Journey to Sophie

In March 2005 we traveled to Hunan, China, to bring Chen Xu Yun into our family. This is our journey to Sophie.


April 8/05 ~ First Day Home

It's going to take some time to recover from jetlag, but it was such a beautiful day....too nice to stay indoors so we went to the park. Sophie enjoyed her ride in the stroller and being on the swing for the first time.
Trying out the new stroller.

In love with the swing!

Clean baby!
Love my new room!

April 8/05 ~ Homeward Bound!

"Okay, I'm all packed for Canada!"
Couch photo.
The Chinese Empress, Miss Sophie.

Well, this is it! We gathered our babies together and placed them on a sofa in the hotel for a group shot. I dressed Sophie in a little Chinese outfit that I bought for her. Only one baby screamed through the photo shoot. We then went down to the diningroom for our final breakfast. We are now back in the room for last minute packing because we need to have our bags outside our room by 11:00am, check out at 12:00pm and board the bus by 12:30pm. I have Sophie’s passport and travel visa in hand. Her passport is so cute! Our flight is not until 4:30pm today but we will be landing in Toronto at 10:30pm. It’s almost like we gain a day because of the time change. We do stop in Vancouver and go through immigration first. As I’m ending this journal, it is now 10:00am (10:00pm back home) and I’m so grateful to have had this experience of coming to this country and receiving one of the greatest gifts of all…our daughter. We will always have a bond with these people and I wish I could personally thank her birth parents for giving her life and allowing us the opportunity to be her parents and engrafting her into our family. See you back in Canada!!!
Our arrival in Canada.
Home at last!


April 7/05 ~ Hutong Visit

This morning we had a rickshaw tour of a Hutong which is an old traditional Chinese community. There aren’t very many around any more. The rickshaw ride was very enjoyable although Sophie slept through most of it. We toured a primary school and the children sang us some English songs and did a dance. We then were invited into a retired couple’s home and the translator explained how life is in a Hutong. These families don’t have a bathroom but share a communal washroom. It sure made me feel humble to think of the 3 toilets we have in our house. Their home consisted of a livingroom, bedroom and a very small kitchen. We arrived back at the hotel for lunch which we had in the rooftop restaurant. Sophie has been a bit constipated (I’ve been feeding her prunes to get things moving) and lets out loud grunts when she tries to go. So right in the middle of our lunch, she starts to grunt and then the aroma hit! So I quickly headed off in search of the washroom to change her. The public restrooms don’t have baby change tables so I had to do another balancing act on the vanity. In the afternoon we went to Silk Street again and had a lot of fun looking around at all the market stalls. Tonight we are busy packing and getting organized for our flight home. I can’t believe that it is now nearing the end and we’ll be bringing our China princess home!
Rickshaw ride (Sophie slept through this).
The courtyard.
Visiting a hutong.
Inside the home.


April 6/05 ~ Summer Palace

Today we visited the Summer Palace. The weather has been great (we’ve been wearing t-shirts) and we’ve haven’t had any rain while in Beijing! The gardens at the Summer Palace were beautiful. Many plants and trees are beginning to bloom. At the Palace we walked the longest painted outdoor corridor in the world. The paintings are murals of plants, birds, gardens and trees. We had a break for ice cream which Sophie thoroughly enjoyed and she got her last clean outfit dirty. Maybe we’ll have to buy something new for her tonight. The tour of the Palace included a dragon boat ride on the beautiful lake. We arrived back at the hotel for lunch and then took a taxi ride to Silk Street for shopping. I picked up a few items to decorate Sophie’s room...a butterfly kite, Chinese fan, and a China doll. Jamie has a lot of fun bargaining with the merchants. In the evening we went to a Chinese acrobatic show which was fantastic. Sophie just stared at the acrobats and then fell asleep half way through the program. By the time we got back to the room we were all exhausted and went to bed. We’ve been going to bed when we get Sophie down for the night usually 7:30pm or 8:00pm. I can’t believe that we used to go to bed around 11:00pm. It will be fun getting her used to the time change back home!
Summer Palace
Marble boat at the Summer Palace
Dragon boat ride at the Summer Palace
Acrobatic Show
Acrobatic Show


April 5/05 ~ Forbidden City

Sophie had a bit of a rough night due to the teething. Many of the babies are going through the same thing. But once we did get her to sleep, she was out until about 3:00am when she woke for her feeding and then went back to sleep until 7:00am. We boarded the tour bus at 9:00am to see Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City, home of the last Emperor of China. You see these things in books and on television but it doesn’t do it justice. The Square is the largest in the world and there was an incredibly long lineup. Jamie said that it was the try-outs for the next Chinese Idol (re: American Idol). It turns out that they were in line to visit the corpse of Mao Zedong, deceased leader of the Communist Party. His embalmed body is on display. Thankfully this was not on our itinerary. The Forbidden City was incredible and about 1 km long which made it a very long tour, especially with babies in tow. I had to change Sophie’s diaper on one of the steps. The Chinese people kept coming over to our group and wanting to touch the babies. I put my jacket over Sophie’s stroller so they couldn’t see her and therefore wouldn’t touch her. I was concerned about germs. You still see people wearing SARS masks here but I think it could be for the pollution. It was very warm today (t-shirts & shorts) and the sun was shining but the sky was hazy because of the pollution. I don’t think they ever have blue skies here because of the constant smog. Many in the group have sore throats due to the pollution. They also allow smoking everywhere including on elevators. After the tour we had a Chinese lunch at a market place. They brought out this baby food in a large dish. It looked like egg custard with something clear and slimy on top. Jamie said that it was baby drool. I must admit that it did look very unappetizing. We then toured the market area and saw silk rugs being handmade. Our next stop was back to the hotel where Sophie conked out on the bed. Right now she is still sleeping. The time seems to be flying by and we are having a great time, but it will be nice to get Sophie home.
Tianamen Square
This was a tricky photo to take as the soldier did not want his picture taken.
Forbidden City.
Forbidden City.
Forbidden City.


April 4/05 ~ Baby's Medical

Sophie has been taking her formula now without a fuss but she still won’t eat jarred baby food. We had to leave at 7:30am for the drive to the clinic. The Monday morning traffic here is crazy during rush hour. The Beijing Clinic specializes in Chinese adoptions. We were taken to a room to fill out more forms and then had to wait for Sophie’s name to be called. We were the third family in the group to be taken in. Sophie didn’t fuss when she was weighed and measured. She is 7.8 kilograms and 72 cm long. The doctor we had was originally from Montreal and therefore we had no language barriers to overcome. She said that Sophie is long and lanky, so I’ve been calling her "my little sausage". Her lungs, heart, and ears are good. She has a mild cold and nothing to be concerned about. We paid our fee and then waited out in the bus for the other families. It took just over 2 hours for everyone to be seen. Some of the babies had to go on antibiotics. We then headed for the Canadian Embassy to drop off the final reports and paperwork. The Embassy is highly guarded by armed Chinese officers. We waited in the bus while our translator took the forms in. After lunch we went to a silk factory where we saw a demonstration of how silk is made. You guessed it! The tour ended in another showroom. There were a lot of other families there buying traditional silk outfits for their new babies. We are now back to our hotel and thinking about strolling up the street to window shop. We need to keep Sophie up a bit so that she will sleep better through the night. Tonight we decided to order a pizza to eat in our room.
Arriving at the Beijing Clinic.
Waiting for Sophie's medical.
Weighing in.
She's good to go!


April 3/05 ~ The Great Wall

After the buffet breakfast, we boarded our tour bus (thankfully a much larger one). Our first stop was a freshwater pearl factory. They did a demonstration about how the pearls are cultivated and then we were whisked off to the showroom for shopping. Many in our group were buying gifts for their daughters’ future birthdays. Our next stop was the Great Wall. As we were going down the road and the mountains were getting closer, we began to see the wall come in to sight. What a spectacular view that was! It is an amazing sight to see. We were allowed to spend time to look around and even climb the wall. Jamie and I could only go so far because I was carrying Sophie in her Snugli and the steps are very steep in places, not to mention the fact that she was getting heavier with each step I took. We took many pictures and Jamie, being the ham that he is, drew a crowd by dressing in a traditional Chinese robe with a funny hat and had his picture taken. We then had our family picture taken and put on a certificate that says that we climbed the Great Wall. Our final stop was a jade factory with a demonstration of how jade is mined. And, of course, the tour always ends in the showroom. The jewelry was beautiful but very pricey. We went back to our hotel to spend the evening preparing more paperwork for the Canadian Embassy. Tomorrow we are taking the babies to the Beijing Medical Clinic.
At the Great Wall.
Our family at the Great Wall.
Emperor Jamie.
Making jade pieces.
Huge jade furniture.


April 2/05 ~ Leaving Hunan

We literally stuffed ourselves into a bus to travel to the airport. The Chinese don’t see anything wrong with packing people into small places. Thankfully the ride wasn’t very far. I can tell you that we are now used to traveling with crying babies. We don’t seem to notice the noise anymore, but I don’t know how others on the plane will find it. We arrived at the airport only to discover that our flight was delayed by 3 hours. So we all hung out at the airport restaurant. I had my first experience of changing Sophie in a public restroom. They don’t seem to believe in baby change tables here so I had to change her on the counter between two sinks. It was a bit of a balancing act and I had spectators once again. The cleaning ladies (usually there are more than one) stood and watched. When I was finished they smiled their approval and went back to work. I guess they wanted to see if an English woman could properly change a Chinese baby’s bottom. It’s funny that our group conversations have changed to discussing our babies bowel movements. There seems to be an occurrence of "diaper blowouts" that have been happening with a few of the babies. Fortunately for us, Sophie has been having what Jamie calls "a playdough factory". We finally were allowed to board the plane and take off for Beijing. We took a friend’s advice and boarded the plane last and were able to get 3 empty seats at the back. Otherwise we would have been sandwiched in the middle of the plane. Sophie fell asleep after we took off and we placed her in the empty seat between us. She did great on the 2 hour flight and woke up 15 minutes before we were to land. Only a couple of the 11 babies had screaming episodes. We now have arrived at our hotel and checked into our room. At first we were placed in a room beside the elevators but then Jamie asked for another room and now we are in a nice corner unit. Sophie had some difficulty falling asleep. There are just so many changes happening to her over this past week. She had spent 10 months of her life with the same routine looking at the same four walls and now she is becoming quite a traveler. All these changes are hard on these little ones but they seem to be coping well. Tomorrow we go to the Great Wall of China!
Last picture taken in our room in Changsha, Hunan.
At the airport.
Waiting at the airport.
Airport restaurant.
Sophie's first flight.
"Good-bye Hunan!"