Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It is Night time, Emma!

Emma wants to play.  Emma wants to look longingly into Mama's eyes.  Emma wants to be held.  Emma cries.  Emma is wide awake.  ALL NIGHT.   I am pretty sure our neighbors in our hotel room here in Seattle are loving our night vigils. 

I have to laugh to myself.  Was this time adjustment is easier with Graciebug or did I just have selective memory?

"When I said I wanted you to take me to Hawaii, this is not what I meant..." or 27 hours, 4 sunrises and sunsets and a detour to Hawaii...

We are in Hawaii. Not a part of the plan. It all started right on schedule. We left our hotel and the Braddocks this morning with many tears. I think Gracie and Nina said goodbyes more than a handful of times, including Gracie getting out of the bus for the final time and running in to throw her arms around her. So sweet. But we still got to the airport on time with passports, Audrey, Rose, Gracie, Matt, Emma, me and all of our many "we are going to travel light" suitcases. We even made it to our plane on time and then seated ahead of schedule. And then we sat. Our first flight to Seoul was delayed. And then delayed again. The first delay was for a late passenger and the second several hour delay was because we lost our place in line for take off and had to sit and wait in Beijing airport for a moment that wasn't so busy.

Flight finally takes off around the same time our flight in Seoul Korea is leaving for Seattle Washington - without us. We arrive in Korea and there is nowhere to send us. Seoul? And we can't find a closer destination to Seattle than Hawaii? Yep. Hawaii. So off we go after several hours to Hawaii. We are on our way to Hawaii as we should be landing in Seattle.

Aloha! Beautiful Hawaii and a very small airport is the entry for our newly adopted daughter. And since they are unsure as to what to do with her at immigration, they send us to the waiting area for those wanting to start the forms and paperwork to immigrate.

It has been a long long long flight. We are all very very tired. It has been 5 renewals of our paperwork with the USC***IS and thousands of dollars, appointments, paperwork and fingerprinting to make it possible to hand over this beautiful, organized, sealed, official envelope to the regular old immigration desk in the regular citizen line. I get a little frustrated while attempting to share the way it is supposed to happen with an officer who has never heard of it and is searching the rule book. One hour. Finally, they figure it out and tell us we just need the envelope and she should become a citizen... they think... and we should receive documents in the mail. I hold back my husband. We have to fly to make our next flight. Our team of 6 is tired, needing bottles, diaper changes (you can't do that in the "area"), a trip to the bathroom, a change of clothes, and a breath of fresh tropical air...which we get first and second and third as we lose our sense of direction to the check in (we had to go outside the airport and back to the check-in and ticketing area...). We run out of formula since we were planning to have already arrived. I have a very hungry baby. So, I go to the nearest possible source of milk. Starbucks. Venti steamer please. No. I don't want hazelnut. I am pretty sure the flight attendant was giving me the evil eye when she saw me filling my daughter's bottle from my Starbucks cup. Don't judge. I didn't explain that it was simply milk. More fun to let her wonder. :)

Finally, after 28 hours of flying and layovers and 3 sunrises, we land in Seattle. Dreamy, tired, glad to be here. We have landed for at least 4 days with family before we start the next leg of the journey.

Emma has done well. Our group of little travelers is tired, but has done well. And I am grateful and tired. Emma is swept away into Auntie E's adoring arms and we tuck Emma into her first ride in a car seat. Mission accomplished. I have to laugh. I have been asking for a trip to Hawaii. I guess you have to be careful about what you request. Be a little more specific about length, time, you know. I am still a little bitter that I didn't get that lei and an official "Aloha."

Two Journeys Together

It is hard to believe that we are nearing the end of our second journey to China.  Today, like most of my time here, I am in a thoughtful place.  Today, I am watching my daughter...my oldest daughter...the sweet little girl who turned my life around...the little one who returned joy and hope into my grieving heart.  She is 7 now and fluttering about with her dearest of friends...a friend who is more than a friend.  Hard to define a connection that began so long ago in their own orphanage...

on the day they both met their families...and one that brought them back again together to meet their sisters.

There is a lot that need not be said, but is simply felt.  How sweet they are together... when they first saw each other again in Hong Kong, they left us chatty adults and found a quiet corner, sat down and were arm in arm, hand in hand.

So much they have quietly experienced together.  And on this second journey... I really don't have the words...watching them take it all in...sometimes with anticipation and excitement...other times quietly and reflectively....others emotionally....Whatever it has been, it has been good.  So good.

And here we are wrapping up another time together...We have said our goodbyes to our friends, Chris, Kate, Nina and their new little Stella.  Nina (Li Na) and Graceanna (Li Xian) have said goodbye ten times with hugs, promises, and pleads not to be separated.  We are crammed into the little van outside the hotel, ready to leave, ready to pull out of the hotel drive and suddenly Gracie is bounding out of the van door and rushing back in where Nina is standing watching and rushes to her with a leaping hug.  Two journeys. Two incredible journeys...

Summer Palace

Bare with me...I used an app to write my posts and it lost all my content somewhere between ipad and Blogger.  Boo.  So, for now, I will post some pictures.  Thoughts later.  In short, wow.

After our grueling hike and awe inspiring morning at the Great Wall, we took a long drive to the Summer Palace.   We arrived to a mingling of Beijing "fog" and a fine misty rain.  It was cooling after the morning heat of the Great Wall and made for scenes saturated in brilliant deep colors and set off with a misty film.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Gracie Reaches the Great Wall of China (and we do too)

It finally happened. 

Goodbye Guangzhou, Hello Beijing!

An early morning flight brought us to Beijing in time to get settled in our hotel room and head out on our own for a little wandering around the city...