The courier said that he is picking up our power of attorney from the U.S. State Department today, where he took it Friday, and will then take it to the Chinese embassy.  Our agency said it will take 48 hours to arrive in China via DHL.  All weekend I had thought that it was already in the air on the way to me.

In the middle of Tiananmen Square I got the message through our guide that if I didn't get some paperwork soon, the orphanage would have to take Aidan back.

After tomorrow our guide will no longer be with us unless we need her for some official business. 

My head aches.  I am going to be alone in a very expensive hotel that I did not plan money for, without a translator, without a driver, and without a travel group, and responsible for two dependents.

My travel mate found out in the afternoon that she would be able to pick her daughter's passport up tomorrow morning, a day early, so they will fly out after that.  I also found out, through rumor, that we are the last China adoptions being done by our agency-the program has become too unpredictable for them.  So no one has any real reason to care what is happening here with us.  The least my agency should be doing is arranging a new hotel stay for us.  I can't even read the phone book and the Internet costs 40 yuan per 10 minutes-not a lot, but it takes time to search for hotels in another country.

We all had supper together one last time-my travel mate's family and mine.

We didnt' eat at McDonald's this night, but here are my travel mate, her mother, and her daughter.


 
 

The restaurant, which opens at 5:00 a.m., wasn't open today when we showed up for breakfast, so we went back to our room and watched a movie, then returned at 6:30.  It was much busier than when we normally eat, but the delay meant we got to meet a very nice lady from Kansas who was adopting her third Chinese child, this one a son, and her first Beijing adoption.  She will be here through the 28th, so we may not be alone after all. 

The morning was boring, but the day got better.  LB took Aidan to the garden but he wouldn't behave, so she brought him back and we played with his balloon.  He would go into a runner's crouch, I'd say ready-set-go! and he'd be off like a little rocket, running and then jumping to grab the balloon string.  We broke for a room service lunch, then played and danced.  He taught me the words to a song he frequently sings.  We went next door to play with our travel mate's daughter, and then I was going to go to McD's for supper but he got very upset at the idea of my going without him so I threw pants and a coat on over his pjs and he came along.  He skips everywhere we go.

After supper he learned to say the English numbers one through four.  He was so proud of himself that he did it again, and again, and again.  He would also clap his hands after doing it.  LB took him next door to show off his new talent and they cheered for him as well.

Random garden photos.  LB goes there daily to do her school work and get our of the room.  It is a really beautiful Japanese garden-we are in a Japanese hotel-but like all of the beautiful gardens of Beijing, there is a layer of dirt much like Mount St. Helens ash after the eruption, covering everything (pollution).  It really is too bad, because the city is beautifully landscaped in the common areas and everything is still in bloom, unlike home.


 
 

I managed to reach G by phone today but had to leave a message at PB's house.  I'm suffering from some pretty serious RB withdrawals right now.

Despite this, today was the best day so far.  We went first to the Beijing zoo.  Although the animal care and confinement leaves a lot to be desired, it was the first kid-friendly place we have been.  No one was pushing or shoving, and strollers could be pushed around easily, meaning that our travel mate could enjoy the day as well.  We also weren't stared at and the kids weren't poked or prodded the way they are in other places.

Aidan picked out a hot pink balloon for himself, and on the way out I bought him a collection of Ultraman action figures.  He carried the action figures with him when we went to the pearl market.  I didn't really want to go since I don't have the ability to spend, but ended up enjoying it and I did buy a small pink pearl ring.  Pearls are my favorite jewelry.

After the pearl market we went next door to a great Chinese restaurant.  Finally! Chinese food in China.  Everyone enjoyed this day.

 
 

I called FedEx this morning and they said that my package was signed for at 8:59 a.m. Thursday in D.C., but I had no fax, so I called the courier and he said the package just arrived (Thursday evening) and that he would take care of it tomorrow (Friday at home).  So we might be able to get the fax and have it translated this weekend, but no civil affairs appointment until at least Monday.

Today we went to the Forbidden City.  It was beautiful and impressive, but again it was not a good place for kids.  Plus the smog and dirt lay on everything.  We left there to go to a children's clothing store-the little girl being adopted by our travel mate needs some larger clothing than what she has.  I looked for stuff for Aidan, but everything in the store was too small.  His clothes fit for the most part, so we'll just use them until we get home (I brought sizes four and five and that's what he wears-some things just fit better than others).

After nap we took him to the pool, then ordered room service and found out that he loves spaghetti.

Yes, LB stood out from the crowd


Before-I need these armbands for what?


Okay-Maybe it's not so bad


After-The Proud Conqueror!


 
 

No fax today-we asked the courier to fax the forms when he had them done so that we could have them translated ahead of time to save one step.  I called the courier and he said that he did not yet have the package I sent.  I'll call later tonight and see where it is.  In Beijing it takes seven business days to get the passport after applying for it, and the day your application is dropped off is not considered one of those business days.  So every day matters.  Even our original itinerary was not correct.

Touring today included the Temple of Heaven.  I can't say that I enjoyed it because all I could think of was the recent murder there during the Olympic games.  It was also not a place for kids to have a good time, and now that I have money worries (having no idea how long I'll stay here or how much it will cost), touring is no fun.

We went to the silk factory after the Temple of Heaven.  They have beautiful stuff, but all of it can be bought at home as imports. 

Then finally we went to a grocery store-a real grocery store, not the garage door sized convenience stores or the overpriced basement of the expensive department store that I first went to.  It was called a Lotte Mart, and it was like a discount retail market/grocery store.  I got Aidan a little backpack full of Leg-Os which made him happy-he likes to put my backpack on himself.  I don't know if he liked the pack or the blocks better.  He also liked riding in the main part of the grocery cart-he's too big for the child seat. 

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful-nap, play, meal, bath, bedtime.

Future Builder of America at Work


 
 

Today we went first to the orphanage and finally got rid of our donations.  After that we went to see the Great Wall.  The kids and I went quite a ways but some of the steps were half Aidan's height and he got tired.

We also went to a jade factory where the salespeople work very hard to relieve visitors of their money.  I bought a ring for LB and it is in place of a senior class ring-so much better, anyway.

On the way back we drove through the Olympic Village which was clean and impressive.  I don't think I've mentioned that Beijing is under a constant cloud of smog, but blue sky does not exist here.  Beijing could also be any cosmopolitan city anywhere in the world if not for the people.  It has almost entirely modern architecture and all of the signs are in both Chinese and English.

We ate lunch at a Korean restaurant near the hotel where the ladies spoiled Aidan rotten, then went to a 711 and stocked up on beverages and snacks.  Both kids fell asleep at 2:30 in the afternoon and didn't wake until morning.

Gardens at the Great Wall-I just love gardens


The three of us with the sun in our eyes


The kids checking out the view


 
 

Another very long day.  Our guide and I left at 7:40 for the U.S. Embassy.  Aidan had to stay with LB because as a non-citizen he cannot enter the premises.  They could not help us and said that only the Chinese embassy in the U.S. could.  But we tried the Chinese embassy in Beijing just in case, and they confirmed that they could not help us.  So we returned to the hotel, did a flurry of copying and faxing, and arranged for a FedEx pickup of our Power of Attorney to be sent to the courier in D.C.  From there we went to the bank to get a USD bank check for the fee and after waiting half an hour found out that only the main office could do it.  So we were off to the main office where it took over an hour to get a bank check.  Getting a taxi back was a problem, but eventually we arrived at the hotel about five minutes after the FedEx guy did, managed to find the right part of the building where he was, and got the forms off in the mail with the check.  They should reach the courier Wednesday morning, so they could be back here by Friday morning.  That will mean at least a week's delay in our adoption, though, and it will mean that we stay here alone without our travel mates.

 
 

Today was long and unsuccessful for us.  We went to the Civil Affairs Office where they would not accept our Power of Attorney.  It was authenticated by the state, as our agency told us it should be, but Beijing will not accept state authentications.  We couldn't go to the U.S. consulate because they were closed for Columbus Day, so tomorrow we'll see if they can help.  In the mean time, my travel mate got all of her paperwork taken care of.  It was a LONG day-we left at 8:15 and didn't get back until almost 2:30.

LB and Aidan fell asleep on her bed and when he woke he took his first bath with his tugboat toys.  He loves the bath.  We do know that he has never been swimming but he pretended to swim with his arms in the tub.  I also found his Mongolian Beauty Spot, thanks to my travel mate.  It looks like a large black and blue, so I'll be sure to point it out to our doc at home and have it recorded.

 
 

Slept about two hours, same as the previous night.  Breakfast was great-lots of fresh fruit-I ate melons and pineapple.  Probably not a great idea.  Remember me saying that I don't travel well?  Our van for the day smelled of cigarette smoke and I was in one of the back seats.  So it is easy enough to figure out what came up-first time just before meeting Aidan, second time just before our photo was taken together (we both look ghastly-he due to trauma, me due to illness), and the third time a little later on.  After that I got the front seat when going anywhere.

So, on to the orphanage.  When our son came out he refused to make eye contact and physically moved away from me.  His head was bowed, and after a few minutes tears began to fall silently.  Then he started sobbing.  The nannies tried to reassure him, but he left still crying.

There were problems with our paperwork.  My agency said to bring one copy of my husband's passport and didn't mention needing any of my own.  I had one copy of his passport for Guangzhou, none of my own, and my donation was in US dollars, which they would not accept.  So we left with the children (my travel mate, her mother and daughter-myself, my daughter and son) to do errands.  We got our passport photographs (mentioned above), then went to the hotel where Aidan began crying again during his snack and continued until errands were over-those included changing money at the bank, getting photocopies made, picking up our passport photographs, and shopping at the store for some foods that are familiar-to Aidan, not to us.

Back at the hotel LB was asleep.  The real Aidan finally came out.  With Matchbox cars, a coloring book, a flip-sheet invisible drawing pad, and stickers, he giggled, jabbered away, and acted silly.

Late in the afternoon he took a nap.  He is a great sleeper.  Took off his shoes, took a toy to bed, and was asleep within minutes.  When he woke we walked to McDonald's, then back to our room.  He fell out of the bed so I pulled a chair up next to it and then he was fine, even cuddling up to me a couple of times.

One of the most important signatures of my life!


Sobbing Baby


And the joker emerges.  (It was his idea to put the stickers on his face.)


 
 

My list is almost all checked off.  G and I went out one night to get combination luggage locks-key locks aren't okay with Chinese avaiation rules-and to copy the adoption announcements-I couldn't find any that I liked and thought fit with us and our four year old's experience so I made my own.  We also took care of his visa photos-I have to take them with me even though he's not traveling.  There were at least half a dozen other things that got done. 

We still have the big question of missing school for LB.  I wrote to the superintendent two weeks ago asking that her days away be allowed as excused absences but have heard not a word back.  So last night I sent an email follow up to my letter.  If I hear nothing today, I'll have to call my school board representative.