Saturday, March 27, 2010
March 27, 2010
I didn’t blog yesterday because we mostly spent the day traveling to Guangzhou. Our U.S. consulate is in Guangzhou China; therefore, we have to stay in Guangzhou for a week for the boys’ vaccinations, medical exams, and to apply for their visas to travel to the U.S. In Beijing, the adoption was finalized, and we applied for their passports. We left the Ascott Hotel Beijing yesterday at 9:45am to go to the airport. The boys were fantastic on the airplane, although John was a tad bit nervous. The flight was 3 hours, and a guide met us at the airport in Guangzhou to take us to our hotel. The Garden Hotel, where we are staying, is much more impressive looking than the hotel in Beijing. There are stuffed peacocks, ornate gold ceilings, waterfalls, murals, etc. etc. all designed to wow the traveler when he enters the lobby. We had two bell-hops and three housekeepers escort us to our room. The room itself is quite a bit smaller though, than the hotel in Beijing. I chose the Ascott in Beijing because it is apartment style. We had a full kitchen and 2000 sq. feet of living space at the Ascott. We have a suite here, but it is small and we are on top of each other. After our check-in, we walked to a mall area across the street to eat. It is warm and tropical here, similar to Florida. There are palm trees and lots of flowers among the millions of buildings. For the first time since we arrived, we ordered all on our own (without Cheng’s parents) in a Chinese restaurant. I did great with the food, we liked everything I ordered, but I made the mistake of trying to order wine too. The waiters brought a fancy bottle of something and they opened it before I had a chance to see exactly what it was. I think it was some sort of liquor, similar to Scotch. Yuck. I took one tiny sip and that was the end of that; David didn’t like it either. I couldn’t even stand the smell! Since it was opened, we had to pay for it, and it was 480 RMB (over $100!!), we took the bottle back to our hotel to leave for the housekeepers when we checkout. I won’t make that mistake again, that’s for sure. We went to bed shortly after dinner, around 8p.
Today, Saturday, we had to take the boys to a medical clinic for exams. We met another family (who adopted a 14 month old baby this time, and a baby 5 years ago), and we headed to Shamian Island for the medical appointments. The clinic was jammed with adoptive families, and we had to go from “station” to “station.” One station weighed the kids, the next examined their eyes, the next their blood pressure, etc. We arrived at 10:30a and left at 1:30p. Our boys had to receive 3-4 shots each, and they were great the entire time. I’m not just saying that, either. They were shuffled from Dr. to Dr. to Dr. on a medical assembly line, and they were just cooperative and overall wonderful, in spite of the stress, crowds, and invasion of privacy. While we were there, we chatted with four or five other adoptive couples. Almost all of the couples we spoke to told us that they competed their adoption applications over four years ago; after three years of waiting for a healthy infant, they all switched to the special needs program and completed their adoptions within 8 months. The couple we rode the bus with, adopted a girl with cleft palate. We feel very lucky that our children are healthy overall. On the way back to the hotel, Ben fell asleep and David carried him into the hotel. Now, we are resting while watching Cartoon Network. At 3:30 today, I have to go to the 28th floor (with the guide and another couple) to complete the Visa packet for the consulate appointment on Monday. David will take the boys to the pool to swim probably.
It’s later now, and I can finish typing this blog entry. I spent about an hour (3:30-4:30) completing the Visa paperwork with our guide this afternoon, and David took the kids to the pool. Unfortunately, David found out that the pool is an outdoor pool, and it’s not open until April 1st. I called our guide at 5p, to tell her that sorry, but she needs to find us another hotel, with an indoor (or outdoor heated) pool. She will let me know tomorrow how she makes out. She told me that because Guangzhou is in the south, most of the pools are outdoors, and they are not open until April. I’m wondering why no one told us that before today. So, I asked our guide to work on our hotel more because we have three boys in very close quarters, and they might kill each other if they don’t have a place to work off some energy.
It’s a bit frustrating for us sometimes because everything is geared towards people adopting babies, and no one seems prepared for parents of older children. When we checked into the hotel, for instance, there was a crib set up in our room with baby toys, powder etc. I had to tell housekeeping that we needed a roll-away bed, not a crib. The adoption agency booked us a ton of tours that would be interesting to adults with a sleeping baby in tow, but not much fun for children. This afternoon I actually became quite direct and asked our guide, Jennifer, if she had any children. She said yes, a six year old boy. I then asked her if her son would want to go on the tour (a museum)scheduled for us for tomorrow. Well, no, he would be bored. Well, then… our kids don’t want to go on it either. Can’t she find a park or playground for our kids, or something they would enjoy? I came right out and said to Jennifer, “We are not tourists. We are here for our children, and if our kids are bored, then it’s not fun for us either.” It was only an hour later when I called her room to tell her that this hotel simply wasn’t going to do it for us if it doesn’t have a pool open. Jennifer then told me about a lovely “garden” to take the children for a walk. We went down to check it out, and it was really gorgeous and would be a fantastic backdrop for a wedding, or a movie set. The kids would have liked it too, if I let them try to catch some of the goldfish in the ponds or climb the trees. Unfortunately, it was a waterfall garden full of exotic plants, beautiful walkways, pavilions, and hidden alcoves—really ideal for a romantic stroll. Our boys rolled down a grassy slope a few times, picked a few of the protected species (when I wasn’t looking), and scared the fish. Then we decided to head to dinner before someone called security. During dinner, western style at the restaurant at the hotel, the boys were kicking each other under the table, telling each other to shut-up (in Chinese) and in general, fighting and bickering. Yep. A little over a week of close quarters and togetherness (in a tiny hotel room) and it’s time to separate the children already. On the plus side, I finally got to have a decent glass of wine with my meal! We are back to watching Cartoon Network on TV because there really isn’t anything else for them to do here. We can’t wait to get home!