Charlie's Home Page
Charlie Rose Xiaoxuan Thompson came into our lives on August 18th 1999. Soon after returning from China where I'd adopted Julie, I knew it was time to begin the adoption process again. Because it had taken sooooooo long to get Julie, I did not want to wait for months to initiate the proceedings. In July 1998 (I had just gotten home with Julie in May) I contacted CCAI who had decided to waive the usual 6 month wait due to the long referral wait time and in August I began again. Completing the dossier paper work was much faster the second time around. My social worker simply had to update my homestudy adding Julie to it. Of course it was a complete new homestudy, but my history hadn't changed and Debbie (my social worker) still had everything in her computer. I had my update in a few weeks (I think it took longer to get an appointment set up). Everything was sent to INS, who had decided to change their procedures on fingerprinting (yuck yuck yuck). I had to drive 4 hours (each way) to be fingerprinted in San Antonio, Texas. I was living in San Angelo, Texas at the time and it is a LONG drive to go anywhere (all of you from the Northeast who wonder why Texans fly so much......well now you know.) As soon as I got my I-171H back everything went to CCAI for translation. My dossier was sent to China on December 2, 1998. I thought that was great, given the year or so from DTC (dossier to China) to referral and travel, we'd be going to China in November or December and it would be cool! WRONG.
In December, I had unsubscribed from the apc list as I just didn't have time to keep up with all the email generated in that group. I was working full time. I usually put in around 50 to 60 hours per week and it was too much. I had to pay someone to pick up Julie from day care almost everyday as they really didn't want the children there over 10 hours per day......imagine that. My mother came down from Oklahoma and stayed with me a lot. When she was there she and Julie would get up at their leisure and get ready. She would take Julie to day care in time for lunch and the afternoon activities, then I would pick her up after I got off work. Mom (also a widow) and I had decided it really would make sense to cohabitate and we began looking for a house in San Angelo. Fortunately we could not find a house we could both live in together (we wanted 2 master bedrooms for one thing) that was in our price range (sure there were $500,000 homes but.....). We decided the main reason we were looking in San Angelo was because of my job and that if I moved back to Oklahoma we could add onto mom's house and I could stay home with my daughters. I gave notice at work and quit to stay home (I've spent 2.5 years home with my daughters now and it has been the best decision of my life!!!) In January 1999 I put my house on the market, I just put a sign in the yard and in April it sold. I moved home with Julie the same day they laid the carpet in my new room. Talk about timing.
I still wasn't getting apc emails and hadn't subscribed to the CCAI email list when one of my fellow group 81ers sent an email to all of us updating us on her daughter. At the end of the email she included a little note saying "Karen I'll bet you're getting excited, I just saw on the CCAI list where they are matching Novembers!" Talk about panic. Here it was May and they were matching November dossiers already. I wasn't ready, it was early summer.... wait!!!!!!! I knew what those parents who are blessed with a surprise pregnancy feel like! Julie wasn't even 2 years old yet, she was still in diapers. "Oh well" I thought, "here we go". (I re-subscribed to the apc list and the CCAI list!)
June 22, 1999
My sister and her family were down from Nebraska visiting. I was fixing lunch when the phone rang, I just happened to look down at the caller ID and it said Chinese Children...... I had a bag of cheese in my hand and I threw it at my sister with a wide eyed expression on my face. It was Kat! "Oh Mommy, I'm looking at another picture......" She told me Guan Xiaoxuan was waiting for me in Kunming, Yunnan China. She was 10.5 months old, she would be 1 on 8/8/99 (double 8's very lucky in China....we will return to China, arriving on 8/8/01) I asked Kat if she was pretty, and Kat assured me she was. She also told me her name, Xiaoxuan, means determined in Chinese. Tears and thanks were offered. I now (almost) had two daughters, 13 months apart in age. I had wanted my daughters to be close in age. My little sister who is 4 years younger than I, said it always felt like I was so much older than her when we were growing up (she assures me this is no longer the case). We all dressed up in our red, white and blue and waited to accost the Fed-Ex man. I asked him if he'd ever delivered a baby before, he replied no and I told him he now had. He waited around to see Rose's picture. (I had intended naming my daughter Charlie Rose, and calling her Rose......but that's another story!)
My sister agreed to accompany me to China to get Rose. She drove down with her family the weekend before we left. On August 12th we boarded a United flight to San Francisco. We had to change planes in Denver where we met up with Heidi and Dieter who were also in our group heading to Kunming. Heidi, Dieter and I had corresponded via email after we'd gotten our referrals. I had always planned on traveling to Hong Kong earlier than the rest of the group and Heidi and Dieter came as well. In San Francisco we caught a 1:00 am Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong. It was a pretty uneventful flight. Wait a minute......this must be like labor...you tend to forget unpleasant things! There were two small children on this flight who were the most unruly children I've ever had the misfortune to come in contact with. They were around 4 and 5 and they screamed and I do mean screamed the entire flight. Now I'm sure you think I'm probably exaggerating, well I'm not. The only 2 times they were quite was once when dinner was served they were quiet for about 20 minutes and the other was when they both happened to be asleep, unfortunately this only lasted for 1 hour and 13 minutes (I timed it) I asked the stewardess if she had any valium, if not for the kids then for the passengers around them. She smiled sweetly, but you could tell they were bugging her too. I found out that after we disembarked in Hong Kong the flight was continuing on to India and the children were going there as well. I could only hope my daughter didn't do this on the flight home, but if she did.....tough, I'd done my time now everyone else could too! (She didn't)
We arrived in Hong Kong at approximately 6:00 am. We all cleared customs without any problems. Joshua from CCAI had given us instructions on navigating the Hong Kong airport and train system. We took a train (it was more like a very high speed tram) to Kowloon where we caught a bus to our hotel. We stayed at the Kowloon Shangri La. Again Joshua had made arrangements for us to arrive early and WAY before check-in time. The Kowloon Shangri La has got to be one of the most spectacular hotels in the world (it doesn't have a waterfall in the lobby like the White Swan, but the rooms are about 10 times nicer.) We were told it would be a 5 star hotel and they were right. It was certainly the fanciest hotel I'd ever stayed in. The best part was we had our wonderful group rate for the extra two nights too! When Linde and I got to our room there was a basket tea cozy filled with hot jasmine tea waiting for us. I adore jasmine tea, Linde doesn't so I drank the whole pot. We had all decided to take a short nap (yeah right). Our one hour nap turned into about 3 and in all honesty it wasn't enough. Linde and I met Heidi and Dieter in the lobby and we decided to go off exploring. Dieter who is at least 6'3" led the way. It was easy to follow his lead through the crowds of people on the side walks. We went in several shops but didn't purchase anything. Linde, who is not the most adventurous connoisseur of epigastric delights and had been warned their may not be very much "western" food in Kunming decided we would eat dinner at McDonalds. So we did. McDonalds in Hong Kong tastes just like the one in Stillwater, Oklahoma. We turned in early and had a wonderful night's sleep.
The next morning we hooked up with Heidi and Dieter (who had eaten a wonderful Chinese dinner.....lucky ducks!) and went touring. Dieter had discovered a tour ferry of the harbor, tickets and boarding were close to the hotel so we all went. It was rather interesting to see, although the tour was conducted in English as well as Chinese it was almost impossible to understand due to the accent of the guide and the static in the loud speaker. One thing that was particularly interesting was the old Hong Kong Airport. I'd heard how hairy it was to land there. I can see why, the runway is in the sea. It was literally built right in the sea on a man made land pier. We also made contact with two other couples from our group who had decided to come 1 day early.
The next morning I went downstairs to meet the rest of the group and Tommy our Hong Kong guide. He told us to be in the lobby at 11:00 for touring. Our first stop was a Dim Sum restaurant...at last Chinese food (my sister smuggled a peanut butter sandwich in the restaurant). We then went several places including Stanley Market and Victoria Peak. It was a wonderful day of touring. On our way to Stanley market we passed the "high rent" district. Tommy told us that here real estate sold for about $1500 US per square foot. We also passed the Yacht Club, it makes you wonder, where does all this money come from (and how can I get some!) I would have liked more time at the Stanley Market, but we were able to purchase a couple of tee-shirts. I was waiting for Guangzhou and Kunming for the bulk of my shopping as I really didn't want to schlep all my purchases all over China. After Stanley Market we were taken to a jade jewelry factory and given a tour and instructions on distinguishing real pearls from fakes. Then of course they opened the display room aka store for us. After shopping we all boarded the bus and headed up Victoria Peak. We stopped before reaching the absolute top but we were most of the way up and given a spectacular view of Hong Kong.
After returning to the hotel that evening most of the group crashed, however Heidi, Dietier, Linde and I were pretty much already on "China" time and the four of us went out for another walk. Dieter and Heide (who are in much better shape than my sister and I) decided to take a longer/faster walk and Linde and I were left to meander around the streets of Hong Kong. We had another gourmet meal at McDonalds (Linde was starving, the Dim Sum lunch really hadn't filled her up......imagine that!) We too then retired after packing to check out in the morning.
We were met at the airport in Kunming by Richard and Mr. Gu. After gathering our mountain of bags we were taken to the Banks Hotel. A recently opened 4 star hotel in Kunming. The lobby was very nice and had a beautiful sweeping staircase up to the second floor. All 10 families checked in (11 if you count one couples parents who accompanied them.....they were great, they became the groups official grandma and grandpa) and we were split onto 2 floors. About half of the families had rooms with the cutest baby beds in them and the rest of us had two chairs pushed together with a blanket for our babies. Some of the parents were VERY upset at this arrangement. We asked the hotel if they had any more baby beds and were told no they didn't. Although, not ideal, I thought it would probably work especially when I tied the chair legs together. Still I fired off an email to CCAI letting them know the situation and if they planned on having other adoption groups stay here they should be aware of the situation. I was very nice about the whole thing, but lo and behold what should appear in our rooms the next morning......... cute little baby beds like the rest of the group had! I guess it's not what you know, but who you know! After meeting the flippy floppy Charlie Rose, I was glad to have a proper baby bed!