Sunday, May 25, 2008


May 23rd and 24th – Pre-Addison

We made it to Beijing safe and sound – and with minimal jet lag. Melissa stayed up the night before the trip and was able to sleep for several hours on the plane. Scott, as usual, didn’t sleep much – and didn’t need to.

After arriving we checked into the hotel and then headed out to the Forbidden City and Tiannemen Square. Our original plan was to see the Temple of Heaven, but we were pressed for time by the time we got through immigration and baggage claim at the airport.

Our guide, Jenny, met us at the airport and explained different parts of Tianneman Square. She explained why it was such an important place for the Chinese –
Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum is there and people wait in line to see his body and leave him flowers.

There is a monument honoring the people from 1848 – 1949 who helped make China great. The monument was commissioned by the Chairman following Mao, whose name I can’t remember, but who helped protect as many works by the artists, writers and thinkers during the Cultural Revolution as he could. The Chinese revere him for all he did to protect their heritage.

Jenny was surprised at how many Americans wanted to see Tiannemen Square and wondered why it was important to them. When I told her that many are interested because of the students that were massacred there in 1989, she was surprised. She said that was a very dark time for China, very sad, and got a wistful look on her face. Jenny is around my age, so many of the people who died would be the same.

We had a nice conversation about children being adopted and she expressed her hope that more children would find families. She has a two-year-old boy whose name (or nickname?) is LaiLai (no idea if I’m spelling that correctly) – it means “happy.” When I told Jenny of the families I know who have adopted several children from China, she was astonished and said that “one child is exhausting.” Then she also said, “very good people they are – they bless China.” Very sweet.

After coming back to the hotel, Scott decided to go find some “to go” food from a local restaurant. Jet lag was hitting me at that point – I felt like I was still on the plane, or on a very rocky boat, blech – he came back an hour later with beer and soda – and a very interesting tale on his inability to express “to go” to the Chinese. It sounds like he was quite the sight, as several girls were surrounding him trying to help him but then turning to each other and laughing, hands in front of their mouths trying not to appear rude. I’m not sure if he ever ate. I had an Ambien for dinner and slipped into dreamland.

We’re headed to the breakfast bar this morning and then to the Great Wall. We’ll definitely get our exercise.

14 hours until Addison! Woo Hoo – the fears and worries have disappeared (for now). I just can’t wait to see our precious boy!
4:00 pm
We are sitting in Beijing International Airport – a lovely place that spares no expense on architecture – it uses the money it doesn’t use on air conditioning to pay for its loveliness. It’s HOT in here!

Scott and I visited the Great Wall, but didn’t make it to the top. Between the ninety degree weather and the steps that ranged from 12 inches tall to 30 inches tall, well – we made it to where we had a good view and decided it was good enough. We were brought to shame by some of the other climbers: a woman in heels, an elderly woman who was at least 80 and a father carrying his little girl. The sign at the bottom says something along the lines of “If you climb to the top, you are a true hero.” Of course you can also buy a carved metal plate that says you made it to the top, so I think we get credit for ‘fessing up. There’s something a bit heroic about telling the truth, I think. :)

We then went to a government-run store, “The Friendship Store,” and was able to see how Cloissoine is made. I’ve never been a fan of Cloissoine, but watching the women work made me truly appreciate the painstaking effort to detail it takes. As we then walked around the store, four salespeople followed us and kept telling us about each item. We were the only ones in the store, so it was a bit uncomfortable.

Notice the picture of the jade hawk -- hand-carved, all jade. When I even stopped to admire it, they salespeople assured me that they could ship it to the states. And only ~$10,000 US. Maybe next time….

We were then treated to a tourist’s lunch – a very American-style Chinese meal: Sweet-n-Sour Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, white rice, hot and sour soup. We’re looking forward to Guiyang and eating more local cuisine.

Note that Scott is wearing his GT shirt with pride. Not enough pride to wear it to the top of the Great Wall, but pride nonetheless. When our guide found out that Scott is a chef and Melissa is a teacher, she thought this very fortunate for he will be well-educated, well-fed and well-loved.

Five more hours until we get Addison. It’s so exciting, but doesn’t seem real yet. When he’s screaming his head off in the hotel room asking for his mother (which, to him, is his foster mother), I’m sure it’ll sink in. Poor guy has a tough transition ahead of him, but we’ll all see it through together.

We spoke to Cindy and Russ today and found out that Kate is doing quite well in their care. She even had a haircut, which she desperately needed! When Cindy picked her up from school on Friday, she introduced all the kids to her – my girl is coming along with her socialization! The speech is still mostly unintelligible, but it’s getting better. What makes me so happy is that she wants to tell us things and that she continues to try despite the difficulty. Thank you to the Boltons for taking care of our sweet girl!

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