Monday, July 13, 2009

Gotcha Day!

14 Jul 09, 4:30 am China time

Well, we finally have Olivia Xin Rui Walrond in our arms, Let me catch you up--it has been an exciting adventure so far and we are now just getting the time to write--BTW, I am writing this in the hotel room bathroom while Susie and our new princess are sleeping. For us, Monday started hard and fast with all the America World Adoption Agency (AWAA) families being required to show-up in the Hotel lobby of the Radisson Hotel at 0530. We were only dragging our carry-ons, which still weighed a ton, because our Guides (Sherrie and Liniker) had the Bellboys pick our bags at 10pm the night before so they could be delivered to the Beijing Airport in a separate vehicle--which worked great, but would have definitively violated US security protocols that require all passengers to maintain positive control of their luggage until the bags are checked in at the airport--but it apparently didn’t matter when we checked in at the airport. We were one of 24 families who were about to be sent to several different China provinces to meet their new sons and daughters. We split up into two groups and arrived at the airport at around 0615--when arriving I quickly concluded that I was glad that AWAA had arranged for our guides. Beijing’s New Airport is magnificent in its beautiful design and organization, but a native speaking guide definitely gave us the edge of navigating the course of getting checked-in. Susie and I were the third family to be checked in because our Air China flight was leaving for Xian at 0730. We had been limited to 44 pounds each for luggage but noticed that they were not even weighing it--overcoming the chaos of Mon morning had taken priority. Security screening/check-in appeared very similar to US, except we were not required to take off our shoes. We were also told that no liquids, not even eye liner/make-up items at all were allowed in carry-on.
Our China Air flight was great…more foot room than United, plane was not full, and they served a full western breakfast to economy.

We arrived in Xian at 0930 and quickly met our Guide “Rae” (female)--very hospitable and engaging. Since we were the only family traveling to Xian, we had a dedicated car and driver when travel was required. Travel to downtown Xian took about 45 mins where we checked in to the Aurum International hotel with is inside the ancient city wall built over 700 years ago. For those of you who have lived in Turkey or Korea, the city reminded us of the older areas that we had visited in those countries. We checked in and began to unpack and organize our room for our new child--we were told we would get to meet her at 1400, but it turned out to be about 1530 because the orphanage team who was bringing her had to drive from Hanzhong City which was originally about a 14 hour train ride because of the mountainous remote region but a little over a year ago new 4-lane highway with tunnels through the mountains (one as long as 18 Kilometers) had been opened reducing the travel to about 4.5 hours without traffic. Traffic had delayed their arrival.

We met Xin Rui for the first time in a Civil Affairs Office. She was accompanied by two ladies, one we had seen before in a previous picture and we had been told that she had been her foster mother. As expected, you could tell that Xin Rui was very attached to her and was very timid of us strangers. They had dressed her up in a beautiful yellow sleeveless dress with socks and sandals. She was absolutely beautiful. Susie helped break the tension by presenting Rui with a toy--first was a doll but she showed very little interest. Then she brought a very sophisticated rattle with lots of moving parts--she really liked that and the fear subsided as she began to play with it--she had been strategically distracted. The orphanage presented Susie with 2 books, one appeared to be a very detailed book about Xin Rui and the Orphanage (still had not had the time to review), but it had shot records, growth charts, list of foods she likes, favorite book and a CD of pictures (which I have not looked at yet. The other book was like a baby book. It was at least 20 mins before we got to hold her and she was still not very happy about it until Susie broke out the mini-goldfish crackers. They were in a Kid’s spill proof container that allowed Rui the ability to hold and feed herself. She was hungry and this definitely kept Rui distracted from who was holding her for the moment. I knew we were OK when Rui, without prompting, started to feed me and Susie her goldfish crackers--she captured our hearts. I finally signed the papers that allowed us to take her for the night…all in Chinese, so who knows what I signed--we officially sign the adoption papers on Tues.

By 1630 we were on our way to a photographer--Civil Affairs requires pictures of the Mom, Dad, and Daughter separately and then as a family unit…if Rui was not confused by now, she would be. Two non-Chinese people had just grabbed her and turned her world upside down. Susie brilliantly distracted her with a bottle of juice--she was also thirsty and this really hit the spot. We also noticed that she did not want any help holding her bottle. Also, she wanted to be held the entire time--lucky for us, we wanted to hold her. After the pictures, we then went to a Chinese super market for supplies (extra diapers, food, and a stroller). That was an experience in itself…we were definitely a novelty with the local population gathering lots of looks and smiles.

We arrived at the Hotel at 1830...both Susie and I were not very hungry from all the excitement and decided to concentrate on making Rui more comfortable with us and the hotel room. Susie mixed some rice cereal and heated up some whipped sweet potatoes--both were a great hit, especially the sweet potatoes. She kept gesturing for more of the potatoes. After eating and more play time--all the toys Susie brought were a hit, but especially loved the toddler duplo blocks. She liked having me put them together and then she would take them apart...then she had me show her how to put them together. We find her to be very strong and strong-willed in a good way--she knows what she likes and wants. Susie finally introduced her to bath time, although apprehensive a first, in the end she had a ball. She loved playing with cups in the water and continued to play after the bath--gesturing that she was feeding me and Susie from the cups with her hair brush as pretend spoon. After some more play time Susie began to put Rui (Olivia) down for the night…

I can’t tell you any more since I fell asleep, except it is now 0600 and they both are sleeping soundly and I’m here typing in the bathroom in anticipation of signing a lot of papers and handing over about $6K of the US money we have been carrying around since arriving--however, now instead of a ½ inch of stack in each of our money belts, it grew to a 5 in stack in RMB…we definitely look like we gained weight. Our Tuesday adventure starts at 0900...more to come, God bless you all, thank you for your prayers and support…


  1. Glad to see that everyone is doing great and that 'Gotcha Day' went so smoothly. Olivia looks happy and healthy!

  2. Susie and Tom, So so happy you're there and have that little doll I met May 1! She looks just beautiful. May God guide your journey in China and home!
    With much love,

  3. She is really beautiful, and looks so healthy! It's obvious she has been well cared for - such a blessing for her. Enjoy every minute of your trip and bonding. So glad things are going well for you. God is so good - we are praising Him along with you.
    Midge Cole