It’s 4:30 am at home in the US. I’m on neither China-time (5:30 pm) nor US time! Everyone else is still sound asleep, including one new citizen 3 year old. 🙂
Thursday. We slept in a bit before heading down to the watermelon and rice buffet. My husband discovered the bacon around this time, so our foods were expanded! Ran into another adoptive family – they were bringing home child #8 and #9 – amazing people! Anyway I asked them what their plans were for the day – Shaiman Island shopping – so we invited ourselves along to share a cab and a day of shopping and picture taking on the island.
(You can indeed fit 8 people into a cab in China….)
This time on Shaiman Island, we explored areas we hadn’t previously seen – and hit up a dozen or so new-to-us stores. Didn’t buy a whole lot, but I really got the swing of negotiating prices. I didn’t always convey intent well though, and panicked a shopkeeper or two when I’d offer 20 yuan per item versus the advertised 25 yuan per item – and they assumed I was wanting 20 yuan for an entire lot of items.
We had lunch at a place called Lucy’s, which is American food – or pretty close to it! Got a certain gal a bottle of watermelon juice which she enjoyed. On Tuesday and Wednesday, she had spent literal HOURS screaming and crying and sobbing. At Lucy’s, she started gearing up – tears and waterworks galore. I apologized to our friends — the wife was SO sweet, she said something along the lines of “It’s such a blessing to hear her cry in the arms of her mother – instead of crying alone in an orphanage.” We SO enjoyed their company. Luckily, the tears were short-lived, and we enjoyed our lunch before getting into our island-photo-taking. We’ll have to upload those pictures at a later time – sorry!
Ultimately we got two silk outfits for our girls, and some cloissone ornaments for friends back home. Pretty low key.
We finally caught a cab back to the hotel – quite an ordeal, but apparently not as bad as it is sometimes! Exchanged email addresses and phone numbers with the other family, really hoping we can keep in touch over the years. They have possible plans to visit our state at some point in the future, pursuing possible domestic adoption through a program here. I do hope they can make it. It would be great to see them again and meet the rest of the clan!
Where did we eat for dinner – I don’t even really remember. Ah – just looked through hubby’s journal. Yeah, we didn’t have dinner that evening. Though I did find Starbucks and enjoyed a Mocha. Random – mochas taste different in China than in the US. Almost a dark chocolate, with hints of what ALMOST seemed like coconut. I’m not entirely sure what it was, or how exactly it was different, but it was good!
Afterward we hung out in the lobby of the hotel and caught several of the other families we’d gotten to know over the last two weeks, and exchanged more emails and phone numbers and blog addresses. Most of them were flying home on Friday -but we’d opted to stay until Saturday morning in case we had any hiccups in the process. Oh! And Meghan’s visa and passport and all that fancy-pants Consulate stuff was delivered.
Thursday afternoon, I’d emailed an awesome lady named “Ann” who is basically a Chinese shopping assistant. I said “I know it’s crazy last-minute, but do you have any openings on Friday afternoon to take us out shopping?”
She called that evening – and set us up for 2 pm.
Friday – slow morning, low-key day. McDonalds French Fries for lunch. (Did I mention I lost 14 lbs in China? Yeah. One to two meals a day, and having things like…french fries for a meal…. not quite the calorie count or quality I was used to!). And then we met Ann in the hotel lobby.
Have you ever seen greyhound racing? Little pretend bunny on this track that these greyhounds tear after to try to catch, thus racing at breakneck speeds in an attempt to catch something they never will? THAT was shopping with Ann. She was delightful and friendly and awesome, but freakishly FAST. We ran to keep up with her! Bought pearl earrings, more silks (they were about $5 each, and she was quite the saleslady “WHERE in US can you buy something for $5? $5 NOTHING in US. You need more silks.”), a jade dragon-turtle for my brother, a Pleasant Goat puzzle for
me the kids, more cloissone ornaments, a jade family ball, and some tea. I was really blown away by how inexpensively she could find items for us. Very pleased with the purchases though, and happy to have some of China here at home. We went to the pearl market for the pearls, but to all these random down-alley-ways-into-the-heart-of-NON-tourist-shopping(ish) areas for everything else. Most of the shops were about the size of a small walk-in closet.
Ann asked how many kids we had – and when we told her Meghan was #5, she told us we were crazy (we got that a lot in China). She then said we were “way too young” to have so many kids. I commented that we were 23 for #1 – and she said “That’s ILLEGAL in China!” I am not sure what the age of parenthood is – though one of our guides said that you can’t get married until 20 (woman) and 22 (man). Part of family-planning control stuff.
Got a taxi back to the hotel, then had dinner at Coffee Club across the street from our hotel. They had things like “Gromet Hambugers” (sic) and other items that just made me smile. Back to the hotel, got everything packed up.
We left our hotel at around 7 a.m. on Saturday morning for the ride to the airport. Waiting in line to check in at the airport, and a family of 7 jammed their way in front of us to hit the desk first. It was kind of exasperating, and perhaps this isn’t kosher to say – but they cut in line like crazy in China. Really, does it hurt to wait until the small family with one baby gets through the line first? We flew a China Southern flight to Japan, but they didn’t have three seats together, so M and I were on one row, and my husband on the row ahead of us. M did wonderfully on the flight. It was 4 hours — then a 4 hour layover in Japan. While waiting in Japan, a Japanese man accidentally rolled his suitcase over my foot. He looked horrified and apologetic and said “I’m so sorry, excuse me, so sorry, please excuse me” (yes, twice). I just about hugged him – I realized that in our 17 days of travel – for all the bumping, jarring, running-over, clobbering, etc that happens when you’re walking in the midst of 15,000,000 in a city – that he was the first person to apologize to me. He probably thought I was crazy for looking at him all starry-eyed.
Next leg of our flight – 12 hours to DFW. Good lord. We actually arrived in Dallas before we left Japan, because of the time change/international date line, etc. Kind of trippy.
Anyway, Meghan got really worked up around, oh, 1 a.m.? Screaming. Crying. SCREAMING. Inconsolable. The flight attendant came to speak to me, and I immediately started releasing a flurry of apologies. She said “Oh no, it’s not a problem at all! I just wanted to see if you wanted to come to the back of the plane to rock her. Or see if you wanted us to take her for a bit so you could get some rest. We’ve all been there – every person on this plane was once a grumpy baby. So you just take your time with her, head back here if you need to, take care of her and get her comfy.” Five big fat honking HUGE stars for American Airlines. There were several men milling around in the back of the plane stretching their legs, and the attendant said “Gentlemen, please find your seat – I’ve invited this lady to rock her baby.” Within about 5 minutes she was out – and slept for most of the rest of the flight.
Dallas. Nightmare. Customs/immigration line INSANE. It snaked around this room 7 times. I don’t even know how long we stood in line. We got through – then were ushered into a room – the same room where they check you for drugs and contraband and all that stuff. They needed to process Meghan’s paperwork. I’m really debating whether to share some of this publicly, but I’ll go ahead. The man in that room was a world-class JERK. We were there about 45 minutes. At one point he looks at my husband and says “DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM?! You keep lookin’ at me. Why do you keep lookin’ at me? You got a problem?!” Yes, we were looking at him – he had our daughter’s paperwork, we weren’t sure what was going on, what the deal was. It was ridiculous. He then went on to ream me for assuming our daughter was a citizen (she was, due to Hague treaty stuff; all her stuff was processed at the Guangzhou Consulate, and once through customs & immigration – she’s a citizen). So anyway – “Come on, that’s ridiculous! Can you imagine if EVERY person who set foot on American soil – automatically got citizenship? It’s idiotic to even think that, I’m the expert, I do this all day” – blah-blah-blah – and so forth. My husband tried to ask him if we got any of our papers back from the packet we had to submit, and he asked how the *bleep* we’d expect her citizenship to be processed if we took all the papers. Then he drew in her visa, which made me sad. Circled things and drew lines all over it, and yeah. I’m not sure if that was really necessary, but I was sad that her pretty little face on her visa was marked up. Unfortunately, because their rules prohibit cell phone use etc while there, we couldn’t even look up (on smartphone) the laws and such so it really just sucked. We were then ushered out and I was so mad I was shaking – not to mention was 18 hours or so into travel and exhausted out of my ever-loving mind.
We had to recheck our baggage. We had to redo TSA screenings. I really kind of hated all that. Japan screening? AWESOME. China? AWESOME. TSA? Eh. The positive side was that I was “wearing” Meghan so I got to finally bypass the backscatter thingy.
Four hour layover – though really we barely had an hour by the time we made it through that craziness.
I may or may not have literally skipped down the tunnel to our plane. Home, oh my goodness, almost home sweet HOME.
Flight good, Meghan a bit fussy. Overall OK. Got to our home airport, and were met by kids with signs and balloons and all around AWESOME. I was exhausted out of my mind – I don’t remember a whole lot of details, except that I’m sure I cried.
And then? We came home. All 7, one roof. All together. Happiness.