Friday, August 31, 2012

Made it to Guangzhou

Today was pretty much a travel day, most of the day spent packing and getting to and from the airport.  Luckily for us the flight from Nanchang to Guangzhou was pretty uneventful, which is good.  We arrived in Guangzhou around 4pm, got checked into the hotel and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant with another of of the families we are traveling with.

We are staying at the Garden hotel in Guangzhou, which is nice, really nice.   Probably the nicest hotel we have ever stayed in.  A little pampering will be nice for our final week in China.  Tomorrow we have a medical appointment for Cameron and some sightseeing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Last full day in Nanchang

Today was our last full day in Nanchang.  We leave tomorrow morning for Guangzhou.  While the change of scenery will be nice it will be tough to leave our children's home province.

Today was another day without any plans so we decided to take an excursion to the People's Park.  This is a large park in the middle of Nanchang.  Lots of trees, canals, bridges and trails to explore.  There was also an amusement park but we opted not to let Grace ride anything to her dismay.  The park was beautiful but it was very hot out so we didn't stay as long as we would have liked to.  Some pics below.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Adventures at the RT Mart

I consider myself to be pretty culturally open minded but some experiences in China will definitely put you at the edge of your comfort zone.  One of those experiences was our trip to the supermarket this evening.  We needed some more baby food and snacks so we asked the concierge for walking directions to the nearest supermarket.  She gave us directions to the RT Mart about 10 minutes away.  No problem one would think...

The Chinese have a different definition of personal space.  In a country with 1.3 billion people everywhere you go is going to be very crowded.  If you are claustrophobic you will not do well in china.  You have to be prepared to have people all around you even when just walking down the sidewalk.  I won't even get into elevator etiquette.

Crossing the street is horrifying.  There are crosswalks in China but they appear to mean absolutely nothing.  Cars will not stop for you unless they would otherwise hit you.  Even if you are carrying a 15 month old baby.  If you stand in a cross walk and wait for cars to stop you will wait all day.  You just need to hold your breath and walk across.  We found that it is best to wait for someone else to cross and use them as a buffer.   Not always possible though.

If you are a white person in China you will get stared at.  If you are a white couple in China with a 4 year old Chinese daughter you will get stared at even more.  If you are a white couple in China and one of you is light skinned, has curly blond hair and you have a 4 year old Chinese daughter and a one year old Chinese son people will practically give themselves whiplash trying to get a second and third look at you.  We have had people just stop in their tracks and stare in confusion at what they are seeing.  We just smile at them, usually we get a smile back.

Supermarkets in China are a bit different than what we are used to at home.  There are smells in the cured meat section that our western nostrils have never been exposed to.  Pungent is how I would describe it, Jen and Grace might say nauseating.  They love fresh food here in china.  The fish is very fresh as in still alive swimming in the tanks.   Along with the fish you can also find a nice selection of frogs and turtles.  None for us this time.

Whenever we travel we always like to get out of the hotel and see what it is really like to live in the particular place.   Just a trip to the supermarket in China is quite an adventure in cultural immersion.

Quiet Day

We had no adoption related running around today so it was up to us to keep ourselves entertained.  There was some talk within the group of taking an excursion but with rain in the forecast we decided to lay low and spend most of the day in our hotel.  After breakfast we hung in the room and played for a couple hours.  Then in the afternoon while Jen and Cameron napped Grace and I took a walk around the neighborhood.  I have to say Grace and I attract far less attention when we are out without Jen.  We still get plenty of stares but far less than if we are with Jen.  This evening we had dinner in the hotel and then went for a walk to the local supermarket for some supplies.  And by supplies I mean baby food and chocolate.  Another quiet day tomorrow, maybe we will make an attempt at an excursion if we are feeling adventurous. 

Some pictures below we took today in the room.  Cam's little personality is starting to emerge.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day Four

So we are only on day four in China and it feels like we have been here for weeks.  This morning we needed to go to the notary office to get some documents signed.  We also took a side trip to a porcelain shop and went to the Teng Wang Pavilion.  The Teng Wang Pavilion is located about a block away from the hotel we stayed in when we adopted Grace so it was kind of cool to be back in the same area.  After our sightseeing we had a nice lunch with the two other families in our travel group.

Cameron is doing well.  We knew ahead of time that he was delayed but I have to admit we were a bit surprised at how delayed he is.  He is not even at the level that Grace was when we adopted her at 8 months old.  The good news is we are already seeing progress after a couple days. Yesterday he could not hold himself in a sitting position at all and today we had him holding himself up for over 20 seconds.  He is currently refusing to feed himself so we have made it a goal to get him to feed himself by the end of the trip.

Tomorrow is a free day so we may just hang in our room for some bonding time.  Some pics below of our day today.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Third day in China

Today was a paperwork day.  We spent the morning running around to different government offices to process the adoption.  We then took a trip to Walmart to stock up on baby supplies, Walmart is always an interesting experience in China.

Cam is doing well.  He is smaller than we expected so is swimming a bit in the clothes we bought for him.  But we have also found that he is a good eater so hopefully we can pack some pounds on him.

Grace is being a great big sister and quite a trooper through all of the running around that we are doing.  She is also a great help with her little brother.

The coolest thing happened while we were at the civil affairs office this morning.  When we walked in there were some people from some of the orphanages in the office.  They asked where Grace was from and got really excited when we said that Grace was from Yifeng.  These people that were asking about her were from Grace's orphanage.  The director of her orphanage was there as well.  There are dozens of orphanages in Jiangxi so the chances are pretty slim that we would all be there on the same day.  They didn't recognize her and we had trouble helping them understand her Chinese name. But they wrote it down and her birthday. I think they want to look her up so they can remember her. They were very happy to know she was from their orphanage. The director was there and was so happy to see that this beautiful girl was once one of their children. He said her hair was beautiful. That seems to be important here and Grace has the type of hair Chinese people really love. The director took Grace's picture. Our guide asked if there's anything we'd like to tell the people of the orphanage and right away Jen said "Tell them we love her very much and she is so smart".

Pretty cool experience.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

We have our boy!!!

Just a quick picture post as we need to be up early tomorrow and the jet lag is really kicking in.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

We have a crib

Just need the baby

Finally Made It

We finally made it to our hotel around 1am last night.  Our first couple fights were fine, the 15+ hour flight was really long but we made it through.  Grace, of course, did great.  Our third flight from Hong Kong to Guangzhou was delayed so we ended up missing our connecting flight to Nanchang.  By this point we had met up with two other families in our travel group so at least we weren't alone.  Unfortunately they couldn't get us all on the same flight to Nanchang.  The others flew out earlier and we ended up needing to wait until 10 pm for our flight.  Meaning we would need to wait an additional 10 hours.  Not something you want to hear when you have already been awake for over 36 hours.  But it was better than the alternatives they gave us of flying in today or flying separately on standby. 

We are going to get some rest this morning, do some errands and we will me meeting Cameron late this afternoon.  I will post pictures and video as soon as I can. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Not Long Now...

Just 4 short days until we fly to China to get Cameron.  We just have some final packing to wrap up and then we are good to go.  Grace is excited and has been singing the below song from Kai-Lan for the past few weeks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Dear Family and Friends,

As we prepare for the arrival of our son, we have learned that while decorating the nursery and stocking up on baby essentials is important, even more important is the emotional health of our baby. In his short life, our son will have gone through more changes and life altering experiences than most adults could handle. Imagine how much harder the changes will be for him. While he may not consciously remember the events, he will still experience immense loss, including feelings of grief and trauma. He's already experienced the loss of a birth family and will soon experience the loss of familiar and comforting foster family as well as the sights, smells, and language of his birth country. His world will turn upside down. He will struggle with feeling safe and secure and he may lack the ability to trust that we will meet his needs.

We have prepared to meet his emotional needs so that he does learn that we will always take care of him and we will always keep him safe. We need your support. In order to form a strong and healthy attachment we will allow him to regress so that he has the opportunity to go through all of the emotional stages with us despite his chronological age. Although it may appear that we are spoiling him, we have been advised that it is best that we meet every need quickly and consistently. Until he has learned that we are his parents, we will need to be his primary caretakers at all times. It is essential that we always hold him, feed him, and do all of the nurturing. You may wonder how long this will take, but the timeline is different for every child. We will follow his lead and trust our instincts as his parents rather than worry about what society expects.

We followed this parenting approach when Grace came home.  It was hard to not let people hold her but ultimately it helped our bond grow and she trusted us.  She is now loving, caring, and very attached to her Mommy and Daddy because of this.  We have all been waiting anxiously to bring Cameron home but he has not been waiting for us. He may show his grief and confusion in many ways and we are prepared to help him through it and prove that we are a forever family and this truly is his last stop. We trust that as our family and friends you will help us to do what is best for our son, and we thank you in advance for your support and understanding.

Steve and Jen

** from

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Almost there

Just 11 short days until we leave for China to get Cameron.  This past week we got our travel approval and confirmed consulate appointment of September 5th.  This means we are back on track with the rest of our group. 

One disappointment is we found that our agency is not sending our group through Beijing for sightseeing this time around.  We were really looking forward to climbing the Great Wall with Grace but that will have to wait until the kids are older I guess. 

Our flights, in a word, suck.  Since there are no direct flights from the US to Nanchang we need to fly first from Boston to JFK, then to Hong Kong, then to Guangzhou, then finally to Nanchang.  Did I mention that our flight to Hong Kong leaves JFK at 1:30 am...on my birthday?  Did I also mention that is about 30 hours of travel time?  Did I also mention we will be taking Grace?  Did I also mention I can't sleep on planes.  Yeah...Suck.  Jen inquired about a different itinerary but it wasn't that much better and was a couple grand more.  So we will tough it out with our eyes on the prize.

We have a travel meeting at our agency tomorrow afternoon to iron out all the details and meet the rest of our travel group.  Hopefully no more surprises from here on out.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Sprinkle for Cameron

This past Sunday our family and friends threw Jen a small baby shower (sprinkle) at a local Chinese restaurant.  We got lots of cute clothes and gifts for our little guy.  It will be nice not to be the only guy in the house and be able to play with toy cars and trucks rather than dolls.  Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate!!!

Family / Home cupcakes

The crew

Toys a daddy can play with

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Stressful Week

Last week started with an email from the director of our agency with the word "Urgent" in the subject line. Not something you want to see in your inbox on a Monday morning.   Apparently a document was missing from the package that was delivered to the US consulate a month ago.  So we were a month behind where we though we were and at this rate would not be traveling with the group and the doctor at the end of the month.

The director apologized profusely and told us to give her a day or two to talk to her contact at the consulate and see if they can do anything.  If we were with another agency I would, at this point have resigned myself to traveling later than we expected.  But we have seen the director of our agency work miracles, of which I reminded Jen. 

We spoke to the director the following day and she told us that her contact at the consulate was no longer there but she was going to talk to her new contact that night.  So we wait until Wednesday morning and get a call from the director of the agency saying that they can expedite our case if we get a letter from our doctor stating that Cameron would benefit from coming home ASAP.

Jen immediately got on the phone with our pediatrician's office to see if they would be willing to write us a letter.  Of course, our pediatrician was out of the office for the day.  But Jen somehow convinced them to get another doctor in the office to sign a letter that she had written for them.

We emailed the letter to our agency and were told to hold tight.  Amazingly, the following morning there was an email in my inbox from the US consulate that our Article 5 was approved and was ready to be picked up.  This process normally takes 2 weeks.  We are still not out of the woods yet as we still need Travel Approval but the director of our agency assured us that we will get it in time to travel with the group.

I knew in my gut that somehow our agency would pull it off but it still made for a pretty crazy week.