Thursday, November 02, 2006

Guangzhou to Dulles


First of all, thanks to everyone who helped JieJie get through the last two weeks by sending stickers, letters, cards, you-name-it through the mail. Our mailman was nice enough to bring things addressed to JieJie since technically we hadn't stopped her mail! Well, we had a great last day and night on Shamian Island. Thursday was mostly shop-til-you-drop, and that night we ate croissants and slices of cheese from the Deli Shop at the White Swan Hotel before turning in early.

Friday morning bright and early Richard met several of us in the lobby to get on a bus bound for Guangzhou Airport. We got to the airport and there was a long line for the flight that seemed to be moving swiftly. We were waved to an agent who must've gone through training the night before...he kept looking at the computer and the boarding pass printer as though they were going to magically conjure up the right things...finally, after 45 minutes of nonsense, watching the entire rest of the line come and go, we asked for a manager, got everything straightened out and were on our way. Four and a half hours later (MeiMei slept two of them) we landed in Tokyo. We had a little bit of time to let MeiMei stretch her legs before boarding the747-400 for the long leg from Tokyo-Minneapolis. MeiMei was good for most of the flight but thank goodness we bought her her own seats all the way home because I can't imagine what it would've been like to try to hold her on our laps all that time - even with her own seat she found it frustrating to sit that long (didn't we all??). There were probably a dozen families with babies on that flight, maybe more. We landed at Minneapolis, went through customs (MeiMei is now officially an American citizen--yay!) followed my aunt Kathy's directions to the guest access area of the airport and sure enough there was my mom's sister Jeanne waiting to meet MeiMei. We were bummed Kathy couldn't make it (flat tire, grr) but we'll see her soon I think. Jeanne, John, MeiMei and I sat at the Starbucks and had some coffee and cookies and MeiMei took to Jeanne right away (smart kid). It was so great to see her. We got to Washington-Dulles, were met by John's sister Kathy and got in the car to head home. When my mom answered the door, her face was covered with return address stickers--Mom was trying anything to keep JieJie occupied while they waited for us. It was so great to see JieJie - we had a big long hug, and then John walked in with MeiMei. He said "do you know who this is, JieJie?" and at that, Big Sister squealed, jumped up and down and said "Mei-Mei!" which so overwhelmed MeiMei that she started her little Tarzan yell crying. We all laughed at the contrast. JieJie was so sweet to her little sister, cooing at her, touching her gently, saying "nice to meet you!" and then of course having the occasional meltdown because Life Has Changed. We said goodbye to Mom and Dad yesterday (not to mention Thank You a million times--mom lost 15 pounds running after JieJie and Dad painted the entire back fence!) and started settling into some type of a routine.

Only hitch was, we let MeiMei sleep too long yesterday afternoon and she woke up at 2am for the day. Oh well! We took some cute photos of JieJie giving MeiMei a bottle - will post soon. The main project right now is just easing MeiMei from all-bottle nutrition to mostly-solids nutrition. At almost 17 months old, she has had so little experience with solid food that she tries to cram it all in and has choked a couple of times...a bit scary, but we know better now, and she's getting better about chewing too. As far as the walking, coordination and all those things, she's making leaps every day and ever since she saw her big sister running all over the place, she wants to walk more than crawl and she's getting better at it. Language-wise, we're not pushing things right now. Her brain has to back up, turn around and head in a totally new direction from Chinese to English and it will happen all in good time. She babbles a lot so we're not worried. JieJie has had a bit of a learning curve in terms of how to play gently with a baby, but MeiMei doesn't seem too hair-trigger sensitive so that helps. JieJie has already learned that if you take a toy from MeiMei, it's best to give her something as a substitute. Hey Debby - thanks for the bears and JMU gear - hoping to takea picture soon and will send it to you!Thanks everyone - and it's ok to call now. Just not after 8pm - we might be asleep.


Louise, John, JieJie and MeiMei

Guangzhou 2004 deja vu

Sorry for the long pause between messages - I'll catch you up in a moment. First the big news: About ten minutes ago, about twoblocks from where I'm now sitting with a cup of mint tea listening to Chinese soft rock, John and MeiMei and JieJie and I became a forever family. It's so quick but acutely emotional. You wait a few minutes in a very unceremonious looking U.S. Consulate waiting room here on Shamian Island, then a casually dressed official comes out and asks if you swear that all the information you have given is true and accurate, we raise our right hands and say "I do", and they say congratulations, you're done!

The wave of relief that spreads throughout the room is palpable. Many hugs and congratulations followed, and then we left with Alexa, Richard's wife. She stopped briefly outside to give us our schedule for tomorrow (Safari Zoo inthe morning, get baby's visa in the afternoon) and thanked us several times for coming to China to adopt these babies. Hey, it's our pleasure.

So let me catch you up on what's happened the last couple of days. Uneventful flight from Chongqing to Guangzhou (after that earlier flight from Tokyo, that's not just a chatty statement!). We settled into our room at the lovely White Swan hotel, this time with a crib in our room. That first night we went to a Thai restaurant and had some really great food, including deep fried pumpkin with a sweet dipping sauce. MeiMei charmed the hostess out of a little jingle bell toy. She has learned that her smiling and waving and "bababa" works magic. She also loves to feel the wind (a new sensation) and holds her hands up to wave them in the Guangzhou breezes. She woke up a little scared the first night but we assured her we weren't going anywhere, and she settled back down to sleep. Last night she slept through the night. She continues to be a very even-tempered, sweet baby.

Tuesday morning we went to the pearl shop we discovered the last time and picked up a few items (I'd tell you but, Christmas, you know). Tuesday afternoon was the medical exam that's required in order to get a visa for MeiMei. It's not much of a medical exam -my shorthand for it is "ding-ding! honk-honk! Ok, baby can hear, goodbye!" The nurses who weighed and measured MeiMei (21 pounds, so she's already put on a little weight!) remarked to Richard how beautiful MeiMei is, and she certainly behaved herself too. JieJie was the same way, pretty calm and matter of fact about everything. Last night we ate traditional Chinese food at the Victory Hotel dining room here on Shamian Island. Guangzhou is famous for its restaurants, and there are a number of good ones on this little bit of land. We had lotus root stir fried with other vegetables, garlic broccoli, sesame-cashew beef, lemon chicken and some Singapore style spicy noodles with little shrimp. It was delicious.

Richard told us a joke today that reinforced the Guangzhou-as-restaurant-town idea (I might add that the Chinese equivalent of American "priest-rabbi-minister" joke seems to have three cities and their stereotypes). It goes like this: a new object is discovered and nobody knows exactly what it is, whether it's an animal, vegetable, mineral, or what. The man from Beijing says "we will study it thoroughly and classify all of its characteristics!" The man from Shanghai says "we will put it in an exhibition hall and sell tickets to see it and make lots of money!" and the man from Guangzhou says "I will figure out how to cook it!"

Just the same, I had a little indigestion this morning, maybe all the different foods that have made their way through my body in the past two weeks...John went out to get me some Pepto Bismol (we never used it last time so didn't even pack it) and came back with Chinese indigestion medicine that has a trumpet on the package. Think about that one for a moment. Anyway, I looked at the active ingredient: CREOSOTE. I'm not kidding, like the stuff they use to keep railroad ties from rotting. I still took it, and it worked pretty quickly so who am I to question medical uses of chemical wood preservatives??

Today we went to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall which is a beautiful 4,000 seat opera house-style facility. It used to house meetings of the Kuomintang party congress and later some communist party meetings, but today is mostly home to ballet, opera and musical performances. The architecture was a beautiful mix of traditional and modern, with elements that reminded me of some famous buildings we saw in Beijing (Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City). MeiMei slept in a front-pack the whole time. We continue to be amazed that this child can fall asleep on a bus instead of screaming for 2 hours solid (we love you JieJie but sheesh!). The White Swan hotel is such a beautiful and yet totally weird place to be. Everywhere, and I mean everywhere, there are couples (mostly white, some Asian) with their new babies, all talking about how last night went, how their baby is eating, what cute outfits they found down the street, how their last trip compared to this one...and at breakfast, babies at half the tables in the huge dining room. When we were in Chongqing with our little group of 9 families, it was easy to think of ourselves as the only ones doing this. Hardly! To give you a sense of the numbers, the White Swan apparently has about 150 cribs, and often runs short, in which case they strap two armchairs together and set it up as a bed.

Oh - and we got our "Going Home Barbie" yesterday, with a Chinese baby where the purse or random fashion accessory usually is...nice thought, but pretty crass, Mattel! To the people who expend energy being offended that a toy company would try to claim a market niche in this way, I say Sell Your Barbie On Ebay. Anwyay, it's here on Shamian Island that you really get a sense of the scope of this international adoption phenomenon. The year we adopted JieJie was the first year that more than 5,000 Chinese babies were adopted byAmericans (don't forget that there are also Dutch, French, Canadian, British, Swedish, and Italian families and of course also Chinese families who adopt children here) and this year it may be close to 7,000. What will these girls have to say about all of this when they get older? Guess we'll find out!

And growing out of this trip, another adoption is already in the works. The H3s, who are in our travel group, brought a friend along, and this friend and her husband have been talking by phone about adoption--especially after we visited the orphanage and she saw how many babies are still waiting. Of course, what motivates families to adopt is hardly to complete some humanitarian mission. All of us wanted to start or add to our families. Some of us had difficulty doing it the old fashioned way. Some of us already had "homemade" children but only had boys and wanted a girl, or have philosophical reasons why they wanted to enlarge their family through adoption (why add to the world's population when there are already children here who need a family, people say).

Whatever our motivation, we always share a knowing smile when someone says "oh bless your hearts, you are so kind to do that for a child" or some other kind of nonsense. We know that it is the children who truly bless our hearts. We are so lucky to have them in our lives. Well, this is probably my last post from China because tomorrow is our last day here and we have lots of shopping to do (bargaining is the order of the day and some consider it a sport, or perhaps even an art form). I cannot wait to hold JieJie again - we have missed her so much, but have not doubted our decision for a moment. Mom says JieJie is worried that MeiMei might not like her, and that MeiMei might take her toys. Mom told her not to worry about that first part but that she will have to share her least a few of them...

Thanks for following the unfolding story of little MeiMei. I'll write again when we get home and get settled. For those of you in Minnesota, we'd love to see you at the airport 11/19 between 11 am and 1pm (we'll be coming out of customs). For those of you inVirginia, feel free to give us a call anytime the 20th or after about stopping by for a moment, but forgive us if we are completely incoherent! Wish us luck on the long flights - tsai jien (bye-bye),

MeiMei and JieJie's mom

P.S. CORRECTION: My friend Heather tells me that "ke ren" doesn't mean sick person, just guest. She pointed out that the airline probably wouldn't have said "thanks for being patient while that guy nearly died back there and that other guy spewed all over the seat."

Last night in Chongqing

Today was a day to rest after our big trip to Liangping yesterday. We woke up at 8am, the latest we've slept here. Wandered down to breakfast and decided to try John's breakfast, since I've tried American, European, Chinese and Japanese breakfast. John has bacon, fried noodles and lots of stir-fried green beans. It was delicious! I also like to get a plate of "dragon fruit" (like a mild kiwi, white with seeds throughout) with some homemade yogurt and crushed walnuts on top. I swear, you could eat breakfast here for a couple of months before you repeated yourself exactly. After breakfast we went with the H2's, a family who lives in HongKong doing mission-related work, to the Metropolitan Plaza mall (our third trip there). We returned some booties that are too small for MeiMei and then we went to a big store called Children's World. It's several floors of clothes, books and toys for infants-kids and it's so much fun to shop there. We got JieJie some special treats and got some simple "books" for MeiMei to look at on plane flights. We wandered back through Liberation Square, a huge pedestrian mall that would be like if you closed New York's Times Square to traffic. Lots of people stopped to look at these two families with their three Chinese children, and we continued to hear people say "hao guai zi" as they chucked MeiMei on the cheeks (very beautiful!). We had some time to kill before the Holiday Inn shuttle bus arrived, so we went to a food court and got ice cream and egg rolls, also I got a coffee drink that had some cocunut ice cream floating in it. Yum. Within sight of the food court: an ice skating rink! I promised MeiMei I'd teach her and JieJie how to skate when they get older.

The shuttle bus arrived and we hopped on. Dad asked tonight on the phone whether we have child seats when we get driven places. No. We hold MeiMei on our laps and hope the driver knows what he's doing. It doesn't bother me. I do remember though how hard it was to get JieJie into her car seat when we came home in 2002 - she was so used to being held in our laps and didn't like the restraints.

This afternoon we had a paperwork meeting in our facilitator's room. There are a number of documents required to apply for MeiMei's visa from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, and now that we have MeiMei's Chinese passport, we had all the ingredients we needed to fill out all that paper. We were so out of it by the end, the liquid paper was flowing. You fill out that many forms, you forget your name after a while. At one point, we had a break and several of us discussed the conditions at the orphanage yesterday. We agreed that it was, for all its spartan-ness, homey and cozy in the important ways. We were all glad we went, and for some people pieces of their personal puzzles were provided, just things about their babies that they got some context for.

We finished paperworkand made final plans for tomorrow, when we check out of the hotel and fly to Guangzhou, the first plane flight for our new daughters. Tomorrow night we'll be back at the White Swan - it seems like forever since we left--weird, because when you think about it, MeiMei was spending her last night in Liangping a week ago tonight. Well, MeiMei continued her mission today: working on walking. For days she has been driven to push herself to standing and try to get around on two feet holding onto people, walls, tables, or whatever else will stand still and hold her up. We walked around the mall,we walked in the hotel lobby, we walked around the restaurant at dinner tonight. When we got back from dinner, she was playing with a few "toys" - a spoon, an empty water bottle, some plastic keys...and she decided she wanted to bring me the spoon. SHE WALKED IT OVER TO ME!!! It was about four tentative feet, but these were her first real steps. John came out to the sitting room to watch this amazing development and then she did some real showing off -she walked about 10 feet, from our bathroom door to the couch. She was so thrilled with herself she just beamed, and then she clapped for herself. We thought she'd be walking soon, just didn't realize it would be today. I'm so so excited that we didn't miss that milestone.

She's also starting to "talk" quite a bit - besides "ba ba ba" she clucks her tongue (a common noise adults use to play with babies here) and does funny little tongue-wiggling sounds that sound like "ligaligaligaliga" or "zigazigaziga". She also understands a few of the things we say to her already, and when we say "where's Mommy" or "where's Daddy" she points to the right person, or more accurately she waves. Her wave is so cute - she opens her whole hand, holds her fingers still and pivots her wrist. She has charmed many a stranger with that little move.

Mom and Dad called tonight and it's clear they are all aware they're in the home stretch. JieJie had a couple of rough days, really missing us, and we really really miss her too - can't wait to get our whole family together and go onward and upward. We'll be with her Friday, and after the shopping spree we're planning for Guangzhou we'll have plenty of treats to dole out between now and Lunar New Year. For the record, we're still Carry On Only travelers, though we plan to buy a cheap suitcase in Guangzhou for the treasures we find there.

Uncle Jim - you asked last time if I would write more about China, not just about babies - you must plan a trip's just so indescribable. I have really grown to love China in so many ways. We're looking forward to coming back with our girls when they're older, and will probably come here periodically for the rest of our lives. You know, the thing is, you can see China from the glass half-empty or half-full perspective. Even within our group of families on this trip we have seen stark differences in perspective. You can probably tell which way I look at it because I haven't been dwelling on the very real "half-empty" part that is not hard to find...yes, there is poverty and pollution. Environmentally, things are aboutwhere the U.S. was in the 1950's when the U.S. was just beginning to wake up to the need to regulate pollution from factories and farms and increasing consumption, though there has recently been an emphasis on improving air quality and we have seen a dramatic decrease in air pollution since our last trip.

Economically, many people still scrape by but ingenuity is definitely rewarded. When we were out walking the other day in a newly affluent shopping district, there was a man with one arm and one leg who seemed to be paralyzed, and he was earning money by writing Chinese calligraphy with several brushes strapped to a hat that was strapped to his head. I wondered what had happened to him, perhaps some factory accident or construction site mishap. For him, and for unknown numbers of people who have little or no safety net if something bad happens, there's not much to be excited about.

What impresses me most about China in the two visits we've made here though is just the sense offorward momentum, drive, striving, endless possibility you see everywhere here. It is really exciting to dive into. That's all for tonight - will write again in a couple of days fromShamian Island.

Liangping Orphanage Visit

dear family and friends, today was a hard, good day. excuse the lack of caps but I'm on a laptop which only occasionally cooperates...anyway this morning we got up early to make sure we had time to eat breakfast before departing on the bus at 8:30 for Liangping. we drove northeast through miles and miles of terraced hills and brick farmers' homes, every yard of cultivatable land filled with crops in various stages of growth. Unfortunately it was rainy and foggy and cool, so we couldn't film through the foggy windows of the bus, and we couldn't open the windows to film either. we arrived in Liangping about 11am and met the orphanage director and some staff in a conference room. all of the families went on the trip, so we were quite a large group today. after a brief welcome from the director, we toured the facility, both the rooms where the babies lived and the outside areas where the babies were taken to play outside.

the details of the day belong to MeiMei first, but in generalities I can tell you that the babies in Liangping were lovingly cared for by the staff. the facility is over100 years old and has been serving as a welfare institute for the very young and the very old for a very long time. we met MeiMei's nanny, saw where our daughter slept, and got a feel for the place. we were then invited to have lunch in the staff lunchroom, with food prepared by the staff. all of us were served delicious pork dumplings, some fried yam or taro (couldn't tell what it was but it was good) and a glass of milk. then we took a tour of the garden/play area which was really beautiful. we saw the place where some of MeiMei's referral photos were taken and we took a family photo against the same background, sort of bringing things full circle.

there were so many emotions flying around today. All of us were glad we went to see where our babies spent the early months of their lives. In lieu of individual nanny gifts, our group collected donations for the orphanage and we were able to buy them three new washing machines as well as some formula, rice cereal and vitamins for the babies. I think this is a much better use of families' gift-giving resources than so many individual tokens which don't benefit the facility as much. we were glad to give something to the orphanage that genuinely improves conditions there. by the way, if any of this has inspired you to give to charities that help orphanages in China, check outHalf the sky Foundation and americans adopting orphans charitable initiatives. the last thing we did before leaving Liangping was to drive around the city a little bit. it's a pretty town, very clean and prosperous looking, not as big a city as Fuling. There's a mixture of brand new apartment buildings and age-old brick courtyard style homes with tile roofs. we look forward to visiting again when our girls are older. I wished we had time to take a walking tour, it really was a nice town. It was a hard, good day.

Eling Park, Chongqing

Wow, what a wonderful day we've had. We woke up refreshed this morning, having slept til about 7am. MeiMei never wakes up in the middle of the night needing to be fed or changed so we are all getting plenty of rest. Some other families with younger babies are a bit more fatigued in the morning but everyone (knock on wood) is still healthy and doing well.

We met Richard in the lobby this morning at 10am for the day's outing. Seven of the nine families went on this trip to Eling Park. From our hotel window we can see the tall pagoda of Eling Park, which is lit up beautifully at night. The park is mostly impressive formations of potted chrysanthemums in many different colors, plus permanent plantings of bamboo and trees. Some plants have been shaped to look like dragons or fountains - so beautiful and festive. There is also a pond and some interconnected pavilions - it would be a peaceful place to read or just sit and think. MeiMei thought it was a perfect place to take a nap in my arms - not that I minded!

From the park's edges, which skirt a cliff overlooking the Jialing River, we were able to see everything from traditional-style courtyard houses (many of which are falling down and won't be repaired, certainly a high-rise apartment building will soon take their place) to riverboats and across the river construction, construction, construction. The manager of our hotel thinks that the next population count may list Chongqing as the largest city in China. I'd believe it. At Eling Park, I heard a little boy say to his grandmother "Ni kan! Waiguoren!" (look, foreigners!) and then in a proud voice, with his grandmother watching, he said "Hello!" and we said hello back. Heand his two little friends got very interested in MeiMei and were asking whether she was a boy or a girl (her short hair has caused many people to ask this question - I've learned to listen for it) along with some other things. We asked them to sit with us for a photo. Then we came to a courtyard where people were drinking tea, children from a kindergarten were having a picnic lunch outside on some stone tables, old folks were playing mah jongg, and a tour group of older Chinese people was strolling along. When the tourists saw MeiMei and the other babies in our group, they were so excited and all started playing with the babies, chucking them under the chin and talking to them, clapping their hands. I let one woman hold MeiMei for a little while. In China, people frequently ask to hold or play with your baby and while last time around it took some getting used to, now I look forward to the opportunity to share goodwill this way.

We came back to the hotel and sacked out. Before we knew it, our friend Can's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Deng, arrived from Chengdu. They had driven four hours to have dinner with us - we were so glad to see them and so happy they were able to make the trip. Their driver actually hired a taxi to lead their car to the hotel because the city has changed so much, they didn't want to get lost. We exchanged gifts in our hotel room before going across the street to the Yangtze Island Club for the most delicious dinner we've had since coming here. Our facilitator, Richard, had agreed to translate--totally above and beyond the call of duty. Mr. Deng asked the restaurant to seat us in a private room, so we had our own beautifully appointed dining room and our own waitresses for the evening. We had so much food - two different beef dishes, lobster,shrimp, a cold chicken plate, fried chicken knuckles (like crunchy buffalo wings), pig ears and vegetables (tastes like bacon), bokchoi, greens, broccoli, peanuts, spicy tofu, chicken and rice soup, pickles, cucumbers, and a big platter of fruit for dessert, with the rind of the watermelon shaped to look like a swan.

Then Can's dad broke out the bai jiu (white liquor) which is strong tasting stuff served in little shotglass size cups. We toasted to China, we toasted to friendship, we toasted to Can, we toasted to their return to visit us in Virginia, we toasted to our someday visiting Chengdu...we were toasted! We had a great time with them and they were enthralled with MeiMei. She warmed up to them too and let them hold her.We said goodnight and promised to keep in touch. Can, your parents say hello. Just think, MeiMei met your parents before she met you! When we got back to our room, my folks called and JieJie got to talkto MeiMei, who pretty much still just says "ba" but it's the thought that counts. JieJie's doing ok but definitely misses us and I'm glad we'll be home a week from today.

Tomorrow we will go to Liangping and see the orphanage as well as the town/city and some of the surrounding area. We should have alot to say about that - it's one of the most important days of the trip. Some people wonder whether it's a good idea to take the babies along when visiting the orphanage - they're fine. They knowwho their parents are by this time, they don't get confused ordistressed. With JieJie her response was "yeah, I know this place, so what?" As Richard said, yes, you could go back later in the child's life, but the facility may have moved, the director and staff could be is the time to take pictures, meet administrators and caregivers, take pictures of finding locations (we will try to visit as many as possible) and get a feel for the place. There were a couple of families who earlier in the week were a bit leery of making the trip but I think everyone is going to go, and I know they'll be glad they did. This whole issue of how these girls came to be our daughters is a complicated one, and tomorrow we will have that much more of an understanding of some of the circumstances.

Richard says the Chinese talk about "yuan" which is kind of like fate or destiny but he says there's really no English equivalent. He said it's like when you meet your spouse, out of all the people in the world you somehow find that one person, maybe you didn't even know that's who you were looking for, and then you fall in love and are married and it's yuan. He said "out of all the things that have happened to you and to your daughter in her life so far, you are together now and she is your daughter, not any other baby but this baby. And that's yuan."

More tomorrow after Liangping,



MeiMei continues to amaze us. She is very good natured, even tempered and quiet. Nothing really seems to faze her much. In China, children are viewed as community property. People feel very free to come up and touch the baby and offer suggestions on what we should be doing. None of this bothers her. She is a very easy baby to deal with and appears to be the Yang to her older sister's Yin. Yesterday we visited Chiqikou, a former village that has been swallowed by the vast sprawl of Chongqing. Chiqikou is now a tourist stop that depicts traditional village life. Narrow streets, lots and lots and lots of vendors, and a spectacular Buddhist temple overlooking the Jialing (the main tributary to the Yangtze).

We returned at 1 and once MeiMei went to sleep we had a masseuse come to the room--about 2 hours later, both of us were kink-free after a pretty intensive Chinese massage. Today we are off to the Chiang K'ai-shek museum here. I'll beinterested to see what the museum has to say about him. Chongqing continues to amaze us. Its listed population is about 7 million, but we've heard from our guide and the hotel manager that the estimate is an old one and that the urban population now may be closer to 20 million. It is a huge, bustling place. Ths skyscapers just go for miles and miles. Well, I need to freshen up for the day's events. All is well here and we wish all of you the best.

I Like Her A Lot

Well, it's been a couple of days of sightseeing and more to come. Why are we still in CQ, you ask? Well, we have to wait until the notaries are finished making multiple copies of several important booklets that we need to bring to Guangzhou in order to complete the adoption. The notary books will include the official birth certificate, adoption certificate and finally the certificate of abandonment, which certifies that an attempt was made to find the birth parents (we were given a copy of the ad that was in the newspaper).

As far as the Chinese government is concerned, the adoption was full and final as of Tuesday afternoon when we signed several forms and got our official adoption certificate (yay!). This is different from last time in that we received JieJie and did all the provincial paperwork all at once. This time, we received MeiMei at the Civil Affairs Office and returned the second day to do the paperwork. So Tuesday there we all were again in the "delivery room" where families are born, and this time the mood was much calmer. Each of the nine families had an official photo taken. Then we signed statements affirming that we intend to make our daughters permanent members of our family, that we would never abuse or mistreat them, and that we promise to provide the best education possible. If we were Chinese people, we would have a chop (like a stamp made of stone) to use for our signature, but since we didn't have that, we each dipped our thumbs in red ink and put our thumbprints over our signatures to make things official. MeiMei's index finger is also stamped on the document (her first attempt got a little smeared so it's on there twice just to be sure).

We gave a small gift to the notaries (some parents started this tradition years ago and now it's considered de rigeur), two nice pens with American flags on them, and they gave MeiMei a glass sculpture that says "Hometown Chongqing" on it. Then we got our leather-bound adoption certificate and we were on our way to do some more sightseeing. We went down to the Chaotianmen docks where the Jialing River meets the Yangtze River. We'll be there again Sunday night because Richard has planned for us to take a dinner cruise.

John told you where we were yesterday - the shopping here is so much fun. The exchange rate makes it even more enjoyable! The plan for today is to visit a traditional village to see small town Chinese life. We were going to go to Dazu today but all of us agree it's just too far (2 hours each way) with the little ones, so we're taking it a little easy. Tomorrow I don't think there's anything special on the itinerary for the group, but we're looking forward to dinner with our friend Can Deng's parents. Can (say "Tsan") is a JMU graduate who came to play with JieJie once a week, only in Chinese, for over a year and we are very fond of her. When she graduated from JMU her parents came, we met them and they said tolook them up if we were near Chengdu, Sichuan where they live. That's about 3 hours from here. They're going to meet us for dinner here and Richard agreed to translate - above and beyond his responsibilities, so we are very thankful. Saturday we go to Liangping to visit the orphanage. Sunday night is the dinner cruise, Monday we leave, Tuesday medical exam, Wednesday consulate appointment, Thursday get MeiMei's visa, Friday we leave. It's going so fast and I know I'm not going to want to leave China.

Well the big news this morning is that MeiMei did not cry when John went to get her out of her crib - YAAAAAYYYY! She let him give her a bottle and just seems a lot more comfortable around him. Our photos show her crying when he holds her until the last photo taken this morning of her in his lap having someformula. She is such a wonderful little girl. She's very alert, has a sweet disposition, very easy going, is good on the bus rides (a new experience for us) and likes to snuggle. She's made up a game where she says "Ba" and we say "Ba" and we go back and forth like that for a long time. She thinks it's great that she can get us to respond. She is also right on the cusp of walking. She tried this morning to walk from Daddy to me and fell down but got up again, no tears. She is determined. She's a good sleeper, sleeps through the night. We want her to drink more water/juice but that'll come. The other eight families are doing very well too - all of the babies were so healthy, nobody got sick this time around. Some of the babies have taken longer to warm up to one or both parents but there's nothing truly worrisome going on, and experience tells us it will get better every day.

Well, better go - can't wait to tell you about our trip today - by the way,two years ago we got a lot more stares when we were out in public,by ourselves or with the baby. It seems there have been many more foreigners visiting since then, and we are not such a big deal. Liangping will probably be another story. For background, read themessage from our last trip about Hechuan. Have a great day, Mom hug JieJie for me! Louise

News from Chongqing

A post from the proud papa:

We've had MeiMei for about 48 hours now and are beginning to see what a sweet little girl she is. Her personality appears to be a perfect complement to JieJie's. MeiMei is very easy going, and even tempered. She loves to say "ba, ba" to us and have us return the "ba ba" so we spent much of our morning alternately talking baba with her. She is becoming very attached to her mom, and while she occasionally cries when her dad walks into the room, she seems to like him pretty well most of the time. (To add insult to injury,when we called JieJie this morning, I said "good evening" and JieJie's reply was "Where's mommy? I want to talk to mommy.")

MeiMei has a good appetite and seems willing to eat most anything we offer her. She also was a very good sport during her bath this morning, but looked puzzled when we pulled the plug and the water ran out of the tub. Today is a pretty lazy day, drizzly and cool. We took a short shopping trip downtown and picked up a few items for the girls (it still feels funny to say that), but returned at 1 with nothing else on the day's agenda. MeiMei is upstairs sleeping and Louise was headed in that direction when I came down to type this message.

Tonight we'll again visit the restaurant across the street. It is reputed to be one of the finest in Chongqing, its parking area lined with luxury cars each night. And since a really terrific meal only costs about $3.50 in US currency, the price is tough to beat too. Tomorrow we'll have a brief tour of a traditional village about 30 minutes away. It should be interesting and quite a contrast from Chongqing, most of which is breathtakingly modern.

She is Here!!!

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Wow. Did I say wow? We have been blessed for the second time with a perfectly beautiful, awe-inspiring little girl and what a day it has been. After breakfast today, several families took taxis to a downtown CQ shopping district. We found a "Goodbaby" store and an OshKosh store where we found some outfits (all pink) and then we found a great children's book/clothing/toy/etc. store not far away where we scoped out a few ideas for big sister presents and I got some barettes. Some of the other families found a traditional market and bought beautiful dolls, shoes and clothing for their babies. We were all so excited for this afternoon but knew that we needed to do something to stay busy or we would go nuts. After a midday rest, we met in the lobby of our hotel and boarded a bus with our facilitator Richard. There are nine families in our group, all such nice people, and many of them have brought friends, children, or grandparents to share this amazing experience.

On the way to our first stop (shopping for essentials) Richard gave us a briefing of sorts. He reminded us that we are not here as tourists and to make sure we always take care of our own and our baby's health first rather than try to do too much sightseeing or be too adventurous. He also reminded us that from our baby's perspective, today might be a little scary. New faces, new smells and sounds, and the loss of everything they have known up to this point...for the parents, it's so happy and such a dream come true - he just wanted to prepare people for a tougher adjustment if that's how things turned out. He then taught us a saying that I'd like to share with you. Chinese people say "When you go to Beijing, you know you are not powerful. When you go to Guangzhou, you know you are not rich. When you go to Chongqing, you know you got married too early." Richard says girls from this region are known as the most beautiful in all of China (we hardly disagree!).

We did our shopping at a Carrefour store, which is a French chain of department stores. It looked kind of like Wal-Mart on speed. Busy, colorful, crowded, full of people checking out the latest whatever. We bought matching big sister-little sister outfits, and then our facilitator Richard helped us find the right diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, etc. so we had some supplies to get started with. We went back on the bus and drove a short distance to the Civil Affairs Bureau, which says "Bureau of Sino-American Marriage and Adoption" on the front. Several of us who've done this before recognized the building and the excitement was building as the bus stopped in the parking space.

I felt so calm though - kept waiting to feel what I felt last time but I felt so much less overwhelmed by the whole experience. TodayI found myself interested in not only what we were doing but what all the families were going through, to really get a feel for the whole event and not just our small part of it. We took a picture ofourselves as we waited for the elevator to come and take us to the 4th floor. Last time we were at this point we were practically vibrating with anxiety, and last time we got off the elevator and immediately saw our daughter JieJie in the Civil Affairs office. How would it be this time?

When we got off the elevator, we walked into the big room with traditional red decorations, a long counter for paperwork processing and several notary officials. Families who had just completed the paperwork for adoptions from Fuling (JieJie's hometown) were filing out with their new babies, and then who should come out but DirectorYang from Fuling! I had heard she would be there and brought photos of JieJie to give to her. We talked through our facilitator for a moment to say how glad we were to see her and promised that when JieJie was older we'd certainly visit Fuling again. We got her on video saying "Ni Hao, Fu De Quan!" (Hello, JieJie!)

We were told that the babies from Liangping (that's MeiMei's orphanage) were still en route. Some of the first-time moms were already crying from the overwhelming feelings swirling around in the room...excitement, fear, the name it. Then just a few minutes later in came nine babies, carried by seven caregivers. The babies were all dressed in identical bright pink outfits of quilted fleece, festooned with ribbon roses and little doll-like things on the jacket pockets. John picked MeiMei out immediately. I didn't think it was her - I honestly was looking from baby to baby trying to figure out which one was ours because I didn't see any that looked the way I was picturing MeiMei. Soon Richard called our name, and there we were, just shy of two years after we went through this the first time, in the same room, receiving a beautiful baby. A man placed her in my arms as John filmed with the videocamera. (For the rest of my life, she will have that to hang over my head, that I didn't know her when she was brought in!!) [actually, later viewings of the video show that we were both wrong].

John soon put down the camera so we could check out this little one. She is so healthy, no congestion, no rash, a full head of soft black hair, very alert and calm. She didn't cry when we held her, only when the flashbulb went off on a family photo. Within minutes, she leaned her cheek against mine and really seemed to hug me, grabbing my upper arm with one hand and putting her other arm around my neck. She goes to John easily too. Other families in the room were going through a variety of reactions, as every baby deals with things differently. Some tears, some almost nonreactions...we know from last time that all of these babies will seem like different people a week from today. Until then, though, there are some challenging days ahead for all of us.

Maybe that's why I didn't cry or get emotional today...I am waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. We had a chance to ask some questions of the orphanage officials (if we forget anything, we have another chance to talk with them tomorrow and also Saturday when we go to Liangping). We asked her nickname, what the nannies called her, and it is indeed "You-You"! We then asked about potty logistics and were told that she's used to diapers. Finally I asked whether anything special would have been done on MeiMei's first birthday, which was last June 29th. They said they don't have a party or anything (not that I thought they would) but they would give her extra attention that day, tell her it was her special day, maybe give her special food or extra food. Before we knew it it was time to go back on the bus and get back to the hotel. We ordered room service dinner (steak, fries, veggies) and fed MeiMei some strained peas which she liked, though she had to consider it for a moment first. She didn't want the bottle we made -will have to try again tomorrow to make the right mix of rice cereal, formula and right temperature of water to please her. Then we spent about an hour just playing. She took a set of plastic keys and just sort of banged it on different things, listening to the sounds. She crawled. She got herself standing up and then plopped down on her butt on the floor again. She pulled herself up on the cabinets and pulled herself along them. She's not walking independently yet but we're thinking it's going to be any day now because everything's in place, she just needs to get the hang of it. She played peekaboo with me and John, smiled so many times, cracked herself up and laughed the cutest little laugh. She is (so far) really mellow and agreeable. This will work well with JieJie's take-charge nature!! Better that than two alpha females in the same house...this is looking very workable. Time will tell.

We tried to put her down to sleep in her crib but she cried pretty hard (mouth open wide, eyes closed, no sound came out) so we scooped her up and laid down with her on the bed. She had her head on my tummy. Heavy sigh, a rub of the eyes, and her eyes fluttered closed. It's indescribable how perfectly beautiful she was, lying there, rosy-cheeked and sleeping peacefully. I had been waiting for screams and fighting, but this unexpected peace surprised me and I heard a little "tap" as a big fat tear hit the down comforter on our bed. John picked her up, she woke up briefly, but he laid her down in the crib and she fell asleep again.

And then BOOM! A blast of dynamite from the construction site next to the hotel. Don't worry, she didn't wake up. Good thing, because all around the hotel, all around the city, people are building, building, building, 24 hours aday, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, pounding, blasting, welding, pouring concrete...I can't think of anywhere in North America you could go to see such a building boom. Guess you'll just have to see China for yourself. Well, it's 10:20pm Monday night in Chongqing (9:20am where you are unless you're my friend Helen in Australia or our friends in The Netherlands) so I'd better stop now and go to sleep. We are just so thankful.

Today's the Day!

Well, today is it. Our group will gather at 2, do some shopping and then be off to the Civil Affairs Office to meet MeiMei. This is sure to be an emotional scene, as it is such an important event in our lives, and is also the same place where JieJie joined our family two years ago. We can't wait.

We had aninteresting day yesterday. Having visited Chongqing before,we felt a bit more adventuresome this time and made our way to the Joe Stilwell Museum and the Red Cliffs Village Museum about 1 1/2miles away. The Stilwell Museum is primarily for US visitors and designed to highlight the good will and relations between China and the US. The Red Cliffs Village attracts a local clientele. It is a spectacular monument to the Chinese Communists of the region with special attention to Zhou Enlai, who spent considerable time living in Red Cliffs during the Second World War.

Every bit as interesting was our cab ride. Because of traffic, our cabbie had to take the long way home (he wasn't soaking us for a fare, it really was impossible to get to the main bridge across the Yangtze due to traffic and construction.) It took us past the new retractable dome Olympic stadium and arena which are due to open any day. All is hustle and bustle here--literally hundreds of high rise cranes working round the clock (the high rise construction site outside of our hotel was using dynamite at 4 this morning!).

Despite having been here 2 years ago, much of the skyline has changed. As one of our group observed last night "Boy, this is a lot bigger than LA." We had a group dinner last evening. This is a wonderful group and we are looking forward to spending the next couple of weeks with them. The highlight of our day was our evening conversation with JieJie. She was very excited to talk with us, wanting us to know if we'd gotten MeiMei yet, when we were coming home, and that 'Kip had given her candy at the football game. (Thanks 'Kip.) We are off to do some shopping this morning to pick up a few odds and ends. And then this afternoon the big event. Stay tuned.

Saxophones and Trombones

Good morning from Chongqing. I am in the business center of the hotel where we will spend the next week or so, the Holiday Inn Yangtze Chongqing. We arrived at the Chongqing airport yesterday about 4pm, no illness aboard the plane, no problems with the flight whatsoever. A car was waiting to take us to the hotel. We arrived around 5pm. We were stunned to see how things have changed even in the two years since we were here last. The skyline is different, they are demolishing the tunnel we came through from the Yangtze bridge to our hotel last time, and there are buildings everywhere with cranes on top, in the process of being built. The air is also much cleaner. There has been a major initiative to improve the environment in anticipation of an upcoming World Expo in Shanghai and also of course for the 2008 Olympics, which should bring a lot of tourists to many parts of China. Yes, it's still too polluted, but our eyes didn't sting and our throats didn't burn - did we bring our cough drops for nothing?

Still, when we got to the hotel, John said "it's as though we never left". We recognized the neighborhood and knew where we were before we could see the hotel. It was so odd in a way to feel so at home here when on our last trip everything was so new. Our room is SO nice. We splurged on a two-room suite and it's a corner room, with windows that take up two walls of the bedroom from halfway up the wall all the way to the ceiling. The view? Downtown Chongqing and the Yangtze River, which is absolutely spectacular at night, all neon and spotlights. It's like having a view of Manhattan across the Hudson, only more impressive. The bedroom has a crib in it already - Mom, please tell JieJie that the little cat she picked out for MeiMei is in the crib waiting for a hug. The sitting room has a sectional-style couch, tv, fridge, dining table and long buffet-style cabinet/counter.Yesterday when we arrived, as we stepped off the elevator we waded into a sea of parents and babies/toddlers. Turns out they were a group from The Netherlands. I recognized a pair of pink pajamas that one little girl was wearing- they were the same pj's our Dutch friends sent to JieJie two years ago.

Last night around dinnertime we wandered down to the lobby and met the K's, from South Carolina. They are in our travel group and(small world) they know the H1's, a family we were here with two years ago! Then we met the H2's who are here from Hong Kong with a 3-year-old daughter and grandparents to lend helping hands.

The H2's wereplanning to go to dinner so we joined them. Wild taxi ride (if someone's in the lane ahead and the driver wants to pass, they just drive on the wrong side of the road for a while) down to a neon-lit strip by the river. We sat outside and had a delicious dinner of soups, stir-fried dishes and noodles, ate our fill for 140RMB for all six of us--that's about $3/person. During dinner a lot of strolling musicians came by and wanted us to pay them to serenade us. One guy had a Kenny G style soprano sax and he played really loudly right by our table and then said "Saxophone!" Mr. H2 said "yes, apparently!" Then we started talking about the English words that are put onto clothing for decoration, much in the way we put Chinese characters onto things to make them look cool, never mind what theymight mean or whether it's even grammatical. I saw a man on one of our flights whose jacket said "Kids Whenever Original Jacket" on the back, and on the front pocket it said "Authentic Trombone". We got back to the hotel, talked briefly with JieJie and my mom by phone before falling fast asleep.

JieJie is fine - mom says she understands "the deal" and is being very cooperative and upbeat. Today John and I will take a taxi to the General Stillwell Museum here in Chongqing. It's the headquarters of American General "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell. Should be interesting. We may also see Red Cliff Village - more about that after we've seen it. Tonight I guess we'll go for a group dinner on Gotcha Eve. Hoping to go to downtown CQ and the huge pedestrian area that's lit up like Times Square at night. Tomorrow we go shopping for diapers and all that stuff, and then at 4:30 we are scheduled to go to the Civil Affairs Office and meet our little MeiMei for the first time. We are really excited, as you might guess!Have a great day, Mom give JieJie hugs and kisses from us,

Louise & John

Unwind Yourself Now

We made it! I am writing to you on FREE internet access from the Blenz coffee shop on Shamian Island, Guangzhou, China. What a trip over we had! The events thus far: Thanks to our friend David for driving us up to the Amerisuites Chantilly where we stayed the night before our early flight out of Washington-Dulles Airport. JieJie was surprisingly okay when we left. After weeks of hypervigilant behavior that culminated in a week of checking our room at 3am to make sure we were still there, she didn't even cry when we hugged her goodbye and put her in her grandparents' arms. She saw our suitcases, looked at us questioningly, and I said "it's time for Mommy and Daddy to go get MeiMei." We packed the little yellow cat that JieJie is giving to MeiMei into the suitcase, kissed and hugged, and left, and Mom said last time we talked that it's going fine. What a relief! Because JieJie would have been in a tiny little straitjacket by now if she'd experienced the last 36 hours with us. Read on.

Flight from Dulles to Detroit left a bit late, otherwise smooth sailing. Layover at Detroit, lunch. Left on Northwest Airlines Detroit-Tokyo a bit late. Huge plane - 747-400, two aisles, 3-4-3 seating. Coach is tight!! I quickly realized I was not going to get any sleep on the 12+ hour flight. John catnapped here and there, probably got 2 hours total. Movies were "Raising Helen"(skip it), "Spiderman 2" (eye candy and noise) and "The Notebook"(see it soon w/a huge box of tissues at the ready--SO good and heartwarming!) Funny - last trip one of the movies was "Spiderman 1". About "The Notebook" - this was one of the times John was sleeping. At the end of the movie, I was totally bawling and I looked over at the elderly Korean man next to John, and he was wiping his eyes about once a minute for the whole end of the movie.

Layover at Tokyo-Narita was SHORT - just enough time to take a bus to the terminal, go through security and run to our gate for the next flight. Got on the next plane for the 4+ hour flight to Guangzhou, and just as we were beginning to taxi toward the runway, a man signaled that his (father?) seatmate was sick, that he had high blood pressure. Hard to know what happened, whether the man passed out or what, but soon there were flight attendants with oxygen tanks helping the man come to, and then he used several airsick bags (eww). We were glad he was ok but the flight crew chief called an ambulance and wanted to get the man some medical attention.

While we were waiting for that ambulance to arrive, people were quiet and patient. All of a sudden in the row right behind us, it sounded like these people were arguing or something. Then they started getting louder and more frantic. I turned around and thought I saw a man pushing his wife. It took me a moment to realize that he had collapsed against her and was having what looked to be a heart attack or a stroke. His eyes were rolling back into his head, his lips and fingernails were turning blue, and he was drooling and bleeding from his mouth. The whole right side of his face was straining back toward his right ear. His wife was crying and screaming. We immediately signaled to the flight crew for help -they seemed confused but soon more oxygen masks arrived and the man started coming around thank goodness. There was a doctor on the flight, I think she was Japanese, and she took the man's blood pressure. Both John and I had thought we were going to witness the worst. The man's son came back from his seat at the front of the plane and dropped to his knees at the sight of his father in trouble. It took forever for the ambulance to get there, and while the flight crew saved the man's life with their quick thinking, the paramedics might as well have been the Keystone Kops. They started this extensive conversation with the doctor and the flight crew instead of getting the poor passengers off the plane and to the hospital. 45 minutes later the captain came back and said "we need to get these people off the plane now so they can get help and we can go." The paramedics were (understandably) confused that there were two different people in need of help, and they had a long conversation about which one should get off the plane first. It started to become almost comical (or perhaps we just needed something to release the adrenaline) to the point that when the sick passengers were finally off the plane, there was scattered laughter all over the plane. I wouldn't swear to it but I thought I detected some Chinese-speaking passengers making jokes about the Japanese ambulance workers and there was much laughter all around the plane. John wanted me to put in the message that the paramedics' lack of decisiveness was like "watching two monkeys try to f*** a football". I added a new phrase to my Chinese vocabulary: ke ren, or sick person [actually "guest"].

So two hours after our scheduled departure time (hoping and prayingthat both sick passengers would be ok) we took off for GZ. Both of us got about two hours' sleep on that flight. Got to the airport, sped through customs and quarantine (you have to promise, among other things, that you are not psychotic) and a Mercedes Benz from the White Swan Hotel was waiting for us, with three smartly dressed porters to handle our two small carry-on bags. The airport at Guangzhou is brand new and absolutely beautiful, a cathedral of glass and girders. How different from the old airport, which was like several interconnected train or bus depots. The highway from the airport to central GZ is brand new too, signs in Chinese and English. Got to the White Swan Hotel, checked into our room, ate the chocolates they leave by the bed, and were soon sleeping horizontally for the first time in about 30 hours. Woke up on our own this morning at 7am, tired but NO JET LAG - what a miracle! Had a nice buffet breakfast of fruit, yogurt, steamed pork buns, steamed shrimp buns, smoked salmon, noodles, french toast...there's so much good food on that buffet, you just have to use JieJie's phrase "I have this one tomodow" which is what she says whenever she wants something but can't have it right away.

It was so peaceful sitting there by the Pearl River, watching boats go by, watching a few people swimming in the river for morning exercise. After breakfast, I headed out to find cheap internet access and John went to get a neck and head massage at the hotel fitness center. On the way to the fitness center is a sign for the hotel's lounge/game room that says "Unwind Yourself Now." I am only too happy to oblige, after all the racing around we've done for the past two months to get ready for this trip! Of course, this being the White Swan, there are families with babies everywhere and it's making us pretty excited for Monday. In the meantime however, it's like a second honeymoon for us. We are going to enjoy having a few days all to ourselves. We check out of White Swan in about 45 minutes, take the shuttle out to the airport and get on a 2pm flight to Chongqing, henceforth to be referred to as CQ.

2004 adoption trip part 1

*reposting details of our 2004 adoption trip on the second anniversary of our trip*

Dear family and friends,

This is the last time I'm going to post before we take off Wednesdayafternoon for the AmeriSuites Dulles. We take off on Northwest Airlines Thursday morning. I probably won't be writing again untilwe arrive in Chongqing, so check back Saturday morning for a "we made it" message from the Holiday Inn Yangtze Chongqing. I am REALLY looking forward to spending Friday night at the White Swan and even more to the World's Most Stupendous Breakfast Buffet the next morning! Our agency's travel coordinator said that arriving in China at night is great protection against jet lag because you can immediately get some sleep and wake up (hopefully) refreshed.

JieJie's Halloween was a blast! She was a kitty cat complete with ears, whiskers and a tail and even though we only went to 8 houses, by the end of the evening she had accumulated half a plastic pumpkin's worth of candy, a stuffed animal, necklace, book and "magic towel" to use in the bathtub. After trick-or-treating she helped give out candy. Not so sure about those scary kids, but she gave them candy anyway. She got so excited about giving candy away, she'd yell down the street "HEEEEYYY! We got CAAAANNNNDDDYYYYYYY HEEEEEEERRRRE!"

My parents arrived Friday afternoon (the day MeiMei turned 16mos old) and as soon as she finished dancing around and screaming "Geema! Geepa!" JieJie looked at me and John and said "buh-bye, MommyDaddy." So she knows what's up. In fact she spent a couple of nights getting up at 3am just to make sure we were still there. It'll be hard for her while we're gone but she'll be fine and so will Mom and Dad. The three of them clearly adore one another. The rest is just details, which they'll figure out. John had a lot of little projects to get squared away before we go and he seems happy with the progress he's made, so that's a little less stress to deal with. All of our classes are covered, bags are packed, mail is stopped, etc....all that's left to do now is GO.

Our travel facilitator gave us an idea of some other parts of ouritinerary: daytrips to Liangping orphanage and a tourist attraction called the Bigfoot Buddha, plus a dinner cruise on the Yangtze River. Sounds great! All contingent on health and emotional stateof the babies of course. we go!

Louise & John

You can search FTJ for past posts, e.g. China info...