Friday, November 16, 2012

Fri, 11/16: waiting day #2, all packed and ready to go home!!!

Our bags are all packed and we have 1 hour until our shuttle to the airport arrives.  We are sooo excited to get Zoe home, but also nervous to see what her reaction once home will be.  In the nearly 2 weeks we have had her she has transformed from a silent toddler with no emotion other than being serious, whose legs would collapse when we tried to stand her, who didn't know how to chew solid food and who only held a toy when we put it in her hand, to a vivacious, laughing, playful toddler who is nearly running and eating soft foods very well.  In this time the environment has been constant (our hotel room) and both of us have been with her pretty much constantly with no distractions.
So our concern is, how will she react to her new home, which is likely larger than her entire orphanage was?  How will she be with sharing her new parents 3 three siblings?  She will no longer have familiar languages being spoken around her or familiar smells or an abundance of food she is used to (congee has been her staple).
Hopefully it will all go smoothly and we'll enjoy a week together as a family since Lucas, Noah & Ella are all off school all next week.
For now, we just have to get through the next 24 hours of flights and waiting in airports.  In 24 hours we should be home (our flight gets into SMF at 11:30pm Fri)!!!!

Thur, 11/15: waiting day #1

We received Zoe's visa and everything we need to take her home this afternoon at 4:30, so we spent the day doing some last minute shopping on Shamian Island.  Unfortunately, our flight doesn't leave until 9:30pm on Fri, so we'll have another day of waiting tomorrow. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wed, 11/14: more pics

Wed, 11/14: US Consulate Appointment & Group Pic & dinner at The Brew

This morning was our visa appointment for Zoe at the US Consulate.  It is located in a rather ugly high rise building and no cameras are allowed so we don't have much to about it.  We basically take an oath swearing all the documentation and information we are providing is true and accurate and each family is called one by one to turn in all their documentation in order to get a visa & visa package for the newly adopted child so that when we arrive in the US and present the package to the immigration officer, the child will officially be a US citizen.  We won't get all this until 4:30pm on Thurs, which is why we are not flying home until Fri.
In the afternoon, all 10 families with our agency got together to take a group picture, most of the kids were dressed in traditionally Chinese dress.  Zoe put the outfit we got her on, but wasn't too happy about it.  The picture of the 3 girls on the couch is the 3 children from our province (Guangdong), believe it or not, Zoe is the youngest of the 3!  On the left is Rachel, who is 20 months old, and in the middle is Libby who just turned 3 years old.  Yes our little girl is big J
For dinner, we went with our new friends, the Hoskin's (Libby's parents) from Iowa that we met 2 weeks ago to go to a western restaurant called the Brew that we had driven by several times.  We had a great time eating wings, fries & gravy, nachos & burgers.  It was a little taste of home after all the Chinese food.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tues, 11/13: Pearl River Cruise Pics

Tues, 11/13: Buddhist Baby Blessing & Pearl River Cruise

This morning we went with 2 other families to the Six Banyan Buddhist Temple.  It was a beautiful, peaceful place in the middle of the city.  We walked around and then had one of the monks do a baby blessing for us.
Zoe napped most of the afternoon and in the evening we went on an evening river cruise of the Pearl River with the rest of the families from our agency.  Our agency reps ordered pizza for us to eat (yum) and we brought our own beer (pizza & beer, double yum).  It was a great 70 minute trip that took us under many lit up bridges and by many beautiful lighted buildings.
It has definitely reached that time in any trip when we are ready to come home, only a few more days, we leave Fri evening J

Monday, November 12, 2012

11/12: more pic

Mon, 11/12: Safari Park

Today we had a long day at Safari Park, a really cool zoo type place here in Guangzhou (we went last time we were here too).  Luckily Zoe is happy in her stroller so we cruised around looking at lots of animals in the morning.  We also fed a giraffe, I know you can do this also in many zoos in the US (we have done it at the Miami Zoo), but it is different here in that the fence is only about 4 feet high, the giraffes come right up to your face (in the picture the giraffe's head is less than a foot away from Zoe).  They have a large koala house (about 12 in total) as well as panda house (probably about 15).
After walking around we went to the "riding safari" where you sit is an open air train that drives through areas of animals, from camels, to giraffes, to lions, to tigers, white tigers, cheetahs, a bit of everything.  The less dangerous animals roam free and the train had to some cross the road, and the more dangerous ones are separated from the train by a narrow moat only.
It was a fun day for us, Zoe didn't really seem to interested in any of it, she's still a bit young.  She was super tired and crank on the bus ride back and cried most of the 40 minute ride, finally falling asleep a block away from our hotel at about 4pm.  It is about 5:30pm and she is still asleep, got go wake her up or she'll never go back down later J

Sun, 11/11: Free Day

Today was a free day for us.  I went with 2 other families from our group to the jade and pearl markets to shop.  It was interesting, not really a ton of stuff I wanted but I still ended up spending about $100, oh well, send a shopper shopping and she'll shop J
In the afternoon we went back to Shamian Island to walk around, drop off some laundry (they are cheap and deliver it back to our hotel) do a little more shopping (got some shoes for Zoe,) enjoyed a drink at an outdoor restaurant there, and then had dinner at super yummy Thai place we had eaten at several times when we were here before and it did not disappoint.  Even Zoe was downing yellow curry potatoes.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sat, 11/10: Start of the US side of the adoption process

Today marked the start of the US side of our process.  This started with us meeting up with the other 7 families from our agency that traveled to Guangzhou from the provinces their children are from (there were 3 families of us who adopted in Guangzhou).  The 7 other children being adopted is a mix of boys and girls with ages ranging from 12 months to 5 years.  It is very fun to meet the families and see the interaction of the adopted children with their new parents.
As a group we went for the children's medical checks.  This consists of going to a health office crowded with lots of children and adoptive parents.  You need to make your way through 3 stations: the area where they take the child's measurements, and ENT check (which includes German's favorite, the hearing test where the Dr has the child look one direction and then squeaks a rubber duck on the other side to see if they turn their head), and a general check where the Dr listens to their heartbeat, examines them naked from the waist down, and gets any questions answered about any special need they may have from copies of the medical data provided to us at referral.
Zoe did great, not crying at all, though she did insist on being held the whole time, even when waiting between exams.  She was measured at 81 cm tall and 14kg in weight (about 31 lbs).
We then went back to the hotel where I went to a meeting with a member of all the families and our agency reps to go over paperwork, and then we all went out to a group dinner which had great food and we were able to chat with some of the families we just met.
After dinner back at the room, Zoe showed us for the first time what a little goofball she can be by sticking out her tongue.  Every day she gets more and more comfortable with us and it is so amazing to see her little personality come to life.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fri, 11/9: one more pic

Fri, 11/9: Chen Clan Ancestral Home & more smiles & giggles

Our guides took us and one other family out site seeing to the Chen Family Ancestral Hall today.  It was a beautiful building built in the mid 1800s by a wealthy and very large family in the province (Guangdong) for them to send their youth to be educated.  It was a beautiful building and had lot of displays of various arts from the province including fan making, embroidery, wood carving and handpainting (in which the artist used only his hands and no brushes to make very life like images, pretty cool).  We ended up taking the subway back, so Zoe has already taken her first subway ride!
Back at the room we had fun playing with her and German finally got some big smiles and giggles out of her.  She took and nap and woke up all smiles, so good to see considering she is usually sooooo serious.

11/8: one more pic

Thursday, November 8, 2012

11/8: More Pics

Thu, 11/8: Liuhuahu Park

We had a free day today so we decided to take Zoe to the nearby park with a lake we enjoyed so much on Saturday.  The park was still very crowded, mainly with older people.  We took some time watching the many playing pingpong and badminton, they all seemed very competitive.
Then we moved on to a children's play area.  It had a playground, lots of merry go round types of things that the kids sat on and then you pushed them around, and even a weird round metal cage that German decided to bring Zoe on, even though he barely fit in it.  Zoe went along with it all but didn't show much emotion.
Our highlight of the day was as we continued to walk around the lake and then stopped to watch some dancers.  With a few snuggles and tickles, she started to show small smiles for the first time and we even saw teeth (for the first time)!!  It is amazing to see and to sense that she is getting more and more at ease and comfortable with us.
We finished the day off having Papa John's pizza (which was amazingly delicious!) and beer with one of the other families with our agency in their room while our 2 girls played (or at least their 3 year old did while Zoe sat and played with a bath book).
All in all, a great day.

One More pic

At Shamian Island

Wed, 11/7: Shamian Island & Applying for Zoe’s Passport

Sorry for getting a bit behind, hoping to catch up today :)
Today we took the 15 minute cab ride to Shamian Island, where we had stayed during our time in Guangzhou for Ella's adoption.  The US Consulate at one time was on the island which led it to becoming the center of American adoptions.  Now, with the consulate no longer there and the main hotel that catered to adoptive parents, the White Swan, being closed for renovations, few if any, adoptive families now stay on the Island.  We were happy to see that many of the shops catering to adoptive families were still open, we actually brought our laundry to drop off at one of the shops to be delivered back to our hotel the next evening.  We also bought a very life umbrella stroller for about $20 (which Zoe proceeded to fall asleep in).  The island was still as architectural charming as before and was a nice break to the hustle and bustle of big city life where our hotel is.
In the afternoon we headed to a government office to apply for Zoe's Chinese passport.  We should receive this by Friday and then will start the second part of the process, dealing with the US government to get her visa so we can bring her into the US as a citizen.
Zoe is continuing to slowly show more emotion and definitely likes hugs, kisses and snuggles.  She is walking quite well and usually walks from our room to the elevator and then from the elevator to where breakfast is served.  She is still mainly eating soft spoon fed foods (congee, oatmeal, etc), but we will keep trying to get her onto more solid items.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tues, 11/6: Adjusting & Adoption Finalization

She slept through the night without any crying and not much tossing and turning.  She slept til about 6:30 – I think that's when we woke her with the coffee maker.  No complaining, no tears, just calm and taking it all in just as she did when she went to bed.  We got her dressed, and Facetime'd with the kids at home to introduce Zoe her new brothers and sister.  We also tried getting Zoe a bit more mobile and active and got her standing and walking.  Turns out she's a pretty good walker – although her ability to navigate through different flooring (carpet to tile) or different floor colors (white to black) may still need a bit of getting used to.  While Zone doesn't share many emotions yet with us, she did cry twice today – we took this as a good sign of progress in getting to know her – at least we know she'll cry out when she doesn't want to do something (in this case it was washing her hands under running water).
We also learned today that she still needs to develop her intake and chewing of solid foods.  So right now we're limiting our food to congee, yogurt, oatmeal and other soft foods.  We'll keep working on it, but it's where we're at right now.  We also got her to take a bottle today – another good sign of progress and that she's getting more comfortable with us.
Today we headed to the civil affairs office to finalize our paperwork and then to a grocery store to stock up on some supplies.  By the time we got back to the hotel, we were all exhausted – Zoe for experiencing new sight and sounds, and mom and dad for not having been able to figure out the baby carrier.  Tomorrow we're headed to Shiamin Island – the area we stayed when we adopted Ella.
We'll do some sightseeing and some shopping, but our first stop will be to pick up a stroller.
As we wind down our Tues, we are watching the east coast polls open on CNN, always interesting to see overseas coverage of American politics.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mon, 11/5: Zoe day!!!!

In terms of adoption gotcha days, ours has been the most uneventful ever, so much so, there really isn't much to write about.  At 2pm we met with our guides and the 2 other families with our agency and headed to the Civil Affairs Office.  They told us we would go in, have a seat, and the children would be brought out one at a time and they would tell us when it was our turn.  They said that a total of 20 children were being adopted today so we may wait a bit.  We were only there about 5 minutes when our guides indicated it was our agency's turn.  At first they called another one of the families, but their new daughter's diaper was being changed so they called us and there was Zoe.  She was quickly handed to me by the orphanage person who had brought her and boom, she was ours.
She didn't make a sound just looked at me.  I handed her a pink ball we brought and she took it and then I went back to where I had been sitting before.  She sat in my lap, was looking around but was ok with it all.  As far as she goes, we knew she would be big, but she is huge!  She has the cutest chubby cheeks and is just adorable!
With one of our guides as a translator, German asked the orphanage women some questions, we filled out some paperwork, and after being there about 45 minutes it was time to go back to the hotel.
Zoe fell asleep on my lap on the way, German carried her up to our room, we laid her on the bed, and she has been there deeply asleep for the last 2 hours.  We haven't heard her make any type of sound, haven't seen her walk, and haven't even seen her standing up.  We don't know the last time she ate, or had her diaper changed, or even what type of diaper she is wearing.  We have learned she sucks her left thumb on and off while sleeping, but that is about it.  We sat over her talking, rubbed her arm, etc, but she really seems to be a deep sleeper and as much as I want to get to know her more, I guess right now she just needs sleep, it seems to be her way of coping with all the events of the day (FYI.. we also learned today the only time she has ever left the orphanage before was at 8 months for her adoption medical exam, and she has never worn shoes before today).
So, traveling 3 hours in a car to go be given to people you aren't familiar is a lot to take in and right she wants to sleep, so sleep she will, we have her whole life to get to know our precious new daughter.
Here are some pics from the hotel, I'll post some from the civil affairs office once we download them from the camera (these were from my iphone).

Sunday, November 4, 2012


If anyone out there is actually following along and would like to comment or contact us, we have access to email but not to Facebook or even the blog itself.  I am updating it by sending emails.
Feel free to contact me via email

Green Tea latte during the wait

When we adopted Ella, we had to wait until 1:00pm to get her.  During theat long morning we went to Starbucks and German decided to try a green tea latte which was a hot, frothy bright green creation that we both found so weird we had to tak a picture of it.  Here we are today, the day we get Zoe, having to wait until 2pm.  As we past the Starbucks in the lobby of our hotel we were reminded of this and I suddenly felt like things would not go smoothly with this adoption like they did with Ella unless he got one again and that for supersittion sake, German MUST get one.  So, he did and enjoyed as a little as he did last time :)
30 minutes until we head out to meet her!!

Sun, 11/4: More Guangzhou Adventures

Today we ventured out using the Guangzhou subway.  We used a machine to pay our fare and received 2 green plastic coins (not tickets).  We walked to the turnstiles expecting some kind of slot to put them in and there was none.  Hmmm, so we watched.  Most people had a monthly pass and they tapped it on a metal pad and the turnstile would open, double hmmm.  After a few moments watching, luckily a little girl walked up with a green coin and touched it to the metal like the pass and the turnstil opened, yeah, we did the same and got through.  Upon exiting there is a slot you drop the coin in to get out.  Actually pretty cool since they can be reused.
Our destination was a pedestrian shopping street.  It was about a 15 minute walk from the station we got of at.  During the walk we passed a section of about 3 large citiy blacks with hundreds of small shops that only sold shoes.  Mens shoes, womens shoes, kids shoes, slippers.  It was kind of crazy.  Think the kind of shoes you buy at Walmart and mulkiply it by 100,000. 
Beyond the shoes we must have come to the random parts district.  Again for blocks there were small shops that's main item seemed to be bags of nails and screws. There was also metal chains, some drill presses, you get the idea.  But there were hundreds of them and they all had the same things and no one was buying anything, talk about excess inventory.
We finally reached the pedestrian shopping street and we think all 10 million people that live in Guangzhou were there.  It was packed.  Not a thing I would buy there.  Mainly clothes, but defintiely the place everybody goes to.
After that we got back on the subway and ventured across town to what was supposed to be some kind of computer marketplace.  It turned out to be quite a bust but we did see a fight break out between a police man and a street vendor.
It was back to the subway which was insanely packed, we almost missed our stop getting through people.  It was a definitely a day hanging with the locals, I didn't see another non-asian from the time we got on the subway.
The day ended meeting the other couple from our agency for a drink at the hotel bar, now eating some dinner and then off to bed.  Tomorrow afternoon we meet our baby girl!!!!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Here is some pics from yesterday that I had trouble uploading yesterday
The first one is of the tea house we ate lunch at and the second is the Goat Statue

We have arrived! Long flight followed by even longer day in Guangzhou

We left Sacramento Airport at about 7pm Thurs night and then endured a painful 2 ½ hour layover at LAX that included 2 bus rides, claiming and rechecking our luggage, walking outside from one terminal to another and waiting in an hour long security line.  We were very happy we grabbed something for dinner in Sac because we had no time at LAX.
The 15 hour flight from LAX to Guangzhou wasn't bad, just long, but we did have our own video on demand systems so I watched 4 movies, tried, but didn't get much sleep.  We arrived in Guangzhou bright and early at about 5am local time.  We met up with another family from our agency and were taken to our hotel.  Luckily we were able to get our room, took showers and even Facetimed with the kids and my parents at home.
Then, the longest day in the world began.  I think it is much better to arrive later so you can sleep sooner.  Our hotel, Marriott China Hotel, is in the middle of the busy city, but we are lucky to have 2 parks across the street ( accessed by underground walkways). 
We explored Liu Hua Park in the morning (after grabbing coffee at Starbucks, which was about $5 for a grande latte versus a 20oz TsingTau beer which is less then a dollar).  We loved this park. Not sure if it was because the time of day, the fact we still had energy or because it really is nicer.  It has a lake, was flat and we were able to watch all sorts of groups of people coming together to participate in various activities from tai chi, singing as a group, dancing together, to badminton and ping pong.  Definitely very community oriented even in the middle of a big city (~10 million people).  We had lunch at a tea house at the park and German was able to order tea and get us some yummy veggie dumplings (as well as a few other things he liked).  We then decided there was no way we were making it to a realistic bedtime (it was only  11am when we got back to the hotel) so we decided on a 2 hour nap.
Then we decided to venture out to the 2nd nearby park, Yue Xie Park.  It was pretty, but very hilly, it was much warmer and more humid by now and we walked around looking for some 5 goat statue that the signs kept pointing us in different directions to.  Pout of stubbornness we stuck it out until we found it (not so exciting) and then headed to the 7-11 by our hotel to grab a beer (discovering beer is cheaper than coffee) and pour now enjoying our TsingTau in our room and figuring out what to get for dinner.
We will get Zoe at the Civil Affairs Office on Monday afternoon, so until then our goal is to get over any jet lag and make sure we have everything ready for her.
Excited to sleep and hope to not be awake half the night (it is currently still only 5:30pm, will this day ever end??)!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ready to go!!!!

Our bags are packed and we are ready to go!!  testingout to see if this will post ok.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Zoe Song Ham

Back in Jan, German and I decided that we wanted a sister for Ella (and Lucas and Noah) and started the process to adopt another little girl from China.  I promised myself that I would start blogging about it once we received a referral, that happened in May and as you can see the blog updating never happened.

Surprisingly, the first question most people asked when I told them we were adopting another daughter was if I was going to blog again when we traveled to China to get her.  I think they really wanted to ask if we were crazy to become a family of 6 (yes 4 kids is a lot, heck, 3 has been challenging, but sometimes crazy feels right).

So, we have our travel approval from China, flights booked and we'll be leaving on Thur, 11/1!  We will meet Zoe on Mon, 11/5 and return home to California on Fri, 11/16.

Here is some info on Ms. Zoe.  She was born on 6/13/11 which will make her 16 months when we meet her.  She is 2 years younger than Ella and 5 years younger than Lucas and Noah.  She was abandoned at the Civil Affairs Bureau of Jiancheng District of Yangjiang City in Guangdong Province on June 15, 2011.  Based on her umbilical cord, her DOB was estimated at June 13, 2011.  She has lived at Jiangcheng Orphanage since then.  She is not small, the measurements we got of her at 12 months were about 26lbs and 31 inches tall.

Since she is from Guangdong Province, where the US Consulate is located, our whole 2 week trip will be in Guangzhou, the capital of that province.

She does have a special need, it is a genetic blood disorder called thalassemia which is very common in southern China and will hopefully just need monitoring.

I will do my best to continue to post updates from now and throughout our trip.

Here are 2 ics of her at 12 months: