Thursday, September 21, 2006

Saturday, September 16, 2006

We are back...Safe and sound. We arrived this morning into Orlando International at 1AM. That is 23 hours after arriving at the Beijing airport for our journey home as a family of three. The flights were good, Chinese security was a little over ambitious in their attempts to meet U.S. TSA regulations. For those traveling the 13 hour flight to Newark or Chicago that meant being stripped of all baby wipes and the beloved hand sanitizer… Life goes on.
Kylie flew like a champ and helped to keep Judy’s hate-hate relationship with flying in check.

Speaking of flying, I have noticed that Judy and I now have our own pre-trip checklist like the pilots on most aircraft, accompanied by a new set of parenting hand and eye signals…
Diaps? Four.
Wipes? Yep..
Cheerios? Check.
Teether? No, Oh wait yep.
Sippy Cup? (One thumb up..)
Bottle and Formula? … Blankie? …

A 28 lb. pack and 8 minutes later we can resume making progress on the daily itinerary (or sub-daily when divided by nap time).

I liken our start to parenting with a fired up 13 month old who runs like a gazelle to someone who wants to drive a full blown Harley or a 40 foot RV on their first try. It can be done, but be careful and hold on…

Since we are still on China time (EST + 12 hours) and in need of a nap, I am going to end this with a very big THANK YOU to everyone who has read along, commented on or physically participated in Kylie’s much awaited trip home. Judy and I are so lucky to have such a special group of people around us. People who have provided emotional, logistical and even financial support along the way. We could not have done it without your help and consideration.

We are glad to be home, look forward to introducing Kylie to the public, and have sworn off Chinese food… at least until Chinese New Year…

Pictures to follow soon…

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Last post from Guangzhou.

So first... Here is the last post we attempted to make in Guangzhou, but were unable to upload... Another try was planned for Beijing, but we didn't have internet access in the hotel. Sean.
I know we have been delinquent in the updates. Probably an issue of time, appointments (governmental and economic {shopping}), health and did I mention time? Well, to start, it is 2:40am in China and I am just done sorting through everything my wife and daughter bought... I think half of China is coming home. We have had a great stay in Guangzhou and finished out the last day with a ceremony at the U.S. Consulate. Kylie has recieved her Visa to the U.S. and will be considered a citizen upon entry through U.S. Immigration in Newark. No cameras or video permitted in the Consulate, but we did get some other pics... ever heard of "THE" Red Couch?
Tomorrow morning... $#&*! This morning we head to the airport and fly to Beijing, spend the night and fly out Wednesday.

We'll be home soon...
Sean (and family).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

More photo catch up...

She really is an angel...when she is sleepingEmily's mommy will love to see this pic of her precious daughter eating pizza! Corey had to pry it out of her hands.
This pic was taken on our last night at Lanzhou. We had a nice dinner complete with singing, dancing and a birthday celebration for our girls.
The proud mommy and daddy helping Kylie blow out her 1st birthday candle. Notice we did all the work while Kylie just watched
Our friends the Welsh's from Maine with their beautiful daughter Caris. This pic was taken in the Lanzhou airport. We were on our way to Guangzhou.
We are having a fabulous time in Guangzhou! I hope that all of the waiting families get to stay at this wonderful 5 star one of a kind luxury that is the White Swan. What a gem! The breakfast spread is incredible along with the service. I'll have to remember to take a pic. The shopping right outside the hotel is incredible too. There is so much to see and do and we are trying to take it all in between baby K's naps. The first night we arrived, we had a pizza party (yes, PIZZA) for dinner with the families and we went over our itineraries. On Saturday we went to the medical clinic for the obligatory but definitely not a thorough medical exam for the children. Kylie did great until the tongue depressor went into her mouth. She was calm again within a minute. Our princess weighs 19.5lbs and she is 2 1/2 feet long! The whole process happened very fast. Then at 3:30pm we had our white out party. It is where we fill out tons of forms, notary documents, forms from the US Consulate, copies of passports, etc and whiting out is allowed. Imagine that. Only one parent was asked to attend so I went since I'm the one most familiar with all of the documents. I was gone a couple of hours and when I got back to the room, I was heartbroken to find out that Kylie had a major emotional break down for about an 1 1/2 when she realized I was gone. I didn't understand it because she loves her daddy. She was clingy again for about an hour. Later that night miss clingy came out of her shell. She was a total handful during dinner and the rest of the night. She was wiggling her way out of our arms. She wanted to walk and talk to everyone. She is definitely very social. I must warn you now, she loves to offer you a piece of food or an item with no intentions of really giving it to you. We finally decided to take her to the mattel room where she played until approx 9:30pm. When we arrived in the room she completely crashed. So guess what we will be doing each night to make sure Kylie doesn't fuss when we try to put her to sleep...that's right, we are taking her to the toy room!! We also received the going home Barbie that is given to every adoptive family staying at the White Swan. I wanted this darn thing so bad and I kept thinking with my luck they will probably run out of dolls. When we arrived in our room and saw our Barbie present waiting for us, I don't know who was happier me or Kylie. There are bus loads and bus loads of adoptive families with their Chinese babies staying at this hotel. While it is sad that there are thousands of children that end up in an orphanage somewhere in China each year not because they are not loved but because of the laws currently in place, it is true that these are some of the luckiest babies once they are adopted. It is great to see all of these new happy families.
Today we went on a tour to the tea emporium. They showed us how to clean and make tea and they sampled several different flavors of tea. It is a great tour if you like tea (we don't). There was a nice scenic park behind the tea place which provided more photo op for our 'staff photographer'. Right after, we went to the Six Banyan Trees for the Buddhist monks to bless the babies. This was really a nice experience and we have some great pics from it. We had lunch or I should say everyone else enjoyed lunch. My mind kept wondering off to Danny's bagels where I was able to order pizza and have it delivered to our room as soon as we got back. Did I tell you how much I love Guanghzou?
The rest of our schedule is something like this:
Monday - Free day - Shop, shop, shop, then we will meet the families to go on a dinner cruise
Tuesday - Red Couch photo
Wednesday - We fly back to Beijing
Thursday - We are coming home!!!
I am not looking forward to the long flight home, but I will be happy to finally begin our journey back home.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Photo catch up... The village.

From Guangzho. New city, new opportunity... It looks like we are past the photo posting issues we faced in the NW province of Gansu. While we love SnapFish, having the picture in our post is always better.

A visit to the village in the mountains.

A proud great grandfather, farmer and head of household. Our local guide Steed w/ Kylie and two school girls.
In the small home of a kind family.The hospitable spread, accompanied by pears, steamed potatoes, asian dates and tea.Yummy dumplings for Kylie...
More to catch up on soon.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Off to the White Swan

Yesterday was a jammed pack fun filled full day. We went to a village approx an hour away from the hotel to visit a family. The families are mostly farmers. Our guide Steed said that people will look at us as if we were E.T. He was right! They were as curious of us as we were of them. The Chinese people are very friendly and hospitable. We did a little tour of the area (of course, we took lots of pictures) and the family continued to bring out food after food, after food. The children were very curious about our group and they gathered and giggled with each other. We offered them plenty of candy and captured great photos. To our surprise, the kids are taught English in school and some of them used the opportunity to thank us in English. They seemed very pleased with themselves. We couldn't eat the fruit that was offered but we ate the steamed potatoes and delicious dumplings. We found out our girl loves dumplings!
Last night we had a great dinner, well not the food in my case but the entertainment was wonderful and they had a birthday celebration for the children. We loved every minute. After dinner at approx 8:30pm Sean went to take care of some paperwork while I got Kylie ready for bed.
This will be a brief post as we have to have our bags packed and outside our door by 8am. (I have not changed the time stamped on our posts but we are 12 hrs ahead). Therefore, most of my posts are 4 or 5am not pm. We are headed to the airport to go to Guangzhou where the US Consulate is located. The babies will have their physicals and all of the families have to swear not to abuse, neglect or abandon the children. We have friends from Orlando who are already staying at the White Swan hotel and we are looking forward to meeting them for dinner tonight. Kylie will get to meet her new playmate.
Click on the link at the bottom of my previous posts for pictures. As soon as I get a chance I will post pics of yesterday's adventure as well as other families we are traveling with that gave us the okay to post their pics. I'm sorry I have not been able to post any pics on the blog. You'll have to create an account if you don't already have one in order to view the pics.
China is great but I'm really looking forward to getting home. We miss our family and friends and we can't wait for everyone to meet our pride and joy.

With love from China

Sean, Judy & Kylie

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ready to go with my bows and shoes...

Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments. They are very inspiring.

We are having difficulty posting pictures but the link seemed to work fine so we will continue to post links and hope that by the time we get to Guangzhou, we can post them again. I'm a day behind on events but I'm still glad to be able to document them as it is the only journal I will have from this amazing experience.

Yesterday the weather was cold and rainy and our trip to a beautiful park and a zoo complete with Pandas was cancelled. We went to a museum instead. Sean took great pics which we will post later. However the kids were restless, they needed a nap and would not fall asleep in their strollers. I opted to get out of the next trip to a park by the yellow river so that I can get Kylie to lie down for a nap. She is starting to get a runny nose and I didn't want to keep her out. Sean however went on the trip and came back with some great pics despite the weather. He also scored big on the shopping and came back with wonderful gifts for us.

Today we are scheduled to go to a village to visit a family. I believe other Wuwei families have taken this similar trip and based on their pictures, I'm really excited to go. I realized I haven't described Langzhou. When we arrived from the airport, the smog was really thick and visibility was not that great. The bus ride was an hour long and all I saw was landscaped that look like a desert and huge mountains. My first thought as a paranoid mom to be was please don't let there be a typhoon, we can seriously get buried by a mudslide! Anyway, I'm not doing it much justice as the scenery really is quite breathtaking especially when you consider that we live in FL where the scenerey is flat. Once we got into town it looked quite different. It is definitely a busy area as most of China is with its large population. My understanding is that it is not a 'touristy' area and there are little if any western type amenities. So far all of our meals have been covered and arranged before hand by the agency so we haven't seen too many off the charts fear factor style food.

In the past two days our princess has gotten a bit 'clingy'. I'm not complaining but we are beginning to wonder if she is grieving a bit. It breaks my heart when she cries. Whenever we enter our hotel room, she starts crying. We discovered that the other families are experiencing the same thing some have started to leave their doors open. We have not tried this yet. Sean literally put one foot into our room and she started crying and as soon as he took his foot back out into the lobby she stopped. We think she may also be associating the room with her diaper changes. For the most part she has been a happy baby as you can gather from the pictures. Last night we skipped dinner with the group and ate at the hotel restaurant. Kylie was happy and ate Chinese spaghetti, congee, bread she chatted, we walked around the hotel a little and as soon as we came back to the hotel room, she cried. I had to rock her to sleep:-( I welcome any comments from anyone who may have experienced something similar and appreciate any advice. It could be that we just have to let it run it's course. Maybe she'll do alot better at the White Swan. I'm hoping anyway.

Here's a link with Kylie wearing a cute red t-shirt complete with a red bow which I placed on her head while she was sleeping, and her cute tennis shoes and bracelet. She was all the rage that day. It was so cute because at first she was not quite sure how to walk with these shoes on her feet. By the way, all of the children are doing very well, are very happy and adjusting nicely which is quite different from Gotcha day. They are all absolutely beautiful. I have not posted pictures of the other families because I keep forgetting to ask for permission. I know there are family members of people that we are traveling with following this blog. As soon as I get the ok, I will post them so that you can all see how absolutely beautiful the girls are for yourself. Sean has been capturing alot of candid shots.

That's all for now. Thanks for following our journey.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fun with Kylie

My body has not been able to adjust to China time so I have been wide awake since 2am. I've been able to sleep 4 hrs each night with an hour or so naptime in the afternoon. Great opportunity to journal thoughts that I would love to share with her later on.

The mtg with the orphanage directors offered a glimpse into Kylie's world pre-adoption. Her foster parents are in the railroad business. The Asst. Dir. wanted me to know that thefoster parents economy situation is better than most. She had a big sister too. She is a 16 or 17 yr old high school student. We think Kylie may have been a little spoiled. She is feisty and not afraid to express her dislikes. She loves to throw stuff (I guess she knows we will pick it up 100 times) but something tells me she is used to this and at times finds it humorous. She has a little temper and she is stubborn. Kylie enjoys the bus rides and the constant movement. It's when we finally settle in to the room that she has a melt down. We think she may be associating the room with a diaper change. The Directors are very proud of their Wuwei orphanage and are proud of the well cared for and healthy babies. They also jotted down the names and other info of the foster parents which I was very surprised about but very pleased. We can send them care packages via the orphanage. I need to get this translated from the Chinese characters into English from our guide. They asked that we provide updated photos of Kylie every six months for the first year or two. (Actually, I'm not sure for how long but we are more than happy to do it).

The Wuwei orphanage is fairly new. It was previously a retirement facility and as recently as 2000 it was turned into an orphanage for domestic adoption with participation in international adoptions. There are currently 800 babies for adoption with half being special needs children. Sean and I were astounded at this number. This is just one orphanage out of many orphanages in this huge country. Much to our horror, we were informed on Gotcha day that she slept with the foster parents. Picture jaws dropped and a look of confusion in both our faces. I'm happy to report that although she starts off on the bed, we are able to move Kylie into the crib provided by the hotel without a fuss. We know that she is not unhappy about this arrangement because she wakes up with an angelic smile on her face. I hope she's not saving it up for when we get home.

The pediatrician we are traveling with has been making his rounds giving our babies physical exams and aside from an ear infection in one or two of the children, they are all in great shape. Our princess has no issues so far. I brought every medication recommended and then some because I rather be safe than sorry. I would definitely recommend it to waiting families for peace if mind because every situation is different and who needs one more thing to stress about, right? Dr. Steve is absolutely wonderful and loves the children. He has also been caring for some of the adults who have unfortunately gotten sick possibly from low immune system due to sleep deprivation, grueling schedules, anxiety and food. In case you are wondering…I’m surviving on steamed rice for lunch and dinner with an occasional room temperature water or coke. The meal I look forward to is the western style breakfast at the hotel, everything from scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, bread, etc. It is my fuel for the day (and M&M’s). Sean has been a bit more adventurous tasting stuff that looks like chicken but tastes like pork. Kylie eats everything we give her, that is everything that doesn’t end up on my lap. She made pe0ple laugh yesterday by eating the food items that fell in her bib pouch. There is nothing we have not given her that she has not liked. Dr. Steve lets us know what food items to feed her which is a pretty wide range of foods. We are absolutely in love with this angel. To us she is beautiful, smart and a perfect match. She screams bloody murder when we change her diaper. I'm terrified at the thought and thank goodness I have not had to change her in public. Our schedules have gotten lighter and we often come back to our room. She is almost 13 months old and the size 12 months clothes are a little big. When we carry her around on our trips, she is fairly quiet. We placed her in a grocery cart yesterday and she was chatting up a storm, touching everything and at times waving at the workers. She will not wave on command. The first time we found out she can wave was Monday evening when we played with her outside our room. She got just far enough away that when I called her name, she responded with a smile and what seemed like a wave and dashed off. She often demonstrates her ability to climb out of the crib. We even snapped a photo of her attempting to climb back into it to get a toy. We gently and lovingly were able to coach her into not doing it. It's these little things that we continue to discover about her that make our hearts melt. Kylie's nick name from her foster parent is Ya Ya. It is a term of endearment and we find ourselves often using it.

Okay enough rambling, here are some pics.

Thank you for following our journey. Enjoy!
Oops sorry. I'm having trouble posting photos. I'll try again later.
(You can paste this link to see them at SnapFish)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Some sights along the way... Pt. 3

Some sights along the way...Pt. 2

Tiananmen Square

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Doors on the street.

Some sights along the way...Pt. 1

Half way around the world, in a hotel room in Lanzou, with wife and daughter (DAUGHTER!) napping, I send you some thoughts.
Our itinerary has been full and our schedules complicated by somewhat unpredictable access to governmental officials or accelerated timelines for document completion…
When we left Orlando, I committed to documenting this trip to provide Kylie with visual memory of her journey. Little did I realize that armed with a digital SLR camera and a laptop came the burden of responsibility. I was quickly made aware by the other 20+ newbie parents that I had been promoted to staff photographer.

Clicking 200 shots a day, fighting the jet lag, no sleep, culinary challenges…
I took a selfish self-imposed 24 hour hiatus from all but the essential and irresistible.
I’m back snapping again, and thrilled at the results through the trip. Some of the blogging challenge is all of the photos are 8 mega pixel, limiting the number of pics per post.

I have Photoshopped some of the sights and experiences along the way.

Thanks for traveling with us…

The Great Wall

The accent.

The reward.

Pull up a chair.

Stampin' Up! in China...

Well here are a couple of photos from a couple traveling in our group. The official RED foot print on the legal documents did not make her happy, but Judy and I sure were!

PS- Thank you for all of your comments and support. We are definitely in a whole new world (in more than one way). More to come later...


Legalized and notarized!!

Another exhausting and mentally charged day. We were up and out at 8am. We had our first picture taken as a family and we finalized the legal documets that say Kylie is officially ours!!! We spent 4+ hours in a warm room with screaming babies during the process. Our little princess was well behaved in our arms. Towards the end, we were called up to finalize our portion of the paperwork. To do this we had to have our finger prints and Kylie's foot print on the document. Well let's just say that our little princess did not agree with her foot print being part of the process. She just about had a little break down and it took about 10-15 minutes to console her. She finally fell asleep for approx 1 hour where we were then told to wake her up because the orphanage directors wanted a group picture with all of the families. Kylie was a bit teary eyed that we woke her up but she was soon very content to be with us. We were really surprised at her reaction. We have been very fortunate because out of our group of 11 or 12 families, she has been one of three or so that have bonded better than we could have ever hoped for. She has a bubbling personality and she is very curious and seems eager to learn. She pretends to read books. She also grabbed the door hanger in our room and proceeded to read in baby jabber of course and we were thrilled! I forgot to mention that she is walking although she is very content to have us hold her and we love doing it. She really enjoys looking in the mirror. I'll try to catch some video if I can. Also, before I forget, during the paperwork process yesterday, the nannies from the orphanage who had transported the children to our hotel, were there. The nanny who is shown in one of the pics we previously posted was so happy to see our Kylie and reached out to hold here. I was prepared to hand Kylie over to her assuming that she would jump at the opportunity and I was surprised to find that Kylie hung on to my neck for dear life. I made a few more attempts and she was not having it. Well this new mommy was very pleased to see that Kylie felt her new parents were pretty cool and she was hanging on:-)
We are learning so much about our little girl. We had the opportunity to meet with the orphanage directors in the afternoon so that we can ask them specific questions. I was a little surprised that including myself, only 4 parents showed up. However, I cannot begin to explain in writing the sheer emotional overwhelming exhaustion that some of the families are facing. No matter how much time you've had to plan for this moment, nothing can prepare you for this amazing life changing experience. What makes it a little tougher too is the grueling schedule and not having the creature comforts of home. Sean and I have been very fortunate to have such a happy baby and although she is cooperating and sleeping soundly, I too have not been able to get much sleep.
Our first full day as a family, Sean and I with very little sleep woke up ready and eager to look after our daughter. Taking in the realization that she was truly in the room with us. Our hearts were filled with such joy to watch her wake with smiles for her new mommy and daddy.
We also found out that she is not on formula throughout the day as we previously mentioned.
She has one bottle in the morning and one at night. The rest of the day she will eat whatever table food we offer her. We are very happy about that. We find her to be thin and tall but we do not know the official stats yet.
It is now 5am and I can't sleep. I've been composing this post for approx and hour. I have to wait for the proud daddy to load some new pics from our day so that I can share them with you.
To the waiting families, although I don't feel I have been doing a very good job in documenting, I hope that you find some comfort in learning through my blog what an amazing journey lies for you ahead. We waited through some long delays and unexpected hickups in the process for our referral. I found comfort in reading and seeing pictures from other bloggers and related groups. I just want you to know that although it doesn't feel like it at times, you will soon get your long awaited referral too. It will be love at first sight, you will not be able to focus on anything other wanting to get your daughter home and it will happen before you know. Enjoy every single moment!
My munchkin is up an hour early. Gotta run:-)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Don't wake the Rooster...

Thank you for all the comments and kind words... So many so quickly, we love hearing from all of you.

Well, it is now 5:45am and she slept through the night. Like her daddy, born in the year of the Rooster, we are hoping we get another hour of sleep out of her.

The Director of the Wuwei orphanage gave a general guideline schedule for all the girls from foster care (11 for our Wuwei group).

Up at 6:30am.
4oz. of formula w/rice cereal every 3 hours.
Water between every feeding.
1 morning nap.
1 afternoon nap.
Last feeding at 9:00pm.
Bedtime at 10:00pm.

Our little one finally got settled at midnight last night, and we got to unpack. (Sean had to complete legal paperwork from 11:00pm to 11:30pm with the group.)

Blah, blah blah.... here are a few more pics.

Gotcha Day!!

It's been a long 20 hr day. It is currently 1:50am so this post will be brief as we have to get up at 5:45a.m.!

The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square was fabulous. We then had lunch in the Beijing airport and boarded a 3:30pm flight to Lanzhou. We arrived at 5:30pm, and quickly took the 1 hour ride to the hotel. Arriving at 7:30pm, we were told to come get our babies at 8pm!!!!! We had to scramble to our rooms. Our luggage didn't arrive until 5 minutes before 8pm. We were all emotionally charged because we new our babies where waiting in the conference room. It was all very overwhelming and exciting. As you will see from the pictures below, we were fortunate to get one happy baby!!! I will post more details tomorrow.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Today is 'D-Day'

Our morning started off at 6a.m. We need to have our items packed and ready to go by 8am. After breakfast we will go to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. We will then leave for the airport at 1:30pm for our long awaited flight to Lanzhou! The babies will arrive at our hotel sometime late this afternoon. My husband is nervously buzzing around preparing for our gotcha moment. He prefers that I say he is diligently packing and preparing us for the next stage of our journey:-) He's clearing our cameras from previous pics, checking batteries and spare batteries, double checking, triple checking etc. It's actually really cute:-)
Yesterday we learned from our guide that the CCAA no longer allows for the families to receive their daughters at the hotels. I believe that because the Wuwei orphanage is approximately 4 hours away from where we are staying that they have made a special exception for us to receive our daughters a day early. Let's hope that everything goes according to plan and that we get to hold Kylie today!!!!
I hope that our next post will be pictures of Kylie and her new family:-)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

1st & 2nd day pics

Ni Hao!

09/01/06- We are here!!!! We left the house at 4:30am to OIA. We arrived at Newark airport around 9:30am where we met several of the families in our travel group. It was such a feeling of joyful camaraderie experience to find couples who had gone through the same 18 - 20 month wait. Then what seemed like the longest 13 hours of my life, we finally arrived in Beijing yesterday at approximately 4:30pm. That is 4:30am EST. I did not sleep a wink. At this point, I wanted to take the opportunity to give thanks to my wonderful husband for being the most compassionate travel companion! His flight experience, and disregard for turbulence as we flew over the North Pole kept me sane throughout the flight. Once back on the ground in the People’s Republic of China, our guide Vanessa and our pediatrician met us at the airport. What a wonderful sight! Most families where pretty wiped out from traveling. We got to relax a little bit prior to meeting again for dinner, which was the beginning of a whole other story.
09/02/06- We had a full day today which started by leaving the hotel at 6:30am for a traditional Chinese park overlooking the Forbidden City, followed by an amazingly Western breakfast at the hotel. We left the hotel at 9:00am to the pearl factory for an informational demo, but we avoided any pressured purchases. From there we toured the Summer Palace of the Emperor followed by a buffet lunch. We were given the opportunity to walk our lunch off by scaling an amazing section of the Great Wall. From the Wall our overbooked Presidential schedule took us to a 2 hour meeting about the babies we meet tomorrow accompanied by a diverse dinner served on an oversized Lazy Susan.

We arrived back at our hotel room at 8:30pm. We’re now preparing our luggage for our trip tomorrow to our daughter's province. Tomorrow is G-Day (Gotcha Day), the big day and emotions are running high!
I won't bore you with too many details. I will post some pictures of what we've done so far. We love reading your messages! We get even more excited that you are all so excited for us. We can't wait to introduce Kylie to our wonderful family and friends.