Monday, February 27, 2012

Feb. 24, 2012, Home!

We left for the airport at 6 am. The hotel had packed us breakfasts to go - banana, pear, yogurt, bottled water, hard boiled egg, ham and bread, and dim sum. Elvin walked us in and helped us to check in, and somehow got all our boarding passes for all of our flights printed for us, and checked our luggage all the way through to San Francisco! Thanks, Elvin!

The first flight went pretty well. Jack was a little fussy but not too bad. We had gate checked our stroller, then when we landed in Beijing we weren’t at a gate. We had to climb down stairs, take a shuttle bus from the plane to the terminal, then find our way to our international connection and we never did find the stroller. Amazingly, we had met a family on the flight from Guangzhou to Beijing who would also be on our Beijing to San Francisco flight, and they had to leave the secure area to get their boarding passes printed. They found their stroller, and ours! It was so nice of them to bring it to us. I wish I knew their names so I could write them a thank you note. They had adopted the most adorable little girl, and I think they told Rich that they lived in Washington state?

The stewardesses on the flight from Beijing to San Francisco were wonderful and managed to rearrange the seating so that Em and I had an empty seat between us for Jack. It was nice to not have to hold him the whole time! He slept for quite a while!

San Francisco to Austin also went pretty well - we all slept for most of the flight, Jack included! The two flight attendants were very nice and helpful.

It is so wonderful to finally be home.

Photos from Feb 23, 2012 Six Banyan Temple

Photos from Feb 23, 2012 Six Banyan Temple

Past, Present, and Future Buddhas, and Kwan Yin

Photos from Feb 23, 2012 Six Banyan Temple

Feb. 23, 2012 Six Banyan Temple

Feb 23
Today we went on a tour of the Six Banyan Temple, a Buddhist temple that has been in the same spot for hundreds of years. It has a 300 year old 9-story pagoda that, until modern times, had been the tallest building for miles around. Elvin told us that at the top of the pagoda, a torch would have been lit at night, so that everyone for miles around could follow the torchlight to the temple for food or shelter, or whatever help they needed. The temple even has its own hotel, for pilgrims who come from far away to pray there!

We saw the past, present, and future Buddhas, a shrine to Kwan Yin (who is said to help bring children to families...), and others. We received a blessing from a very kind monk, who chanted and played a small drum, and poured holy water on our heads. He was very patient with Jack and I - we had to stand in the back because when I tried to kneel with the others, Jack screamed!

We ate lunch at a wonderful Thai restaurant up the street from Lucy’s - it was all outside, under canopies. We had pork, chicken satay, pineapple fried rice, the ever-present boiled peanuts, and hot tea. 7-up for the kids!

After 5 that evening, Elvin called our room and told us that Jack’s visa and other paperwork were ready to go, so I went down to pick them up.

That evening we packed up our bags for the trip home!

Photos from Feb 22, 2012

Feb. 22, 2012 Consulate Appointment

Feb. 22
Consulate appointment

We got up bright and early and were in the bus by 7:15. We headed over to pick up the other family at the other hotel, then went to the US Consulate. We had to wait for a few minutes while someone brought paperwork to Elvin. While we were waiting he talked to me about Jack’s Chinese name, Shen Kaizhou. Shen is the family name, all the children brought to the orphanage that year have the same name. Kai means the beginning, and zhou means boat. Elvin translated it as the beginning of a boat voyage, and new possibilities. He said it is a good, strong name.

When it was time, we rode the escalators up to the fourth floor, and waited in line to show our passports to the guard. Then we were allowed up to the fifth floor. The guides aren’t allowed upstairs, so we were on our own for this part. We had to go through security (like at the airport, but we could keep our shoes on!), then we had a seat and waited. The head of the adoption unit came out and spoke to us, then we took the oath that all the info we had submitted was true. After that, we waited for our child’s name to be called (“the family of Shen Kaizhou”) and Rich went up to the window to answer the questions and sign the paperwork. Then we went back to our hotel. Jack's passport with the US Visa should be delivered to us tomorrow, along with the infamous "brown envelope" THAT IS NOT TO BE OPENED until we deliver it to the immigration worker at our port of entry in the US. They always make it sound so ominous!

That afternoon we did a bit of shopping and walking around the island. It rained a bit, then we had a downpour! We stopped off to sit at Starbucks and have hot chocolate, coffee, or tea and some cheesecake under one of the big umbrellas!