Saturday, April 26, 2014

Good News & Downright Bad News

Which to share first...

We'll start with the good news!!  The good news is that Laila's belated birthday cake and first care package are enroute to her!!

In only a few days our daughter will see the very first pictures of her family and her house and her room!!!  She will also get her belated birthday cake, which took much longer for us to get to her than we thought it would!! ;)

Now for the downright bad news...

We sent our paperwork to immigration three weeks ago.  It was supposed to be the easy form.  Just an extension of our approval we already have that is valid until June.  The USCIS officer I spoke to said they will email our fingerprint notice right away, we'd get it in less than a week, could go fingerprint, & she's approve us since Miss Laila needs a medical expedite.

They sent it to our old address...

When I called Friday explaining how worried I am that we still haven't received it, the lady figured out it had been sent to our old address.  Even though the receipt letter from immigration was sent to our current mailing address.

I wanted to scream!  Don't they understand that this little girl's life is on the line, and every day they waste is a day she may or may not have to waste????  I asked the lady to email it and she said that she isn't allowed to.  I was polite, hung up, and then stewed...

So I called back to ask for a supervisor.  The officer that answered this time told me that they had all left for the day.  I explained how it had been mailed to the wrong address, how Laila NEEDS this to be fast, how Birmingham is willing to let us walk in for fingerprints as long as we have the fingerprint notice...  And she hesitated, but then stuck with that it isn't allowed to be emailed.  Then gave me the time the supervisor would be in on Monday and suggested I call and talk to them Monday since they might be able to make an exception.

Praying they say YES!!

Thanks for stopping by,
Fannie, Matt, Katie, Chengbin, & Laila Jean

Traveling Back in Time: Back to China DAY 9

So it was Saturday.  Got him on Monday afternoon, rough week, started to get better Friday afternoon and it was Saturday...

The adoption process in country has a few steps.

Step 1. Gotcha Day- the day you finally get your kiddo.  The province gives you a 24 hour period to take them, spend time with them, & decide if you are willing to proceed with the adoption.
Step 2. Adoption Day aka Forever Family Day- This is the very next day.  After the 24 hour period you go right back to the building you got them in.  They ask you odd questions like "Why do you want to adopt from China?", "Do you find this child satisfactory?", and most importantly, "Do you want to proceed with the adoption of this child?"
Step 3. Apply for Passport- this happens in your child's home province (We'd call it a state here).  The child takes pictures and you apply for a passport.  The child is not allowed to move on to the US Consulate application for visa without a passport.  We paid an express processing fee, so that we applied for it on Weds & received it on Friday since his US Consulate appt was early the next week.
Step 4.  Complete Medical Physical in Guangzhou- This is required for all people applying for a visa from the United States.  For adoptive children there's a special area for them to complete their physical exam & bloodwork.  A tuberculosis test is completed via blood test and if it comes back positive, they are required to come back in for an x-ray.  Chengbin's was negative.
Step 5. Apply for visa to US- The only US Consulate that processes adoptive families in China is in Guangzhou.  Once the medical information is approved, the family attends an appointment at the US Consulate.  During this appt, the family takes an oath and the child is issued an entry visa in the Chinese passport.  The family is also given a packet of paperwork that allows the child to become a US Citizen upon arrival in the US if both parents have traveled.
Step 6.  Process citizenship at first US airport.- Self explanatory I'm sure! 

So we had completed the first four steps Monday- Thursday and our next obligation was on Monday, the US Consulate appointment.

This was a free day from our agency's guide as well, so we were free to explore on our own.  We thought this would be a great day for some shopping and ventured out with Ann from to do some jade shopping, pearl market, and get some inexpensive Chinese silks for the kids and family.  We also knew it was going to rain, A LOT, so we grabbed our umbrellas and headed out for the day!!

Chengbin enjoyed looking at all of them, but he kept mixing them.  He hated getting in trouble for mixing them and Miss Ann was quick to warn him to stop. LOL

We picked out quite a few jade circles for friends & family, then Miss Ann and the shopkeeper put them on necklaces for us.

Once again, Kate drew a crowd of children who were very curious about this little girl that looks so different from anyone they've ever met. :)

Once all our necklaces were made we headed to the Pearl market...

Miss Ann took us to a shop in the middle of the Pearl district and began showing us all our options.  Telling us the price they would be for the string and how many necklaces or bracelets we could get out of it... She would tell us how much they would sell for in the US as well and we bought close to $1000 worth of pearls for around $110.  Plus we got to pick them all ourselves which was very fun to me and Katie.  Maybe not to Matt & Chengbin though... They ended up going for a walk while our pearls were prepared.

Katelynn got a bracelet, necklace, & earrings in her choice of multicolored pearls.  Very Beautiful!  Once everything was ready, we paid & headed out in a taxi to go silk shopping!

This shopping center was huge and filled with tiny shops holding endless treasures!!  We probably could have stayed all day shopping, but Miss Ann is a woman on a mission!! ;)

We did stop and get Kate a cute China girl carved in wood, some Lilo & Stich playing cards, and got some chopsticks for both kids before heading over to the silks store.

I didn't get any pictures in the silks shop.  It was small and filled with silks.  One of my favorite memories of this day is how Chengbin's little face lit up when we went into the silk shop!!  He was SO excited and told Miss Ann how much he wanted one.  She assured him that we were there to buy him a couple outfits.  So we went through all the outfits and he found one and quickly told her something in Chinese.  She laughed, looked over at me, and told me "He just told me, 'I want that exact one.'"  So we got him "that exact one" and some for the family then hopped another taxi back to the Garden.

The kids were so excited about their silks that Mommy convinced them to do an impromptu photo shoot in the room since it was raining outside!

 Of course these pictures don't illustrate the whole truth, these are the happy ones.  Chengbin was in and out of Mr. Obstinate again during this time back in the hotel.

When this little guy was in a mood, he was in a MOOD!!  The kind of mood that is ugly and makes you want to bop him upside the head. (Of course, we didn't!)  But man, he was difficult and exhausting.  We needed the happy moments to give us hope!!  Hope that one day there would be less of this nasty, moody, exhausting child and more of this happy one that we were starting to get peaks of...

Even in a mood, Sissy would try to so hard to win him over.  This is one of the rare moments when he let her... :)

And after heading out for food, little mister exhausted fell asleep with Baba carrying him back to the hotel..

And peed on him!! LOL

Thanks for reminiscing with us,
Fannie, Matt, Katie, & Chengbin

Traveling Back in Time: Back to China DAY 8- Part Two!

So we had two things on our tour itinerary that Friday: The Temple & Yuexiu Park

The temple was first and I showed pics of it in Part One.  The second half of our day was spent in Yuexiu Park, the largest park in the city of Guangzhou.

This journey in the park started very much like our trip to the temple, with a very obstinate and upset little boy who was just not interested in being there or doing any of it!!  Very early on he refused to walk.  He just stood there with a blank stare and wouldn't walk with us.  So Baba did what a good Baba does, picked him up and told him that it was time to keep going.

We were amazed how many people were in the park on a Friday around noon.  It was filled with hundreds of people!!  There were many groups of older ladies doing their morning dances together with a stereo blasting out their music.  Flinging their colorful scarfs all around as they'd pivot from side to side.  :)  Unfortunately I think Chengbin was doing a meltdown at the time and I missed pictures of it.

We climbed a huge number of stairs to find a little shop right there in the park and the Five Rams Statue.  It is a symbol of Guangzhou.

This little girl was a trooper!!!  She was so patient and very excited to do everything.  She loved looking at all the little China souvenirs in the shop next to the Statue.  It was blazing hot & humid, but she never complained.  She was just so happy to see this...

Our guide led us back down the hill into a recreation area where many people were in circles playing the Chinese version of hacky sack.  It was as we stood watching that it happened... he cracked a smile..

At first it was a little one, but then a man came over to show the kids his hacky sack skills and then handed them over the hacky sack to try out!!

Chengbin watched for a few minutes as Kate and her friend JD kicked it around, then decided he wanted a turn!

He tried OVER, and OVER, and OVER again to kick the hacky sack!!!  Then he came up with his own way, my brilliant boy!!

He would pretend to kick it, but throw it behind him instead!!! LOL

 So a cute little blond haired, blue eyed girl was playing around in the park along with her blond haired, blue eyed friend and her adopted brother.  What can I say?  We drew a crowd!!

And our little celebrity was asked to pose with a few girls too!!  She was very sweet and happily posed, very much enjoying the attention (since so much had been on her brother this week)!!

Chengbin was learning that getting out of the hotel room can be fun!!  He was very happy that afternoon, even after we left the park, dripping with sweat and exhausted from the heat/humidity that is beyond anything we've ever experienced in Florida!!

So when dinnertime came, we decided to make a trip back over to a noodle house we'd eaten at on Matt's birthday.  We were feeling brave since Chengbin seemed to have snapped out of his sullenness and was happy!

Matt's seriously tired and hungry look. ;)

 Everything we ordered here was SO delicious!!!  Chengbin's happy streak definitely continued!!

 My mouth waters just looking at pics of the food there!!

What started out as a rough day ended up being our best day yet, but the truth is, our touring had just begun!  We had more days left in China!  At the end of Day 8, we were hopeful that we might just be able to pull of a little more touring.
Thanks for stopping by to reminisce,
Fannie, Matt, Katie, & Chengbin