Journey to Zoe

Saturday, July 30, 2005

We made it home - Yeah!

The long journey home was not bad at all. For those of you reading this who are preparing for your trip to get your little one this is what I did:

Night before our flight I gave Zoe a tiny bit (1/8 milligram) of melatonin. She was asleep within five minutes (6:45pm). Bill and I got up at 3:30am. I woke Zoe at 4:30am. We left for the airport just before 6. Zoe took her morning nap on the first flight. She did fall asleep during the short layover (unplanned, but ok). She was awake for the first 2 hours of our long flight - Tokyo to PDX. I gaver her the same amount of melatonin and she slept until 40 minutes before we were to land (8:30am). We had bulkhead seats in business class and they set up a bassinet for us. This was great, because both Bill and I could rest and try to sleep and eat our meals without any problem. When we got home all the kids went down for a nap after lunch - no problem and Bill and I slept. We all slept for 2.5 hours and got up for play, dinner and and then back to bed. Jack and Maddy went down at 8, Zoe went down at 8:45 - I did the melatonin again - probably the last time as it is 7am and she is still sleeping. Bill and I were not very tired so we stayed up later than we should have, but both got at least 6.5 hours of sleep. Praise God, looks like we will not have a huge jet lag problem!

Overall, the trip was great. I would highly recommend buying things you like from the Friendship store in Beijing. There were two things there that I did not buy, as it was our first real buying stop and I didn't want to spend too much too early. But unfortunately, I was unable to find similar items at other locations. Also note, we only had 20 min to shop here and there is a ton to see. This is the only Friendship store this large with this kind of selection. DON'T buy from the Jade factory - WAY overpriced. You can indeed find real jade for much less all over in Guangzhou. There is a small gem store with jade down the street from the McDonalds across from the Garden hotel - I got a great oval bangle bracelet for Zoe when she is older and lots of jade chopsticks for gifts on the island. (Jade factory wants 2-6 thousand Yuan for bracelets, I was able to barter mine down at the local shop for 600 Yuan - yes it is real. The pearl factory is worth is, but the real nice stuff is alot of money. The back wall of the pearl factory is a sale section - we got all of our stuff along this wall. The island has a ton of shops, we had great deals on Sunday - not as many people buying - during the week, we could hardly barter at all - alot of people shopping, shops not willing to come down. You will start to notice that most the shops have the exact same items in many cases. Our whole group found Jennifer's place to be way overpriced and unwilling to make a half way decent deal. Lucy's was great for food. If you don't want to use a squatty potty - go to the bathroom at the White Swan before hitting the shops. Also, the map you receive in your brown envelope to take with you for medical info lists a toy market, jade market, etc. These places are hard to find, the Chinese characters on the map are for local landmarks, not the places you want to go and they are wholesale anyway - not many willing to sell one pieces - only large orders, wouldn't waste the time trying to find. We tried, got lost - did however see alot of the local life of China - that was fun. Our best meals in Guangzhou were at a place called The Italian Restaurant - very affordable and VERY good. It is around the corner from Starbucks near the Garden hotel, just over the foot bridge. They do deliver!

Our agency AWAA was great, the guides were wonderful - truly cared about you and the kids, very helpful and willing. Every step of the way we took their lead, but were also given the freedom to do our own thing. Fantastic agency! I wish they did adoptions in Africa or Haiti (where we are considering our next adoption). I would recommend them without hesitation!

Zoe is adjusting, still wants just me, but will play with Bill if I hold her. She is quite overwhelmed by her loving brother and sister. I am looking forward to her dr apt on 8/12.

This is probably our last entry. Please feel free to email any questions about Zoe or our trip/agency at

Thursday, July 28, 2005

We leave for home today!

Yesterday was the swearing in appointment with the US consulate. Now, as soon as Zoe hits US soil, she is an American citizen. We finished up our shopping yesterday and went to bed early. We all had melatonin, Zoe had a tiny tiny amount, was asleep within 10 minutes and is still sleeping 9 hours later. Bill and I didn't take our full dosage and we both had trouble falling asleep, the excitement of going home and the massive construction right outside our window. Oh well. We should still be tired enough to sleep on the long flight.

Today - Guangzhou to Tokyo, Tokyo to Portland. We will leave at 8:20am Friday morning and home just 30 minutes later on the same day.

Can't wait to see everyone. Unsure yet whether or not we will be at church Sun - I hope so, although I probably won't be leaving Zoe in the nursery yet.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tuesday - Temple Visit, shopping and baby shower

Well, Zoe is having a bit of a better day today, still not back to where she was with Bill, but we are working on it. Part of the problem, is she does not know how to play, we have to work at showing her what to do with toys, then she enjoys it.

On our drive to the temple we saw some locals working on the grounds of the temple, laying bricks for walking paths - their only tool was a stick. There is a lot of construction work in all the cities we have been in, hardly any machinery tools are used. We did however see a jack hammer here in Guangzhou.

The temple had alot of amazing pieces of hand carved art wood, ivory and jade, as well as additional embroidery pieces.

We went shopping to a wholesale children's clothing market. It was just like going to a trade show, but specific to children's clothing and everyone spoke Chinese. We were able to buy a few things, but not everyone was selling samples, and we were able to barter pretty well here.

Later in the afternoon we had a baby shower for our 15 families. That was fun. We also said goodbye to two great couples that we met on the trip that will be leaving early in the morning. We hope to stay in touch with them.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Medical Exam today

Well we had her medical, everything checked out fine - really just a formality. However, the scales at the hotel are way off - when she was weighed at the clinic she only weighed 11.9 pounds (with clothes and a wet diaper on). She was 11.2 pounds at five months. Wow! she has alot of growing to do.

Went shopping some more. Bill has some paperwork to do tonight for the adoption and tomorrow we go to a museum and more shopping.

Zoe is really attached to me. Really need help in allowing that bond to strengthen, without having to carry her ALL THE TIME - the screams are deafening when I put her down.

That is it for now.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Yummy Italian Food

We ate dinner at this super yummy place last night - The Italian Restaurant. Must go there again. Then we did more shopping, street vendors here by the hotel. Got some great stuff!

Here are some great pictures of Zoe during dinner.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Shopping in Guangzhou

Wow! Lots to buy, many places to buy from, and much bartering to do. This was the first day - I would say we did soso at the bartering thing - Bill was surprised since I do it well for business. But this just felt different. I see these people's apartments and know the average income, it just makes it harder. Tomorrow is another shopping day, so maybe I will do better.

This is a very busy city, seems to be the fashion capital of China, clothing and shoes EVERYWHERE! The island we go to for many of our appointments is very catered to the adoptive families, all girl items for sale.

Bill bought a Batman Returns DVD, really excited to watch it, but when we put it in, it was in Russian - oops! There went a whole $1.50.

Zoe has her medical exam tomorrow - pretty much just a formality, but I am anxious to see her weight.

Looking forward to coming home soon. We really miss Jack and Maddy and of course our family and friends.

Zoe's first plane ride

All 15 familys stop for a photo op as we get ready to go to the airport.

Today we flew from Changsha to Guangzhou, just an hour flight. Zoe did great! She didn't cry at all and was a very happy baby. Made Bill and I very proud, as many of the other babies were quite unhappy.

We arrived to our hotel - very snazzy! So far great food!

Bill has had a bit of the traveler's gut, but so far I have been doing well. He is just about over it now.

Zoe is eating more, playing more and learning to cry for attention.

Friday 21st

The embroidery museum, although sounds like a bore, was really amazing.

Many pieces of work that, unless you were to look closely, they look like paintings. It ispired me to consider my needle work again.
I was talking with one of the other Dad's today. We were talking about how amazing this whole adoption thing is re feelings, etc. Personally, I expected to love Zoe from the beginning - as I have loved her and prayed for her for more than a year now. However, I expected the kind of love that I feel for Jack and Maddy would develop over time for Zoe - I was completely wrong, it was immediate from the moment she was in my arms - now that is GOD!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Getting Ready for our next flight

Well, Thursday was a free day. We started the day late and went to McDonald's. Played some cards, watched a movie, got foot massages ( 80 min for 7 US dollars - gotta love it) and went too dinner. Bill tried snake - yuck!
He said it tasted like chicken, but he only took one bite. Later we met up with another couple and played table tennis.

We are meeting some wonderful people that I hope to maintain contact with, this is truly a unique experience to go through with other like minded people and creates a great connection.

I spent much of Zoe's nap time packing for the morning, as we leave for the airport at 6am for a one hour flight to Guangzhou. This is where we will do all of the US paperwork.

Today we are off to an embroidery factory - one of Changsha's famous industries.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Day three with Zoe - Wed the 20th

Today she is much happier, she is smiling and laughing. Starting to play by herself and will now lay awake in her crib before falling asleep instead of needing to be rocked and comforted to sleep. Bill and her are getting to be quite close and having fun.

She is really excited when Jack and Maddy talk on the phone with her.
We went to the local university, and saw a traditional Chinese music show.

Bill and I took turns having a 100 minute body massage for only $18 US dollars - we will be doing that a few times before coming home. Later in the evening we played bowling with another couple at the bowling alley in the hotel. Tomorrow is a free day, we will probably explore some more and play some table tennis.

Adoption Day Tuesday 19th

Official adoption day takes place the day after we get her. We were able to get pictures of the orphanage director. Zoe was still very lifeless this day. Weighing only 13 pounds and unable to roll over or sit up. Still very scard and clinging tightly to us. By the end of the evening she started to show less fear and at 19 oz - much better!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Gotcha Day!

Our day started out leaving for the Beijing airport at 6:30am. We arrived into Changsha at 10:30 am. Changsha is very different from Beijing, it has cleaner air (still quite poluted) and is much greener. The buildings are much better maintained.

We got to the hotel and set up our rooms in preparation for the babies. We left at 2:30pm to go to the Civil Affairs Office where we would meet Zoe.

We were there for about 5 minutes and taken to the waiting room. Less than 5 minutes later, they started calling family names and bringing in babies. It was an incredible experience!! Emotions were high, to say the least. All the women were crying as each family received thier baby. Some cried, a few whimpered some, one or two were indifferent and just looked around at everything.

Zoe was one of the whimper's. She immediately clung tightly to my arm. She was limp in my arms, I don't think it was because of the situation, but because she is so malnurished. At any point that I would change which arm I was holding her in, or did anything to make her think I might put her down or give her to someone else she held me tight and started to cry.

Once back at the hotel her and Daddy got acquainted, very well. She then would cry if she thought he was going to put her down. It seems as though the bonding process has begun!

She is very very small. Her skin is loose in a few places and her bones are evident. She is much smaller than and less active than most of the babies from her group. Our goal now is to get her thriving and gaining weight.

Here are the pictures - enjoy!!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

More pictures....

Seems like blogger is having problems with more than one picture at a time. So here is another try.

We made it - Beijing!

Bill: After a 14 hour flight....Portland to Tokyo to Beijing we're here and just a little bit sleepy. The flight was actually pretty nice as we were in business class and I actually had legroom enough to lay my seat perfectly flat to sleep! (I got about 4 hrs total)

Flying in to Beijing at night was strange...there were very few lights on in this city of over 17,000,000 people. But we landed and got through customs without any issues.

We were met by Maggie one of our guides for our duration in China. We got to our hotel (Raddison) at about 10pm and went straight to bed.

In the morning we met fellow adopting families from our group and had breakfast a the hotel (Chinese buffet style) Ever had congee before? Me niether. It tastes like watery rice soup.

Justine wants to talk about our tour stuff but I have to preempt it with the weather conditions....
#1 S M O G !
Oh my GOD the smog is horrendous here! thick thick thick thick thick. LA is a breath of fresh air compared to Beijing. Every day in Beijing was "sunny" so the photos tell the story. Again let me repeat...there was NO CLOUDS in Beijing in the photos (also no snow it might was 95 degrees)
#2 very warm 95 degrees as I mentioned
#3 humid probably about 80-90% humidity. Not life threating (except the smog) but imagine hiking up the Great wall of China in that weather.

Ok here is Justine.... bye for now from billyg


The flight was GREAT! We had massaging seats!! Very fun.

Our first day in Beijing our guides kept us very busy - I think to keep us from feeling the exhaustion of our trip over.
First Stop - The Great Wall - This had a nice veiw - would have been a breathtaking and spectacular view if it were not for the SMOG - as Bill said. Parts of this wall were built dating back to 400BC - some parts are well maintained - for tourists, other parts are original and very dangerous. The wall itself has some amazing steep sections, very hard to walk - everyone walked at an angle I had never seen people do before.

Second Stop - Jade Factory - I cannot imagine sweat shops being any worse than this place - but possible. We were given a tour of where they design, cut, carve and polish jade - of course you can buy things here too - way overpriced.

Third Stop - Lunch and the Friendship store. Chinese food, to my surprise I have enjoyed something from every meal. The Friendship store is a government run tourist trap - basically - many things to buy.

Fourth Stop - Summer Palace - this is quite lovely, many trees and plants, river - very serene. (Jack and Maddy - this is where the bridge is that Big Bird's dog fell into the river) We were given a boat ride to our restaurant from the Summer Palace.
(The Summer Palace is where the Emporer would spend his summers.)

Next - home.

Day two in Beijing -
1st stop - Tinamin Square (I am probably spelling many of our stops incorrect - I am too tired to look them up right now). This is where Mao is buried. This guy is very well respected - You would have thought we were at Disneyland with all the people who were lined up to pay thier respects to him - not to mention all the other tourists, like ourselves who were just their to see some of the buildings.

2nd stop - Lunch.

3rd Stop - Forbidden city - This is where the Emporer lived. Many, Many large, extravgant, rarely used buildings in their time. Now open to the public for viewing. Everything in China seems to have a meaning or superstition. Prosperity, longevity and money are all extremely important. Numbers, different cuts of jade, animals - both real and mythical, and colors all have meaning here.
There were many beggers here - they would follow you and not give up. One woman was holding a child and hit our guide with his head when she asked her to leave us all alone. She later explained that these are often times not even their children that they are using to do the begging.

4th stop - Pearl factory - much better pricing. We got to learn about the growing and harvesting of pearls and how they get their natural color.

5th stop - Peking Duck dinner - To my surprise this was very tasty.

Beijing in general is a very poor and smelly place - imagine polution, car exhaust (only 10% of the population have cars, but 10% of 17 million is alot), stale body gas and urine mixed with heavy humid air and you have the smell of Beijing. Also, babies and toddlers tend not to wear pants of any kind, they just run around with shirts on and go to the bathroom where ever they are walking.

We leave in the morning at 6:20 to catch our flight. It is 2.5 hours to Changsha - we should get Zoe at about 3pm.

Will right more then.

Thank you all for your prayers, I have not gotten sick at all and have had the engergy I have needed. Bill is also doing great and is really enjoying the food.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

This is it!

Ok - well, I could not get up at 3am. I turned the alarm off sometime around 1:30 and tried to sleep. I had so much energy from excitement that it was hard to do so. Anyway, I got up at 5 - really not much left to do so I am going to try to relax a bit.

Will try to post from Tokyo later otherwise you won't see anything until Sat am China time.

Thanks for your prayers and support.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Less than 12 hours

Well, it is now 15 min to midnight. We are nearly done packing and are on our way to bed. I am still planning on getting up quite early to do a few last things.

Wanted to post a picture of Jack and Maddy.

Until tomorrow.

We leave tomorrow!!

Well, I woke up today just before 5am - Tired, but not really able to sleep. Today will be a day full of finishing up multiple things at the house, taking Maddy to the dr unexpectedly and spending some fun and quality time with the kids and some friends.

I expect to get up in the morning at about 3am in an attempt to start switching over to the time change. Bill may try this too - we will see. I figure if we do this and sleep just three or four hours on the plane, we should be exhausted enough once we get to the hotel to go right to sleep - unless of course we are too excited and curious about our new surroundings - hmm Zoe might go through that too.

I have been warned by many previous adoptive parents that the travel and adjustment back home are far worse. More than likely Bill, Zoe and myself will all be on an opposite schedule to Jack and Maddy. I guess we will have some exhaustive days at home after all - instead of late night feedings and physical exhaustion for having had a baby - it will be jet lag for the three of us, and staying up in the day to take care of our other two precious ones. Shouldn't last more than a week or so.

Well, I am off to start my day - more tomorrow.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Three days left

Well, yesterday's waiting family meeting was great. The video we watched was about three adult adoptee's. Two from Korea and one from India - all girls. They were all interviewed seperately, but still all had very similar experiences and emotions. The biggest thing that they all experienced and really hurt them growing up was strangers and acquaintences constantly asking questions or looking at them differently. It always reinforced in them that they were different and didn't necessarily belong or fit into the family that they had come to love. Of course it wasn't true, but when you are a child and you don't feel any different because it is the only family you have had the things people say and do really do affect and can mold your ideas, thoughts and character. This will be a challenge for us. The other thing that was very big for all the women was trying to identify the mystery of their heritage and birth family and somehow bringing that culture into their life and who they are today. Once all the women did that they really seemed to have some closure and were more confident in who they were. All of them rejected anything from their country when they were children, as it reinforced the differences between them and their family and they did not want any part of it - none of them were ready until they were adults. All of them said they think they would have been more open if they had been more exposed before junior high school.

Prayer Requests - I have been experiencing some physical things similar to before I had Jack and Maddy - sounds really strange I know. Not uncommon though from what I have heard. Anyway, I get run down really easy, my energy and endurance is very minimal. I am getting headaches and by the end of the day am dizzy and tired. This CANNOT happen in China or once we are home - please pray for this to stop. I need enery like never before, strength, physical and emotional. A strong stomach and the wisdom to listen to my body and take care of it.

Until next time.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

More Preparations

Sunday Morning - My list of things that we have left to do has doubled in the last 24 hours as I continue to remember misc things that need to be done.

The first members of our travel group left today for Beijing. That couple wanted a few extra days in China for touring. Our group consists of 48 families total. Including the babies and extra family members and friends that are coming along with some, brings our total party to well over 150 people. We will all be together for the Beijing part of our trip, then we split up. Our travel group then shrinks down to approximately 50 people including babies.

We have heard that temperatures are over 100 degrees with more than 80% humidity - yikes!!

Our day today:

After church today Bill and I will attend our last Waiting Families meeting before we leave. This has been a wealth of information for us. In the past we have learned about how to pack, what to expect from the trip, the Chinese people, our baby, resource tools, have had a speaker from the CCAA, (the organization in China which matches babies and families), the list goes on. Today we will be hearing from and watching a movie about adoptees, international and interracial - this should be interesting.

After that Bill and I will have our last date night before we become a family of five.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

One Week and Counting

Here we are one week out. We had our 2 hour travel conference call today discussed everything from shopping, time changes, church, food, hotels, you name it we covered it. The time change is 15 hours ahead of Pacific Time.

We leave PDX on Thursday the 14th. We will be on a 10.5 hour flight to Tokyo, then another 4 hour flight to Beijing. We will be in Beijing from Friday night until Monday the 18th - early am "Gotcha Day". We will take an incountry flight Monday morning from Beijing to Hunan (Changsha, I believe). We will have about an hour or two to settle into our hotel room before "Gotcha Day" - when we get Zoe. We will have about 5 days of paperwork, shopping and touring. We then leave Saturday morning for Guangzhou, where we will be until 7/29. Here we will do more paperwork, have her medical exam and consulate appointments and do more shopping and touring. (Some amount of paperwork is done every business day, and it takes about two weeks to get everything in order, we spend the left over time each day doing the tours and shopping.)

Right now we are trying to finish up the last few things in preparation for the trip as well as really spending some quality time with Jack and Maddy as they are starting to show signs of concern and stress.

The following is my prayer list should you feel led to pray for us:

* Jack and Maddy enjoy their time with Grandma when we are gone and do not miss us too much.

* That they adjust well and quickly to Zoe's arrival and the attention that she will require.

* Bill and I have a safe and smooth trip re flights, food and health. (I am a picky eater and dehydration is a concern for all on this trip)

* That Zoe adjusts well to us and starts to attach to us quickly.

* That she does not have high lead levels in her blood (many children from her orphanage who have been adopted have had serious levels of lead in their system)

* That God would give Bill and I wisdom on how to best care for Zoe and her needs as well as Jack and Maddy's needs.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Here is a brief history of our decision and adoption process and how we got to where we are today.
I have always wanted to adopt and have a "rainbow family". Our original plan was to have one, adopt one, have one, adopt one. Well God had other plans. Madelyn was born just 18 months after we were married - a little sooner than we were thinking, but that is ok - she is wonderful. I was looking forward to not being pregnant for a while and started looking into adoptions agencies for our next child when Maddy was about 9 months old. Because of China's age restrictions (both parents must be 30 years or older), we were going to try and adopt a boy from Guatemala. We settled on an agency after about two months. At this time it was October 2001, we agreed to take some time for Maddy's birthday and the holidays that were just around the corner and start the official adoption process at the beginning of the year. That had God all over it, because the second week of December we found out that we had gotten pregnant with Jackson back in October and didn't even know it. Needless to say that was alot sooner than anticipated.
Jumping ahead a bit, during and after that pregnancy both Jack and I had a lot of medical problems (he is doing great now!), mine ended in having a hysterectomy to cure the illness. Let me just say that GOD IS GREAT!! Had we not had our two beautiful babies when we did, one or both of them would not be here - or I would not be here, had we waited on the surgery.
Now we are completely open to adopting the child/children God would have in our family, he has done so much, who are we to turn away his children into our home that he would somehow trust us with these lives.
Jumping ahead again. Now October 2003 - while recovering from surgery. I had talked with many adoption agencies over the years, this was my first conversation with anyone at AWAA. They were wonderful (many of the agencies were very nice to talk with), I really felt a sence of the Holy Spirit when talking with them and could really feel that they were genuine. We then attended an adoption seminar with two wonderful friends in November of that year. After that meeting, Bill confirmed what I had been praying for and we decided that we would start the adoption process the next spring for our little girl in China.
Now May 7th 2004, the Friday before Mother's Day - Bill said we can send off the application today!! What a Mother's Day gift!! (Of course I already had it all filled out and was just waiting for the word and the signature)
I have to admit that as much as I wanted to do this, I had my concerns that I would not love her as much or the same way as Jack and Maddy, so there was some reservation there.
May 21st, 2004. We got a phone call that due to the kind of illness I had, we would have to wait another year before we could continue the process. Oh my, it was like loosing a child! (I quickly then realized that I had developed abond with this little child, that I had never seen and didn't even know whether or not she was born yet, just by thinking about her and praying for her - there was no longer any doubt about my ability to love her the same as Jack and Maddy.) I was not taking no or waiting for an answer. I worked in two directions at once, the first was working with my doctor to write a letter explaining in words that would be acceptable to the country of China my true and current condition - which was healthy and normal - and change the wording a bit regarding my past condition, yet still being truthful. The other direction was to look for an adoption agency that we liked to do, what we had been considering our last adoption to be, a little boy from Africa or Haiti. Neither of us felt that the timing was right for a little boy yet, but we both felt that it was the right time to adopt. So not really knowing what the Lord had in mind, we pursued both waiting for the right door to open.
May 28th, 2004 - We were officially approved for the China program!!! We started the long paper process to get our daughter.
October 15, 2004 - All of our paperwork is done and sent off to China today! Now we wait.
Jumping ahead - May 23rd, 2005 - we recieved our referral today! Bei Bei Qi. We are naming her Zoe Keegan Gamble. Birthday 9/5/2004. She is tiny - only 11 pounds at 5 months. Super cute with big brown eyes. She is from the Qi Dong Social Welfare Institute (orphanage) in Hunan Province, China.
We sent a small package with a disposable camera, tiny blanket, and pictures of our family to her, as well as some small appreciation gifts to the caregivers at the orphanage. We leave for China on 7/14 and will return on 7/29.
Flight plan so far - Portland to Tokyo, Tokyo to Beijing - Beijing for 2 days, Beijing to Changsha - Changsha for about 5 days. We get our little girl - we are going to get her our first day in Changsha 7/18 - should be a very big day for all of us! Then we travel from Changsha to Guangzhou and will be there for about 8 days.
We will add more as we prepare to leave and during our journey. Bill will be adding some too - he is a great story teller, so that should be enjoyable for anyone interested in reading about this experience.
Well, I don't know about you , but this had brought so many tears to my eyes that the computer screen is now quite blury, and my sleeves are now wet, so I think this will be the end of my entry for now.