Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
We have had a week of just hanging out as a family. Ric went right back to work and the kids and I have been playing and introducing Jacob to the library, the golf cart, the park, dog walking, rides in the car, our dog Sandy, and meals at the table with the family. He is taking a nap during the afternoon and sleeping through the night. He has recovered from the virus he had and seems to be feeling great! He is great at imitating our words and I can tell he is going to pick up the language very fast.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
The in-flight service on both legs was pleasant, but I think I was spoiled by the China Southern flight attendants and the Customer Service Reps at the NWA counter in Hong Kong. The only downside is that they use the 747 on the ATL-NRT route so there is no individual entertainment system . The result was that I got to watch the same episodes of ‘MadMen ‘ (twice) and ‘The New Old Christine’ (three times). Side note: Wasn’t “Christine” the Steven King story about the possessed car? How did it end up with ‘Elaine’ from Seinfeld?
Ranting about Atlanta Airport:
Getting through immigration/customs then rechecking your bags, going through TSA and getting out of Atlanta Airport SUCKS...Ok I said it. I am sorry for everyone I offended and I imagine Jen will make me pull this down once she reads it, but it really is terrible. By far the worst airport experience that I had was the last one in the good ole USA. Why? Let me enumerate. (If you don't want to hear the rant go past the numbered parts)
1. We were told by CCAI (and I believe the US Consulate in Guangzhou) to go through the NON-US Traveler lane at passport control. This slows you up a ton as there is a requirement for all non-US folks to fingerprint, etc. No big deal, but the agent at the US told us (after we waited in line) that we should have gone through the US Citizen line...Note to follow on travelers.
2. After you go through the immigration line...they point you to a little room where you take your sealed brown envelope. Cool...I get it they have a process. However, you show up in the room and everyone is seated at a desk, there are no written instructions and after standing around wondering if I was in the right office the guy behind the keyboard looks up and says...leave the envelope in the bin and have a seat....No "Welcome fellow citizen and weary traveler", No "How can I help you?"...this guy obviously never did any time at Chik-Fil-A or China Southern Airlines. Finally sometime down the road the guy pulls our documents. Doesn't say anything...just hands us Jacob’s passport and says, "You can go." Now, I am perhaps a bit of a guy who likes some ceremony, but I would have loved it if he said. "Congratulations, your son is now a citizen of the greatest republic on the planet and in the history of the world.." But no...After being up for about 24 hours at this point this irritated me a touch.
3. Claiming your bags at E concourse to go through customs and then re-checking them to pick them up at bag claim #1. This must have seemed like a good idea to someone at the time...But I have to say that this is the dumbest, slowest works program that I have ever seen. Again, my point of view was somewhat slanted after being awake for more than 24 hours, but please...If you have never had to do this process before the signage, workflow and 'helpful agents' make this rube goldberg process all but indecipherable. When you add that to the hour + that it took for our bags to make it from the recheck point to carousel #1 you must really say that America's busiest airport is poorly designed and equipped for international travel. Travel through Beijing and Hong Kong was easier by a factor of 10.
4. Going back through TSA to transit the airport so you can get out...OK, OK, I get it that security is a big deal. However, the process is begging for a redesign. Somewhere around here, we were asking each other how many times and ways we could be inspected. The only cool thing is that no matter how long this process took...it really didn't matter because our bags took so long to get from E concourse to baggage claim.
5. Finally we made it a bit harder on ourselves because we forgot that we had thrown in some apples for the journey. The cool little beagle at immigration reminded us and we had to go through the agricultural inspection...Another x-ray of the bags...Laughing by this point.
Ok...the ranting is over...if you skipped ahead you were probably smart.
Blessings in the Fridge:
We were blessed on arrival to our home to find meals in the freezer provided by the McBryde's and the folks in our Church. What a way to bring our focus back on how blessed we are. Many thanks to Tiffany, Eric, the Cornerstone Sunday School class, our church family at Carriage Lane and our other dear friends and fellow believers.
Finally, I have to publically thank my in-laws for taking care of so many things while we were gone, not the least of which was our precious children and our 'dennis the menace' dog.
I am sure we will post some more pics and video of Gotcha Day. Thanks to everyone for the prayers, skype calls, love, meals, support, emails and friendship.
We are truly blessed, and Jacob is now home with the family that God planned for him before the beginning of time.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Note to fellow travellers. If you are just laying over in HK you probably don't need to change USD (dollars) to HKD. However, in an effort to use the cash we had set aside I paid cash for the room. The bad news is that the exchange rate that they used was 7.1 and I think that the peg is around 7.6 so I got ripped off. Bottom line is that you are better off to use the credit card.
Also nothing but great things to say about the Northwest Airlines service. A uniformed Customer Service Agent met us at the self service check in kiosk...understood that we were an adoption and held our hands through the check in. Wow...one thing that the Chinese folks we have dealt with understand is customer service. Many US companies could learn a lot from being here.
Well, all for now...we board the flight for the way home. Layover in Narita. I will post there hopefully.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
We had our appointment with the US Consulate in Guangzhou. No issues. It was all very anti-climactic as we reviewed the documents then stood and swore that we had filled everything out accurately, to the best of our ability and honestly. Then the official told us we were done and could leave. The longest part of the event was the trip to the adoption affairs office and back.
We returned to the hotel, finished packing, skyped with the kids (thanks Carrie) and went to bed.
We are now checking out then heading to Hong Kong on the first step of our return trip.
Thanks for the prayers.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Ok…so I think I figured it out. I have to post the pictures first…then post the notes so that you can read the notes and look at the pictures.
Notes on the photos.
Laundry: There is no normal coin operated type of laundry. So we take our laundry out to one of the souvenir shops. I know it doesn’t make sense..but when in China.
Waiting for the phone call: The group was sitting around in the halls waiting for the “all clear” call from our consulate paperwork. You do a lot of sitting around waiting for paperwork in this process. This is just the icing on the cake.
Jacob and JT. Both of these little guys came from the same orphanage and Phillip Hayden…they had a bond on Gotcha day and that still goes on.
Group Photos and the cruise…somewhat self explanatory.
Sorry for the lack of posts.
It seems that as we get less busy it is harder to post!?!? There is the occasional work to try to get on the computer because someone else wants to read email, compose posts or sort through pictures. Also, it seems when we are in the room we are either trying to get Jacob to sleep or get him up for the next event. No more excuses!
Key health updates:
Thanks for the prayers. Rachel is feeling better. We waited about 24 hours, then decided to give her the Cipro and we don’t know if it was the Cipro, the yogurt or time, but she is able to go out and about and seems to be much better. She has eaten many things that Jen or I haven’t so it was hard to pin down what was the culprit. However, I would recommend if you go to Lucy’s that you eat things well done and not get any of the items with fresh veggies (lettuce/tomato etc)….not sure but the club sandwich there is one of the likely culprits…Many of us ate at the Tai place and no one else was sick so I think that is out. Again, not sure.
Jacob: No fever and the only thing still going is a cough that is pretty productive, it has not gone away despite the course of antibiotics (at least we think they were antibiotics?) Anyway, as far as we can tell he is good to travel. We believe the second fever spike was likely due to the shot series. A bunch of the kids were down hard for about 36 hours post shots. He is jumping around, playing tickle, laughing, and doing all the things that adventurous 3 year olds do. Once again we unplugged the bedside phone to keep him from calling out and have to tell him no a million times to keep him from pushing the buttons on the james bond style night stand. For some reason all of the hotels that we have stayed at have these buttons on the night stand that control everything in the room. Once he figured out that he could push those buttons and turn on and off the lights, tv, etc the game was on. Now the game is to wake up and push the buttons in the middle of the night. Bottom line is that he appears to be fine now.
Summary: So far so good.
As far as the Chinese government is concerned we are done, and have been for a few days. We are now in the part of the process where we wait for the US government. We finished all of the health aspects and today our guide/rep from CCAI took our paperwork to the consulate. So we are told to wait in our room from 10:30 till we are called and told that our paperwork is good to go. One of the families in our group has already had a bit of an issue due to multiple moves during the process (he is in the military). So far, we have not heard anything and we believe that all of our stuff is good to go. There have been other folks in our group who have had problems because they did not initially say in the body of their homestudy that they were open to older children or special needs. We believe that that has all been ironed out, but the process seems somewhat opaque to me so I sit in the room waiting for the call.
Since we arrived in Guangzhou we have toured a Buddhist temple, the Chen house, and gone on a night time cruise up and down the Pearl River. We waived off on the trip to the pearl market because we had no desire for pearl doodles (or dollars to spend on said named doodles). We have spent time shopping on the island for friends and family, but haven’t spent a whole lot of time in Guangzhou city shopping…or as Jen would say shop-ING! This is probably because Ric has about a 40-50 minute tolerance for shop-ING before his eyes roll back in his head, his mouth starts foaming and he starts resembling Linda Blair…not to mention keeping 3 year old hands off of all manner of breakable trinkets and doodles.
So far we have tried the Subway, the Tai restaurant (name?...it is the only one on the island), Lucys, The Deli Shop (which is a funny name for a place that doesn’t provide any real deli sandwiches), the Starbucks ( an iced mocha latte was a real treat no matter how girly of a drink it may be).
We walked to the Italian place, but got there to early in the evening. (The open at 5:30).
Anyway…we just got the call…Our paperwork is all good to go. We need to sign the hague paperwork at 1245 then the tomorrow take the oath.
All for now.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Yesterday wasn’t all that eventful. We toured Guangzhou and even learned a little Cantonese (that I promptly forgot). Guangzhou has always been Guangzhou, but the English used to call it Canton so the 3 letter code for the airport is still CAN. Anyway, since we can now see the older posts and figure out what photo’s didn’t make it through we thought we would put those up….we will later blog about yesterday and put those photos up. Including the one with my not so technically great handstand. (Hey..I was nervous, you think that sweat was all from the backpack and 100 degree heat?)
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Here are some pictures from the trip from Zhengzhou to Guangzhou and a couple from the physical exam…lots of shots.
Sorry that I can’t really put them in with captions…it is one of the limits of trying to post via email. However, we can now view the blog using a proxy vpn.
Friday, July 10, 2009
So we are now back in the room. It is about 1:00pm. Jacob fell asleep about the second we got back. That is a true blessing. He got at least 6 shots and a TB test while Ric and 2 Nurses held him down. Daddy kept telling him that the nurses were bad and Daddy was good…I don’t think he was buying it. Anyway, I think I am going to take a nap while Jacob does.
The girls are off to explore the hotel. Rachel is really into exploring and trying everything….She is probably the most adventurous of the group.
Later we get to spend an hour and a half working on visa paperwork…(Which I thought we already worked on…shows what I know). I don’t know why we couldn’t have done this stuff already when we were sitting around somewhere else. They tell you to be patient and have a sense of humor but the Hague process has really made it difficult and tedious. The non-Hague families were out of the clinic in about half the time, and without the shots. Another observation that one of the group travelers made was that when they came the last time there were tons of folks with baby’s and you had to wait to sit down at breakfast. There was plenty of room this morning and it seems that we have only seen special needs kids and not a whole lot of them. I don’t know if this is because the process has become tougher, or if it is a result of the economy or what, but it appears from anecdotal evidence that the rate of adoptions is down.
Anyway…trying to keep you all up to date…off to nap. Hope to post some pictures later.
(note to the McBrydes…if your computer laptop has a 3 prong electric cord instead of 2 you need to check your adapter…I could plug my 3 prong cord from the laptop into most of the sockets, but not at the White Swan…The adapter we have only has the 2 prong type of holes (no ground). Remind me when we talk).
Thanks for your prayers.
Breakfast was good as we scrambled to meet the group at 1045. The clinic is only open in the morning, so we got visa photos. I guess no one here has ever heard of digital photography because we keep going to photo shops to get pictures. It may not be the best day for me to make constructive comments because I have really begun to hate the paper work and the crazy process of doing one thing a day.
Well we are now sitting in the clinic waiting to go have jacob weighed, measured, prodded, TB tested and immunized to the tune of 2300 RMB. There are at least two Thompson men who are not having a good time with this today.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
We are currently stuck at the airport….well actually we are at a hotel near the airport in Zhengzhou. We checked out of the hotel downtown at about 1:30 and went to the airport. We arrived early to check in but the flight scheduled at 5:00pm is delayed until 11:00pm so we are in a nearby hotel hanging out drinking coffee and wondering how to keep more than 15 kids occupied.
The hotel is brand new and top notch. They were a bit overwhelmed by the bus showing up, but they have been very, very hospitable….and they have WiFi so we can at least post and check the internet. Please pray that the unrest and the earthquake don’t cause any more delays.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
This one is going to get out to everyone a little late as I slept in. Sorry.
Status of Jacob:
Jacob woke up with a bit of a cough on Wednesday, a little later in the day he added a fever to the mix. The little boy who came from the same orphanage has the same symptoms. Jacob didn’t eat a lot yesterday, but he didn’t have any blow outs either…so we are unsure of the status of the diarrhea at this time. The cough, fever and general state of discomfort that goes with it made last night a little exciting. We have given him Tylenol and Motrin and when he gets those he seems to bounce back to his happy self. The night was still rough.
Our Day Yesterday:
Yesterday afternoon we had an appointment with the Notary in the town where Jacob’s orphanage is located. I don’t completely understand, but most of the orphanages represented in our group were able to have their documents notarized here in Zhengzhou, but the two little guys that came from Jiaozuo had to have theirs done there in Jiaozuo which is about an hour and a half away. That left us with the morning free.
There is a little ‘river walk’ kind of park that runs behind the Crowne Plaza. It runs along both sides of a river that runs through Zhengzhou and we decided to explore it a bit while it was still somewhat cool in the morning. While exploring we discovered a kind of adult exercise park. There were many pieces of playground equipment that adults (some very old) use. I will try to upload those pictures. There were also folks out with kids playing and some other folks doing tai-chi (sp?). Jacob had fun exploring the park and we got a lot of stares.
The afternoon was spent on the bus to Jiaozuo. Jacob took a nap on the bus and woke about the time we arrived. We spent about 45 minutes in the notary office waiting around and checking that the paperwork was correct. It was not very exciting. We did get to see a bit of Jiaozuo and found it to be a bigger city than we expected. We crossed over the Yellow River and got to see a bit of the “countryside” which was a breath of fresh air.
We spent the evening getting a bite to eat here at the hotel. There was a big rainstorm and we did not feel up to venturing out for food. Then it was back to the room, showers, baths, pajamas and bed. Another day together and another day closer to Home!
Guys making noodles.
Mommy and Jacob with an inchworm
The adult exercise park
Whack a mole- China style
Being a celebrity at the park
Virtuosity on the parallel bars at the adult exercise park
Sights from the road to Jiaozuo (sometimes two words sometimes one)
Rachel and her friends from the Gill family
The notary office and its workers (we traveled 1.5 hours each way for
In the hotel room...going crazy.
The river walk park.