Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Guangzhou Day 2

On Monday, December 1, we all took the bus to the clinic to complete our child's visa physical and photo. By this time in our adoption trip, Faith was very much a Momma's Girl. In fact, not only would she not let Byron hold her at all, she also would not let me put her down anywhere in public. Not in a stroller, not in a highchair to eat, not beside me. If I even tried to put her down, screams and tears flowed. My arms were very sore (that 19 pounds gets heavy after awhile). SO, when I put her down in the chair for her visa photo, this is what happened:

Yep - that is our child! 

We had the pictures made downstairs in the clinic (which has a wine vending machine in the lobby - only in China!). After all of the kids had their pictures made, we headed upstairs in a cramped elevator about 10 at a time to have their physicals done. 

Each child made a stop in each "station" checking their vision, hearing, weight and height, and then finally to be checked over by a doctor. 

Again - a big fit because Momma had to put her down! 

Our CCAI representatives again were the heros of the day. The doctor was very concerned about the fact that Faith had been sick with a fever just days before our visa physical. She was also quite concerned at her tiny weight and height for her age. We were drilled by the doctor, but were able to answer her questions with help from our rep and then finally issued an ok. WHEW! 

After her physical, Faith had to have a tuberculosis blood draw. She was taken by a nurse into a room behind closed doors...this was torture for both of us. The next day we received news that her blood test was negative for TB and her visa was completely approved! YAY!! 

That evening, we took a dinner cruise down the Pearl River. 

We had Papa John's pizza delivered to the dock and had a little party!

The couple at our table were Ryan and Annette - with their sons Miles (adopted 3 years ago from Taiwan) and Maddox. They are some of the sweetest people ever! 

From the deck of the boat you could see the beautiful lights along the river - including the Canton Tower - the country's tallest tower. 

The lights on the tower changed color every few minute. 

The lights were just beautiful! 

By this time, Faith still had a cough and I was beginning to get sick. It was drizzling and cold, so she and I didn't stay on the deck for too long. 

Byron took most of these pictures - aren't they lovely?!?

It was a fun way to see Guangzhou by night! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Guangzhou - Day 1

On Saturday November 29, we left Faith's birth province and flew to Guangzhou. All China International Adoptions have to go through Guangzhou because the US Consulate in Guangzhou is the only consulate in China that issues immigrant visa - which is what they have to have to come through customs in the United States. Guangzhou is the capital of the Guangdong province in South China. It is warm and humid most of the year. Think Miami. We arrived in Guangzhou in the evening and ordered pizza from Papa Johns once we were checked into our hotel room. 

On Sunday morning we took a few tours. Our first stop was The Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. 

It is an ancient Buddhist temple originally built in 537 in the Liang Dynasty. 

The main structure is the Flower Pagoda. Beautiful architecture.

After the Buddhist temple, we went to the Chen Clan Academy which now houses the Guangdong Museum of Folk Arts and Crafts. The roof of the building - both on the interior and exterior is covered with intricate carvings.

There are various shops where you can buy original Chinese Folk Art. We bought a calligraphy print of each child's name and a beautiful flower painting for the girl's room.

This gentleman was printing mountain and waterfall scenes by rhythmically pounding his fist on paper. It was amazing to watch!

We then we to a few more shops and then back to the hotel. Byron met with our representatives to go over our visa application and  Faith and I had a little photo shoot! 

She was finally feeling better and was back to being playful and giggly!

What a DOLL!!

That evening we went to a Cantonese Restaurant in the hotel where I had roasted goose for the first time - very tasty and moist, but a lot of bones, too. Byron had ribs. We walked around the very large hotel for a little while before heading back to our room to bed. Day 1 in Guangzhou was fun! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Thanksgiving in China

Gotcha Day was Monday, November 24. Adoption Day was Tuesday, November 25th. We had to stay in Zhengzhou until Saturday, though, because that is how long it takes to get all of the passports and needed documents back. On Wednesday, Faith came down with a fever and Zhengzhou was chilly and rainy. She and I stayed in the hotel all day Wednesday. Byron and one of our travel group mates took a walk and brought back Starbucks! 

On Thursday, Faith's fever and cough had gotten worse. Luckily, our awesome CCAI Representatives were able to get some cough syrup and antibiotics for her. Thursday was also Thanksgiving. Byron received permission from the hotel to play the grand piano in the lobby and led our group in some hymns and praise and worship songs! 

After the singing, we all headed to the dining room where the hotel's chef had prepared turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce for all of us! 

It was close, but not quite a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. 

Faith loved the stuffing and the sweet potatoes! 

The next morning, we woke up and the piano was gone. In it's place was a huge Christmas tree!

It was another chilly and drizzly day in Zhengzhou. Faith was better, but still not 100%. In fact a lot of the kids had colds, so we met in the hallways for playtime! The kids had fun together playing and sharing snacks. It was a good way to brake up the monotony of the week. Here are a few of Faith's new friends:

That afternoon we received our children's passports and shot records. The next morning we would get up bright and early to head to Guangzhou for the last leg of our journey.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Adoption Day!

The day after "Gotcha Day" (the day our adopted children are placed in our arms) was Adoption Day!  We had already signed the papers to adopt our precious girl the day before, but it is not official until 24 hours has passed. Our group loaded back onto the bus and headed back to the Registration Office. It was pretty unofficial - as far as an adoption finalizations go. We stood in a half circle around the registration officer, waited for her to call our child's name, and then she shook our hand and presented us with our Adoption Certificate. Once everyone had theirs, we had our pictures taken. 

Faith was now officially a Serna!

On a side note, we ended up not having to pay the adoption registration fee! They were in the process of changing the fee and weren't sure what to charge us, so they decided just not to take our money! Whoo-hoo!! A sweet little blessing!

After the finalization, we all went back to the bus and took a short drive to a notary office. We sat around a huge table and waited for our form to be notarized. The kids were totally bored - and a bunch of them decided that the best time to make a dirty diaper was while we were all squeezed into this  tiny office like room (without air-conditioning). I think the notary was happy when we left!

After the notary we loaded the bus and headed back to our hotel to grab a quick bite to eat, make a copy of our passports on China sized paper and then head to Faith's birth city of Zhoukou to get her passport. It was a 3 hour drive there. When we finally arrived, we were ushered to the front of the passport line. The orphanage officer, Wang Xu was there waiting for us. They took a quick picture of Faith and we were done! Wang Xu had brought a few baby pictures of Faith with him and he let us take them with us! Byron chatted with him a minute via our CCAI representative, and then we left.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see anymore of Faith's hometown. Her orphanage does not allow outside visitors and her finding place was not near the office, so we didn't have time to go to that and still get back at a decent hour. It was a crazy ride home - closer to 4 hours because of traffic - but Faith was a trooper! She played peek-a-boo, ate snacks and slept a little and snuggled a lot. It was a very long day, and we all went to bed as soon as we returned to the hotel! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gotcha Day!! When Faith Becomes Sight.

This post is FULL of pictures - lots and lots of pictures. This was, by far, the most amazing day of our trip to China - and one of the most amazing days in my life!

The morning after we went to see the Great Wall, our travel group left the hotel early and headed to the Beijing Airport. We got on a plane for a short flight to Zhengzhou, China - the capitol of the Henan Province. Our hotel was beautiful! The best thing was seeing this set up in our room: 

Seeing the crib made it all so real, so fast. After unpacking, our group took a trip to China Walmart to buy supplies for our little ones. China Walmart, by the way, is nothing like our Walmart. It is 3 (or 4 - I can't remember) stories high, there are dried chickens hanging for sale, you have to buy your plastic grocery bags, and (of course) everything is in Mandarin. 

After our Walmart trip, we went back to our room to put everything away and then met some of our new friends for dinner at the hotel next door. That night, I don't think any of us could sleep. The next morning would be "Gotcha Day"! The day our children would be placed in our arms!

When we walked in, 3 children were already there waiting on us. None of them were Faith. Then a baby boy was brought in. I wondered if I would recognize her if I saw her. I didn't have to wait long to find out. I looked out of the glass doors and saw her,  bundled in many layers, being carried by a friendly looking man, to the building. Here cheeks were pink and her eyes were big. 

We stood back, letting them check to make sure we were the people we she was actually matched to. Once that was certain, we started the transition into our arms. 

I brought some lollipops, cheerios, goldfish and gerber puffs. I chose a lollipop to try to lure her to us. She took the lollipop and then wanted to get away from these strangers!

She did a lot of crying/screaming and back arching at first. 

She was NOT sure of this!

After only a few minutes, the fighting stopped, she relaxed, and settled into my arms. 

She started to trust us once the treats came out. 

We took out Byron's phone to show her pictures of her new brothers and sisters.

 We scrolled by a picture of Byron. She pointed and said, "BaBa!" (Which is Daddy in Mandarin.) That is the moment the tears started!

After Faith had settled, we were called over to sign the papers making her ours (though it wasn't official until the next day). 

The lady in the top right is one of our guides/representatives/translators, Rita. All of the reps CCAI provided were excellent! They made our trip seamless and relatively easy. 

This is the orphanage officer Wang Xu and a nanny, Ms. Yan Yan who delivered Faith to us. They brought with them a bag of Faith's favorite snacks (including 3 boiled eggs), a box of formula, and some of the items we sent in her care package including 2 photo books and a voice recording toy. 

After all of the official stuff was over, Faith and I found a comfy spot to get to know each other while the other parents waited to receive their children. 

We had only one picture, taken 2 years ago, of Faith smiling. The only video we had was 23 seconds long - 23 seconds of her throwing a fit! We were very much expecting a serious, somber child. We soon found out that Faith is seriously playful! She smiles and laughs easily. Within moments we were laughing together - something I thought would take days to happen!

She was starting to really like this strange blonde lady! I love they way she is looking at me!

Finally in our arms!

The bus ride back to the hotel was a little noisier than the drive to the registration office. I think all of us were thankful for the noise! Faith was terrified of the bus and clung to me the whole drive. That was OK with me!

We got back to the hotel around noon. We ordered room service for lunch. Then we started taking off the multiple layers of clothing of our precious girl. It was like unwrapping a squirmy, but precious gift. We gave her a bath and then set her on the bed to get a good look at her. We loved every little bit! And who wouldn't! She is precious!

We gave her new clothes, and then we just sat and watched her. Before we knew it, she leaned over and gave Daddy a kiss!! 

Then Mommy needed a kiss!!

The bonding process had begun! 

That evening we bundled our little gift up and walked down to the Burger King. We fed her french fries, and then she fed us. She was wide eyed with wonder at the people on the streets and the lights of the city. That night, she slept by my side. During the night, she would wake up, snuggle closer, pat my face and kiss my cheek. It was as if she was making sure I was still there. I cried silent tears of joy at finally, FINALLY, having my little one in my arms! I praised the Lord for bringing us there, for making it all happen, for this precious gift of love.