Days Five through Seven have been a bit of a blur, adjusting to our new life with Peyton. On Day Five, we returned to the Guiyang Adoption Center for a couple of hours to finalize the adoption decree paperwork. The room was very hot and full of busy adoptive families and we were very glad to finally be holding our adoption decree certificates in their nice red folders and posing for a group photograph in the lobby. It was intriguing that the spot where pictures are taken has both a Chinese flag and an American flag on the wall. I’ve always assumed that people from other countries adopt Chinese orphans, too, but apparently the number of Americans is much higher and the inclusion of our flag in the picture spot is a gracious tip of the hat to that fact.
After our decrees were received, we piled back onto our bus and took a short trip to the Jiaxiu Pavilion, which sits on a huge rock in the middle of the Nanming River, the waterway that bisects Guiyang. The Pavilion was built in 1598 and its name, Jiaxiu, is a word that means “finest under heaven,” a compliment to the people of Guiyang. The Floating Jade Bridge connects the Pavilion to both shores and a beautiful, shaded walkway runs down the river’s edge.
You might wonder why adoptive parents take tours such a short time after their adoptions are finalized, rather than spending time alone as a family. While every family has the option to duck away into the hotel, rest, and focus on their new child, staying cloistered can quickly raise the tension level. You find yourself overanalyzing every sound or move your new child makes, and you can become discouraged fast if she isn’t responding or reacting like you’d hoped. Spending time with an entire group of adoptive parents helps you see your child and your family aren’t the only ones with adjustment issues and allows you to encourage one another.
On Wednesday, we made an attempt to visit a museum which features the history of the Miao people. The Miao are a large ethnic group officially recognized by the Chinese government and given greater autonomy to govern themselves. A high percentage of the Miao live in mountain regions of Guizhou Province, which includes Guiyang, where we are. Many of the children adopted from this region are of Miao descent. Janet and I were fortunate to receive a book of photographs taken by Peyton’s foster family. Several of the photos showed the children, including Peyton, in traditional Miao clothing. Unfortunately, on the day we went to the museum it was closed for renovations. We did, however, investigate a smaller wing which included a gift shop and a few unique, handcrafted goods for which the Miao are famous. In the picture above, Peyton seems to be wearing items like we saw.
Peyton appears to be adjusting to our family. We’re seeing more and more smiles and silly play, and hearing lots of giggling and laughing. She never stops moving, so it’s tough to catch the cute looks on film without the pictures turning blurry. We did catch the picture above at lunch at a Pizza Hut (of all things) we found a few blocks from our hotel. She loves pizza. In fact, we haven’t found many foods she doesn’t love. As we expected, she has chosen a favorite… not Mommy, not Daddy, not Taylor… but Jordan. She loves him already, looks for him when he leaves the hotel room, and runs to play with him or hold his hand when he returns. He’s eating it up.
Elijah’s having a little trouble adjusting to losing his solo spot in our attentions. When he sees Peyton take someone’s hand or sit next to that person, he tried to grab that person’s other hand or insert himself between them. He’s also been more deliberately disobedient than we’ve seen in the past. We keep reassuring him we still love him very much, giving him lots of time and affection, but it will take awhile for him to realize that he hasn’t been demoted or replaced.
Today, Thursday, we visited the Hongfu Temple on Qianling Mountain in the center of Qianling Park. It was founded by a single monk in 1672, and has since become the biggest Buddhist temple in Guizhou Province. The park includes a large manmade lake and over 1,000 acres of heavily forested, steep terrain. It is also home to over 1,000 macaques, small monkeys that roam aggressively up and down the paths looking for handouts from the pilgrims who come to visit. Guides regularly warn visitors to hide water bottles and food packages inside their purses and backpacks, because the monkeys will run up and steal them right off your body. We saw hundreds of the little critters, but none of them were brave enough to try to steal from the huge, bearded, American guy.
When we returned to the hotel mid afternoon, our family boarded one of the small elevators along with three other people. We pushed the button for the nineteenth floor. The elevator stopped on seventeen and suddenly the entire panel went dark. The lights didn’t go off, but everything else did. We looked for an alarm button, but there wasn’t one. We did see a phone number to call in the event of an emergency, but since our phones were off-network and in our room safe, we were out of luck. Fortunately, one of the other three riders turned out to be a desk clerk. She called for help on her phone and about ten minutes later the building engineers pried open the doors and released us. In that short span of time, however, the car heated up about ten degrees and we were all dripping.
While we waited to be rescued, I mentally catalogued our options. I remembered we still four nearly full water bottles in our backpacks. As a parent, I also thought, “If worse comes to worse, and we’re stuck here long and one of us has to go to the bathroom, we could use an empty bottle and everyone could turn their backs.” (I realize the absurdity of that thought now, but it’s what crossed my mind at the time.) When we got back to the room, I shared my thoughts with Janet and the “bigs” (Taylor and Jordan). Taylor responded, “Great, Dad! I was contemplating my premature death when the elevator crashed to the basement, and you were thinking about where we would have to pee.” I guess we all have different ways of dealing with adversity.
Tomorrow, we board a plane to Guangzhou, where we have appointments spaced out over several days before we receive a visa for Peyton to return. We’ll post more if time allows.