Today is the day that Nancy and I have been waiting for for the last year! We are meeting our daughter today!
Nancy arrived here on Friday night. I joined her after traveling for four days from Baghdad. My first stop was a hole in the wall camp west of Kuwait City, Camp Ali Al Salem. I flew there from Baghdad and went through all the in-processing for Rest and Recuperation (R&R) Leave. I must say that the Army did a great job at getting me to Beijing at the right time. The big issue was that I only get 15 days off and needed exactly that time for this trip. The great thing is that the 15 days doesn't start until the day after you arrive at your destination and it stops the day before you fly back to where you have to sign back in. In this case, I have to fly back to Dallas to sign in on the 20th of December. This is just enough time to get back to Los Angeles and then fly out the next morning. How grand.
So, I arrived in Beijing an hour late and got my ride to the hotel. Of course Nancy was already comatose from her trip. We talked for an hour or so and then crashed. The next morning, we had an orientation meeting with all the other Holt families here to get their children. At the end of the briefing, we received a packet with new photos of our precious little girl! She and another child are back at the orphanage now and have been for about a week. The caregivers bring the foster care kids back to the orphanage about a week before they meet their new parents. This helps to start the grieving process for the kids.
After the meeting, the other families went on a tour to the Forbidden City. Since Nancy and I were just there (in much warmer weather) a few years ago, we decided to head out on our own. Our Hotel (Novotel Peace Hotel) was only about a mile from Tienanmen Square. We decided to walk to the square and along the way we met two local college girls who spoke with us and took us to their little art gallery near the square. Too bad we were broke because they had some beautiful art!
After walking to the square, we went to a book store and bought a Chinese DVD set for Elyssa. It is a famous kids series that the book store girl recommended. I knew it had to be good because I later showed it to a little boy and his mother and they smiled and from their reaction, I knew it was a favorite in their home.
At the end of the day, Nancy was hungry for some noodles so we found a great mall and, after looking at EVERY menu, we settled on a nice little place that treated us extremely well. I'll tell you, this is our second visit to China and I have never visited a friendlier place. The people here are genuinely happy to meet Americans and the young folk are always approaching you to try out their english skills.
So, we are now in the old terminal at the Beijing airport waiting on our flight. Unfortunately, we can't log onto our blog. The other family traveling with us to Kunming has also had issues with getting onto their blogs. It seems that most social networking sites are all blocked. So, we will probably have to post e-mails when possible.
Our travel partners are a family from Salem, Oregon who are adopting a 15 month old boy. The mom and dad are educators and they brought their young boy and girl with them. This should be a fun trip!
Stay tuned. When we get digital photos later today, we'll do our best to send them out to you all.
Brian and Nancy