Thursday, December 3, 2009

We're on our way home

We're on our way home!

We survived the first leg of our trip, and right now we are in the Tokyo airport!  After a very early morning wake-up call, we flew out of Guangzhou, China at 9:00 a.m. and are connecting through Japan.

The past two days have been simultaneously long and a whirlwind.  On Wednesday we took our oath at the US Consulate.  On Thursday we toured around a bit on our own.

Although we were discouraged from leaving the island of Shamian, where our hotel was, we had island fever, so we disobeyed.  We took a ferry across the Pearl River, and it was a highly different experience.  On Shamian Island, every fourth person is carrying a baby that they are adopting.  Everyone is preparing their final paperwork for Citizenship and Immigration.  Once we stepped foot off the other side of the bridge, it was like they had never seen Westerners before.  The stares were thick, and everyone was a little dumbfounded by the Chinese baby in our arms.

On Thursday afternoon we received Orli's visa.  Outside of that, all we needed to do was get on the plane, which we are rather happy to say that we did.

The flight from China to Japan was…interesting.  Although this was actually Orli's second flight of the trip, the first one was short and she slept most of the way.  This one offered us a bit more chance to be the annoying couple on the plane with the screeching baby.  :)  With the generous help of  the two Chinese women behind us and one Japanese couple, Orli's crying was cut short, and like I said, we survived.  We were also in good company, since there were a few other adopted (and crying) babies on this flight.

Now it's time for the big leg home--10 hours from Tokyo to Los Angeles.  But for now, Orli is sitting in a large leather chair in the Admiral's Lounge, surrounded by businessmen who seem to be talking about very important things, and working on their laptops.   Meanwhile, she is working on her stacking cups and chewing on her stuffed monkey--but she does look very distinguished in the big leather chair,  :)

So as you read this (assuming you're not up at midnight), we are somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.  Thank you so much for joining us on this rather incredible journey of ours.  We'll continue to update the blog on a sporadic basis as our lives begin to take shape in Sunny Southern California.

Lots of love and blessings from Corey, Ted, and Orli Jia-Mei.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Guangzhou Picture Day

Guangzhou
Tuesday December 1

Happy Anniversary to us!

Today we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary!  We got lots of good wishes from the other families in our group, and the common question was, "Would you have imagined that 18 years later you'd be in China doing this?"  In every way, shape and form, "this" would have been pretty hard to imagine.  :)

After our physical examinations yesterday, our guides collected all of our paperwork.  On our behalf, they filed everything with the US Consulate.  This morning we got the call--everything was acceptable in the eyes of the US government, and we received approval to bring Miss Orli HOME!

We taught Orli how to clap, and she actually knows how to do it at appropriate times.  This would be one of those times…Yaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy!!!!!!

Tomorrow we will go to the Consulate with her and take "an oath."  We actually have no idea what we are promising, but we do know that at the end, we will have a visa for Orli so that we can board that plane in 3 days…  Have to say, we are definitely ready to get home.

After our call of congratulations, we convinced Orli to take her very first nap today!!!  This was big-time folks.  Girl just refuses to nap, unless she is in her carrier against one of our chests.  But today, it was actually fairly painless to get her to nap for a bit.  There is hope.

Unfortunately, we interrupted her nap to dress her up in her new Chinese silk outfit, and we headed downstairs for the infamous Red Couch photos.  We took pictures of just the babies, all lined up.  We took pictures of each family.  We took pictures of all the babies from our specific region, and then just the ones from our orphanage and town.  All together, it was a pretty hectic and hilarious hour.  I don't think there was a moment when at least one baby wasn't in total breakdown.  And yet, we did get some really cute photos.  :)

The rest of the day was very relaxed.  It was nice to have a day with not too much to do.  We are getting a bit run ragged, so we opted out an optional river cruise.  We're looking forward to an early bed time and a good, solid night's sleep.

We hope all of you are doing great.  We miss you all, and will see many of you very soon!

xo-c and t




our entire group


All the babies in our travel group


The girls and boys of Chongqing


Monday, November 30, 2009

Guangzhou Sunday & Monday

Guangzhou Sunday & Monday
November 29 & 30th

With an early morning, we didn't blog last night, so you get a double dose here.

Sunday:  After breakfast, we met as a group (all 15 families) and went out on a few tours.

We first went to see a 5th century Buddhist temple, Six Banyan Temple.  We walked around the grounds, saw all of the amazing architecture and sculpture, including a very tall pagoda tower in the center of the courtyard, and then all of the babies were blessed by a monk!

From the temple we were off to The Guangdong Folk Arts Museum.  This large complex is an example of traditional architecture for Guangdong Province, and houses a huge collection of arts, including furniture, pottery, carved ivory and jade, paintings, and more.  In case you are ever here, I definitely don't recommend the squat toilets at this facility…

Then we went to a government owned and run shop that sold local crafts.  We mostly hung out at the interesting little market across the street, where we bought (and ate) locally baked almond cookies! 

We had a big group dinner at a Thai restaurant.  It was very delicious, but when the bill came with 20 items on it, we were surprised to find out that they even charged for the napkins on the table…  Hmmm…

Monday:  The morning started out with big stuff.  All 15 families traipsed to the local clinic to get physical exams for the babies.  They need to be examined as part of the immigration process for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.  It was quite perfunctory, and hardly extensive, but we did get Orli's new height (71 cm) and weight (8 kilos), and she turned her head properly when squeaked in the ear with a squeaky toy.

The clinic was an experience.  We walked right through to a back room, where we all waited together, but the front room was standing room only, filled with locals who seemed to be there for a variety of reasons.  It was pretty much a mad house.

We also had Visa photos done for each of the babies.  Orli cried the whole time, and it was amazing that the photo turned out as decently as it actually did.

In the afternoon we had a little time to shop on our own.  Our hotel is surrounded by little stores, all selling similar wares.  We bought Orli a pair of Chinese silk pajamas, and tomorrow we will take what is now the infamous "red couch" photos that all of the families take when they stay at the White Swan in Guangzhou.

Later in the afternoon we went as a group to the wholesale jewelry market.  This place was totally mind-blowing.  It was a huge mall-like complex, with hundreds of stores selling every kind of jewelry and jewelry supply items you can think of.  There was one store that specialized solely in Lapis.  The entire store was blue.

Our main target as a group was the pearl market.  We bought Orli a strand of pearls that we will probably give to her for her Bat Mitzvah.   She tried them on today and liked them so much that we had to pry them from her hands.  Of course, she is equally excited by a plastic Kleenex wrapper…

When we got back to our hotel room this afternoon, there was a brand new Barbie doll on the bed.  It is a bea-u-ti-ful, tall, blonde American-looking Barbie, holding a small Chinese baby.  :)  Mattel Hong Kong gifts these to all of the adoptive families who stay at the White Swan.  I tried to find someone who got a bea-u-ti-ful brunette Mama, but apparently all Americans must be blonde.  Orli didn't care, she was clawing at the box to get to that doll.  She probably wants to trade me in for a more "American looking" new mother.  :)

We went to dinner with a couple from our group, Kelly and Jay, and their new daughter Jia Lan.  Jia and Orli are one day apart and are both Chongqing Girls from the same orphanage.  They get along really well and like to hold hands and share all sorts of germs with one another.  :)  Dinner was…well…hectic.  Orli wasn't too thrilled to be there, and didn't display the best in good manners.  If there hadn't been a baby at every third table we'd have been outta there.  But this whole area seems to be geared towards all the Americans who are here with their new children--we all pass through Guangzhou to complete the final hurdle of paperwork and exams necessary to go home.  At least we were in good and compassionate company.

That's it for now.  We are both totally worn out, even though Orli seems to have a second wind.  That's about predictable for her at this point.  We're looking forward to getting her on a normal schedule when we get home!


lots o pearls


everything tastes better when served on a stick


Barbie!


A very very early Bat Mitzvah present (to be hidden away)


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday: Chongqing to Guangzhou

What a day.  What I mean is, what a looooooong day.

We were awake at 5 a.m., which is earlier than Ted, Corey OR Orli likes to get up!  Our luggage was out the door by 6 a.m. Our bodies out of the hotel room by 6:30.  We were on the bus on our way to the airport at 6:50.  We took a crammed packed shuttle to get to the airplane (it seemed interminably long) and were on the plane at 8:30.  The flight was about 1 ½ hours, and then onto another bus to get to the hotel in Guangzhou.  For a little girl who has probably never been in a car during the first 9 months of her life (we think she came by public bus the day they schlepped her to the city of Chongqing to meet us), she sure has seen a lot of modes of transportation in one short week.

We arrived into Guangzhou and were greeted by our new CCAI representatives, Cathy and Jason.  We're staying at the White Swan hotel in Guangzhou.  This is a pretty well-known hotel in the adoption community, and now we know why.  It feels like every fourth person you meet here is an adoptive parent.  We had lunch at Lucy's bar and grill, and we met two other families who are also in Guangzhou to finish paperwork on their adoptions.  And every time we get onto an elevator, another adoptive family is there.  It feels a bit weird coming from a city where there were absolutely no Westerners, to one that seems to have built an entire "tourist" industry around us being here.

This afternoon Corey filled out a TON of paperwork for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.  This evening, Orli decided that her 5 a.m. wake call was catching up to her. We celebrated our first havdallah together in our hotel room , and now she is passed out on the bed.  It was Papa John's pizza for dinner (we just couldn't bear to subject a restaurant to Orli's meltdown) and now we're heading to bed.

Tomorrow we will go tour a Buddhist temple, an art museum, and some local arts and crafts.  On Monday we'll start getting things in order with the US government so we can bring our little girl home to meet you all!

We can actually access our blog now that we've found a proxy server, and it is really great to see so many of you are following along in our journey.  Your support and well-wishes mean so much to us.

Here are a few pics from the day, but it was mostly pretty uneventful.




Bathroom choices


Orli's first airport experience

Note Orli's Chinese passport

Orli's first airport experience

Note Orli's Chinese passport

Friday, November 27, 2009

Orli


Vacuum packed roasted duck


The People's Great Hall of Chongqing


Friday in Chongqing - group photo

Today we had a group photo in the morning and then the rest of the day on our own to explore. We took Orli to see "The People's Great Hall of Chongqing" and a nearby museum highlighting the history and culture of the region.

Tonight we celebrated our first Shabbat together in our hotel room. No challah around here, but we did bring Shabbat candles.

Tomorrow we are waking up before dawn to head to the airport and on to Guangzhou. There, we will have our appointment at the US Consulate and complete the US portion of our adoption.

We hope to write more tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the photos and Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

hotpot


old city onlookers


morning smiles


on the square


Thanksgiving in Chongqing

Thanksgiving Day
Thursday
Chongqing

The first thing I can say we are thankful for is that we are learning that our Orli wakes up first thing in the morning as Happy Baby, with a big smile on her face.  J  Sure makes it a nice way to start a day.

Even early in the morning the street below our hotel is hustling and bustling, and the honking starts way before the sun rises.  There are 14 or so lanes of traffic moving in all sorts of crazy directions.  When I just went to the window to count the lanes, I witnessed someone purposefully driving in the wrong direction for about a block in order to not have to turn around and go out of their way--no wonder there's so much honking going on down there!

Today we had a bit of free time in the morning.  We woke up with the delightful sounds of our honking "alarm clock" and headed out to the park in the plaza outside our hotel.  Every morning there is a variety of locals in the park who are practicing Tai Chi, sword, fan, Kung Fu, and probably some other art forms I don't know how to name.  There was also a man playing a cool bamboo flute, and it seemed like all of the martial arts were being done to the music he was providing.

It's chilly here, but not as freezing as we had girded ourselves for before we left.  My guess is that it was in the low 50's--very tolerable.  Of course, every time we go out in public, we have to make sure Orli is totally bundled up, with no skin showing.  Otherwise, we expose ourselves to harsh words and actions of all the local Chinese grandmothers.  They will not hesitate to come up and tug and pull on clothing to make sure the baby is well-protected from the elements.  Of course, their idea of well-protected is with baby looking like the Michelin Man, with 20 layers, so we have received a few nasty looks of disapproval.  But mostly we've done OK.

We spent time this morning walking all around the area that surrounds our hotel.  Because of the many lanes of traffic in all directions, in order to get from one side of the street to another we have to walk through these crazy tunnels, pathways and overhead walkways.  It's confusing to say the least.  What is absolutely amazing to us is how Western the area appears.  Pizza Hut…McDonald's…Starbucks…  Although there are very (very) few non-Chinese here, it still feels like we could be in any big city in the US.  There's a fancy mall under one of the underneath walkways, where we can buy any type of high-fashion clothes, shoes, cosmetics or anything else we can imagine.  We continue to be amazed by how fashionable the locals are in their everyday wear.  Everyone is dressed like they're going out clubbing, even at 8 a.m.  It's like a fashion mecca here. 

In the afternoon we went on a tour of Ci Qi Kou, Old Chongqing, which is the original part of this now humongous city.  It has old and winding walkways, traditional architecture, overlooks the Jialing river, and is a fantastic place for people-watching.  But then, I think we were often the main attraction.  We were six families walking around with Chinese babies.  Typically, one woman would stop us, and then a crowd would form, sometimes 15 or so people deep!  We would let them read our badges, and they again gave us huge thumbs-ups, lots of clapping, and even a few tears.  They seem so happy to see that the children will be provided for and loved, and that makes us very happy.

Chongqing, once the capital of China, was originally a part of the Sichuan province, although about 10 years ago the Central Government decided it should be its own municipality.  But culturally, it is definitely Sichuanese.  For dinner, we celebrated Thanksgiving with a traditional Sichuanese dinner--Hot Pot.  We sat at three tables, and in the center of each table was a large 2-section pot of boiling liquid.  The inner pot had a stock base.  We were at the vegetarian table with our new friends Dennis, Ann and their son Matthew, and so that meant that our inner pot only had the guts of chicken and fish floating about.  J  The outer pot was a dark and spicy liquid with tons of floating peppers of varying spiciness.  We were warned to make sure we stayed clear of one of the peppercorns in particular.  (This would have been the moment where Jesse and Ross would have dared everyone at the table to eat one. J  ) One in our group accidentally did eat one, and it wasn't pretty.  They brought our table all sorts of items--including lotus fruit, bean curd, potato noodles, and other vegetables, and ladled them into the two sections of the boiling and bubbling pot.  (Incidentally, Hot Pot Restaurant is not where we'd normally take a bunch of infants out for dinner!)  After allowing the food to cook for a bit in the pot, we pulled it all out and put it into our individual bowls of sesame oil mixed with garlic to cool down the temperature.  Then we ate it!  We ordered the mild-spicy hot pot mixture, and it was plenty hot, for sure!  It was really delicious, and made for a very interesting and fun Thanksgiving Dinner experience.

We hope that everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration.   We certainly have plenty to be thankful for: You our family and friends who have supported us for so many years, and Miss Orli Jia-Mei who is bringing new light to our lives.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

lunch time for the panda


at the zoo


orli


Today it's official; Corey & Orli in their pink boots

24 November
Tuesday in Chongqing

Today it's official.

Or at least in China it's official.  After a fairly decent night of sleep last night (only one smallish melt-down at 2:30 a.m., then straight sleeping until EIGHT a.m.) we went down to have breakfast along with three other families.  Orli didn't like egg.  She didn't like the specifically-for-her egg custard.  She wasn't a big fan of the oatmeal .  So after all of those misses, we made her a bottle and that was that.

Although we both had hoped for a mid-morning nap, Orli didn't quite have that in mind. Instead, we all sat on the floor in our hotel room and played with stacking cups, plastic keys, books (thank you Shukiar family), and various other distractions of great interest.

Then it was off to the building next door again, the Municipality Office of Adoption Registration.  We were called up one by one to show the officer our baby, and they looked at the paperwork to make sure we had the correct baby.  Then we took a "family photo."  None of us really knew what the day was about.  We basically just go where we're told to go and do what they tell us to do.  Our guide from our agency, Anita (Wang Sam is her Chinese name) is really fantastic.  She has been with us since picking us up from the airport in Chongqing and stays at the hotel with us.  She is there if we need anything at all, and like I said, she has been great!

So Anita suddenly ushered us into a small room and one family at a time took an oath for a Chinese Notary.  It was full of slightly dressed-down pomp and circumstance.  We each thumb-stamped our names on a document, including Orli, who actually ended up three-finger stamping hers.  J  And then the notary announced that it was official and that we were now the legal mother and father of Orli, who as I type is sitting on the floor so sweetly playing with stacking cups and plastic keys.

******************

OK, first apologies to those who wondered where our blog was yesterday.  We were so exhausted from the day that we couldn't even stay up another minute last night, not even to put up the above post.  And I guess we were all exhausted, because Orli's head hit the pillow at 10:30 and we had to wake her up this morning at 7:00--she slept straight through!  (Adopting a 9 month old ROCKS when it comes to sleep!!)  J

Today was a little less draining.  This morning we went to the Chongqing zoo to see the pandas!  Orli slept through most of it, and we think the zoo was more for us than the babies, but it was still fun to see all the pandas so up-close.

Whenever we are out and about (or at breakfast, or in the hotel lobby) the local women come up to check out the situation on all these Chinese babies and American parents.  The response is mostly positive with an occasional look of skepticism.  The zoo was full of  interactions with the locals.  At one point we were bombarded by a group of about 8 women.  Anita asked us to show them our tags that say why we have the babies (see our first Chongping post), and they were all smiles and huge and repeated thumbs-ups for us.

This evening we had a celebration dinner at a fancy restaurant.  We even had a "birthday" cake (to celebrate the birth of all the new families for the babies) with a rather pyrotechnic candle that lit up like a firework, then lit a bunch of candles, simultaneously creating a spinning flower that played music.

Tomorrow we're going to walk around a bit by our hotel.  We are in a fantastic location, within walking distance from anything we could need.  Tomorrow afternoon we'll go tour the Old City of Chongqing.

Incidentally, we are unable to receive our Verizon email here, so if some of you are replying to our posts in your inbox, we aren't able to receive them.  It will likely be the same in Guangzhou, as so many sites are blocked in mainland China.  So if you want us to be able to see your comments (when we return), you'll have to post them to the blog.

Sending everyone very Happy Thanksgiving wishes.  We're not sure how we'll celebrate, but we are certainly full of thanks for this new little life that has entered ours.




Monday, November 23, 2009

Family Day photo 2


Family Day more photos 1


Family Day

Family Day

Probably all we need to say is, "Wow…what a day." We'll add a little more, skipping the mundane for the bigger stuff, and then we'll let the pictures speak for themselves. (Though as a warning. . .China blocks direct access to Blogspot, Facebook, Verizon, and many other sites. So, we are emailing this with photo attachments, not knowing whether or not the text and photos are coming in correctly.)

This morning we met in a hotel conference room to fill out all sorts of paper work.  We also got a lesson on preparing a milk-rice bottle, bathing the babies, and a few other tips.  We took a tour of our new surroundings, including the Vegas-style mall that exists beneath the hotel, did some brief grocery shopping in a huge and rather interesting store. We could not believe all the unusual things sold in this grocery store. A fish even jumped out of his tank and landed a foot or so from Ted.

We had time for a quick lunch (we thought Pizza Hut sounded quick and basic enough--they serve some odd and wacky looking items at Chinese Pizza Huts!).

Our group of now six families met in the hotel lobby at 2:00 p.m. to walk over to the Municipality Office for Adoption building next door.  We were told that the babies may already be there, but that they would bring them out to us one baby at a time.  That wasn't exactly how it played out.

A few of us didn't fit into the first elevator ride up to the offices, and as we were waiting for the second elevator, up walked a Nanny with a baby who we immediately recognized as being the baby of the couple waiting with us.  We said, "That's your baby!"  We were very teary, watching the reality sink in that they were having a baby, and so were we!

Once on the upper floor of the building, we emerged from the elevator to a room full of babies!  Without a moment's hesitation, they started handing babies to everyone.  It was controlled chaos. We met at 2:00 in the hotel lobby, and by 2:10 we had our baby in our arms.

The rest of the day was spent sitting and playing with and being with Orli.  We took turns taking naps, (Orli wasn't interested).  We went to the congee restaurant and ordered a bowl (to go) for Orli--she ate 4 bites and that was it.  She wasn't so interested in her formula, sticky rice, or anything else that we tried. But now, after a bath, she is sleeping so sweetly in her footy pajamas. J

Our group leader tells us that there are three kinds of babies: Happy Baby, Crying Baby, and Serious Baby. So far, we are pretty certain that we got the Serious variety (with definite moments of happiness) but we already thought that from her earlier pictures.

We're exhausted both emotionally and physically. We'll try to figure out a way to post videos, but they may have to wait until our return.

Happy Birthday to Howley!

Good night.
C&T





Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hong Kong to Chongqing

This morning we slept in--no major tossing and turning until after 6 a.m.

We joined the entire group downstairs in our hotel for breakfast.  Half of us had a pretty good appetite.  The other half not so much, because they were going directly to the airport and getting on an airplane to fly to Nanchang, where they met their babies this afternoon!  We won't meet Orli until tomorrow afternoon.

As I type this, we are on Air China flight #420 to Chongqing!  Tomorrow morning we wake up in a new city in mainland China.

But first, our last day in Hong Kong.  Pretty laid back.  Ted figured out how to download and post video to our blog.  If you didn't notice, we posted our first one below.  It took some major work to get it to work, but it was a winner!  Tomorrow we will hopefully post video of Orli!

We did a little more shopping in Kowloon, we ate lunch at Genki Sushi, and we toured the East Asian Sports Games festival that happened to be in the plaza outside of our hotel.  You have never seen jump ropers like the jump ropers we saw today!

Then it was onto a bus, to the airport, and here I sit, typing from row 25 seats A and B.  We land in about an hour, and after we get to the hotel we'll write more.

******************
Time for part two.

Anita (Wang Sam) met us at the Chongqing airport, and via bus we all came to our hotel (more about that in a minute).  She is very cute, and gave us the low-down for the entire week.  During the bus ride, she went over all of the items included in individual packets that she had prepared for us.  She got to the part about our name tags, and showed us that there was Chinese on that backside.  The Chinese is for the benefit of all of the locals who will stop us, and it says that we are adopting this little girl, and that we love her very much and promise to take very good care of her.  Those were the first tears that came to my eyes.

We got to the hotel and were all dumbstruck.  This is one hell of a hotel.  It is absolutely beautiful, and looking out our panoramic windows we feel like we're in Manhattan.  Chongqing is a huge and modern city--Ted read that it is actually the largest metropolitan area in the world (32 million people).  I think the entire city is outside of our hotel window--a steady stream of honking traffic, neon lights on all the sky scrapers, blaring opera coming from somewhere, a fountain on the grounds that reminds me of the Bellagio, and. a. stunning. room.

So here comes the part about the second tears for the evening.  We walk into the room, and as soon as we get over how amazing it is, we see the crib next to our bed.  Aaahhhh..the second tears of plenty to come in the next 24 hours.  I see Ted has put the stuffed monkey toy we brought (remember the one Buffy?) in her crib on the pillow.

So here's the part you are waiting for.  Tomorrow we wake up, have breakfast (unless we become the ones without an appetite) and meet all together to fill out some paperwork.  Then in the afternoon we walk to the Vegas-style sky scraper next door, and we will finally meet Orli!!!

Since that is what we are all waiting for, I'll just say good night for now from us, and good morning to you.

Thanks again for following us along our journey.  I think it's about to get really, really exciting tomorrow!

xo-c and t

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday in Hong Kong

Well, other than waking up at 5:30 this morning, I think we did enough go-go-going to earn our exhaustion.

This morning we had breakfast in our hotel.  Members of a Japanese band and their groupies were there (OK, we don‘t really know if they were in a band, but Hong Kong is so fashion forward that they appeared to be famous.)  There were a lot of other Japanese tourists… and then there was us.  “Us” consisted of about 14 couples from all across America, and we were all more than easy to spot.  It became pretty obvious that if we saw an American couple, they must be with our adoption group.  And so they all were.

After eating and schmoozing a little, we all got on a bus and started touring Hong Kong with our guide, Matthew.  We first went to Victoria Peak, where we enjoyed beautiful but very chilly, on-high views of all of Hong Kong and its surrounding waters.

We also toured Aberdeen fishing village, where we rode in a Sampan boat for an up-close tour of the local fishermen’s house boats and the South side of Hong Kong Island.


Then it was back on the bus, and then off again at a fancy jewelry factory and store where very few of us actually bought anything.  However, the jewelry factory was not a total loss.  I accidentally left my glasses in the bus, and therefore had my sunglasses on, and Ben, one of the salesmen said to me, “I know where you’re from!”  I said, “Huh?” and he said “I know where you’re from--it’s CANADA, right?  He seemed rather surprised  to find out I was from California, and then he said he had thought I was Celine Dion.  He was disappointed, but probably not as disappointed as when I didn’t buy any fancy jewelry.

One last stop on our tour was Stanley Market--an outdoor marketplace with a gazillion stalls filled to the brim with all the stuff you never knew you needed.  I bought a genuine and 100% pashmina scarf, which for 7 dollars I’m assuming wasn’t so genuine or so 100%, but hey--it will keep my neck warm in Chongqing!

From shopping, we went to eating.  As a group. We had lunch at a Chinese Dim Sum restaurant.  We sat with all of the couples who are going to the same region of China as we are, and it was nice to talk to everyone whom we will be with for the next 2 weeks.  There are three of us who were matched with babies from the same orphanage.

Our afternoon was spent at the second fitting for Ted’s suit (which is a beautiful suit), walking around the shopping area, people-watching on the plaza  by our  hotel, and then dinner--Thai food.  Then we were off to see this “amazing laser light show” that started at 8 p.m.  Music came from everywhere, and then the skyscrapers across the harbor began to light up.  It wasn’t as exciting as we had hoped, so we decided to go check out an interesting looking Asian foods store, where we were tempted to put one of everything into a bag to bring home to Miss Meredith.

We’ll do a bit more sight-seeing in Hong Kong tomorrow--maybe a museum and maybe a bit more shopping.  Then in the afternoon we head to the airport to fly to Chongqing, where on Monday we will meet our Orli!

I think it is getting less surreal by the day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday in Hong Kong

First, Melatonin is the BEST!  We slept (on-and-off) the entire night, but ended up getting enough sleep that we made it through the whole day without a nap.  By tomorrow, we should be fully acclimated to our new time zone.

We spent the day walking all over Kowloon--at the southern tip of Hong Kong.  The strange thing is that it really doesn’t feel all that much like we are in a foreign country.  Our thought is that we’ve had so many trips to China Towns in Los Angeles and  San Francisco that it kinda feels the same.

We started the day off with an adventurous restaurant where we were the only gringos.  We asked if they served breakfast, and they said yes.  But when we saw what everyone else was eating for breakfast we noticed it wasn’t exactly our idea of a first meal of the day--bowls of noodles with lots of interesting looking meats and seafoods, and all sorts of other unidentifiable platefuls.  We did find some less scary items.

Then we were off to explore.  We stopped along the route at Sam the Tailors where Ted was fitted for a custom suit.

Then we took the Metro to another area of Kowloon to see the Goldfish Markets.  Goldfish are considered lucky in Hong Kong.  Bags and tanks, and more bags and tanks of goldfish  fill the stores several blocks long.  This isn’t to mention the turtles, lizards and bunnies (all for pets, not for consumption).  In light of our blog name, we found it only fitting to visit the Goldfish Row.

Lunch was in a Cantonese locals’ restaurant.  It was delicious, and we recognized at least everything on our own plates, even if our neighbors’ choices seemed a little less familiar.

We visited a department store that had floors for sculpture, paintings, shmatas, calligraphy, and tea!  No purchases, but interesting to see.


A brief moment back at the hotel allowed us to recharge, and then we were off once again.  Ted had his first fitting for his suit.  Then we were haggled off the street to go to eat dinner at an Indian restaurant, which was pretty good.

Lots of people line the streets and sidewalks, and every few seconds someone is offering a flyer for 50% off something, or a deal on something else.  Jan, you will be so happy to hear that I have not yet purchased the “copy” Uggs that I saw--they were only like $40!!!  But they did have the Uggs label!  We were offered “copy” watches and handbags too.

OK, that was our day today.  Oh yeah--we saw a lot of other American-looking couples  (we’re thinking they are with our agency) checking into the hotel tonight.  We’ll meet them in the lobby tomorrow morning and we all go together on several tours.

That’s all the news for tonight.
Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We arrived!

Thursday night, 9:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. in California)
We arrived in Hong Kong this evening, safe and sound. Would you believe that outside our hotel window is an enormous Christmas display! Who knew!

The flights were long, but Cathay Pacific felt like our own private jet (thanks for spoiling us Steve).







We’re looking forward to exploring on our own tomorrow before the rest of our group arrives.


Time to shower and try to sleep so we can adjust to our new time zone.
T&C

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We're On Our Way!

It's a bit hard for us to believe, but we are finally getting ready to go.  Both visas are in hand, the suitcases are open (but of course still empty), and we're checking off items on our packing list. We leave next week and our itinerary looks something like this:








11/18         
Leave the U.S. for Hong Kong.


11/19          
Arrive in Hong Kong and enjoy exploring Hong Kong on our own.


11/20          
Meet our group of four other families and tour Hong Kong.


11/22          
Fly from Hong Kong to Chongqing.
Fill out the adoption registration forms that will be needed the next day.


11/23
In the afternoon, walk to the registration office to receive Orli!!!


11/24
Rest and relax in the morning.    
At 14:00 walk to the registration office to complete Adoption Registration and Notarization.


11/25          
At 9:30 optional half-day city tour to the Chongqing Zoo to see the panda.
Waiting for Orli’s adoption paperwork to be processed.


11/26
At 9:30 optional half-day tour to the old town – CiQiKou.


11/27          
Receive Orli’s adoption registration certificate and notary paperwork. 
Rest and start packing.
Receive Orli’s passport this afternoon. 
Group picture in the hotel lobby at 16:00.


11/28          
Fly from Chongqing to Guangzhou.
           
11/29          
Rest day. Optional tours in Guangzhou.


11/30          
Orli’s visa physical and visa photo taken today.
Meeting today to prepare paperwork for consulate appointment.


12/1            
U.S. Consulate appointment and our 18th anniversary!
           
12/2
Go to the U.S. Consulate to take the oath in the afternoon.
           
12/3            
Go to the U.S. Consulate to receive Orli’s visa packet


12/4            
Bring Orli home.


12/5            
Let the enormity of this four year journey really hit us.


xo - c&t

Sunday, October 18, 2009

And the name is. . .

Orli Jia-Mei Riter


This morning we sent a letter which is being translated and brought to Orli Jiamei. The following is an excerpt:





We still must travel the world to meet you, and yet as we look at your picture and stare into your eyes, we already know you. You are our hopes and prayers of a decade. You are the light that has for so long been just a flicker; sometimes just beyond our grasp but most often as far as a distant star. We’re nervous and scared, we’re anxious, excited, and bursting with love for you and the light you will bring to our world.


We are honoring those who have cared for you for almost a year by calling you JiaMei. You will forever be connected with the land of your birth and the orphanage that nurtured you and protected you. We are also giving you the name Riter, our family name that ties you to generations of the Riter family, and symbolically as well to families Hirsch, Rubin, and Herman. This now is your family too. Finally, we give you the first name Orli. In Hebrew, this name means “my light”. You are our light.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Photos!


These are pictures that were taken on 7-15-09 when she was 5 months old.  We hope to have updated photos some time next week.  xo-c and t

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meet Our Daughter!



After a four year gestation, we are so happy to announce the arrival into our lives of our daughter!
She was born on February 11, 2009, and is 8 months old.
She is from Chongqing City, which is in Southwest China.
We're working on a name.  Four years apparently wasn't enough time to figure that out.  :)

We expect to be traveling in 5-6 weeks, and promise to keep you updated as we get more information!  Please check back soon--we will post more information tomorrow when we receive her file!

Thank you to everyone for supporting us on this journey!!!

xoxo-c and t

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Update and News!

Rumor Queen (RQ). http://chinaadopttalk.com/ Our constant resource for news, rumors, support, and thousands of dollars worth of free therapy. :)


Each month, the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs) matches hundreds of families around the world with babies. They send out these matches once a month, and then agencies call their clients (that’s us) to tell them about the children with whom they’ve been matched. CCAA has currently matched families who were logged into their offices on or before March 24th, 2006. We were logged in on March 29th, which means there are only 4 days left to match before they match US! So, don’t jump up and down just yet. We are VERY close, for sure, but there is no way to know how many days CCAA will match each month. Based on recent matches, we have been expecting “The Call” in mid-late October.


However...


Yesterday morning we awoke to the first rumors for the month, and they are pretty exciting to see! The first of these rumors trickled in from Spain. Someone on RQ used an online translator to decipher the original source of the rumor to find out the following VERY exciting news:


“Sentis start to tickle in the stomach as allocations come dangerously.”


Yeah, so we have no idea what that means. But it was so funny, we thought we should share it!


The rumor is, the 29th (yup, that’s us) could be included in the next batch of matches that will come out next week. Or not. Time will tell. For now, this particular rumor is rated as an R1 on a scale of 1-5. That’s pretty darn low. We will keep you updated as the rumors flow in, and we’ll give you the thumbs up when it’s time to start jumping up and down again!

Monday, September 7, 2009

What we've been up to the past four years:

We think it makes sense to start this shebang by telling you how it has gone so far. This is our adoption story in a nutshell. (Believe you me, you're thankful we’re doing it in a nutshell!) :)


9/01/05: sign & mail our application to our agency
9/10/05: approval! We get to write our first check!
9/11/05: we begin the Paper Chase:
adoption petitions
mandatory adoption classes
physical exams
gathering birth/marriage certificates
financial statements & employment verification
police clearance reports
fingerprints
passports
letters of recommendation
social workers and home studies
consulate applications
notarizations
certifications (by state of document)
authentication (Chinese government)
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
lots of forms with multiple letters and numbers....
completing our dossier (that gets a !!!)
1/11/06: we are determined “favorable” to adopt! Good work, Department of Homeland Security!


And then WALLA! Just like that...


02/22/06: our dossier is received at our agency!
03/04/06: approval from the American Consulate General!
03/13/06: our now translated dossier is sent to China


And...Ta-Da!!!


03/27/06: we receive the ever-important Log-In-Date (LID)! we are officially approved by the Chinese government and we are IN LINE (along with 30,000 other families) waiting to adopt from China!


Now, if it weren’t for SARS, Earthquakes, Scandals, the Olympics, Floods, and most recently, H1N1, we’d probably have gone to China and back more than once, and we would be home with multiple growing children turning our hair gray. Instead, we have no good excuse for the gray, and we sit and wait patiently, knowing and trusting that we are, indeed, in the correct line. And so we stay.


Meanwhile, our paperwork expires. This has never happened in China adoption history. So, along with all those other folks (no, we are not alone)...more fingerprints, more home visits, more forms with letters and numbers, more notarization, and...


07/27/07: we are again determined “favorable” to adopt


rinse, repeat....expire


06/12/09: we are AGAIN determined “favorable” to adopt, we hope, for the final time


All along this journey (well, at least since we came clean about what we were up to) we have had much love and support from all of you. And now, four years later, as we stand at the VERY front of the line, looking at the tens of thousands of people stretching in line behind us, marveling at how very close we are, we are looking forward to sharing the next chapter of this experience with you all!

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