Thursday, March 31, 2011

Last Day in Guangzhou

Three of the four of us are now sick, so we started the day with a lazy morning. Brendan did get up to work out (dedication!), but I stayed in bed with the girls watching "Andre" for the 3rd or 4th time this week. (HBO is so odd here - they keep playing re-runs of 80s movies. But it's the best we have...) In the afternoon, we headed back to the island to finish up our shopping. (more squeaky shoes, please!) We finally found the store "A Gift from China." Mandi (my friend who's updating our blog) had recommended the shop to us, but their store sign had been taken down and we had a hard time finding it. I loved the shop - most of the items are hand-made and all the profits go to charity. I spoke with a volunteer who explained the work they were doing in obtaining medical care for the children still in the orphanage. They do incredible work.

The store had a play area, and both my girls had a great time. Cora found a pull toy, which she proudly pulled across the store. (And may I note that she "toddled" not "wobbled" - her walking has improved quite a bit since we first got her.) I was so excited to see her enjoying a little independence. (She's still not thrilled to leave my arms.) She did awesome!

The plan was to enjoy a nice dinner during our last night in Guangzhou, but we spent a little too much time in the stores (surprise) and needed to get back to the hotel to finish packing. So we had Papa Johns delivered. An appropriate celebration, don't you think?













Two Passports and a Red Couch

Mandi here again. Melissa e-mailed me letting me know they were in Hong Kong and would be leaving in less than 24 hours! I cannot believe they are going to be home tomorrow. I am SO excited to see them. And since they will be home tomorrow, this will be my last post for them. I know Melissa was hoping to be able to post herself once they got back into Hong Kong, but she was having problems. Obvioulsy I don't mind one bit. Hmmmm, maybe she can return the favor when we go back in a few months.

Tuesday, we spent the day at the US consulate. I don't remember if I mentioned it earlier, but there was a mistake on Olivia's passport, which was discovered while we were passing through the border between Hong Kong and China. Fortunately, they let us cross the border, but we were advised to get her passport corrected before traveling through other countries. So on Monday while we were at the consulate for Cora's visa appointment, we asked about getting Olivia an emergency passport. We were told it would be easy (yay!) - that they could create a new one within an hour and only one parent and Olivia needed to return to their office. Olivia and Brendan left in the morning, only to return empty-handed. Turns out I did need to be there, and so after lunch, we all headed back to the consulate office, where we successfully left with a new passport! What a relief!


For the first time, Cora and Olivia played together with the toys there. I mean, they really played together! Sorry - no pictures. Cameras aren't allowed in the consulate office.


We left the consulate to meet our guide to pick up Cora's passport and visa. We then all (our Indiana friends, too) walked to the White Swan hotel where we took the traditional red couch pictures. I bought both girls Chinese silks for the occasion. Olivia loved hers, Cora was not quite as enthused. Olivia kept hopping up on the couch to get her picture taken - what a ham. Cora cried through most of the pictures. Oh these girls of ours...










Monday, March 28, 2011

A Couple Days In Guangzhou

We are loving Guangzhou and spending time with friends. Sunday we had no plans, so went to Carrefour (just like Wal-Mart) and bought some groceries for the week. $20 bought us breakfast for our time in Guangzhou, snacks and lunch for that day. They have what I consider a Chinese-deli where you can get fried rice and noodles made to order. For just over $1, we fed our family of 4. Back to the hotel for naps, then to the island for shopping and dinner with our friends. We tried another blog-favorite restaurant, Lucy's. (No one really liked it, and we think it made a couple of us sick.) We enjoyed the experience more than the food, and have the pictures to show for it!




On Monday we had our swearing in ceremony for Cora. She is now officially ours in the US's eyes. I got the girls all dressed up for this very-special day, and we only got one picture. (and a very poorly-lit one, at that! The guards were not happy about us getting our picture taken in the buidling, but it was the only American flag we could find!) Our guide, Cordelia, took us to the markets (pearls, jewelry, animals and spices) and it was so big and so busy! We were grateful for a guided tour, as we would have never figured that place out on our own. We went back to our friends' hotel, where we relaxed and chatted for awhile. It is such a blessing to be here with them. And then, of course, we did a little more shopping.






For all you prayer warriors out there, please pray that soon Cora will allow Brendan to hold her, especially by the time we fly home on Friday. It is an extremely long flight, and I don't want to even think about what it will be like with an inconsolable child. And I really miss Olivia. We're longing to achieve a more even balance of attention in our family, and the sooner the better!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

And the Sun Broke Through!

We are in Guangzhou! We are not staying on the island where most other adoptive families stay, but we already ran into a family this morning in the elevator who is here for an adoption. They are from south Georgia and it was refreshing to hear American voices (and their sweet southern accent!) We had to leave early for Cora's medical examination, which is supposed to be the hardest part of this leg of the trip. It wasn't bad, though. And she passed with flying colors.




We also got to meet up with the other local Indiana family for the first time. It was wonderful to see friends from home! Since we work with the same adoption agency, our appointments are at the same time. I didn't know when we were going to see them, so I was thrilled when our guide told us we would be meeting them at their hotel before the medical exams. At the exam, we ran into the family we met on our flight from Detroit to Hong Kong. Again, I was giddy to see familiar faces. (Culture shock has been rough.)




After the exam, we all headed to the blog-famous Cow and Bridge where we had lunch. The guys then took the kids back to the hotel and the moms (and Cora, of course) went shopping. The island is beautiful - the architecture and landscaping are very vacation-like. There are many adoptive families here and everything feels more peaceful. I love it and both Brendan and I are SO happy to be here.

At the Medical exam

I didn't get many pictures from the day. We were having too much fun, I guess. So I'm posting pictures from the day before. We didn't have much to do that day, aside from packing, which was a CHORE, so we killed time at the shopping center next to our hotel while we waited to leave for our flight. (By the way, Cora did great on the plane. We kept feeding her crackers and water. She was happy as a clam. I'm sure the Chinese were horrified to see me feeding those weird, orange crackers to a baby - they are very particular at how babies are cared for. But I'm sure they would have done the same thing if they had spent a week in our shoes!) I also added a photo of our family with our guide and driver in Nanning. We didn't talk much to the driver. (He spoke no English.) But he was very kind and helpful. Belinda was our guide and we loved her and we already miss her.


We did start to see a bit of a turnaround in Cora. She let Brendan feed her breakfast and she laughed at Olivia. (Up until now, she's been terrified of them both.) Also, while we were at our friends' hotel, she pushed out of my lap to go play with toys. (This child won't even let me set her next to me, let alone put her on the floor to play by herself!) We still have a long way to go, because even though she showed us bits of "independence" she is still a frightened little girl. To see her relax a little, though, was so encouraging! We were thrilled!





Thank you, everyone, for your emails and your prayers. We love hearing from friends and family - it really is a treat to open up email and see who has written us. This trip has been hard, from travel snafus to living in a foreign land to caring for a child who is frightened/grieving/who knows what... We have needed your support like never before. Please know that the little things you have done mean a lot to us. Thank you so much!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

day 3 and day 4

Mandi here again! I just got an update from Melissa with tons of pictures. YEAH! Below is Melissa's post as well as the pictures. Enjoy!

Sorry for the lack of posts! I've been struggling with uploading pictures and finding the time to get in blog updates. The transition for Cora has not been easy. She still only wants me, and even then I can't always settle her down. Today, though, we have an "easy" day - we don't leave for the airport until 5:00pm. I think it's good to have some down time with the girls - less stress for us all.


On day 3 our guide took us to a park called the Green Hill Park. I imagined a plot of land with trees and open play spaces for the kids to run, but this place was much larger than I could have imagined, you had to have a vehicle to drive through it. There were many different points of interest: a lifesize Chinese calendar (where you could take your picture with the animals - Olivia loved the bunnies) a pagoda, a fish feeding pond and a buddhist temple. The pagoda was 9 stories tall and we climbed all the way to the top, carrying babies and all. For lunch we went to a Japanese noodle restaurant, and it was so good! Cora ate like a horse there - she loved her noodles! We spent the rest of the day in the hotel room taking naps and then settling in for the night.





On day 4 we went to a museum. (But I don't know the name of it.) We learned about the different Chinese minority groups and how they live. The people are incredibly talented - I was especially impressed by the fabrics section. The brocades were incredible and I would have loved to have brought them home with me. After the museum we went out for a celebration lunch at a Chinese restaurant behind our hotel. It was sooo good - both girls enjoyed. We had baos with egg in the middle that tasted like caramel. It sounds terrible, but we all had seconds. For dinner, we had Italian food at a place called The Here. The food here has actually been really good - no complaints. (I thought I wasn't going to like it.) But there's nothing like good Italian and a diet coke.