Posted by Mike
First, I read all the comments from the posts we had in China. We were unable to read the comments while we were there and I wanted to let everyone know that Margo and I appreciate your thoughtfulness. I hope writing this blog will help other families considering adopting from China understand the process better with the good, the bad and the ugly.
We started our day at about 0500AM on Friday by getting on the bus bound for Guangshou Airport. Rebecca Xiu had cried the night before when we were packing but it only lasted a few minutes. We were picked up at the Victory Hotel and picked up two other families at the White Swan. Kelly our guide was prepared and provided us with a packed breakfast. Rebecca looked as though “you got to be kidding me, where is my breakfast buffet”, but she seemed satisfied.
We arrived at the airport about thirty minutes later and Kelly had everything organized and ready for the group. We went through Chinese immigration and security and Rebecca was great. She seemed so interested standing with her chin on the counter waiting intently for her turn. It is remarkable to watch as she just takes every moment at a time. Every official she came in contact with had a smile on their face when she walked away.
Okay, one thing that kinda of freaked me out was every other person you encountered had a surgical mask on their face. In fact, I remember watching the Chinese fashion channel and they had some French guy on there that made a fancy dress that incorporated a turtle neck that would cover your nose and mouth so you don’t get the swine flu. Come on get a backbone. If you gonna go, go like an American. Yeah, that look would not work over here.
Anyway, after security it was about a 30 minute flight to Hong Kong. For adoptive parents reading this, the flight cost about 200US but the train cost about 30US. We chose the flight because that was what was recommended. A word of caution when flying into Hong Kong; it is a beautiful island from the plane complete with lush landscaping atop a scenic mountain range. It kinda reminded me of photos of Hawaii. But be warned flying into the airport is a little scary. Fortunately, one of the other dad’s had flown into Hong Kong bore and he prepared me for landing. The airport strip is a long narrow peninsula surrounded by water. When we descended you can see huge oil tankers on each side and you don’t the ground until you land. It feels a little like you are crashing in the water. But that didn’t bother my little girl, she looked out the window intently and still no meltdown.
One thing I never would have expected was even a six she has a sense of nationalism and pride in her county. She knows that she is Chinese and she is proud of it. She loves her country. We arrived at Hong Kong airport and it was the most scenic airport I had ever been too. When you go into the bathroom there is some guy’s picture on the wall and of course the form is in Chinese. When I walked up to the urinal I looked over and the guy cleaning the urinal is the same guy on the wall. At first, I thought he I got China’s Most Wanted and I considered thumping him on the head and going to get the first cop I saw. But then it occurred to me, his photo is on the wall because this is his bathroom. He is responsible for cleaning it. I could see he took the same pride in cleaning that urinal as some CEO of some large company for turning a profit. I think in a lot of ways that is what Americans are lacking is pride in any job no matter how mundane or trivial a task or job. You have pride in you bathroom because it represents your country. Every foreign traveler that comes through there will see your work and admire your dedication. I zipped up and thought who is watching my kid.
We got on the plane in Hong Kong and set out for a 14 hour flight. Our flight was delayed about two hours which screwed up our connecting flight. I also brought some Goat so everyone on the plane can experience the haunting singing. Rebecca picked up her bag of M&M’s, she loves them, grabbed her mom’s hand, and walked to her seat. She again sat by the window because she was so curious and waited til takeoff.
I watched her as the aircraft positioned itself for takeoff. She watched outside the window and listened as the engines roared and the landscape moved faster and faster. She never turned to me or Margo, she never grasped her seat, and she never closed her eyes. It was her second time ever on a plane and she acted like she was excited. And still no meltdown, amazing.
Well, I anticipated the 14 hour flight to be filled with the Chinese phrase, “Are we there yet, are we there, yet” but no not a single complaint or peep. She slept for a little bit, colored with her mom, and played with her friend’s computer game. I could not believe it. I purposefully did not wear a watch and after what I thought was an eternity I looked up at the map we were near Japan. I mean that’s like an inch on the map. When I am on my deathbed, I am going to request I be put on this flight because the 14 hours seems like two years. Margo slept, and Rebecca slept but I can’t sleep on the plane. It is probably because I feel like a grown man sitting in a baby stroller. The seats are not made for the big and tall.
Alright we made it to Chicago. We picked up our bag and headed towards immigration. We handed the infamous brown envelope that we got from the US consulate in China to the officer. He did not ask any questions and he was pleasant welcoming us back with our new child. It is official; Rebecca Xiu Kenirey is officially a US citizen. Welcome to the United States; now get prepared to pay some taxes. She still just walked in the direction she was pointed by her mother and went with the flow.
We got to our gate and waited until our flight to Atlanta. Margo took a walk with Rebecca and some random guy walked up to us and gave us a bag of Crunch and Munch for her. She appreciated it and I bought her another bag of M&M’s. She munched away just waiting for the next step. We boarded the plane and Margo and Rebecca sat in front of me. I sat next to a guy that was a software engineer that lived in Alabama and he seemed very interested in the international adoption process. He asked a lot of questions and although I was really tired I knew I wasn’t going to sleep so I talked with him for a while. He told me he had two daughters that graduates from college and I got the impression he was asking because he was considering adopting. I encouraged him and told him it was a long and exhaustive process but well worth the effort. We landed. I kept checking on Rebecca and she just kept looking out the window just waiting.
After landing we picked up our car and it was off to Macon. I thought for sure she would sleep in the backseat but no she just got into her child seat and looked out the window almost anticipating what was coming next. I wondered what she could be thinking. Was she thinking we were still in China or did she realize we were 9000 miles away heading for the armpit of the world.
We pulled in the driveway and she looked at the house as Margo walked her inside. After only a few minutes, Stephanie came from across the street to meet her. Margo continued to show Rebecca around. Stephanie left after only a few minutes. I am so thankful to Michele, Billy, Stephanie, Patrick and the Britts for taking care of the pets while we were away. You guys are the best. And then……it hit her. Like a bag of bricks and the waterworks started. We heard that all too familiar Chinese phrase, “I want to go back to the orphanage.” The first thing I thought was I ain’t back on that plane, kid. But we let her vent for a little. She screamed and shrieked like the very first day and Margo sat right next to her. I tried one time to move in thinking this is finally my in and she gave me the hand. She’d been in America for about 4 hours and she already knew about the hand. Just kidding, it was a pretty emotional experience but it was expected. In fact, I was so glad it did not happen in China. She cried for about a half-hour and Margo stayed in her room with her. I had to go to sleep.
I was beyond tired and spent both physically and emotionally. But before drifting off to sleep, I thought wow I am a dad.