Sunday, June 30, 2013

So good to be home

 After an exhausting trip home...

Christopher got to meet his daddy.

And John could not be more smitten.

Christopher's brothers and sisters adore him.  

I wonder what he makes of all this attention.

Olivia, especially, is being so helpful and so loving.

Christopher still cannot sleep at night for more than an hour or two in a row.  I feel like I have a newborn!  We are slowly getting him to flip his hours to U.S. time, but it will take a while.  Until then, I will continue to meet him for playdates at 2 a.m.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Last Night in China

We had a fun night last night with some new friends.  We went to a restaurant called The Banana Leaf. I really recommend it to any families traveling in Guangzhou.  Good food and lots of live music (and even dancing!)

Here are my new friends:  three beautiful girls, all adopted from China.

And here is their mother, and their new baby sister.

My friend is a single mom to 4 girls.  Wow.  Here she is with her baby girl and her father.  Sorry for the blurry iPhone picture.

As we walked out, I took some pictures of the outside of our hotel.  

And the fountains out front.

Christopher did not quite make it all the way home before falling asleep.

Here is the inside of our hotel.  I was initially sad that we weren't able to stay in the White Swan, but I have loved this hotel.  I have surprised myself by feeling a little sentimental about leaving this place that Christopher and I first spent together. 

The lobby:

This Garden Hotel is always full of beautiful and HUGE flower arrangements. 

The ceiling that Christopher would always turn his head up to and stare at as we waited to meet our guide or friends in the lobby.

If all goes well, my guide should pick up Christopher's visa from the Consulate in half an hour, and we will soon be checking out and on our way to Hong Kong.  Can't believe it!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last Few Days

Today we had our U.S. Consulate appointment to get Christoper's visa for entry into the U.S.  It was pretty uneventful, and no cameras or other electronics were allowed so I have no pictures to share.  During Ellie's U.S. Consulate visit, Michelle Kwan was there (no idea why) and she helped swear us in.  We have to repeat an oath that everything in our adoption paperwork is true, to the best of our knowledge, yada yada yada… So, this visit was certainly less exciting, although I was not about to pass out from a fever as I was last time, so I was happy.

Yesterday, my guide took me and two other families to the Guangzhou Safari Zoo.  It was nice to do something with other families for once.  The only other thing I have done with others so far it to go out to dinner with two other families (not working with my agency). That was also super fun.  I love meeting other people who just 'get' the impulse to adopt and who have gone through similar experiences.

All three of the babies, including Christopher, are 14 months old.

The zoo was fun for me, but not so much for Christopher.  He loves to be crawling and rolling around in the hotel room, not confined in a baby carrier or stroller.

It was also extremely humid.  I mean, worse than it ever gets in New Jersey in the summer, and that's humid.  Like walking in a sauna.

After being kept inside of his orphanage for his entire life, I think Christopher thinks that everything is exciting and new.  He did not seem to think that giraffes or zebras were any more interesting than cars and buses.

But, I loved seeing the koalas.

And the pandas.  I have never seen pandas before.

Here is a red panda.

Christopher is like, "whatever."

I also loved the tigers.  They are so beautiful.

Look how close we got.  There was a glass wall between us, don't worry.

And the newborn tigers.  Oh my.

Once again, Christopher couldn't care less.  I hope he is this nonchalant about Stella, our dog.  Both Nicholas and Ellie did not like Stella at first.  Nicholas has graduated to "merely tolerant" of dogs, and Ellie LOVES dogs now.  So, we'll see.

Here is Richard, our guide.

 Christopher has started to become a little more demanding, as he realizes that his needs will be met.  It is so sad, but kids who are in orphan care, with many more kids than caregivers, learn to not even cry for help or comfort because it is so often ignored.  There is even a really good memoir by a volunteer at a Chinese orphanage called Silent Tears, referring to the way many orphans cry -- without sound. 

Well, Christopher has learned to be vocal.  And to complain.  I am trying to remember that this is a good thing!  He is beginning to trust me and I am able to strengthen that trust every single time I respond to him.  But, when he cried for an hour today as I tried to get him to take a nap -- and I tried rocking him, lying next to him, putting him in his crib alone, feeding him, changing his diaper, everything! -- I started to worry a little about how this "easy baby" is going to become more demanding.  And, with 4 others at home, this might get tricky.  

By the way, Christopher just wanted to play.  This kid loves to play!  Right now he is crawling around and pushing an empty cylindrical Gerber Puffs container.

Tomorrow, I should (cross fingers) get Christopher's visa and we will leave the mainland for Hong Kong.  This trip has gone so quickly!  But, I am also missing my other kids a lot and am starting to get antsy to get home.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

And this time I fell in love

I am falling in love with China.  I wish I could say it was love at first sight, but it wasn't.

 As I have mentioned before, I became sick on both of my previous trips and I could not separate my feeling of the country from the extreme nausea.  I was pregnant with Peter on my first visit -- so it was that typical first trimester exhaustion and sickness that many women know.  That coupled with the terrible pollution from the coaling industry in the area Nicholas was from, and I could hardly wait to get out of dodge.

And, on Ellie's trip, I had one of the worst viruses I have had in my life.  I hardly ever get sick, but this was bad.  Nausea, fever, conjunctivitis, sore throat -- I had it all.  I didn't even make the Red Couch picture (something most American families like to do in the lobby of the White Swam hotel).  I was certainly being melodramatic, but at one terrible moment I thought I might die in China.  Needless to say, I wasn't appreciating its beauty or its history.

 But this time, I am loving it.  I am having such a wonderful time just exploring this city.  It is so nice to stay for a longer time in one place and really get to know it.  Christopher and I have spent a lot of time just wandering around.

We have wonderful guides, Richard and Alexa.  I need to get a picture of them! It is nice to have them to myself (instead of being in a big group, as on our last trip) to answer all of my questions about China and its history.  Among many things, they have helped me to understand Cantonese culture (southern China) in particular.  The people of Guangdong province descended from the same people who now live in Malaysia and Vietnam.  Christopher, apparently, looks very Cantonese with his high forehead, small nose, and olive complexion.  The city that he is from, Dianbai, does not have a lot of movement in terms of immigration or emigration, so his ancestors might have been here for thousands of years.

Yesterday, we visited a museum which displays the tomb and the burial site of of of the Nanyue kings of the Han Dynasty, from about 120 BC.

We actually got to walk down into the tomb.

Christopher was fast asleep, but I enjoyed myself.

These are the remains of one of the King's concubines.  I took this picture because I know the kids will be fascinated.

Here's the king, incased in jade.

We have also spent a lot of time just chillin' at the hotel.  The hotel itself if gorgeous, but the garden outside takes the cake.

There is a huge waterfall

And a koi pond.

And just fresh air (relatively speaking -- this is a big city in China!) 

and some beautiful sculptures

This one, inside the hotel, is my favorite: mother and child.