Tian Maries Excellant Adventure
by Judith Rose Mack
After a year of paperwork, interviews, researching and
were finally ready to leave for China to bring home our 6 month old
daughter, Shang Tian. We flew United, leaving Anchorage at 12:45am on
Nov. 13th. Our itinerary was: Anchorage-Seattle-San Francisco-Hong
Kong. It wouldn't have been so bad if 10 hours after traveling the pilot
didn't put the map on the screen and we were right above Anchorage! I
didn't need to know that! The staff were all hardworking and really
went out of their way to make you comfortable during the flight.
We arrived in Hong Kong after a grueling 26 hours of travel. Jon
were pretty pooped but we both wanted to stretch and eat. We both
showered and took off walking. The Park Hotel was right in the middle of
the hub and Hong Kong was alive and buzzing-with swarms of people
everywhere. Stopped by a shop and bought a couple of traditional silk
outfits for Hana Rose and Tian. The owner was very helpful and happy- I
guess because I didn't bargain! Next time I will! I was still getting
the hang of the money and the conversion.
Had dinner at a Korean BarB-Que across the street from our hotel.
was delicious-marinated meat and fish that you could grill at your
table. There was an ample selection of fresh greens that tasted
wonderful after airplane food.
That night we didn't have any problem getting to sleep.
The next morning we got up slowly and showered. We decided to
dim sum downstairs in one of the hotel restaurants. Jon thought it was
the best he had ever tasted. After our meal we exchanged money and
walked to the jade market . I had fun dickering on earrings, charms and
other trinkets. Jon bought me a beautiful light green jade bracelet
that I wanted to pass down to Tian when she got older.
On the way home we passed the Hard Rock Cafe. I got all
because we were walking on real out of the way side streets and had
found it! I dragged Jon inside for a coke and wouldn't you know it was
just a dingy local bar called the Hard Rock Cafe! We got a good laugh
out of that!
We had such a nice day exploring the streets of Hong Kong even
both of us had sore throats. Before we went to dinner we went back to
the hotel to rest.. The concierge gave us the name of a Thai restaurant
that we discovered had fantastic food. It seems pretty hard to get a
bad meal in Hong Kong. We were back in our room by 9 to repack our
stuff for our big day tomorrow.
Sunday morning we met up with Sue and Joe from Williamsport,
They were one of the 4 families that we traveled with from our agency,
Adoption Advocates International. We liked them immediately and were
delighted by a small coincidence: Sue had bought the exact same bracelet
in a jewelry store that I had bought at the jade market yesterday!
We all had breakfast then left for the airport soon after.
Kong airport is the nicest airport I have ever been in. It was clean
with big roomy restrooms and great shopping. Jon and I particularly
liked the Aji Ichiban shop that had hundreds of kinds of Japanese treats
and seeds. We filled a big bag of goodies up for Grandma .
When we arrived in Guangzhou, Jeff Li our facilitator
was there to
meet us. We also met up with our fellow travelers: Norman from N.H. and
Debra and Mike from Washington state. During our 4-5 hour layover we
had lunch, shopped and just got to know each other. We were all pretty
excited because once we got to Nanchang we would get the babies.
By now I was feeling stuffy and congested but Jon was really out of
it. He looked terrible-sweaty and drawn out. He was all stuffed up and
his ears were hurting him. The flight to Nanchang was horrible for the
both of us- it felt like our head and ears were in a vice. The pain was
excruciating and on top of it we both had to pee! No chance of that
when we got off the plane because we were in a small military airport
with no bathroom and tons of people milling about.
The bus ride to the Lakeview Hotel in Nanchang was 45 minutes of
passenger panic as the bus driver drove as fast and as crazy as he
possibly could. As he wove in and out of traffic, blaring his horn, we
all held on to our seats and wondered if we would ever see our babies.
Turns out that driving in China is a case of survival of the fittest-no
holds barred-who ever gets there first wins! This would not be the last
ride where we left fingerprint indentations on the inside of the
We pulled up to a huge luxury hotel where the first thing I saw was
the doorman putting on his white gloves because right then and there
were the BABIES!!! I ran out of the bus and tried to find Tian but none
of the babies looked like her photo. I was standing there feeling
bewildered when a caregiver came around the corner and said to me,"Shang
I started to cry--the first tears of many that would well up during
this journey.-as this beautiful, petite little baby with the deepest
darkest eyes was put into my arms. She looked calmly into my eyes
watching the tears roll down with total understanding in her eyes. I
told her I was her Momma and would always take care of her. She was
light as a feather, with fine delicate features. She wore layers of
clothes, the top layer was a red sweater outfit, and looked and smelled
clean. I was overwhelmed by her beauty.
The rest of the evening was a blur-we went up to our rooms and the
caregivers brought up the babies. We were able to ask questions about
feeding and sleep schedules. It was obvious that these woman loved
these babies dearly. A young girl of about 13, I assume one of the
caregivers daughter, was watching all the emotions in the room-the
caregivers sad and crying and the parents happy and crying. We were
given Tian and Jon and I held her and talked to her, it was a lot like
the night that Hana Rose was born. I have to say after giving birth to
Hana Rose and receiving Tian, that my emotions were identical. My love
for this baby welled up so powerfully and it felt exactly like it did
when Hana Rose was born.
Jon and I decided not to bath Tian, but we were anxious to see what
she looked like under all those clothes. She was dressed in layers and
had the traditional Chinese split bottom pants. Her cloth diaper was
held together by a piece of elastic tied around her waist. We removed
layer after layer-6 layers in all, until we could see Tians perfect,
healthy looking body underneath. Once again I was struck by her
beauty. Her fingers and toes were incredibly long and graceful-perhaps
a future pianist. Although her hands and face were dark and tan, the
rest of her body was pale, never seeing the sun. The Chinese believe
that the children should be totally covered with only their face and
hands showing until they are 2 years old. It is improper to take your
child out with bare legs and arms even if the temp is in the 80s and
90s. We had many encounters with the "skin police" (Usually, but not
always, an older Grandmother type who will come up to you and tug on
your child's pant leg if there is skin showing. These are often the
same people that will tap you to let you know that your babies nose is
running also. We would have a lot of laughs about the skin police in the
next few weeks-but we all tried to be respectful of what was expected of
I bundled Tian into a warm sleeper and made her a bottle.
afterwards she fell asleep in the crib that the hotel had supplied. Jon
and I had taken a Sine-aid and were feeling much better. I was totally
overwhelmed and thanked God for this beautiful, healthy child.
Shang Tian slept through out the night getting up at 5am. We
discovered that she loves to watch TV-it seemed to work when she got
fussy. There was a sadness about Tian, I was sure she was missing her
foster mom very much.
In the morning we prepared for our trip to the Civil Affairs Bureau
where we swore we would always take care of Tian and never abandon her.
We were relieved of our first huge bundle of money (all of our fees were
paid with brand new $100 bills). I had brought along an extra sheet of
stationary to capture an extra foot print as a souvenir. The orphanage
gifted us with a white porcelain elephant (porcelain is what Jiang Xi
province is known for).
The next stop was the Notary office-a dull, hot, nondescript
where business seemed to take forever. Tian was not happy at all-I
finally got her to sleep on my shoulder by singing my whole repertoire
of Barney songs. Croaky voice and all she seemed very comforted by it.
Another set of questions and forms to fill out-more large amounts of
cash handed over. I knew that this was the place to get our children's
American names on their visa which would simplify readoption proceedings
back in the states. Jeff was kind enough to advocate for us on this
After our business we took another hair raising taxi ride back to
hotel. Jon said he needed a diaper after that ride!
We were all exhausted-Tian was hot and fussy, so we all took a nap.
All day long there was a sadness surrounding Tian. She was serious
solemn, always looking deeply into your eyes when she was feeding or
being held. Jon and I wondered if her personality was serious and we
were very gentle with her. After all she was just getting to know us
and trust us. We were sure she missed her foster mom and I said a prayer
thanking her for taking such good care of Shang Tian.
After our naps we walked downstairs for some exercise and to check
the dinner buffet. Tian was running a slight fever (not surprising with
Jon and I hacking away) and had a runny nose. She was still cranky so
we decided to go back upstairs and make it an early night. After a
little fussing Tian fell asleep and slept until 10pm. When she woke up
at 10 we played and I got my first unsolicited smile! Yeah! We were in!
By 12:30 she was ready for bed and slept until 5:15.
When Tian awoke in the morning she was in a great mood.
We had a
wild game of peek-a-boo and she actually guffawed! Music to my ears-she
clearly adores her mom. I felt pretty good about it because usually it
is Jon that gets all the laughs.
Tian is 6 months old and slightly behind developmentally. She
sit up unassisted and only yesterday learned to roll over by herself.
Her neck muscles do not totally support her head, but will by the end of
our trip. She cannot hold a bottle with both hands and has very little
muscle strength.. I do not see any of this as a problem as Tian is
alert and bright- I see progress in her every day.
November 18, 1998
We had another good night sleep. Shang Tian likes to use the
to go to sleep. Of course Mom pulls it out as soon as she is snoozing!
She is really warming up to us-loves to play peek-a-boo and has the most
direct eye contact.
In the morning we met with the orphanage directors to ask
about our children. Jeff Li was our interpreter. Jeff is a handsome
young attorney. He has been a godsend on this adventure-very organized,
informative and helpful.
I was given a package of 6 photos-4 of the orphanage and 2 of Tian
her caregiver Huang Tong Lian. My eyes filled with tears at the emotion
of seeing Tian and the woman who cared for her since birth. I asked her
name and age and was told she was 55 and the mother of 2 grown children.
She obviously loved and took good care of Tian. I had given the
director a list of questions on the 1st night that I had translated
into Chinese. Jeff said that he would read me the answers later.
All of the families sat down on the bed to ask our questions.
our video running most of the time to make sure I heard the questions
and answers correctly. One of the questions asked was who chose the
babies names. The director said that he did, and he told us he named
Tian after the town she was born in. It seemed like Tian was a favorite
of his (maybe because she was the youngest and his memory was the
freshest) because he kept referring to her.
There was an extremely funny incident when I asked what the town of
Shang Gao was like. When Jeff interpreted he said it was an agricultural
town where they grew rice and penis. We finally figured out he meant
peanuts but only after we made him repeat 3 more times! We women were
howling and it took us a few minutes to get control of our selves.
Peanuts became our running joke for the rest of the trip and never
failed to get a good chuckle out of us at any time. Jeff was a good
sport and Jon gave him private lessons on how to really say peanuts.
After the meeting we gave our gifts to the orphanage director.
gave him the beautiful FCC (Families with Children from China) calendar,
a large box of medical and baby supplies donated by my friends at my
orphanage shower, our caregivers gifts and another large monetary
orphanage donation. Mr. Wu, the director was very gracious and let us
It seemed like the perfect time to pose the babies on the couch for
group photo. Look out Anne Geddes! The girls looked a little
bewildered but we all had fun.
By now it was obvious that everyone in our group got along well.
were all helpful to each other and everyone had a great sense of humor.
We all brought something different to the group that really made it a
success. We were having fun!
That night at dinner we were able to see a new group of babies from
Holt agency come in. There were 9 families in their group (too many).
It was amazing to see how different us 3 day old timers felt. We were
all very comfortable with our babies-it felt like they were with us
Wednesday, November 18, 1998
We all decided to go into Nanchang this afternoon. Armed with
translation cards explaining that we were adopting from China, we took 2
taxis to a large famous public square. I cannot remember the name of
the square but it is 2nd in notoriety to Tiannamen Square in Bejing. It
was a chilly out and started to drizzle a bit. Luckily all of our
babies were bundled. Our mission was to find Chinese childrens music
and baby formula. We got out of the taxis and started walking around
the side walks. We found a "mall" that looked like there were music
stores in it. And the fun begins...
Swarms of people surrounded us pointing and smiling at the babies.
showed our card explaining why we were there and got many thumbs up .
Some pointed, some poked but all seemed very happy that we were taking
good care of our babies. They followed us around from store to store,
adding more and more people to the ever-growing crowd. Really, there
must have been 25-50 people surrounding us. As they followed us laughing
and smiling they poked and cooed at the babies. Especially the older
woman who would cluck and clap their hands in front of the babies faces.
I tried out a bit of my Chinese and even got understood a time or two!
(Of course we got lots of laughs when someone asked Jon who I was and I
couldn't remember the .word for wife and instead said nai nai, which
means grandmother!) I think Jon had the most fun with these encounters
(we had many) because they all thought he could speak Chinese. Their
body language would say, "You look like us, why can't you speak our
language?" It was all done in good fun and never once did I feel any
animosity. Jon said he felt like a rock star.
The Chinese people love their children. They cannot help
governments policies. I do not know the answer but you cannot even
fathom the amount of people that you see everywhere you go. If you
could see how the Chinese react to babies it would warm your heart. And
not only the older women-we were approached by business men, teenagers,
children, grandpas you name it. On our flight from Nanchang to
Guangzhou Tian was fussy and crying because her ears hurt. Two young
business men who sat behind me had a blast cooing and making faces at
her during the flight trying to distract her. When we landed I thanked
them for their help and they looked puzzled, they didn't do anything out
of the ordinary. Imagine boarding a plane with an infant and not
getting dirty looks-only in China.
Thursday, November 12, 1998
You should see these babies blossom!! Shang Tian is alert and
quite a bit. She follows Jon and I with her eyes, yet seems to be
secure if someone else is watching her. She still can't sit up by
herself but her neck muscles are much stronger. She is really moving
around a lot, strengthening her arms and legs.
Today we went to the police station to get the children's
We weren't able to get Tian's American name on her passport which
disappointed me. I had some paperwork explaining the process but did
not share it with Jeff as he had been so successful getting Tians name
on her visa. I thought he could do this as well.
Afterwards we all wanted to take off walking in search of a
store. Jeff gave us directions which started out, "Cross the street
here...". We all looked at him in wonder-he wanted us to cross the
street alone? No way!! So 7 adults begged him to cross us and he did!
He must have thought we were really nutty Americans but there was no way
we would attempt to cross a street in this crazy traffic!
Once again while walking down the street we were surrounded by well
meaning locals of all ages who loved seeing us with the babies. I got
some great video footage of the men touching Jon's hair and face. I
know that Jon enjoyed the interaction because it was all done in good
We walked around the square again and saw some wonderful porcelain
shops. The 5-6 foot tall exquisite urns were only $32.00 American
money!! If you could only get them home!
The babies loved being out all day. Tian was happy as a clam.
sadder note, I lost my lovely jade bracelet that Jon had bought me in
November 29, 1998
Planned on going sightseeing with Jeff and our group today.
met up in the morning I asked Jeff if there was any way that we could
get our childrens American name on their passport. He agreed to go back
to the police station and try. He told us to act very serious. After
about an hour we were able to get our babies names on their passports
although the police officers were not happy about it. We all thanked
Jeff profusely for making the effort on our behalf.
Off we headed to tour the Tengwang Pavilion, first built in A.D.
It felt good to walk up stairs and to be outside. There were some great
gift shops and photo ops around the grounds. I was carrying Tian in a
snuggli in front of me and had an interesting time using the bathroom:
It was a pit in the floor and I had to squat down without looking
because of Tian! We both survived without getting drenched or falling
in. My leg muscles were really getting strong.
The rest of the day was spent at lunch and shopping. We headed back
the hotel to prepare for our tomorrow departure.
Jon got all the luggage packed and organized. The staff at
Lakeview were fantastic. Everyone in our group mentioned how we would
miss them, they were so helpful and friendly.
The next morning the dads generously offered to take care of the
while the moms did some serious power shopping. We took a taxi to a
department store and off we went! All during our trip I had admired the
beautifully shaped and colored lips that all the local women seemed to
have. It seemed like that was one aspect that the Chinese woman took
pride in- and rightly so. I bought a tube of brick red lipstick hoping
that I could come close to the beautiful lip artistry I had been
admiring.. I can dream can't I?
While I was looking around I noticed a crowd of people surrounding
escalator. They were laughing hysterically so I walked over to check it
out. It seems that both escalators were moving downward instead of one
running up. People were running up the down escalator trying to make it
to the top! Business men were the funniest trying to beat the
escalator. It felt good sharing a joke with the people around me.
After a while it was fixed and it was business as usual.
We ventured down to the basement which was a supermarket. Our
favorite aisle was the plastic plate aisle! We all stocked up on cute
plastic bowl, spoon and plate sets. You would have thought we were
admiring Waterford crystal the way went on about our find! I found
some kid size chopsticks and spoons that I bought for Hana Roses
classmates. We found some formula, paid and took another white knuckle
taxi ride home to relieve our partners.
With our luggage all in order, Jon and I packed Tian up for a
around the hotel. We ran into Joe outside with his video recorder and
he joined us. There was a nice park around the lake where we met some
friendly teenage girls who were studying English. They were excited to
talk with us and we all took turns taking their picture. They asked me
if they could write me and we exchanged addresses. It was very
refreshing to see such open intelligent young women. Not a sullen one
in the bunch. Meeting these girls was one of the more special moments of
As we headed back there was a young bride and groom all decked out
sitting in a blanket. The bride looked stunning in her gown and veil.
We asked if we could take their photo and they promptly smiled and posed
for us. A short while later two more .couples getting married joined
them and we took a group shot. They were really cute.
Back to the hotel for a quick lunch before flying to Guangzhou.
bus driver really outdid himself by passing a truck that was passing a
bus. It was extremely nerveracking watching him drive and feeling so
helpless. It was pretty humorous because during the ride there was a
tour guide from the city who decided to sing us a Chinese folk song and
didn't bat an eye throughout all the horn blowing and swerving! Now
that was concentration!
The one hour flight was really hard on all the girls. Tian
great big crocodile tears her ears hurt so bad. This was the flight
that the young business men were on that helped distract Tian so she
wouldn't cry so much. I was very grateful to them.
Once we landed it was a 20 minute bus ride to the White Swan. We
noticed an immediate improvement on the driving situation. Jeff told us
it was also illegal to blow your horn in Guangzhou, the penalty for this
crime was 200 yuan.
We were all exhausted from lugging our luggage and tending to
crying babies. I felt like I was hit by a truck-this was truly the most
exhausted I had been this trip. If this was supposed to be our trial
run for the long trek home I was really worried.
Things were looking up the next morning though. We all
check out the White Swan buffet for breakfast. What a disappointment
after the wonderful spread at the Lakeview in Nanchang. This was all
greasy American food- Yuk. Luckily we noticed people next to us
ordering a Chinese breakfast of steamed pork buns, congee and tea. That
became our breakfast every morning thereafter. Tian loved the congee
and we loved the pork buns.
Jeff had briefed us the night before on what to expect with the
American Consulate. Even though we had paperwork to fill out we all
decided to check out the city first. We rented strollers in the lobby
and hit the streets.
We checked out Jennifers place that really had some nice
ran into fellow apcer Jill Crowley who I had been corresponding with by
e-mail. it was fun to see her and I wondered if she was as prepared as
I was by all the advice on the apc.
The city of Guangzhou was much different than Nanchang-more of a
city feel. We still attracted attention which surprised me since there
were so many American families adopting children and they all had to
go through Guangzhou.
When we returned to the hotel one 1/2 of our group met downstairs
finish up our paperwork. This took several hours and I was glad that
Jon did it. I had fun walking around the hotel with Tian.
Early the next morning we took the children for their visa photos
perfunctory medical exam. The doctor who examined Tian was very nice,
almost jolly. Tian really liked him and when I asked if I could take
his photo he complied. Our next stop was at the American Consulate. I
was a bit apprehensive about this interview, but Jon did a good job
filling out the paper work so I didn't need to worry.
Armed with our forms completed, photos snapped, visas in order and
last big wad of money we walked to the Consulate, which was a stones
throw from the White Swan. The interview room was brimming with babies
and toddlers and their adoptive Anglo parents. There was a beautiful
quilt on the wall that some parents had made and sent to the Consulate
in appreciation of their beautiful children that were born in China. Our
first interviewer, a young Chinese girl quickly read over the papers and
caught the one mistake that didn't get corrected! On Tian's passport
they had written her last name as Ahyou instead of two words: Ah You.
She discussed the discrepancy over with her partner and they decided
everything was ok. Whew!
Our next interview was with a very nice woman from Brooklyn named
Mary. She was kind and seemed delighted that all these babies were
going to good homes. Mary also commented on how are name change was
done properly and congratulated us on that.
I asked her what she missed most about the states and she said her
Jon and I then raised our right hands and swore we would always
care of Tian and before we knew it we were done! It was official!
After the meeting Sue and I decided to do some last minute
and touring around the city. We headed with our map to the Qing Ping
market. Alley after alley was filled with burlap sacks brimming with
medicinal herbs, dried roots, bats, centipedes, snakes, scorpions and
other unknown items. The dried bats were particularly interesting as
they were flat like they had been run over by a car! One vender had his
display perched vertically and Sue and I commented on how attractive it
looked! Some of the vendors were selling pearl necklaces and would try
to intice us into buying by scraping the pearls with a knife. We never
did find out why.
Sue and I were really stepping into total Chinese territory-and I
glad that we were together. I never once felt unsafe in China, just
uncomfortable sometimes because the locals will stop and stare and
point at you. It was pretty unlikely that many Westerners shopped at
We continued to walk down long, dark herb filled alleys until we
to a section that looked like it would lead to a main street. There was
a sign advertising live animals. I knew that the Chinese have a
different way of looking at animals for food than we did but I was not
prepared for what I saw. We passed cages of kittens, rabbits and
chickens, but the one that really got to me and Sue were the cages
filled with huge rats. They were bigger than a large cat with long
thick tails. It was so gross.
That was it for us! We got out fast and hailed a taxi to take
the jade market to see if I could find a bracelet replacement. We were
able to communicate with the driver by showing him Sue's bracelet. And
if I may stereotype, all the taxi drivers we did business with were very
helpful and friendly.
The jade market was interesting but all the stalls sold pretty much
the same things, There were a lot of loose stones but Sue and I were
not educated enough to know what to look for so we didn't buy anything.
We hailed another taxi and headed home empty handed.
That evening before dinner, Jon and I were checking out the shops
the White Swan. We walked into the jewelry shop and saw a beautiful
jade bracelet with emerald cut stones and bordered with crystal chips.
I was able to bargain them down quite a bit and Jon bought me what he
refers to as the "consolation bracelet". It really is beautiful and I am
glad to have something nice to pass on to my daughter.
Our group met for dinner at Lucy's which quickly became our
place for dinner. It had a nice blend of Chinese/Mexican/Thai
specialties. And ice cold Coronas which we really appreciated at the end
of the day! I feel that the size of our group was perfect- four families
(Norman was traveling alone to get his 2nd daughter). We all got along
very well and the group was small enough to really get to know your
travel partners. (Which in our case was a good thing). In my opinion
having a smaller group made it easier to make decisions and go with the
Our last full day in Guangzhou had finally come. It was pretty free
except for a 3:30 meeting with Jeff. Jon and I were leaving early the
next morning so we were already pretty well packed. We had our usual
Chinese breakfast of pork buns, congee and coffee. After breakfast we
prepared to met my "cousin", Michael who was also adopting at the same
time. Michael is not technically my cousin, we both share the same aunt
and uncle, but we just assumed cousin roles because it was close enough.
Michael and his partner David had adopted a one year old boy named
Jason Liang. Jason had turned one while Michael and David were in
It was truly a pleasure meeting Michael and David in person., as
lived on the east coast. We had been communicating by email, marveling
at the coincidence of us both going through the same process at the same
time. We did a little shopping together then headed up to our room to
visit. Both of our children were snoozing so we had a cup of tea and
chatted for an hour or so. It was a wonderful visit and it was fun to
reminisce about our families. He remembered my Grandmother well and
spoke very highly of her.
Once the children awoke we headed out for shopping and lunch.
a lovely afternoon and we marveled once against what a small world it
Tian is really coming around. She sleeps a lot but her
improving everyday. I have been feeding her some congee and mashed
potatoes. She is truly the blow out queen, pooping at least 4 times a
day. and blowing out at least twice a day! She still has a serious
streak, but gets more and more joyful everyday. Jon and I adore her-she
is the perfect child for us and we can't wait for Hana Rose to meet her
Our 3:30 meeting with Jeff was in Norms room. He was an
facilitator and we were all grateful for his expertise. He gave us our
visa packets (DO NOT OPEN) to be presented to the US customs. He also
gave us each a small gift and a lovely handwritten note addressed to our
babies. It was written in Chinese with an English interpretation. I
felt those tears coming again-our experience had been so magical. Our
group had bonded well together and everyone had been helpful and
One by one we gave Jeff our gifts, tee shirt, dress shirt, travel
and our hand made in Alaska box to keep small treasures in, like the
small bag of peanuts we enclosed! We really got a lot of mileage out of
the peanuts joke and Jeff was a pretty good sport about it. It was a
joyful meeting, yet there was a sadness about parting from our close
friends. Jon and I were anxious to get home because we missed Hana Rose,
who had lost a front tooth while we were gone.
We all agreed to meet at the Victory Outdoor Cafe for our final
We met Norm in the lobby a little before 6 and headed off to the
together. It was dark by the time we got there and there was only
inside dining. We waited 45 minutes outside for the rest of the group
to come. No one showed up so we decided to go to Lucy's instead. I was
feeling sad to miss our friends since it was our last night together
and Tian was cranky too.
We got to Lucy's, ordered our beers and watched Sue, Joe, Mike and
Debra walk in with the babies! Great minds think alike!! Debra said
after checking out the Victory Cafe menu it was a little too "froggy"
for her taste, if you know what I mean, and since they didn't see Jon,
Norm or myself (who were on the wrong street corner), they decided to go
to Lucy's for a repeat performance. We were all in a festive mood
despite the babies crying a lot. I found out that mine was just warming
up for the trip home.
After dinner we profusely thanked our lovely servers and asked if
could buy a Lucy's hat. After hesitating the owner sold us each a hat
for $2.50. We picked up one for Mike and Norm who had gone on ahead to
get some ice cream.
When we caught up with them they were tickled to have a
Lucy's-Guangzhou hat. We found some unsuspecting passer byers to take
our photos and spent a few minutes laughing and chatting.
It was pretty late by now (9:00) and Jon and I knew we had a bit
packing to do, so we exchanged addresses, hugged and said our good-byes,
Jon put Tian down to sleep and I went downstairs to return the
stroller and to send one last email to Hana Rose. I also made a copy of
Tian's visa for myself. When I returned to the room we were both
exhausted and apprehensive about our return trip. Tian had a fitful
sleep, waking 3 times.
In the morning we showered and headed off to breakfast. We caught
hotel shuttle to the airport with another couple, Barb and Jack. with
daughter Grace who were from Santa Barbara. This was there second
adoption from China.. They were very nice and we enjoyed visiting with
As we left Guangzhou, I said a prayer thanking China for allowing
to be the mother of this wonderful little girl. It was hard not to cry
while looking out the plane window at the countryside, mountains and
lakes I could see from the air. I will come back to China, hopefully
with Tian. China loves her children in a way that Americans will never
really be able to understand. I feel blessed to be able to experience
this journey with Jon. It has made us closer together.
The flight to Hong Kong was very nice, Tian slept most of the way. In
Hong Kong we had a short layover so we had a snack before boarding to
San Francisco. Jon and I changed Tian about a minute before we boarded
and wouldn't you know she pooped as soon as we got on board! That's my
Jon and I upgraded to business class and what a nice surprise that
was! Lots of leg room, gourmet meals (Godiva chocolate and port), and
excellent service. We also had ordered a bassinet for Tian to sleep in
that attached to the wall. We were both feeling pretty good, I was even
fantasizing about taking Tian to N.Y. to meet my parents, when all of a
sudden Tian breaks out into a wail that lasts 2 hours! I finally got
her to sleep by singing every kids song I had ever heard Things didn't
get much better- the bassinet was attached to the wall that had a
bathroom on the other side of it. Everytime someone went into the
bathroom and shut the door Tian would wake up. I had two thoughts, put
an out of order sign on the door or ask the people in first class if
they would mind leaving the bathroom door open while they went.. We
settled on snuggling Tian on the floor to sleep and using the bassinet
to hold all of our stuff! Perfect!
When we reached San Francisco customs was a breeze to go through.
didn't even realize we were done until we were out the door. Jon's
sister Kay met us and we had a very nice time visiting during our 5 hour
layover. We found a quiet nursery upstairs where Tian could sleep while
we visited. Kay and Tian liked each other and I was glad she met us.
Our next flight was San Francisco to Seattle. We could not
class for this flight because we were traveling the day before
Thanksgiving. Did I mention how packed the San Fran airport was? This
was truly the flight from hell. Tian cried practically the whole time.
After ten minutes and numerous dirty looks from the woman in front of
me, I squeezed out of my seat and headed to the back of the plane. I
felt sorry for Tian because I knew her ears were hurting but after 45
minutes I was feeling more sorry for me. I just let those tears roll
down my face, there would have been no way I could stop them. I was
exhausted, and Tian seemed to only want me to console her. Tian finally
fell asleep and I headed back to my seat sniffling. I told Jon that I
needed more help -I could not do all the comforting myself.
When we landed in Seattle I found out where the first class lounge
was. I asked Jon to order me a Grand Marnier with an orange juice back
while I took Tian in the nice, big, clean restroom to change her diaper
and give her a little sponge bath. All cleaned up and feeling better
about life I joined Jon and gulped down my Grand Marnier. Another,
please. Ah, I might be able to make it.
We called Hana Rose and had the nicest conversation with her.
called Janet and we chatted. Meanwhile Jon took Tian and gave me a much
needed break. I was feeling pretty relaxed by now and was ready for the
last leg of our journey, We were able to get first class from Seattle
to Anchorage. It was pretty close quarters and we had fun chatting with
the other travelers. They were so excited to meet Tian and I believed
them when they said that her crying didn't bother them. We were so
tired-I think we calculated 30 hours of travel, but so excited to be so
close to home.
We were the first ones off the plane and were greeted by good
Janet . Robin and her daughter Molly ,who is also from China were
holding a bouquet of balloons. It was very special seeing Robin there
because she was our social worker and had truly seen our process go full
circle. I was very glad to see Janet because she was helping to hold
the fort down at home. Tian and her hit it off immediately. Pam showed
up minutes later with roses. Oh, were we ever glad to be home.
We visited for a while and then gathered our luggage and headed
It was freezing out and I was glad that Janet brought our coats and a
car seat for Tian. I couldn't wait to see Hana Rose who we told to go
to sleep at her regular time and we would wake her up to meet her new
Hugging Hana Rose awake felt like heaven. I had missed her so
She looked much bigger to me and sounded different with her missing
tooth. She was a little shy with Tian at first but it was obvious that
she loved her from the start. We stayed up until about 3:00am visiting,
Grandma had gone off to bed. We were very thankful for her taking
good care of Hana Rose and we suspected that she may need a vacation
The next day Hana took over Tians care. She changed 3 diapers
loved holding her and picking her up. I let Hana feed Tian and she was
very gentle with her. I was proud of Hana Rose. Our first day home was
Thanksgiving (how appropriate). Janet cooked a marvelous meal and we
all went over to show off Tian to her family. It was wonderful not to
have to worry about cooking and once again I was thankful for her help
We are adjusting. I am surprised how much work two children
am still getting organized but everyday I get better and better. Hana
Rose has shed some tears at night probably feeling the pressure of all
the changes in our family. I was able to snuggle with her and kiss her
a hundred times while telling her how much I loved her. We both felt
better and it seemed to calm her down. I am careful to let Hana be
active in Tians care. I feel that this is the foundation of a long life
together and I want to build it right.
I am proud of my girls. Watching them laugh and play together
truly the angels music. Tian adores Hana Rose and follows her with her
eyes where ever she goes. I am thankful to my family for their support
during this long rewarding process.
There are just a few comments I would like to make: Tians Chinese
is pronounced Shung Tian with the Tian said with a great deal of gusto.
Jon and I like it very much and will continue to use it as a term of
The other issue is Tian's abandonment story. I feel very strongly
about keeping this story private. It's not that it is an unusual story
it's just that it is her story and she can share it if she choses. I
have given birth and I have adopted and I have felt the exact same
emotions of joy for each child. It has been a wonderful joyous journey
that amazes me still. Tian Marie Ah You has blessed our family and for
that we will always be grateful to her.
It may be the end of Tians wild adventure, but it's not