We made it! The trip was pretty flawless but tiring. 13 Hours on a plane is not my idea of a good time but we are thankful that we all made it in one piece. It is Saturday afternoon around 2:30 p.m. here in Nanning. That would be 1:30 a.m. at home. We just got here around 12:30 p.m. and immediately went to lunch. Our guide directed us to a restaraunt and made sure that we had someone to take our order that could speak some English (I said some). We all ended up ordering the same "safe" thing - soy burger and fries. The language barrier is very difficult. You end up drawing a lot of pictures with your hands. We have designated Nancy as our artist when needed. This morning at the airport hotel, she had to draw a picture of a toilet to the front desk personnel. She must have drawn a pretty good one because it didn't take them two seconds to finally realize what she was asking for. Although, when she returned she said she didn't understand why they were able to recognize it because her picture did not represent the "squat room" that she had to use.
We stayed at the airport hotel last night and it was very different. Matthew learned quickly that you do not mess with any items in the room that you are not sure about. He decided to play with the air conditioning remote and we woke up to a freezing cold room this morning. Our guide last night called ahead and had them turn on the air in our rooms. Yes, the hallway and entrance to the hotel was HOT. The best way to describe the humidity/temperature is to picture the way it feels when you get into your car and close the door in the summertime when it has been sitting in the sun.
We met our guide here in Nanning and he has been very helpful the past few hours. We are resting this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon we will meet back up and attend a travel meeting and then off to Wal-Mart we go. They are taking us there to purchase items for our children that we will be meeting on Monday afternoon!!!! I am getting more excited as the time gets near.
I have loaded some pictures but can only see one so I don't know if the others will actually come across. One picture is of Julia's bed that the tried to roll into Mom and Nancy's room. They quickly directed the gentleman to my room. I actually was looking at the guy like who is that for and then it dawned on me why he was bringing it. I quickly had to unpack her toys and place them in the crib.
The other pictures that I tried to load are from the Tokoyo airport. We had just gotten off of the 13 hour plane trip and were about to board our last 4 hour flight. If you can see them, everyone is exhausted.
Okay, lastly, the Croc story. To all of you who are thinking about wearing Crocs on your trip and will be walking down airport hallways - BE Careful. Crocs do not give on that floor and instantly become a hazard when trying to walk without falling on your face. :) We got some good entertainment in Memphis when Mother almost tripped, Nancy was playing around and decided to hold her arm so she could walk straight and then both of them hit the floor in the middle of the airport. After, and only after, I saw they were okay, did I have a good laugh and I am still laughing. Luckly, no one was hurt. We have decided that we need to do a brief re-enactment for the camera but haven't found the public forum for such picture.
Well, Matthew is already asleep taking an afternoon, jet lag recovering, siesta. Just wanted to let everyone know that we made it and we are doing well. I miss you Tim, Carson and Chase and cannot wait to show you pictures of Julia. The ones that adopted "Emily" are right next door to us in the hotel so Julia will have someone that she recognizes to play with. I wish all of you guys were here with us. We love You. Leah
Yes, I am making three different blogs tonight because I haven't figured out how to get the pictures to not load one after another without being able to write between each. Aunt Jen, Uncle Brian and Cousin Megan need to be introduced. Although they live in Colorado, they have actively been involved in helping us to get Julia home and have kept up with us throughout the entire process. Julia wouldn't have ten pairs of pajamas from Gymboree if it wasn't for Aunt Jen and her mom. Okay, maybe not exactly ten but close to it. Megan was born last year and is only two months older than Carson. Yes, Jen and I were pregnant at the same time last year. I was fortunate enough to be able to fly there right after Megan's birth and spend some time with them. It was great. Megan and Carson, although cousins, look like twins. Next time we visit them, we'll have to pull a Chevy Chase Vegas Vacation stunt and pull up in an RV with four kids and tie into their sewer system.:)
One more day and we are on our way!! It is still so surreal that this is really happening and that I will have a daughter in less than a week. Julia is going to be so blessed with family. Tonight, her Aunt Cindy, Grandma Kay and Cousin Olivia cooked a huge farewell meal for us that was awesome. Oliva helped create a poster for us giving us a great farewell message and even had the table decorated with a red tablecloth, fresh red and white flowers - China themed. Thank you guys it really made us feel special and just made us even more excited to know that Julia is going to have such a loving family. Grandma Kay crocheted her name for us. Julia has no clue how much she is already loved. Olivia cannot wait to get her hands on Julia. She is going to be great with her.
Grandma Carol, Grandpa Jim and Aunt Kasey came by tonight to see us before we leave for China. Carson got to stay up extra late and play. Tim got his first "dinner for when we leave" delivery. Thank you, Grandma Carol. Next time we see you guys, we'll have our daughter!
Two more days and we are off, off to China. Here is our schedule:
NOTE: China is 12 hours ahead of CST
Thursday, July 20th - Take off from Montgomery airport to Memphis; Memphis to Detroit; Detroit to Tokoyo; Tokoyo to Guangzhou and then we get to rest our heads for about seven hours at the airport hotel.
Saturday, July 22nd - Fly from Guangzhou to Nanning. We will be met by our guide who will be holding a sign with our name (in English). We will check into The Wharton International.
Sunday, July 23rd - Sightsee, shop, eat, etc.
Monday, July 24th - GOTCHA DAY!!!!! We will take a bus to the Civil Affairs Office in Nanning where we will meet our daughter. They will bring our daughters in one at a time comparing our passport photos to our face and then her TA picture to her face and then hand us our children. I am told they will then take us to Wal-Mart to get the necessary items that our children might need. Wal-Mart?? Of all the places to start your bonding process, go figure. We will then go back to the hotel and spend the day getting to know each other.
Tuesday, July 25th - Go back to the CAO to complete paperwork for her province.
Wednesday, July 26th - Shop and sightsee
Thursday, July 27th - Shop and sightsee
Friday, July 28th - Check out and fly to Guangzhou. We will be met by another guide holding a sign up with our name on it (again, in English).
Saturday, July 29th - Medical exam for Julia?
Sunday, July 30th - Sightsee and shop
Monday, July 31st - Consulate appointment
Tuesday, August 1st - Consulate ceremony
Wednesday, August 2nd - Leave Guangzhou and fly to Tokoyo; Tokoyo to Detroit; Detroit to Memphis and on to Montgomery. We are supposed to arrive at the Montgomery airport around 8:50 p.m.
Wednesday, August 2nd @ 9:00 p.m. - Tim's GOTCHA DAY as he gets to meet his daughter for the first time.
Okay, while I have three more days until traveling - 3 more DAYS - I figured I would back up and give a little info on Julia. Julia, Hua Yu Fen, was born on 11-27-04 in the City of Yulin, Province of Guangxi. Julia was abandoned at the gates of a medical clinic at the age of 10 days old. Her parents left a note on her giving her a name and a date of birth. Someone found her and gave her to a police officer who then took her to the station where she waited and was transferred to the Yulin Social Welfare Institute. She was born with a bilateral cleft lip (no palate involved). In the picture above you will see her after surgery with her foster mother. She had surgery in October of 2005 to correct her lip. She will visit the Cleft Clinic in B'ham to be evaluated to see if she will need another surgery.
In the group photo above, you will see Lori and her family. They traveled in March to get their second child. They asked to meet Julia and took pictures for us. You will see Julia in the red outfit being held by her foster father with her foster mother standing beside her. She looks like they have taken really good care of her and I am so thankful for that. Her hair is fixed in the traditional chinese hairdo and she looks clean.
One week from tomorrow Julia's life will be changed forever. I can only hope that they have started talking to her about me and that she has been looking at our pictures since February. We sent her a big keyring of laminated photos of us so that she can flip them around and look at her family. I also gave them two disposable cameras so that they can take pictures of her for surroundings and everyday events for me to give her later in life.
I have packed and repacked several times. We have to take several gifts to be given to the foster parents, the guides, the orphanage director, etc. Organizing those and the gift wrap has been the hardest thing. There are so many little things that you have to remember that it starts to make you absolutely crazy.