Lydia Day!!!

30Nov06

What a DAY! We started up at the crack of 3:30AM this morning – we think it was something to do with Lydia Day!

After packing and a quick breakfast, we checked out of our hotel at 7:20 and met Zhou and our driver for the 90 minute drive to New Day, which is on the outskirts of Beijing.

We ended up in the middle of no where and turned into a walled village of single and 2-story brick buildings. We drove through some alleys, and things opened up into a mini-courtyard and we saw Americans roaming around and knew that this was it! Zhou hopped out and confirmed we were in the right place, and we immediately found ourselves being introduced to New Day Director Karen Brennamen and her assistant, Grace. God was smiling on our meeting, but He had greater things in store.

We walked to the building and the door opened to a nanny holding our Lydia! She looked exactly like we’d imagined, but she seemed very anxious. Lydia’s caretakers had been telling her about her new family, but it finally hit her, and boy, did it hit us! We followed Karen and Lydia into a playroom that was FULL of kiddos who immediately swarmed us. Tami followed Lydia and Andy was tackled by a crew of little boys wanting their hands on his videocamera.

Lydia had a little spat with another child and that set her off – big-time tears, and she wanted NOTHING to do with either of us. We couldn’t get her quieted down, so Karen suggested we all go up to her office with Lydia and see if some privacy would help. Karen and Grace both handed us a bag full of Lydia’s things…a disk full of photos that had been taken of her since she arrived from Luoyang, a CD full of her favorite children’s songs, artwork that Lydia had made over the past 6 months, a calendar, medical reports and Lydia’s daily schedule. In addition to all of these things from New Day, the items that we sent Lydia in her care package were also there, as well as the disposable camera that we sent, full of pictures that we can’t wait to develop.

While Karen was explaining some of Lydia’s history with us, Lydia settled down and Karen handed her over to me. She was content sitting on my lap and the tears stopped. It only took a little coaxing from Andy (he gave her his cell phone) and Lydia was all grins, and headed over to sit on his lap. That was the end of tears until about 4:30 that afternoon. That’s right folks…not another tear was shed when we left, on our drive to and from the airport, or on the plane. God is good!

After we met in Karen’s office, we got to tour the facilities. We had a chance to interact with several of the other children, and were even able to get some pictures of Chloe, a little girl who is being adopted to a new on-line friend of ours. We hope the Payne’s enjoy the pictures of Chloe that we sent them. We also were on a quest to take pictures of another little girl, Kimberly, but were told that she was in foster care. So sorry Linda, that we couldn’t come through for you!!

What a blessing New Day is to Chna’s special needs children. This facility full of Christian workers went above and beyond every expectation we could have imagined. We were overwhelmed with emotion through our entire visit and just can’t say enough about the people who run this place. Lydia’s nanny’s were sad to see her leave, but are so happy that she is starting a new life in America where she will grow up in a Christian home.

We said our good-bye’s to our friends at New day and can’t say enough. They are run entirely by sponsorship, and I encourage anyone who is touched by this outreach to go to their website and make a donation. Thanks to our friends who have already done just that! The next part of our day was heading to the airport back in Beijing – another hour and a half drive back to the city. Lydia fell asleep for about 20 minutes or so, and woke up when we arrived. We went through security with no problems and headed to our gait. Lydia did great on the plane and stayed awake through the entire flight. She loved her doll from Aimee…we saved that till we got on the plane – thanks Aimee!! She has been toting around her baby all day!

Once we got to Zhengzhou, we had another hour ride to our hotel…did I mentioned that it has been a REALLY LONG DAY???? Lydia got a burst of energy in the cab and opened the door when we were driving!! I guess they don’t have child-proof locks in China!! Thank goodness I had quick reflexes! We also experienced our first BM of the day….what an experience that was changing her on the busy China roads in a taxi cab….you can only imagine!!!

We checked in to our hotel and then were off to get our official adoption paperwork arranged. We had to walk about 20 minutes (carrying Lydia – no stroller yet…) to get there, sign lots of forms, get pictures taken, and get Lydia’s passport. We will return tomorrow morning at 10:00 to complete the adoption after our mandatory “bonding period” is over. We ate dinner in the hotel restaurant (it was awesome authentic Chinese food), and Lydia piled it in…she fits right into our family already! She will be able to keep up with the rest of us for sure. She had chicken, shrimp, rice, beans and watermelon. As you can imagine, we are paying from all of the over-eating. Our room doesn’t smell like a rose garden now!!

After a bath we brushed her teeth and read a book, and now Lydia is sleeping. God willing, she will sleep through the night and we will all finally get some much needed rest. It has been a day that words cannot express, one that we will always remember. We are so blessed to have Lydia join our family. We are looking forward to experiencing a little more of her heritage when we get to Luoyang tomorrow.

Thanks again for everyones prayers. They have certainly worked, as our first day together has been just wonderful. We miss Abby and Alexa and can’t wait for them to meet their little sister.

Goodnight friends and family!

With love from China,
Tami, Andy and Lydia


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Words cannot the last hour – all that we can say right now is that our entire family is blessed beyond compare!

It’s 11:00am and we’re closing in on the Beijing Airport for our flight to Zhengzhou. We’ll check back in once we have decent access.

Love,
Tami, Andy & Lydia


What a Day!

29Nov06

Well folks, it was all that we were told about and more. So much that we want to share, but we don’t want to bore anyone, so we’ll share highlights.

This morning started with a meal here at the the Holiday Inn – it was a breakfast buffet, Beijing Style – a few ‘normal’ western items to choose from, but lots of local favorites – fried noodles and vegetables, dumplings (made to order!) and lots of fresh fruit. Tami gives thumbs up to the cabbage and spinach.

Zhou met us for a quick bite and we were off with our driver, who we’ve named ‘Mia’ – very nice girl, and she’s as aggressive a driver as they come here in China. We have come close to hitting walkers and people on bikes everywhere we go. It’s every man for himself getting around here.

We started the day at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Zhou said that it was the perfect time to visit – light crowds, and the temperatures here were in the 40s, so with a warm jacket, hiking around was great. The Forbidden City was awesomely huge – it kept going and going.

It was amazing to be in what was the center of an ancient society – the buildings were phenomenal. Our history fans (Pappy and Scott Niedzwiecki) would have spent days here. And Pappy, we’ve got some pictures of the Royal Gardens for you :^)

We then took off to the Cloisonne Factory and Friendship Store, where Zhou had already arranged a meal for us to enjoy before shopping. With more than enough food for 2, a couple bottles of water, HUGE bottle of beer for Andy, our bill came to $10 U.S. for both of us – sweet! Uncle Tim, they had something called garlic sprouts with pork. The sprouts had the texture of asparagus, but tasted like garlic – good eats.

After lunch and shopping, we took off for the Great Wall. Zhou told us that we were going to the best part of the Wall here in the Beijing area, which was in Badaling. As expected, the morning crowds had thinned out, and with the haze burned off, it was PERFECT viewing. Alexa and Abby – it was so STEEP. We were blown away how huge and sprawling the Wall is, and to imagine that it goes on for hundreds and hundreds of miles!

On our way back to the car, we were gang-tackled by vendors looking to make their end of the day sales. While Tami and Zhou got some killer deals, Andy was raked over the coals by a woman who grabbed me by the coat and wouldn’t let him leave until a sale was made. Zhou made fun of the poor bargaining skills.

It’s 6:00pm here at the hotel and we’re going to check in with the kids on Skype before a dinner downstairs. We need a good night’s sleep before Lydia Day tomorrow – we have to leave the hotel by 7:15am in order to pick Lydia up at New Day and then make our flight to Zhengzhou.

We’ll check in tomorrow night (our time) with lots of pictures!



Hi everyone!  We’re getting our day started here in Beijing – it’s 6:30am our time, 5:30pm yours.   Tami has been up since 3:30 – she’s been fighting some sort of cough since before we left and the dry air on the plane and in the hotel is beating her up.

Tami hopped out of the shower and wants to share that she’s officially having a “Good Hair Day” – the hotel dryer worked fine, and she’s doing quite fine.

I (Andy) slept like a dead man last night, despite our wafer-thin bed here at the hotel.  For a few days leading into the trip, I tried to stay up as late as possible, and then fought the urge to sleep on the flight over.  Someone recommended melatonin to adjust sleep, and it worked well. 

Also, if you get a universal power adapter that’s big, take it back – ours falls out of the wall as soon as we try to use it – garbage.   You may be able to pick up just an Asia plug adapter that attached to the end of a power cord, so if you can find that at Radio Shack or somewhere like that, that is my recommendation.

A note to our friends heading over…get used to drinking and using water out of bottles before heading over…we got here and Tami caught herself using tap water for brushing teeth.  Hopefully, it won’t come back to haunt us  :^)

Today is Beijing Day, and we are checking out the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square this morning.  After the crowds thin out at lunchtime, we are off to the Great Wall.  Will be good to walk off nervous energy, as tomorrow is Lydia Day!

We’ll post more tonight…


We’re Here!!!

28Nov06

Hi everyone!  It’s Tami and Andy from the the Downtown Beijing Holiday Inn, and we are here, safe, sound and WORN OUT!  We’ve been on the go for about 24 hours and are settling into our hotel room for some rest.  Our flight over from Chicago to Beijing was delayed by a couple of hours, but what’s two hours with a 14-hour flight, right?

Tami and I were accompanied over by Uncle Zhou, who will be our facilitator from start to finish while here in China.  He arranged for a driver to haul us to the hotel this evening, and who will also take us tomorrow to the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. 

We will be getting Lydia on the 30th here at 10AM China Time, so that would be 9PM EST on the 29th.

Not much more to share except details on the trip here, so here it goes…

The plane over from Chicago to Beijing was HUGE…a 747 with 2 levels.  We found ourselves in the second to last row in United’s Economy Plus class.  The Plus is tacked on to throw you off.  Either that, or the non-Plus people rode down with the luggage.  Wasn’t as bad as the sardine flights to Vegas, but it was booked solid.  Our friends in front of us loved reclining their seats, leaving us with approximately 1-3/4 inches of legroom.

There was a really, really cute little Chinese girl sitting near us – she was Lydia’s age and we couldn’t help staring.  Did we say cute?

For our adoptive friends will be travelling…here’s a tip…pack and travel LIGHT. 

 While you can take 2 bags at 50 pounds per person (along with carry on items) in the U.S., Chinese Domestic Travel only allows 44 pounds per person TOTAL including carry-on items.  We do want to thank our adoptive family friends for suggestions on packing – we packed with expectations of wearing everything a couple times and washing once.  Remember folks, a travel-sized Fabreeze is your friend!  ;^)

As for your carry-on items, I (Andy) overestimated what I’d do on the plane and brought much more than needed – a reading book, a Sudoku book and an iPod is all I needed to carry on besides the laptop – it got heavy after lugging stuff through.

I’m not sure why we expected difficulties getting into China, but Customs and Immigration was a breeze.  Tip #2 – get off the plane as fast as you can to avoid long lines at Customs.

Not much else to report right nowbnut we will post a bunch tomorrow after our trips along with some photos and maybe a video or two.

Thanks for your prayers and God Bless!
Tami & Andy


Hi all, Andy here.  Lots comes to mind as our countdown to Lydia brings us closer to our travel date in two days, but the word that we find ourselves saying most is “Blessed”.  So many of you have been with our family every step of the way, which has helped more than we can say.  We all want to thank you for your thoughts, prayers and attempts to turn those frowns upside-down when the waiting got tough.  There are thousands and thousands of other families waiting their turns to adopt, so at this point, we’ll ask that you divert a prayer or two their way.

OK, enough with the mushy stuff – we’re ready to ROLL!  Countdown right now is t-minus 38 hours, 45 minutes and 29 seconds.  Not that we’re counting or anything…  🙂 

Tami and the girls festively decorated Casa Roberts today and I got in our second-to-last run to Wal-Mart.  We know we’re going to be there at like 2am the morning we leave.  Gotta love 24-hour retail. 

Lydia’s bag is packed and our stuff is in a couple piles in our room, so we are rounding third and heading home.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is officially declared “Family Day” by Alexa and Abby, and they’ve chosen a trip to the Cleveland Zoo followed by the requisite gorging at the Mongolian Barbecue as their picks for the day.  Our dinner trip is a delayed treat to the girls for royally kicking butt on their report cards – yesss!

OK, the last pieces of information to share before I forget…on top of updating our blog on a regular basis, we plan on using Skype and/or Gmail for staying in touch with those back at home.  The Dealy-O:


Skype is almost better than Elvis and definitely more reliable than the Cleveland Browns.  For those who’ve not heard of it, Skype lets you use your PC and the Internet for making audio calls over the internet.  For free.  As in no dinero.  Awesome.  Head there now (here) and sign up.  Then, leave a comment on the blog and let us know what your address is…we’ll be using ac.roberts from China.

Since China can be a little fickle about the Internet, our backup plan to talk to folks back home is:

If you don’t already have a Gmail Account, you need one.  Like yesterday.  Free online e-mail, accessible anywhere, and not dependant on your internet service provider.  Oh, and voice and text chats.  And you need an invite to get one.  So, if you want an invite, post a request via a comment with your current email address and I’ll send you one.

Bye for now.