China was an incredible experience. We went there to adopt our daughter, now 9. We took our 10-year-old son with us. (Their schools would not allow the older children to miss two weeks of school for a trip to China so we didn't bring them along. Probably we could not have afforded it, anyway.)
A trip to adopt is like a missions trip. (I went to the Dominican Republic for a missions trip so I know how that feels.) You feel that you are on a mission to bring these children home. We traveled with 15 other families and became very close to them. One of the fathers developed kidney problems and ended up in the hospital, and one of the children had pneumonia and ended up in the hospital – I recall all of us together in the hallways of the hotel praying for the sick ones and really holding one another up. It was hard in many ways because the children were almost all sick, and of course they were traumatized by being removed from their orphanages and placed with these strangers who didn’t speak Chinese. Having the support of the other families was invaluable. There were only a few families that already had kids at home (we were one of them, obviously) and I’m a nurse so I was in high demand, and glad to be able to help.
The first 3 days of the trip were spent in Beijing for some sightseeing. We saw the Great Wall, the Pearl market and had a Hutong tour in a rickshaw. Then we went to our daughter’s province and almost immediately were given our baby. During our 5-day wait for paperwork to be completed, we were taken to a museum and saw one of Mao’s summer homes. This was a poor province, so we spent a lot of time in the hotel comforting the babies and trying our best to help the families with sick ones. I developed a terrible cold and fever… My husband and son spent a lot of time shopping and looking for Western style food. I ordered room service… our daughter liked congee but there was always too much for her, so I ate tons of it also. Our tour guide dosed me up with Chinese medicines.. I felt very adventurous taking these things when I could not read the labels..
At the end of the 5 day wait we went to Guangzhou to get our daughter’s visa. That was about a 3-day wait. After the cold and snow and rain in the more northern provinces it was lovely to get to the warm south. We did a ton of shopping (I was starting to feel better) and ate some amazing food. I recall people stopping us to practice their English and to congratulate us on our adoption and tell us how lucky the baby was. (We tried to tell them that we were the lucky ones but they were not convinced.) The sick ones were getting better – the dad with the kidney problems actually spoke Cantonese so getting to Guangzhou was wonderful for him, he could talk to the doctors.. our daughter was becoming resigned to us.. the hotel was beautiful.. We took tons of pictures of all the babies together in the hotel on a red couch. I bought Chinese clothing in ascending sizes for my daughter (who won’t TOUCH them now, she’s a tomboy and wouldn’t dream of wearing a dress of any kind.)
Then we went to Hong Kong for a short layover. I wanted to sight see but we were just TOO tired. We had an amazing steak dinner, as I recall.
As we left Hong Kong they stopped us because our son had put some toy swords (about 3 inches long) in his carry on.. they searched EVERY bag and we almost missed our flight.
But we made it home and can’t imagine life without our little girl from China.