Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Photos of life with 3 kids

First, we must say thanks to everyone who has commented on the blog. We read your thoughts every day, and it reminds us that we have so many friends and family members that care for us, and are at home sharing this journey with us. Keep them coming!

Today was our first full day with Zoe. We spent the morning at the civil affairs office where we officially became Zoe's parents and paid lots of cash money to the orphanage and Chinese officials. Note to anyone considering, or preparing for adoption in China . . . go to your bank and get newly minted, never been used American cash. It's what the Chinese officials want, it's what the cash exchange counters want, and it will save a lot of headaches when you get here.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and touring around Hefei. Here are the pictures:

Doug wanted to help get Zoe ready this morning so he buttoned up her clothes for us. Both he and Katie have been very loving and good to their new mei mei.

Katie likes to read books to Zoe. Here she is reading a peek-a-boo book to her.

Zoe's first bath. We're not sure how she liked it. But we DO know that she doesn't like people taking naked pictures of her so early in the morning. This was her "Dad, put down that camera or I'm gonna cry" look. Katie jumped in the bath with her and they played a bit (Katie forbid me to take those photos).

Look at that face!

Zoe like to laugh. Even during a 3 hour wait-in-a-room-a-thon.

This is the room we wait in at the civil affairs office. Here we are being interviewed by the Chinese officials. The questions were short and sweet. Then we paid them cash and officially became Zoe's parents! One woman in our group refused her child because the orphanage had not disclosed that she had epilepsy, and had never been given medication! We heard that the poor girl had seizures all night. The mother was just torn apart because obviously, even in such a short period of time a bond starts to form. But in the end, it was the right decision to return the child. The family was not prepared for this, and the girl's health probably would only get worse. This affected everyone in the group. We all were overjoyed at getting our new daughters, but so sad for both the mother and the baby. The CCAA was apparently furious with the orphanage and promised to match a new baby quickly. Last we heard, she may get a new baby by tomorrow.

Zoe and Molli sitting on the floor with Lisa and Linda. We were at the civil affairs office waiting for the formal adoption process to be completed. Not much interaction yet between the two of them.

Getting ready to risk our lives crossing a street in Hefei. Cars don't stop. Bikes don't stop. Motorcycles don't stop. Pedestrians don't stop. They all just go. What we learned is to wait until a local person steps out into traffic, then stick to them like glue. . . if they slow down, you do too. When I crossed this intersection with Kathy, our heads were spinning in all directions looking for oncoming traffic. Then we saw a woman walk diagonally from one corner to the far opposite corner without looking around or slowing down. I'm still not sure how she did it, but I ain't gonna try it!

Lisa and I in the park overlooking this gorgeous lake. Later, we rented a paddle boat for about 25 cents for a half-hour ride. There's a picture below.

Our three children, playing happily together. Doug and Katie have been a great big brother and sister so far. Here they are playing with Zoe in the park.

Relaxing in the park. Zoe is playing with a laminated card that Rui gave us. The card is written in Chinese and it explains why were are here and have a Chinese baby. She gave us these because Chinese people like to walk up to you and touch the baby, then tell you that you're not dressing them warm enough. This didn't happen much to us today, but Linda got swarmed and yelled at yesterday, so we'll wear the card whenever we go out. Also, notice the person doing Tai Chi in the background? Cool, huh?

Lisa, Doug, Katie and I took this paddle boat out on this beautiful lake in the middle of the park near our hotel (which you can see as the tallest building in the background). Can you see Doug waving in the boat? Don rented a motor boat and let the kids take turns in it with him. We left Zoe with the grandparents and she did just fine.

Daddy and Zoe. She loves to suck her thumb. We are so lucky that she's begun to bond with both of us. She is pure joy!

The cousins push the cousins. Everyone took turns pushing Zoe and Molli in the strollers, but Katie and Sean looked too cute (and garnered lots of attention) pushing the girls through this outside mall. The street itself is jam packed with stores and people. It's definitely an urban shopping experience.

Our "safe" dinner. We wanted to eat somewhere other than the hotel, so while we were out, we decided to look around for a restaurant. We, of course, found plenty of restaurants, but few that had English translations on the menu. People eat weird things around here, so we didn't want to risk ordering pickled fish brain with octopus congee or something like that by accident. So where did we go? Pizza Hut! Aaaah, but this was not your ordinary Pizza Hut because my father ordered escargot. I asked how it tasted. He said "about what you'd expect from ordering a French dish in an Italian restaurant in the middle of China."

The biggest shoe store I've ever seen. It's 3 or 4 floors with nothing but shoes. And the prices are CHEAP. Don and the boys all bought shoes. Ryan told me his cool new sneakers were about $4 US. When I went in there, they were selling leather dress shoes for about 68 RMB (Yuan), which is around $8. I hate shoe shopping, but it seems a crime not to go back and buy a pair.

Night in Hefei. The lights along the river are really beautiful. Lots of people were out, walking around, shopping, and playing. It feels very much like an urban American city - except that we cannot understand what anything or anyone says.


At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Cindy Houston said...

Varon Family, I am so excited for all of you, especially Zoe. Looks like she is loving her new family and it shows that her new family certainly loves her.:) Can't wait to see her. Be safe and we will see you soon. Cindy

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Erin Wood said...

Zoe is so cute. We have all been reading your stories. We hope Kathy has better luck on the way home. The kids liked the story of the bandaide on her butt. Take care and best wishes

At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Kerri said...

I have a new favorite quote...

"about what you'd expect from ordering a French dish in an Italian restaurant in the middle of China."


The pictures are just wonderful. That's funny about the locals thinking the babies need to be dressed warmer. Reminds me of a few conversations with my own MIL about how my babies were dressed...

At those prices, we could use some shoes. You don't mind loading your suitcases down with shoes for us, right? ;) (Just kidding!)

I love learning about beautiful Zoe and how she's adjusting to life as a Varon. I've said it before, thanks for sharing your journey.

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Glenn said...

Yesterday (or was it tomorrow) sounds like a long but rewarding day. I'm glad Zoe is taking to everyone so quickly, and vice versa.

I went through an abrupt mental adjustment when I read your earlier blog where you described a society in which no one has brothers, sisters, aunts, or uncles. Talk about a looming demographic imbalance.

I really feel torn for the situation with the epileptic baby. I'm sure they will be a fine family to whichever baby leaves with them.

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Ruth Ann Hepler said...

This is the post I've been waiting for! What GREAT photos! You can tell that Zoe is adjusting just great, and Doug and Katie love her to death. And I'm glad you're having a great time exploring Hefei. Zoe is just beautiful. Keep the photos and stories coming! And you better not come back to the US without several pairs of those $8 shoes!

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Zoe is beautiful. Doug and Katie seem so proud. Enjoy her. Diane G

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zoe is so cute! I love her. I bet that Tommy and Zoe will be good friends.(Or more!) I Can't wait till you bring her home so I can see her in real person. DOUG, DON'T TORTURE HER LIKE YOU DO TO ME!!!!!!!! Anyways, see you soon!

At 4:54 PM, Anonymous KYRA said...


At 6:04 PM, Anonymous Pam Eidson said...

Congratulations Varon Famiily!!!! Zoe is so precious. Glad to hear that she's doing so well. It sounds like you guys are having a great time. Stay safe....can't wait to meet Miss Zoe!!!
Pam E.

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Katie,
I love the way that you are already reading to Zoe. You look like you are having a great time, with your
cute, new sister. We miss you in the classroom & we can hardly wait to hear
your writing in your journal of all the great times that you are having with Zoe. Please tell Doug hello.
Mrs. Moore

At 8:28 PM, Blogger ~ Alison & Mali ~ said...

Congratulations! Zoe is absolutely beautiful.

Thanks for sharing your journey =)

At 5:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Guys:

Well it's Friday afternoon here so it's probably Sat. morning there.

Loved the Zoo adventure. Now that's the Varon outing I was waiting to hear. Wonder if it will top Colorado...

Loved the pictures of the girls together on the bus. Can't wait till tomorrow's news.

LOL, Uncle Sol& Aunt DJ


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