Friday, August 10, 2012

Day 2 with Audrey

Now that I've had some sleep and some time to start processing I thought I'd report a little bit more on our Gotcha Day...

We were picked up at the airport by our guide, Lily, and drove about an hour to our hotel. This is a huge city and they are having a lot of construction done so traffic was terrible. We finally got to our hotel, checked in and because it was getting late, Lily said we could have about an hour to rest up in our room, she would go get Audrey and the official from the orphanage, and then bring her back to the hotel. We would go to our appts from there.

Jason and I went up to our room and unpacked a little. We were very nervous but right on time we headed down to the lobby. Lily was in the lobby and ushered us outside where Audrey was laying in the arms of the orphanage official sleeping in the van. So not wanting to wake her,me jumped in and drove to the photography studio where they took our first family picture for the adoption decree and Audrey's photo by herself for her passport. She woke up when we got there and they just simply gave her to me. She was fine with me holding her, didn't cry at all. One thing I thought was funny is that after they took her picture for her passport, they photoshopped it. They filled in her hair, shortened the length of her face, etc. Funny :-)

We then headed over to the Civil Affairs office to do more paperwork. We sat in the room and our wonderful guide went through everything and just told us where to sign. We were interacting with Audrey who at this point, was still relatively happy to play with my iPhone (which she picked up how to iWork that immediately) and some of the other toys we brought. We even got some smiles and laughs when we pulled out the bubbles.

Here is a picture of Jason holding her while he fills out paperwork. Overall, she is fine to go to either of us, which has been great for me so I don't have to hold her all the time. Although now she is starting to prefer me...

There is one point where you have to put your fingerprint on the documents. They require the child to do this too. Audrey didn't like it ;-)

We left the Civil Affairs office and went to the Notary's office. We did more paperwork there and then Lily (pictured above helping Audrey give her fingerprint) had the driver take us back to the hotel where we could rest and eat and she stayed to finish up the paperwork for us. And then around 7 she came by the hotel and dropped off a bottle and some milk for Audrey, some snacks, a huge case of bottled water and some cokes (big brownie points earned there) for us.

The rest of the night was spent crashing - Audrey into her sadness & grieving, and us into exhaustion and yes, some sadness too. She slept in her dress and shoes, clutching the other dress and little diaper cover she came with because she did not want to take them off :-( They represent the only things she "owns" and what her life was. I did not ask her to part with those now...

The morning she woke up crying, which we expected, but we were able to get some smiles and laughs with the bubbles again.

We had breakfast, then went tot the police station to start the paperwork for her passport. This is the only piece of paperwork we are waiting on now. Our guide took us to the grocery store to get more supplies, then we walked around the city a bit. She then took us to a WONDERFUL Muslim restaurant (yes, we are in China but this province has a heavy Muslim influence) where we had some fabulous food. After that we headed back to the hotel to rest (Audrey took a 3 1/2 hour nap) and then eventually some dinner and bed. We have some fun things planned today so I'll try to fill you all in later. Here are just a few shots I took while walking around today...

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Audrey's Gotcha Day

This is going to be quick because I'm dead tired...Audrey is ours and like everything else on this trip, it went nothing like I thought. But more in that later. Right now I'm falling asleep as I type this & Audrey is yawning. She is starting to grieve and will not let go of her clothes she came with nor let me take anything off her...

Here are a few pics from our day:

At the photo place




Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Hello!  We made it to Beijing.  We fly to Urumqi first thing in the morning.  Its been a long day already and now I'm hearing reports of computer problems from the mirage hotel in Urumqi (where we will be staying) so wanted to make sure I can email posts to my account if needed.  We did FaceTime with the girls a bit and that was good. We miss them sooo much!!

Until tomorrow (hopefully!)


Tuesday, August 07, 2012


Wow.  That's all I have to say.  We are a short 9 to 10 hours into our trip and I feel like I've been through the ringer.  I thought the hardest part of this journey was over. 

I was wrong.

We left for the airport this morning from home around 3:30 a.m.  I laid down for a short 45 minutes before I had to be up again to get ready to go.  So we were already running on fumes but we figured this was okay, we'd be on our flight to Shanghai around 11:00 am and then we could sleep on the flight there to help adjust to the new time change. 

My Dad dropped us off at DFW.  We checking in for our flight, received our boarding passes through Shanghai and spent the two hours until we were supposed to board checking out the Admiral's Club, eating some breakfast, etc.

As we were sitting on the plane finally, to take off for Chicago, I checked that our connection to Shanghai in Chicago was still on time.  Yes it was!  Awesome!  We slept most of the 2 hour flight.  As soon as we landed, I turned on my phone and checked our connection again.  As it was pulling up, I received a voicemail from American.  Our flight to Shanghai was delayed over EIGHT hours! 


No no no no no no no no no no!!!  This can't happen!  This means we miss our connection to Audrey's province, which means we miss our Gotcha Day appointment, which means we have to add a day in province to get the paperwork done, which means, well, you can see the dominoes starting to fall...

We did so many stops and starts over the next several hours.  We were told so many different things from American Airlines reps depending on who we talked to.  But turns out, Shanghai is about to get hit with a pretty serious typhoon.  At first we were desperately trying to book any other flight into Shanghai.  That kept us spinning our wheels for awhile until we found out the real story. 

Then we were trying to fly into Beijing.  But nothing was going to get us to Audrey's province in time for our Gotcha Day meeting. 

Then we were trying to fly other airlines into Beijing but you see, that would have been out of our pocket because we bought our flights with airline miles and we've found out, the hard way, that airline miles are pretty much useless if you need to change anything on your itinerary. 

By this time, I was crying, praying, and crying more and more.  We finally got a hold of an agent who told us he could book us from Chicago to LAX to Beijing and it would get us there in time.  Awesome!  We went to the front desk to check in and get our new boarding passes only to find out he had screwed up and booked us from Chicago to LAX to Shanghai again!!!  And that flight was delayed as well!!! 

Back to our original itinerary except now we had lost our seats and were sitting separate.  Oh and thankfully Jason thought to ask awhile later if our bags had been rerouted back to the original itinerary.  They hadn't.  They were still going to go to LAX!!! 

We were calling back and forth with our agency trying to figure out how late we could arrive in Urumqi and still make all our appointments (since getting to Urumqi by the evening of the 8th was not looking promising).  Our guide thought we could still make everything as long as we arrived in Urumqi by midday on the 9th. 

We started looking into flying straight into Guangzhou, in an effort to avoid Shanghai completely.  We would still get to Urumqi the next day but we would avoid all the unknowns of the typhoon. We found a fairly decent itinerary.  It was going to cost us $3000 because it wasn't with American; we would fly to LAX to Guangzhou to Audrey's province.  Yes, 3 flights.  And while we were thinking we would go with that, our agency reminded us to speak with American because if you don't take the first part of your round trip, they will usually cancel the return flight.

Back on the phone.  Yes, American would honor our return because of the reason for the trip but we were nervous it wouldn't actually get done or be secured and then we'd be in the same boat trying to get home!!

I felt we should probably rebook through Guangzhou but Jason said he felt really uneasy.  The verse,

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10a came to mind. 

I was tired. 

I was exhausted emotionally and physically. 

I felt like giving up and going home. 

"Be still, and know that I am God." 

I told Jason this was what was going through my head.  He called and talked to our agency, and we decided we'd wait a bit since we had time (our Shanghai flight wasn't leaving yet and if we rebooked that wasn't leaving yet for a few hours anyway) and talk again in a few hours. 

We went to get some food.  Macaroni Grill in the airport.  Except I wasn't hungry.  I ate some bread and had something to drink but I just still felt so hopeless.  It looked like all our plans were unraveling.

We started checking news on Shanghai again.  It wasn't looking good.  Latest reports said heavy, driving rain and flooding was expected through Friday. 

We decided we had to start looking at other options or go home.  Jason pulled up itineraries from Chicago to Urumqi.  After scolling down quite a ways, having to discount most flights because they got us there too late, he found a booking on an American flight to Beijing leaving tonight at 7:00, arriving in Beijing at 9:30.  Then we'd catch a first flight to Urumqi in the morning, getting there around 11:45 a.m. 

Why hadn't we seen this before?  The one-way tickets would be $3500 per person and there were only 2 SEATS LEFT!! But Jason had an idea.  While I was on the phone with our agency, seeing if that itinerary would work, Jason called American Airlines. 

The agent he got on the phone pulled up all our reservations.  He explained our situation and everything we had gone through today and that he was hoping to replace our scheduled flight to Shanghai, with the flight to Beijing.  Would that work?  And oh, there are only 2 seats left.  

She said she thought she could replace the flights but came back shortly and said, "Oh, I'm sorry, those seats aren't available."  Jason mouthed to me, "This isn't gonna happen."  I started to pray fervently, pleading with God to help that lady find those seats and that I believed that if we were supposed to be on that flight, those seats would be available and be found! 

The agent left Jason on hold for few minutes while she did some checking and talked to her supervisor.  She came back said she was able to get them for us!!! Seriously!?  Jason thanked her profusely but we were still afraid to get excited as we walked back out to the front desk yet again.  We've already been there 3 or 4 times already this morning and just thought it was too good to be true. 

Not only did we get the last 2 seats, but one is a window seat and one is an aisle seat!  We have one person in between us, but we're not scattered around on the airplane! 

Soli Deo Gloria.

So we are booked on the evening flight to Beijing.  We will arrive there around 9:30 local time, collect our luggage, go through customs, and then check email to find out which local flight we are booked on to Urumqi (we will not know before we get on our flight to Beijing because our guide handles the local flights and he's asleep right now!)  Talk about stepping out in faith...we won't know for sure our flights until we get to Beijing.  But just getting to China will be such an accomplishment in and of itself!

We then plan to check in for our local flight (which we anticipate leaving sometime around 7 am local time) and spend the last 4-5 hours of our layover in the Beijing airport.  Fun times!

I'm beginning to see now why the Lord led Jason to decide we should leave the girls at home. 

So now I'm sitting in the Admirals Club at O'Hare, typing this out on one of the computers in the business center.  We will be leaving in about 2 1/2 hours.  I keep checking the status of the flight to make sure it's not been delayed.  I still can't be sure that we won't have many more bumps along the way but one thing I do know, is that God is in control!  I have been praying this last week that in the craziness of these times, stresses and circumstances, that we would clearly see His hand leading and guiding us, to give us comfort. 

And He has answered that prayer many times now!!

Soli Deo Gloria!!

Next post will prayerfully, Lord willing, be from Urumqi with our Audrey...
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