Leah has been with us for a week and just in the last few days, she has started to show more and more of her personality. She definitely has a big one :) It has continued to be a busy week.....we visited Baiyun Mountain, had Leah's oath-taking ceremony, done some shopping, had a few meetings, taken a dragon boat dinner cruise, done more shopping....and I haven't been feeling well, so I apologize for not posting earlier.
Baiyun Mountain was a cool place....its a scenic area with a view of Guangzhou at the top. It was beautiful! We took a tram (more like a golf cart) to the top (thankfully!) and got there just in time to see the bird show. The handler was not quite the showman that we would see at the zoos at home, but the birds did great :) At the end, if you hold up money, a bird will fly to your hand, sit there for a few moments while you get a picture, then fly off with your money. The funny thing is, this bird knows the difference between a 1yuan and a 5 or 10yuan. It won't fly to you if you hold up a 1yuan.....not worth the flight, I guess! Most of the kids wanted to do it, so between us all, I'm sure we gave that bird about 50yuan :) After that, the kids went down and got a picture taken with a parrot. So cute!
Shopping has been an experience, as we've been trying to find something off the beaten path. Ralph and A & A had quite the adventure one afternoon while I brought the kids back in the taxi. I was a little nervous when my taxi driver stopped at a stop light, looked back at the cars around him and put his seat belt on. They typically don't wear seat belts here, so I figured something crazy was about to happen. While it was another e-ticket ride, we did get back to the hotel safe and sound. Ralph and the girls were kicked out of a cab and the girls were followed by an interesting young man who wanted really badly to take a picture with them :)
The oath taking ceremony was early yesterday....Ralph and I just took Leah while the kids & Ashley and Aimee slept in. We went to the Consulate and waited in several lines before getting into the room where they have us take an oath that all of the information that we have provided for Leah is true and correct to the best of our knowledge. We raised our right hand, said yes and then waited for our name to be called. They review all of our paperwork, had us sign a few papers and we were done. This part is a little emotional, too, because it means we are done!! No more paperwork (well, until we get home), no more meetings, no more appointments. It is the last thing to be done in China. We just picked up Leah's passport with her visa in it, so we are all set!
The Dragon Boat cruise was fun. We had pizza delivered to the boat so we could have dinner when we boarded. It was Sydney's birthday (one of the little girls of one of the families with us) so we all sang her the birthday song :) We brought glow bracelets for the kids and broke out the lollipops after dinner. The kids had a great time checking out all of the lights on the buildings we were passing. Everything is so lit up with colorful lights......the buildings, the boats. It was a nice last outing for all of us.
We took the red couch picture yesterday....the red couch that came from the White Swan that everyone takes their kids picture on.....it was even more chaotic because we were in a much smaller space. Of course, all of the kids were crying and we were all laughing. It seems crazy, but it is tradition :) After that, it was time to say goodbye to some of the families who were leaving that afternoon. Its always a bit sad to say goodbye to people you have grown close to.....as we said to each other, we've seen each other at our best, at our worst, through the smell of it all :) We plan to keep in touch and hopefully see each other again.
Today we visited the orphanage. We weren't sure if we were going to make it, but it came through just in the nick of time, as we head for home tomorrow. Ralph & I decided it would be best if Leah and I stay outside and not visit. She just didn't seem ready to go through seeing everyone again and having to leave again. Ralph, Makena & Josh and the girls went in, though......took lots of pics and delivered goodies as well as the photo albums. The staff and ayis were all so excited to see them. Leah and I strolled around and I took pictures of the little village her orphanage is located in....its very sweet, very friendly people, very peaceful. Even though the kids likely don't get out of the walls of the orphanage much, at least we know she was surrounded by beauty and love. The director and staff were so kind and they came outside as Ralph and the gang were leaving. They so wanted to see Leah. I'm a little glad she had fallen asleep, but the ladies all wanted to take pictures of her anyway and were smiling and so happy that she now has a family. They gave us a business card and asked us to email them pictures. For Malia and family....they said they would be moving to a new location, I believe in about 3 months. It will be a new building, so hopefully just as nice or nicer. Know that your daughter is being loved and cared for well until you meet her :) Ralph thinks he got pictures of her.....it sounds like they didn't want pictures taken of the kids, but he was looking into a room and asked if it was her and he took some photos.
Well, tomorrow we leave.....we can't believe how quickly the time has passed, we can't believe that we finally get to bring our little Leah home, and we can't believe we'll finally get to eat Miguel's and In-N-Out again!!! Woohoo!! Thank you all so much for your prayers, for your love and support, for following along on our journey. Thank you for all of the fb posts....though we can't get on fb here, we get the emails of the posts and they have been awesome to read. Leaving China is bittersweet.....we're leaving our children's homelands, the place where their lives began. I know I said it before, but China does feel like a second home to us because this country, this culture and this people are a part of three beautiful blessings that are a part of us. We have been asked before, "Why China?" Our answer is, "Why not China?" There are children all over the world that need families. When we prayed about our children, China is where we felt led. And we have a family connection as well, as Ralph's mom is half Chinese.
I hate to cut this short (I know, its really quite long...sorry), but I have to get to bed because tomorrow is a loooooong day. Please pray for us as we travel and especially for the kids that they do ok on the long plane ride. We can't wait to see everyone & will post more after we get settled at home!
All our love,
Ralph, Linda, Makena, Josh & Leah :)