Monday, March 23, 2009

The final Chapter at least for now...

Yes, Mt. Redoubt did erupt. No that didn't keep us from getting home. They closed down the Anchorage airport but we got up the coast and into Cordova on time. We have unpacked and have the second load of laundry in and some of the stuff we bought taken care of. A friend is cooking dinner for us so that will force us to stay up until 8:00. Tomorrow it's back to school so it will be a while before I get going on the scrapbook pages! It's good to be back home, but we will truly miss China.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Back in the USA

We left Beijing at 8:55 am on Sunday and arrived in Seattle at 8:40 am on Sunday. We're at the hotel and the kids were surprised to see uncle Bud and Aunt Wanda waiting for us in the hotel lobby. Delleen and I have both had showers and the kids are catching a few zzzzzzzzs before we go out in search of pizza and Starbucks! Home tomorrow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pictures of our final day in Yangzhou

A couple explanations. The picture of Cadi and Josi with the man in the suit is the Mayor of Yangzhou.
The one of Cadi and a woman in a red sweater is the director of Yangzhou Social Welfare Institute
The one of Cadi and Josi with the man is the plaid shirt is "tall Paul" as we got to call hime. He and his family were on of 3 families from the Netherlands. They were all great people!

Did I tell you I was famous?

I was interviewed for China Daily while we were still in Beijing! We were told there was only one copy of the paper available at the Radisson SAS hotel and it was sent express mail to Yangzhou. When we saw whose picture was on it we gave it to one of them. Today when we checked into the hotel in Beijing the room wasn't clean yet. We went in to store our suitcases and guess what was lying on the desk! A copy of the paper so now we have it!

in Yangzhou I was interviewed by one of the t.v. stations. The woman who interviewed me found me as we were leaving the hotel this morning and said that she would email me a link. Hopefully it will arrive.

i am going to eat a cup of oatmeal for dinner and head to the gift shop for our last shopping experience. I'll try to post pictures from yesterday before I fall into bed...

March 20

March 20, 2009
Our morning started at 9:00 with a boat ride to Slender Lake Park. Everything is so incredibly beautiful in the lake and in the gardens that are in the park. It reminded me of the Classical Chinese Garden in Portland only multiplied hundreds of times! The flowers and tree that were blooming, the architecture, even the sky which was blue after the strong winds of the afternoon before…everything was perfect. We spent most of the morning there and then headed to a building that had many displays about the new and modern development in Yangzhou. At first I thought it would be a questionable, but it was actually interesting and they had great toilets! It’s amazing how much the toilet situation has changed in 10 years! As we lef t each girl was given a stuffed toy. That makes 3 apiece so far to go into the suitcases!

For lunch we went to a famous dumpling restaurant. Oh my so many dumplings and so little space in my stomach! (yeah, I didn’t think you would believe that!) There were probably 10 different kinds of dumplings along with appetizers and soups and rice. After we had been eating for awhile the cooks came out with the ingredients and some of the younger girls made dumplings. They were pretty interesting to look and and not as uniform as the ones made by the cooks!

Then it was on to a different park where we were greeted by on official of “the Party”. He gave a short speech and then presented each of the Yangzhou girls with a beautiful lacquer ware fan shaped picture of a Chinese bridge. I am sure when we get home and count all the gifts the girls received we will be astonished! We spent the next hour and a half shopping in a very interesting section of the city. The four of us were accompanied by 3 people who were constantly there to assist us with translations and safety. In this area we probably gathered the most attention and stares, but for the most part if I smiled at somone or took their picture they would smile broadly. I think we were just such a rare sight that people sometimes just looked at us slacked jawed in amazement.

When we had finished shopping we returned to the hotel to tackle the job of packing. I managed to get everything back into the two suitcases we brought to Yangzhou after throwing away most of the remaining food I brought in case we had a problem finding safe food for Cadi to eat. I have to say that in that regard it has been miraculous. The one night Cadi was feeling ill and she and I didn’t go to dinner was the one night that Delleen found small peanuts in the food. The first day there were peanuts on the table which were removed as soon as I saw then and told the guide and one other time there was a dish that was removed from the table when I showed them my card which states she is allergic to peanuts. Not bad for an 8 day tour in a foreign country!

So with almost everything packed, we headed to the final farewell banquet. This was another emotional time for all of us as we were not only saying goodbye to Yangzhou, but also saying goodbye to friends we had made over the week. Again there were many speeches and some entertainment and so much food that there was no way even half could be consumed. The mayor was there again as well as all the orphanage officials.
As we entered there was a dvd playing which included picture of each day of the trip including today. How they did that I don’t know! Each family was presented with het another gift. This time it was two group pictures taken the day we were at the orphanage as well as the dvd and a scrapbook of some of the pictures that were taken while we were in Yangzhou.

At the end of the celebration one of the nannies who has worked at Yangzhou SWI for over 20 ears spoke about how she had delivered each of our children to us and how she had told the babies that she wished them happy lives and many good wishes and how she was so happy to see all of them again. She wept as she spoke and there wasn’t a dry eye in the entire room. As she left the stage many of us went to her and hugged her and thanked her.

Then it was time to say goodbye to our guide, Vivian, who has watched out for each of us in the green group. How do you thank someone who has totally changed your life? How do you express all the thoughts that are going through your head? So with a hug and many tears we told Vivian and all of our new friends goodbye. Tomorrow we head back to Beijing in little groups. We not all be together again, but we will forever hold so many in our hearts.

MArch 19

March 19, 2009

Today was a much easier day. It was slower paced and it was just a day of fun and not a day of intense emotions. We started our morning at 9:00 and went to a park/zoo that is right behind the orphanage. There were a few of the older kids and nannies there. The zoo is in a beautiful park and the fact that many of the trees were starting to bloom made it seem very far away from Alaska. We walked to the panda exhibit. There is one giant panda and several red pandas. I was so happy there was a panda there for Josi to see since we opted not to go to the zoo in Beijing.

After a short time there we walked to a different park of the park and in a large open grassy area we were entertained by puppeteers, a lion dance and several other dances, and men demonstrating the Chinese yoyo. There was also an elderly man there who had made these remarkable blown sugar lollipops for all of the girls. After those presentations the girls got to go to different areas to try the various activities. Cadi also made a handprint that will be placed someplace in the orphanage along with the handprints of the other girls.

For lunch we were served Yangzhou fried rice and a delicious sweet and sour chicken along with bananas, lychee, and various sweet breads. Then after lunch there was time for the girls to try to fly the kites they received in Beijing as part of their welcome bag.

After this time we made our way to the Beijing Oriental Language school. This school is a boarding school with 3500 students from grades 1 through 12. There we were greated with another program of music, dancing, and an inspirational speech by the principal. He also was one of the torch bearers for the Beijing games and he had the torch he carried so all of the girls got to touch the torch! After the program we were paired up with a student who showed us through various parts of the school. We then met her mother and went home to have time with their family. Their apartment is located in a beautiful park-like setting and the walk through the grounds to get through their building was beautiful. Their apartment is on the 6th floor. I can’t imagine carrying all of my groceries up all those steps. I think Josi said there were 96 stairs! Their apartment is very modern and not at all what I was expecting. It was a very sharp contrast to the apartment Delleen and I visited in Beijing 10 years ago. A volunteer went with us which made the conversation go so much more smoothly. The grandmother was making dumplings for us and we were given a little lesson on how to make the dumplings. She was a very warm and welcoming person and even though we couldn’t speak each other’s language, we communicated fairly well. She was worried that I would be too cold in my short sleeve shirt. Anyway we had the best taking dumplings I have ever eaten and I learned how to fold a dumpling (kind of). We were also treated to some delicious goose and tofu that were prepared in a traditional Yangzhou style. Not sure how they were prepared, but they were delicious! They gave us gifts of a CD of yanzhou music, Chinese flags for the girls and some boxes of sweets. The girls exchanged addresses and I hope we can keep in touch with the family. It was such a nice break to be out of a hotel with a family doing regular family things. At the end of the evening we took pictures and then the dad drove us back to the hotel. It was a great day of fun after our rather draining day yesterday!

The beautiful little girl who stole my heart...

This little girl is being adopted soon!

The nurse (in blue) who brought Cadi to me

Cadi with the staff member who helped me when I got Cadi

aunt and niece completing the journey

Exploring the gardens on the orphanage grounds

A new baby picture!

Finding her baby picture. We were given this picture which was a real gift as I only had a little tiny thumbnail version of it on the adoption paperwork.

Finally back to a computer

We are in Beijing and finally back to internet access so I'm going to post what I wrote as a journal in Word. Thanks full I can just coy and paste because I'm too tired to think too hard!

March 18, 2009

It has been a day of great emotion. We visited the orphanage today. I didn’t have any idea what a huge deal it would be for the people of Yangzhou. As we got off the bus we were greeted by a huge group of people…officials as well as other people who work at the welfare institute. The sound of drums could be heard even before the door to the bus was opened. As we walked through the gates we could see the drummers lined up one side of the street. About 25 women were playing the huge drums. They were dressed in very modern costumes. There were decorations all down the road and in the distance we could hear the sounds of the lion dance. Cadi did a good job recording the sights and sounds with her the Flip recorder as she walked. We got to the central area in front of the new orphanage building and it was set up with a stage that was brightly decorated. The Director of the orphanage spoke followed by the Mayor and several other people expressing the joy of the girls coming to Yangzhou.

Next came the entertainment. Many of the older children, nannies, staff and directore sang Jasmine Flower. It was incredibly beautiful. Then our girls performed Jingle bells! It was amazing. They had decided on the bus ride to the orphange that a Christmas song was probably the only song they all knew. Less than 30 minutes later when they went up to sing there was an accompaniment track playing behind them! How they pulled that off I don’t know!

The next thing was the presentation of gifts. Cadi went up to present the scrapbook which the families with children Yangzhou had prepared as well as the financial donation we had brought for the orphanage. Then all of the girls went up on stage and were presented with a gift- a huge Teddy bear as well as a book on Yanzhou and a very cool picture frame. They had a picture all together with the staff. Later they also gave a teddy bear to the sibling so now I have 2 Giant teddy bears to get across the Pacific!

We then went and have a picture take of all the families with the staff. An amazing feat in itself to get that many girls and their parents standing still long enough for a photo!

The next event was to learn how to make dumplings. Just as we were going there the woman who was the MC for the banquet last night came towards me holding the scrapbook. I ended up being interviewed by her and I totally missed out on the dumpling making class, but I guess I was supposed to talk on Chinese tv! I didn’t catch the news though so I don’t know if I actually made it on tv or not. We did have a very good discussion and I got in my plug for singles being able to adopt.

We ate the dumplings for lunch along with two different soups and some fruit. Cadi was very impressed with the dumplings! Big surprise since she is my dumpling girl! Then we got to tour the new building that is still under construction. The picturse of the plans and the furnishing and equipment are quite impressive. We then saw a video about life at the orphanage. Then the hardest part of the day for me began. We went into the rooms where the children spend some of the day. There were little tiny chairs lining the walls. We went in and about 8 children sang and danced for us. They were very engaging and came up to us and clapped hands with us and such. There was one girl about 4 years old who was enjoying herself so much and such a natural performer. They were all delightful but there was something about this one child who just drew my attention. I later heard that she will be adopted soon! After they were done they gave some drawings they had done to the girls. Then I sat down and one small little girl just came up and leaned into me. She was so small and so in need of physical touch. I held her hand and then she let me hold her in my lap. She clung to the name tag hanging around my neck. I just talked and talked to her and told her how much God loved her and then I couldn’t stop crying as she clung to me. I don’t know who I was crying for most of all her or myself or for all of those people who will never be able to adopt. Our guide,Vivian, came up to me and asked if I was okay. What can you say? Yes I am okay but this child needs a family. Vivian told me that the little girl is about 4 years old and has some special needs. I know that I cannot adopt another child, but it was so very difficult to let go. One of the nannies finally came and took her from my arms which was probably the best because I don’t know if I would have been able to set her down on my own.

We went into another room filled with babies in walkers. What a lot of activity! They all had diapers on under their split pants. I think that was probably just for our benefit. There was one little guy who didn’t seems very happy with the diaper situation. There were several babies who had repaired cleft lips and one little girl who is going to have her surgery in a few weeks. She had the most delightful eyes and smile!

When it was time to leave the children’s rooms then we had a little time to walk through the lovely garden that is there on the grounds. The grounds have the orphanage as well as a home for the elderly. There were several of these residents who sat out in the sunshine watching us and occasionally smiling and waving back at us.
Before we left we were given the opportunity to view the files of our children. It was cool to see that they have placed the pictures and letters we have sent to them in Cadi’s file. There wasn’t any additional information in her file though that I didn’t already have. A bit of a dissapointment, but I wasn’t really holding out any hope.

There are several people who are still there from 1998. One of the directors and the nurse who came when they delivered Cadi to me are still there as well as several nannies.
After a very emotional 6 hours we returned to the hotel for a short break before we went to dinner at a most wonderful buffet! I have never in my life seems such a wide variety of food! Everything for peking duck to pizza and French fries! We went for a river cruise before returning to the hotel. The river has an amazing display of lights!

When I got back to the hotel I went to the business center to try to check email. Couldn’t get in so will have to try tomorrow, but I did find the article in the China Daily that I was interviewed for the day we left Beijing. We are in a Chinese newspaper! Complete with a picture and lots of quotes! So I got copies made. Paul and Erwin paid for the copies so we have a surprise for the bus tomorrow as many of the families are in the report!