Traveling In China – 2006

Friday,November 3, 2006 Flew SFO to Hong Kong.  Left SFO very early Friday morning at 12:05 AM.  Arrived in Hong Kong 6:33 AM Saturday Morning.  14 hour flight but due to time change, lost a day.
Saturday,November 4, 2006 Arrived in Hong Kong, checked into hotel at 8 AM, took short nap, went to Hong Kong Disneyland at 1 PM. Stayed At Renaissance Kowloon Hotel (part of the Marriott chain).

 

On Saturday, we arrived at the Hong Kong Airport at 6:33 AM. We used the Airport Express to get from the airport to the hotel. The Airport Express is part of the Hong Kong subway system (MTR). The Airport Express stops at the airport and only three other stations in Hong Kong. At the three other stations, there are free Airport Express shuttle buses that transport people to/from area hotels. We were at our hotel by 8 AM. We are staying at the Renaissance Kowloon Hotel. It is on the waterfront on the other side of Hong Kong Island (where downtown Hong Kong is located). Kowloon is very busy with lots of businesses and very upscale restaurants/stores.Susan and I did not get much sleep on the plane so we used the morning to recover. At 1 PM, we left for Hong Kong Disneyland using the Hong Kong subway system. The Hong Kong subway system is very easy to use and clean. All of the signs and instructions are in English and the ticket machines are very intuitive to use.Hong Kong Disneyland is much smaller than the Disneyland in California. There is no Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Carribean, Raiders of the Lost Arc, or It’s a Small World. There is the Buzz Lightyear ride, Dumbo, Teacups, Space Mountain, and River Cruise. There are major expansion plans for Hong Kong Disneyland. It was a fun day. We stayed until the closing fireworks at 7 PM. Most of the restaurants at Hong Kong Disneyland serve Chinese food (which was actually very good).

Sunday,November 5, 2006 Took all day guided bus tour of Hong Kong.

 

Sunday (China time) was day 2 in Hong Kong. We met up with the Reynon family in our travel group and spent the day with them. We went on an afternoon Hong Kong Island tour , got back to the hotel around 8 PM, ate take out from McDonalds, and then went to bed. We were on the same Hong Kong Island tour as the Texas contingent of Team Salsa (one set of grandparents) and discussed Team Salsa’s (Mary-Mia and Rod’s) adoption of twin girls. Team Salsa’s China trip ended at about the same time ours started.In Hong Kong, it is hot and humid, but not unbearably so.On Monday, we fly to Guangzhou. And then on Tuesday, we meet Megan.

Monday,November 6, 2006 Flew Hong Kong to Guangzhou. Flight time less than an hour.  Checked into Victory Hotel (White Swan Hotel was booked the first two nights of our trip.)

 

On Monday, we flew from Hong Kong to Guangzhou. At the Hong Kong airport, we met up with the 8 other families in our adoption agency’s travel group. The flight was short (less than an hour). Once in Guangzhou, we took a bus to the Victory Hotel (Our first choice for a hotel in Guangzhou was the White Swan Hotel. However, the White Swan was booked for the first two nights of our trip. So we stayed two nights in the Victory Hotel. And then moved to the White Swan Hotel for the remainder of our stay.) We checked into the hotel and then walked to the White Swan Hotel to go to one of their restaurants for a group dinner.

Tuesday,November 7, 2006 In the afternoon, went to provincial government office and received Megan.

 

On Tuesday, we boarded a bus at 3:30 PM to go to a Guangdong provincial government office where we would get the babies. The nine families got to the government office at 4 PM. We gathered in the hallway for a while and then were called into a conference room. Eventually, babies were brought to the conference room one by one to be given to their new parents.There were two representatives from Megan’s orphanage. We were allowed to ask them questions with Chris (our group’s guide) interpreting.After the meeting, we went back to the Victory Hotel.

Wednesday,November 8, 2006 In the morning, formally adopted Megan at provincial government office.  In the afternoon, packed up and moved from the Victory Hotel to the White Swan Hotel (3 short blocks away).  We walked with our luggage. 

On Wednesday morning, our group went back to the Guangdong provincial government office to take care of adoption paperwork. We were done by lunch time. We went back to the Victory Hotel, packed our bags, checked out, and then moved to the White Swan Hotel.

Thursday,November 9, 2006 On Thursday afternoon around 2:30 PM, we went to the Guangdong police department to apply for Megan’s passport.
Friday,November 10, 2006 Free Day.  Free Day for us meant shopping at the many shops around the hotel, enjoying 2 nearby parks, going to the hotel playroom, leisurely lunches out, and hanging out in the hotel room.There have been no attachment issues with Megan. She likes to be held. When she is awake, she is mostly in either Susan arms or mine.Megan is a healthy eater. She drinks lots of formula and eats lots of baby food. As it appeared on the referral pictures, Megan is not skinny. She was obviously well fed in the orphanage.
Saturday,November 11, 2006 Free Day.  In the morning, we went to a Buddhist temple and the Guangdong Museum of Folk Handicrafts.On Saturday, we went to the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. As I did in 2002, I climbed to the top of the pagoda. There are steep steps with very narrow walk ways that lead up to the top of the pagoda. Emily also climbed to the top. Elsewhere at the temple, the adopted children in our group received a Buddhist blessing. Afterwards, we went to the Guangdong Museum of Folk Handicrafts.
Sunday,November 12, 2006 Free Day.  More shopping in the neighborhood surrounding the White Swan Hotel.  In the afternoon, we went to the Guangzhou Zoo.
Monday,November 13, 2006 Went to Notary Office to pick up official documents (Megan’s birth certificate, abandonment certificate, and adoption certificate)

 

Today (Monday, China time), one member of each family went to the Notary Office to pay the notary fee and receive three official (notarized) copies of the adoption certificate, baby’s birth certificate, and abandonment certificate. These three documents are required in order to obtain an immigrant visa from the U.S. Consulate. Tomorrow’s a free day (no official activities), however, everyone is being offered a chance to visit an orphanage. Some of the families in our group received children from this orphanage (however, Megan is from another orphanage). I will be going to the orphanage. But Susan and kids will be staying behind. If this were Megan’s orphanage, I would be taking Megan with me (so she could visit her caregivers one last time). But we are not able to go to Megan’s orphanage. We were told that Megan’s orphanage is too far away.

Tuesday,November 14, 2006 Free Day.  In the morning, visited an orphanage of some of the children in our group.
Wednesday,November 15, 2006 Free Day.  Spent late afternoon filing out visa applications.The reason why all American families who adopt in China travel through Guangzhou (no matter where in China the child is adopted from) is because only one US Consulate in China handles immigrant visas for international adoptions and that consulate is in Guangzhou (as opposed to anyother US Consulate in China or the US Embassy in Beijing).On Wednesday, we began the US immigrant visa application process.On Wednesday morning beginning at 10 AM, our group walked across the street from the hotel to the photo shop to get passport photos for the babies. Three copies of the photos were needed. One for the medical exam and two for the US Consulate. Immediately after finishing up at the photo shop, our group went to the medical exam office (about a five minute walk). This office is approved by the US government to provide medical examinations for US visa applications. The medical exams were very brief. Each baby went to three stations to be measured and evaluated. Each baby spent maybe five minutes at each station. The medical exam is a requirement for the US visa application.On Wednesday afternoon, we received our daughters’ Chinese passports from the Chinese government. These passports will be turned in with our paperwork to the US Consulate for the visa application.This morning at 11 AM, our group had an appointment at the US Consulate for our babies’ visa applications. Only our adoption agency representative (Chris) attended the appointment to submit our applications. However, each family had to stay in their hotel rooms in case Chris had to call and ask us to clarify some data on our forms.Tomorrow, all of the families will go to the US Consulate to pick up our daughters’ Chinese passports with attached US immigrant visas.On Saturday, we fly home. Even through we’ll leave China on Saturday night, when we arrive in San Francisco it will be Saturday night.Megan will not officially become a US citizen until she touches US soil. While traveling, she will flying using a Chinese passport with an American visa.
Thursday,November 16, 2006 Visa applications and Chinese passports submitted by guide at U.S Consulate.  Families had to wait in their hotel rooms until noon just in case the guide had to call them with questions while he was at the Consulate.  Rest of the day was a free day.
Friday,November 17, 2006 Took White Swan Hotel bus to the U.S. Consulate for swearing-in ceremony.  Received Chinese passport stamped with U.S. visa.

 

Yesterday, our adoption agency coordinator went to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou to turn in our travel group’s paperwork for an immigrant visa for our adopted children. Today at 3 PM, every one staying at the White Swan Hotel with a U.S. consultate appointment (which included multiple adoption agencies, not just Heartsent) hopped aboard a White Swan Hotel bus (actually there was a caravan of at least four buses) going to the U.S. Consulate. At 4 PM, we all gathered in a room, swore we truthfully completed the visa paperwork, and received our children’s Chinese passports with U.S. immigrant visas. I think that our appointment was a bit longer than usual because they were celebrating National Adoption Month. The Counsel General led the oath (usually it is led by a lower ranking Consulate official), the Counsel General gave a short speech, there were invited Chinese officials in attendence, and each adoption agency group got its picture taken with the Consul General (i.e. there was a Heartsent families group picture with the Consul General).

Saturday,November 18, 2006 Flew Guangzhou to Hong Kong to San Francisco.  Less than an hour, Guangzhou to Hong Kong.  12 hour flight from Hong Kong to SFO.

 

We arrived back in the United States on Saturday night. The flight from Guangzhou to Hong Kong (less than a hour) was easy. There were three adopting families on the plane and there were no problems with the babies on the plane. The flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco was a red-eye flight (left Hong Kong at 9:55 PM). There was no problem with Megan on the plane. However, she refused to get into the bassinet that was provided by Singapore Airlines. So she slept on Susan’s lap. Emily and Megan slept most of the way home. (Susan and I did not). Our plane arrived in San Francisco at 6 PM.We have been suffering from jet lag the last few days. The girls have been waking up at 2 AM and playing until 4:30 AM. The family hasn’t gotten out of bed earlier than noon.