Monday started very, very early... 4:30 wake up, 5:40 on the way to the Beijing airport for the flight to Changsha. Mark and I had barely slept so the early morning didn't bother me that much. We were sad to say goodbye to our travel group-- we have really enjoyed getting to know them and love the smaller group atmosphere. (Looking forward to seeing them and their new little ones in GZ!)
We had a very pleasant, uneventful flight to Changsha-- I love Air China, give me a Chinese airline anytime over American ones. Bigger seats, more legroom, good food and wonderful service. Arrived Changsha just before noon, met our guide Mamie, and headed for the Hua Tian Hotel to unpack and get ready for the big moment. Lunch at the hotel's "Food Street" was rather, um, daunting, which did not help my nervous tummy. (See the previous post for all the gory details!)
We headed out to the Civil Affairs office at 3 pm, and arrived about 3:20. I was a basketcase of nerves, Mark was calm, and AK was super-excited to finally meet her big sister. I completely forgot to get out the Flip video camera so unfortunately we did not get video of the big moment. When we stepped off the elevator I saw a jumping girl in a pink coat peeking out of the waiting room. TingTing-- of course! She was really hyper and once she stopped hopping around she gave AK a lollipop from her backpack. That was all she had with her, a pink backpack with the gifts we'd sent her and a few snacks. We said hi to her and let AK take the lead by giving her the backpack we'd brought to her with some goodies inside. Of course the next few minutes were a blur of questions for the orphanage director and nanny, watching Ting Ting, and feeling a bit overwhelmed. TT seemed really excited to be with us. AK was so caught up in the excitement that she had a rare accident and ended up with wet clothes for the rest of the appointment. She was so upset, and I was trying to comfort her while paying attention to TT. TT is so cute, extremely lovable, and working hard to communicate with us. Already she is helpful with AK and they are becoming buddies.
We headed out to the hotel and that was when we learned that TT was suffering from a bad case of motion sickness, and as we came to realize, nerves. She was sick almost as soon as we got to the hotel, plus we had to change rooms, so things were a total circus for the next few hours. We ate a chaotic dinner at the buffet -- Ting Ting careened between all the choices-- and she ate a good-sized dinner. Mark and I were absolutely exhausted by that point. But when we got back to the room the events of the day hit her hard and she grieved terribly. Suffice it to say that it was a tough night for us all. She threw up again and when we went to get ready for bed she broke down completely. We ended up having her talk with our guide a bit to calm her down and she and I went for a walk together around the hotel, which ended up being a sweet time together. She still cried herself to sleep, which broke our hearts. If we are scared at all the changes imagine what it would be like for her. I thought I was prepared to handle the grief moments but the reality is very hard to see, especially in an older child. She is such a brave and spunky girl.
I love love LOVE how AK is looking at her new sister in this picture!--A