Saying Goodbye to Beijing

We are home. All is well. Taking time to get adjusted…more soon. Here’s the post from yesterday…

I’m sitting on the airplane, finally on our way home. I can’t believe we made it on the plane with everything and SK is sleeping peacefully next to me in her Cadillac of car seats. What a relief!

We had a pretty good night’s sleep. SK’s tummy is a bit better. We had our morning cereal and Skype time with my Dad and with Tim. Katie ended up having a bath on her own (not with me in the tub too) which she loved. We went up for our last buffet breakfast (we call it Katie’s 2nd breakfast). She sucked back a huge cup of yogurt through a straw, her latest fave. The staff have been so accommodating with the babies!

We got to the last details of packing…turns out I had a lot of space left in my suitcases. Didn’t really do much shopping. After reading online about other people’s adoption experiences here, I am now so curious about when they managed to do all this shopping I’ve heard about?! I wish I’d brought more clothes for Katie…poor thing is in the same 2 outfits in every photo. A third of what I brought was too small and a third was too big which left next to nothing but we weren’t really finding ourselves anywhere with time to shop or clothes we would want to buy. They other moms agree with this too. I can’t wait to get Katie into some new clothes. The sweater she has worn most often is one that I bought for her when I was travelling in Peru in 2007. Took a guess at the size and it’s been perfect…and so cute, but enough already! Since the weather was much cooler than we expected she really didn’t have enough warm things for her legs. I’m sure her suffering will end very soon 🙂

The red blanket that I knit has definitely come in handy and I’m thrilled we have pictures of it wrapped around Katie. The first and only thing I allowed myself to buy once the adoption process was underway was a beautiful book called “The Red Blanket” that I’d found at a little store on Bayview . It is a children’s book about a mom (single) with a little dog who goes to China to bring home her baby and takes along a red blanket. It’s a sweet story with lovely illustrations and of course at the time, that was our story. When I was doing Sweet Charity in Calgary in 2007 one of the guys in our cast taught me how to knit (thanks MLo) and after my initial scarf, the blanket was my next project. When Katie gets a little older and we read the story it will require a little editing but I’m glad she will know she has a red blanket too, knit with love while her mom was out of town kicking up her heels in a show (maybe that will make me cool!).

So, I’ve been feeling a bit lousy and my patience has been extremely thin (not with Katie, just the frustrations of living in a hotel in a foreign country). Men, you may skip this next part….
Got my period several days early….great. Certainly explains my grumpiness. Brought nothing with me… So, off I went to the Wu Mart (not to be confused with Walmart) up the street where we had bought diapers. Fortunately found something recognizable and got SK a banana but not without a great deal of frustration with the checkout line. Was really tired and needed some energy to lug SK and luggage around in the airport today so I caved and got fries at McDonalds. They were awesome! I was reprimanded for taking a photo of the menu though. Part of my outing was to grab some last minute gifts and souvenirs. I didn’t have much time because I had to get back and get our luggage ready for pick up. Mom stayed in the room with a sleeping SK.

I discovered an “underground market” literally…right below the Wu Mart and McDonalds. It was a huge maze of tiny stalls with people selling everything from jewelry to housewares, clothing, bags, lingerie, etc. You could even get a manicure. It was clear that this was where locals shopped, not tourists. No one hassled me at all. I bought a small present for my dad. I could have had a blast there but didn’t have time to fully explore it. So, the whole time we’ve been in Beijing there has been this great market only 3 minutes away but we had no idea and were out of time 😦

Luggage made it out the door on time and we checked out at 2:30, gathered in the lobby and got on the bus for the airport. One last Bus Cuddle! Jeff and Helen with little Lisa Molly bought all the girls a baby panda backpack 🙂 Check-in was frustrating. They couldn’t find Katie’s reservation. Then they found it but wanted to see her immigration document that I was to present when we land in Canada despite the fact that there is now a valid Canadian Visa in her Chinese passport. I didn’t think I needed that document until we landed so I had to dig into a packed up bag and my grumpiness and weariness grew. All was settled though and we moved on to the next challenge of getting through security. We had to leave our luggage carts behind at a certain point and then travel down and up escalators and on a train before we even got to the security gate. We said a teary goodbye to Sara at that point and mom and I figured out how we were going to continue with Katie hanging off my front, a rolling carry-on suitcase, Mom’s bag and the very heavy and awkward car seat. My plan was to balance it on the rolling suitcase and roll it which miraculously worked but it was very precarious! And we had a long way to go. On the train, a lovely Chinese man asked if I would like his seat…a nice way to end our time here since we found very little chivalry up until now. If I thought I felt like a pack horse last time we travelled, this was a whole new level of schlepping!

We finally made it to security and they kindly ushered us to a special services line which was nice but it was still incredibly difficult to take everything off, including Katie, get everything on the belt (not Katie), including the car seat and put it all back together at the other end. Mom and I were an excellent team! The saving grace at the end of it all was that the Beijing airport has little carts you can use on the other side while you’re waiting for your flight…unlike some other airports I know! The group grabbed seats and enjoyed a nice couple of hours having Starbucks, feeding babies, changing diapers, etc). Our flight was delayed by an hour so we could do a little last minute shopping too.
The last stretch…leave the little cart at the gate and get everything on the plane! Priority boarding helped a lot…a quieter plane and room to move helped a lot. The balanced load didn’t make it down the ramp without a tumble but then we manoeuvred it down the narrow isle to our seat. A huge thank you to Jim who figured out how to attach the seat. I didn’t do enough prep to know how everything worked but he saved the day. The flight attendants were helpful too and very sweet.

We had some tears getting settled because SK had fallen asleep just before we boarded and got woken up but by the time we took off she was laughing hysterically at the bumpiness of the plane rolling down the runway. She sat with me and played with the blankets in the plastic bags, chomped on a teething biscuit and had a grand time. Once our first meal came out, we took that opportunity to put her in the car seat for the first time and since we were feeding her, she was just fine with the whole thing. She was SOOO tired but couldn’t settle so we shamelessly turned on her little tv, brought out the top she likes to chew on and out she went but not before grabbing Bibi’s finger to help her fall asleep.







10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Fauna
    Mar 23, 2013 @ 21:52:34

    Welcome Home! Thank you for sharing your incredible experience through the blog, I looked forward to it everyday. If there is anything you need please do not hesitate to ask. Once you figure out what size Katie is let me know, I have some wonderful clothes for you. Chag Sameach!


  2. Reggie
    Mar 23, 2013 @ 23:02:47

    Welcome home Risa



  3. Cindy
    Mar 23, 2013 @ 23:18:56

    Sounds like quite a journey home. I love the pictures. ‘Let the games begin!’


  4. Bernie
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 00:05:00

    Welcome home – what an amazing journey…one just ending, many more just beginning. And I think you need to keep this blog going, at least from time to time, so we don’t go through withdrawals. Now how about a trip to Chicago??! Ok, I’ll come there. Love to you all. B


  5. Genevieve Wolfe
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 01:09:56

    Wow, you three did so great! Welcome home, welcome home! Thank you for sharing your extraordinary journey with all of us. I wish you and Katie especially, and her whole new family, much love and all the best in your new life together. xxoo


  6. Cheryl Stenson
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 02:18:40

    Welcome Home to all of you!!!!!! Welcome, Katie, to our lives!!!!!!


  7. Sarah Makin-Zakonovic
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 17:33:58

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful news with us. I have been reading about your amazing journey of preparing for, meeting and getting to know your little one. I am so impressed with your ability to tune into Katie and her needs, while not only being faced with new mommy situations (it’s a learning curve!), but with paperwork/bureaucracy, and all the challenges that go along with traveling in a foreign country..let alone with a young child. Your strength, flexibility, patience, endurance and love for Katie will take you far as a parent:)
    Enjoy all the new moments together at home with Katie and introducing her to all your family and friends. I really hope one day to sing and dance together with both of you in our Music Together Class. We continue to love our experience and your passion/and all the teachers passion keep us coming back for more.
    Best wishes and congratulations!
    Sarah, Aleksandar and Emma Zakonovic


  8. Jim and Thirza
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 14:11:09

    Very much have enjoyed following your odyssey. Also we’re glad you are back in T.O. safely with your little bundle of joy.


  9. The Grant Girl
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 18:46:56

    I just cannot think of a more happy making thing to read about right now! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us R, it has been so exciting to get the updates!!


  10. Catherine
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 16:00:13

    Welcome home! If you’re up to it, hoping we can meet your sweet baby girl at May’s dinner.

    Hope all is well as you’re settling in to your new normal.


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