Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Zhengzhou, Gotcha Day, and Taveling to Anyang

     "Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. 
 But once you do, everything changes.
David Platt, "Radical"

We left Beijing Sunday morning, and flew into Zhengzhou, Henan Province, where Hudson was born.  As soon as we stepped off the plane we were met by intense heat and humidity.  Our guide here, Yisha, was worried that the heat would be too much for us.  But it's really not that much different from our Alabama heat...we have just been spoiled by an unnaturally cool summer this year. 
Our hotel lobby in Zhengzhou
 Zhengzhou is the capital city of the Henan Province, where Hudson was born in Anyang city.  Beijing is flashy, modern China and Zhengzhou is a look at "real" China.  The highways and roads are the biggest difference between the U.S. and China.  On any road you will find cars, tractors, mopeds, bicycles, and pedestrians all together and fighting for their spot on the road.  Our bus has curtains, and I find that I have a much better peace of mind if I just keep them closed and do not pay attention to the bus driver's driving:)  There is such a drastic difference in the social system on the streets here.  There will be flashy, foreign cars zipping around on the road, while off to the side you might see a limbless beggar being pushed on a cart by a friend.  Extreme wealth, extreme poverty, all living together. 

The first night we were in Zhengzhou we all took a trip to the local Walmart.  The walk was very hot, even at 7:00 at night.  In both cities that we have been in so far, the streets are the place to be and hang out.  There might be a guy break dancing to his boom box on one corner, while a group of ladies is doing group exercise in a square across the street.  This is a very social country...the U.S., not as much.  We arrived at Walmart, which was two stories tall.  The bottom floor was food, the second floor everything else.  We definitely saw some foods that you do not see at our local grocery.  It was very crowded, and pretty overwhelming for everyone in our group.  When we got ready to check out we realized that you have to pay for the grocery sacks.  Most locals bring their own bags.  It's a good thing that we did not buy too many things...the walk back to the hotel was not as pleasant as the walk there.   



      The next day, Monday July 29, was our groups Gotcha Day.  This is the day when everyone gets their children.  There are three families that are not with our agency, but have the same itinerary as our group.  A total of 10 children were meeting their forever families that day!!  We left for the civil affairs office at 9:30...that is where we were to get our children.  I can't explain the peace that I felt that morning and the days leading up to that point.  I am usually a very anxious person in situations such as this.  But God COMPLETELY took away any fears and in their place put such a spirit of excitement in me.  Our guide told us that the children would be arriving at different times.  When we made it into the office two of the children were already there...a little girl named Lily and Hudson!  He was asleep on a couch in the room.  His nanny had brought him to Zhengzhou on the night train, and she told us that he did not get very much sleep.  We picked him up, and his little face had confusion written all over it.  But after that, he was fine!!!  He let Nathan and I hold him for a long time.  Then other children started arriving and the room was noisy chaos...children wailing everywhere, pictures being snapped.  Hudson did get a little upset at this time, but he soon calmed down.  Watching the other families get their children was one of the most emotional moments of my life.  I think what choked me up the most was watching two older children meet their families, a twelve year old girl and a thirteen year old boy with cerebral palsy.  Once an orphan turns 14, they are no longer able to be adopted.  This young boy turns 14 in two weeks.  Watching this scene, I felt like God gave me a small glimpse of the enormous love He has for these children.  It truly brought me to tears. 

 After our work at the Civil Affairs office was through, we all boarded our bus with our new family members.  Taking Hudson back to our room, we let him take a good nap.  When he woke up, he was really in a great mood.  He will let both me and Nathan hold him...this is VERY rare, but it helps us out tremendously.  Most newly adopted children attach quickly to one of their new parents...and will not give the other parent the time of day.  Several little girls in our group are really grieving...they sadly cry most of the time or just completely shut down.  So far we have not seen any of this behavior from Hudson.  He has started to whine a little when I go out of sight, but will still let Nathan hold and comfort him.  I pray that things will continue to go so smoothly.
     Yesterday  we had a very busy day.  First, a trip to finalize our adoption, then on to the notary office.  In the early afternoon Nathan, Hudson, and I had to take a 6 1/2 hour trip to the city of Anyang.  This is where he was born.  We applied for his passport...his picture is so cute.  I will try to post it.  He loved the ride to and from Anyang.  There are not many babies that ride in car seats here, so he got to stand up in the back seat and look out the rear window of the van.  He loved this!  He babbled at passing cars and banged his hands on the window.  Once back "home," he was exhausted and was fussier than usual.  It took him quite a while to settle down to sleep.  I think he was just overly tired...plus it was way later than his usual bedtime - which is 6:00 pm!


     He has been a little fussy this morning...I think it is the affects of yesterday's big trip.  But he ate a big breakfast...a bottle, yogurt, eggs, peaches, and some banana bread.  He is now snoozing in his crib, taking a morning nap.  Next stop, the southern city Guangzhou!

Sunday, July 28, 2013


     "Do not be afraid, for I am with you. 
I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west."
Isaiah 43:5

     It is day five of our trip - I am so behind on this blog.  The internet in Beijing was just so sketchy.  Nathan and I researched ways to get a better connection before leaving.  We downloaded a vpn, "Panda Pow, " which we could not have done without.  Love the name:)  But no matter how prepared you are, sometimes there is just nothing you can do about it.  It is actually "gotcha day" morning here...July 29, 2013.  I am afraid that if I do not record my thoughts and pictures from the first part of our trip very soon, there is so much I will forget once we get Hudson.  As it is, there is just so much to see and experience I do not even begin to know where to start.

     Beijing was just awesome.  All of your senses are just in overload there.  The day after we experienced The Forbidden City, the Hutong, and Tiananmen  Square we got to experience the real streets of Beijing, in the Wangfujing area.  Our guide, George, had told us that this was Beijing's "Time's Square."  Up until this point, Nathan and I had only ventured outside of our hotel's doors once by ourselves.  I had no idea just how much we were going to be in the minority here.  Two ladies from our group had gone out all on their the day before.  I think they were in shock - their day sounded like something out of a crazy movie.  Apparently they were drawn into a "tea scam", harassed at a local bank, got lost and could not find any one who spoke English.  I can't even remember the rest.  So after hearing this, our intimidation of leaving the safety of the hotel was even bigger!

     Thankfully, it was wonderful timing that a friend from Gadsden was in the same area of Beijing as us...only blocks away.  She has been living in Luoyang, Henan Province, for the last two years as the preschool teacher at Maria's Big House of Hope.  She was so kind to meet us at our hotel and take us into some really neat areas of the Wangfujing area.  We got to see street vendors selling crazy foods, experience some really different and interesting smells :) and go to a local mall.   

A beautiful church

The street vendors

Starfish, scorpion, and lizard kabobs.  Yum!


another fruit...about the size of a watermelon


     Next stop, Zhengzhou.  This is the capital city of Hudson's home province, Henan.  Please pray that our group's children will have peace in their hearts as they meet their new families.  And pray the parents will as well:) 



Friday, July 26, 2013

In A Land Far, Far Away...

     To sum up everything that has taken place in the last couple of days, all I can say is "WOW."  My first "wow" is used to describe our travel experience...my tone of voice might sound a little sarcastic here:)  I knew that the plane ride from Chicago's O'Hare Airport was going to be looong, but I truly had no idea how it would really feel to be on an airplane for 13 hours straight.  We woke up early Wednesday morning (2:45 am) and were picked up by Nathan's parents at 3:30.  Made it to the airport by 4:30, and took off for Chicago by 6:00 am.  After arriving in Chicago by 8:00 am, we had a 4 hour layover before our 12:00 noon flight to Beijing would take off.  I learned that Chicago's O'Hare airport is the busiest airport in the world...so true.  Once we settled in at our gate, it was pretty neat to learn that there were several other adoptive families that would be flying with us.  I think that excitement and pure adrenaline is what got us through the next part of our journey.  I am already getting anxious thinking about the trip home with Hudson.  15 hours (and I thought 13 was bad) on a plane with a 12 month old we have known for less than 2 weeks.  Start the prayers now, please:)

     The next part of our trip has truly been "WOW!"  We are part of an amazing travel group including about 8 other adoptive families from all over the US.  Our guide, George, took us on a tour today of a Hutong, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City.  I will let the pictures do the talking...

A hutong is a traditional Chinese home,
at one time belonging to only the upper class

A hutong is a group of homes built together,
connected by many alleys
 The hutong we visited was the home of Mrs. Wu, above. 
 She is now 77.
Girl posing for us in the alley. 
The children we saw were beautiful!!!
The view from our rickshaw.

 Our travel group

 Entering the Forbidden City

      It has been amazing getting to see a part of Hudson's homeland.  Part of me is sad that we will be taking him from his heritage.  Leaving China will be bittersweet.