Adopting Again The Trip

Sunday, March 07, 2004
We woke up and had breakfast at the usual time and then we came back up to our room to make sure our bags were ready for the bellboy to take down. Afterwards, we all piled into the bus and headed off to the airport. It was a quick airplane ride to Changsha, about 90 minutes. The flight was smooth and uneventful. When we departed the airplane we could immediately feel the difference in temperature. Although pleasant, Changsha was significantly warmer than Beijing.
Helen and Smile
At the airport we were met by Helen and Smile (yes, that's his real name) who would serve as our guides while in Changsha. Helen is from Holt, while Smile works for a local tour agency contracted by Holt. Porters packed our bags into a van for us and then we boarded a modern tour bus and headed off to the Huatian Hotel in Changsha. We arrived at the hotel around 3:30 in the afternoon after a 40 minute ride.

The Huatian Hotel is an amazing 5 star hotel, with service to match. We were lucky enough to get a corner room, so it was a bit larger than most. We had a full marble bath, separate shower, two full sized beds, a huge TV, broadband access, everything we could have hoped for. (Each day, actually multiple times each day, we would find our clothes neatly folded on the bed and the room straightened out. Sometimes, if a maid or bellboy saw us going to our room, they would literally run ahead to open our door for us. That's service!)

Arriving at the hotel, we had a few minutes to settle into our rooms before we met to fill out additional paperwork in preparation for the next day's meeting at the Civil Affairs office. Sitting in the meeting room, I could feel that we were all getting a bit antsy. We started filling out the paperwork around 4:30pm and our babies were due to arrive at 5:30pm. However we judiciously chugged through the paperwork, making sure that all our T's were crossed and our I's were dotted. We finally got back to our room shortly past 5:00pm.

We quickly laid out Wen Hui's clothes on one of the beds, because from previous experience we knew that she would be swaddled, actually buried, in several layers of clothes and that she would be a bit hot and sweaty. We also readied the camcorder, camera, toys, and our list of questions for the caregivers.

Around 5:15pm Grace started poking her head out into the hallway, camcorder in hand, to listen for crying babies or to spot a caregiver. Like clockwork, at 5:30pm we heard the muffled sound of crying babies and Grace spotted Mr. Smile coming down the hallway with Wen Hui tucked in his arms. She was much more beautiful in person than in her pictures!

When Mark received Wen Hui into his arms, she was not crying and in fact, she was very charming and content. She obviously did not attach to anyone in particular at the orphanage so she took being held by a complete stranger in stride. Promising to later return with Wen Hui's caregivers, Mr. Smile left to help deliver other babies. We took this time to quickly undress Wen Hui, inspecting every inch of her skin, then put new clothes on her. She wasn't layered as much as our first daughter Stephanie was. Wen Hui only had on 5 layers of clothes instead of the 7 Stephanie had on. Mr. Smile returned about 30 minutes later with 2 of Wen Hui's caregivers to answer questions and deliver formula. Luckily, they were kind enough to spend a good amount of time with us to talk about Wen Hui and to get video and photos.

According to her caregivers, Wen Hui was a bit sick and had IV's in her head that day. In China, when a baby is sick, they seem to immediately pop an IV into their forehead. We could see several IV marks on her head and hear congestion in her sinuses. There was no fever however, so we felt confident that she would be just fine given the right attention.

According to her referral, at 5 months of age, Wen Hui was a small baby -- about 15th percentile on the Chinese growth charts. Therefore, we figured since she would be 12 months old when we got her, we brought clothes for a 12 month baby, assuming that they would be a bit big. When we received her however, she was actually about 95th percentile so most of the clothes we brought were way too small. We couldn't even use the Baby Bjorn carrier we brought because of her weight.

After the caregivers and Mr. Smile departed, we immediately got to the task of getting to know our baby and vice versa. We found that physically she was a bit delayed because she could not roll over, sit up unaided, or crawl. We also quickly found out that she loves to talk and talk and talk.... It is great for her development, but lousy for a tired mommy and daddy.

That night, we picked up a quick dinner from the hotel and went to bed. Wen Hui, now Tamlyn, slept through the night, as did we.