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.
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.
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.
WE LOVE YOU JAKE JUNHAO