If you are in the process of adopting from China or have been in the past you know all about the dreaded holidays that seem to happen every month. You think you have a good timeline of when adoption/gotcha will take place and then you slam smack dab into the Autumn season of the beginning of the end, between Chinese holidays and American holidays you decide to just burn your calendar. Take this tip from a BTDT momma, use pencil in those calendars. Stickers can only cover so much.
I’m going to talk to you about a really unconventional thing to do. You can, in fact, travel through a holiday. You can have a gotcha day and then wait through the holiday. Most holidays will only have workers missing a few days and at longest a week to two weeks. Obviously, this will extend your trip. But if you have valid reason to get to your child at lighting speed, then it is possible to have a gotcha day and then wait out the holiday before resuming the rest of the adoption.
When we knew that our daughter was losing two pounds a month and when we saw that dreaded Chinese New Year looming straight for us on the calendar we decided to do the unheard of in adoptions. At least I had never heard of anyone doing it! I planned to have our two gotchas just in time before the holiday closings, fly to Guangzhou and stay at the hotel, guideless, through the holiday week. Once the holiday was over we resumed with our visa appointments and flew home after a month of being in country. It was the right choice for our family. Our daughter would not have made it another month. And for some of you it may also be an unheard of choice, but the right one. You may need to do a little convincing of the powers that be, but if you are willing to take responsibility for the added cost and risk then you can do this.
I learned a few things that I will pass along to you. The main thing is, know the area you will be in or take someone who does. Map out where the grocery store is and make sure you can easily get there by walking. Taxis are really hard to get during the holidays and the guides will not be able to help you as most return to their hometowns for family celebrations.
Everything closes. There is no Pearl Market, Jade Factory, or window shopping going on during the holidays. In Guangzhou, Aeon will be open as will Trust Mart, but most restaurants are closed down and shopping also closes. Budget more for eating in the hotel or room service. We purchased a lot of noodles at Aeon to eat in the room at night to save a little extra money from the costs of the hotel food.
We also bought items we knew we would leave behind or throw away but were necessary to get us through the extra few weeks. I purchased clothespins and rope to do most of my own laundry. The laundry man also goes away for the holiday week! Perish the thought. I bought dish soap and a large bowl to do dishes in the bathroom each night. I purchased a few cheap blankets to make us feel more at home in the hotel room when we were lounging around with nothing to do. We bought our own little cups to make ourselves at home as well. We did our best to turn the desk area into a cupboard for food and dishes.
The hotels will be packed with people! China is always busy but if you are in a big city and a nice hotel during a holiday it will be packed to full capacity every day. We had about a twenty to thirty minute wait each morning for breakfast. A lot of the food was gone each morning and you also had to wait in the lines to get the food, so plan for a good hour and a half for breakfast each day.
The day we went to Shamian Island it was also really packed to capacity. I’ve never seen it so busy! That picture with the children’s statue that all adoptive families take was another 30 minute wait in line just to get to the statue and even then we basically just photo bombed someone else’s photo. There was only one or two stores open and they were elbow to elbow packed full of people. Jenny’s Place was of course as sweet as usual. We had to walk to the other side of the island and wait a good while before we could snatch a taxi to get back to the hotel.
Contrary to popular belief, the hotels were not more expensive during the holiday season. In fact, we paid less this time for our larger room than we did two years previously for a much smaller room. The cost of staying extra was mostly in food and the extra days in a hotel, but not because prices skyrocketed. Please, don’t let that stop you from going if your child is critical.
It was a fun adventure to stay during Chinese New Year. I felt much more like a local and I learned the town pretty well. My Chinese improved since I had to use it a lot more and we were able to explore on foot all around the hotel. Usually, I am so motivated to just finish the adoption trip and get home and this actually gave me a small breather to just allow myself to soak in the culture and people watch. I can’t even count the amount of times I went to Trust-mart!
During our month in China, my daughter who was eleven pounds at 4 1/2 on gotcha day, packed on about eight pounds! My instincts were correct, she needed out and she needed love and food. Trust your momma gut and go with it. If you need to take an adoption trip that goes against the norm to save the life of your baby don’t second guess it. Just do it. If I had chosen not to go the consequences are unthinkable. Sometimes an unconventional choice is the only choice.