Thursday, January 1, 2009

Van's Write Up About the Baotou Visit

I'm up at 4:15 a.m. again, without an alarm clock. I could not stay up last night, so I quickly took a shower this morning. This was going to be a big day for everyone involved. I needed to get laundry done, dress Garrett appropriately for cold weather, have plenty of camera cards, batteries, and video tapes. I also needed to get all the gifts ready for the staff at China Care and the foster parents. Madeline had given me a folder for each location, Hohhot and Guangzhou, to check everything off. The main thing was the gift, hundreds of pictures, tons of questions, and lots of videotape. That should be easy enough, oh wait, and take care of child and meet with foster parents on an emotional day. Houston, we have a problem! I dressed Garrett layered in the split pants from his FP's (Foster parents since they will be referred too many times in this paragraph), blue cordoroys, a thermal grey undershirt, and a striped multi-color shirt. We did a Video Conference (VC for short) with Madeline, Gracie, and our good friend, Laura Brown with her triplets who were keeping Gracie company. Garrett looked nice and now it was off to eat. We received the regular great treatment at breakfast with the first staff member we met, Hilary Dong, helping us. Garrett ate some of the omelette I had made, chicken link sausage (lighter than pork), and some fruit. He wouldn't eat the congee. I also noticed he drank a lot of apple juice this time in a short amount of time. I picked up some breakfast pastries, like a doughnut and some bread with jam. He didn't want any of it, and then it happened. He vomited most of his meal. Crisis mode in action, I quickly contained the situation by removing his first shirt which had almost all the mess. His pants had some on it, but was able to clean it up to get him upstairs. BTW, they make wonderful espresso here, and I needed it this morning. We got upstairs and I looked at his cordoroys which I didn't want to have to change. Then that thought came into my head "What would Madeline do" and quickly washed them off, set them aside and put on new outer clothes including pants for Garrett. He was wearing beige cordoroys and his red sweater. He seemed like he was feeling fine, and I gave him some water and a water-down juice. I had to finish getting all the information ready for the trip, make sure the the perfume gift for the Baotou SWI Orphanage nannies were included since Sandra said she could give it to them next week. It was time to go and meet Sandra and Mr. Leo for the 2 hour trip. On the way, I saw a different section of Hohhot, and then we drove along a very different looking mountain ridge that naturally protects Inner Mongolia for several hundred miles. Due to the cold weather, my window was frosted over and I could not take many pictures. The driving is a bit crazy, but was relatively smooth. Garrett fell asleep for most of it, while Sandra and I talked about many different things. She is very knowledgable of the cultures and history of China. We then entered the outskirts of Baotou. We drove into a business park of sorts that was like a big maze. I woke up Garrett shortly before this and had him all dressed up in his winter garments. We finally stopped and I opened the door, only seeing three younger ladies on a bike wearing the cold masks (like white surgeon masks). I got out to put on my coat, when the foster parents (FP from now on) had rushed to see Garrett. I was not alarmed since they were generally missing him. Garrett cried in joy for a second, but was more startled than sad or upset the rest of the time. I let them carry Garrett into the office. The FP's, Mr. and Mrs. Chung, were showing so much emotions of love towards Garrett at this time. I wanted them to have this moment, these were the caring, loving 1st parents of our child, and they deserved to hold him and love him today. I finally shook their hands, since hugging in Inner Mongolia is not normal. I had some quick pics made by the staff, and then handed them my camera to take some pics. I then took off my belongings and tried to situate and prepare the gifts accordingly. I first gave the Chungs their gifts, including a translated note from Madeline. Madeline wanted them to read it there, but they wanted it to be more private and I understood. I also gave them our website address. I gave a donation from our family to China Care as well, who gave me a receipt since it has an American base. I then tried to prepare the rest of the items, get the video camera going and also, meet with this very loving couple. They had raised Garrett and he had already trusted me and depended on me so much. I think the key moment that I have major meaning in his life is that he didn't scream when I would hold him after his foster parents passed him around. Also, in a most honorable way, the foster father and mother kept on pointing to me and called me "Ba ba" which is father in Mandarin. This was the same name the FP had used just recently. I have been trying to make Garrett call me "Daddy" so that he wouldn't be confused. I'm his Daddy while Mr. Chung will forever be his "Ba ba". The Chungs were definitely emotional the first couple of minutes, but after I exchanged some gifts, and after they gave Garrett a very generous assortment of his favorite foods (I was really impressed for the second time with their gifts), some smiles were developing on all of our faces. I went into the questions with Sandra doing all the translations. The Chungs would look into my eyes when responding. I didn't understand their language from their voice, but I could see in their eyes everything they were trying to say. Even writing this right now and remembering their sincerity tears me up, it was something that many people wouldn't have to deal with in life, confronting someone that had raised a child, and then passed them on to you to finish the journey. I had prepared for the worst...Garrett crying a lot and having the foster parents very upset by the situation. The FPs had black rings under their eyes. This was so much different, this was the ultimate love of parents, who agreed to temporarily raise a child, but will love always this child. As I kept on asking questions, the mood turned very upbeat. We both wanted to know about one another, and they had brought some pictures of their biological family. On the back, they had written information about their whole family. I knew Madeline was going to be just as happy as I was to receive this information, but then I didn't have pics for them. Oh, but wait, they had a whole photo album we had sent back in the spring with our information. I was glad about that, but I wanted to give them our names and address, which out from no where, Sandra pulls out a copy of our adoption paper, with all the information already translated in Chinese, except about Gracie which I filled in. Several questions were exchanged, mainly from what Madeline had prepared for me. I then asked if Garrett had another foster brother that we thought had been mentioned. He did, and they had given him away just 1 month prior to Garrett. That was very difficult for them to answer. I also asked if Garrett had a nickname, which they started to laugh and said "Fat Faced Cat" (I have it written down). After about 5 more minutes of questions, I was given China Cares e-mail address so that I could forward pictures for the Chungs. All of a sudden, I was led to a computer and loaded up our blog about Garrett. Everyone gathered around as the pictures started to populate. They were glad to see so much about our family and how we had the pictures they had sent all over the pages. They really laughed at the pic of Garrett feeding Mr. Chung ice cream. They also all liked pictures of Garrett's room and the door having all his baby pictures on it. I took a second to get back and check all the things I was supposed to do, and then I realized that there were a ton of people still gathered around a table in the next room where balloons were on the walls. I asked for some water and then asked, since I didn't know, if the decorations and party were for our meeting. Someone said, "No, it's to celebrate the last day of the year". It's funny, when I told Madeline this story later, we chuckled for a good 10 minutes. I've heard others laughing about it. I just was focused on meeting the Chungs, going over the questions, and also watching Garrett (well, the Chungs had that covered very well, but I didn't want to ignore him either!), that I had met most of the people there and the crowd would all wave when taking pictures. I didn't know but wasn't hurt either, just didn't want to be rude if we were supposed to thank them. I'll hear about this one for a long time.It was time to go, and they quickly took Garrett up the stairs. Seeing Chen Guang (Garrett) this last time was very tough for anyone knowing that their son they raised would live on the other side of the world. I held their hands and repeated that we will honor them as the Chungs rushed out the door. Garrett came back down stairs and then it was our turn to leave to go eat. I know I was drained, but nothing compared to what the wonderful Chung family had endured. Garrett luckily didn't react to missing his FP. I think keeping his mind busy just didn't click that they had left. We went down the road for a wonderful meal called a Mongolian hot pot. It is essentially a very hot broth with seasonings, boiled where you put shaved lamb, mushrooms, lettuce, and tofu in to cook, dip it in a ginger sauce that you spice up to your heart content, and eat. We also had some rice patties filled with seasoned lamb. It was a very different and a very tasty meal!The drive back was better since I could see the country side this time and also the mountain range. Garrett had slept most of the way back. We got back and ate a very good New Year's eve dinner complete with more lamb shanks, steak, and beer to sample! Garrett again had his female follower who included Dorothy, but also Livia Ren, Jennifer Zhang, and Sophie Pan. There was a very nice male servant that I never got his name and several other female servants that made us feel very special and were extremely nice to Garrett. I really do appreciate them and will let Holiday Inn know about the wonderful service I received. Besides the food being great every meal and having plenty of fruits for Garrett, the service is why I didn't venture off outside very much. It is just too cold to spend much time outside right now. The rest of the night, you could hear the sounds of fireworks all night long. I fell asleep and then woke up right at midnight since louder fireworks were being used.

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