Apr 25, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We started the day yesterday (I think yesterday-I'm losing track of the days with the time changes) with our bags packed and in the hall at 6:00am. China does not allow any liquids or gels on their planes, so that is challenging for a 24 hr. trip with a baby. No diaper cream, water for bottles, lotion, chapstick - you get the picture. They did let me take a bottle of motrin on board, but only after they poured half of it out. Our flight to Beijing was great. Chloe was happy and the plane was really big. That was the first 3 hours.
We had to claim our luggage and recheck it for our international flight. It's a good thing we had 4 hours in Beijing, because other than grabbing a bite to eat at Burger King and feeding Chloe a bottle, we had no extra time. It just all took so long. It's was little stressful, but all ended well. We got to our gate just prior to boarding in time to grab a final souvenir from the Olympic store with our last yuans. The value of the dollar has dropped a little recently, so the exchange rate is about 6.95 yuan to $1.

At the gate, Chloe was surrounded by a Chinese cheer leading squad of 40, traveling with us to Chicago and then on to Orlando.

The plane was really crowded for our 12 hour trip to Chicago. As it turns out, most of the cheerleaders were in our economy plus section. This made for a pretty loud flight. There wasn't much rest to be had. Chloe did as well as could be expected. We had purchased a seat for Chloe, so that was very helpful and she played for a while. However, since she was used to going to sleep in her crib, getting her to sleep was difficult. There was quite a bit of turbulence and a lot of disturbances with all the people. Chloe finally went to sleep from about 11pm to 3am (3pm Chicago time) and Greg & I caught a wink here and there. When we arrived in Chicago, we took Chloe through immigration and customs. The moment her Chinese passport got stamped and they collected her paperwork from us, Chloe became a US citizen! She was sleeping, but none the less we took a picture of her putting her feet on US soil as a citizen. She is officially Chinese-American.
Our final flight from Chicago to Akron/Canton left a little late, but we got in only about 10 minutes late. There was a great crew waiting for us at the airport and it was awesome to wrap my arms around the girls. Chloe just kind of took it all in, but slept most of the way home.

It was kind of a wrest less night for Chloe since her body was telling her it was day time. But by about 7:30am this morning, she was out for the 'night.' We finally woke her about 1pm, 'cause the girls couldn't stand to wait any longer. She is warming to the girls quickly and just loves to bounce in her new bouncer/saucer from Mike's and Tim's. We thought maybe she would be intimidated by it all, but as soon as put her in and showed her what to do, she went to town jumping up and down.

Thank you so much for your prayers for us throughout this journey to bring Chloe home. Your kind comments and concern have meant so much to us. We take Chloe to an international adoption clinic on Monday and we'll continue to post pictures in the next few days. If you have any specific questions about the trip, leave us a comment and we'll do our best to answer them.

Apr 23, 2008

Red Couch Pictures

Tonight our group headed to the White Swan hotel to take the tradition 'red couch' adoption picture. It's tradition that adoptive families take a picture a red couch to commemorate their time in China. It started, because so many adoptive families stayed at the White Swan hotel, which just happened to have red couches in their lobby. So many people took pictures on those couches that is now a tradition for adoptive families.

Here is the whole crew - 15 families in all

This morning Dad & I got to go to the Pearl Market. It looked like a 5 story mall, but it was all wholesale jewelers. They told us it used to be an ancient open air market, but this is a more modern version. They pointed us to the most reputable shops, so we could be sure we were getting the real thing. I have never seen so many pearls in my life. There was literally a 4ft. high stack of bulk pearl strands in the middle of the store. We got to chose exactly which strand and then they strung and knotted them right there in from of us. It was really neat and the prices were amazing.

Here are a few final sites from China from our walk to the pearl market this morning - We'll see you at home.

I almost forgot - we went to the American Consulate today and along with 41 other families,took an oath stating that the info we've provided them for our adoption was true. It was the last formality 'til we get to immigration in Chicago and Chloe becomes a US citizen :)

Our flights tomorrow are: Guangzhou to Beijing 9:20am to 12:30pm Beijing to Chicago 4:10pm to 4:20pm (chicago time) Chicago to Akron/Canton 7:30pm to 10:07pm

Apr 22, 2008

A Few Thank You's

I wanted to start this morning by saying a few thank you's. First, we are so blessed to have been called by the Lord to our Chloe girl. We are already seeing how she was specifically chosen for our family. We feel honored that God has chosen us to introduce her to Himself. I am in awe that because of His great love for her, God called someone from half way around the world to rescue this little orphan girl from a pagan life of superstition and idol worship that so many follow. Everywhere we look we can see people searching and seeking to fill that God sized whole in their hearts. Unfortunately, they are looking in all the wrong places. Chloe has an opportunity to know the real, one and only God. Long before Chloe was even conceived, God knew her by name as He started our journey to get her. Matt. 19:14 says, "Let the little children come to Me." Ps. 139:13 &16 say, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb...your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Thank you so much Becky and Mike for putting your lives on hold to care of the girls while were gone. It's made our trip so much easier to see how well the girls are doing at home. Thank you Tim for holding down the fort at work while Dad, Greg & I have been gone. I know that's been a lot of extra responsibility. Thanks to all of you for prayers and concern for us. Your support as our friends and family has been so encouraging. To all of you yet to complete your adoption journey, hang in there. God has a special little girl planned just for your family. Try not to get discouraged. It will happen. The international adoption process here is like a well-oiled machine and it is highly valued. We have gotten nothing but praise for giving these little orphans a home. Matching may be slow, but we have seen nothing to indicate that it will come to an end. In our lives, at times the wait was almost unbearable, but as we look back the things we learned and the changes that took place as a result will be invaluable to us and Chloe as her parents. God is stitching together the tapestry of our lives. We can only see a small portion on the under side where all the funny looking stitches and knots lie, but what God can see is the beautiful picture He is making out of each of us, one stitch at a time.

This is a picture of Chloe getting her first smell of chocolate. Greg had just eaten a Hershey Kiss and she was very taken by the smell.

For some reason, Chloe likes to kiss Greg on the nose. It looks really funny - Greg says it's because she's never seen a nose that sticks out like our before.

Here a few pictures of some of the shop keepers that we've gotten to know over the last few days.

Today we go to the American Consulate to take the oath of citizenship for Chloe and then this evening we'll taking the tradition 'red couch' photos. We leave very early tomorrow morning and have lots of packing to do yet today, but I'll try to post some pictures yet tonight. Our flight leaves for Beijing at 9:30pm Ohio time Wed night and we arrive at 10:00pm Thur night at Akron/Canton. Please pray for our safe travel and for Chloe girl who's world will once again be turned upside down. Can't wait to see you!

We have a tooth!

Chloe broke her first tooth today. We've seen the signs and the slobber for quite some time and today we finally felt the tiny sharp edges. One test with a spoon and it was confirmed. There's only one thing in the mouth that makes that sound.

With just 2 more full days in China, we spent the whole day shopping. Who knows when we'll be back, so whatever we want to take home with us needs to be purchased in these last two days. There was a tour around Guangzhou today to a Buddhist temple and a couple other spots that just wasn't our thing, so shopping became the schedule.

I would have posted earlier, but Chloe cried for over an hour when we put her to bed tonight. As hard as it is to hear, it's a good sign that she expects someone to respond to her when she cries. Her cries have been more and more urgent over the last few days as she seems to look to us for comfort. Now we just need to figure out what to do at bed time. If we hold her, she doesn't settle down enough to get fast asleep. But if we put her in bed, which has worked every night until now, she just wants to cry. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

We have more pictures to show, but blogger is not working for us today. I'll try again tomorrow morning. We're scheduled to go to the pearl market, but I may stay behind with Chloe so she gets a good nap while Elaine goes with the group.

Apr 21, 2008

Visa Physical Day

Today Chloe had a physical to get her visa to come to the USA. It's kind of funny that the minute she touches US soil, she becomes a citizen, but she has to have a visa to get permission to get to that US soil. Anyway, we all went to a clinic just down the street where the babies got measured and a quick once over by a couple of doctors. Chloe got the all clear and we're one step close to coming home. It doesn't quite seem possible that we have nearly finished this journey to China that we have thought about for so long.

Chloe is doing great. She went around to a bunch of shops with us today, just riding in the stroller with her feet up in the air. The weather her is really hot - probably in the 80's with high humidity. It reminds me of OH in August. We picked up a few sun dresses for Chloe to keep her cool. She doesn't seem to like the heat any more than we do. The a/c in our room works great though, so there is always a reprieve to come back to. This is a picture of our room at the Victory Hotel. It's nice, but between us and our luggage, quarters are a little cramped.

We're staying on Shamian Island in Guangzhou. It was created by the British and the French. Most of the buildings have a very colonial feel to them. I think Guangzhou is a pretty dangerous place, but this island is kind of isolated from the rest of town. There are a bunch of shops that cater to adoptive families and they all speak English. I was able to have a custom chinese jacket made today and I should get it back by Wed. It's been nice to see so many other families who are also adopting. We don't feel like the odd-balls here. We said hello to a family across the street today and she said 'Hey, I know you. You're the Beaches. I read your blog.' I think we about fell over. Who would have thought?

Chloe ate her first french fry today. She thought they were pretty good and gave us a birdie mouth for more. I'm looking forward to having a big variety of foods I can feed her. In Chongqing, she really like a steamed egg custard, but we have not been able to find that here in Guangzhou.

Just had to post this picture of Dad and his buddy. Her name is Margo and she just got a new sister this week. She calls him Grandpa Dan.

Apr 20, 2008

We're in Guangzhou

We made it to Guangzhou. It's about 4pm and we just got to our hotel the Victory. Chloe did ok on her first flight. She was, shall we say, a little loud for a while on the plane, but eventually fell asleep. Those business men who thought they were in for a nice quiet trip to Guangzhou were in for quite a surprise when 15 American families with new babies stepped on the plane. Let's just say that someone was crying all the time. We go to get visa pictures taken yet this afternoon and to look around. Guangzhou is supposed to be shopping heaven, but Chloe needs some sleep first.

Apr 18, 2008

A Note to All You Traveling

Our CCAI reps Anita & Marie

I know there are many soon to be China travelers following our blog and I thought I'd take some time this morning to comment on what I'm glad I had and what I wish I had known. Greg and Dad are out buying a suitcase for packing today and Chloe is having a morning nap. Let's see what all I can type before she gets up. --- It's now evening of the same day. Clearly things did not go as planned. We are all packed and ready for our flight tomorrow to Guangzhou, our last stop in China. We are beginning to miss home, but it's with mixed feelings that we leave Chongqing. We are anxious to get one step closing to bringing Chloe home, but sad that this was her last day in her home town. Tomorrow she will leave the only place she has ever known.

On a happier note, we have just had a blast enjoying her today. She learned to sit on her own and is steady enough to play with toys while sitting. She's begun to give us kisses. This is very significant to us, 'cause we know that someone must have done that to her at the orphanage for her to understand how.
Just a quick Chloe story before I get on to the traveling tips. We noticed that Chloe was babbling 'jei jei' which in Chinese means big sister. We asked the orphanage director if she had any ideas why Chloe would be saying that and she said that some of the older children in the orphanage come and play with the babies. When I asked if there was a specific child that Chloe was attached to she said no, but they just call them all 'jei jei', big sister. We had sent a camera to the orphanage after we were matched with Chloe and were able to get the pictures developed this week. We were shocked to see Chloe with a big sister in several of the pictures. She has her hand on Chloe possessively and there is even a picture of her kissing Chloe. I breaks my heart to think how much that little girl must be missing Chloe this week, but we are so thankful for Chloe's 'big sister' that showed her love until we could do it ourselves.

Here are a few things I glad we did for China and a few things I wish we had known:
-have a pediatrician available 24-7 that is familiar with international adoption available
(we talked to our adoption doctor at 4am one morning about Chloe and got her started to a speedy ear infection recovery)
-do take any medication you think you or the baby may need - you probably will not need it, but I'm glad to have it along just in case
-do take some snack along as comfort food and also for transition times until you know where to shop and what's available - there is lots of things available in Chongqing, you just don't always want to have to go out and get them
-do bring lots of germex - I brought 5 small bottles and I think this is good, but I also had wet wipes
-don't bother bringing too much entertainment for yourself - we never did need it, 'cause we were either busy touring in Beijing or with the baby
-do bring clothes that mix and match - laundry was available, but not until the 4th day and then there was a 48hr. turn-around time - I wish my clothes could mix and match, so I wasn't so stuck with 1 particular outfit
-do plan to be hot in China and dress accordingly - Chinese people just seem to enjoy a warmer temp that we in the USA - our a/c only worked part of the time and the stores and airplane were very warm
-it was nice to have some plastic silverwear along for when you order take-out

for baby:
-we liked the bottles with liners, but bring lots, it takes a lot of experimenting to figure out what temp the baby likes the bottles and just when they're hungry - Chloe likes her so hot it's almost like coffee
-do bring a thermos to store hot water, but check to make sure it keeps water hot for 12 hours - ours does not and I'm not sure how we'll get home
-I wish I had brought more spitty diapers-I brought 5, but with wash times, I was always wishing for more
-do bring pj's without feet - Chloe is too long for her pj's, so I was really limited in the pj department - you could buy some here, but the sizing is confusing and not speaking the language can be very daunting
-do bring a little anti-bacterial dish soap and a shoe box size rubbermaid container for washing bottles - this is a daily event
-I wish I had more bottle tops - I'm ok with the bottles since we just switch out the liners, but I seem to always need to wash nipples and rings
-do bring enough diapers to get started for a day or 2 - you can buy the rest here
We took a group photo today - talk about drawing a crowd. 15 American families holding Chinese babies.

5 babies from Chloe's orphanage (Qian Jiang SWI)

Please pray for us as we travel tomorrow. There was a typhoon near Hong Kong this weekend and it may effect our travel or cause delays. 15 families in airport with delays when you don't speak the lanuage - it may be an interesting day!

Amazing changes in Chloe!

Chloe has really made great strides over the last few days. It's hard to believe we've only had her for 5 days. Her blank, empty eyes have brightened and the scared little face is smiling and giggling.
We bought a stroller two days ago but Chloe wanted nothing to do with it until today. During lunch we put her in it and Elaine sang to her and played with her while she fussed. Then we took her around the loop in the hotel until she finally gave in. I think she actually likes it now.
She's relaxing so much more with us as we try to comfort her and when she's tired. Today she rested her head on our shoulders while we toured. She's becoming more and more snugly with us and not holding herself at arm's length.
This was the scene this evening as we shopped for some last minute grocery items to get us by until our flight to Guangzhou on Sunday. She not only learned to enjoy her stroller, it also put her to sleep. It was a long day for her.
As I write, this is Chloe resting quietly. She's such a good sleeper. It's nothing for her to sleep 10-12 hours a night without waking! That makes for some good sleeping for Mom & Dad. Unfortunately, we'll be messing that up next week as we back up 12 time zones. But it'll be worth it to be home. One more week and we'll be a great big family for the first time.

Apr 17, 2008

Old Town Chongqing and Hot Pots

Today we took a bus about a half hour out of town to 'Old Town.' Chongqing was the capital of China during WWII and was heavily bombed. Old Town is the only portion of the original Chongqing that remains. It's a quaint little area that looks like a stereotypical Chinese town. However, now the streets are lined with vendors catering to tourists like us. It very much had a flee market feel and we got to practice our bartering skills. I must admit, I am seriously lacking in this skill. We had a great time picking out gifts and keepseeks for Chloe and the girls. We're making an attempt to buy enough keepsakes for Chloe that we can give one to each Gotcha Day celebration until she's 21. We're about half way there, but sure is fun trying to find things for her for a variety of different ages. We boughts some dresses, fans, placemats, and Greg got a silk shirt.

Sights around 'Old Town'

Some shop owners we bought from.

Chongqing is known for it's hotpot cooking. All around China you can see Chongqing Hotpot restaurants. If it says Chongqing hotpots, then you know they will be good. Greg got to go with the group tonight to experience this authentic Chongqing specialty. They recommended keeping the babies at home, because the air in the restaurant gets so spicy from the boiling pots, that it can burn your eyes. At each table there is a pot boiling in the middle with spiced broth. Greg chose to eat at the mild table and to call it mild would not quite be acurate. You cook your own food in the boiling broth one bite at a time a lot like fondue. He tried things like beef, pork, lamb, quail eggs, bamboo shoots, leeks, and rice noodles. After each bite was cooked, you could dip it in oil with fresh garlic.