**Written three weeks ago, just getting around to adding in pictures and publishing it now. Get ready to go back in time!**
We’ve been in China for one week now, so we are just about exactly in the middle of our time here. So far, prayers have been answered beyond our wildest dreams. The flights have been fine, the kids (including Delia!) are having a wonderful time with their grandparents, and best of all, Lewis is a complete delight and we are so in love!
But let me start back at the beginning.
We received our verbal travel approval in the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, as you know. What I didn’t tell you was that our travel date was the following Wednesday, the 2nd of December! We had one day to book our flights before everything shut down for the holiday weekend, and we didn’t receive our written travel invitation (which we needed in country to complete the adoption!) until the day before we flew. It was a crazy week, but somehow it all came together, including packing for two weeks for the seven kids going to “Not China”.
We arrived safely in Beijing on Thursday afternoon after a direct flight that was the equivalent of two of our usual transatlantic flights. Several people asked us whether we’d be flying east or west to get to China, and the surprising answer to that is in fact almost due north! We waved to Santa as we passed right over the North Pole
In Beijing, we met the four other families who would be our companions for most of our time in country. It was a joy to hear each of their stories of how God led them here. Some have been waiting and praying for their child for five years, since around the time that we began our first process for Niko!
For two days we toured Beijing, squeezing in more attractions than our average week of sightseeing would. Day one began with the Great Wall, which I had no idea would require the level of physical fitness it did! Junie bounded up the endless stairs like a mountain goat with Trevor, while I struggled along behind, but I got pretty high, and the views were spectacular. It is worth mentioning that in the days both before and after our time in Beijing, the city experienced debilitating and record-breaking levels of smog, but it was beautiful and clear for our days there. We are so thankful that God was merciful in sparing us this, but this is an ongoing and dangerous problem for the people who live there.
After the wall we toured a Cloisonné (copper inlaid with enamel) factory, then headed to a lunch. Lunch was at a beautiful restaurant set in a jade-carving facility, which we also got to tour. In the afternoon, we saw the 2008 Olympic Village, featuring the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium.
Saturday saw us at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Our guide Tom walked us hard! (We have seen evidence all over the place of how fitness-conscious Chinese people across all generations are, including a huge outdoor gym in a public park in Guangzhou. And every piece of equipment was in use!). We then took a bicycle-drawn rickshaw ride to a family home where we were served a traditional, home-cooked meal. So. Much. Yum!
From there the rickshaw took us to another courtyard home where we learned about traditional calligraphy and paper-cutting arts. We stopped for a tea demonstration in the afternoon, and afterwards we were absolutely dazzled by a performance of acrobatics.
Bright and early Sunday morning we headed back to the airport to fly to Lewis’s province, which happens to be the same one that all adoptive families end up in for the visa interview portion of their process. Unfortunately, as soon as we took off, the whole plane began to spin for me. Having never experienced airsickness before, I didn’t really understand what was about to happen to me until it was too late. Despite cleaning myself up as well as I could, I spent the rest of the three hour flight rather unpleasantly damp and smelly. Very dignified!
Feeling mostly better once we were on terra firma, we explored the beautiful tropical paradise that is Guangzhou that afternoon. We found some dinner and called it an early night, not knowing how much sleep there would be once our new little man was with us!
Monday afternoon at a little after 2 was the moment we had all been waiting for. Our precious son, longed for and prayed for for 15 months, stepped off an elevator at the Adoption Center of Guangdong Province and into our lives forever. All of my fears and anxieties melted away. He is exactly the sweet, bright, happy little guy we had come to love from his photos and file, only better!
That first afternoon, he came with us willingly, laughed with us, played with us, and ate pizza with us. Back in the hotel room, we looked at books together and he inquisitively pointed to every picture wanting to have its name spoken and signed. His speech is very rough in his native language – only his nannies can understand him – but he signs beautifully (someone must have been working with him before he came to us, and for this we are immeasurably thankful), and has a great aptitude and appetite for learning. He makes himself understood very well using gestures, and he has a hilarious sense of humor. As of my writing of this post, we have had three days of opening this wonderful gift from God, and so far, he seems almost too good to be true!
**Note from the future: he still does!!!***