Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 9 & 10 – Guangzhou – Back to the clinic and swearing in

Wow! I can’t believe we have been gone for 9 days… and we have had Madison for 8 days. Our time here in China is flying. We have fallen into a semi-routine and most days it is easy being a family of four but, we have our moments of difficulty. I have to keep reminding myself that she won’t be two forever and to cherish every smile, laugh and even the tantrums. Madison was very spoiled by her foster family and is use to having all the attention all of the time and getting whatever she wants whenever. She loves Jake but, is also a tad jealous when we are giving him attention. We are trying to teach her that we love them both and that yes she is our little princess but she is not always in charge! Jake is doing extremely well and is being very flexible with no melt downs. He really has embraced the big brother role :)

Day 9

We began our day with a quick breakfast and then a trip to the clinic so that Madison could have her TB test read. Her TB test was fine but, she does have a lump on her shoulder where she got one of her injections and a rash on her tummy which caused 3 doctors to look at her (which she did not like). It was determined that since she didn’t have a fever she was fine and it was probably a reaction to one of the shots and that I should give her more water. After that experience, I keep praying that we can stay healthy until we get home, I do not want to have to go back to the clinic for anything especially nothing serious!

We decided to walk around the island and explore before our 1pm meeting with Seiw Mei and her staff from Christian Action (CA). CA is a nonprofit organization that co-manages Madison’s orphanage in Xining. Seiw Mei is amazing and so is her organization, they have saved many children’s lives. We met in our hotel lobby and then walked to a restaurant called Lucy’s for lunch. There were lots of pictures taken by the CA staff and of course Madison was showing off for all of them. It was so wonderful to meet Seiw Mei and have her blessing and send off. The work they do in Madison’s providence is amazing and it was easy to tell by listening to Seiw Mei that she truly loves not only the work she does but also the children she is helping. Please take a few moments and Google Christian Action and check out Siew Mei’s blog, under the about her section, is a picture of her holding Madison when Madison was baby.

After lunch and goodbyes it was naptime and then off to dinner with two other families from China Adopt (a website, I frequented during our wait). We ate at a great Italian restaurant and it was nice to get out with other families and have adult conversation. After dinner we explored a new part of the island and found a shop called Jenny’s (which came recommended from another family) who had the best prices on dresses and actually everything. I spent 25usd and walked out with two bags of stuff… ahhh..how I love to shop especially for great deals!

Day 10

Today we slept in until 9am; finally we have adjusted to the time change. Both the kids wanted to sleep more (they are so my children!). Once everyone was up, we headed down to breakfast in our jammies and finally didn’t have to rush through it to go meet our guide. The only thing on the agenda today was suppose to be that we had to wait in our room between 10:30 – 11:30 in case the US consulate had questions about our paperwork but, in addition to that, they decided to move everyone’s consulate appointment to today instead of tomorrow. So now instead of shopping after 11:30, I decided to nap Madison early so that we would be ready to go to the US consulate at 2pm. Our guide was not available today so he had one of his colleagues meet us at 2pm and walk us to the White Swan hotel to catch the bus to the consulate.

There was about 35 families being sworn in today and it took two large buses to get us all to the consulate. The consulate was about a 35 min ride away and once there we were led upstairs to a security check point. Our guide had prepared us well, no cameras, phones, electronics or water. Going through this security check point was much like the airport, all jackets off, belts off, and everything out of our pockets…they did let us keep our shoes on. Once past security we were brought into a room with chairs facing a bank of teller style windows (with glass) with numbers above them. It reminded me of the DMV except this room had a small play area with toys at the back. Then they started calling children names which of course were hard to hear and understand. When your child’s name was called you were suppose to go up to the window with your passport and be verified and then sign some paperwork. We of course were one of the last families called up and
while we were waiting Madison decided to throw a fit and lay on the ground and cry. All the newbie parents looked at us like we were crazy and should do something but, those with older kids smiled kindly with that been there done that look. In case you are wondering, the reason for the fit…because we said “no more M&M’s”. She already had eaten at least 20 or so plus some hard candy (see how spoiled!) As I told the people around me, I have been here and done tantrums before with Jake and it really is par for the course and we expect it and she won’t be two forever. :)

Once all the families were verified a consulate officer came out and talked to the group and then had us stand up raise our right hands and take the oath. Then it was back to the bus for the ride back to the hotels. Once back it was time for dinner, shopping and dropping off our laundry.

Now that we have completed our oath, Madison’s visa will be ready for pick up on Wednesday and then we are free to head home on Friday. Tomorrow we will go to the park in the am and hopefully shop in the afternoon (and maybe even McDonalds for dinner) and I promise to post pictures with tomorrows post!!

Missing everyone (and face book)terribly!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 7 & 8 – Guangzhou – Sightseeing and shopping

Because I was so tired last night and starting to come down with a cold (I went to bed at 7:30pm) I decided to combine day 7 (yesterday) and today day 8 into one note.

Day 7

We met our guide at 10am and walked to the medical clinic for Madison’s check up and shots. We were one of the first families there and I was a tad worried because Madison has had a green runny nose for a couple of days. First we met a doctor who gave her a quick once over and then off to nurses for weight (25lbs), height (34”) and temp. Once they gave her the a-okay then the ENT doctor took a quick look. Seriously the entire thing took less 15mins. Then we were off to have shots, even thou she was mostly up to date she need 4 shots and a TB test. Of course she screamed her head off while getting her shots and I of course made John be the bad guy and hold her. Once the shots were complete we had to wait around for a ½ hr to make sure she didn’t have a reaction. We had to pay 500rmb (about 74 usd) for her medical exam, which we were prepared for. What we weren’t prepared for was having to pay 1480rmb (about 217 usd) for the shots. With her
appointment completed we strolled back to the hotel and did some shopping.

At 3pm we met our guide and the other family with our agency and went to tour the Chen temple. With two toddlers in tow it was slow going but that was okay. We got to see many exhibits including an amazing silk embroidery collection. Madison drew quite a crowd around her at one point with people wanting to touch her and take her picture. All in all the tour was interesting and fun. On the way back we had the driver drop us off at the other family’s hotel (about 4 blocks from us) so we could walk back and peruse the shops. We were able to get Madison a stroller which thankfully she loves (and so does my back and arms) and picked up a few trinkets (including a purse for mama!) We walked around for an hour or so and then it was back to the room for dinner and early bedtimes.

Btw - At naptime we found out that Madison is a thumb sucker… Caught her sound asleep with it in her mouth and fingers wrapped around her nose (too..cute!) Thought of you J-LO and told John that Madison can marry Jack :)

Day 8

Today we met our guide and the other family to go on a walking tour of the shopping district. I was very excited because I have been looking forward to getting Madison some pearls at the pearl mart. When we left the hotel it was sprinkling and first we walked through the open air food market and then on to the open air pet market. I was a little sad to see in the food market turtles on a stick and then to see them in tanks in the pet market. At some point while at the pet market it started to rain harder and I realized that poor Madison’s legs were soaked even thou the rest of her was dry in her stroller. Luckily for us the clothing market was mostly under cover and I was able to get Madison some dry pants which made her very happy. Then it was on to the pearl market. All I can say is WOW!! It was an indoor mall that was six stories with hundreds and hundreds of shops. Our guide directed us to a shop with a good reputation, where I was able to purchase
a string of pearls with matching earrings and a jade pendant for Madison and a pendant and earrings for my mom. The prices were very reasonable and I didn’t do too much damage. Then our guide took the other family back to their hotel and we went to McDonalds which made Jake thrilled! He was able to get his chicken nugget fix. Madison on the other hand loved the fries but did not like the nuggets, which is too funny to me!!!

Then it was back to the hotel to Skype and naptime for Madison. I walked to the other hotel to with our guide to review our paperwork for Madison’s visa. I had everything in order so it was a relativity quick appointment and I was able to walk back and do some shopping in peace. Now it is time for dinner and once again a early bedtime because tomorrow we have to go back to medical clinic and get Madison’s TB injection site checked (hopefully it will be negative…fingers crossed!)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 6 – Xining to Guangzhou – What a mess!!

The day started off well enough, we were able to Skype home for Christmas Eve which made both Jake and I a tad home sick. However once we got to the airport things went downhill. First off Chinese airports/airlines are not like the US. You don’t get an e-ticket or email confirmation, you show up with you id and they check the flight list and check you in. Well when our guide went to check us in, we weren’t on the list, so she spent almost an hour trying to figure it out with the airline and our travel agent. In the end she had to buy us new tickets and we only had 15 mins to get thru security before our flight boarded. To say I was annoyed would be polite. Those who know me well, should have an idea of the things that were coming out of my mouth! So as we are rushing to try to get thru security (which isn’t a easy task anyways but is more complicated w/a 7yr old who is complaining and a 2yr who is crying) our guide informs us that we will have a
layover in Xianing and that we will have to get off the plane, get our luggage and change planes?!! I was trying so hard to be nice but at this point I wanted to scream! Oh yeah and the layover is 4 hours!! So I had her write in Mandarin the flight information and that we needed help, and off thru security and to the gate we went. Our flight was about an hour and uneventful as Madison was asleep the entire time.

We landed in Xianing and handed our note to our flight attendant who informed us that our flight was on a different airline and why didn’t they book us on this continuing flight we were already on. Okay…I really wanted to poke someone’s eyes out at this point but John reminded me that showing anger and frustration in public is considered rude in the Chinese culture (BTW…not that I really cared). We found someone to help us find the baggage area and then we showed our note to the information desk only to be told that we were in the wrong terminal and needed to walk to terminal 2 (300 meters away) to check in. So off we go into the cold (30 degrees) with two luggage carts and kids in tow.

Once in terminal 2 we were informed that we weren’t allowed to check into our flight until 2 hours before departure. So we had an hour and 45 mins to kill. There was a coffee bar and 2 gift shops in this area so, we sat down and got the kids some food, well really Madison because Jake would only eat the white rice.

Finally it’s time to check in and I am hoping this will go smoothly. But of course it doesn’t! We present our passports and note only to be told there is something wrong with Madison’s passport and ticket and that we need to wait to the side for 15 mins. Mind you they speak very very very little English and we have no one to translate for us. A manager approaches and takes John away and tells him that Madison was booked as an infant ticket but that she is not considered an infant so we need to pay ½ price. John talks to this man for about a ½ hour while I am trying to keep the kids happy and eventually the manager allows us to keep the tickets they way there were. So off thru security where they were also unhappy with Madison’s passport and ticket which meant another manager needed to review it. Finally with a 45 mins to spare we are on to our gate.

At this point it is 8pm and both kids are tired and hungry. We get on the plane and the 1st hour is fine, however hour 2 was rough. Between Madison crying and throwing fits and hitting her brother, I was ready to land in Guangzhou. We finally landed, got our luggage and met our guide Elvin. Elvin tells us the ride to the hotel is about 20 mins, we are very relived until our van breaks down on the freeway, on a blind curve. At this point I could either cry or laugh…I choose laughter (I think poor Elvin thought I was crazy!) Elvin and the driver went out with an umbrella to wave drivers around us, we had a couple of close calls but, lucky did not get hit. Finally 40 mins later someone the driver called, showed up to help us. We had run out of gas…yes gas!! Which only made it funnier to me… So at 11pm we arrived to our hotel safe and sound but exhausted!

Day 5 – Xining – Sight Seeing

This morning we woke up and were able to just hang out around the hotel room as we didn’t need to meet our guide until 2:30 to go to the Kumbum Monastery. It was so much fun to play with Madison and be able to relax without the pressures of hurrying up and getting ready! I know boys and girls are way different but it has become even more obvious to us. Madison is very thoughtful; loves to play with her dolls and her fine motor skills amaze me. She eats better with a fork than Jake does. At this age Jake was running around jumping off things, not so with Madison, she is content to play with her toys on the bed. While she is stubborn she defiantly listens better than Jake did. When I put her down for her nap, she will lay there until she falls asleep, not the case when Jake was little…he would have gotten up and run around.

We headed for the monastery and were not prepared for how cold it was going to be. It was FREEZING (probably in the teens). I am soooooo not winning mother of the year, I forgot Jakes gloves and poor Madison didn’t have on enough layers. My only saving grace was that I had packed another pair of pants of Madison in case of an accident so, I was able to add another layer. The monastery was very beautiful and our guide did a great job explaining the Buddhist religion to us. Everywhere we go we get stares but at the monastery people were stopping and touching the kids and taking pictures. For us this was very strange but, per our guide it is meant to be a compliment. Both of the kids do not like to be touched, they both tried to hide behind John or I. The monks were also fascinated with Jake and Madison and would stop to touch them or talk to them. Many monks tried to get Madison to put her hands in her pockets and let go of the Cheerio container but,
that just resulted in her screaming. We toured the monastery for about 2 hours and when we were done my legs were numb and the kids were cold and exhausted.

Once back in the car and warm everyone’s spirit was much improved and we headed to the hotel for dinner. Since it was Christmas Eve the hotel put on a huge buffet including a roaming Santa who gave the kids stuffed animals. The buffet was good, of course I played it safe and only ate American type dishes but John was more adventurous and ate pigeon, pork knuckles, duck and sushi. Jake ate noodles and fries while Madison ate anything put in front of her. The dinner was quite expensive 800rmb (about 120usd) but well worth it. It was the best meal we had eaten so far (no wonder John is down 5lbs and I am down 9lbs) Once back in the room the kids opened the few presents we brought and then it was off to bed.

Tomorrow we are off to Guangzhou for the last leg of our trip.

Merry Christmas!!

Day 4 – Xining – Meeting the Foster Family

Today was the day we met the foster family. Our day started out with us having to go take photo’s for the civil affairs office. Our guide had us walk the six blocks to the photo place. Finally Madison let John carry her in public and actually feel sleep on the walk. After photo’s we grabbed a cab to the KFC where we had lunch. Lunch was interesting, even thou it was a KFC it wasn’t like home. I had a chicken sandwich which was a chicken patty that had corn and peas mixed in. It was neither good nor bad; it was okay but made me miss the KFC at home. After lunch we walked back to the hotel, the fresh air did us all some good. Once back at the hotel it was time for naps and to prepare to meet the foster family.
When we arrived at the orphanage the foster mother, sister and brother in law were outside waiting for us. As soon as Madison got out of the car she went running for her foster mother. We were all ushered inside by the staff into a very small room. It was a very surreal and emotional experience. I must admit that I have very very very mixed feelings about the entire experience. I do not regret it but, I am not sure if given the option and what I know now that I would do it all over again. Once in the room our guide asked if we had questions for the family, which I did about bedtime and bath time. The mother answered them, but also had the guide tell us how sad she was and that she only received two days notice that we were coming. She wasn’t ready for Madison to leave her care. I guess I had imagined that the foster family would be sad but, also happy that Madison was being adopted but, that was not the vibe in the room. The foster mother was very
upset and dare I say angry that we were here to take her baby away. As the person taking this child away, it makes you feel terrible to see your child so happy to see the only family they have every known and to know you have brought this family so much grief and heartbreak. So now the foster mother, sister and I are all crying. They truly love Madison and I think if they could have kept her they would have. We gave them our gifts (which of course they did not open in front of us) and I presented them with the photo collage that Millie put together (THANKS!). The photo was a huge hit, they loved it. Due to passport photo issues for Madison, our visit was rushed and we didn’t get to tour the orphanage, which was probably better. At this point the foster mother was lecturing me thru our guide, about feeding her enough, she told the guide she was worried we won’t feed Madison enough (all I could think was come on lady look at me…cant you tell I eat!
plus we are sitting here giving her Cheerios while you are holding her!) then it was about Madison’s runny nose (she is teething) and then about her clothes and eyes. I know the foster mother was being over protective but, it is not my 1st time at the rodeo, I do have a 7yr old who is well cared for. I was feeling very emotional spent and was relieved when the guide said we had to go back to the photo place. Of course before we could go, we had to take pictures with the family and the director. It was time to leave and the foster family put Madison in their car, I threw my guide a look and she said “They just want her to sit in their car, one more time” Of course my mama bear instincts kicked in, my guide said “Don’t worry, we won’t let them take her.” John put down the bags and looked like he was ready to run over at any moment and tackle the foster family. The guide convinced us that we should go wait in the car while she the orphanage
staff stood guard. Finally they brought Madison back to us, who promptly started bawling. Luckily we had to get going to take her passport picture again and that was a great distraction. After about an hour of crying and fussing, she was better and was calling us Mama and Baba again and handing out kisses.
Once the pictures were completed, we headed for the computer mart, which is like a mall with different computer stores/stands. After many conversations we were able to find someone who had a 110/220 converter. I prayed that it would work because I was feeling homesick and really needed to talk to my mama! Luck for us it worked and now we are back in contact with our world. Tomorrow we are off to sight see!

Day 3 (Yesterday) went very smooth.

Madison's adoption is now complete and we paid all of our fees. We spent the morning running around completing the paperwork and then went for a brief shopping trip to buy Madison shoes. Then it was back to the hotel for naps and dinner. Poor Jake was exhausted and slept 18+hrs. Madison is doing well & knock on wood seems happy and is adjusting to us (she is such a daddy's girl)

Our power converter blew up yesterday so now we cant charge our laptop or video camera (URGH) and there seems to be translation issues here because no one including our guide seems to understand what we need. So we wont have internet until Friday once we get to Guanzhou. So no updates until then & no Skype (URGH)

Thanks for all the good wishes & emails. We miss you all & wish you all Happy Holidays...

Day 2 – Xining – Gotcha Day

Today is what is known as gotcha day in the adoption community, it is the day you meet your child.
We had to be up by 4am to get ready to leave for the airport by 5:30. So we set the alarms but Mr. Jake had other ideas as he woke up at 2am and stripped down to his underwear and started getting dressed because he was ready to go get his sister! We had to convince him that it wasn’t time and to please lay down but at that point we were all up and no one was going back to sleep so we got up and Skpyed, did email and tried not to be exhausted. This early rising made for a very long tiring day!
We got to the airport where according to our guide we got very lucky because they didn’t charge us for our luggage even thou it was way over! Then we had Burger King chicken strips for breakfast. So for anyone who was worried (and you know who you are) about Jake starving, so far so good! We got to our gate, where they put us on a bus and drove us out to our airplane. We had to board the plane old school style by climbing the stairs. I got yelled at by some ladies for not having a jacket on Jake, yes it was cold but he wouldn’t put it on and I wasn’t going to fight with him and then the flight attendant scolded me. So when we got off the plane in Xining, Jake was well bundled up. The flight was uneventful and quick only 2 ½ hrs. They did serve a full breakfast and drinks, again very old school.
When we arrived in Xining the airport is tiny! It had 4 gates and 2 baggage claims. We quickly got our luggage and met our guide Rose and our driver who took us to our hotel. Rose informed us that we would meet Madison at 2:30 at the civil affairs office; mind you it’s 11am so we have a few hours to kill before going. Never ever in my life has time moved sooooooooooooooo slowly!! After unpacking and organizing the room, keep in mind there is not really any storage in these rooms (1 dresser drawer & a cabinet), I decided to nap while John played scrabble on his computer and Jake played with his art kit (thanks mom!) and watched cartoons in Mandarin. Finally it was time to go get her. On a side note... our hotel in Beijing was icky, it was old and the bathroom was moldy, our hotel here in Xining is wonderful...it is new and modern and very very clean (much more to my hotel snobbish standards)
We were off to meet Madison and the butterflies starting swirling about my stomach but it was a quick ride so I didn’t have time to be too nervous and when we got there they were waiting for us. We walked into a small (maybe 250 sq feet) room where we were greeted by six people and Madison who was sleeping. Madame Li from the orphanage was there holding her, there was a Christian action rep, a nurse from the orphanage, and staff from the Civil Affairs office all there as well. So here I had been worried that we would walk in and Madison would be crying but, nope not our girl she was sleeping. After introductions, they presented us with gifts and items from her foster family. She came to us with a bag of food (all her favorites) a bag of clothes, a small bag of toys and the cameras and baby book we had sent. At this point there is now 10 of us crammed into a small room and everyone is talking... it was kind of crazy. Jake did exceptionally well, he was
polite and did get anymore overwhelmed than John and I was. They gave me Madison while she was sleep so; I was prepared when she woke up that she was going to freak out. Nope…she was fine, when she woke up she was super quiet and was looking around but no crying. After all the discussions had happened and paperwork was signed it was time to go get our picture taken for her Visa. Madison was fine in the car and cried a little at having to sit for her picture. John says he is sure it helped that I was feeding her M&M’s and Cheerios. Hey I am not above bribery!! After getting the Visa picture taken it was time to head to the bank and exchange our cash. Well that was quite the adventure. When we got to the bank and Madison decided she needed to go to the bathroom, of course the bank doesn’t have one so we went next store to a hotel where they let us use theirs. She was so cute! I put her on the potty and she went like a pro, so I told her good job,
she was so proud that she started repeating good job in English back to me. Back to the bank where John is still waiting to exchange the money, after about a ½ hr it’s finally his turn and after another 15 mins we find out that they don’t have enough to exchange all of our money so, Rose and I will need to go to another bank while John is finishing up. We decided to walk the 2 blocks to the bank with Madison in tow; of course Jake also had to come (& after the 1st block was complaining!) We got to the 2nd bank and after another 45 mins finally had the money exchanged. Luckily both kids where well behaved. Madison had her Cheerio container and was happy as a clam and Jake was interested in watching them count the money. At this point in the day Madison was letting me hold her but not John that would quickly change once we got back to the hotel room.
Back at the room I stripped Madison down and I am not kidding when I say that they had dressed her in 6 layers of clothing, poor thing looked like the stay puff marsh mellow kid. Once stripped down she is TINY!! She loved having less clothes on! While the guide and I counted the money and filled out paperwork so we will be ready tomorrow. John gave both the kids snacks (Madison is tiny but she out eats her brother without an issue!) John was also dancing around and playing with the kids, at this point it became very very very clear that Madison will be a daddy’s girl. John got at least 5-6 unprompted kisses and she was loving all over him. Our guide kept telling us that they told her Madison is very smart and they expect great things from her and they are right she is sooooooooooooo smart!! She is repeating what we say to her in English and is also talking to us in her dialect, this child does not miss a trick, but what surprises me is that she also
understands us. After our guide left the troops were fading fast so we decided to give Madison a quick bath which she hated and the head to dinner.
At dinner we quickly ordered our food and I ended up with both kids in my lap. Madison who was looking around and Jake who was exhausted and having a small melt down, not that I blame him he had been up for at least 18 hrs at this point and it had been a loooooong day! Dinner arrived and Jake had fallen asleep at the dinner table. Madison on the other hand was ready to eat, she ate noodles, French fries and some of my fried fish I had ordered, she sat on my lap trying to use her fork and feed herself. I also ordered her milk which came hot and she did not like it, however she was happy to share my soda with me.
Once back in the room, John and I each took a kid and got them ready for bed. Due to the tiny beds, Jake and John are sharing and Madison and I are sharing. Jake went down without an issue, however Madison had other ideas and started crying and had a mini fit which resulted with her lying on the floor. We let her carry on for a bit and then put her in bed, where she refused (yes..Refused) to lay down. We turned off all the lights and she sat there being stubborn. No matter what I did she was not laying down without a fight. So I laid next to her and let her be stubborn, after about a ½ hr she was exhausted and finally reluctantly laid down.

John and I are over the moon excited and thrilled that our 1st day went so well. We are hoping the rest will be as easy (even thou we are prepared for them not to be!) Tomorrow we are back to the civil affairs office to sign our paperwork and then off to shop for a bit, Madison needs shoes and we want to get water and milk. Weds we will get to go to the orphanage and meet the foster family (we are thrilled!!) and Thursday is our day to sight see.

Day 1 – Beijing – The Silva’s have landed in China

We left this morning from SFO and arrived the next afternoon in Beijing. Overall our flight was very uneventful and dare I say relaxing…We were super lucky and were able to upgrade to Business class. Man oh Man…it was wonderful! We were all able to nap off and on and they feed us two meals and a snack. I think Jake will never want to fly coach again, at one point he said “Mom this is the best airplane ever! I love being able to lay down, this is the life.” Well, I must admit that I agree with him but, we are ALL in store for a rude awakening on the way home since all the airline miles are gone and it’s back to coach for us.

We arrived in
Beijing a hour before our scheduled arrival time. The airport is huge and new. We went thru quarantine screening without a issue, actually they give you a form to fill out on the plane with your contact information and questions like do you or have you had the flu in the past 7 days and etc ( I answered no to everything)…You then pass thru this area which I assume scans your temp and hand a employee your form. Really no big deal... Next it was on to an area for entry where they checked our visas and passports, then to baggage claim and thru customs. All in all it was really simple. Once we were thru customs we met up with our guide Candy who got us to our hotel. Both Candy and the driver thought we have way too much luggage and are worried that we have problems tomorrow since airlines in China only allow 1 checked piece person and it must be less than 44lbs. Well….we have 2 items each but I think we can carry-on at least 2. Now, the
weight will be a issue but, I am not going to worry about it till tomorrow.

Candy and the driver both made fun of John for wearing shorts and told him he needed to wear pants or else he “might catch the swine flu” John took it in stride and said okay “Tomorrow, I will wear pants” John and I both laughed about it in the room especially since it sounds like something my grandma would say!

After settling into our room we decided to go explore downtown
Beijing. Overall the city seems really clean however, everyone spits on the street and it just grosses me out!! (EWWWW!!!) We ended up at six story mall area and found a McDonald's to eat at. It tasted just like home (we all played it safe w/chicken nuggets) We walked around the mall and since it was sooo cold outside Jake decided that he need a hat to keep his head warm. He ended up buying a wolf head hat, so that he can be just like his uncle (for those that don’t know, my brother bought a tiger head hat in Hong Kong that he loves!) People were already staring at Jake (I suppose it’s a combo of his glasses and being American) but after he put on the hat well, people were stopping staring and laughing! Luckily Jake is just like his uncle and could have cared less. Jake also “talked” us into buying him a Star Wars toy w/a couple of figures at the mall, which is fine with us because he
has been an outstanding kid today! He has been very flexible, not worrying and has being trying to go with the flow, plus he has not made any rude comments and has done amazingly well with the smells, he didn’t even comment about how bad the van we got in reeked and it did reek! Now we are back at the hotel and now are getting ready for bed. Both John & I are very proud of how he is embracing this adventure!

We also got reemed at the hotel when he bought bottle water..we had more for 3, 8oz bottle waters than we did for our Mcdonalds dinner. They are charging $6 bucks
USA per each bottle?! But what choice do we have??? John is still miffed!! :)

Tomorrow we head for the airport at
5:30am and our flight heads to Xining at 7:45am. We will land at around 11am and sometime that afternoon we will meet Madison. Overall the experience is still very surreal for me (& John too!). Knock on wood that the rest of our trip will go as well as today did!

Monday, November 2, 2009

LOA has arrived...well actually it arrive 2 weeks ago!!

Okay... I admit I have been lagging on updating my blog.

Our LOA arrived on Friday October 23rd. I had taken the day off so I could run errands before we headed out to Reno when John got home. I knew my LOA was on the way but, I figured it was going to come on Monday or Tuesday! I had just gotten home and the agency called and said it was there. So I rushed over to their office and picked it up. Afterwards I drove to John's jobsite to have him sign it. I picked up Jake from school (early out day) and we rushed to Kinko's to make copies and to FedEx off my LOA & I-800. I think all in all, I had my LOA in my hands for less than 2 hours :)

Now we are waiting for our travel approval. Our fingers are crossed that we will be in China for the Holidays :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

One more picture...this one's my fav

Here is 1 more new picture of Madison & this one is my favorite by far!!

I can't believe it.....

I can't believe it... I was on the blog of the Director of Christian Action (Christian Action co-manages Madison's orphanage) and found a picture of her holding Madison. I must admit, I knew it was Madison from the moment I saw it but, John had his doubts. Sure enough, I emailed the Director and it's her!! I am so excited to have a baby picture of my baby.

The blog can be found at http://siewmei.cahk.org/about/

Happy Monday!

I can honestly say, I normally hate Mondays!! Monday's symbolize the end of the weekend and getting back to real life as, I like to say. Normally Monday's are kind of blah and do not bring good news. BUT, today is different!! Maybe I should start loving Mondays :)

Today, we received notification that our Dossier (which is all of our paperwork) has been logged in China!! We are officially LID, but wait it gets better!! We have been LID since 8/13 so, we are already on day 11 of our 60+ day wait for our LOA!! Woooohooo!!

Now...when I think that today couldn't get better, it DID!! In my inbox was updated pictures of Madison. They sent us 8 birthday pics, she looks annoyed in most of them :) Ahhhhh.... she is so my daughter with that attitude. It's really wonderful to see that she is getting our packages and is being loved so much by her foster family. I am truly appreciative of them. I should be getting a update later this week which I will share once I have it!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Madison

Today is bittersweet, my baby turns two. I wish she was home with us to celebrate but, I know that she is with her loving foster family. On one hand I am thankful that she is with a wonderful foster family who loves her but, on the other hand I am crying inside that she isn't home with us. I keep reminding myself that this time next year, she will be home and we will be throwing her a big bash.

So... Happy Birthday Madison....we love you!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Paperwork is off to China

So, after a day and half of running around and getting our paperwork certifed and authenicated by Santa Clara County, State of California and the Chinese consulate, our paperwork was offically sent to China on Weds August 5th! Our coordinator let us know that it was recieved in China on Monday August 10th, now we are waiting for it to be translated and then logged in (LID). Once it's logged in then the looooooooooong wait for our letter of approval (LOA) will begin. We expect to wait a min of 90 days for our LOA, but are hoping it will come faster.

We are still hoping to travel in Jan/Feb (but would love for things to move faster and travel in Dec)

Keep your fingers crossed for speedy approvals :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I-800A Approval & the whirlwind

We are so lucky that we got a wonderful case worker at USCIS & she was able to approve our I-800A last Friday (July 31st). We were so excited because this was the last bit of paperwork we need before getting our Dossier ready for China.

Yesterday, I spent the day in the city with my mom getting our paperwork authenticated by the state department and the China consulate. What a expensive, whirlwind of a day!! We left at 6:30am & didn't get home till after 8pm. We visited the state office, the China consulate (twice) & then over the golden gate bridge to my wonderful China coordinator!!!

Well...it was all worth it, our China coordinator is sending our paperwork to China tomorrow (Weds Aug 5th)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Waiting...Waiting & more Waiting!!

The title of this blog pretty much sums up the China adoption process. Right now we are waiting on our adoption agency to approve our homestudy so that we can submitt it to US governement for I-800A approval. Once we submitt than will wait for that approval and once we have that approval than our paperwork goes to China for approval and the waiting goes on and on!!

I am not normally a super patient person (as y'all know) but, I am learning that there are things out of my control and that everything will happen when it is suppose to. But it doesn't make it any easier. So, for now I will just make sure that my paperwork is ready to go and that everyone else will be organized and timely!!

On another note Jake is having surgery tomorrow so that should keep me busy and distracted for a few days while I nurse him back to health :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

New pics

New Pictures & A New Name

We requested a update from a service in China about our little darling daughter and much to our surprise and joy we also received 3 updated pictures!! We were so thrilled but, it caused us to pause and begin to think about her "American" name.
I thought it was going to be an easy process picking a name (well it was for Jake) but, I was wrong! When I was prego with Jake, John took total control and picked the name, he was instant!! Seriously, I only got to weigh in on middle names. At the time we agreed that I was in charge of picking the next child's name. At the time, I thought to myself easy peasy!! NOT!! I definitely had ideas but, so did everyone else. So after a lot of thinking and listen to other peoples ideas, we have decided on:
Madison Liang Silva

Thursday, May 14, 2009

We got our PA!!

We excited to introduce you to her new daugter!

We recieved our PA - preapproval today and are over the moon. We have a daughter!! We still have 5-6 months of paperwork until we bring her home! We are hoping to bring home in Dec or Jan. All depends on the US & Chinese governments & how fast they approve our paperwork.

Her Chinese name is Liang Ying Guo and she is currently in foster care in the Qinghai providence. She will be two on August 21st. Yes! She is blonde, she has albinism!

We are excited to introduce you to our new daughter!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Where are we in the process?

We attended the class in April and will begin our home study tomorrow (Sat May 9th) Wohoo!!

I must admit that we are very lucky! Mind you, I believe everything happens for a reason :)

We thought that our home study had to be completed before we could inquire or be matched with a SN child. So this week with the list came out, I emailed our China coordinator (on 05/04/09) to ask a couple of questions about the process and when exactly we could begin trying to be matched off the list. To our surprise she informed us (on 05/05) that as long as we where beginning our home study and could have our dossier to China in the next 3 months (which is my plan anyways) that we could be matched anytime.

WOW - We were shocked but thrilled. So John & I went through the list and found a child that we were interested in. I emailed the coordinator back and to our disappointment that child had been matched to another family, but the coordinator said she would try to match us next month if I provided her with our requirements.

Imagine our surprise when 15 mins later, we received a email from her saying that she had matched us to another child who met our requirements! My head is spinning!! So I called her to confirm that this was real and to find out what the process was. She informed me that her file was on hold for us and we had 24hrs to decide whether or not to pursue the adoption.

Well, it is 10:30 at night, my head is spinning, so I shoot a email off to a pediatrician in Jake's playgroup to beg her to help us review the medical file and another email off to our playgroup trying to locate someone to translate the file to English. We got the file in both English and Chinese but I wanted to make sure the translation was correct plus it took me a hour & a phone call to realize that we had both files!

Again I got lucky because our friend reviewed the file & emailed me back that overall the child is healthy and another mom translated the file for me! WHEW

The next morning I got a email detailing what we had to do to proceed. We had to fill out a application form, write a letter of intent, write a family brief and submit passport and family photos.

I think we had both decided before bed that we were moving forward and that this was our child, but I called John to verify that we were on the same page and we were. So on May 6th our paperwork was sent to China and now we have to wait! We should have our PA - pre-approval (PA) in two weeks. Once we receive our PA, I will post a blog to introduce our child to you :)

Please send us happy positive thoughts!

The Long Process

International Adoption is a very long process which I will attempt to lay out the process as I understand. The time frames listed are average wait times! Yes the steps are the actual order!

Once you make a decision to adopt you need to pick agency. We have selected Bay Area Adoption Services (BAAS). Our agency has truly been wonderful! Our agency required that we complete a 8 hour class prior to beginning our home study.

Step 1 - Attend Adoption Class (1 day)
The class is 1 Saturday & is only offered once a month

Step 2 - Turn in paperwork & pay fees to begin home study (depends on you)
Once class is completed you can begin the home study process (there is tons of paperwork to compile & fill out!)

Step 3 - Home study (6 weeks - 3months - again depends on you)
The home study process entails 4 visits with a social worker. These visits may happen quickly or not so quickly, depending on how quickly you turn in all your required paperwork.

Step 4 - Submit 1-800A (approval in about 30 days)
Once your home study is completed you will submit a 1-800A to the USCIS. Per their website this form is: For adjudicating the eligibility and suitability of the applicant(s) to adopt a child who habitually resides in a Hague Adoption Convention country.

Step 5 - Submit Dossier to China (approval 2-6 months)
Once you receive 1-800A approval, you submit your dossier to china for approval. Once approved they will issue you a LOA (letter of approval) which you must sign & send back to them.

Step 6 - Submit 1-800 (approval in about 15-30 days)
Once you receive your LOA you will not submit your 1-800 to the USCIS. Per their website this form is: To determine the child's eligibility for classification as a Convention adoptee. The petition is filed by the U.S. Citizen prospective adoptive parent to finalize the immigration process of a child who habitually resides in a Convention country.

Step 7 - Receive Travel Approval (TA) (about 30-60 days)
Once your 1-800 is approved it will be sent to China for them to approve your travel to adopt your new child. Once TA is received you should travel in 4-6 weeks of receiving it.

Whew!! Yes it is a lot of steps!! Mind you these are the "official" steps, somewhere between completing your home study and your Dossier being logged in to China, you will receive a child's referral for review. If you decide to proceed with that child you will also submit a LOI to China. This process is very trying on the patience but all worth it in the end.

Yes we are adopting!!

We have decieded to purse international adoption as the way to expand our family and will be adopting from China!

Currently China has a 3 - 3.5 year wait time for a "healthly" child, we have decieded that are going to pursue adopting a special needs child (SN). There are many children on the SN waiting list with minor to moderate needs. We understand that this choice may not be for everyone but, for us it feels natural and right!

When adopting a SN child the wait time is reduced dramtically and a adoption can be completed in about a year, sometime less.

We welcome you on this journey with us :)