Thursday, June 5, 2014

Medical Appointment

Tuesday was Maisie's medical appointment in order for her to apply for her American visa.  She started off having her visa photo taken then going to several doctors for some simple physical exams.  As always she was prepped by our agency rep and she had no problems answering questions and going along with the flow.  She always looks intently at the adults when they speak to her and its adorable to watch her nod her head up in the affirmative as she comprehends what they are telling her.  The hard part was at the end.  They had to draw blood and they don't allow the parents in the room as it is being done (just a cultural difference -they allow the parent to console).  She walked out of the room in tears but went straight for me which is such a good thing as far as a bonding goes.  
visa photo

height and weight check

perfect patient

listening to the doctor

All those are real pearls!
Afterwards, we were dropped off at "the pearl market".  I'm not a huge shopper, but this place could overwhelm the best of them.  It was 6 stories full of small individually run shops full of pearls, amber, turquoise, beads, stone and more.  Most of it was all wholesale.  So, instead of bringing home 20 of the same necklaces, we barely shopped and headed back for a chicken foot snack (Maisie only- thank you) and a late nap. 

To bad Chick-fil-A doesn't have a chicken foot product

Then it was party time again.  We have friends that we know from GA that live here in China and it "JUST SO HAPPENS" that they are finalizing the adoption of their little girl here this week as well.  So, we met up with them tonight down near the Pearl River.  The lights of the new city area light up the night.  The Canton tower cycles in its multi-colors.  I think Maisie enjoyed being around the older kids and just got giddy with the lights on the plaza.

Our adventures in Guangzhou - Monday

Monday was a holiday here in China so no work got done.  It's the Dragon Boat festival, but I was quite disappointed that there would be no races here on the local river for another 20 or so days.  I still didn't get an answer why on that one.  We went to a local area where he American consulate used to be located.  Up until a few years ago ALL adoptive families stayed on this Shamian Island (which is really just a spot of land between the rivers that used to be a sand barge).  For years I heard many families talking about their stay at the White Swan hotel here which is now sadly completely closed for renovation.  
The day itself was sweltering hot, but we dressed Maisie in her little cotton Chinese dress and set off to find some good spots for pictures.  Although she did well and pictures were cute, the heat was evident on her sweaty head.  

There are many old buildings in a somewhat British colonial style.  The trees are old and overhanging providing a slight relief from the sun.  There are spacious park areas for the children to run around on and you never know what little statue will be found around the next corner.  

So thankful for previous adoptive parents that touted this unsuspecting little joint.
We enjoyed a yummy burger and fries

There was a nice new Starbucks that we sat an enjoyed a cold frappuccino at.  After walking some more, we came across the famous Lucy's restaurant all the Americans write home about.  It was nice to sit in the cool air and enjoy a (somewhat) American meal and cold coke.  They did not have dumplings, so it didn't quite have Maisie's stamp of approval   - just give her another year.

The frappuccino here was the best ever on a sweltering day.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Maisie's first plane ride

Saturday we left for our next destination.  Marie, our awesome rep in Chongqing prepped Maisie well with what to expect during the day's travels.  There were a few minor snags, but in light of Maisie's behavior and response to us, we are still blessed beyond measure.  
We had to board the plane from the outside.  The transition and jet noise was too much for her and she started screaming to go back inside.  When things like this happen, I panic a little with all the stares I feel on me wondering if others think I am kidnapping her or something.  Thankfully once inside the plane, she calmed down and seemed excited for the ride.
Saying goodbye to our CCAI guide Marie

There have been many positives with adopting a 4 year old.  However, there is something that occasionally happens that can make us squirm.  While on the plane, the flight attendant poured Maisie some juice at my request.  A while later, Maisie stood up in her seat and started yelling something across the plane over and over.  I tried to quiet her to no avail until I finally stuffed a lollipop in her mouth.  When they came back later, I got her some more juice which seemed to be what she wanted, so hopefully nothing embarrassing was yelled for all to hear.  
Maisie enjoys the shining sun while laying out on the moving sidewalk

Park near our hotel
Guangzhou smacked us in the face with heat and humidity as we expected.  I have to say it feels good to see the sky instead of fog and smog and I am always welcoming to the warm sun.  We were able to do a quick round of greetings to other families as we exited the hotel for dinner.  They were all checking in and  worn from travels (12 families with kids all traveled together).  We will have more time tomorrow.  But, it was such a joy to see each child in their parents arms.  After our dinner we wandered over to the park nearby and found a beautiful walking spot.  We didn't have much time to spend here this evening, but it is definitely a place we will return to.  Poor Maisie didn't know what to think of the sweat dripping off of her forehead.  She kept patting her wet head wondering where it was coming from.
Folding paper airplanes

As we were settling in to the hotel, I looked down and Maisie was folding paper airplanes spot on.  I smiled thinking this was a "skill" her brothers probably taught that she can now know for life!

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Friday was a very easy day.  We had no where to be, only to wait in the room for the delivery of Maisie's passport.  After a long breakfast, we had no problems just hanging out, being silly, playing with beads and looking at books.  We even stayed in the room for lunch and got in a good nap.  
Finally at 3:30 the passport came which was not a minute too soon as the walls were starting to close in on Miss busybody.  What a cute little passport it is!
For those that are curious, this is basically a temporary Chinese passport for her to leave the country as she is not yet an American citizen to receive one from the US.  Part of the paperwork the past few days has included some to terminate her Chinese citizenship since China does not allow dual citizens.
We finished the day heading out to the 2nd of two malls connected to our hotel.  One is an older 6 floor mall very packed and crowded with people and full of shops and restaurants.  The other is an 8 story mall packed with higher end stores,  people and restaurants.  These people like to shop.  I told Erik that I was shocked that there could be so many stores that sustain themselves with all the choices there are.  He reminded me that there are 32 million people in the city that need to shop somewhere.  This city is just full of one huge building after another.  We have had a good experience in this city and of course the highlight was receiving Maisie here.  However, we are both so ready for the 2nd phase of the trip.  We will meet back up with all the adoption families we were in Beijing with and all our new little ones.  It will be about a 2 hour plane ride.  Our rep has talked with Maisie about getting on the plane, not going home yet, but getting to see a whole bunch of other Chinese babies with their new mommies and daddies.  It was pretty cute to listen to that dialogue.  Leaving you with some local pictures of Chongqing (the biggest city you've never heard of).

Outdoor shopping area behind the mall

View from the plaza by our hotel

View from our room.  The mountains are the direction Maisie's orphanage was
8 story mall #2 -connected to hotel by underground walkway

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Orphanage visit

Warning..mama's thoughts of the day = long post!
To begin, one should know that we say that Maisie has been in an orphanage.  But within the large, campus-like setting, she actually lived with a foster family for the past 2 1/2 years.  The children interact and sped their day time with other children that live in the more traditional orphanage setting on campus as well.  That is why we go back and forth in our reference as to where she has lived.

The day was covered in prayer.  I know many friends and family responded to the call for prayers for peace to reign on this trip.  Maisie had already expressed a disinterest to our guide for going back.  Of course we gave her all the reassurance that she would come back with us, she would not stay there and that we were her parents now.  However, as good as she had it as an orphan there, one thing remained.  She had a real family now instead of (to use their term) a  "simulated family"

She warmed to the idea of presenting her new mom and dad to her friends and pass out candy to them which is basically a tradition among the children who get homes to do when they return for their goodbyes.  It was about an hour trip north of the city some pretty, wooded mountain area. We arrived with no panic attacks on her part (sadly these things really can happen).  The children in her group were practicing for a performance for the upcoming Childrens Day festival on Sunday.  They invited her to hop for the song and dance to which she did.  Be still my heart, it was precious!!
Doing her dance - front and center.

Immediately she grabbed her backpack and she was so ready to pass out the suckers.  She was mobbed.  I took the opportunity to snap some pictures of and with children whose parents were waiting for them in the states.  (I am constantly amazed at how tight knit this adoption community is).  She saw me hugging one boy and she about lost it.  She come over tearing us apart to the point of tears.  It happened a second time, so I just decided to play it cool from then on.

We met the father in the cafeteria then they took us down to the family's apartment.  Little Maisie was fine being carried by the foster mom as long as I was 3 feet behind.  The apartment was picture perfect.  It was a humble place to American standards, but something from a fairy tale as far as an orphanage is concerned.

Two girls and two boys are in each apartment with the foster parents.  There are 3 bedrooms one for the girls, one for the boys and one for the parents.  There is a nice little living room, dining area and kitchen.  There is a separate bathroom for the kids from the adults.  The children's bathroom actually had an adorable western style toilet for them to learn how to use.  Little thing like this go such a long way in the transition of adoption.  I keep feeling beyond blessed that Maisie was afforded this life.  My first choice would be that of course evil things like abandonment and orphans would never exist in the first place, but God showed her favor in her desperation.

Foster family with 3 other siblings
The siblings in the family room

 Brother showing me his family that will be coming from Italy for him soon

Cute little bathroom with squatty potty and western toilet

Boys room

Girl's room
Chatting with everyone
We parted ways with the family.  There are no words adequate enough to express our gratitude.  Tears and hugs may be awkward in their culture, but that's the last gift I had left to give.  As we walked back up the hill to the car, school had let out and all the nannies and teachers were going down the road.  Without fail, every one we passed called out her name and asked little questions regarding her new parents.  She must of said hello to 20 or more adults.  She was quite social, and seemed to be be known by all.  Even as we left, she went up to the guard gate and said her greetings.  In the final picture you will see more workers saying their goodbyes to her as well.  We ended with a walk by the lake which Maisie enjoyed.

At the Loving Lake
Many people have hard, emotional experiences going to orphanages and seeing all the children with no home or family to call their own.  I felt blessed on this trip to be able to see the incredible care and feel the love that is afforded to these children.  Best of all, I was able to find a few children, take their pictures and tell them (through our guide) - "Your mommy and daddy can't wait to come get you!!"  It is a blessing to know that these children are finding their forever families however heart breaking it is that they are there.

Loved.  An orphan no more!

Wednesday zoo day


In trying to keep up to date, I will mainly post photos from the day.  We went to the Chongqing zoo to see the pandas.  It was nice to spend a few hours out walking, but the zoo itself was nothing to write home about.  We hated telling our guide that was so excited about the pandas that we have some pandas (in a much better facility) only miles from our house at the Smithsonian National Zoo. 

When it comes to walking, it appears that Maisie has never had an agenda handed to her.  She walks so slow.  She has quickly learned it was pretty fun to hop on our backs instead.  We now have that request in her little Chinese down pat!

 Maisie was so excited to see the animals and the elephant put on a really good show as he took a long playful bath.  The better thing about this Chinese zoo was that the barriers were a lot less between humans and the animals which meant we got to see them fairly unobstructed and close.  At one point Maisie went running toward the tiger den not realizing there was a plexi-glass wall as a barrier.  She rammed right into it resulting in tears.  After they subsided, she told us "they closed the door on me!"

Later on, after dinner we were walking the shopping area and decided to get a small ice cream cone.  We got two with the intention to share with Maisie.  It took her all of one bite to decide it was hers instead.  She shared well, but kept her eyes intently on the ice cream to make sure she was going to get it back. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tuesday- It's official!

There is ONE LESS orphan in this world!  As of 2:30 pm local time we had our 24 hour "harmonious period" and we were taken back to the adoption office we had received Maisie and signed all the paperwork saying we would always take care of her and give her a good education and never abandon her.  Finger prints were taken including hers and we were handed the official notice of adoption.

She has done so well, considering we are messing up her schedule pretty good.  She sacked out on the way there and on the way back.  We celebrated with a good local lunch with our guide.  Maisie downed some egg drop soup, some kind of pickled veggies (that our guide said was too salty for her), some rice and veggies and some pork and meat off mine and Erik's plate.  We don't really have any reason to attribute it to the orphan food hoarding because she does say "no" to things and will stop when full, she just likes her food!

We got our dinner at the grocery store tonight.  I went over to get her some steamed buns, and she charmed the ladies behind the counter.  In the out door market we saw some pretty odd things, but the grocery store today had some pigs snouts, all sorts of animal parts including some of these lovely chicken feet.  Enjoy.

She also got a bath tonight.  I wasn't sure what she was used to or how she would do, but she loved playing in the big tub.  

She ended the evening with a small whimper and wouldn't let me rub her back but at least let me stay on the bed next to her until she fell asleep which took all of about 2 minutes.  She once again slept hard through the night for about 11 hours of which we are grateful for this good transition.