Monday, January 24, 2005

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty
Originally uploaded by juststeve.
After sleeping from 9am - 12 dad tried to wake me up. Nope. I slept on the living room floor for 2 more hours. ZZZZ. But last night I slept well from 10ish to 8:00. Tomarrow I'll be back at school!

Welcome Home!

Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Home again, home again, jiggity jigg.

Well we made it. I was sooo excited when we got on that plane yesterday. As Rhea pointed out we were having a 48hr Friday. In all actuality though we had quite an easy trip. We left GZ at 4:30 to Hong Kong. Had a quick dinner of fried noodles in the airport and then caught the 9:50 flight from HK to San Francisco. M fell asleep at take off and R watched a movie for about an hour and then slept for most of the flight. I can’t say I slept all that well but all in all it was an easy and relatively painless flight.

After we arrived at SFO went thru countless lines of stamping and passport checks and then were finally greeted by Mom, Eliza and Annie. Everyone looked so happy. I couldn’t believe how big Eliza was. Of course E wanted nothing to do with me all her attention was M. A trend which seems to be continuing today.

M seems to be fitting right in she’s friendly to everyone and loves exploring the house. Our first night went pretty well considering the time change. She slept from 10-12:30 and then we were up again until 3:30. Not bad considering. M seems to be adjusting well to her new mom and sister. She’s spending her time wandering around the house and playing. Rhea was up all night I think. She read an entire book and started another.

Of course right now she’s passed out on the floor of the living room. I think she went to sleep at 9AM. I’m sure we’ll work thru al the sleep issues in time.

All in all everyone is mostly healthy and very happy to be home.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Rhea dolphin

Rhea dolphin
Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Not what you expect from our china adventure. But this was definitely a highlight for Rhea.

Today is our full day. In the morning we went to the consulate to be sworn in and to pick up our visas. We must have waited an hour and then had to pass thru 3 security gates and in the end all they do is look at you and your baby then someone comes into the room and has you raise your right hand and swear that all the information that you have provided is true. At this point they know more about me than most of my friends. Short of a body cavity check I'm not sure what's left. But thankfully it's all over. We're looking forward to getting home. I can tell that M is ready for a mommy.

After the swearing in R and I had lunch and did some last minute shopping. Rhea wanted to go back to the wholesale market and pick up some chinese new year decorations. That was the place we went when we first arrived in Gz where there were all those little shops filled with lanterns and tassels. It's was fun.

One of the market highlights of the day was wandering thru the Chinese medicinal market filled with all sorts of exotic and bizarre (to us) dried things. We saw dried sea horses, snakes, starfish, caterpillars, and other things I know not what. A particularly intriguing thing was this one man we saw on the road overpass who had out this little blanket with all these exotic animal parts for sale. Many of them I'm sure illegal. There were the scalps and antlers of some types of antelopes and most strange was the forearm paws and claws of what I swear was a tiger and if not some other large cat. Amazing, yet sad too.

After carrying M in the Snuggly for untold hrs. I was whipped. So we went back to the hotel for a bit to rest before going out to our final farewell feast. First, however, we went out to drop off our disposable camera that we got back from the Orphanage. We had sent 2 disposable cameras to the SWI for the foster parents to take pictures of M. I can't wait to see the pictures. I must say though I found it funny to be dropping our Italian disposable cameras from Esselunga off at the photo shop in china. Sort of a poignant reminder of how crazy the last month has been. One month ago today we had just arrived in California and I've been in China for 2 weeks of it.

The farewell dinner was nice but I must say it's hard to have fun while eating with a ravenous baby. M just scream "ahhh" (feed me) between that and the usual baby pull everything off the table games, mealtimes are seldom a highlight. Plus I'm not much for Rice wine and Karaoke.

Well we're all looking forward to getting home. Though I guess for M the adventure continues, for us as well but for her more so. I have a feeling she'll be setting in just fine when we get there. Though the time change is going to be a trick.

We'll be leaving the hotel at about 3:30 to catch our quick flight to HK and then continue on from there to SFO.

Now, let me explain the photo. Yesterday, after we were allowed to leave the hotel (You may remember we had to say her until our paperwork had all cleared over at the consulate) we briefly joined some folks who went to the jewelry market. We quickly discovered that that didn't interest us so after some exploring we jumped in a cab and went to the zoo, which turned out to be much nicer than I had expected. The facilities were a bit sad but the animals were impressive and very active. Now maybe it's because they were hungry I don't know but they were moving around and looked beautiful. We saw The Panda (a bit sad looking) and the Red Panda, Lions, Tiger, Bear the usual animals. One highlight was a mother and baby camel. The keepers were milking the mother while holding the baby to make bottles for later. They also had Ocean World there sort of an aquarium and dolphin show which Rhea loved and where she had the opportunity to pet the dolphin.

Time for bed we've got packing and travel ahead.

Goodnight/morning all. Ciao!


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Fengcheng Hospital/Marina's abandonment site

Wed Jan 19th.

Wed Jan 19th.

Well M’s asleep and Rhea is off getting a foot massage with her friend Barry. Life is rough here in the China hotel. I should clean up but some things are hopeless. I guess I’ll just stick with my usual system of open suitcase throw everything in and look carefully under the bed. The foot massages are great fun. R and I have had 2 they’re only 10$US and its really nice. They give you a shiatsu type back rub while you soak your feet in a wooden bucket of hot tea and then you have a foot massage. It’s 60 min of heaven. Though they tend to giggle a lot since R is so small. R loves it though. I think we’re trouble with that one. I can see her now as a teen. “Dad, I don’t want to go to the cabin. I want to go to a Spa.” Yikes!

Ok back to FC:

Basically, as I said FC was what I would call ‘real china’ modern but in a early industrial sense.

For our itinerary we basically traveled around to each baby’s abandonment site. Ours was first The People’s Hospital of FC. We got out looked around and took a few pictures. I thought is might be an ‘emotional’ but it wasn’t really it was just a place. Maybe someday for M it will be an emotional spot but it just was what it was. A place where one of the 1000’s of Chinese girls was abandoned. Obviously, if this was the spot, it was a place where she was intended to be found.

After that we made our way thru the city and stopped at the Agricultual planning office and the Civil affairs office. Along the way we stopped at this stand where we bought some Rice cakes, apearantly FC is renound for these sweet rice cakes. We bought a bag. They were good. M obviously had had them before she grabbed it and knew what to do.

As I said before people were very curious about us and our babies. Unfortuately, we don’t speak Chinese, since people kept asking us questions about M. All we knew how to say was “je je” which is big sister and “me me” little sister. They seemed to understand and thought that was great. But as they pointed out our noses were too big for us to be related.

Well after our whirlwind trip to FC we headed back to NC. By the time we got back I started to feel a little bad. We got back to the hotel at about 6:15 and immediately jumped on the next bus to go out to a culmination dinner. Unfortuately, once I got there I realized I was sick. After a quick trip to the bathroom to throw up we took a taxi back to the hotel. The night was grim. I’ll spare you the details but let me just say that whatever it was I ate my body made every effort necessary to get rid of. Yuck!

The next day I felt “better” but was weak. It was packing day so we packed up and headed to the airport. We left at 2:00is only to arrive and find out our flight was delayed and continued to be for 5+ hrs. Luckily I wasn’t hungry because there wasn’t much to find there. Thank goodness we brought some balance bars. We finally arrived at the hotel in GZ at around midnight. Boy it felt good to be back.

Hopefully That’ll give you a little idea of Fengcheng. If you go to the site where the pictures are stored. You can see some of the shots I took. Just click on a picture and you’ll be taken to Flickr and from the enlargement of the pic from the blog you can select to look at others as well. I’m going to try to go thru and edit in some descriptions soon.

I guess I'm finally caught up. Now I can start writing about things that happened yesterday or today as opposed to last week. Of cours tomarrow is our last full day. So much has happened and we've been so busy I feel like I have hardly scrached the surface about all we've seen and experienced, let alone feel. However, with 2 kids in a hotel in China I don't have the luxury of the time to examine and discribe it all. I hope I'm managing to get across the gist. It's certainly been a great adventure and Marina is a sweetie.



Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Hi all.

Well M’s asleep and Rhea’s trying. I need to soon at some point.

Today was mostly a do nothing day. We had 2 1/2 hrs paperwork then a bit more later in the day. Lots of sitting in a room with Norman saying “Box number 4 check no” Or “Write your daughters Chinese Name there”. Sounds boring and it is but the US consulate is apparently very very picky and any problems can be a pain. Plus those forms I think were written by fired IRS workers. They are written to maximize confusion. Who looks at those things!

Rhea and I did manage to escape back to Shamian Island for a bit to pick up a couple of things we bought the other day when we went to the clinic for M’s US immigration health check-up. But other than that it was a pretty slow day.

Tomorrow we have to wait around until 11:30 to while the Team delivers the papers to the Consulate and then if everything goes well we’re free. I don’t know what to do yet but I’m hoping to go somewhere new. We’ve only got 2 more days in China and as much as I’m looking forward to going home I’m really enjoying being here.

Since things here aren’t too noteworthy let me tell you a little about our trip to Fengcheng because that was a real adventure.

That day started off with a trip to the passport office in Nanchang to pick up Marina’s Chinese passport. She’s our child now but she’s still a Chinese citizen and will have to travel with a Chinese passport. That was a quick trip. After that we went to visit a Preschool.

I guess that most parents work so many children at age 3 start going to full time pre-school. However, they’re school is much more academic than ours. They have English, Chinese, Math, Dance, Painting, Science, all sorts of things. The whole approach sounds like the ultimate in Bay area overscheduling, but with more pressure. That said, I thought the school was very nice. The facility was clean and stimulating, with a nice play yard and the teachers and students looked happy. This was a public school and the student teacher ratio was 40 / 2 for the classroom. Though is sounded like they had visiting specialists for some subjects. We wandered around saw some classrooms had a couple of song and dance performances for our benefit, very cute. I was impressed. It reminded me very much of a school back home. I really loved the kid art.

After that we went back to the hotel. R, M and I grabbed a quick bite in the hotel and then took off for FC at about 1. The drive was about 1 1/2 hrs on a tough road. One of the others who went with us said the conditions in the countryside where the worst she had ever seen. I didn’t thing it was that bad but it was very poor, with lots of trash.

Fengcheng apparently has the largest power plant in Jiangxi. I guess there is a lot of coal in the area. So as we drove in we saw piles of coal along the road. The town is large 1.5 million but only moderately developed. I call it ‘real china’ or ‘old china’ it’s the one I remember from 15 years ago. The town sort of tapers off to single or two story buildings but in the center is full of 8 story concrete buildings. The town is bustling but they sure don’t see westerners often. Everyplace we got out we were swarmed by gawkier. I don’t mind but for Rhea it was a bit overwhelming at times. It’s easy for me I’m a grown up and tall (by Chinese standards) but for here they’re all around her and the old ladies want to touch her. They were very curious about us and our babies. Some were telling us we needed to cover them up more. Some were commenting that we had big noses. Overall people looked both happy and puzzled to see us.

Ok, bedtime again. I’ll pick up from here tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Baby Bathtime. Unfortunately, M thinks the most fun thing to do in the bath is throw the stacking cups out of the tub. This is fine when the bathroom has a drain on the floor but that's not going to work at home.

But she's having fun and that's the whole point.

Today we're in mid paperwork. Yuck. We spent 2 1/2 hrs in a confrence room while rhea and M played outside with the China Girls. Then we're back for more from 2 - 3 and then again at 4:30 for those of us traveling w/o spouses. fun fun!


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Back Home in Guangzhou

Well back home in Guangzhou. Sorry to keep everyone waiting for news. It’s been tough to balance all the needs of parenting, adopting and traveling. Plus, given the added challenge of being cast back into the dark ages of 26-6 dial in made any blogging and extra challenge.

So much has happened since I last wrote. I’ll start with a Marina update and then I’ll back up a bit and give you the broad brush of Nanchang.

Well Marina is doing well. She seems totally comfortable with us. She wakes up happy morning is really her best time right now. This AM she got up and wandered around the room. Unpacking things from the suitcase, smiling, giggling (a little) and playing with all children’s favorite toys stacking cups, medicine bottles and remote controls. She generally wakes up has a bottle then at breakfast does a little grazing. She’s a big eater. I’m trying to hold her back a bit because she’s got such a pot belly but now its not the time for a crash diet. I’m just glad she’s not a waif. Then she’d like a nap at 10 and then one in the afternoon say 2:30 but we’re usually out and about for some of that time so she catches them when she gets them. She’s a bit fussy in the room but when have babies ever loved hotel rooms. Hey, I don’t like being in the room either. Overall she’s really easy and cheery but I must say I can see she’s looking forward to a mommy and I’m sure if she had her way at this point she wishes I’d marry a nice Chinese girl (Ah well Marina, that’s not happening). She’s very comfortable with strangers and is happy to go and visit with others thought she does love the China Team girls. There is one girl on the Team Tammy who must look like her foster mother because everytime we see her Marina cries. I try to avoid Tammy.

Who is the China Team, you ask? Well, this whole adoption trip is facilitated by this group run by USAA (US Asian Affairs) and it’s a funny combination of tour group and adoption group. So we have this team of primarily girls who are here to help get where we need to when we need to and help to facilitate all the paperwork and transisitons. So there’s always someone around to help hold a baby or pull a stroller out of the bus or whatever. I’ll tell you it comes in handy when you’re traveling alone with two kids. Rhea has been great, so helpful, but she’s just can’t carry everything. So sometimes it’s nice to have an extra pair or hands available.

I’ll go back to the orphanage visit. That was Thursday. We left early 8 or 9 it was almost a 2 hr drive and really good roads. Much of them looked new. There was one section that was just miles and miles of this brand new road lined with trees and bushes and then you came up to this brand new town. It was definitely one of those party planned places. Someone in Beijing just decided they needed a town there for some reason and poof there’s a town.

When we arrived it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere. We had at this point turned off the main road and driven through some pretty sketchy little town. I’ve got a couple of good pictures. Then we pull up to this small complex of say 6 or 8 apartment buildings. There is even a hotel of sorts. We are lead back to the orphanage which is is a couple of floors of one of the buildings and brought up to see the children. This orphanage is basically just for the “good babies” someone called it a clearing house. All the kids there were under 1 and slated for international adoption.
On one level it was better than I expected it was clean. The kids seemed well fed. But there were no toys there was just 16 kids all sitting on these little push potties or in walkers with a few in cribs just lieing there. Waiting, waiting for nothing. They were just sitting there waiting to be fed or to put to bed. It was sad and somewhat surreal. There were maybe 2 caregivers to the room for the 16. The director said that there were 60 babies total in the orphanage and 16 caretakers. Now it wasn’t clear to me if there were 16 per shift or 16 total. From what I saw I would say 16 total.

One of the parents had brought handmade dolls to give the kids. And Rhea and some of the other children passed them out to the babies. It was really sweet. You could see many of the kids really playing with them. I kept thinking what an amazing thing for Rhea to be doing. I’m sure she can’t fully grasp it all. I know I can’t

After that we drove back to the Hotel and just hung out for a couple of hours. Rhea and I ventured out for a bit before dinner. I was looking for some old Party posters but I got sent to a place where they sell stamps, china post. But as with all of these things having a destination or errand is really just and excuse to get out and see the world. So after a brief run through China Post we walked thru the nearby park where everyone was very interested in the three of us. People want to have they’re pictures taken with Rhea or old ladies would ask us about Marina and Rhea. But since we don’t speak Chinese we’re sort of at a loss. Rhea has learned the words for big sister and little sister so we say je je and me me (sorry bad transliteration) but they get the idea and think it’s great.

Sorry guys I’m whipped. I’m going to have to save the trip to Fengcheng to see Marina’s hometown and abandonment spot till tomorrow. We had a rough couple of days and I need my sleep. I was sick, real sick, night before last, then we were stuck in the Nanchang Airport for 5 hrs and didn’t get in until midnight. Then today Rhea wasn’t feeling well. Poor thing she’s been such a trooper. I don’t know how I could have done this without her.

Enjoy some pictures. (If I can get to them. I did something weird to iphoto and now I can’t access them, arrg, they are there I just cant get iphoto open the library) Anyway, I’ll post again tomorrow life is normalizing. We’ve got a medical check-up in the AM and US visa pictures then I think it’s just a bit of touring and we have the afternoon off.


p.s. so much for more photos I’ve got to re-import my photos. Perhaps tomorrow. If it’s not one thing it’s another

Friday, January 14, 2005

A Close Up

Originally uploaded by juststeve.

A happy morning

Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Marina woke up happy this morning.


Originally uploaded by juststeve.


Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Here's another picture of the SWI. I'll give more commentary soon.

Rhea at SWI

Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Yesterday some of the group took a 2 hour bus ride to another town and visited an SWI (orphanage). One of the families brought home made dolls for all the kids. Here is Rhea handing one out.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Civil affairs office

Civil affairs office
Originally uploaded by juststeve.


Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Hi all. I know I just finished posting the first day and most of you haven’t had a chance to read it but just to let you know. I’m not able to get onto blogger right now. Here I’m on dial-in and it’s just too slow and in GZ it’s blocked. I can get around it sometimes but it doesn’t always work. So if you’ve got questions just email me I might not see the comments till I get back. However, I warn you that I’m also not getting a lot of email time. When M does nap I’m trying to give R attention and then when they’re asleep…I’m tired! Plus being on dial in just eats time for every link. We’ll be in GZ on Sat night and then I’ll be more linked. Plus I think…We’re less busy.

Today we not busy but I had a tired baby and a big kid who needed some play time. So we spent a bunch time playing with some of the big kids on the trip. In the AM we all went on a trip to see this giant and famous pagoda and then in the afternoon the kids played and did laps around our round hotel.

I did get a couple of questions from y aunt in Culebra and I thought I could answer for all.

Are you going through an adoption agency that sets this trip and all up?

You actually use 2 agencies. One, which facilitates the homestudy and coaches you thru the American paperwork and then a 2nd, which is the intermediary for the China portion. You apparently can do it on your own but I can tell you know I’m sure glad there’s someone making this all happen. It’s hard enough to pay your check here I’d hate to have to negotiate all this paperwork on my own. Plus it’s nice having a bunch of families to all helping to pitch into together. Sharing bibs, advice, medicine and just table conversation.

Do you get birth certificates, visas, citizenship for Marina over there or U.S.?

We adopt marina here in China then she travels with a Chinese passport. If both parents travel to pick up the child then she is technically an American citizen as soon as she lands in the US. However, you’re best off re-adopting in the US then they will issue an American birth certificate much easier to get when you need a copy plus I think there are some other future benefits as well. For us it’s not an option because suz is not here.

On the technical/official end. We went to the Civil affairs office yesterday there we all waited then took turns having our picture taken both as a family and for a baby mug shot. Then we had interviews – Why do you want to adopt a Chinese baby? What do you do for work? Do you promise not to abandon this child? What are your future plans for this baby? - That sort of thing. It only took about 10 mins. Then you’re issued a Red book with your picture and lots of Chinese writing and stamps that shows your official. After that we went to the Notary to have it authenticated or something. There we had another version of the first. After that it’s official Marina is adopted! On Friday we go to the passport office. Then Saturday we go back to GZ and Next week is the American immigration stuff.

Is everything done over there done as a big group of adoptive parents?

We are traveling with a large group. There are about 30 all together but only 12 families are here in Nanchang. There were two other groups of folks going to different places. We’ll meet up with them again on Saturday in GZ for the American part of the adoption. For the china part you have to travel to the provincial capital for the American part we go to GZ which is where the consulate is.

What did the note on the red paper say?

It just had here supposed birthdate. The note was supposed to have been left when she was abandoned. It was neat to see and think about but I don’t believe it’s a real note. It wasn’t’ crinkled at all and they had a whole pile of notes and they all looked like they were torn from the same red paper. Now perhaps the red paper is the traditional child abandonment note paper but it just didn’t seem likely.

How many days are planned for China?

About 2 weeks. We left on the 7th and we’ll be leaving on the 21st.

We’ll it’s 10pm now and I’m really tired. So I’m off to bed. I’m hoping that M will sleep better tonight. Tomorrow, some of the group, myself included, are going to visit an orphanage. Not the one that placed M in the foster home we’re going to be seeing a different one. Fengcheng is under-construction. However, I spoke with the “china girls” as I call them and we’re organizing a small group to go to Fengcheng the town on Friday. There were 5 families who adopted from there and some of us are curious to go see the town that our girls grew up in. Since M and all the others we’re not in the orphanage. I’m not too upset that we won’t get to go there. They “the girls” said that they called the civil affairs office and they said we could only visit on orphanage. I don’t believe that I just think it’s a face saving excuse but I’m most interested in going to the town glad they are accommodating that. Plus, somehow when we’re there I imagine we’ll stop by and see the orphanage if not go in it.

I’m hoping that we can see M’s abandonment spot when we go. Now that I know her it’s a strange thought. Of course all the Chinese babies are abandoned you know that going into the adoption but it’s strange to think of that mother just leaving M there at the gate of the hospital.

Good night…we’ll it’s good morning to you almost.


The Big Day

Originally uploaded by juststeve.
It’s been a busy couple of days. Rhea has been a BIG help. I can’t imagine what I would do without her. Marina loves her sister.

I wanted to write yesterday and try to capture all the moments but there was just too much going on. So by the time 9/10 rolled around I decided that going to sleep was a higher priority than blogging/journaling.

I’ll start at the beginning and see how far I get.

The Big Day - The adoption folks refer to this as gottya day.

We started early waking breakfast at 5:30 and on the bus to the airport at 6:00AM. We drove to GZ airport and then took a 7:50 flight to Nanchang it’s about an hour flight. Nanchang in Jangxi province and is a ‘small” city. I think she said 4 million people.

We arrive and the airport is freezing. It’s this beautiful brand new airport but they don’t heat it. To expensive I guess. The flight was easy. I didn’t go near the food and I did periodically worry the flaps would fall off. Not my normal thing but on China Southern you never know. In all fairness though it was a nice jet and seemed to work fine though only about 12 of all the TV screens dropped which made you wonder what other things didn’t work.

After the flight we were loaded on to a bus, our luggage went into a separate truck, and drove about 40 min to Nanchang. I think they’re expecting the town to grow and growing it is the amount of construction going on in china is staggering. Whole new mini-cities of modern looking skyscraper apartments seem to be shooting up everywhere.

We got the Lakeview hotel, really nice, and checked into our rooms. Our bags arrived about 30 min later. At this point and I was beginning to get nervous. We were supposed to get the babies after lunch. So I puttzed around trying to get stuff ready but not really knowing what to do. It was sort of that pre-excitement crazy when you really wound.

At 2:00 we went down reviewed some forms. Did some signed some things and then waited. A few minutes latter the first group of babies arrived. Before, we met marina I was pulled aside and given some things that we had sent in a car package to the orphanage from italy. Tammy (one of the group organizers – not they’re real name they adopt American names to make it easier for us – gave me the two cameras that we sent presumably with pictures for the foster home (UNBELIEVABLE!) two pictures that we were sent with an album (they said that they were her favorite. Our family group shot with Oliver and one of suz and the girls in Venice) and the little stuffed tiger we had sent for her. I guess that epic of overseas mailing was worth it. I can’t wait to develop those pictures. Tammy says we should do it in GZ.

At this point the babies were out in the hall and then they would call you up and bring your baby into to you. It was wild. You just didn’t know what to expect.

Anyway we were the 5th they called me up and there she was. All the babies from Fengcheng were presented in these really cute but HOT puffy yellow and blue outfits. So they looked so cute but they were just sweating.

When they gave Marina to me she was fairly dazed for a couple of minutes and then I think she realized that I wasn’t just holding her for someone else and she didn’t like it.

For the next hour or so there was quite a lot of crying going on. She was sad. I had expected this especially since we knew she would be in foster care. Typically, a baby in foster care has a harder time initially because they are more bonded with they’re foster mother. So after a bit I realized that I had to get her out of those clothes, so I changed her clothes, She was just so bundled, put on a diaper, she just had a liner in her pants sort of a like a maxi-maxi pad. We were in the room till about 4 then got to go back to our rooms and then come back at 4:30 to do some more documentation. Back in the room things were easier. It was calmer and Marina seemed to have periods where she was less skeptical. When we went back there was a bit more crying and she really just wanted to be with the Chinese women. I wasn’t insulted I figured I’d want to be too. So I let them hold her while I signed things. That was when the beginnings of a break thru with Rhea really happened.

We went back to the room about 5 and played and were to meet the group for dinner at 6. We did much better then. She mostly wanted to be with Rhea and Rhea was amazing with her and loved to take care of her. I’ve been having a hard time getting in even when Marina does want me.

At dinner she just chowed. It’s fairly obvious because of her girth that she’s a gifted eater but she enjoyed eating egg, corn, celery, and other things we did a combination of giving her food on her try and feeing her with the spoon. So far she’s even using the bib that’s a first for a pokorny in our house.

After dinner we came back to the room. Marina seems to hate elevators everytime the elevator door closes she screams. But when you’re on the 14th floor you don’t have a choice. Plus to top it off we’ve got to take 2 elevators to get to our room. One down to the first floor and then another up to the 14th. The Restaurant is on the 2nd. Don’t ask!

In the room we played and she was just showering rhea with attention wanting her to hold her and Rhea was obliging. She was being a great big sister. Having Rhea come along was brilliant. One Rhea and Marina are really bonding and it’s giving Rhea an amazing opportunity to connect with her sister. And two it’s really nice for Marina to have sort of an intermediary for her transition. Rhea’s kind of a playmate/Mother that I certainly can’t be and I’m not sure if suz would be as well. I imagine that if suz was here Marina would be glommed onto her and have even less to do with me. As the girls from the china team pointed out. Most of the people who work in the orphanage are women.

After some playing I popped the girls in the bath Marina was a bit skeptical about it but put up with it and really loved playing with the stacking cups. We’d been so busy with the transitions the paperwork then just crisis management with trying to calm Marina and trying to call suz that I feel like I’d hardly had a chance to see her. So the bath gave me an opportunity to really see her.

Things I noticed. Well she was clean. She’s obviously been well cared for, and well fed! She’s a real pudge. She as a serious pot belly. I think this one put baby Rhea to shame. But it looked to me as though she’s been really well cared for. I’d say she’s one of the 2 or 3 that looks as healthy out of our group of 13. I’m imagining that based on her size and the fact that she can walk, feed herself and is so verbal, GA!, That she was well loved by her foster family. If you go over to the flickr site (clicking on a picture) you can see a picture of the document of questions that our tour operator asked the orphanage director and it has a bit about who her foster family was. It sounds like she was raised by a couple with 2 adult children.

Getting Marina to bed that night was a bit of a challenge. We gave her a bottle. The document had said that she got one 2x a day. Then I carried her, we lie down with her, and nothing seemed to work. Finally at 9ish Rhea was so tired she just got in her bed and went to sleep. Then Marina looked over at her and put her head down and went to sleep. It was amazing.

Ok, I could keep going but it’s day 3 and I’m still on day one. Plus I never told you about some of the wild things we saw in GZ. I promise I won’t post any of the pictures of the skinned roasted dogs…..yet.

I’ll post this and continue on. No proof reading. Sorry folks.

You forget how tiring it is carrying around a 20 lb baby all the time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Hi all - I'm just too busy to keep up. I'm working on commentary but I've been busy, as you can imagine. I've posted a bunch more pics on the flickr site. If you click on this picture you can see it larger and you should be able to find an option to view the others.

They only have dial up in the room so I'm down in the business center uploading pictures. While someones watching my sleeping girls.

Today was a big day with a trip to the civil affairs office and the notary it's now official. Marina is adopted. I've got 3 girls (4 if you include Suz). What have we done! Now we just have to work on getting her into the country.

Today was much easer for her and all. Marina continues to love rhea and doesn't want her to leave here sight. That is other than to be held by someone chinese.

I'll post more tomarrow we're having a bit slower day with just some touring plus we're all learning how to work together better so I'll try to write more later.

Thanks for the email. I have only been able to read a few as I'm saving my computer time to upload pics to Suz and you all but I really love the well wishing and support. It's all so fun and exciting. She's a very active and will be happy girl. She'll fit right in at our house, very bossy.


Sunday, January 09, 2005


Originally uploaded by juststeve.
China Day 1 Saturday, January 8, 2005

The Adventure begins!

In typical form it started out on Thursday night - I just finish painting Marina’s room at 9:00PM then by 9:30 we’re off to the airport. It’d already been one hell of a week. (Yes, I can say that after spending the night before in the hospital with Eliza) - but now the fun part begins. After 2 trips back, in which I’ve attempted to leave my jacket and those jeans that I was going to pack after they got out of the dryer, we’re off.

The flight was actually not too bad. We arrived in Hong Kong. At about 7ish after 15hrs of flying. Rhea was terrific. She slept for the first 6/7 hrs then enjoyed watching movies and playing leapster and travel Yahtzee

After we landed in HK we went thru passport control got our bags and had a little snack. Some Mango smoothies and a cake. Then we’re off to Guangzhou. Back thru passport control and off to “real” China. At the gate we met a number of other bay area adoptive parents. We’re all looking haggard and tired but I am SO excited to be in China. It’s just a fascinating place.

We arrive in GZ, a short 30min flight, and are met by Grace and Martin. They are very nice and whisk us off to the China Hotel. The Hotel is fancy. The downstairs shopping looks like 5th ave. But the hotel is clean and comfortable. The bad part is it’s a real effort to remember not to brush your teeth drink the water or go down and order a salad. It’s so much like any western hotel that I have to constantly remind myself where I am and what’s at stake. This is nothing like the places suz and I stayed when we were last in Asia.

Well, after bit of a slow check in. We make it to our rooms. I, of course, am immediately trying to set up the computer so we can call suz. That is, as opposed to feeding my daughter. Unfortunately, this turns into the typical 45min tech help assignment but in the end we’re up and running. At this point Rhea is dissolving with exhaustion and lack of food. So we zip down to the food court for our first of no doubt many Chinese meals.

After lunch we came back to the room, showered, finally called suz and considered falling asleep. But it’s a good thing we didn’t because boy did we have fun!!!

We ended up going out because we were going to find this temple that Rhea had read about in Spring Pearl, a book about a girl in china in the 1800’s. So we took the subway down to the river but ended up just wandering around it was great. We walked thru a park and across a bridge and wound or way thru the streets. We saw live chickens and rabbits and these weren’t for pets. We people selling they’re wares on the street and then we stumbled into this labyrinth of little shops. It was a covered mall of sorts just piled high with decorations for Chinese New Year, which must be coming up soon. Rhea and I loved looking at all the ribbons, lanterns and tapestries that were all around. We just wandered thru these narrow alleys of shops with everything from shoes to flowers until it was almost dark. Then we grabbed a taxi and headed back to the hotel. At this point Rhea was exhausted. It’s about 6:30/7:00 which is almost 3AM back home and she just falls asleep in the car. So we come back grab a quick bite, decide to put off the foot massages till tomorrow and then head back to the room for bed.

Rhea’s asleep now and I’m ready to be. But I promised suz pictures. So I thought I’d get this blog started. It was a full and fun first day in China.


The china adoption pack

The china adoption pack
Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Suz did everything. We're packed and ready to go.

Bye Mom!

Bye Mom!
Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Suz drops us off at the airport. Thanks Pam! (our savior and late night babysitter.

A little refreshment in the Hong Kong airport

The view from our room - China Hotel Guangzhou.

It's just fun to look.

It's just fun to look.
Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Having fun checking out all the holiday decorations.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
Originally uploaded by juststeve.
These are like Xmas lights for Chinese New Year. They're flashing plastic firecrackers. Some have sound effects too. I loved them but resisted