The last 3 days have been a blur so I will try to catch you up. Last I wrote - I was comparing the differences between Beijing and Guangzhou (pronounced Guang joe). I am a very optimistic person and always see the positive in everything. I try hard not to complain. BUT...comparing our stay here in Guangzhou with the Beijing days....our time in Beijing was pretty miserable. Not awful, just miserable. The hotel air conditioning was terrible. I think what made this so bad for me was that the landing into Beijing had made me so sick - that I was queasy and my equilibrium was thrown off for several days. I think that if we could have had a cool room - that I could have gotten back on my "feet" quicker. Remember me saying that the first night they came to fix our air - they pointed a sensor gun at the air grate in the wall and left. I have no idea what they did. But they had switched the button to heat. I am OK with being somewhat hot - but sweltering is another story.
ANYWAY - as you can tell the air conditioning issue has traumatized me! :) Ok...on with the comparison. We have seen so much more GREEN here in Guangzhou. Grass, trees, shrubs. It is more like the South Florida weather. There is much more traffic here and it takes longer to get around. There are many more communities that are street front in the areas we are driving in. All along the street are different vendors and the 20 floors above that are apartments. These apartments look VERY run down though. Worst than what I've seen in Mexico. But the people seem content. This is their life. There are 11 million people in this city alone. Tons of people on every street all day every day. Kinda like Christmas time at the mall in NW Arkansas. Except all the time!
Our room here at the Asia International Hotel is AWESOME. The air is GREAT ....all day ....all the time. No crazy sensor guns and wacko heat button pushing boys! I have always heard and read people say that their hotels while in China on adoption trips are better than the US. That is definitely not TRUE about the Guangxi Hotel in Beijing. But this one - yes. It is like an upscale hotel with fancy shops and great housekeeping, nice sheets, big rooms, and in a great area! Pizza Hut and KFC are right next door and McDonald's is across the street! After all of the Chinese authentic meals we had in Beijing this is heaven! I always thought I loved Chinese food but the real Chinese food is not Hunan Manor! Hunan Manor in Fayetteville is my FAVORITE and now I have learned that even though it looks authentic - it has been Americanized. I'll take my Hunan any day over the bland stuff we've had here! I like spicy and sweet. Hunan's house spicy chicken and Lemon chicken, and fried rice, and egg rolls....mmmmmm that sounds really good right now! :)
This was May 9th and our GOTCHA DAY! "Gotcha Day" is a term used in the adoption community to celebrate the day you "got" your baby. We started the day after breakfast by doing our paperwork. I took a picture of ours and posted it for you that day! We were told to go and do some currency exchange b/c we would need roughly 5000 yuan to pay the notary and registration office for paperwork fees (equals a little over $600). BUT our hotel refused to exchange such a large amount of American cash into yuan. So we all had to go to a bank down the street to do it. About 4 families went with us and we waited for over an hour to get our money. We were supposed to have it to Rosa and Maggie's room by noon - but it was 1 PM before we even got out of the bank. And of course the bank was VERY HOT!! ;( 2 of the families were across the street at another bank and waited for 2 hours! You get a number out of the machine when you get there and wait for them to call your number. It felt like we waited for an eternity! But I had read many adoption blogs with this great advice - BE FLEXIBLE. Times, appts, etc will change. So I just took it all in stride!
We left for the Civil Affairs office at 3:30...supposed to get babies at 4 PM. Traffic was bad and we were 20 minutes late. We went up to a conference room and they called families and brought in babies in alphabetical order. Then they gave us about 15 minutes to "get to know our babies", take pics, video, etc and then whisked us back to our bus and back to the hotel. It was very fast. I think I already told you what a miracle it was that NONE of the babies cried more than a couple of tears. I have had so many of you praying for so long that all of the babies in our group would BOND incredibly with their new families....and God has heard our prayer. Awesome.
It was a little overwhelming when they first brought us Mia b/c she had this huge gash/sore on the top of her forehead. After I got past that I was able to see how tiny she really is. I don't see how she weighed 13 lbs. in January. She is very light. And VERY skinny! She just looked at us inquisitively with those big brown eyes. AND then...MACY got the first laugh out of her within just a few short minutes! Of course we are being all gentle like she is a newborn and will break - and Macy is already rough housing. She puts Mia's toy sheep on her head and pulls it off - and Mia starts laughing! WOW! Within 5 minutes of holing her she is SMILING AND LAUGHING!
Brad and I had some one on one with Mia last night while Macy spent some time with Noni. At first she would avoid making eye contact with Brad. It was like she wasn't sure what she thought of him. She has probably not ever been around men very much. But then Brad started playing with her and she opened up. He had her laughing and smiling....it was so sweet.
She didn't take much of her bottle. I think it all the excitement of the day. Her schedule the nannies gave us was like this: Up at 6 am, bottle at 6:30, 11 AM, 4 pm, and 8:30. Each full size bottle takes 7 scoops of formula and 7 scoops of rice cereal. Wow. They gave us a bottle for her that she is used to. It has a hole in the nipple about the size of a small ladybug. So the milk just POURS out as soon as you tip it up. She spits out half of it just to swallow. I think this much be the way they do it at the orphanage b/c they have so many to feed, so little help, so little time. Probably makes feedings faster and babies fuller longer. I am trying to transition her to a Advent bottle that I enlarged the hole in the nipple. But I don't think that she knows how to suck. She's just used to it pouring in maybe? We will see how it goes.
Last night I put her in her crib about 10:30 - the cribs they gave us have huge fluffy zip up blanket sleeper/comforters. I was afraid I would have to strip the bed for her to sleep b/c all she is used to sleeping on is a board. But she rubbed her little hand on the soft pillow, laid her head down and was asleep in 30 seconds! I think she was thinking "Ahhhhh what is this comfort??? Calgon - take me away!" She slept until almost 6 this morning. She woke up happy and ready to go. I posted the pics I took of her in her first outfit and big hair bow already! This girl can army crawl like no body's business! She is going to be fast like her big sister Macy!
Today we went back to the Civil Affairs office to do paperwork. We were there for a couple of hours b/c there are 7 babies and 2 toddlers in our group. Larger than most groups. We had to have 2 short 5 minute interviews just stating that we promised to never abandon our baby and that we wanted to adopt her. At the end of the meeting with the notary and the meeting with the registration office - MIA was officially OURS! Wooo hooo! Done deal!
Guess what - the civil affairs office was hotter than the pit! I shouldn't be surprised! The Chinese people don't like cold air b/c they think it messes up the "balance" in their bodies. That is why for the most part they drink their drinks warm also. We did not have a cold drink until we got here in Guangzhou. Ice in our drinks from Pizza Hut. Ohhhh so good!
While we were there the time for Mia's bottle came and went and she was VERY hungry. So as I was trying to get her bottle mixed up one of the nannies came over to help b/c my water was too hot. Imagine that. They tell you to boil water and pack in a thermos b/c your baby is used to only having bottles that are scalding hot. But my water was still boiling in my thermos! So they had to cool it down! And while she was crying she scratched at the sore at the top of her head....and when I looked down blood was everywhere! Ahhhgg! But we cleaned it off and got it to stop bleeding. After her bottle she was happy again! This was the loudest we had heard her cry. Usually it is more like a whimper.
We went to the "carafour" store on our way back to the hotel that is comparable to a Wal-Mart I guess. A little of everything. We loaded up on 2 cases of water, snacks, more diapers, a prize for Macy and a nice little bag for me to use as a smaller diaper bag while we are here. The bag was only $4. Good buy. Me and Macy checked out the meat dept. while there b/c you know adventurous me - I wanted to see if there were any "interesting" things. I took a pic of Macy looking at a bin of turtles, frogs, and snakes. Live ones. For sale in the meat dept.! Fun!
We have been back at the hotel a little while now. All of us took a little nap. We ordered from Danny's Bagel and they delivered. It is an American based restaurant here. Chicken Parmesan, Greek salad, and a hamburger for mom. I haven't eaten yet b/c I'm trying to catch you up - but Brad says his is very good!
Tomorrow we go apply for Mia's visa and then SATURDAY we go the orphanage at Yang Xi where Mia has spent the entirety of her 8 months of life. I am really excited we received permission to go. I think the fee for the drive is like $35 per person....300 yuan??? Not bad. We will also try to find all of our 7 babies "finding spots" where they were abandoned. Just to see and touch the place that led to them being in our lives. Bittersweet. A lost child that has become found. Beautiful. We have traveled east to bring home this daughter. There is a contentment among us already. My mom worded it perfectly...."It is as if she has always been with us." Stop to savor that. That is also the story of my personal adoption with my parents. It is as if we have always been together. I am having warm fuzzy feelings right now! :)