There was no question that Mae and I would return to China for a Heritage Tour at some point in her life. Prior to the government funding, this was a serious financial occasion and we lumped it somewhere with the "Israel Study Tour when the kids are in high school" trip. In other words, don't panic - it's not for a long time.
Then word got out last year that the Chinese government was offering a Heritage tour at no cost to the adoptee and at a great price for the parent. International airfare was not included but in-China flights, hotels, meals, tours, tour guides, and an orphanage visit (!!!!) etc. were included.
Last year I watched with joy as friends took their girls back for the first time. Conventional wisdom suggests taking a child back to her birth country as a child (so she is blind to the bad and only sees the good, coming home with love and pride for her country) and again as a young adult (to confront the bad and learn to deal with it while appreciating, at a deeper level, the beauty and history of her country).
I thought that would be wonderful but didn't see it in our future, unless I went back to work. Then this Thanksgiving, talk of our trip to Disneyland with the aunts shifted to talk of China! And when I really looked into it, it looked do-able! It's not cheap, which is why we've launched the fund-raising blog, but it is possible!
After crunching numbers and tallying my various singing gigs, we were about 2K short. The fundraising blog has been a beautiful way to share our excitement and the response has been heart-warming. When I deposit my own earnings at the beginning of each new month, I look forward to watching our "% Raised" creep up and up hand-in-hand with the generosity and love of friends and family.
This trip is tentatively scheduled for July 14-24. Here is a sample itinerary.
Sample Itinerary: Heritage Tour July 14‐July 24, 2013
July 14 Sun Depart for Beijing.
July 15 Mon Arrive in Beijing.
Welcome by BLAS guide at the airport and transfer to
Metropark Lido Hotel (4*) (lunch and dinner on own)
Evening Optional: Acrobat show
July 16 Tue Morning Visit the Tian’anmen Square and Forbidden City
Take Hutong tour by rickshaw
(lunch at a local family house in Hutong)
Afternoon Visit CCCWA and Welcome Party
July 17 Wed Morning Visit Great Wall and a Closinne Factory
(group lunch at a friendship restaurant)
Afternoon Free option: Temple of Heaven
July 18 Thurs Morning Depart for Xi’an via flight.
Afternoon Visit Terra Cotta Soldiers (group lunch)
Check into Grand New World Hotel (4*)
Evening Enjoy Tang Dynasty Show with Dumpling banquet
July 19 Fri Morning Ride bicycle at Ancient Wall
Depart for Chengdu via flight
Welcome by local guide and check into Tianfu Sunshine Hotel (4*)
(lunch on the plane or on your own)
Afternoon Take a rest at the hotel
Evening Enjoy the local mask‐changing show
(taste some typical Sichuan food for dinner)
July 20 Sat Morning Visit famous Panda Reserve
(By paying an additional fee you can hold a toddler panda and take pictures)
Afternoon Take a rest at the hotel (dinner on own)
July 21Sun Morning Depart for Guilin via flight *we will probably fly to Changsha here*
July 22 Mon
July 24 Wed Fly to Guangzhou to catch international flight home
You can also substitute a 2-3 day orphanage tour by skipping the Guilin portion of the tour.
We will skip the Guilin part of the tour to visit Mae's orphanage in HuaiHua and spend some time in the city. Because it is a military city, we will have limited access to everything, but just SEEING the place will be wonderful. I'm sure we'll spend more time in Changsha and I hope to reunite with Daphne, our guide, again.
I remember the director and the assistant director well and look forward to seeing them again. I've heard from those who went to HuaiHua last year that the orphanage tour is a bit disappointing. It's a new building (which is great!) but guests are only allowed in the main foyer and can't visit with the babies or children in the orphanage. There will be an opportunity to take the Director out to lunch to chat, which is exciting, and we will be able to see Mae's orphanage file (though we have copies of everything here, it will still be neat for Mae to see her pictures in a Chinese file!) We can also drive to the old orphanage (which is now used as a home for the elderly) but again can't go in (all because HuaiHua is a military city and foreigners are worrisome, I guess!)
Anyway, it's all terribly exciting. My passport is still valid but Mae needs a new one, so we will get on that next week. I am holding my breath with hope that both aunts, Jayne and Nancy, will join us. We will miss Ayi SuSu but we'll hold out hope for her to accompany us when Mae is a teen! I'll need her experience with young adults at that point!
So, in closing, we are over-the-moon with excitement and ever so grateful to the folks who are helping us close the gap in the funding! Thank you all!! And, just in case you missed it, here is the link! It's also on the sidebar. We are asking family to consider making a donation rather than sending us a holiday gift this year (though we do love that smoked salmon, Rod ... mmmm...)
Of course I will blog while in China and can't wait to share our adventures with you all here on the blog! Xie xie!!