Piper Files

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Home a week

Sorry for the recent lack of updates. All I can say is that this jet lag thing is worse than I could have imagined. Piper has adjusted to the new time fairly well, and generally sleeping from about 8:00 pm to about 5:00 am. Mom and Dad on the other hand, set awake during the night, knowing that they should be sleeping.

First of all, thank you to everyone that welcomed us home at the airport. After 2 weeks away from home, and 30 hours of travelling it was wonderful to see everyone.

Piper is getting use to living in her new home. She was very overwhelmed at first with all sorts of new things to see and do, but is slowly taking it in. After a shopping trip to Wal-mart in China, she made or first trip to Target. Other than Target and a quick visit to the doctor for a check up, we have been pretty much staying close to home.

As with jet lag, when it comes to getting use to living at home, Piper is a few steps ahead of her parents. After 2 weeks of a breakfast buffet waiting for us each morning, guides to make sure we got to each scheduled appointment, and new friends to travel with, we had forgot how much work it was to take care of these things alone. Reality is hitting home, and we are slowly adjusting, but sure do miss that breakfast buffet and especially miss our friends that we travelled with.

Since being home, Piper has breifly met Nana and Papa (Michael's parents), Grandma and Grandpa (Vicki's parents), Aunt T, and a few other friends and family. As she continues to bond with us and get more use to her new surroundings, we are excited for others to meet her.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

We're Home

We are finally home. After about 30 hours of travel time, and some very tense moments while trying to get to our connecting flight from Chicago, we arrive to a wonderful group of family and friends. Piper handled the trip very well. We already miss our travel group, but are happy to be home. We will post additional pictures as time allows.

Monday, August 21, 2006

8 Months Old

Today, Piper is 8 months old. It was also the day of our consulate appointment. This means that all of our paperwork for Piper’s Visa was submitted today. We were told shortly before noon that all the paperwork was in order, and that we would go to the consulate on Tuesday at 2:30 to receive her visa.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying the sites of our hotel, and spending some time visiting the local shops. Today’s weather, while still hot, was one of the nicest days we have enjoyed while in China. It allowed us to spend much to the day outdoors enjoying the sites.

On Tuesday, we will say goodbye to 4 of the 8 families as they leave for Hong Kong. The rest of us will leave on Wednesday. Much of today will be spent trying to figure out how to pack all of what we have purchased, so this may be our last post before we arrive back in the United States. Thank you so much for following our journey, and for the wonderful emails and comments we have received while we have traveled.

For those that are interested, we would love to see you at the airport, and let you meet Piper there. Again, we are scheduled to arrive Wednesday night at about 9:45. For those that can’t make it, we look forward to introducing Piper to you in the future.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Chen Clan Academy

It has been one week now since Piper joined our family. The changes we have seen in her in only one week have been amazing. We have learned so much about her, and continue to learn more each day. Our first few days found her to be shy and tentative. Now, she giggles, talks, and plays almost non-stop. It is so exciting to think of all we still have to learn about each other.

Our group spent this morning visiting Chen Clan Academy. While visiting we saw many wonderful areas. One area had wonderful artwork, all embroidered, and another had silk items. Piper’s favorite area was one with someone playing a musical instrument.

After a little more shopping, we returned to the White Swan. On the way back, be were told that one of our guides, Nancy, was going to have to return to Beijing tomorrow. It was another difficult afternoon as we said our goodbyes. Nancy, Thanks again for all your wonderful help during this journey. We will always remember you and all you have done for us on this adventure.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

And now from Gaungzhou

Greetings from the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou. On Friday, we started the day by traveling to the police station in Nanchang to pick up Piper’s passport. Mommy and Daddy were very happy to have the passport and be one step closer to coming home. However, Piper thought the passport was just another great thing to put in her mouth. Back at the hotel, it was time to pack. It became clear very quickly that we had purchased more things in Nanchang than we realized. After some careful planning, and a lot of stuffing things in any free space we could find, we had everything ready to head to the airport. At the airport, we said goodbye to our Nanchang guide. It was much more difficult to leave than we thought it would be. It was an emotion we didn’t expect to feel as strongly as we did, and one that is very hard to explain, but as we prepared to leave the only home Piper has ever know, we both grieved with and for her.

Piper’s first airplane ride took place in an Airbus A320. After some formula during takeoff, it looked like Piper would sleep through most of the flight, but she quickly went from sleep to very awake. She did great and enjoyed looking out the window most of the time. After a quick walk to 7-11 for some water, it was off to sleep for the very tired family.

The White Swan is beautiful and everywhere you look you see new families. We started the morning with a wonderful breakfast, and then it was off to get id photos for Piper’s visa and the medical exam. At the exam, we learned that Piper weighs 13.7 lbs, and is 26 inches long. Both tasks were complete in about 1 hour total, leaving lots of time for shopping. We have visited numerous shops, all with wonderful items ranging from squeaky-shoes, to kites, to porcelain tea sets. For lunch, we joined another family from the group at Lucy’s. We all had hamburger and fries. It wasn’t the best burger we’ve ever had, but it was the best one we have had in a while. After dropping of laundry and hitting a few more shops, it was back to the process of getting Piper’s visa, and something we should be use to by now… more paperwork.

So far everything is going as scheduled with no problems and we still are on course to arrive at the airport at 9:45 on Wednesday. If anything changes with this, we will let you know.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Morning at the Park

After a day of rest from visiting sites here in Nanchang, Piper was back out today. All the families went to a park this morning. The park was very beautiful, but it failed to keep Piper’s attention. She fell asleep shortly after arrival, and woke only a few moments before we returned to our hotel where us and another family order some Pizza Hut. The rest of the day was spent hanging-out together with our family and with other families from our travel group. We have made many wonderful friends from our group and will miss them all very much when we go our different directions home next week. All of the girls are doing very well. The resiliency of these little ones is amazing. The smiles and the laughs that all of them have after only 4 days with their new families is an amazing thing to see.

Today is our last full day in Nanchang. Tomorrow morning, we will pick up Piper’s passport, and in the afternoon, we will fly to Guangzhou where we will get her Visa. It is a bittersweet farewell we will bid to Nanchang. While we are excited to continue the process and get our wonderful daughter home, we also realize that we are soon to leave Piper’s province. While it has been Piper’s home for less than 8-months, this place will always be very special to our family.

This will most likely be the last post until we are settled in at the White Swan hotel in Guangzhou. Please continue to keep us, along with the rest of our travel group, in your thoughts and prayers as we enter the final phase of our travels in here in China.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More Piper Time

Much of today was spent at our hotel with Piper continuing the process of getting to know each other. It has been amazing seeing the person that our daughter is emerge with new day. She is an amazing person, and we are so blessed to have her as part of our family.

When we first met Piper on Sunday, she was suffering from a heat rash. As we have ventured out into the Nanchang heat and humidity, the rash seems to get worse. With a light schedule for our family group on today’s schedule, we decided to keep Piper inside as much as possible and try to get the rash under control. This resulted in a day with a lot of Mommy/daughter time. In addition to the rash, Piper is getting new top teeth. The combinations of the teething and the rash provided us with some brief chances to see a not so happy Piper, contrary to what the photos may indicate. However, most of the time, even with all she is going through, we see a happy, smiling, laughing little girl.

After several days of the red stacky cup being her favorite toy, the introduction of the pacifier has made it an interesting fight to see which of these two objects Piper thinks should be in her mouth. If only she could find a way to get both in at the same time…

With Mommy and Piper in for the day, Daddy ventured with another family in our group to a local market. The market was a great experience, and even allowed daddy to get a few points with mommy when he returned with a Kit-Kat and Snickers. It was a nice change of pace for shopping compared with the Wal-mart trip of a few days ago.

In the afternoon, the group visited Youmin Temple. One of the three Buddhist temples in this site was in use at the time of the visit so we got to see the monks as they went through their chanting. Our day then ended with a stop at a porcelain shop. Jiangxi Province is known for its porcelain, and it was a great chance for families to get something from our daughters’ province.

Thanks again for the comments and emails everyone has sent. It is so good to hear from home. We are able to receive email here, but with our busy schedules and time for adjustments we haven’t been able to r

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pavilions and Smiles

With yesterday’s paperwork, Piper officially joined our family as our daughter. To celebrate, our guides ordered Pizza Hut for the families to eat together last night for supper. It was another great chance to get to spend time with the other families and their new daughters as well. Piper enjoyed the first half hour of the celebration, and slept through the second half. Mommy and daddy then got a full night of sleep as Piper next woke up at 6 am. It was a much-needed rest for the entire family.

After breakfast, we were off to visit Tengwang Pavilion, just a five-minute walk from our hotel. This six-story building was built in the 7th century to overlook the river. Since we decided to use the stroller today, we were very happy that during the construction, an elevator was installed. Actually, even though the tour guide didn’t tell us the elevator was added later, we have a sneaking suspicion that it wasn’t in the original plans. Original or not, with the heat and humidity of Nanchang, we were grateful for it. The pavilion itself was a marvelous structure, but the most impressive part were the gardens surrounding it. They were beautiful, and had the temperature been slightly lower, we could have spent hours admiring them.

After the pavilion tour, our group gathered for lunch in the hotel. The first food placed on our table was steamed eggs for the babies. To this point, Piper had only eaten formula for us, but the eggs were a hit. After her first taste it was very hard for Mommy and Daddy get them to her fast enough. The lunch was wonderful and we all enjoyed it very much.

The rest of the day was spent together as a family. Each day we spend together, Piper opens up a little more. On Sunday when she was placed in our arms, she didn’t really feel comforted by either of us. On Monday, she was happy to let either of us hold and comfort her, but she kept very much to herself and only gave limited smiles. Today, she has started to use her hand to touch us as we hold her, smile, and imitate us. We are seeing more of her true personality each day, and look forward to seeing more in the coming days.

Thank you everyone for the emails we have received, and the comments left here. We have enjoyed reading all the wonderful and encouraging words from everyone. Please continue to keep all three of us in thoughts and prayers as we continue to grow with each other.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Getting to know Piper

Our first night with Piper went very well. After a long nap yesterday afternoon, we were afraid that we would spend a lot of the night awake. However, Piper woke up only once around 1:00 am. After about an hour, she was back to sleep for the rest of the night.

We spent this morning completing the paperwork for Piper’s adoption and the application for her passport. After a stop at Wal-mart before we returned to the hotel, we spent the rest of the day getting to know Piper, and her getting to know us. What we know so far: She likes to eat, and doesn’t mind telling you when she is hungry, she will use every ounce of her energy to fight falling asleep, she has a beautiful smile, loves to laugh, loves to be bounced, and splash during bathtime.

We were invited to our local guide’s room this afternoon to look at some silk clothes. Everything was so beautiful. We even convince Vicki to try some things on. It was a wonderful experience, and made for some great pictures

We are so blessed to have such a wonderful daughter, and can’t wait for everyone to meet her.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

She's In Our Arms

I don’t even know where to start with today. It has been an amazing and exhausting day. It started like our other days have in China with everyone gathering for breakfast at the hotel, but today there was an added excitement as we ate. After a quick drive by the site of the 2008 Olympics it was off to the airport. I am so glad we have our guide David on this journey. He took care of everything for us, and got rushed through check-in, security, and on the plane without any problems. After about a 2-hour flight, we were finally in Nanchang, the capital of Piper’s Province. Once on the bus to the hotel, our local guide told us the babies were on the way to Nanchang, and we would be able to meet them at about 4:30. We checked into the hotel at about 2, and were told to meet in a conference room at 4. The 2-hours from 2 to 4 were possibly the longest 2-hours of our lives. What are you suppose to do in a hotel room when you are about to meet your daughter for the first time? Watching CNN just didn’t seem to pass the time the way we had hoped. Finally, we made our way downstairs, and were soon joined by 6 other families. And then it happened. Our guide walked in the door, and with a huge smile announced, “the babies are here”

We have dreamed about the moment for a long time now. We both had thoughts of what it may be like, but nothing prepares you for those words. The guide then read the first couple’s name. They made their way to the door, where they held Abbey for the first time. While we celebrated with them, the second set of names was read, Michael and Vicki Seltmann…. We walked to the front of the room, handed the cameras to someone, and there she was in our arms. No longer did we only know Piper through just a picture and medical update sheet. She is this wonderful, beautiful baby girl, in our arms, looking at us. From that moment on, we were the only three people in the room. I don’t remember anything beyond that moment other than her. We would have loved to celebrate with the remaining families, but our focus was with Piper. It all happened so fast, and before you knew it, all families were united with there daughters.

Piper is doing very well. She started to cry shortly after she was handed to Vicki, and continued to cry until we go to our room where we were able to feed her. She drank her bottle quickly. It is obvious and expected that she is very confused, scared, and grieving the loss of those that have cared for her up to now. We thank them so much for all they have done for her. At 5:30, Michael had to leave the room to start filling out paperwork. When he returned, Piper was asleep, and remains asleep to this point. We anticipate an early morning with her going to bed so early.

We have only a few pictures at the point, (like I said, it happened very fast, and she has been sleeping a lot). If you click on the picture above, it will take you to a link with some of the pictures.

Thank you all for your wonderful words of encouragement, prayers, and thoughts. We thought this had been an amazing journey, but now realize the journey only started today.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Great Wall/Summer Palace

Sleep went some better last night. Neither of us got a full night’s sleep, but we are getting closer. All of our families arrived by last night, so this morning was our first time together. We have a wonderful group to travel with, and have really enjoyed our time together.

The heat and humidity that we felt yesterday made a return visit today. We have sweat more in the last two days than we have in the last 2 years. Still, our day was full of wonderful experiences we will never forget. Our first stop was at a Jade factory. We learned all about the different types of Jade and visited a store full of Jade jewelry sculptors and other Jade products. After some shopping in the store, we were off to the Great Wall. We visited the Juyong Pass section of the wall. It was amazing to see and think about the size of this amazing structure. The wall was built in the mountains to make it easier to defend. We walked up some very steep portions of the wall before returning to the base where we started.

After the Great Wall and lunch, we visited the Summer Palace. As with the Forbidden City, much of this site was closed for renovation. However, the parts we visited were very impressive. The artwork, color, and intricacies of the buildings really can’t be appreciated in photos. Also, the sizes of these sites are amazing. One corridor at the site runs for 2000 ft along the man made lake. After a boat ride across the lake, we visited a Pearl Factory before returning to our hotel.

Tonight we will pack our bags and leave around 8 am tomorrow for the airport. We are scheduled to arrive in Nanchang a little after noon, and should meet Piper at 4. Due to the changes in city and hotel, we will once again have to determine what options are available for internet and our ability to update the site. By that time, we will have Piper with us. We will get updated information and picture out to everyone as soon as possible.

Less than 19 more hours………

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tiananmen Square/Forbidden City

August 11, 2006

Right now, it is about 5:45 am. Why are we up at this point in the day? We have been asking the same question now for about 2 hours. After a very long and tiring day that started at 3:30 in the morning (home time), we finally went to bed last night at about 10 pm (China time). With about 30 hours since we woke up to go to the airport, we figured we would be ready to sleep in a little this morning. No such luck. At about 4 am, we both woke up, and have been wide-awake since then.

Our travel was uneventful, but long. We met two of the other families from our group in Chicago and have traveled with them since. One of the families, like us are about to meet their first child. The other family is completing their second adoption, and is traveling with their 8 year-old daughter. Everyone’s luggage made the journey safely, even though there were a few tense moments as we waited for the our bags to make there appearance. We quickly made our way through customs, and into the largest sea of people we have ever seen. In the crowd, we were able to spot William, our Beijing guide.

On the bus ride to the hotel, we were told that he had just spoken to Piper’s orphanage director that morning, and that all babies are doing well. We will me the director along with the baby’s care-givers on Sunday. While it wasn’t a lot of information, it was wonderful to hear about our daughters. It is so hard to imagine, but on Sunday, we will hold Piper in our arms. We were told that the girls from Jiangxi are often referred to as “spice girls”. This is in reference to the spicy food of the region as well as their hot temper. I think she will fit in with our family perfectly.

After we checked into the hotel, exchanged some currency, we were off to see the Beijing Acrobats. While all of us were extremely tired, the show was enjoyed by all of us. It has been cloudy and rainy since our flight landed. We are told Beijing is normally dry, and that it rains for important people to visit.

Flight Information (for Papa and Buster). Our flight to Chicago was very short, and uneventful. We were in the very back row of the CRJ-700. Landing at Chicago, we had a 5-knot wind from the SE. After a 4-hour layover, we boarded the 747-400 that would be home for the next 13+ hours. Luckily for us, we were not in the last row this time. We sat in row 46. This is an exit row, and provided us with a much leg-room as we wanted. However, it was right next to the galley, and the extra activity in this made sleep more difficult. The rain and storms in the Beijing area forced us to travel west of Beijing, and circle back.

Today, we are off for some sight seeing, and we will welcome the other families as they arrive.

Aug 11, 2006 (Part II)

After an early morning of not being able to sleep (as noted above) we started today with a wonderful breakfast and more time getting to know the families that had already arrived. Shortly after breakfast, we welcomed another family in our travel group. They actually arrived late last night, but today was our first chance to meet them. It has been wonderful to meet and get to know those that have been on this journey with us. We were then off to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The size of both these areas was more than we ever imagined. While very much enjoyed, the combination of lack of sleep, heat, and humidity made for a long day.

Everywhere you look in Beijing, you can see signs of the city preparing for the 2008 Olympics. We have seen many signs counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the opening ceremony. Other signs of the coming games include improvements throughout Beijing. Many parts of the Forbidden City are currently undergoing restoration.

After our time sight seeing, we returned to our hotel to meet one more family. The final three families will arrive later this evening. Tomorrow we are will visit the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. Sunday, it is off to Nanchang where we will meet Piper.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

They have arrived in China!!

After a very early morning and one very long flight, Michael and Vicki have safely arrived in China. The plane was a little late in landing in Beijing, due to some storms in the area. After making it through Customs and a 40 minute ride to the hotel, they made it to their room around 5:00 p.m. They had about an hour there, before they left to see the Beijing Acrobats. Tomorrow, they are off to see the Forbidden City.

Hopefully, they will be able to get their internet access up and running tomorrow and you will be able to hear how things are directly from them, instead of having it filtered through Aunt T.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Travel details

We leave really early on Wednesday morning and will arrive in Beijing on Thursday afternoon, August 10.

We'll return on Wednesday, August 23.

We will arrive at the airport at 9:44 PM. We'd love to have all our friends and family in the area meet Piper then, so please feel free to show up!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Travel Date!

Today we finally got our travel date. We will leave for China next Wednesday, Aug 9, and will return home on August 23. We don't know for sure, but it sounds like we will finally have our daughter with us on Aug 13 or 14.

Thanks again for all your prayers and support, it means more than we can ever express. We will do our best to keep Piper-files updated as we travel.

Michael, Vicki and Piper

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Finally, We're Counting in Days

A year and a half ago, when we started the process that would bring Piper into our family, everything we would be doing was measured in months and weeks. We were told it would be about six months from our initial application before all approvals were done and our dossier to China (DTC) date. We also heard of the 6-8 month wait from DTC to referral, and the 6-11 week wait from referral to travel. As of today, we are past measuring in months and weeks. This morning, we learned we had been given our travel assignment. We are now waiting (I know, waiting again), for our consulate appoint (CA). Our agency has requested the CA, and in 1-3 DAYS, we should know when we will travel. Based on the dates that were request for the appointment, we could leave for China to meet Piper by the middle of next week. Finally we are DAYS from holding our daughter in our arms. What a journey this has been, and it is about to get a lot more interesting.