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Journey To Aiden Diary


As far as we know (at the moment) we will be traveling to Nanning (to get Aiden) and then on to Guangzhou. We don't have any travel dates or other information at the moment.

Travel dates have arrived! We will be leaving for Guilin, China on Aug. 7th. We pick up Aiden on Aug. 14th. in Nanning.

Updates: (new posts at the top now)

Date: 8/26/06
Status: Home sweet & sour Home

We are home safe and sort of sound. We're all (except Faye) adjusting to the time change painfully. Aiden is still on China time and is basically up all night until about 5am when he crashes for most of the morning. I have been revisiting many old shows that are on at 3am like Miami Vice. Of course I cover Aiden's eyes whenever they show Don Johnson's pastels. I am going to write Michael Mann and request an apology for making me think that was cool.

Anyway Aiden is still a little more interested in Mom and insisting on being held all of the time. We are working on breaking him of this but he definitely has attachment issues. He is fine playing on the floor if we are all in the room together but if someone gets up and leaves he gets very upset and tries to follow. Which he is getting good at doing. He is crawling way faster than Faye was at his age. He is also having a hard time with the crib. We struggled a little with Faye on the crib to but not to this degree. We put him in it and basically he screams himself to sleep. Then he wakes up shortly afterwards, screaming more. We'll keep easing him into it day by day.

He reacted ok to the dogs. We let them inside after the crowd left, Chan ran up to him and licked his leg and he screamed. Now he seems ok with them but keeps them at a comfortable distance. Faye has been an awesome big sister. She insists on feeding him and likes to help change him. Sharing her toys may take a little more time. She had a toy she didn't want him playing with so she carried it around with her for a long time. It took some effort to convince her to let it go.

In closing we are pretty happy with how this adoption went. The smooth and pleasant hand-over was nice compared to the chaos of our last one. We had MSNBC to thank for that one. If you've seen the special they did on adoption in China, we were the group of families that came through the day before they shot. That is why all 60 families had to be rushed in and out of the Civil Affairs Building with our new children.

The smaller group of families this time was nice, we got to know some people well and connect with them. And despite the heat, the weather was fairly cooperative. It was nice to be in Guangzhou again and look at all the sites and sounds that brought back all the memories of when we where there for the first time with Faye. I hope some day we can take the two of them there and relive all of this once more.

A very happy Aiden Faye Mom and Aiden Our welcome home party, thanks Sarah!  

Date: 8/23/06
Status: Ready to bail (again)

Ok this is our last post from Guangzhou. We have had a blast here with Aiden and the other families. Of course one of them is Yankees fan and keeps harassing me about last weekend but never mind that. We have made a lot of progress with Aiden and he is able to stay with Dad when Mom walks away from the table to get dinner. Jill went on a shopping trip yesterday and left Aiden alone with me for about two hours. After he calmed down he was fine with me and even refused to be held by Doctor Susan! Then we met up with Jill again and that was the end of that but I can see progress is being made.

Jill and I got a good look at Aiden's cleft today while his head was tipped back looking at something. Basically from what we can see the whole roof of his mouth is missing. I guess that is what the Chinese doctors meant by 3rd degree cleft. The cleft also continues to the gum line and it looks like he will need implants there. But a doctor I am not, we'll have to see what the cleft team at Kaiser says about him. It amazes us that this can even be fixed though. None of it seems to affect him at all. He eats like a horse and even drinks right out of a glass or bottle.

We did the victory march through the new American Embassy here today. It is in a very nice new LARGE building. But it is now 45 minutes from the White Swan by bus, a little bit less convenient than the two blocks we walked with Faye. Jill and I have been wondering if this will eventually affect the economy around the White Swan area as adopters choose to stay closer to the embassy. We also found out that the White Swan will be closing down for six months next year. Glad we got in and out before all of that.

We're all packed and ready to move on. Our flight leaves early in the morning so it is going to be an exhausting day. Here is the kicker: we arrive in Portland 15 minutes after we leave China. Isn't that cool?? I'll try to remember that during the 9 hour stretch.

Looking forward to seeing all of you again.

Aiden helping us pack The infamous red couch photo Adoption group outside the new Embassy Lazer light show in Guangzshou bay

Date: 8/20/06
Status: Guangzhou sweet Guangzhou

Did I mention we like Guangzhou? We had a good time when we were here with Faye and we are enjoying it as much if not more now. The place has really built up in the past three years. There are a lot of new hotels and a gazillion more shops. I don't know what it is about this place. It could be that it is the last stop on the journey, or could it be the fabulous restaurants, or it could be that everyone speaks English, or it could be that the locals don't stare at Caucasians walking down the street with Chinese babies in there arms.

D, all of the above.

Aiden is still Mama's boy. Dad can play with him but Mom must be in the room and two armed guards must be standing ready at the door. I was able to pick him up for a few minutes today but I was kicked in the leg and fined $100. I try not to take this personally but like I said its been rough on us. I am thankful that we are experiencing this with our second and not with the first. It would have been a lot harder for us to deal with.

Not much to report on today. We went to two temples and then had dinner. After that we went shopping and bought more stuff for our little girl, who we are missing so terribly. I've asked if the stores have any gifts for dogs but I just get a long blank stair every time. Go figure. We bought some things for Aiden but they just don't make cool stuff for 1 year olds. He'll have to wait till next year.

Unfortunately the last leg of the journey is the busiest. There is lots of paperwork we need to fill out and Aiden has a medical exam tomorrow morning. Then the next day we do the victory march through the American Embassy. I'll try to keep writing as much as I can.

Brian making friends Mom and Aiden Shopping center in Guangzhou Aiden enjoying a sticky desert

Date: 8/18/06
Status: Leaving Las Nanning

[Brian] Ok, I'm posting because I've been accused of slacking off. And besides Jill is just do darn serious. We are leaving for Guangzhou tomorrow! This will be the last stop on the journey. We will be staying at the White Swan Hotel for 5 days then it's off the good ol' USA. Is Bush still president? Has Cheney shot anyone else? There is no news about the US over here.

Jill, Aiden and I have been wandering around Nanning the last two days trying to stay busy. We have finally mastered the art of street crossing here. If you've never crossed a busy street in China, I would say its like walking the plank, with hungry sharks swimming around you. The only thing missing is the one-eyed pirate with a sword at your back. Cars, trucks and busses have the right of way here; walk at your own risk. The trick is to run as fast as you can to the solid yellow line (which by the way, is only a suggestion not to pass) wait for an opening then run like hell to the sidewalk (which cars and trucks may or may not be driving on). We are sooooo spoiled in America. There are police cars everywhere here but I can't figure out what anyone would be pulled over for.

We are getting into a grove with Aiden. He is a little less cautious with me and even crawls over to me now. We forced him into a stroller today. He had a fit! And one thing you never want to do is walk down a street in China with a screaming kid. Chinese people in general very much love their children. Many people stopped and stared at us with much suspicion as we strolled down the street with this screaming little boy. We didn't give in to him though and I think it helped him to understand that Mom wasn't far away and she wasn't leaving his side. His attachment to Jill has been rough on us. I really can't do anything with him, including feeding. He just screams and kicks when I try to. We will continue to make progress with him but the wear and tear on Jill is showing. I think the real battle will be when we get home, but I know Faye will be a positive distraction for him. He loves to play with other children and will wind up following her lead for sure. More to come.

Jill walking Aiden Brian strolling a very unhappy Aiden One of the paths at the local park  

Date: 8/17/06
Status: Still a Mama's Boy

Well, it's our third day. He is exceptionally cute.and I'm not just saying that. He is really very cute. Adorable actually. Everyone says so. I believe he is going to end up being a twice a day napper, but maybe not when Faye is around. He may just be bored out of his skull, you never know. He is a very strong boy and very adventurous. I think we have been spoiled by Faye when it comes to child proofing the house and such. She is naturally vary cautious and you only have to tell her "no" once. Aiden on the other hand will crawl right off the bed and land hard on the floor. He has done this twice and has attempted it many more times. The other day he tried to climb out of his crib and ended up on his head trapped between the crib and couch and had to be rescued. This would have never been attempted by our first.

He is still very focused on Mom. Mom Mom Mom. My arms are killing me! Thank goodness we brought our hip hammock baby carrier.but still. Honestly, can't he do something other than flirt with Dad? He really does like Dad. He smiles at him, and pats him and they can play long as I'm within touching reach. And I have to do the carrying. Every time. I woke up in the middle of the night and my left arm was throbbing. Ugh. I tried to lift weights at the club before we left, but not enough apparently. I hate to say that like I'm complaining, but I guess I am. Ha! This too shall pass. One day we'll tell him how he cried every time Mom left the room and he'll think we're totally fibbing.

Yesterday we were on our own for the whole day. We went to The People's Park in the late morning, Aiden slept. It was a great park, people were out playing the violin and learning the electric piano, and you can rent boats and go around a little lake. It started raining on our way back and rained the rest of the day. Talk about a sauna! Wow! We are two hours from the Gulf of Tonkin by car and they have downy winter parkas on sale at the department store. I'm not sure if its 'fashionable' or if they really feel cold when it gets down to the average winter highs of 63 degrees in January.

We had heard from another family about a department store called ParkSun that was having a great end of season sale. So in the afternoon we hopped in a taxi and went there. We tried to tell the bell boy where we wanted to go but he clearly did not understand what we were saying so he ran inside and grabbed another bell boy. Fortunately this one knew where ParkSun was and was able to tell the cab driver. She dropped us off and it was pouring down rain so we just ran as fast as we could inside. We wandered around and bought a few things for Faye (Dad went a little crazy).but there weren't a ton of sales. We were disappointed. We finished there and wandered down the street and to our surprise a block or so down the street was the department store Park Sun! I have no idea where we had been, but it was not, apparently the right place. We'll try to go back tomorrow and see if we can't find those darn sales. Aiden slept through most of that also. He likes the hip hammock, as long as Mom's carrying him.

Many of you know this, but department stores take a lot of energy around here. You decide on an item, then the sales clerk writes up the item, you carry it away to the cashier, whom you pay, and she (yes, SHE) stamps it up three times and gives you a couple copies and a receipt and then you walk BACK to the sales girl who wrote the order up. She has, in the meanwhile, bagged your items and you show her the receipts and she gives them to you. I'm going to be culturally biased here, but it SUCKS! Especially when you think you're done shopping so you go pay and collect your things and then see a few more things while you do your collecting and you have to start all over again with the cashier. Argh!

Mom and Aiden off to the park Aiden voicing his opinion Aiden and Dad asleep (at a comfortable distance) Aiden playing

Date: 8/15/06
Status: Head over heels

Well, he's fallen off the bed, right onto his head, and climbed out of his crib, right onto his head. Let's hope we get him home in one piece. He apparently has no fear and we've found he moves quite quickly. He will have no problem keeping up with Faye. He is very flexible and strong - able to leap tall cribs in a single bound. This is definitely going to complicate things when we return home. He also took 7 steps this morning before falling on his bottom.

We had a great day yesterday. He is definitely preferring Mom, which is hard on all of us. Hopefully this will end soon. As I type this, sitting 4 feet away from him, he is wailing and Brian is trying to distract him, but its tough. I think that the reality of his situation is hitting home to him and he is doing some grieving. I mean, I would if I were him.

Today we finalized the adoption so he is a Donnelly forever. Brian is beginning to catch a cold so I took Aiden out of the room for lunch and let Brian sleep. Aiden and I went down to the hotel restaurant and made a big old mess of the place. He is a pretty good eater, but the cleft makes things a bit quirky. I'm still trying to figure out what's a problem and what's not. He has certainly made things work for himself.

Well, I better go rescue Brian and the neighbors. Thanks for all of your notes, keep 'em coming.

Aiden Laughing Aiden Asleep Aiden a little irritated  

Date: 8/14/06
Status: must...get...sleep...

We have Aiden, everything went very smothly. No tears no screaming; the handoff was very calm and pleasant (sorry Faye). He bonded with Jill instantly, and I mean instantly. If Jill leaves his sight a crying fit ensues. He is mildly interested in Dad but only as a side dish. That's ok I know my #1 fans are waiting at home. We are tired and are going to try to sleep. More to come...

Our first sight of Aiden Aiden handed to Jill Brian showing Aiden his sister This kid is ready to walk
Planning the escape

Date: 8/12/06
Status: We are fer-an-ers

Jill here, Brian finally let me have a turn at the journal!

We just looked at a map of Guangxi and found out that we'll be driving through LaiBin (Aiden's hometown) tomorrow on our way to Nanning. We're so excited. It will give us some idea of whether it will be reasonable to rent a taxi and visit it after we get him on Monday.

I think I'm finally getting acclimated to the humidity and heat. It was pretty bad for a couple days, but today it's either cooler or I'm adjusting. I'm choosing the adjusting option. I even broke down and bought an umbrella with UV protection. I'm also choosing to believe that it helps.

Here are two reasons why you will probably win any game of Charades or Pictionary we ever play.

ONE: Our first day here we realized that the blankets and pillows were all feather which we are both allergic to, so we called housekeeping asking about alternatives. That didn't get very far, so I walked down to the front desk where they have better English speakers and I could make eye contact. The kind fellow I talked with didn't understand me either, but he had a great attitude and handed me a notepad and pencil and asked me to spell pillow. Which I did and then went a step further and drew a picture of a bed, and the pillows and he said "yes yes yes, pillow" so, encouraged, I drew a picture of a feather and a bird, I even flapped my arms. Then I pointed to the feather and I fake sneezed. He seemed to get it then and said "I will check" so he got on the phone and asked a question of someone and talked a bit and then asked if I wanted to see a doctor.
uh oh.

I said no, I just need a non feather pillow.and he said, "OK go to your room and someone will be right up" so I went back up to the room and about 30 seconds later a nice lady from housekeeping knocked on the door with... 2 vanity kits those things that have cotton balls and nail files etc. It was pretty disheartening. I really thought I could draw and act better than that. :) Thankfully our guide came along later and we got her to ask and they came right away with four new pillows and a great comforter. They really have bedding right here. Its the softest duvet I've ever felt.

And we think they've probably framed my drawing of the bed with pillows and a feather next to the chicken, with a big X through it.

TWO: We ditched our guide who was just going to take us on a walking tour of Guilin today. So we took a walk by ourselves. We hit a couple of department stores, ate some yummy bread for 12 cents outside the grocery store and walked along the river a bit. We finally stopped for lunch at a "locals only looking" restaurant that looked pretty busy but we had no idea what they served. Several tables were eating hot pots so we hoped we'd eat that. Well, they brought the 12 page menu which was all in Chinese with no pictures and our hearts sank. But I gamely forged on and the waitress pointed to something and we said "ok" sounds good. In the universal language of delicious I rubbed my tummy and said "is it good?" and she said yes, and thought and pointed out another dish and we said okay, ordered a soft drink and she walked away with our order of who knows what. She came back in a while with a delicious dish of some sort of vegetable chopped up very fine with finely chopped red chili peppers. I think they were green onions, the white part too.but I could be wrong. It was yummy, a little spicy for my tastes, but Brian ate it up. Then they brought out the second dish which was sautéed cucumbers and peppers with some squid type thing which we've had before so that seemed good. Then I bit into the squid and darned if it didn't taste a little like fat and it was really chewy, but more because it had a lot of muscle in it, and while I chewed and chewed I had this dream like recollection of rubbing my tummy and the waitress pointing to something and we said I told Brian, I don't think this is squid! Yep, I've avoided it successfully my whole life at the Pho restaurants and out with my friends. But I ended up ordering my own first meal of TRIPE! Brian liked it. I couldn't stomach it. (Har har har! )

[Brian] This is why I don't let her post. Not much for pictures today. We leave tomorrow for a 4 hour buss ride to NanNing, we get Aiden on Monday. More to come...

A street by our hotel A Park and our hotel

Date: 8/11/06
Status: Guilin in 72 hours

We have decided that the only job more boring than a Portland weather forecaster in the winter would be a Guilin weather forecaster in the summer. Today: freakin' hot, freakin' humid. Tomorrow: freakin' hot, freakin' humid. I have heard this stuff is good for your skin but not so good on the energy and patience level.

Today we took a trip down the Lijiang (Lee-Jeeang) river. I can't describe it in words but have a look at the pictures. This was probably one of the best trips we have taken the boat we were on was packed with people from all over the world. We sat next to a couple from Rome and another from some other town in Italy. This is definitely the peak of the tourist season here with the majority being surprisingly Japanese. Everything we have gone to see and do has been packed with people. There are not that many Americans around; we've only met a few.

We do love Guilin but most of the city has been set up for tourism. We took the "night fishing" tour that came so highly recommended yesterday and it was pretty much the same a walking the strip in Las Vegas. Only you are in a boat and your feet aren't killing you when its over. There are fishermen on the water with birds that are trained to dive into the (man-made) river and catch fish. This is neat to see but it is clearly for the tourists and serves no other function. Looking at most of downtown Guilin is like looking at a brand new Boeing Jet. It is an awesome thing to behold but it is a product of human engineering. Guilin has some historical architecture left but pretty much all of the city was leveled when the Japanese invaded. Everything that is standing now was built in the last 50 years. The natural limestone hills that surround the city are an incredible sight though. They are pretty much the same as the hills seen on the Lijiang river tour photos below and can be seen from anywhere in the city.

We also took a tour of a stalactite cave called the Reed Flute Caves. Again this was set up for tourism with all the fancy lights and junk but it was a very neat thing to see. I think the Ape Caves of Mt. St. Helens is more my style; they hand you a lantern and say good luck.

More to come.

Lijiang 1 Lijiang 2 Lijiang 3 Lijiang 4
Reed Flute Cave 1 Reed Flute Cave 2 Jill and Brian having lunch

Date: 8/9/06
Status: Didn't we just do this?

No, we don't have Aiden yet. I've been on a plane three times in the last two days and I'm hoping I don't have to get on one or even look at one for a while. We landed in Guanzghou last night around 10:30 pm, we had basically been awake for 24 hours. Everything went smooth on the flight to Tokyo. The in-flight movie service has definitely moved up a notch. Every seat has its own movie screen and you can watch pretty much what you want. I had to watch the best movie ever made: "Aliens". Jill watched "Thank you for smoking". She said it was funny and I should watch it...whatever. The connection to Guanzghou however, was basically a 4 hour roller coaster. Dave, I'm glad you were not on this flight, I was ready to grab the nearest parachute and walk the rest of the way.

Today has gone very well. We caught our connection to Guilin at around 9 this morning and now we are relaxing for the rest of the day. We went out to a very fancy restaurant and decided to live it up this afternoon. We had family style Chinese with all kinds of goodies.and we were beside ourselves to get a bill for $8. We're in our room now watching an amazing thunderstorm pass over Guilin. The hotel we are in is called the Waterfall. Every night one side of the building turns into a waterfall and they put on a light show. I'll try to get some pictures for you. No new news on Aiden yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Evidently Yao Ming is having lunch at our hotel while we are here. They were filling the hotel with extra police officers this afternoon and we saw his caravan pull up to the entrance.

Thanks everyone for the emails. The winner of our comments contest is Sarah Jo Chaplin!

A street in Downtown Guilin Jill at the Guangzhou airport Jill and Brian leaving for Guilin from the Guangzhou airport A famous pagoda in Guilin
The Waterfall Hotel      

Date: 8/6/06
Status: Still Scared S**tless

Today is our last full day in the states. We packed all morning and tried to get as much Faye time in as possible. We've been consistently talking about this trip with her and going over everything she is going to be doing while we are gone. Which pretty much amounts to a non-stop Faye party with great food and dusk till dawn entertainment. Faye will probably have more of a difficult time adjusting to returning to a life non-stop boredom with her controlling, autocratic parents. She had two crying fits today. Because we are leaving for 3 weeks and when we get back her life is never going to be the same? You ask? NO. The jacket fell off of one of her dolls and she couldn't get it back on. I'm glad someone around here has her priorities strait.

Our house has been made so spotless for the dog sitter that I hardly recognize the place. I don't think I warned her about the dogs ether. I'm sure Dax is planning her usual 3am "sneak on the bed--push the human off" routine. And if you don't get pushed all the way off rest assured at least one or two critical limbs will be sound asleep when you awake in whatever position you've been slowly contorted into...but I digress.

We tried to pack light for this trip but we have as much luggage as we did when we went last time, and it was the middle of the %$#@ WINTER! It's my ipod; I should have bought the smaller one. Anyway, FYI: we have a cell phone. If you want the # email us. It is a lot cheaper for you to call than for us to call you. When we arrive in Guangzhou our time will be 15 hours ahead of yours. So say if you call at 3pm Portland time it will be we're tired o'clock in Guangzhou and if you call at 9am it will also be we're tired o'clock. You do the math.

Thanks again everyone for your love and support. Hopefully my next entry will be from Tokyo.

Date: 8/5/06
Status: Scared S**tless

We're packed up and ready to go. I always thought to myself when coming home with Faye that this would be easier the second time around. Well it's not. It is more difficult. After much debate Jill and I have decided to leave Faye behind with relatives while we venture off to China again to get her brother. We have just decided that she will not be able to appreciate the journey at the tender revision of 3.5. Also Jill and I will have our hands full with Aiden and we don't want anything to interfere with those difficult first days of bonding with the new child. Besides, what could be more fun for our relatives than babysitting a child who refuses to eat and has enough energy to bend light and distort time itself. And yet she is so irresistible. We will miss her terribly and hope that she can recover quickly from the shock of us returning after 3 weeks and the fact that her life (and bedroom) is now forever accompanied by her brother.

The first leg of our journey takes us to Tokyo. Northwest air now has direct (well, sort of direct) flights to Guangzhou. We can't get the nice seats that we got with China South but it will be nice to fly back directly to Portland and not have to go through customs in good ol' Los Angeles. The flight is also considerably cheaper (even with an extra seat for Aiden).

More to come...


Faye and Dad hanging out The last supper
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