We started out on Wednesday August 16 with a flight to LA. We stayed at the Ramada hotel and enjoyed taking showers and eating drinks with ice in them. Because we knew that we wouldnít be able to once we were in China. We met some of our travel group that was also staying at the same hotel. These people who were strangers would soon become family.
August 17-18, 2000
The next morning we started meeting up with parts of our group. We were all very excited and nervous. We met the Sagely family when they arrived, leaving our luggage with the rest of our group in the international lounge. We took quite a bit of it with eight families. There were a total of 19 of us in group 213. Our flight left for Hong Kong at 2:45 PM on Thursday. For most of the flight Jeff and I stayed awake! Since we had the last rows in plane we were able to stand and walk around. Cassie tried to stay awake but went to sleep about 6 hours into the flight. We were able to look out the window flying over Alaska and saw some icebergs. During the flight, we had a great time getting to know our travel mates. We arrived in Hong Kong at 8:45 p.m. on Friday night and were met by Matthew who got us to the Shangri-La Hotel. Wow, what a place! It was so beautiful. We all were so tired that most of us didnít realize how truly beautiful it was until the next day.
August 19, 2000
After breakfast, we took a walking tour on our own along the bay, then meet back at the hotel with Matthew to tour Hong Kong. We went to the top of Victoria peak and saw many wonderful things along the way. We were all amazed at the cemetery, and at the fact that burial sites in China are only purchased for a temporary burial. We also loved seeing all of the Chinese children. But we were just getting a taste of China traffic! We also learned a lot about the Chinese traditions!
August 20, 2000
In the morning Joanna met us and she helped us get to the airport on time. She also taught us some Chinese that our daughters would know like Hello, Thank you, I love you, Mama, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa for both sets and Aunt and Uncle. We had so much fun that the bus ride was over before it began.
We left at 12:45 p.m. for Nanchang! We were all so excited we would get the babies today! James met us at the airport and got us safely to the Jinfeng Hotel. I have never seen such traffic in my life. James said that he would call us when the babies arrived. At 2:30 some of the babies arrived but we were told when we arrived at Jamesí room that the Yongxiu babies would be arriving later. We were so happy for the others in our group, but a little sad that we had to wait. It was wonderful to watch our friends become families with their new little ones.
We received the call at 5:00 PM that Vickie was here!!! We rushed down to Jamesí room, with all of the families either all coming back or sending someone to take pictures. Michelle and Tonyís oldest son, Brandon, took pictures for us. We were the second of the three families to get our daughter and I couldnít believe when they handed her to me. The minute she realized her nanny had disappeared she let us all know that she wasnít happy! We received wonderful gifts from the orphanage (clay pottery, red bag of dirt from the orphanage grounds, and her story written in Chinese on a red handkerchief.) We went back to our room to change her clothes and put her in her first diaper! This was fun for us, but she didnít like the diaper at all. She let us feed her an 8 ounce bottle of formula, and finally cried herself to sleep at about 8:00 PM. We called her Grammy and Grandpa to let them know she had arrived. She is so wonderful!
August 21, 1999
We went to the registrarís office and registered the adoption. The appointment went smoothly. They asked us if we were satisfied with our baby and if we had ever seen the referral picture. That afternoon Vickie and Cassie played for quite a while. Vickie is very taken with her big sister! She is still having a hard time and is grieving so much. I hope it passes soon, but I also know it is a good sign for us.
Nanchang is different than anything I have ever experienced before. Not only is the traffic wild but there is such poverty here. You see multi-million dollar buildings next to apartments that are falling apart. Some didnít even have a roof, yet people were still living in them. We look out our hotel window and see families living on the roof of the buildings next to us. It is so sad that these people have to live like this. James says that the unemployment rate is very high here.
August 22, 2000
Today we went to a huge department store. It was so crowded. It was as bad as back home at Christmas! James keeps calling it a smaller Chinese city but I havenít seen this many people in my entire life. The area around the city is mostly farm land and many of the people who live in the city are farmers, they take buses to work in the fields each day. Nanchang covers about the same area as Colorado Springs, but there are 6 times as many people in the same space so it is very crowded (Three million people.) The other thing we noticed is that there arenít any individual houses -- just apartments.
August 23, 2000
Vickie is ours! We traveled to Jiu Jiang to see the Notary (these are the Chinese judges). They signed the papers after asking us a few questions. Our adoption is final. The countryside we travel through was just beautiful. On the way home we stopped at Vickieís orphanage. It is located in the small town of Yongxiu. Seeing how run down the town was, made the trip to the orphanage so scary. We were all sure that we would find the worst; it turned out to be so nice! At first, we were not going to be allowed to go inside, and then they said that we could look around but no pictures, and then that also changed and we could take some pictures, that we will treasure forever. It was very clean and well kept. Each group of babies lived in their own little apartment with their nanny. It was very trying on Vickie. It was very evident that she and her nanny loved each other very much. Vickie was crying so much that Cassie and I took her and sat on the bus to calm her down. Cassie kept telling her that there are pine trees like here at our house too. It was very emotional on me also, so we needed the calm. Vickie settled down just in time to leave. It was an experience I wouldnít have missed for anything.
We stopped at a river temple on the way back to Nanchang and learned a little more about the culture of the land where Vickie came from. It is so green and beautiful here and the people we meet are just so nice and helpful. In the mountains that we drove by the emperorís have a spring palace. I wish we would have had time to go there, but it was either the palace or the orphanage and you know what we all picked.
When we got back to the hotel it was like Vickie realized that she was staying with us. She went to bed happy and even smiled at her daddy. She even enjoyed her bath with Cassie before going to bed!
August 24, 2000
Today we had a free morning and then we went to a dressmakers shop to order dresses. We purchased matching dresses for each of us girls. But boy did we draw crowds of people all wanting to see and touch the babies. Jeff didnít help matters he started giving out quarters to the kids. Wow it didnít take long and I think every kid in a square mile showed up. I was glad that Jeff brought so many quarters! When we got back to the hotel Jeff had a chinese massage. Vickie sure didnít like having someone in our room that she didnít think belonged there. Cassie and I took her for a walk around the hotel floor, you can look up and down to every floor through the center opening. Jeff said it was the best massage he has ever had.
August 25, 2000
Today we went to the Nanchang zoo. It wasnít like anything we were used to, but some how it fit with Nanchang. After we got back to the hotel, James called us to his room because he had the orphanage answers to the questions we gave them. He told us how Vickie was found and that the Assistant Director named her. She was just hours old when they found her at the gates of the orphanage. She was also found with a piece of red cloth tied to her ankle. Her birth date was written on the cloth. But James said that most all the orphanages claim this but he said that he wouldnít believe it because this would lead the police to the families that left the baby. We were also told that she wasnít allergic to anything but maybe her new environment and that she was a very strong willed baby. We then met up with the rest of our group and shopped for chops, the Chinese use these to sign documents. They are made of stone and are carved with zodiac animals on the top and have our names written in both our Chinese and English on them. We ordered one for each of us plus some for BT and Anna and our friends in Orlando.
August 26, 2000
Today was a day to relax. Boy did we need it. Vickie was able to get on schedule again for naps and her food. She is a much, much happier baby. She is having so much fun playing with her big sister. She is even playing with her daddy and mommy a lot more. We are all totally in love. What a great blessing. Our family is now complete. God is so good! He chose just the baby for us. She is even stubborn like the rest of us. There was a wedding at the hotel today and when we went to the play area with the other families, there were kids everywhere. They all had so much fun playing with our new babies. Our travel group is so great and I know I have made friends that I hope will last a lifetime! I donít think there is a better group of people anywhere.
August 27, 2000
Our last night in Nanchang! We are all tired of being in one place. The factories we were going to tour today were closed, so we just stayed in our room and enjoyed watching old TV shows (in English, no less.) James did take a group to a porcelain factory and to a museum, but we decided not to go. Jeff wants us to buy souvenirs in Guangzhou. Our chops and dresses arrived and they are awesome! Vickieís turned out to be more of a top than a dress so I will make her a little black skirt like Cassieís and mine. One more week and we will be home. I canít wait to sleep in my own bed. I hope our dear little one does well on the plane because by the end of the week we will have a very long flight to get through. Today she has really blossomed with lots of smiles and giggles! She smiles each time she sees her mommy! It is so wonderful. She is also rolling over. She has also started not going to anyone but Jeff, Cassie or I. The orphanage was right -- she does have a temper and a will of her own. Nobody is perfect but she is close. I have been blessed with two perfect daughters!
August 28, 2000
Our last day in Nanchang! James provided a wonderful lunch for us all. We even had birthday cake for one of our group whose 40th birthday is today. Vickie isnít so sure she likes cake! All of us will miss James. He is absolutely the best!! I wish there was some way to keep in touch.
Monday p.m. We made it to Guangzhou. It is late and we are still waiting on Vickieís crib and Cassieís rollaway bed. Alice is doing everything she can. Vickie seemed to like the plane ride. Of course, with Peter and Jeff feeding her crackers the whole time, why wouldnít she!
August 29, 2000
This morning we had the babiesí physicals. Vickie passed with flying colors. We then took our lives in our hands and walked to McDonalds for lunch. We took a taxi back to the hotel. Traffic is still crazy here too. Even though it was water buffalo and didnít taste exactly like home. It was worth the walk for a taste from home. While Jeff finished up our papers for tomorrow, Cassie, Vickie and I shopped. We had so much fun. Vickie loves her stroller and looking at all the fun things to buy. She just fits into our family so perfectly.
August 30, 2000
We had our American Consulate appointment this morning! For months, we heard it was the hardest thing to get through in China, we should watch every word we said, hope that the people were in good moods, etc. It was the easiest part of the entire trip. The only question we were asked was whether we were wanted her to get her immunizations done in Guangzhou or when we got home. Then we had to swear that we told him the truth on the forms, and we had her visa approved. He said that he could tell we were a CCAI family because all of our paper work was in perfect order! Alice is taking us all to the Hard Rock Cafť to celebrate tonight!
August 31, 2000
Today is a free day. The Hard Rock Cafť was awesome. We had a blast. They even served USDA beef. Wahoo! The whole group went and we all had so much fun. We are all getting to be such great friends and I will miss them all so much when we get home. It is so nice to just pop down the hallway and talk or ask advice; I am really looking forward to getting home but will miss these wonderful people who are like family.
September 1, 2000
We left Guangzhou at 10:00 AM today and are waiting for our flight from Hong Kong to LA. We are all tired and canít wait to get home. Our plane is late getting in. They say it will be another hour yet. I donít know what will happen when we get to LA but if we miss our connecting flight home I will just be sick!
Well this is where my diary entries of our trip end. I decided to type straight from my journal for the most part so I wouldnít miss any of the feel and sight of China. My daughter comes from a wonderful, and at times confusing land. So much of what we saw was heartbreaking, but it was a trip of a lifetime and now that Vickie is home I wanted to get this finished. I hope one day she will read it and know that she was loved by her birth mother, her nannies, and her family that is raising her. To those that supported us -- my heart-felt thanks. I wouldnít have made it without you. For those travel mates in CCAI group 213 -- I will never forget any of you. You are truly a part of our family!