We had an amazing day yesterday in Beijing. The adoption agency we are using is Great Wall and upon arrival, we met with other families from Great Wall as well as an adorable guide named Emma. It is 13 hours later here than in the U.S., so what was Saturday already for us was spent with our group and Emma as we toured the city. We began the morning in Tiananmen Square and then proceed to walk through the Forbidden City. It was freezing outside, but quite something to stand in that huge square with the picture of Chairman Mao looming.  The Forbidden City was gorgeous and for those familiar with Chinese history, it truly gave you a sense of what it must have been like to be an emporer hundreds of years ago. The best part was that we had Emma with us, and she would stop every 15 minutes or so to provide a detailed history lesson about the particular site we were viewing. The kids loved it and I'm sure we learned much more than we would have on our own. The Great Wall group is terrific and we are enjoying getting to know the other families who are also here to adopt Chinese kiddos. There is even one family from Atlanta who's adoption journey was made possible in part by a grant from Promise 686

We had lunch with our group yesterday and took a tour of a jade factory. Then we finished up the day at the Great Wall. Breath-taking. The enormity of it is just difficult to fathom. It extends across the mountainside and feels like it wouldn't be humanly possible to build a structure at such a length and size during that time period, but there it was. It struck the kids too, just how mammoth and beautiful it was and we had fun climbing the treacherous steps. Caleb is usually our fearless one, but as we climbed he finally reached a point that he felt was too steep and scary, and so we stopped there.

The kids are having a blast and they have held up well. There are several children in our tour group too. Bailey is carrying a selfie stick everywhere we go and she and Luke have been doing info videos about the particular site. The food situation has been good. We have allergy cards written in Mandarin to show at restaurants. However, we have also brought quite a few snacks and camping meals. The kids pack a thermos in the morning and have that to eat all day in case we run across a situation where we just aren't sure it is safe. The time change is difficult, but doable. We are waking up very early in the morning (no one seems to be able to sleep past 5:00am), then we try to stay up all day with no naps and we go to bed around 8:00pm. It has been working well, but there is a period from about 5:30pm-8:00pm when we are fighting hard to stay awake.

One of the funnier things has been the desire of the Chinese people  to take pictures of our kids. We had heard this might happen and Emma said that it is because American kids just look so different than what Chinese people are used too, that we have a lot of kids, and we also have one who obviously doesn't match us. She warned us that it will happen even more in the next few days as we spend time in a smaller city. Luke's blond hair and blue eyes are quite the attention getter, Caleb is the only African I  have seen anywhere and Emmy has been told she is beautiful about 1,000 times. We joked yesterday that because Bailey has had pants on, no one can even see her prosthetic leg...I can't imagine what would happen if she was wearing shorts, because you just don't see a lot of disabilities here either.  This photo below is of a lady taking a picture of her friends with our kids. Some of the people are very sweet and simply ask us if it's ok and they usually want to get in the picture as well,  others try to sneak them in the background while taking a selfie and some just walk up and take one without asking. It is pretty funny, but the kids are getting a kick out of their pseudo celebrity status.

Yesterday was awesome. From the enthusiasm and energy level of our children to the sites we saw and information we learned, it exceeded our expectations on every level. Patrick and I were very thankful to have the kids with us because they learned an incredible amount of Chinese history and in a way that I am certain will stick with them. This morning we head back to the airport to fly to Taiyuan in the Shanxi province. This is the province where Lexi is, although we still won't get to meet her for a few days. The rest of our Great Wall group will be flying to the provinces of their children and then we will all meet in Guangzhou in a few days to finish up the necessary appointments and paperwork. 

Please pray for safe travel. I think we may have to break the no nap rule today (Sunday) because as I type this it is 4:00am and EVERYONE is awake. 

The next update will be from Taiyuan! One step closer to our baby girl! 

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