Gotcha Day – 2.14.2011

Hello Everyone!!! First off I want to say that we are not putting up a Gotcha video right now because we are WAY too tired to edit and you can read the details below. Nadia and I in the orphanage conference room.

China_2011-02-14_01 China_2011-02-14_04

We all woke up about 6:30 and started to get ready. I double checked that everything we needed was packed and was surprisingly calm. I felt so much more prepared for this trip compared to Nadia’s. We went to eat at the breakfast buffet and even though my tummy was filled to the brim with butterflies I made myself eat some sticky buns and egg fried rice. I would have given almost anything for a Coke Light, but that was not a choice so I had hot tea. We came back to the room and Mike had one last talk with Nadia about how this was going to be scary for Amelie and that it was going to be a stressful day for all of us. He also let her know that we were going to spend a lot of time in government offices.

We went down the lobby with all our gear and Tony and our driver were waiting. We headed down the road and I was thinking that I had some time to get my thoughts in order and prepare myself. I had barely started to say a quick prayer and BAM we were pulling into the complex. I told Mike it was so close to the hotel that I didn’t even have time to freak out. The other 2 couples who are from Italy arrived just after us and we were all lead into the main building and into a conference room. We started doing our paperwork immediately and introduced ourselves to the other couples. While we were doing that a couple children came in and were talking and playing around with the adults.I want to stop here to tell other China adoptive parents that Ningxia does not have the “harmonious period” like other provinces. So before we even saw Amelie we were signing all the official documents and giving our fingerprint signatures that she was ours forever. That was fine with us, but I found it interesting that they are not like the other provinces. Okay so we are finished with the paperwork and in come all the kids. BAM! We don’t have the cameras on or anything.


They get Amelie over to us and say, “Baba, Mama, Jie Jie” while pointing at us and she starts screaming at the TOP.OF.HER.LUNGS. They hand her to me and the screaming continues. It was the saddest thing you ever saw and while we were prepared for that it was still heartbreaking to see. So the first 6 minutes of video is her completely hysterical. I finally turned the camera off. The nannies were trying to give her candy and other goodies to get her to calm down, but every time they came near she would reach out to them and scream even louder. I handed her to Mike to see if that would help and Nadia hopped up in my lap and said, “When are they bringing our baby? When are they bringing Amelie?” I said, “That is Amelie.” And Nadia said something like she couldn’t tell because the baby was screaming so loud.


The director was introduced to us and he gave me a sheep scarf and Amelie a necklace made from a mountain top in the province. He also talked to us about how he knew we would give her a good life, but she had a good life there at the orphanage. I told our guide to tell him that we “knew they took very good care of the children and they are very healthy and we are grateful.” (meanwhile the other 2 families from Italy were having a blast with their kiddos who were both boys and older so understood a little better what was going on)


Then we were all taken out into the main area where they had a little group of children waiting and a bunch of the nannies. We posed for photos with the director, just our family and all the families with the children. That part was a total blur – they just moved us where they wanted us and there was a lot of noise and Amelie screaming at the top of her lungs while I was holding her. Then suddenly it was time to go. The whole time inside Mike and I couldn’t wait to get Amelie away from all the women who were trying to make it better, but were just making it worse because she would scream even louder to try and get them to take her. We got out to the van and I climbed in the back with Amelie and she stopped crying instantly. I have no idea how long all that took and how long she screamed, but it felt like forever.



She was shaking and breathing really heavy with tears about to spill out, but at least she was not screaming and started to really look at me. I just kept talking to her in the most soothing way possible. I told her that we loved her and that we were glad that she was going to be a part of our family. We rode in the van over to the Kodak store to have the photo taken for her “red book” which is her adoption decree from China. While there Amelie just looked at me and wanted to be held by me and didn’t want Mike to do anything or come near her. Here we are at the Kodak store when Amelie was really watching me closely and then fell asleep.



After the photos we went to the civil affairs office and did a lot of paperwork. We answered questions that we have answered about 20 times before and signed more documents. I gave Nadia and Amelie each a lollipop and she ate it up. She was still looking nervous and had tears about to well up the entire time, but she was improving. She what felt like 50 layers of clothes on and they had us put her coat we brought on her too so it was like holding a giant marshmallow. She did not make any sounds at all during all of this except to cry. After the civil affairs office we went and got some food at a chicken place. Amelie let me feed her and then we decided that Mike better do it since she was so freaked out by him. She started to cry, but wanted the food so she laid all the way back in the highchair with her face as far from him as possible and refused to look at him. She let him feed her, but that was it. When I took the food back to finish she sat right up and looked at me while I fed her. Then we went to the hotel and I got her undressed ASAP and changed her diaper and put some fresh clothes on and then laid her on the bed with me so she could have a quick nap. While the nap was going on Nadia was doing this in the other room – writing a note to Amelie.


We want you to know she did that all on her own. “Mike is not a monster. From Nadia”

Then Tony returned to take us back to the Civil Affairs office to get our red book. From there we headed to the police station to have our photos taken for her Chinese passport. We had to wait there a long time and had a lot of people staring and asking questions of each other to figure us out.  At 3:35 pm Amelie finally cracked the tiniest of smiles for me. It was fast and fleeting, but I saw it and it gave me hope and I teared up. We had her 6 hours at this point. After the police station we came back to the hotel and I sat Amelie on the bed and Nadia got to work with the toys. The very first thing Nadia wanted to do was read her “moo ba la la la” and it was so sweet. After just a bit Mike laid down on the bed next to her and she refused to look at him the entire time but she didn’t scream with him there. I was even able to get right up and do a few things like go to the bathroom and she didn’t scream. We brought some Little People animals and some peek a blocks and they were a hit.

China_2011-02-14_87 China_2011-02-14_89

Through nearly 8 hours she was completely silent except for the crying. We know that she can say some Chinese words, but she didn’t say anything and really just looked so scared of us. We decided that we would head over to the store we found last night and get some supplies. We had Nadia in the stroller and I put Amelie in the cart with her peek a block she had the death grip on. About half way through our trip she started to swing her legs and bang the block on the cart and look a little – dare I say it? Happy. And then while we were checking out I got her to smile and you would have thought I had climbed Mount Everest I was so proud! It was such a thrill to see those little teeth and cute lips. By the time we got back to the hotel I had her laughing which was precious.


We went to dinner and when I started to feed her I couldn’t do it fast enough and she had a huge smile after every bite. By the end of dinner she was dancing along to Stevie Wonders “I just called to say I love you.” Nadia was like “there’s a happy face! Sissy is dancing!” And Nadia really needed to see that. In so many ways I think that today was a disappointment for her sweet little heart. It didn’t really matter how many times we had told her that Amelie would probably be afraid and nervous. To really live it out and not understand why she isn’t just up and excited to be playing was just really hard on her. And Nadia didn’t really get a nap today, so we thought she was a trooper through it all. We know that Amelie will be following her around in no time, but today was a hard time for her. We are very proud of how well she did, because it was stressful for all of us.

We got back to the room and I got the girls in their jammies and teeth brushed and we had a little more play time. At bedtime Nadia sang her 2 songs about Jesus and she fell asleep in my arms. Precious. Amelie said 1 word the entire time we had her and that was when a display fell over at the store. I am praying that we get to see a little more of her personality tomorrow and that she can relax even more and try to communicate with us. She is just so adorable and very curious so I want to see her come through this fear.

Here are a few other random things about Amelie:

They said she was a good eater and this is true and totally opposite of Nadia. She is wearing a solid 18 months for clothes. I have some 12 month I brought that are too short that I am going to give to the orphanage. She has these adorable chunky little baby legs – must be because she eats anything. Her hair is much lighter than Nadia’s and it curls up on the ends.

We are blessed and we are thankful for all of you who have kept us in your prayers. Please continue to do so as we start our life as a family of four with one very scared little girl.

Sunday to Yinchuan – Day 4

We all woke up early today and I was really wishing I could have slept longer, but my mind was racing. We got dressed and headed down for breakfast since we were being picked up for the airport at 8 am. I found out that the breakfast that has been included with our room each morning cost $66 a day! So the sweet deal on the room got even better. And each night we ate our dinner during the happy hour on our floor. That was so nice to be able to just walk a few steps, eat and then head back to our room and go to sleep.

It had snowed a lot overnight in Beijing so our driver was very careful on the road taking us to the airport. We got there in plenty of time, checked in for our flight on China Eastern and settled in to wait to board. A lot of people were giving us double takes since there were so few Westerners waiting on domestic flights and especially to Yinchuan. They said that our flight would be 90 minutes long and they would serve lunch. I told Mike it confirmed the amazing thing about Chinese airlines – they are fast. We boarded the plane and they gave Nadia a cute little bird puzzle, then we took off and they brought Nadia’s meal first like Korean Air. Then they served all the adults, came back through and gave everyone a drink and had plenty of time to spare before the plane started to descend. The only really weird thing was that they had us bring our stroller on board and put it in the overhead bin instead of gate checking it.

We got to Yinchuan and our guide Tony was there to meet us. He showed us to the van and said that this would be our driver for the week. We got to see the Yellow River on our way into town. He told us they call it the Yellow River because of all the dust from the desert. And flying in all you could see for miles was the desert going every direction. We drove into town and got to our hotel and boy were we getting looks of confusion everywhere. Tony got us checked in and told us that he would be back to pick us up at 8:40 am. He said there were 2 other families adopting in the morning with us and that one family was from Italy and they had their own guide. In all the years I have been involved in the Chinese adoption community I have never even heard of anyone from Italy adopting so I think that is neat.

We got into our suite and I started getting things unpacked while Mike got the girls beds set up. I like all the extra time we have this trip. (For Nadia’s adoption we got off the plane, had about 15 minutes in the hotel and headed to meet the children. I felt very disorganized and rushed and it added to how frazzled I was feeling that day). We all took a nap and then there was a knock at the door. A man delivered a fruit tray and a bottle of milk with a straw for Nadia.  A while later we walked down to the restaurant in the hotel for dinner. They had a buffet set up and so we looked at everything and started to sit down and eat when several of the staff members got really stressed out. They couldn’t speak English and we couldn’t speak Chinese and she kept saying “Western Restaurant”. At that moment I was so thankful that I had a China SIM card in my phone and I called Tony to have him translate. The problem was that they were worried we wouldn’t want to eat the Chinese food on the buffet and wanted to offer us the Western menu. Tony told her that we were glad to eat the Chinese food and then she was so happy and relieved. The food was great and the best part was that they had random American music like the Eagles and Eric Clapton playing during our meal.

Once dinner was finished we headed off down the street in search of a grocery store to buy bottled water and soda and of course more snacks. People in the grocery store were practically breaking their necks looking at us and then at Nadia and then back at us. Little kids were getting their parents attention and then they would look startled at our family. Wait until tomorrow I kept thinking 🙂

I have everything for tomorrow morning packed up. Amelie’s stuff, our paperwork, gifts for the officials and camera equipment. Time for bed. Then next post you see will be really exciting!

Saturday in Beijing – Day 3

China 2011 (Day 3)
Click on the photo to see album

Nadia slept until 6:30 today which was great. I woke up in pain and knew I had finally caught up on sleep because the horribly hard bed actually bothered me. We headed down to breakfast and then came back to the room to relax a bit. Nadia said, “Mom, can we do some school?” And you know that I was ready and had packed some stuff so her and I got to work.

We had plans to meet our friends Kiki and Jing and their daughter Chengyue for lunch at Da Dong restaurant near our hotel so we bundled up and headed over there. For those who haven’t read our blog a long time here is a little information. When we lived in Beijing for the month of March 2008 we met Kiki because she was the tutor they sent over from the language school. Mike took his classes on site, but since Nadia was so young Kiki came to our apartment every day. We became good friends and have stayed in touch these last 3 years. Their daughter has the exact birthday as Amelie which I find amazing. She is totally adorable!


Da Dong is one of the very famous restaurants in Beijing for having Peking Duck. We had read online that their menu is the size of the encyclopedia Britannica and they were not joking! Mike looked through it and the first thing he said was, “A menu shouldn’t have a table of contents.” I told Kiki that I would like the duck and that we trusted them to select anything else. The food was really amazing. We started with bamboo and sweet and sour pork. Then we had traditional Beijing Chestnut soup – this was my favorite thing after the duck. Then they brought out an eggplant dish which was wonderful and I have no idea what it was seasoned with. Our last side item was a corn and mustard fried rice – light and delicious. The chef came out to cut the duck table side and we were given little plates with all the items for building your pancakes. Jing told us that you dip the duck skin in the sugar and it was a very interesting flavor combination. Nadia decided to dip her cucumbers in the sugar instead.






After the main meal we were served a soup that was sort of like chocolate and topped with sesame seeds. Along with that was a large plate of fruit on dry ice. Then came the traditional Beijing snacks for dessert. This was an assortment of little desserts. Some were good and a couple were just odd tasting. Whew! Can you believe all that food? It took almost 3 hours for this lunch.

At the start of our lunch Nadia was very shy from just waking up and Chengyue was a little nervous too. Kiki said that she was not used to hearing them speak English and she was looking at them very confused and wanting to be held. After a while both girls warmed up and the fun began. Chengyue said to me “Aiyi” (auntie) and she would point at something or another or show me a photo on her mom’s itouch. And her parents told her that Nadia was her “meguaren jie jie” or American big sister. So she was calling Nadia “jie jie” and by the end of the day she was saying “Nadi Nadi!!”


The restaurant had a bunch of koi fish that the girls went to look at several times during the meal and they were holding hands as they walked along. Then they did some dancing for us at the end of the meal which was so funny because Chengyue was trying to imitate everything that Nadia was doing. We all came back to our hotel so the girls could play a little and we could visit some more. It is a sweet and special blessing from God that we got to see our friends and the girls got to spend some time together.


Mike and I have talked since the visit about how today was a little glimpse into what our life will be like in less than 2 days. Watching Chengyue try to imitate everything Nadia did and seeing the 2 of them dancing around and holding hands was so sweet. Back at the hotel Nadia wanted me to put several things up because “they were not baby things, we don’t want her to choke.” She is going to be such a good big sister.


After Kiki and Jing left we all had a nap and then headed up the hall for the happy hour food on our floor. We weren’t really hungry so their appetizers were pefect and Nadia gobbled up some spring rolls. Nadia and I headed back to the room and Mike went out to take some photos while I started packing. We are being picked up early in the morning to head to Yinchuan. Beijing has been wonderful and helped us get well rested, but we are ready to move on and meet Amelie!

Friday in Beijing – Day 2

China 2011 (Day 2)
Click on the photo to see album

Nadia woke up at 3 am and asked if it was time to get up. I said no and she slept until 5:30 thank goodness. We had some breakfast and watched a little SpongeBob and Shaun the Sheep in Chinese. They don’t quite have SpongeBob’s voice right, but Nadia still thought it was funny. We decided to head out again since the sun was shining. We wanted to find some gloves for Mike and a scarf for me. I was so zealous packing warm gear for the girls I forgot about us.

Spiral staircase in the restaurant where we eat breakfast.


We walked over to the Oriental Plaza mall to wander around. This is like the biggest most expensive mall you have ever seen. It’s at least 2 city blocks and who knows how many floors it was. It’s like the Galleria supersized, or the mall at Ceaser’s Palace in Vegas times 100! Every possible expensive brand name you can think of was in there. Plus dozens and dozens of restaurants. We were in there for a while and Nadia fell asleep in the stroller again. While we were walking around these 3 girls came up and started talking to us in English. They were telling us how they were art students and the government invited them to do an exhibition showing their art and “today was the last day, would you like to come see our art?” We decide to check it out thinking that of course they were going to try and sell us some, but at least we could see what they had to offer. So we get over there and of course their “teacher” is there ready to show us all the art. We look around and almost everything is beautiful. Then the hard sell comes on and we decline. They offer to take us to the post office to mail it and various other things and we decline. Then comes the hard core manipulation as we are leaving. “your daughter likes this, you will help us students with our school” and on and on. So we leave and they head back for the mall to look for their next “mark.”  Mike said he gave them an ‘A’ for effort and a ‘D’ for presentation. It really would have been better if they just said they wanted to see if we would like to buy their art instead of the whole student and teacher routine. Notice their look of disappointment in the photo.


After that we found some gloves for Mike and I got Nadia a bracelet like the ones I got for myself (and for gifts) on our last trip. This store had them in little sizes and Nadia picked a light blue one with Pandas on it. She was so excited to have a bracelet like mommy. At that point the spring rolls at the Yummy Coconut were calling my name so we headed over there for lunch. This time we got 2 orders of spring rolls and Chicken Fried Rice. Nadia loved all the food and I was glad she was awake to enjoy it this time.

After lunch we swung by the grocery store and I found a very nice scarf/wrap and “got my haggle on”. It was funny how the guy looked so exasperated at my counter offer. And when I said no and started to walk away he said, “because you friend I give you that price.” So I bought it and I am sure I could have gone lower since he only went back and forth with me a couple times before accepting it. By the end of the trip I am sure I will haggle even harder. We also had to re-supply our snack pile.


On Wang Fu Jing we saw part of a dragon dance performance.



Tea house by our hotel.


We went back to the hotel for a short nap and then got ready for the Chinese Acrobat show. We arranged our airport pick up and drop offs through a girl named Annie. She came to our hotel to pick us up for the acrobat show at the Tiandi Theatre. Nadia fell asleep on the way over, but woke up once the music started for the show. We all LOVED the show and the performers were really amazing. The performers start training for this when they are 3 or 4 and some of the girls looked young like they were 10 or 11 years old. They didn’t allow any photos or video, but Mike got a photo of the thearte.


When I was getting Nadia ready for bed she said, “I really liked the acrobats, thanks for taking me mommy.” I am glad that she liked it so much since it was our last thing to do as a family of three. I know she is going to be a great big sister, but her whole world is about to change. She keeps saying the sweetest things, like when we go out to eat she will point at the empty seat and say, “That’s where sissy will sit.” Or “I am going to help sissy with her food because she will be little.”

We had a great second full day in Beijing and I think that we all feel a lot more adjusted. It was so smart of us to stay up so late at home to get ourselves closer to China time. Thanks for all your comments, prayers and love!