Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dispatches From Taiwan Part II (the good stuff!!)

I have been a bit hesitant to post about our experience with the glorious Kate Pei-Jung because, superstitiously, I suppose, I don't want to jinx it! Kate (whom we have yet to call Kate) is the most ridiculously easy baby we have ever known. She is JUST LOVELY: happy, mellow, smiley and playful. She would love nothing more than for you to sit with her all day and gaze into her beautiful almond eyes. I thought I would be worried if our child did not react with sadness when she left her foster mother, but she didn't and I don't worry because I think that is just who she is. Mrs. Lee, obviously adored her and told us she was a VERY easy cuddly baby. Last night Kate cried for about 20 minutes (we think it might have been constipation) and up until then she literally had not cried for more than 30 seconds. When she's upset it's always easy to turn it around and make her smile. She seems the most happy when we are together quietly in the hotel room playing. She is less animated when in a crowd. She isn't upset, but she puts on her game face and just watches. She's definitely a watcher. So here are the details:
Day five: Thursday, December 18th is the BIG day. We pile into Mei-Ru's Toyota (sort of like a land cruiser, very nice) and begin our two hour drive to Taichung. We listen to the English radio station, which plays mostly hits from the 80's and a Bing Crosby Christmas C.D. all the way there. Mei-Ru is very friendly and easy to talk to so if you have questions about her life or life in Taiwan, this is a great opportunity for conversation. On the way there and back there are several nice rest stops with large clean bathroom facilities and a restaurant/grocery store. The only surprise, if you have not been in Asia before, is that the toilets (for women anyway) are simply basins buried in the floor. Be sure to check if you need to get your toilet paper BEFORE you enter the stall as some, but not all of them, are that way. We arrive at TWCA and meet Carridee, as many of you know, a really lovely young woman. You are asked to leave all your gifts with TWCA instead of taking them to the foster mother. We are at TWCA about 10 minutes while Carridee gets some papers together and then we all get back in the car and make the short drive to Mrs. Lee's home. Mrs. Lee is wonderful!! She radiates a kind gentle warmth. I would guess she is between 30 and 35 and according to Mei-Ru and Carridee she is married and has a 10 y.o. daughter. I felt we could stay as long as we wanted and ask as many questions as we would like but, of course, I was so overcome with emotion that I could not remember anything to ask. Pei-Jung is TINY! She seems very healthy and happy but she sure is small. She does NOT look that small in pictures but I promise you that she is. I thanked Mrs. Lee profusely and made Carridee tell her repeatedly how MUCH we appreciated all she had done. Then it is back in the car to TWCA where we do about 5 minutes worth of paperwork and sifting through Pei-Jung's things (all of which I got back, I must say after being here and meeting everyone I have total faith and the highest regard for TWCA).

I am sorry to report, although not surprised, that we did not meet Pei-Jung's birth mother. Caridee said that she could not decide whether she wanted to come or not until the last minute and in the end decided she could not. I completely understand but I am sorry that we did not get to meet her and reassure her that we would take loving care of her/our beautiful daughter. Along with her gifts I did write her a long letter and Caridee assured me that it would be translated and given to her. After our goodbyes at TWCA we plopped Pei-Jung in the car seat, settled in the back with her and drove back to Taipei. WAIT! We did stop at the baby store and picked up a few things including the formula stackers (LOVE THEM!!!) and a couple of CD's that Mrs. Lee said Pei-Jung liked. When we got back to the Golden China Mei-Ru came inside and helped us fill out the paperwork that we needed which took about 10 minutes since all they really ask for is the I-600 and the DS 230. We brought A LOT of extra paperwork that no one cared about. I think you should bring it just in case, but I think it is rarely ever needed.

Day six: Mei-Ru picks us up at 8:00 a.m. and we drive 10 minutes to AIT. If you are comfortable in a big city, you can easily experience Taipei without a guide. To complete your work with TWCA and AIT, however, the JOH guides are an absolute MUST (in my humble opinion). Things could not have gone more smoothly and I'm pretty sure it was all due to Mei-Ru's presence. As soon as you hit AIT there were several long lines at different points but with Mei-Ru we somehow drifted to the head of the line the whole time. We went upstairs and waited about 15 minutes to talk to Mr Fu who checked our paperwork to make sure it was in order. Then we moved to the other side of the room, took an oath with everyone else and waited 35 minutes for our 10 minute interview with the American representative. Both were very friendly and it was NO BIG DEAL!

Final days: While at the hotel we have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting three other JOH families (Hi guys!!) and their beautiful children. On Friday night we had dinner at the Mongolian grill across the street from our hotel followed by a few Taiwanese beers on the putting green roof of the Golden China with The Pedinis from Austin (Mark, Farley and Neko), and I am SO sorry I am forgetting the last name of the very handsome Tommy and his parents Jeff and Lynn from Chicago, along with his darling big sister Emily, who was adopted from China. Yesterday we went to Taipei 101 with the Lees from Boston (Will, Linda and Julianna). What GREAT GREAT folks, every single one of them. We are definitely lucky to be in such wonderful company at JOH.
Today, Dan, Kate and I spent some NTD on gifts at the Holiday Market (also called the Jade and Flower market) which is only open on the weekends and enjoyed some family time in the big park about eight blocks from the hotel. Tomorrow we are doing laundry and sending Dan off on the plane. Kate and I will spend the night and leave at 11:00 p.m. (with the Lees!) on Tuesday.
Now that some of the newness and excitement has worn down, I started to really think about home today and of course the boys and can't wait to be back together again as a family. That being said, I feel so grateful that Taiwan adoptions require you to travel. It really is an unparalleled opportunity to experience your child's birth culture. We will both have been here seven full days and with a new baby (one who is VERY easy, so I can say this) it has been the perfect amount of time. I am really glad we did not bring the boys this time, but I look forward to returning as a family.

As always, I so appreciate all the good thoughts and prayers you have sent our way and hope you will keep sending them until we are safely home. I am now more excited than ever to follow along on the JOH journeys to come. Sending lots of love and blessings from Taiwan!


Tara said...

What a great play-by-play! Thank you for sharing. Happy to hear that all has gone so smoothly. Looks like even the weather was wonderful. Kate is precious!

Lisa said...

Oh my gosh, I have tears and goose bumps...well, you know I am an emotional gal! Plus I feel like I have followed your story from the very beginning till now...and certainly this is only another kind of beginning for your lovely family too!

You recounted your journey beautifully and with such detail. Thank you! Please know I'm taking careful notes and feel this incredible sense of excitement for our adventure ahead, due in part to everything you have shared!

And now the best part...seeing photos of you all! Miss P.J. (Kate) is such a beauty and I'm so loving on those cheeks! My goodness....I'm partial to cheeks!!
I'm just so tickled for your family and I know she will have two incredible big brothers at home too!!

Not certain if I will be able to follow along for your travels back home; we will be traveling this week for the holidays. ( No, not my folks! ) :) BUT please know you are in my thoughts and I will catch up just as soon as I am able to!

I'm sending joyous hugs!!
Lisa C.

heather said...

Yay! we are so happy to hear from you and Kate is simply adorable! I look forward to seeing you three soon, just a few more days! Safe travels home!
Love, Heather T and Crew

Red Thread to my Daughter said...

I am sitting here reading with tears rolling down my face. You make it all sound fabulous. We so cant wait to pick up our daughter. I love all the pictures!! Kate is just so cute!!!
Have a safe and happy trip home. Dont forget to blog once you are home because you know those of us not yet there love to hear how it is going.
Happy Holidays and a beautiful New year to you all.
Lisa R.

J said...

You rock sister!! Thanks for all of the good info, and the step by step helps for those who are coming behind you.

Kate is adorable, and you all look great together.

Wishing you a smooth ride home, and can't wait to hear how the boys react when they see Kate for the first time:)

big hugs

couey2007 said...

I'm so glad you posted. I am also pleased to hear how easy Kate is!!! Brooke did not smile at us for 3 days. I agreee Mei-Ru is great!!! I hope you have a safe and easy journey.

Michelle C, AL

Tiffany and Gabriel said...

So beautiful, all of you! Thank you for taking the time to update us. I am so happy for you and can't wait till you get home and your family will be complete.

dan and rachel said...

so great to hear the story and to see pics of you together! amazing! so glad to hear that she is easy peasy! :) how wonderful it will be for you all to be joined together as a family!

Angela said...

Oh congratulations! I just stumbled in here from the "Random" button. You do have a beautiful family and my heart is so happy for you and your new baby girl! I'm thrilled for you.