Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting to Gotcha

LaRita can't post right now because you can't use Google apps from within China.  She gave me the secret decoder ring and now I can get into her account.  So, I am going to be her "ghost poster" (aka her Hubby) until her return.  After this segment I will try to get email updates from her to post.

Now to catch you up on the story so far,  here's a look at the first week

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

We checked ahead online and the flight from DFW to Minneapolis/St Paul (MSP) was delayed by almost an hour.  The silver lining to that dark cloud is that we don't have to panic to getting to the airport early, we have plenty of time.  Well the major road construction north of the airport creates major daily chaos and Hubby was able to take advantage of ten minutes of the extra time as he took a wrong lane in the maze and found himself a mile west of where he intended.  We still got to the terminal with time to spare.  Hubby had watched as LaRita packed each suitcase, got up on a bathroom scale to check the weight, got down, redistributed the loads between the two suitcases, and repeated the process for what must have been a half an hour.  This was needed because she had clothes, snacks and toys for three to squeeze in them but there was a 44 lb per bag weight limit.  Curiosity got the better of him at the airport and he asked the Delta representative at check-in how much.  The answer:  43 lbs for one; 44 lbs for the other.  You may question her sense of direction, but never doubt her ability to pack!

It was a little tight at MSP airport because of the delay but they had enough time to make a quick call to Hubby at work and grab a sandwich on the run to take on the plane.  Even though they were in the next to last row, the up side was that the fuselage narrowed at that point so that there were only 2 seats instead of 3 in their row.  That meant they had plenty of under-seat storage and didn't need the overhead bins.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

At Tokyo-Narita airport there was a time squeeze made more anxious by the fact that when the flight info monitors switched to English they did so very quickly so that she had to stand in front of one for a while and ready her eyes to focus on the English as it flashed by.

The Tokyo to Beijing leg went smoothly and they arrived pretty much on schedule (about 10pm).  The guide was there at baggage claim as planned and they had a weary but pleasant half-hour drive to the airport.  One amusing incident occurred during that drive.   LaRita was curious so she asked the guide in the front seat with the driver how long it would take to get there.  She repeated the question twice in English but the both driver and guide seemed oblivious to her and continued on with their front-seat banter in Mandarin.  LaRita had been studying some basic Mandarin words and phrases in hopes of better communicating with Victoria like she had studied Cantonese for Elaina.  There were also some words  that were slightly similar in both languages, and that helped.   LaRita knew just enough of the language that she knew that they made fun of her pronunciation of "Guangxi", the province where Elaina and Victoria were from.  (LaRita use a long "e" sound on the last syllable like a person from that southern province would pronounce it, not with a long "i" sound like those in Beijing and the northern provinces would.)   Effectively, they were saying that LaRita sounded like a hick.  Since she could not get there attention in English, she tried out one of her practiced phrases.  She asked, in formal Mandarin, 
"Duìbùqǐ, wǒ kěyǐ wèn nǐ yīgè wèntí ma?" which means "Excuse me, may I ask you a question."  Seeing them both whip their heads back over their shoulders in wide-eyed amazement told her that she had done a pretty good job at both grammar and intonation.  The guide sheepishly replied in English "Of course" and then answered.  After that the drive was uneventful and the front-set banter a bit more muted.

She had been booked into not only the same hotel but the same room.  It was nicely appointed as before and after Skyping with Hubby, they settled down into a bed for the first time in over 26 hours of travel. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

This was a "free" day meaning there was nothing planned by the adoption or travel agency.  They spent most of it just getting over jet lag.  They decided to walk outside the hotel a little bit but did venture far.  Beijing is a modern and cosmopolitan city and they happened to find a Haagen-Dazs store not too far from the hotel so they were able to stop and have a cool treat on their walk.

Ice Cream - Yum!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Today LaRita and Elaina met up with 12 other adoptive families who were using Holt as their agency.  This is the sightseeing day that is planned to ensure that families have at least one day as a "tourist" before they turn all their focus on their new child.   There were so many people that they had to break them into two groups.  One group went to see the Great Wall and LaRita's group went to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and a silk factory.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

LaRita spent the day mainly getting ready to fly to Nanning and anticipating finally holding Victoria in her arms instead of just a photo in her hands.

At the Beijing Airport

Monday, October 8, 2012

The day finally arrived…  What would it be like when they first meet?   As with any new child, you never  really know until it happens.   The social workers -- the children call them Aiee (Aunt) -- and the translator arrived 30 minutes early, which was fine with LaRita.   It was obviously tense, as this moment in adoption always is, with all the anxiety, anticipation, excitement, fear, and expectations of the past year converging into this one moment in a foreign hotel room far from LaRita's home and seemingly just as far and foreign to Victoria from what had been her home until she stepped into that room. 

I can only imagine what Victoria thought when she stepped into that room.  She obviously would already have been scared as she took the train ride, probably her first, to Nanning.  But perhaps she was consoling  herself knowing that after two years, she was finally going to be back with her mei mei (little sister).  It must have been quite a shock when she entered that room.  In it she didn't see a skinny, cross-eyed little girl with short fly-away hair and a baby teeth grin.  Instead she saw a strong, healthy, slender girl with long full, flowing hair with glasses and a smile that had its first adult teeth.  To top it off, this girl didn't even know how to speak Chinese!

It apparently stunned Victoria who was quiet at first, but then began a full panic when the Aiees began to leave.  It was traumatic for everyone and at first Elaina merely sat quietly at the edge of the room unconsciously fiddling with her blanket.  With toys, stickers, balloons, and lots of snacks they managed to get to the end of the day.  It was a rough start but the important thing was that they were together and no matter how scary it was at first, the moving through foster homes and orphanages was over; Victoria was with her loving Forever Family. 

Hubby signing off...

Together Again

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