Saturday, July 24, 2010

Final Days in China

I regret that it has taken so long to write again.  I know there are those tiny, yet important to me, details that I have already forgotten.  So much life happens in every single day right now.  So, I'll go back and try to catch up.

Thursday, July 15th, we went to the American Consulate in Guangzhou with many other families we'd been with for the last couple of weeks.  While there, an officer called our family to his station to approve, one last time, all the information that our Chinese daughter needs to become an American citizen.  Then, we all stood together and raised our right hand to affirm...Okay, here is one of those details that I forgot.  I have NO idea what we swore to.  That ALWAYS happens to me.  When something big like that is happening and I think, "Oh, remember every word of this.  You're going to want to remember!" I PROMPTLY forget.  Just like when Darrell got down on one knee and I realized he was about to propose to me.  I focused SO much on wanting to remember what he said, that I'm not really sure I even heard it all!  Anyway, that moment felt pretty huge.  I wanted to get pictures, but the Consulate won't allow pictures inside or outside of the building.

That night we had dinner with a friend from Little Rock living in China.  It was SO fun.  He, obviously, speaks both Mandarin and English fluently.  I loved asking him about his work and hearing his perspectives on China.  I also loved hearing him interact with Jingshu and tell us what she was saying.  That's probably one of the hardest parts of where we are right now--wanting SO badly to know EVERYTHING she is thinking and saying and having no way to do that.  Well, actually, she is really good at communicating with facial expression and body language, but I know we're missing out on some GREAT commentary from her.

Our friend asked Jingshu if she was interested in knowing her English name.  He explained that we each have two names:  BaBa is also Darrell, Mommy is Tracy, GuGu is Parker and Logan, and JieJie is McKenna.  He pointed to her and said Hayden.  She, in no uncertain terms, let us, and everyone around, know that her name is Jingshu.  Three times.  Increasingly loudly.  We are SO okay with that.  We'd just heard that sometimes girls her age were excited about their new English name.  If she NEVER wants to be Hayden Joy, I will be a sad for a little while, but I understand.

Jingshu also asked the waitress, when trying to decide what to drink with dinner, if the apple juice was sweet or if the watermelon juice was sweet.  She chose the apple juice.  Terry laughed, saying she seems like a girl who is accustomed to many choices, as if she is from a wealthy home instead of a foster home in Luizhou (a poor city in a poor province).  I guess she adapted quickly!

McKenna and I had heard that we could get a great massage for not much money.  THAT is speaking our language!  Especially after 3 weeks sleeping on ironing board beds.  So, we went Friday morning to a Chinese medical center.  Amy, our favorite "local" on Shaiman Island, said the massages there are much better than what we could get at a barber shop (?) AND lunch is included!.  Enough said.  And she was right!  It was amazing.  It was more "clinical" than spa-like, and I had bruised muscles in my neck and shoulders for several days, but those muscles were surely more relaxed!  After our massages, we looked at the menu for lunch and decided to skip it.  By Friday, we had ALL had our fill of authentic traditional Chinese food.  We opted for a nice cold frappacino from Starbucks on the way for McKenna to do some shopping.  Unfortunately, she started feeling sick on the way and we had to get back to the room quickly.  I'm not sure what was going on with her.  Maybe the massage released some toxins that just had to get out, or something.  Either way, she rested and felt enough better later in the day for some retail therapy.  I hope we can post some pictures of the beautiful dresses she bought. Stunning!

If I could "make" Darrell do anything, I would've "made" him get a massage Saturday morning before we caught the train to Hong Kong.  And, I think I had him talked into it.  Unfortunately, instead of leisurely checking out of the hotel at noon and catching the train around 1:30, we had to leave our hotel at 9:30 am because there were no drivers available later in the day.  So, I guess we'll just HAVE to go back sometime.

One smart thing we did was pack everything the six of us would need in Hong Kong in just two small suitcases so that the other eight were ready for the trip back to Little Rock.  It took hours to get it all together, but we were SO glad we did it that way!

I don't know if we have pictures (that's Darrell's department) of the six of us walking through the train station with 10 suitcases, many backpacks and smaller bags, and a stroller, but can you just imagine it?  I'm sure we DON'T have pictures of it, because no one had a free hand!  There are three escalators in the Guangzhou train station.  Yep.  And no baggage carts.  We made it, though.  Several (if not all of us) had never ridden a train before.  It was a fun experience to add to the list of  "firsts".

Sitting in the train station, our guide, Wensi, asked Jingshu if she knew what was happening.  She explained that we would ride the train to Hong Kong, spend two nights there, then get on a plane for two LONG rides, and finally be in America.  She asked her if she was excited. Yes.  She asked her if she likes her new family.  Yes--listing each one of us by name.  Then, Jingshu told Wensi about the two dogs at our house.  She said she is afraid of dogs, but she knows she can just follow her BaBa and he will keep her safe.  How precious!  I just love how much she loves and trusts her BaBa.  She is a smart and discerning girl, because I can't think of anyone better to love and trust (on this earth)!

We warned the kids at breakfast that this would be a difficult day and that it would require everyone to work together and keep tempers in check.  I think that really helped.  I was SO proud of our crew for good "can do" attitudes and few lost tempers.

When we arrived in Hong Kong, we had no idea how to get to our hotel.  For the first time, we were on our own with no guide.  We had made our own hotel reservations, with the help of a travel agent in California.  In retrospect, there was probably a bit more information that I should've given her to help decide where we should stay in the city.  Live and learn, right?  Another good idea would've been to get advise from someone who has been there.  Our hotel was about 40 minutes by taxi (3 of them this time because of all the luggage), an hour train ride from Disneyland, and nearly an hour in the hired big van to the airport.  Disney was definitely the highlight of our stay in Hong Kong, except for Logan.  That's worth a separate post.

We checked out of our hotel at 1 pm on Monday, but our flight didn't leave until 11:15 pm.  That's a lot of time to fill with all those bags in tow, so we opted to leave the luggage at the hotel long enough to get lunch, then come back, call the van driver, and head on to the airport.  At least it was air-conditioned there!  In fact, the Hong Kong airport is the nicest one I have ever been in.  It is beautiful, with nice big seating areas close to open spaces so that 5 year old girls can run their stroller around and around and around without scaring too many people; a great assortment of shops to peruse; and a food court that included....wait for it...Burger King! I have never enjoyed a chicken sandwich as much as I did that day!

The airline person at the check-in counter was so nice.  It took SOME time to process six international travelers with ALL those bags.  He even encouraged us to rearrange some stuff so we wouldn't have to pay the overweight baggage fees.  Not only that, but he provided an extra bag, if we needed it!  All the while, one of us was having a long and loud meltdown because she kept running so far ahead of the rest of us that Mommy decided it wasn't safe and had the audacity to make her sit in the stroller.  If we weren't getting enough attention before, we were now!  The airline people were SO gracious.  Thank you, Jesus, for that!

Jingshu was SO, SO excited for that plane to take off. She could hardly contain it!  i was a little taken by surprise by my tears, realizing that she was leaving her homeland and everything familiar for a very long time. She is a great traveler.  Even when she got sick a few times, it didn't really upset her--no drama queen.  We were so glad that both she and Darrell had extra clothes in the carry on bag!  That flight was 12 hours and 40 minutes.  Everyone took a sleep aid to help us sleep through as much of that as possible.  I'm glad we did!   Then, after 6 hours in the London airport, the next flight was 10 hours long.  I encouraged everyone to NOT take a sleep aid for that one so we would feel like sleeping when we got home.  That was fine.  No sleep aid needed!  Darrell and Jingshu were asleep before the plane pulled away from the airport and my book fell out of my hand before we took off.  For some reason (probably because we were excited about coming home) that flight seemed like the longest to all of us.  For a while I would look at my watch every 15 minutes, thinking an hour had passed.  About 30 minutes from landing, McKenna and I took our little cosmetic bag to the "bigger" bathroom in the back of the plane and went in together to freshen up.  That was fun and funny.  Most funny was the look on face of the man waiting to come in after us.  Obviously, he's not a girl, and maybe doesn't even know any girls well enough to understand that we NEEDED to brush our teeth and put on makeup TOGETHER after all we had been through!

Finally, the wheels touched down in Dallas and our little China doll became a US Citizen,  regardless of what the USCIS officer told us in the airport.

Check back later today for the next post about the three hours it took us to get out of the Dallas airport and our WONDERFUL friends who drove all the way to Dallas to drive us home so that we wouldn't have to drive ourselves after traveling for so long.


John and Janel Breitenstein said...

So amazing to hear the end of the story--or, I should say, the middle!!--after hearing the beginning. And so excited to meet the newest, sweet Adcock! PRAISE GOD!

Susie said...

Hi Adcocks!
Tracy, it was so great to hear an update, I have been thinking about y'all. After coming home I was too tired to blog for a week! I look forward to hearing more adventures! Lizzie has her heart surgery on Monday. Please pray for all of us! After that, no more blue baby!

Anonymous said...

If I had known, I would have come to greet you at DFW! We live just 15 minutes due north. I'm sure it was a bittersweet homecoming. Praying restfulness and lots of connecting over the next weeks!