After our visit to the Terracotta Warriors, we had a great night out in Xi'An. Xi'An is quite beautiful and given the fact that it is so hot during the day, the city really comes alive at night (don't get me wrong though, it is ALWAYS crowded here!).
Winnie and the girls in front of our hotel before heading out for dinner.
Matt and Alex waiting for dinner to arrive.
Wherever we go to eat, Winnie always tries to order something off the menu that is local to the area that we visiting. Don't you love how the waitress is pouring our tea?
Alex pouring beer in cool little bowls.
Nice ceiling in the restaurant:
I got bubble tea for dessert. I just love that stuff!!
We made our way to the city square to see the locals sell their items on the street (I like how you can cross a busy intersection underground instead of fighting traffic...
There are a lot of old, pretty buildings in Xi'An that light up at night. It's gorgeous!
On our way back to the hotel we walked through a night market, lined with various restaurants and stalls. It was almost midnight and it was still so crowded!
We visited the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'An today. What an amazing historical site...
The farmer who orginally discovered the statues in 1974 is here this week signing autographs.
To listen to how they were discovered, why they were originally made and to see how many there are is amazing. And to think there are even more!! They are confident that there are more warriors that have yet to be discovered and they continue looking for them in the surrounding area's. My mind is officially blown.
Today we made our way from Changsha, Hunan to Xi'An, Shaanxi. We took another train and we are quite the spectacle here! People stare at us and are constantly talking to the girls (in Chinese of course and when Winnie tells them they don't speak Chinese, we often get a disapproving look from the locals). I was waiting with our luggage and at one point a couple came running over, frantically talking to me in Chinese. The womon stood next to me and forced me to put my arm around her and just like that her husband took a picture of us. Hilarious!
The man in this picture apparently wanted to know how our family fits together. I was quite impressed with Alex who was able to explain to him (with his limited Mandarin) how we are all related.
Tahlia has been so sweet with the kids around here. She is always smiling at them, waving at them, asking them for hugs and taking selfies with them :-)
Once on the train we settled in for the five hour long ride. In typical fashion, Tahlia put on her mask and her earbuds and was out for about two hours.
Jazzie and I played some games:
The rest of us napped and played a various electronic devices.
This little girl sat in front of me and kept staring at me; she was so cute!
And now we are checked in at our hotel in Xi'An. I'm off to bed since I'm so tired and another busy day is waiting for us tomorrow. Goodnight!!
Today was the day that Jazzie had been waiting for. After being picked up at our hotel by our local guide and driver, we took a two hour drive to Youxian SWI...
Dirt road leading up to the SWI:
Director Ding and his vice-president were waiting for us and welcomed us warmly. The vice-director immediately took Jazzie's hand started to lead us into the office where we were served tea and fruit.
It was surreal to see my first real glimpse of the place where our daughter spent the first 10 months of her life. A place I had only seen in pictures before...
I had to smile when I noticed a picture of Holland on Director Ding's office door...
Once in the office, we were given Jazzie's file to look over and they showed as a scrapbook that another family brought several years ago when they visited. The thing is that I had completely forgotten putting together a page until I came across it ;-)
After speaking with the director for a while, we were given a tour of the building. The orphanage houses only five children now!! There is only one room with babies left. We passed several others room with empty cribs just piled on top of each other or lined up in a row.
The one question Jazzie had was if there were still people that worked at the SWI who were there when she lived there. Turns out that there were two nannies still!! They both remembered Jazzie when we showed them a baby picture.
Jazzie and her caregiver:
We immediately recognized this nanny, beause she was the one who carried Jazzie into the hotel and had her on her lap while we were waiting to receive the babies... We were amazed that she was still there.
Looking a bit pensive...
A few pictures in front of Youxian SWI:
Then the director and vice-director took us to a local restaurant for lunch:
After lunch we went to look at Jazzie's finding spot, but were surprised to find out that we stopped at a local jewelry store first so that the director could buy the girls a necklace with their Chinese zodiac charm. Such a sweet and lovely gesture!
With the vice-director...
Tahlia was treated just as warm and kindly as Jazzie was.
Next and final stop: Jazzie's finding spot.
We put up a poster...
And it wasn't long before we had people coming to check it out ;-)
Getting hugs goodbye:
So, so grateful we got to do this as a family...
Tomorrow we leave Hunan and will make our way to Xi'An where we will see the Terracotta Warriors.
Currently it is Monday evening, July 8 and we are in Changsha!! We left Guangzhou this morning and took the speed train to get here. It took about three hours and it was not bad at all. We are all checked in at the Longhua International Hotel and if you are going to be traveling to Changsha any time soon, I highly recommend this hotel.
We had a great time in Guangdong and we are so grateful to Winnie's parents for opening up their homes to us. It was wonderful to take Tahlia back to where she came from and I really believe she left her province with a sense of peace. It was especially wonderful to experience her seeing herself in other people on the streets. Every time she saw a person that looked like her, so pointed it out and several times she went up to a little gitl, just because she thought that they looked like her :-)
We spent yesterday morning on Shamian Island. We stayed there during our adoption trips and even though a lot has changed since we were there, it was still nice to walk around the island and see all the familiar sights.
The medical exam is where we offcially found out that Jazzie was deaf (even though we already knew it in our hearts, but kept it quiet in fear of us not being able to keep Jazzie). We were asked three times if we wanted a different baby and the entire experience was so emotional for me that I blocked a lot of it out. I just remember crying and crying because I was SO afraid that we were not going to be able to keep Jazzie because we were not approved for a special needs child. Thank goodness our wonderful agency worked overnight to get our paperwork in order and we were able to take Jazzie home. A special shout-out to our travelmates who consoled and supported us during that time. It was almost surreal to have Jazzie stand in front of the building 11 years later.
The White Swan Hotel was closed for remodeling so we could not get in :-(
One more swim in the pool at Winnie's family's apartment building. I'm on the 29th floor and Matt and Tahlia are down there swimming!
Finally an update!! I am having a hard time posting pictures due to very slow internet. On 4th of July we visited Yangchun SWI. It was an emotional day for all of us, but I am so glad we got to this for Tahlia. We will visit Jazzie's orphanage on the 9th, but for now here are some pictures of our Yangchun visit.
Picture taken before we got into the car to head to the SWI, right across the street from our hotel.
Matt and Alex talking to director Yu:
The director handed us Tahlia's file and we were able to look over everything and take pictures of it.
We even got to see am early picture of Tahlia that we had never seen before. It was at this point tht Tahlia started to cry. She was just so sad and I can't even imagine what was going through her little head.
Tahlia and her official Yangchun file:
Tahia received a gift from director Yu. Winnie's dad is holding it up for her. He came along and served as our driver. So cool...
This little baby is going home to her American parents in a few weeks. I got to snuggle her and whisper that her mommy and daddy were coming soon. I also got to send a few pictures to her mom :-)
The girls had a good time playing with some of the other children. We brought beach balls and hair clips for them....
Winnie enjoyed some cuddles as well:
This little girl was fascinated by the girls iTouches and really enjoyed taking some selfies with Jazzie and Tahlia:
Alex talking to a boy who kept following us around...
Jazzie gave him a lollipop and he had no idea what to do with it. She showed him how to eat it and it was just so sweet.
Tahlia in her old room:
Tahlia really enjoyed seeing director Yu. Tahlia made a point of sitting next to her at lunch and gave her several hugs. She definitely felt a connection and I think it must be because director Yu is the only direct link to her past. Miss Yu told us that she defintely feels that Tahlia has the Yangchun look ("short and cheeky") and has no doubt she is from the area.
Putting up a poster at her finding spot:
I am SO glad we were able to do this. Even though it was emotional and hard to see the kids that are still there, in the end it was a very positive experience for all of us.
We are here!!! After a looooong flight, we finally made it to Hong Kong. I am so proud of the girls who did very well on the plane. Right now we are in Yangchun where we will visit Tahlia's orphanage tomorrow. This is a special visit for many reasons, one of them being that it was exactly 9 years ago to the day that we adopted Tahlia. I'm hoping to be posting pictures soon!!!