Well this brings us to the last of the pictures from our China trip. Finally!! 🙂 In a few hours we will have had Flint in our arms for 5 months. In many ways it seems crazy to say that, but mostly just because during the process I couldn’t imagine being home this long with our boy. But really this trip seems like so long ago. And when you adopt a child that isn’t an infant AND you knew them and loved them for 9 months before you got them it messes with your brain in terms of timing. I always think he’s been here for a summer before this one. But nope. This is his first Alabama summer. Flint is loving it. He loves swimming, playing in his water table, feeding the chickens, playing outside, and wearing shorts instead of giant snowsuits. He absolutely hates living creatures (other than people) his biggest nemesis is a FLY. Oh he is terrified of them. We just think its sort of like a little 3 or 4 month old baby that has never seen them and doesn’t know what to think. But we’ve seen progress in that area and the chickens (especially the new baby chicks) have helped a lot. Flint is doing really great and one of my biggest joys is to see how strong his body has become. I sometimes just can’t get over it. His muscle tone when he came to us was terrible. He fell every two seconds when he walked. He couldn’t pick up small toys and he’s arms flailed about when he walked. This is all completely better. He can stack small blocks. He can run across the yard (well he still trips some, but that is because he refuses to watch where he is going!) He can do flips (yes flips) all over the place. And he can climb on anything. ANYTHING. It also amazes me how terrified he was that first bath he had with us in China. He LOVES water now. At the splash pad he literally puts his whole face right in the sprinkler and loves it. We love that boy so much. And he is such a beautiful child. That dark skin just kills me. I’m so jealous!! I mean I look like a ghost next to him.
Okay so this picks up on Friday, January 23rd. The day before we had gone to the US Consulate to get Flint’s Visa to get into the US. We had to remain in Guangzhou until around 5:00 pm on Friday to wait for the Visa to be completed. That morning we got up and had breakfast and finished up packing. The hotel was having a World Hotel convention (or something like that) and the lobby was all fixed up. The night before they were having a party – like a cocktail party – in the lobby. That was strange. And a little annoying walking through all of those people with my three kids. But they thought it was fun. (Flint did not agree with his brothers)
We went to see the goldfish one more time! Fowler said just today that the fish were one of his favorite things.
We went back to our room to finish up after getting some lunch at the hotel. And soon it was 4:00. Our guides had arranged for us to have late check out because we had to wait to get Flint’s Visa. We met in the lobby with all of the families that went the day before to the consulate. And they were done. Yay! If for some reason the Visas weren’t done we would have had to wait until Monday to get them. That would have been not so fun. 🙂 Praise the Lord they were there! And right now in China the US Consulate is having some sort of computer issues and families have been delayed. Please pray with me that this will be worked out FAST! So they can get home with their sweet ones.
Now here comes some craziness. So we decided when we bought tickets to fly out of Hong Kong back home to the US on Saturday morning. There were more direct flights from there and well that’s just how it worked out. I highly recommend it and it worked great for us. We went back and forth on weather or not we should leave early Saturday morning to drive to Hong Kong to get to our flight, or to leave Friday afternoon, stay in Hong Kong for the night and then leave the next morning for the airport (only like 30 minutes from our hotel). Well if you are reading this and are getting close to travel, this is what we decided… We decided that making the longest travel day of our lives with a child that hadn’t even known us for 2 weeks even longer by having to leave the hotel in Guangzhou very early and then driving 3 hours to Hong Kong and then getting on a plane was just too much. We decided to drive to Hong Kong Friday night. We 100% recommend this. It was great!!
Right after getting Flint’s hot ticket into the United States we headed out to our van. (After Brad made a mad dash back to our room to get laundry we left in the dryer in our room!!) Our guides took care of it for us. So right outside of the Garden Hotel sat a beautiful brand new VW van and it was very small. Remember it was Brad, Tiffany, Amy (my mom), Fowler, Fisher, Flint, and all of our luggage! The driver, the guides, the hotel bellmen, and Brad spent a long time trying to pack it all in. It wasn’t pretty. And the driver was not too happy! But we got it all in. In Hong Kong the driver is on the “wrong” side so that was funny. There of course were no car seats. So it was Brad in the front with our super um… unhappy, trendy, hipster driver (who played pop Chinese music the whole way – hilarious – I had to literally hold in the laughter during one song, lets just say whatever they were saying in Mandarin or Cantonese sounded like VERY inappropriate words in English!). In the middle was myself holding Flint, Fisher in the middle (not in a seat or a seat belt but sitting on a little table sort of thing), and Fowler on the other side (thankfully in a seat belt). My mom was in the back with all of our luggage. You could barely see her eyes. She was completely surrounded. That was the scariest ride of my life. I have never prayed so long continuously in my life. It was a three hour drive mostly on interstate and our driver was driving pretty fast. AND ONLY ONE OF MY CHILDREN WAS BUCKLED. But he seriously was a good and safe driver. He paid attention the entire time. And he knew exactly what he was doing. And I would absolutely do it again. Really. At the end my arms were throbbing from holding Fisher and Flint with a death grip for 3 hours. All three boys slept the whole time. And we were all silent for the whole drive. 🙂
Part of the journey from Guangzhou to Hong Kong is that you have to cross through the border. (Which was AWESOME!) We had watched that border patrol show a million times during our trip (they had discovery channel in English) and I felt like we were on an episode of that show. As we pulled in to the border there were cars parked EVERYWHERE. We figured out that because they had Chinese license plates (our car had both) and not HK plates they couldn’t cross the border, so they just left them. Now it was a Friday night so I’m assuming many people just go to HK for fun on the weekends. But someone or a taxi would pick them up after they walked across the border.
We pulled up to our first check point. (I so wish I had pictures but I was too nervous and remember the death grip.) Our guide had our stack of passports and he knew exactly what to do. He pushed a button on the van and all of the doors opened. Someone looked at our stuff from afar I guess and then he shut the doors. They looked at our passports and then at our faces. My mom had to poke her head out of her luggage cave she was in. Then on to the next check point. This time they held a laser gun up and pointed it at our heads and checked our temperature!!! We knew they would do this but it was still CRAZY!! Of course Fowler loved it. Thankfully my mom did not have a fever!! We made it through and on into Hong Kong.
Once we got over the border it was like we had stepped back into the US. Everything was in English! Signs everywhere! Hong Kong is like Manhattan x 10! It is a beautiful city and mountains and water all around. Though we were there for less than 24 hours we realized that it was super easy to get around. We went by car. But because everyone spoke English and they are masters at getting millions of people to and fro everyday it all works pretty well. And we were alone at this point. No more guide. There is no need for a guide in HK though. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott. It was about 30 minutes from the hotel. It was pretty cheap and VERY nice. Two other families traveling back to Birmingham and on our same flights stayed there too. We got settled and checked out our view.
We decided to just eat in the hotel for convenience and it was very good and everyone was very nice. HK is very cool and we met lots of young people from the US. One guy was so impressed that we had traveled from Alabama with all of these kids to adopt another. 🙂 We went straight to bed after that. And woke up the next morning to lots of fog.
We packed up and headed to the airport. We made it there safely and easily. And found our gate. We bought 8 bottles of water after we went through security and they decided to do another security check in the terminal and they took them all away. Oh well we survived. The flight went fine and all the boys did great. We got to Dallas and found a TGI Fridays and everyone got the most American food they had and all the adults had a huge glass of sweet tea and the boys had lemonade. It was AMAZING. I mentioned that I would pay money to take a shower. (13 hours wrangling 3 children, 1 of which had no seat and was laying on me the whole time. And I didn’t wear socks and that was the only time they made me take my shoes off going through security – put me over the edge to feeling gross) My mom said, well I saw a place right back there. So off I went to find out more information. Indeed a SHOWER!! It was $25 and any and all of us could use it for an hour. It was spotless clean and they had washcloths and soap and shampoo. It was the absolute best shower ever. Brad watched the kids and then we swapped and he took one too. The lady working there was so nice and let us use the lounge even though that was supposed to be $10 more.
We left the shower store 🙂 and found our gate. We slept some at our gate and finally boarded to Birmingham. I cried when we touched down. The Lord had blessed us so much. What a journey!! I just couldn’t believe how smoothly our trip had gone. The kids did so great!! It was so good to see our family and friends that met us there! Some friends even sent us home from the airport with a tray of Chickfila chicken and two jugs of Milos sweet tea! It was so wonderful to have all three boys in the car! Flint did fine in the car seat for the first time in his life. We got home and our newly made keys to the house wouldn’t work and we almost made Fowler climb through a window to unlock the door. But I came to the rescue. When I was in college we used to forget our keys to our apartment all of the time. I learned how to unlock a door with my credit card. So guess what, 12 years later I still remembered how to do and I got us in.
We finally went to sleep at about 3:00 am with the full intention to wake up at about 10:00 am. We slept until 3:00 PM and I had to force everyone to get up. Jet lag was TERRIBLE but we finally came out of the fog about a week later. So thankful Brad took that extra week off to recover!!!
Thank you so much to a sweet friend and amazing photographer who took our coming home pictures!!! They are so good and I will treasure them always! Check her out! – http://www.visualartsbyjessica.com/ https://www.facebook.com/VisualArtsbyJessica?pnref=story
Thank you all so much for following our journey! I hope to continue posting some other tips for traveling to China. As well as more information about Flint.