22. THE DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
met up with several of our group members at the "butfett" (one of the
signs in the hotel actually said this). The
hotel staff tried to always seat us together.
The restaurant was on the top floor and revolved, although they usually
kept it stationary at breakfast. The
breakfast buffet was quite extensive and neither Laura not I had any trouble
finding something to eat. The
coffee was again quite stout. Isha
and Mr. Gu came around and gave us instructions to be in our rooms at 9:00 and
wait for the phone call telling us to come to the disco on the 3rd floor. We gobbled down breakfast and went to our rooms.
Everyone on the 11th floor with me had their door open, kinda going from
room to room waiting for the phone. I
was in Nancy's room when her phone rang, it was the call.
Laura and I tore down to our room and a few seconds later our phone rang. It was Isha telling us to bring our gifts, money and come to
the 3rd floor meeting room. Laura
snapped a few pictures of a very excited me gathering my gift bags, clothes to
be donated to the orphanage and passport photos.
Much of the group had already arrived when we got there.
Mr. Gu was taking our passport photos and pasting them next to the
referral photos of our respective daughters.
We were then led to the disco and told to take a table, "1 table per
family please" Laura and I had the table closest to the entrance.
We could hear some of the babies crying...see flashbulbs going off in
another room down the hall and hear the comings and goings of several people.
It was all we could do to keep our seats. My pulse was racing and I was doing my best not to tear up.
At last the nannies came to the doorway with the babies.
They were lined up down the hall and you really couldn't see more than
the one in the door way. Mr. Gu
instructed us that he would call the babies name and the family was to come to
the dance floor and be presented with their daughter, Isha would take their
photo for CCAI and Mr. Gu and we could also take their picture at that time,
then he would present the next baby. I
watched as several mom's and dad's joyfully received their daughter.
Several of the babies had the cutest little pigtail on the top of their
heads, I remember wondering if Julie would. Finally I heard Mr. Gu call
"Han Tai is next", I looked over and there she was waiting in her
nanny's arms, we were next.
nanny tried to give her to me but she cried so I put my arms down and just
stepped closer. The nanny was
saying to her "mama,
mama" and she gave her to me. Julie
cried and so did I, but only for a few seconds, it was like she thought "ok
here she is my new mama". In
my arms was the most precious baby girl, my daughter Juliet Marie Tai Thompson.
I remember feeling numb, I was so overcome with emotion.
We sat down at the table while everyone else got their daughters.
The nannies' soon joined us at the tables and Julie's handed me a bottle
to give her. I remember the bottle
was very warm (to this day Julie insists her bottles are warm).
My new little daughter broke out in a sweat drinking it.
Julie was dressed in a long sleeved heavy T-shirt, homemade double-knit
pants and a pair of socks. The
clothes were kind of gray (not their original color)
they didn't smell dirty, they just looked stained.
Julie had those darling little pigtails too!
She was (and still is) beautiful, her cheeks were not nearly as large as
they appeared in her referral photo. She
had 7 teeth, 4 on top and 3 on bottom.
orphanage director gave us the babies' schedule.
They had 6 bottles a day, one of which was at 11:30 to 12:00 at night, we
were to wake them up, give them a bottle and put them back down.
He said they really weren't eating much solid food, just some at
breakfast, bits of egg and congee. He
gave us their napping schedule and we were released to go to our rooms with
instructions to return at 1:00 for the "registration".
stayed in the disco with our new daughters for about an hour. Julie's nanny also gave her some sort of cracker things.
I thought it was quite interesting, she placed one in each of her hands
but then when Julie would lift it to her mouth to eat, the nanny would push her
hands away and place a small bit of the cracker in her mouth.
Julie was quite pensive, just sitting on my lap, taking everything in.
The nanny also began playing with her, kinda doing the buzzy bee thing.
This got the first laugh out of her that I saw, when I tried she also
smiled and quietly laughed.
of the families began meandering around, saying hello to everyone and checking
out each others children. Terry
Garlock was taking videos and asked me if I'd like to borrow his camcorder, then
gave me an extra tape he had. This act of generosity is costing me big time, as
I now have to go and buy a camcorder like Terry and Julie's and of course it was
a top of the line model (Terry if you're reading this, I really did/do
appreciate your letting me borrow the camcorder!)
being dismissed Laura, Julie and I went up to our room. Laura kinda took over and said "ok mommy you run the
bath water, this baby stinks" I
probably would have waited but figured it wouldn't hurt her and I did want to
count fingers and toes so I started the bath.
While I was letting the water warm up before putting in the stopper I
heard Laura exclaim "oh my god, KK (my nickname) come here."
She had Julie's clothes and diaper off and was looking at her butt and
back. I calmly said "oh so
that's what a Mongolian spot looks like".
The apc list had prepared me for this possibility, and sure enough my
daughter has them too. I explained
that they are a common birth mark on Asian (as well as black and Hispanic my
pediatrician told me) babies and that they will fade with time.
We then plopped Julie into the tub for her first bath, she was less than
enthused about it, but when I dropped the toy keys into the water with her and
began playing with her she decided to tolerate it.
I washed her hair which she to this day still hates, and got her out
quickly. I dressed her in a little
pink one piece outfit, complete with a matching headband. It was close to nap time so I put her in the "crib"
and she was out like a light. I
then took her first sleeping picture, she didn't even stir. I spent her entire
nap sitting in a chair beside the playpen watching her sleep.
Laura had left while I was dressing Julie allowing us time alone together
to bond. It was kinda scary staring
at this wonderful little creature that had just been placed in my arms.
I was now a real live, honest to goodness, mommy.
Something that I never read in anyone else's travel stories is this:
I was not prepared for the way my child smelled.
Even after the bath she smelled, now it wasn't a urine or poop smell, it
was a funky smell. I can't describe it, but I remember thinking, oh my gosh,
this is just great - I can't stand the way my child smells. Everytime I would give her a bottle she would break out in a
sweat and smell. We bathed her
every day and she still smelled to me. Finally
about the 4th or 5th day the smell began to dissipate.
I think it was probably her diet and the way it effected her body
chemistry was different than I was used to because when we began feeding her
with more table foods and less formula the smell went away.
Anyway moving along, Julie slept for about 2 hours.
I fed her her first meal of baby cereal and bananas, she loved it.
1:00 we were to return to the disco to pay the fee to have our adoptions
registered. I thought the orphanage
director would be there, but it was only Mr. Gu.
I gave him the fee and was free the rest of the afternoon.
that night Laura phoned home to wish her 12 year old son (my step-grandson) a
happy birthday. We thought it was
kinda cool that we became mothers on the same day.
We hit the butfett for dinner that evening and discovered that Miss Julie
will eat anything. I had to decide
when she had enough as I couldn't read her cues.
I think I could have kept shoveling food in her mouth till she burst.
This too has changed since returning home.
When she's full, she will let you know.
After dinner one emotionally drained new momma and baby hit the sack.
It was probably 9:00 so I gave Julie her evening bottle, I had decided
that we were going to quickly drop the middle of the night feeding.
She was almost 10 months old and should be sleeping thru the night.
Well, we were all soundly sleeping at midnight when Julie woke us up. I
thought to myself, "oh dear this is going to be a sleepless night, probably
the first of many." No matter
what anyone might say, it's tough being awakened like that.
Well, I had a bottle prepared "just in case" and it was now
just in case time. I gave Julie her
bottle, burped her and she went right back to sleep.
Then I thought "well now this isn't so bad" and I too went back
to sleep (Laura told me the next morning she practically slept thru the entire
feeding.) The rest of our trip in
China, I gave Julie a bottle right before retiring and she slept thru the night.
She never woke up in the middle of the night again.
didn't have any official business to take care of on this day but CCAI and Mr.
Gu had arranged for a couple of vans to take us to a department store so we
could purchase more formula and have a shopping excursion.
Laura elected to stay at the hotel for the trip so Julie and I took off
with the group. I had brought a
stroller from the states with me (as well as one of those sling things which I
detested as neither Julie nor I were very comfortable in it) but it was
difficult to get me, the stroller and the baby in the van without assistance so
I left the stroller at the hotel. Well,
upon arriving at the store, Mr. Gu was helping all of us out of the van, holding
babies as you got out, etc. I was the last to get out, he took Julie from me and
then took off with me following behind. I
tried to tell him "here I'll take her now" but he replied, "no
we're fine - you shop." He
took Julie all over that store (all 4 floors), you could just tell he really
loved the children and he knew I needed the assistance and was happy to lend a
hand. It seems like whenever
something was happening that had the potential for being less than perfect, Mr.
Gu would show up. I swear that man
never slept or rested! He took
Julie several times throughout the trip (I kinda think she was one of his
favorites, but I'm prejudiced). We
made a few purchases including apple juice and formula and returned to the
in Hefei, Julie settled into a nice routine.
She would wake around 6:30 to 7:00, we'd have a shower (Laura would hand
her to me or vice versa after the other had had a chance to finish - worked
better than a bath for Julie) then hit the breakfast buffet, mess around for a
while, have a morning nap, lunch bottle and a bit of baby cereal with a banana,
hit the streets for shopping etc., afternoon bottle, nap, supper, play time,
bottle then bed for a good night's sleep. Laura
and I "tag teamed" Julie. Usually either she or I would remain in the hotel with Julie
while the other went shopping, walking, etc.
This worked out quite well as Kay (Nancy's travel bud) was always ready
to go with Laura, then Nancy and I could go out later.
Sometimes the famous Terry Garlock would join "the girls" for
an afternoon of exploring! Laura
packed one thing that initially puzzled me, however it turned out to be a
drawing card, a half gallon of bourbon. Usually
several couples would end up in our room in the evening for happy hour. Now nobody ever got drunk or even tipsy, but it was a nice
social time to unwind and compare the days "war" stories for those who
wanted to join us. Laura became
known as the groups' party queen while I was the shopping queen (I had to buy
another suitcase in Hefei to take all my "treasures" home.)
Friday we received our adoption registration certificates, then we were free to
explore for the rest of the day. On
Saturday we were beginning to get a little restless, we'd had our daughters for
4 days, were in a country who's language we didn't speak, without television
(except for Asian C-SPAN channel), without our normal "comfort" foods,
sleeping on HARD beds (have I mentioned how hard the bed are in China!), and
basically just getting a little antsy to get on with the show. Again it was Mr. Gu and Isha to the rescue. They organized an
outing for us to the local museum. I
still wasn't a real "museum" person but the gift shop at the museum
was GREAT. I made several more
purchases including one of the tapestry looking paintings found throughout China
and cloisonne (SP?) chop sticks. Isha
also arranged for a local artisan to come to the hotel with a wide variety of
chops for sale. Isha translated all of the information for our chops.
I ended up purchasing one for each of my nieces' and nephews', one that
said "Juliet Marie Tai", one that said "Karen Kelly" and one
that said "Thompson" (all in Chinese).
The prices were quite good and the quality was wonderful.
The ones for my nieces and nephews were about 12.50 each. They were a green marble looking stone with the appropriate
zodiac symbol carved in the top. (My
sister-in-law just loved the ink that came with them ;-)
other neat things I purchased in Hefei were absolutely stunning pieces of silk.
They were only around $10.00 (probably 60" X 72" in size) and
were kind of like tapestries with absolutely gorgeous designs woven in them.
I am a seamstress and have several friends who are as well, and these
were probably the best and most well liked souvenirs I picked up. During "happy hour" I showed them off and several
more people purchased them the next day! I
also picked up some cute wooden fans for about $.50 and some cute little doll
necklaces for the same price. I
went ahead and got 30 of each, thinking that someday they would make great
birthday party favors for one of Julie's birthday parties.
wasn't a whole lot else in Hefei to do besides shop (which suited me just fine)
Laura however, was getting a little bored.
The Golden Anhui Hotel is located close to a river that has parks along
it's banks. Many of us took lots of
walks along the trails. We had the weekend free for, you guessed it, more
shopping! On Monday, April 27th the
notaries came to the hotel (I guess they thought it would be easier as we had 14
families in our travel group). There
were 2 notaries and when my name was called I sat down at her table with my
money. She (the notary) was a very
small and pretty Chinese woman.
I had to fill out the paperwork stating why I wanted to adopt, that I'd
never abandon my baby, or harm her in any way (it was basically like the
adoption petition that is part of your dossier). She reviewed this and asked me
if I had any children and I told her "no just my daughter" as I
motioned to Julie. Julie was at a
nearby table sitting in Laura's arms (my stepdaughter/travel buddy).
I was starting to sprout tears at this point (I'm one of those emotional
silly ninnies) and I remember telling the notary, who was also looking at Julie,
"Isn't she beautiful", at this the notary started sprouting tears too!
Now not everyone can say that their Judge was crying with them!
It was a wonderful experience. We
finished the paperwork and all I could say was Thank you, thank you, and
Xie Xie. We both wiped away our
tears, I grabbed Julie and told her "you're really mine now!"
went upstairs and finished packing. Check
out of the hotel was pretty simple although you might note as soon as we left
the room, the maids were in there
counting towels, glasses, goodies from the refrigerator and the linen I would
imagine. Everything was accounted
for in our room except a sprite that we had drank the day before, Laura had
replaced it, but I guess they had already counted it.
Rather than make an issue of it, I just paid the bill. When one of our
social hour buddies (Terry do you recognize this?) went to check out, the staff
tried to charge them for a glass. He
told them to check our room as that was where he'd left it, he was not going to
pay for a glass! (and he didn't either).
interesting side story happened on the weekend to Laura.
She and Kay (Nancy's traveling companion) were out shopping when they
were approached by one of the locals. This
often happened to us as many were anxious to practice their "English"
on us. However, this particular
gentleman had something entirely different in mind.
He went up to Laura (who by the way is blond and quite attractive) and
tried to get her room number. He
wanted to come by and give her a massage (and he kept telling her) "I bring
you much happiness" He
followed Laura and Kay for a bit with the same line, but finally left.
We all had a great time teasing Laura about her new boyfriend who would
bring her much happiness!
flight didn't leave Hefei till around 8:00.
It was a short hop to Guangzhou. Mr.
Gu left us at the airport as he wasn't allowed in the terminal and he had
another travel group to meet and assist. We
arrived Guangzhou and were met by Alice. After
we all retrieved our luggage we boarded a bus (all our luggage went on 2 other
trucks to the hotel) and made our way to the Victory.
The ride to the Victory was quite interesting, it was kind of like
partially stepping back into the west. When
we passed a Hard Rock Cafe and
McDonalds a rousing cheer was heard from the passengers!
I think we were all ready for a taste of home.
It was close to 11:00 before we all got checked in and to our rooms. (this is one of my few complaints about the trip,
It would have been much easier on our babies to travel during the day so
we could have gotten them to bed at a decent hour).
Laura and Kay were soooooo hungry for western mystery meat, they ventured
off at 11:00 over the canal and down the street to the McDonalds.
I felt really sorry for them when they returned to the hotel empty
handed.....it was closed!
had to be downstairs at 8:30 ready to go and have our passport/visa
photos made for our children. We
had some very cranky babies. The
photo store was right around the corner from the hotel and we all walked.
It was then off to the clinic for the physicals.
First Julie was weighed (18#) and measured (27 inches) then a doctor laid
her down, which made her scream, and felt around on her stomach and listened to
her heart. Another nurse (complete
with one of those old fashioned round light reflectors on her forehead -
remember Dr. Kildare?) looked in Julie's ears, mouth and eyes.
By this time she was really screaming!
Oh did I mention she had truly bonded with me and HATED for anyone to try
and take her from her mama? Julie
was pronounced healthy and we were free to roam the rest of the day.
Miss Julie was promptly taken back to the hotel and put down for a nap.
Her bed at the Victory was quite unique. When I first saw it late the
night before, I thought, "hummmm that's different"
it was all covered by a homemade throw cover kind of thing.
I got to really looking at it and discovered it was actually two barrel
chairs tied together and a homemade mattress covered the chair pads.
It worked! Julie had no
complaints. After her nap Julie had
her first Happy Meal, mama and Sissy (her 36 year old stepsister, Laura) had Big
Macs. Under normal circumstances I
rarely eat at Mc D's, but it was wonderful!
By this time we were all ready to board that plane heading home.
Many of us felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz......"there's no
place like home, there's no place like home..."
appointments were the next day, ours
was around 10:30. Alice took our
money for the registration, BUT she couldn't take our travelers checks.
This turned out to be a hassle as we had to have part of our paperwork
before the cashier would cash our checks and it was upstairs in the interview
room. So one of the group went back
to the rest of the group to get it. We
were trying to not lose our place in the line that was practically out the door
and make it back upstairs before our names were called.
Alice disappeared to get another groupies homestudy as one of us was
having some sort of difficulty. But everything turned out OK.
It was just a case of nerves for some of us. We got our travels checks
cashed and made our appointment. It
just so happened that the gentleman who interviewed me was the same one I had
spoken with on the phone a few weeks earlier and he had lived in San Angelo for
a short time while in the military. He
was very nice and soon we were done.
leaving the consulate we headed to the Deli Shop at the White Swan,where we had
lunch, it was quite good and inexpensive. We
met an English pediatrician there who works at a hospital in Guangzhou.
He was quite interesting and had many tales to tell.
I wish we could have spent more time with him, but he had to return to
work. That evening we dined at the famous "Lucy's", they
have an outdoor patio and a very relaxed atmosphere. We also hit all the close shops, including the Shop on the
Stairs and Jennifer's.
next day a bus was chartered and we went to a local temple and the Jade Market.
Oh boy did I ever have a good time there.
I think one of the husbands of the group has forbid his wife from ever
hanging around me, I bought a
really nice strand of freshwater pearls (and so did she) as well as a jade ring
and bracelet. The prices were
excellent! and the quality of the jade is outstanding.
I saw one piece of purple jade that was exquisite, however it was
definitely out of my price range (over $1000), but it was beautiful. The temple was quite beautiful, it was right out of a
postcard. A few of the more
industrious of our group climbed the pagoda, but most of us remained on the
ground waving up at the climbers.
trip back to the hotel gave us a glance into the local traffic (it was
It was interesting to note, there is no horn honking in Guangzhou which
was quite nice. Shanghai was the
horn honking capitol of the world! It
seemed like it took forever to get back to the Victory but in actuality it was
probably only an hour or so. That
evening several of us took taxi's over to the Hard Rock Cafe.
I'd never been to one, but everyone said it's just like they have at
home. The food was wonderful.
I highly recommend the chocolate shake!
Later when I got home I told my aunt about eating here and she was most
disappointed I didn't get a t-shirt from here for my cousin, but I didn't know
he collected them.........oh well.....next time I will!
only other tense moment of our trip occurred around 4:00 that day, when one of
our groups phone rang. It was the
embassy wanting to know who was going to pick up all of our visa packets as they
were closing in 15 minutes. Apparently Alice had gotten caught up in traffic.
Jim, whom they called is quite fit and took off running!
It's only a couple of blocks to the embassy so he got there in plenty of
time. We were just thankful that
the embassy called and everything turned out all right.
Jim passed a frantic friend of Alices' on his way back from the embassy,
he brought all the packets to our room (yes we were still the happy hour room)
and we passed them all out.
evening Nancy, Kay, Laura and I went to the White Swan for dinner,
I didn't realize it, but they have 9 restaurants in the hotel.
We ate at one of the casual ones on the second floor.
It was wonderful, I would have loved to have spent more time at the White
Swan, it is really something! We had to have our luggage outside our doors at
11:30 pm for pick up. We all slept
in the nudie rudie and only kept out the minimal of toiletries.
We had to be up at 5:00 am, downstairs at 6:00 and on our way to the
airport. Leaving Guangzhou was kind of bittersweet, you are sooooooooo ready to
be home and yet you have a funny kinda melancholy feeling about leaving your
daughters Homeland. Upon arriving at the Guangzhou airport, we put our luggage
on the scales. Laura had decided to check her carryon along with her BIG
suitcase, but her BIG suitcase was overweight.
The airline people told us that she would need to pay for the extra
weight. Laura went over to the
other counter and came back VERY upset, it cost almost $600.00 for the one
overweight suitcase. Now my two
combine suitcases weighed more than her one (remember I had to buy an additional
suitcase in Hefei) but they went on how much each piece weighed as well as the
total, so don't overload on one suitcase cuz it will cost you big bucks!
Laura tried to fight it both in Hong Kong and here in the states but to
flights first took us to Hong Kong, where we had one of those "barely"
layovers, again in Hong Kong the
jet landed on the runway (duh), and you get off onto the tarmac.
We all crowded into busses and made our way to the terminal.
We only had a few minutes to spare before boarding for San Francisco. This flight was 12.5 hours long and I was really dreading it,
but Julie was an angel. She
probably slept for about 6 hours of the flight and was content to sit on my or
Laura's lap. One thing I didn't
estimate correctly was the number of hours between wet diaper changes and she
leaked through her one outfit so I had to put her back in her pajamas (I didn't
want to chance an accident with her "get off the plane in San Angelo"
outfit). I never slept on the
flight, everytime Julie would stir I would be at attention. It was such a relief
on the flight, they brought us tray with baby food (her first) and we didn't
have to mess with chopping up "adult" food, talk about heaven!
One of the flight attendants told me that this was one of the best groups
of babies they'd had on board, she also told me they (United) probably averaged
about 10 babies per flight! We
arrived San Francisco without mishap, easily cleared customs and immigration.
Of course Laura and I were the last to clear it, but we made our
connection. San Francisco to Dallas
was a wonderful flight, my mother had upgraded us to 1st class with her frequent
flyer miles. I'm sure when two
weary, red eyed, frumpled haired women with a baby got on the plane and sat down
the passengers thought "oh great a baby to scream the whole way"
WRONG, right after we took off I laid Julie in the floor on a blanket and
she went right to sleep and slept the entire flight, again the flight attendants
were most impressed with my new daughter.
last leg of our journey was on what I fondly refer to as a crop duster (American
Eagle, prop plane). Soon we were
pulling into San Angelo! We'd only
been up for 29 hours straight! We
got off the plane and the entire town had shown up.
All my family had come in from Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas, Tenn., and
New Mexico. There were probably 75
people at the tiny little airport. My
nieces and nephews were all dressed in red and white and most of the adults were
in red, white, and blue. They were
all carrying American Flags and when we entered the terminal (oh did I mention
in San Angelo you land and take the stairs off the plane ;-)
there was a rousing cheer. Many
were crying tears of joy and I lifted Julie into what my niece calls "The
Simba" pose high above my head. Julie
went right to my mom and sister and
to take it all in stride (of course mama was never far from her).
Out side was a white stretch limo waiting to take us home.
Our luggage didn't make the tight connection in San Francisco, so we all
headed home for the 1st "Welcome Home Julie" party.
My sister, aunt and sister-in law had decorated the outside of my house
in every red, white and blue decoration known to mankind.
There were stars hanging from the trees and banners everywhere.
A friend had obtained one of those yard signs and had it placed at the
house. One of the neatest things though, were the roses that God sent. My roses were blooming like I'd never seen them bloom, they
were beautiful and just fit in with all the red, white and blue!
Many pictures were taken in front of them.
sister and her family stayed with me helping for a week, mom and the rest of the
gang only stayed the weekend. I
know that some suggest peace and quite for the first few weeks, but for us
having everyone here was just wonderful. It was cleared with me first though,
and my thoughts were you're going to be
dog tired anyway
what's another couple of hours. Everyone
was very considerate of my state of exhaustion,
I took a Tylenol PM and drifted off. Linde (sister) put Julie to bed.
Julie slept through the night as did I.
second night however, Julie woke up around midnight and Linde taught me about
Disney sing-a-long videos...They're great.
Linde and Julie joined me in bed and we watched the same video about 3
times before Julie wound down enough to go back to her bed.
And that was that, she was on central standard time from that point on.
have been extremely blessed, Julie is an exceptionally easy child.
She smiles and giggles often and rarely fusses.
I've taken her to Tupperware parties (I detest those things but the
hostess begged and insisted I bring
and inevitably the other women will comment on how lucky I have it. She will eat
anything that is placed in front of her. So
far her growth curve has been a straight line, she's now up to 23 # and 31"
tall. Our first visit
the pediatrician was great and he was very pleased with her health.
We tested her for several things and came back clean on all (one baby in
our group did however have giardia-a parasite that you can get here too).
I can't tell you how much joy and happiness this precious gift has given
me. I get kind of miffed when
people tell me how lucky she is, because I am truly the lucky one!