Our Sweet Angel

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Life Changing Adventures in China

It has been an incredible start to our China Adventure.

We arrived to Beijing on Thursday June 19th after traveling for 23 hours.   The trip was basically uneventful but we had a two hour layover in Honolulu and a 4 hour layover in Tokyo to extend the length.   Trevor was a trooper all day.

After such a long journey it was incredible to arrive at Four Seasons Beijing.  They were so welcoming and took away all the stress of traveling by getting us to our room quickly.

The next morning, we were up bright an early.  After an amazing breakfast, we were off to meet the rest of our CCAI Adoption Group at the Sun Dynasty Hotel and our tour of Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Hudong neighborhood.

Heather and I were a bit worried about the freshness and quality of the food based on things we read but so far the food has been amazing.  The fruits and vegetables have been fresh and tasty.   We were also worried about the pollution but again, it has not been a problem.   I am absolutely sure there are food and pollution issues in China, however it seems no where near the level the Media would like us to believe.

Having said that.....the Traffic and Congestion is unbelievable!!  Most of the drivers in China are first generation drivers and were riding bicycles and scooters in the last several years.   So....riding a bike and then apply that to a 6 lane highway at 60 miles per hour.  No regard for lanes, sense of distance or safety.  It is complete chaos....but....somehow seems to work.

On Saturday, we were off to The Great Wall of China for our second day of tours.   This was an incredible experience, although much more difficult to climb than any of us expected.  The wall is essentially built on the side of a mountain and extends for 6,000 miles.   The small portion that we climbed was extremely steep, with uneven stairs.

As we have mentioned in many previous posts, we believe that Carmen has guided us to China in so many special ways.  She has been with us every step of the journey, therefore,  we felt it was appropriate to spread some of Carmen's ashes on The Wall as a family.  Of course....as you would expect from everything that has happened....something incredible occurred as we were spreading Carmen's ashes.  Heather and I were quiet and somber, as we were choosing the right location.  We selected a perfect spot, facing the Mongolian side of the wall, in a quiet area and began preparing to spread Carmen's ashes.   Just as we were about to say a prayer and give thanks to Carmen, a group of young gentlemen walked up and stood 5 feet from us.   They could have stopped anywhere but they felt this was the perfect spot for them to take a rest.   And...of course...one of them had a speaker in a hand bag playing,  loud,  traditional Chinese music.   Just as Heather and I looked at each other, thinking but not saying, we should move somewhere else the music changed to Dance Music.   I would estimate that there was 25,000 people climbing the wall that day.  Of all the places and the people on the wall that day, we had Dance Music playing just as we were about to spread Carmen's ashes.  And....that's not it...

When we arrived at this, seemingly random,  spot there were some Chinese characters carved into the stone.  Heather set Carmen's box down next to them to photograph.  She felt there would be some sort of significance to them.  After we were finished a nice Chinese man approached us and we asked there meaning.   Sure enough when we asked what they meant, we were told - "A surname of no significance and the first name of the person."  The translation of their first name was HAPPY!  More AMAZING experiences you can not make up.  Everything was perfect for us and for Carmen.  She was telling us to dance and BE HAPPY!  Of course....

Sunday June 22nd, we were off to the airport for our trip to Zhengzhou to get ready to meet Jake the next day.

And...the day was here before we knew it.  Monday June 23rd - "Gotcha Day" or as we like to refered to it..."Draft Day".   It is almost impossible to write our emotions as we were preparing to leave the hotel.   Anxious, Happiness, Nervous, Anticipation all wrapped into a tight ball.

We drove about 20 minutes to the government office to receive our new children.    We exited the bus and walked through doors into a large room.  For some reason, we thought we would walk down a hall or have some warning but as we entered the room we quickly realized that some of the children were already waiting for their families.   Each child was being brought to the government office from their respective orphanages, foster or care homes in staggered arrivals.   We were really happy that Jake was not one of the children already in the room because we were not quite ready yet.

Roughly 20 minutes had passed, when our CCAI guide started walking towards us with another women holding a child facing away from us.   As they approached our guide simply said.....Wu Jun Hao???  We nodded and he turned around to face us.  Seeing him for the first time took our breath away.

He did not know what to make of us and had been recently car sick so they entire experience was overwhelming and scary for him.    Heather got down on the ground and eventually took Jake in her arms.   After a few minutes, he could feel the love and settled into Heather's arms.   We were a family.

We were back to the hotel by 12pm and started trying to figure each other out.

The next morning at 9am we had to go back to the government office and the notary to finalize the adoption.  We were back to the hotel at 12pm and then promptly left to drive to Pingdingshan City at 1pm to process Jake's passport.

The passport was the main reason for traveling 2.5 hours to Pingdingshan but we also had time to see the park where Jake was found and the orphanage.

The park was first.  The fact that someone could abandon a beautiful baby like Jake boggles the mind but seeing the park in which he was left makes it worse.  A park would be an exaggeration.  It is  better described as a patch of grass next to a busy street across from a building demolition site.   Jake was found by a policeman and brought to the Pingdingshan orphanage on October 12, 2012.

We then went to see the orphanage.  In our hearts we knew going to the orphanage was the right thing to do but it was extremely difficult.   I could have easily gone the rest of my lift without seeing the horror of that orphanage.  It was incredibly sad and disheartening to see the children.  Many were sharing cribs in small cramped rooms.  An unbearable heat and oppression fell over the entire place.  Many of the older children, clearly suffering from brain disorders will never leave the place.  Heather and I wanted to give everything we had at that very second to help these poor souls.  We will be sending diapers and formula back to the orphanage as soon as we can.   No child in our world should have to endure what these helpless children face every day.  Having said that, we also feel so incredibly fortunate that our baby Jake found his way to the Shanghai Healing Home and into their loving hearts as he waited to join our family. 

It is now Thursday June 26th.  Tomorrow we should receive Jake's Chinese passport and then we leave for Guangzhou on Saturday morning to get ready for our final appointment with the US Consulate.

Love Team White

Below are a few pictures of our journey so far;

It did not take Trevor long to hold the guides flag and lead the tour group

 Approaching the Forbidden City and the huge mural of Chairman Mao.   Surveillance towers and cameras were everywhere

 One of many military patrols

 Rubbing the gates of the palace brings good luck

Trevor made a friend in a about 30 seconds.  Allan is part of our Adoption Group

The Adoption group is about 24 people.  This is one of many squares within the Forbidden City.   Much of it has been restored over the years but these tiles are original (cira 1415) and laid 15 bricks deep to prevent tunneling. 

 Despite the smiles....we were jet lagged big time!!!!

 A tour group with three blond children in China tends to attract a LOT of attention.   Many of the Chinese visitors to the Forbidden City are from the country side and have never seen foreigners, let alone cute little blond kids.   This was one of many pictures taken of the children by tourists that day.

Day 2.  Getting ready to climb The Great Wall of China

 Thousands of Love Locks line the first portion of the Wall

 The Wall is 6,000 miles long.   We only had time to visit the most visited and touristy portion.  It is simply breath taking to stand on the Wall, trying to comprehend the magnitude.  Amazing.

 Carmen's box and the Chinese character inscription

 Such an amazing boy.

 Literally, one of a million window's facing the Mongolian Side of the Wall.  We picked this one.

 Going down was actually harder than going up.  The steps are not even and the decline is very steep.   Fortunately we had hand rails.  I could not imagine doing the climb without them.

 We were not staying with the rest of the group in Beijing.  Asking our tour bus driver to drop us off in the middle of a busy intersection to be closer to our hotel seemed like a fantastic idea at time.   As soon as the bus door shut and we looked around, we realized we were not in Kansas anymore.

 The First Look.

 Jake going to Mommy for the first time.

 Ummmmm.......maybe not.   
Oh.....and in case you were wondering.....I am wearing a GoPro harness. :-)

 Jake quickly felt the loving embrace and melted into his mothers arms.

Feeling better....

 I am okay with this pretty lady....but...who is that guy????

 Jake came to us with the clothes on this back and shoes on this feet.   Nothing else.

 We are a family

 Visiting Jake's "Finding Place"

 The outside of the Pingdingshan Orphanage.  We put our camera's away after this out of respect.

Our drive to / from Pingdingshan.   I am doing my best to mimic a car seat for Jake - since - there are NO car seats in China.  The make them here but they don't use them.   No seat belts either.

 The first bath.

 The first story.




Monday, June 16, 2014

Trip to China - June 18 to July 5 - "A Thin Red String"

It is hard to believe that the day is finally here.    We all leave for China on Wednesday June 18th.

There will be twelve other couples traveling with us from the U.S. to China to bring their children home.

Below is a summary of our adoption journey to China;

6/18   Leave U.S. for Beijing.  Departing Honolulu at 10:30am, connecting in Tokyo then on to Beijing arriving on 6/19.  We meet our two representatives, Cecilia and Jean, who will be with us during our time in Beijing

6/19   Check into Four Seasons Hotel Beijing.   We are so thankful and fortunate to be able to use my work benefit to stay at the Four Seasons, while the rest of the group stays at a hotel close by.   In many ways, it would be nice to stay with the group.....but.....its the Four Seasons.   http://www.fourseasons.com/beijing/

6/20   Guided Tour of Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Hutong.   Adjusting to the new time zone and preparing for what is to come in just a few days

6/21   Guided Tour of The Great Wall

6/22   Depart Beijing for Zhengzhou on China Southern Airlines.   Welcomed by our guides Vivian, Yisha and Rita.   Staying at the Crown Plaza Hotel with the entire family group.  

6/23   Today we receive Jake!!!!!  Yeah!!!!!   Orphanage Officer, Ms. Wang Ling Juan will deliver Jake to us.

In the afternoon, all of us will sign the Guardianship Agreement.  Take registration certificate photos at the registration office and then return to the hotel with Jake.

6/24   All of the families will take a bus to the registration office to complete the Adoption Registration in the morning.  After the registration office, we all go to the Provincial Notary Office to complete the notary interview

Then the group will split up and we will all travel separately to the city our children are from.  We will travel to Pingdingshan City and apply for his passport with the local Public Security Office. 

We need to prepare for an exhausting day of travel and paper work but the great news is we will be able to see a little of the city where Jake was found and hopefully have time to visit the park where he was found.

6/25   A free day to spend together as a new family

6/26   Receive our notary documents in the afternoon

6/27   Travel to Xinxiang City to receive Jake's passport and notary documents

6/28   Leave Zhengzhou for Guangzhou on China Southern Airlines.   Staying at Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou.   http://www.fourseasons.com/guangzhou/

6/29   Meet with CCAI representatives, Jocelyn and Raymond, to prepare our paperwork for the Consulate appointment.

6/30   Take a bus to a clinic to complete Jake's visa physical and visa photo taken early in the morning. 

7/1    Today is our Consulate Appointment!!!!!  In the morning we will go to the US Consulate to take the oath of citizenship

7/2   We will receive Jake's visa packet

7/3  Free Day

7/4   Depart Guangzhou to Hong Kong for our flight home.   Hong Kong to Guam to Honolulu

7/5   Welcome Home Jake!!!!!

Weather:   http://weather.china.org.cn/english

Staying in Touch:   Heather, very smartly, secured a private VPN for us so this should allow us to stay in touch with all of you by Facebook and this Blog.   We also changed our cell plans to international which will give us limited text ability.   And...when on WiFi, we should be able to Face Time and Skype.

However...we can make no promises that we will be able to stay in touch with all of you.  We will be busy bonding with Jake and we may not have the access we hope for.

We love all of you so much.   Thank you, for supporting us during this amazing journey.   It has been full of incredible signs of confirmation that we are on the right path.

A Thin Red String;
A thin red string started tugging on our hearts over a year ago.  At the time we didn't know who or what was tugging on the other end of the string.   At times the tugging was painful in our hearts.  

Everyday of this adoption journey the pain became less and less because as each day passed we got closer and closer to Jake.  Now that the day is here, there is anticipation but the pain is gone.   

We can almost see the other end of the string and now understand that the string has always been attached to Jake's heart.  Soon we will be able to join the thin red string from our hearts to Jake's heart, allowing us to wrap the string around us.  We will be a family. 

Love and Light

Team White

Monday, May 26, 2014

Travel Approval Arrived!!!!!! Jake Here we Come!!!

Our Travel Approval arrived on Friday.   This is one of the last steps we were waiting for.

With the official Travel Approval we can now receive our appointment at the US Embassy in China to secure Jake's immigration approval to come home with us.

Once the appointment is established on Tuesday, everything backs up from there and we get our travel dates.

Our agency is diligently working on this appointment and establishing our travel itinerary.

At this point….we are expecting to be leaving for China around June 17-19 - but we do not have the official date yet.

So Exciting.   We will see you soon Jake!!!!

The Shanghai Healing Home, where Jake is currently, sent us the most beautiful picture book.  Below are images of Trevor seeing the book for the first time.  He is very excited to be a big brother.  Thank you SO MUCH Birgit and Charlene for keeping us connected with baby Jake!!

This is an incredible photo of Jake looking at our photo!!

May Day is Lei Day

For those of you who do not know, May 1st is Lei Day in Hawaii.   It is a day that is celebrated all across Hawaii to commemorate the day that King David Kalakaua brought the Hawaiian culture back to the forefront with Hulu, Lei's and many other special traditions that had been frowned upon by the Missionaries of the late 19th century.

Most schools across the state take this opportunity to educate the children of these important traditions and customs, typically with a performance on May 1st.

Trevor's school put on an amazing day with the performance in the morning and a full school Luau in the evening.

Trevor did such a great job!!!!