Melissa's Return to China - Page 1


We left Columbia around 10:00 am headed for Chicago, our fist leg of our journey to China, and coincidentally this was the day we adopted Melissa 9 years ago.  We arrived at our friends house in Chicago around 5:00pm and they gratuitously gave us supper and then took us to the airport were we were to meet up with the others in our group.

We made some brief introductions and then we headed for the ticket counter to get our boarding pass and check our luggage.  It seemed like it took for ever for our line to move.  Someone of course was checking in tons of luggage and boxes, but after awhile we got our tickets and were able to catch up with the rest of the group.  They were waiting in an eating area, because it would be another couple of hours before we could board the plane.  After getting chased out of there by the cleaning crew, we headed down to the gate where we were to board.

6/11/2006 - 6/12/2006

Snoozing on the Plane

Time to get on the plane! We got settled in to our seats, and in a few minutes were off (OK it took longer than that, but this sounds better).  Our path would take us up over Canada, the North West Territory, Alaska, the Bering Straits, a little bit of Russia, and down by Japan, to skirt North Korea, then west to Seoul. It was now 06/12/06 somewhere over the Bering Straits we lost a whole day!!!  We would have a 5 hr layover in Seoul before beginning our 1 ½ flight to Beijing. All this happened while some of us got a little snooze in!

The Welcome At 10:00 am China time we landed and headed thru the airport and customs (boy had everything changed in the 9 yrs since we had been here) the only thing that looked the same was they were still doing construction.  After getting thru customs and heading out into the open corridor to find our guides, we hear this clapping and cheering and could see someone with a movie camera taking picture.  We started wondering just who the celebrity was.  Then after getting a little further through the crowd, we saw it was not one celebrity, but five!  The cheering and filming was of our daughters, the people who were to guide us in China, had meet the girls with large bouquets of flowers and were filming them, as if they were movie stars.  Melissa wanted to know why everyone thought, they (the girls) were so special.  We were told later that it was BLAS (Bridge of Love Adoption Services) first time to host a large group to come back.  They had done individuals return visits before but not a group.

After many pictures and someone unfurling a banner that said in Chinese and English, “Welcome First Roots Seeking Tour”, and a few more pictures; we got on the bus and headed for the hotel.  After a short time to get settled in or hotel, we were to meet back down stairs and get on the bus and head out again for the Temple of Heaven.

Temple of Heaven Kites When we got there our guide got our tickets and we proceed to walk down the main path way to the Circular Mount Altar, where you could stand on the raised spot in the center and hear your words come back to you if you spoke.  It was to busy for us to try it, but when we were there 9yrs ago we found it worked.

Each of the girls was given a kite and we tried to fly them on the grounds but do to the lack of wind and it being so busy we quickly gave up.  Plus one of the police officials told us not to as there was too many people.

After tying to fly the kites, we left the Temple of Heaven grounds and headed for Dinner Hosted by BLAS at the Ministry of Civil Affairs.  Here we met the Assistant Director Madame Lu and she introduced us to the Director. 

Bei-Jing Wel-Comes You After a brief speech, he presented each of the girls with a doll from the 2008 Olympics.  The doll’s names in order make the phrase; “Bei-Jing Wel-Comes You".  Then it was off to dinner.  The food was nice, and the service great, but we all were getting quite tired.  Finally near the end of the meal we had some soup, with noodles in it.  It was explained to us that in each bowl was just one noodle that filled up the entire bowl!  And then we were asked if we wanted to watch the “Noodle Show”.  Seems that chef the makes the soups (and maybe the rest of the meal, that wasn’t quite explained) was the second in noodle making competitions in the country.  Well out he comes with three clumps of dough and proceeds to roll one out. Then take it and, doubles it, doubles again, etc the number of strands of dough in between his hands.  When all was said and done he had created on long noodle, thinner that a piece of spaghetti and done in less that a minute.  He then took the next batch of dough and started over, but this time the “noodle” was thicker, and with the third one he created a flat noodle.  Each type taking only a minute or so to do, but since he had done all the bowels of soup that night, he had already do about 30 bowels of noodles.  Quite amazing!! 

We then headed back to the hotel to get ready for or first full day in China, not that this one didn’t seem like it was full.


CCAA This day we were to tour the offices of CCAA and BLAS.  Our first stop was to see the offices of CCAA.  We had a short meeting in there conference room to explain to us just what we would be doing, and then we headed off to visit each department and have someone in that department explain to us just what they did there and how it related to our original adoption process.

One of the most memorial stops was the “Matching Room”, the place where each family and child came together for the first time (at least on paper).  Now that it is all one computers they can call up the records electronically.  With the parents records called up, they can look at list of available children, call up their records if need be, find the one they want and then with the click of a button, tie the two together. They didn’t make a big deal out of this, but you could tell they put lots of effort and thought into making the choices.

the fileWe then went back to the conference room and found place for each family marked.  At each spot was a box like file, our child’s adoption file.  We were allowed to look thru the file and for the most part it was the same as the documents that we already had.  We did ask Cecilia to ask a gentleman standing next to us, if on one of the documents it said anymore about where Melissa was found.  He looked thru the index of the file and came to one document, and said something to Cecilia.  When she translated what he said, he had explained that he now was in charge of the record keeping, but 9 years ago he had worked in the matching room and it was his signature on that document.  He had matched us up with Melissa!  That was quite a treat to get to thank him for putting us and Melissa together.  Back to the question at hand though.  When he came to the document about where Melissa was found, he said all that it said was “The Beginning of Hubin Road”.  Before we knew it was Hubin Road but not where on Hubin Road (not that the beginning told us much, as which end of the road is the beginning? Or did it, as we find out later).

After this whirl wind tour, we were headed off across the compound to visit BLAS, but outside the CCAA it was time more group pictures, so we made a brief stop for the camera’s and then on to BLAS.

BLAS calligraphy When we reached their office, and were started off in the same fashion, going to each department and having someone explain to us just what their area did.  Their biggest area was the translation department.  Where they did all the translations for the agencies that used BLAS like "Dillon Intl." did (seems like there was around 100 or so, but I can’t be sure).  After the tour we went into another conference room where they gave us a short geography lesson on China and some facts about it.  Then they started in with teaching the children how to do calligraphy and also how to write their name in Chinese. 

They did a brief skit and a song that one of the women had written for us, and then they had us do the same.  Couple of the girls and families did things for them and then the whole group did a song (to the tune of "You are My Sunshine") that one of the Dillon people had changed the words to.  Expressing how much what they had done for us meant to us.  This brought tears to both sides of the room; joy and thankfulness on ours and joy and gratitude knowing what they (BLAS) did everyday was appreciated and made a difference.

noodle restaurant Panda After more group photos, we headed off to a typical noodle restaurant, for a group lunch.  When we arrived and as we were walking up to the restaurant, we had to move over on the side walk for a car that was driving down past where we parked the bus?  This was different, but apparently sidewalks were fair game for cars.  We got a room in the back with a couple of big tables and then the food started to come.  We found that this was just your average Joe’s restaurant and that the food was quite good!!  Wasn’t long before the table was full of dishes and we were full of good food.

Then we were to take a drive over to the Beijing Zoo to see the Panda exhibit.  We didn't get to see any of the rest of the zoo do to our schedule, but seeing the Pandas nice.  One or two were kind of playful but the others seemed to have had enough of "tourist" and would turn there backs to you or walk away.

Rickshaw Ride School Next on our agenda was a Rickshaw ride in the Hutong area, specifically the Shicha Lake-Hutong (hutong is an old small narrow alley way).  Our rickshaw was basically a three wheeled bike with a canopy over the back. After taking off and weaving in an out of traffic (yes, even the alleys were busy, both coming and going), it started to rain.  Not to be daunted the driver stopped and put a rain cover over the canopy and a rain poncho over himself, and off we went again.  We wound up at an elementary school, where the kids had already gone home, but the teachers were still there learning English. So we got to talk to them a bit and answer questions about AMERICA, then it was off once more.

DanceWe also stopped to see some performers in one of the parks just near the Hutong Alley ways.  Even though it had been pouring down rain.  I guess they knew we were coming as they uncovered their interments and started to dance when we arrived.  They even had a few of us get into the act.  Well some did, but I can't dance Western let a lone Chinese so I stayed on the side lines.  After this was over we got back in the rickshaws and headed over to our next stop. 

door way market Home dumplings

There we got out and a bit of walking in the Hutong and got to see how to find out the kind of job and social status that someone had by the way their entry way door posts were made.  Then we were off to see a typical market and some of the fruits and vegetables they had for sale there.  Our next stop was at a home in the Hutong, but where I don't know, just glad we had a guide!   What look to us as we walked in the alley way, was old worn out buildings, but going thrum a small courtyard we found a “house”. This house had been there over 100 years and in this lady's family that long also.  Inside was a small but clean room with a bigger room adjoining. In the larger room is where we were to all congregate, and watch the lady give dumpling making lessons. 


food We found out that this larger room use to be two smaller rooms, but they had removed a walk to make it bigger, as they like to entertain.  That was also evident by the disco ball hanging from the ceiling, and the large screen TV in the corner.  (A stark contrast of old and new.)  After showing the girls and everyone how to make dumplings, they and anyone else that wanted got a chance to try.  Then they were whisked off to be cooked.  Again we were feed a large meal (including dumplings!) and found that like the noodle restaurant, the common ordinary food was quite good.  After our goodbyes we loaded up on the rickshaw and headed back to the bus.  From there it was to the hotel, with an early wakeup call to put out the luggage, as the next morning we would be heading to Xi’an

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jll 29 Feb 2007/a