USA visa application, fun, an its a great shot. Later in the afternoon we posed individually as families, and as a group for the famous “Red Couch” photo’s here at the Swan. I cannot think of any other adoption journey blog, site, or video where I have not seen these photo’s. So that was cool to do, but with such a big group, it was nuts as well. The kids were so patient, but as we all know, patience has its limits, so everyone had to be super quick when it came time to photograph just the babies, alone, on the couch. After the photos we went as a group to the “Cow and Bridge” Thai restaurant here on Shamian Island. Some outstanding Thai food BTW. After that, as Kelly says “time to shut ‘er down”. Prior to dinner Kelly and I also made arrangements to have some custom clothes (Chinese traditional) made for ourselves and Madison. There are a number of shops here on Shamian that cater to adoptive families for this purpose and our friend Carren Leevers from group 1233 was kind enough to steer us in the right direction. We each had a garment made, and Kelly’s and Madison’s match. They look awesome, we got them back tonight. We had Madison’s made a bit bigger so she can have it for Chinese New Year next February. We had our second “meltdown” on Sunday night and have learned (we think, knock on something wooden, NOW!) to identify the “I need a bottle” cry from the “I just want to be held” cry. We used this discovery tonight successfully. Some nights I’m just a dad, others, I’m Marlin Perkins on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. “Kelly will cradle the crying child, while I fly above in the chopper” Really, Thats how its been. An adventure, but a fun one so far. (stop the snickering out there!) Not to worry, I get my turn in the box as well, I can assure you.

Today we took a trip to the Six Banyan Temple. One of the oldest in Guangdong province. Of 1.5 billion Chinese, 95 % are Buddhist, the other 5 % are Muslim, Protestant, or Catholic. So while we did not try to attempt to make any religious statement with our visit or participatory role in the blessing of our daughter, we did want to pay homage to her countries heritage, and predominant religion. It was more of a “good luck” blessing ceremony, and it was really cool to share it with Madison. Hearing the monk conduct the ceremony with the chanting and with all the incense around, and in front of these enormous, giant golden Buddha’s, well for me it was a little moving. The Six Banyan Temple is very beautiful and contains many structures and shrines as well as a very well preserved prayer pagoda. We were not allowed in the pagoda, but we studied it from many angles. Its very impressive. There are of course many Banyan trees, so beautiful and distinct with their enormous root structure. We also got to see a Bohdi tree, which is significant to Buddhists as it was under a Bodhi tree that Lord Buddha first received enlightenment. We also did a bit more shopping, found a very distinct wine like “beverage” (see the gallery) and went to the Chen Family Temple. The Chen family surname is the largest in southern China and the family Temple and academy was home to the greatest silk embroidery artists during the ancient times (Qing Dynasty, about 2200 years ago). Guangzhou was the end point for the land based “Silk Road” route, so the artisans who lived within the temple’s walls were providers of some of the most re-knowned styles and examples ever made. Some of those pieces are on display, as are many current ones whose craftsman are trained in this technique by the Chen academy today.

Later in the afternoon, we had Madison’s physical exam appointment for her US visa. Hilarity ensued. I will state one example. During the “Medicine and Body” portion (there is also measurements, and E.N.T.) the Chief physician was looking her over with me holding her on my knee. I thought he asked me “whats her Sex?” , I said “Female” (duh!!) and he just looked puzzled, he asked the same question again, and I answered the same again. This cycle repeated again for the next few moments, until he reached down and pulled off her SOCKS. Oh, “riiiight, take off her socks”. Breakthroughs in language everyday around here. BTW, this is all on video for posterity. Our little girl checked out just fine at 6.6 kg and 66 centimeters. She is a bit wee for 9 months, but very healthy, and very strong and I can assure everyone, active.

So, now we get to slow down a bit, take some time out, tomorrow we are going to visit the Pearl market, and we should get the green light from the US Consulate that Madison’s paperwork for her visa is squared away and we are on track for the Oath taking ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. Then its a day off on Thursday with travel on deck for very early on Friday morning. I will give you all one teaser for later this week, I will have some very interesting photos and a post to share on Wednesday or Thursday (your time) , I just need to gather some more info (research) before I can post. But I promise, its really something different. So, good night (or is it morning?, yes. its now Tuesday morning) from Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, PRC.

Kurt

30 comments

Off to Guangzhou

September 15th, 2007 | Category: In China

Last night, we had dinner with all of the other families and found out a few more interesting facts:¬† Madison’s roomies in the orphanage were actually Lyndsay (Wendy and Eric Schmidt from Westminster) and Makena (Andrea Fleury from Maui) and her caregiver’s name is Huang Ren E who is 50 years old.¬†¬† Ci Ci and Evelyn were also kind enough to have our group’s email addresses and websites written up for us all.¬† We also received Madison’s Chinese passport which is the one that she will fly back to the US on.

Just a few more hours to go and we’ll be on a flight to Guangzhou in Guandong province.¬† I’m not so sure how that will work out for us.¬† We have a bit more luggage than we started off with (formula, toys, nappies (diapers) etc.) and we have a sweet little baby to bring with us!¬† I hope there won’t be too much noise made on the plane.¬† When we were on the bus outings here in Nanchang, the motion of the bus seemed to send Madison to sleep so we hope the same thing will happen with the plane.¬† This trip won’t be very long, though.¬† Only one and a half hours or so.

I have really enjoyed seeing this small part of Madison’s province and the capital, Nanchang.¬† The people have been really friendly, more friendly than I had expected.¬† Always quick with a smile, a “hello” or a “ni hao” and always allowing us to take photos.¬† When we were at the small village yesterday (which was north and east of where we are staying), I found out that Evelyn had grown up in a town just like that, only directly south of Nanchang by about two and a half hours.¬† I asked Evelyn what she would have thought if a group of gringos like us (who stood out like a sore thumb) came wandering through her village pointing and taking photos of things that I imagine she would have thought of as everyday things.¬† She said she would have known that we were “laowai” (foreigners – the lao part of the word signifying respect).¬† I asked her if she would have thought us rude to be doing what we were, because to us it seemed as though we were, even though we couldn’t help ourselves taking all those photos which we hope will be a great glimpse into life where Madison spent the first eight months of her life. ¬† Evelyn said that, to the villagers, we were not being rude at all.¬† I really enjoyed seeing there smiles and, even though, we couldn’t communicate verbally with them, we could communicate non-verbally with hand gestures and smiles and those that could love practicing their English with us.¬† From school children on the corner by the Jin Feng Hotel (who seemed to love it when I said hello and asked them what their names were.¬† Their mother seemed to enjoy it when I told them about Kurt in Mandarin: ta shi wo de xiansheng – she told her boys “Husband”) to guest in the hotels, to people just walking by.

China, at least so far, is not what I expected.¬† It is much cleaner, friendlier, interesting, and much more fun than I had imagined.¬† I’m so glad that our little Madison has brought us here to experience it with her.

Well, the porters have just collected our luggage, so there is not much time before we’ll be on the bus back to the airport.¬†¬† We’ll talk to you again from the next province!

Love from Kelly.

18 comments

A little perspective before leaving Jiangxi province.

September 14th, 2007 | Category: In China

Today was a great day, and one that gave all of us adoptive parents a glimpse of what life may have been like for our little ones had they not been abandoned at birth. Our CCAI Reps (Evelyn and Sisi) took us into the “countryside” today to show us what life looks like when you are a poor farming family. Now, I have to say, this was not done to make us all feel like heels for having the fortunate lives we have. Nor was it done to embarrass the locals we visited. It was simply a quick trip to help all of us gain some perspective of what the community these little girls came from is like. No humble pie was served, but a small sobering reality definitely took hold for a few of us I suspect.

Being somewhat close to Nanchang, we were not nearly as remote as the 2.5 hr away location that our children came from is. And maybe that was the sobering part. These farmers are sustenance farmers, not poor, like Darfur poor, just that they get by on what they can farm and sell, and that is about it. There are no televisions, no air conditioning (and its Africa hot) many domiciles have no windows, no pavement and not all have power or running water and there is absolutely no plumbing. But there are some wonderful things they do have. They have incredible smiles, and a very strong sense of “place”. Like the other Chinese locales Kelly and I have visited on this trip, family and ones responsibility to that institution are paramount in their daily lives.Yes, family definitely comes first. There is also a strong sense of community in these settings. We could only observe a few homes with running water yet many people were helping their neighbors by sharing theirs and also helping with their neighbors “chores”. People helping do laundry, collect rice, and harvest vegetables were just some of the “job sharing” things we encountered. We also observed most of the younger men (and women) helping to build a brick house on the outskirts of the village. We were told that if one is born into this situation, it is extremely rare to have your family find a way out for you. Most of the people who are from a village like this who are between the ages of 18-25 have gone to the cities (Nanchang being closest) in search of better paying work, and then send their paychecks home to help support their families (sound familiar???). So, while we will never know exactly what these girls lives may have been like had our paths not crossed, we can be assured that it would have been challenging, and that to us, they bring a generational history of family responsibility and fortitude that will serve them well as they grow and mature with us. In this vein we are all richly served.

Tomorrow we leave in the afternoon (5:30 pm local) for Guangzhou and the second portion of the trip before departing for home on the 21st. I am really looking forward to Guangzhou, as it is home to one of the worlds best, and most famous open air markets. The Qing Ping market in Guangzhou is known for its wild and rare finds of produce, flowers, fish and meats and spices. A number of “live’ items can be found here as well, insects, reptiles, and birds to name a few. The really cool thing for me is that it is located very close to our hotel in Guangzhou. I will be in my element I am sure. Guangzhou was once known as Canton, and is the home to Cantonese style cooking. It is said in China; “If it fly’s, crawls, or swims, the Cantonese will eat it”.¬† Yes, I will most definitely be in my element.

A little post script on the post from last night……I had to finish the post as our little girl had her first (of what will be many, I am sure) “meltdown”, and Mom had to step in, relieve dad, and save the day/night. We are teething just now and we are fairly confident thats what it was. So good night, and goodbye from Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, PRC.

See you in Guangzhou!

Kurt

26 comments

Happy 9th Month Birthday, Madison!

September 13th, 2007 | Category: In China

I haven’t been writing too many posts because, let’s face it, Madison’s Daddy is great at telling our story! Today, though, I wanted to give it a go since it is our little Madison’s 9 month birthday. She has only been in our arms for 5 days now but we both feel so amazed by what we have seen and done together with her already. Daddy and Madison are playing together right now. Not exactly sure what they are playing, but there is a lot of movement and a lot of giggles happening. Here is my recount of our day today and, for the folks back in Aus, you might notice a word or two spelled the Aussie way, so here goes…

Today started off at 9:30am with a bus ride to the dancing fountains. This area is in the new part of Nanchang across the river. Evelyn, our CCAI rep, was able to have the fountains turned on for us and the water “danced” to the music of the pase doble. The water was nice and cool and the fountains grew to 128 metres (380 or so feet) so it was an impressive display. Evelyn said that, at night, the water is lit by various coloured lights which would have made it even better.

We then visited a temple and were treated to a music and dance show. It was sooooooo very hot in there. The girls didn’t seem to mind but most of the parents were not feeling very comfortable. Kurt said that to say it was hot would be a gross understatement.

Now Daddy’s turn…It was sticky. The presentation we saw was a recreation of song and dance from China’s Tang Dynasty which reigned from about 690 – 900 A.D. This was also known as The Golden Age of China as at that time it was by far and large the most advanced society on the earth. The music was beautiful and the dancing unique. Then it was off to lunch (once again, outstanding). We then came back to the hotel and rested for the afternoon. Kurt and Madison had a nap together for approx. 2.5 hrs, and after a late afternoon bottle and some play time we enjoyed dinner with three other families on our trip. Tomorrow we will take a trip to the countryside and then to a porcelain merchant were we can purchase a very high grade of porcelain. This region is known for its high craftsmanship, and quality in this regard. Should be interesting. We will also receive Madison’s Chinese passport tomorrow! On Saturday we leave for Guangzhou where we will catch up with the rest of our total travel groups (1233 & 1236) and complete the balance of the paperwork to bring our girl home. We hope all of you are well, talk more soon.

Love,

Kelly

2 comments

To the Park, and back again.

September 12th, 2007 | Category: In China,Waiting for a Match

Today we ventured as a group to the Peoples Park in the heart of downtown Nanchang. A beautiful park, it was amazing to find such a quiet space amongst all that this metropolis has going on in it. There are many ponds/ lakes, a river, many exercise areas and equipment in them. Plenty of open space and lush gardens. A concert venue, a rather worn amusement park, and plenty of running/ walking paths. After our visit there, we went to a rather interesting restaurant near the park that had great food, but also included a floor show, that was brief, and a little strange. No, it was not that kind of show, just some music and some dancers in costumes. Just kinda happened out of nowhere. They showed up, did their thing, and were gone. No introduction, no fancy exit. All of a sudden, there was loud music, and dancers in the middle of the dining room, then they were gone.

Later this afternoon we went to a bookstore here in Nanchang. This was something that both of us had wanted to do, as many before us had told us that they wished that they had remembered to purchase some bi-lingual books for their daughters as they grew older. We scored plenty of material. Some flash cards as well. Most of it was in Mandarin, English, and Pinyan, so Madison can learn both languages more easily. Most of the flashcards are about things like animals, food, numbers, direction, household things, colors…….etc. I am sure we will use them as well!!! Almost all the books we purchased are traditional Chinese children’s stories. We also purchased some CD’s of Chinese lullaby’s and some traditional Chinese Opera music as well. Not much else to report, tomorrow is a visist to a local Temple and some Porcelain shopping. Nanchang is supposedly well known for its porcelain quality and production.

If anyone out there has any questions we have not addressed in our posts, please drop us a line via email on the “Contact Us” portion of our site, we will be happy to answer!

New photo’s from today are in the gallery, I guess thats it, good night from Nanchang.

Kurt

35 comments

A visit from the Doc, and a stroll through the ‘Hood.

September 11th, 2007 | Category: In China

Today was a rest day by most accounts, we slept in a little, had breakfast downstairs together, Madison ate some eggs, and a little congee (porridge) and we waited for our turn with the Pediatrician. The doctor was a nice fella, was great with Madison and  the  appointment primarily consisted of making sure there were no glaring issues that may have been overlooked at the orphanage. Madison checked out o.k.,  the doctor stated that she seemed about average in size and weight for girls from this province, so I think thats alright. Really, I do not think that we will have a true grip on her overall condition until we get home and have someone there gives us a rundown on where she is comparatively. But, she is extremely alert, constantly squirming, very vocal, and keeps a regular schedule in terms of food stuffs going in and out. She seems very happy. I think we are very fortunate.

After having the appointment we three came back to the room, and had a 2.5 hour nap. Much needed for all. After another bottle ( I’m a pro at it now, available for hire) we decided to take a stroll out around the hotel neighborhood. We were told on Sunday night, prior to getting Madison, that when we went out in the community, we would draw attention. That statement is 100 % correct. Evelyn had made up a laminated card for each of us parents that on one side has our names in English and Mandarin, her cell phone number and where we are staying. On the other side it states in Mandarin that we are adoptive parents, and that we are from America. That we came here to adopt this girl, and that we will always love her, and never abandon her. We were told to always have this with us when we are out in a public place. Good idea. Kelly and I got a good taste of why one needs this card around our necks, when we went for a little stroll today. We saw many interesting things. But I am sure we were the topic of conversation around many a dinner table tonight. Being a somewhat remote city (of 3 million persons), not too many westerners get here. So we are an oddity as we walk bye to begin with, then add the Chinese child in our arms, and whammo, you get more than enough attention. Many people said hello and followed along, and once you stop, a crowd gathers. It can be somewhat un-nerving to say the least. They ask all sorts of questions (all in Mandarin) and the best you can do is present your card. Once they read it, they cannot help themselves from giving you the “thumbs up” sign or touching the cheek of your baby for good luck. Kinda cool if you think about it. A handshake or a wave and your on your way. It was our first foray into this setting today, we are going to a park in the morning (its 10:37 pm Tuesday now) to try it again. I will say this much, everyone is extremely friendly, and always smiling at you.

Tonight as a group (16 families) we went to a very nice Chinese restaurant next to the hotel. the food was outstanding (always is it seems). Madison showed us that we can add rice noodles, bok choy, and steamed rice to her list. She still is trying to master the “slurping” of noodles that her orphanage mates seem to have down, but showed us great dexterity in using her hands to shove the rice, and noodles in the old gob. it was quite entertaining for sure. The next few days are pretty open, I am sure we will tour a bit more, so keep checking back.

Photo’s from today are in the photo section under the “follow along” area listed in the album named “Nanchang day 3″

Off to get some zzzz’s

Kurt

21 comments

Settling in as a Family

September 10th, 2007 | Category: In China

Well hello out there, is everyone doing alright? Got that first Sunday of footy under our belts do we??? Looks as though it was entertaining. Thank goodness for the web. Well, here I am, a new dad, still kinda gets me when I say that (chills and all). I truly meant to post last nite after the paperwork session down stairs, but I was gassed, seriously spent. Sorry, I am confident you understand, but I want to give a full accounting, so as R.E.M. would say, “Lets Begin at the Begin”.

After a relatively quick 1 1/2 hr flight from Hong Kong we were collected at the airport by our local CCAI rep Evelyn ( a true angel) who gathered up our group(s) 16 families total!! Thats a very large group by adoption standards. We were brought to our hotel here in Nanchang, The Jin Feng hotel, and checked into our rooms. Our flight landed at 1 pm and on the way to the hotel from the airport Evelyn made us all aware that we would receive our children at 5 pm at the hotel. OMG!!! She also told us that we would have a 1.5 hr meeting prior to the babies arriving, that started at 3 pm. Once Kelly and I dropped our bags in the room we just kinda freaked out. We paced in the room waiting for the meeting. At the meeting Evelyn and her team went over the details of our schedule while here in Nanchang, including what would be required of us on Sunday nite once the babies were in our arms (nothing, go be a family!) and today, with all of our appointments (very precise, very hectic). She also had a roster printed out for all of us that included the parents full names, the childs Chinese and English names, and what rooms everyone was in, and where you were from. Very helpful. The meeting ended about 4:30 pm, this gave us one half hour to prepare for the babies arrival. Kelly and I went back upstairs, checked and re-checked the camera, video, and made sure we looked somewhat presentable. At about 4:55 pm we caught the elevator back down to the 2nd floor and went to the conference room where we had just met as a group earlier. Evelyn proceeded to tell us in what order the babies would be handed over (alphabetical), and we then knew we would be the second family to receive their child. Now here’s where things go into ssssllllooowww motion in my mind. As I sat there alongside Kelly, we kept looking at each other and could not get a word out, but a strange feeling came over the both of us I think. Up until then, I had been a wreck for most of the day, not an emotional one, just had a real uneasiness about me. like I wanted to hurl, but could not. So we just sat there us two, and held hands, and looked at each other. We were about to become parents, and we both knew it. Some times the biggest and most significant events or moments in your life, become apparent to you after they occur. Not this one. This one we could both see coming waaaaay down the road. I have to admit, it was a quiet, peaceful feeling. A few moments later Evelyn announced that the babies had arrived and it was time to get ready. Now our nerves and hearts raced. Just outside the door we could here the babies, some vocalizing, some crying. The anticipation was palpable. The Anderson family from Florida stood just inside the doorway and when the door opened in came their daughter. We looked on in amazement knowing full well, we were next. They posed for video and still shots and then Evelyn called our Madison’s Chinese name “Guo, Si Chan” we came forward and waited. The door then swung open and in came a caregiver with our Madison. She had a pink outfit on, and a photo ID card from the orphanage around her neck. We presented our passports for verification, and the caregiver placed Madison in Kelly’s waiting arms. I stood behind trying to take the whole scene in. Madison clung to Kelly instantly, never taking her eyes off her. She was soooo amazing. We too posed for our camera’s and for those of others, and receded to the table where we had earlier been. I was stunned, something we had both been anticipating for so long had finally just happened. We were finally a family. I had always prepared myself for a situation where we would receive her, and she (not knowing us at all) would just absolutely lose it and cry for about 3 days straight. Not the case at all. She was so peaceful. While we were in the conference room, she just sat there in Kelly’s or my arms and just stared at us, studying our faces, both visually, and with her tiny little fingers. It calmed me considerably, and made me even more aware that this was meant to be. After watching the others receive their children, and pulling a little camera duty for others we proceeded upstairs to spend our first night alone with her. After arriving in the room, I proceeded to make a bottle and see if she would take it. Seeing as she was bonding to Kelly so well, I gave the bottle to Kelly and she in turn presented it to Madison. Madison grabbed the bottle from Kelly (yes, grabbed) and began to gulp it down. Yep, she knows what to do with that bottle alright!! Once that was complete, a quick burp or two and we three just sat on the bed and got to know one-another. The rest of the evening was kind of a blur. I had to go back down to fill in/out paperwork for today, and by the time I got back, Kelly almost had Madison ready to go down, and I was spent. Both Kelly and I slept soundly, and Madison (as our report said) sleeps like a rock, and does not wake until about 6 am . We awoke a little early as we had to leave for the Jiangxi Province Registration office by 8 am. This is where our adoption became official. We posed for a family photo (for their records) and then had an interview with a registrars official. The conversation was brief (think soup Nazi) and after assuring her that we would love, educate and not abandon her, we were done. They did present us with a lovely porcelain vase for her (small, but nice, a keepsake). We got back on the bus, and Evelyn came down shortly thereafter with what is known as “The Red Book” (not Chairman Mao’s, Karsten) which states that the adoption is official in the eyes of the Chinese government and that no-one can lay claim to her except us.

Then it was off to the Notary and Security offices. Same questions at the notary’s office, same answers. The security office was simply to have her Chinese passport photo made. Once we completed this, we headed back to the hotel to rest prior to meeting with the Orphanage director and some of the staff from the Guixi City Welfare Institute where Madison had been for the last 8 months (all her life). The entire group was present with our children ( I have a daughter, still freaks me out) and it was a somewhat emotional meeting. The orphanage director gave a quick presentation on the facility and stated that while he and his staff were very sad to see these beautiful girls leave, they were extremely happy that they were going to wonderful loving homes. Now, I know this is going to sound kinda corny, but it would be easy to show up, say some kind words to the adoptive parents, and be about your way, almost machine like. But truthfully, you could see in his eyes, and in his tone of voice, especially when he spoke about how he hoped that one day, they would come back, and see where their lives had begun, that he and his staff loved these little ones very much. And truly, theirs is a labor of love. That gave me pause, and made me appreciate this gift even more.
We were able to ask a few questions, take some pictures, and find out who the exact nannies for our girls were. They provided the names, and asked for us to email or send photos of these girls as they grow, so they too could follow in their progress. Done and done. They also informed us on who was rooming with whom in the orphanage, yet another red thread connection for these girls. So she’s ours, and we are hers, sounds kinda nice eh? I must admit, tonite I am better and more comfortable in this role, but I have a looooooong way to go. I supposed that is to be expected.

Later this afternoon many in our group paid a visit to the Wal-Mart here in Nanchang. not your average Wally, this I can assure you. Some things one would expect, and some things one would never expect. The photo’s in the gallery will explain alot. I went for bottled water, some Diet Coke (Coke Light here) and some fruit and peanuts/pistachios. Mission accomplished. I also purchased a few things for Madison (how does a dad resist??). Tomorrow is our appointment with the Pediatrician, and then the schedule is clear until we leave for Guangzhou on Saturday afternoon. There will be some touring in the interim, so keep checking back, there will be more to share.

I also posted some new shots from our second night in Hong Kong (Kowloon) in the photo section in the “follow along” area.

We want all of you to know that we are thinking of you, and cannot wait to share this precious little one with you all when we come home.

Love to all!!

Kurt

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Family Day Post #1

September 09th, 2007 | Category: In China

Well, there is soooo much to tell, I have to go back to the conference room to fill in/out a slew of paperwork, Kelly and Madison (who is precious beyond expectations) are on the bed, playing and vocalizing to one another, I will post more in a few hours, just gotta run downstairs. Check out the gallery as there are plenty of shots from today. We are completely enraptured by our little girl.

8 pm Nanchang time, Sunday nite.

Kurt

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