Favorite Field Trip: China

This morning I was checking the Homeschool Blog Awards site and they had a post asking readers to share their favorite field trip. Well our family's favorite field trip, hands down, was our trip to China. Last September we traveled to China to adopt our daughter, Rosa, who is now five years old. We spent a good part of Jacob's preschool year doing a large unit study on China and we learned a little Mandarin as well. The culmination of this unit study was our trip to China and Jacob getting a sister.

I started a yahoo group for family and friends so they could follow us on our trip to China. I will post some sections from my yahoo group below. Traveling to China and adopting Rosa was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I realize that most families will not be able to take a trip to China but that doesn't mean you can't use all the experiences that come your way as opportunities to learn. When it gets closer to Chinese New Year, I will be sharing a unit study on China. I hope you enjoy excerpts from our travel journal below.

Hello Family & Friends,
We have finally made it to Changsha and we have not had a single minute to spare or have been too tired to email until now. We had a great time in Beijing seeing many sites and tomorrow we will be meeting Rosa at the Civil Affairs office for the first time at 10 a.m. This is known as Gothcha Day and in the afternoon we will be finalizing her adoption. Our guide Chen Chen in Beijing was wonderful and she took care of everything. Our new guide, Jackie, here in Changsha seems equally nice and competent. I will not discuss the flight over and how cramped it was but we survived and that is what is important!

Climbing the Great Wall on Monday was quite an experience. We learned that we are traveling with a celebrity (a cute blond boy). Jacob has had his picture taken multiple times with different people and had his hair touched and his cheeks pinched. He has not minded a bit and has posed with many adults, teenagers, and other children. Teenage girls are especially excited to see him and some Moms have wanted a picture of him with their young sons.

We made it to the top of the section of The Great Wall we visited. It took us over an hour but was well worth it. The people are very friendly and we had fun practicing our Mandarin. People were impressed with Jacob's energy level and he helped to pull me up the last section of the Great Wall because after all those thousands of stairs my legs were getting rather tired.

The Forbidden City was amazing and outside of the city we had to stop and pose again for a family who wanted a picture of Jacob and us. The were talking excitedly and one of the ladies looked a little familiar. When they were done they showed us their camera and on it was a picture of us with them on The Great Wall. There are about 16 million people in Beijing so this was quite a coincidence.

Today, after touring the Forbidden City we got to go on a Hutong rickshaw tour of the old part of Beijing and have lunch at a local family’s home. The food was the best so far and the husband/chef showed us his hobby of keeping pet crickets and grasshoppers. Jacob found this fascinating and there is quite a bit involved for a couple of little bugs. They have homes, a honeymoon suite for the male cricket and his wife to spend time in together, and even a winter palace which fits inside a person's coat so the crickets will stay warm in cold weather. The crickets have two little dishes smaller than thimbles, one for food and one for water. The funniest thing of all was a tiny cricket pooper scooper. They use the crickets for fighting and even wage bets on which cricket will win. They do not fight to the death but will be stopped when one cricket looses a leg or some other part.

Well, I had better head to bed because tomorrow is a big day. We can not wait to meet Rosa and finally make her officially a part of our family.

Hello All,
It has been hard to find the time to email and the hotel internet charges are very expensive so I have come to an internet cafe here in Changsha. Rosa is sitting on my lap helping me type : ) !

Yesterday we went to the Civil Affairs office at 10 a.m. and right when we walked in the door I spotted Rosa with two ladies from the orphanage. She looked so small and she had been crying. My husband started crying first which got me going and we took some pictures and then tried to give her some snacks and toys. Jacob then took over getting to know Rosa and she seemed to warm up to him much quicker. I got the chance to ask the ladies from the orphanage a few questions about Rosa and then we had to go. Rosa did not want to come with us. She was very upset which I had completely expected since her information had said she did not like strangers. It was hard to see her so upset but we knew there was not much we could do about it then. We left the building and in the car she calmed down sitting next to Jacob. He was feeding her some cheerios and she let me feed her some cheerios as well. The first few hours back at the hotel were difficult with Rosa crying a lot. Jacob was a real life saver and distraction (as we had hoped he would be) and Rosa started playing with some of the toys with him.

At 3 p.m. we had to go down to the lobby to fill out our paperwork with our guide, Jackie, who has been wonderful. While we were filling out the paperwork, Rosa either wanted to sit in a chair with Jacob or sit in my lap. While my husband was doing most of the paperwork, Jacob, Rosa, and I went to a small play area nearby in the hotel and I got my first smile from Rosa which made me so happy!!!

Then we went back to the Civil Affairs office to finalize the adoption and do lots more paperwork. That went very quick and smooth. My husband went to ask the ladies from the orphanage a few more questions while I watched Jacob and Rosa so she would not get upset by seeing them again. We got quite a bit of information and the foster family sent a photo album with a number of pictures. The ladies told us that Rosa wanted to wear her princess dress all the time which I was happy to hear since everyone knows I wanted a girly girl.

Right before dinner, Rosa fell asleep sitting up in a chair and had a short 30 minute nap and afterwards she seemed much happier. We went to dinner and I was able to feed Rosa quite a bit, especially fruit which she loves. During dinner, Rosa kept looking up at me while I was holding and feeding her and she gave me some very affectionate looks which our guide commented on. After we got back to the room, I talked to my Mom on the phone, while Jacob wrested with his Dad on the floor. Rosa thought this was very amusing and kept smiling. She also played peek a boo putting her hands over her face which was so cute.

When it was bedtime, I told Rosa in Mandarin that it was time for bed. She lay down on her little bed I had made up on the floor next to Jacob and went to sleep very quickly. She did not want to change her clothes so we just let her sleep in the same outfit.

Jacob and Rosa are so cute together and they are getting along very well. Sometimes Jacob gives her too many hugs and she says Bu Ya (no) and pushes him away but other than that there has been not much conflict. We are very glad we brought Jacob because he has made the transition so much easier.

We are having a great time here in China. The people are so nice and after having many international friends we feel very comfortable here even though we had not really traveled internationally before. This has been an amazing experience so far.

Hello Everyone,
Well Rosa slept through the night last night and is now asleep on my lap while I type. Everyday she warms up a little bit more. This morning when she and Jacob woke up at 6 a.m. and it was still dark I peeked over the side of my bed and saw them holding hands. Then Jacob gave Rosa's hand a kiss and she gave his hand a kiss back. It was just so sweet.

I have to say that Rosa already has her father wrapped around her little finger. He was looking through the album of her pictures and he told me that the picture of her in the princess dress makes him think about her growing up and how that will make him feel.

Today we are going out to explore Changsha a little more. We have made friends with one of the doormen at the hotel who has been very helpful telling us where things are. The Dolton hotel is wonderful with an indoor pool, play area for the kids, a couple of restaurants, and very friendly and helpful staff. We eat at the buffet every night and the food has been good and it is fun to see some of the more exotic choices like spicy snake, small turtles in the shell, eels with vegetables, and frog legs. I have not tried any of these but I did try some snails and they were pretty good.

Well I had better run because we need to go and get some of Rosa's favorite watermelon gum which is now Jacob's favorite gum as well. Thanks for all the great emails and support. I finally got the chance to read them.

Hello Everyone,
We are in Guangzhou now and things have been very busy. Rosa is doing well and we are seeing more of her sweet and funny personality and also her mischevious side as well. She likes to tease her brother sometimes but overall they are still getting along very well! The big change since my
last email is that Rosa is now completely a Daddy's girl for the time being. She gets upset if he leaves and I can not take her places alone anymore. This is very common that children end up attaching to one person or another very strongly (often times Dad) and it is good but of course I wish it could be 50/50. Rosa still likes me if I am giving her a treat and she lets me do a couple of other things like take her to the potty (lucky me). Other than that it must be Daddy or time for a big temper tantrum. I am so glad that I read so many other people's experiences so I was expecting this might happen! Oh, I have to add that I can get hugs once in a while if I ask nicely or cuddle up to Jacob first. She also gives me lots of smiles if Daddy is there so it is not too bad.

Rosa is learning English and can now say, "thank you Mama" or "thank you Baba" (Baba is father in Mandarin), Jacob, brush teeth, and other things I can't remember right now. She has very good pronunciation and she seems to be picking up things quite easily. She also likes to dance to any music she hears. We don't think her eye condition is too bad because this morning she was sewing with some sewing cards I had bought her. The holes were about half the size of a pencil erasure head. This is good news to us.

Today we have a free day with no appointments so I will be doing some shopping. Right after this I have promised to take Jacob to a food establishment that has many sea creatures that you can pick from the tank and have cooked on the spot. It looks like a mini aquarium and no we won't be eating any of them. We are looking forward to coming home on Wednesday and getting some kind of routine again! Hope all of you are doing well and I will be sending pictures when we get home.

Well that was our trip to China and Rosa is doing wonderful a year later. We had an amazing adoption agency, China Adoption With Love, Inc., and if anyone reading this would like more information about our agency or adopting children with special needs, feel free to send me an email.


Gong said...

hi amy,
thanks for offering your blog to read. you have a beautiful family! may i ask what rosa's eye issues are/were? she looks like she's doing great!
best wishes,

Amy Smith said...

Rosa has colobomatous microphthalmia of the left eye. Microphthalmia is when one eye is smaller and a coloboma is a hole in the back of the eye which is caused when the eye is forming prenatally and does not close in the back. Rosa is legally blind in her left eye but her right eye has good vision so it does not effect her too much. Most people have no idea that she is blind in one eye.

nextstep said...

Very very interesting blog............
China is really very beautiful place. People also go over there to study Mandarin in China. It is a very interesting language.......

Study Mandarin in China said...

China is very beautiful. China is famous for the education also.