Our 2013 China Trip - Part 1

OK.  Since I didn't blog hardly any in China, I'm going back to the beginning.  This trip was our eighth to China:
  1. August 1998:  Lael Bian Grace (Bian Yuhong) - Wuhan, Hubei Province
  2.  January 2003:  Bret Bai Ling (Bai Ling Yun) - Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
  3. August 2004:  Lyric Ya Ni (Shi Ya Ni) - Nanjing, Jiangsu Province
  4. August 2005:  Cokie Wei Bettina (Kong Wei Xin), Nanjing, Jiangsu Province
  5. November 2006:  Arden Shan (Huang Shan), Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
  6. December 2007:  Stafan Flick (Tian Manqiao), Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
  7. July 2010:  Remi Adria Cai (Li Hong Cai) and Shepard Salem (Tian Peihu), Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
  8. September 2013:  Pryor Stanton (Liu Dai Yun), Guangzhou, Guangdong Province and Boone Forrest (Jia Xiao Bai), Zhejiang, Jiaxing Province

Actually, our adoption journeys began in 1985 when we started the process of adopting our Whitney Lauren, who was born right here in the good old U.S.A., and continued in 1989 when Mike traveled to Bogota and Cucuta, Colombia to get our then three-year old son, Brady Michael.  But I'm not going to go that far back--yet.  Actually, I'm not even going back through our prior China trips--yet.  Maybe I'll chronicle all of our journeys at some point.  But for now, I'll detail our most recent trip from start to finish.  The point of mentioning our prior adoptions is because despite having been to China seven other times and despite having adopted 10 other children before we traveled to get Pryor and Boone, this trip and these two adoptions were every bit as new, wonderful and memorable as all our prior experiences.  Sort of like each child, each adoption journey is unique.  I'll try over the next several posts to explain through words and pictures why this journey was no exception.

Of course, our journey to get Pryor and Boone began long before we left for China on September 7.  The paper chase began over a year earlier.  I had hope all along that we might be able to adopt two on this trip, like we did in 2010 when we adopted Remi and Shepard.  But when Mike sent off the initial form to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("CIS" formerly "INS"), he filled in that we only intended to adopt one child.  If that form had been delivered to CIS and processed, we would not have been able to get approval for two U.S. visas to be issued.  Mike realized his mistake after he had already mailed the form.  He immediately called FedEx, gave them the tracking number and asked if the package could be returned.  FedEx told him it was too late.  So I assumed God was telling me we  should adopt only one child.

That is one of the coolest things about adopting.  God shows you at different points along the way that not only is he involved--he is in charge.  After FedEx told Mike it was impossible to stop the delivery of the package to CIS, lo and behold it showed up at our house.  So we were able to correct the form and ask CIS for approval to bring home two children.  God is good and Matthew 19:26 means what it says.

I won't bore you with any more details about all the notary stamps, trips to the Secretary of State, papercuts and all the other blood, sweat and tears that go into completing an adoption dossier.  Instead, fast forward to the morning of September 7, 2013.  That is the day we left for China to get Pryor and Boone.  And when I say morning, I mean morning.  We woke up at 4:30 a.m. and Lael dropped us off at the airport around 5:15.

We then flew from Indy to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to Guangzhou.  Since you lose 12 hours going to China, it was Sunday evening by the time we landed in Guangzhou.  Our guide, John, picked us up and took us to the China Hotel (Marriott).  By the time we got checked in and situated, it was close to midnight.  Since Boone was in Jiaxing Province, Mike had to get up at 5:30 the next morning to fly to Hangzhou, the Jiaxing Provincial Capitol.  Needless to say, he was pretty wiped out by Monday afternoon.  Unfortunately for him, his new son Boone was not.  Mike called me and sounded almost desperate for my help.  I already had Pryor and told him that Pryor was acting pretty quiet and reserved.  He responded, "well be prepared, there is a storm headed your way from Hangzhou, and his name is Boone Forrest Allen."  He would have to wait two more days to get some help with his new full of energy son.  When we reunited in Guangzhou on Wednesday, I found out Mike was not exaggerating.  Boone is very fiesty and knows how to use his cute, toothy grin to get out of trouble.  To make matters worse, instead of Pryor's quiet, reserved personality rubbing off on Boone, the opposite happened.  Pryor started acting a little spazzy.

Well, the jet lag is starting to kick in, so that is about as much as I have the energy to retell for now.  Here are some pictures from our first few days starting with Mike adopting Boone in Hangzhou.



Mike meeting Boone.




Day 2 is the actual adoption day.  The notary telling Mike the adoption is now final!!  



Mike's first meal with his newest son and probably Boone's very first meal at McDonald's.



Back at the hotel.  Notice the gun.  Mike bought it in Hangzhou, and I had bought Pryor the exact same gun in Guangzhou.  Great minds think alike--or--Carre Four (China's version of Wal Mart) doesn't have much of a selection in toys.



Another meal.



A lot more people are getting cars in China, but all sorts of bikes are still everywhere and are being used to haul almost everything imaginable.



This was the view from Mike's hotel in Hangzhou.


Very few people in China have dryers.


A bamboo forest Mike visited in Hangzhou.



Tea bushes at one of the largest tea plantations in the world.  Mike said they went for miles.






Planting the tea.






After 3 days Mike flew back to Guangzhou with Boone to meet Pryor and me! Yeah.  Mike told me on the phone, "You'll like him.  I know what kind of kids you like."  He was right and I'm sure I will let him get away with way too much.   


Getting ready to go get our boys. 



The Civil Affairs office where they bring the kids is on the right. 



Mr. Pryor Stanton Allen



Pryor's first meal with a Mom.  Some people feel bad taking away "their" clothes etc...  I can't get back to the hotel fast enough to scrub them down and start brushing their teeth.  Pryor has 4 really bad cavities.


My first meal with Pryor.  : - )  This place was across the street from the hotel, and we ate there a lot.  It is called the Coffee Club Cafe and is an Australian coffee chain, and this outlet in Guangzhou is its first in China.




Lincoln didn't like the ice cream.



Our hotel in Guangzhou was VERY nice-Mike's hotel in Hangzhou, not so much.  LOL









Our guide John came into the hotel room with us when I first brought Pryor in.   Pryor told John he LOVED the bed and he never had a mattress before.   

This was the view from our hotel room.  I told Mike I would love to have a pair of binoculars.  He said he was pretty sure he saw somebody with some looking at us!!!!!!  CREEPY



I kept really busy the 3 days without Mike, but I missed him.