When we adopted Claire in 2011 we promised that we would bring her back to visit as soon as we could. My guess is that Director Lu thought he'd never see Claire again. We certainly didn't think we'd be back this quickly. Since we were coming to China to adopt again, we decided that making good on our promise was a priority.
We arrived in Beijing on March 1. On the second we got up and headed to the train station to travel to Zaozhuang. We had arranged ahead of time to have our previous guide, Missy, join us there. As it turns out, our train went through Jinan and Missy got on the train there. It was a huge relief to see her because the train had been stopped in Jinan for over an hour. The staff didn't speak much English and all we got was "Long time", "Red Light" and "Sorry". This was worrisome as Saturday was the only day we could go to Zaozhuang. I knew people were waiting and I was worried that the whole plan would fall apart and we'd find it very difficult to get back to Beijing. Missy found us on the train just about the time it started moving and the rest of the trip was uneventful.
We arrived in Zaozhuang and of course orphanage officials were waiting for us. They had cameras and were so excited to see Claire who they are still calling Bai Bai. Claire was very shy and stuck close to us. We were escorted to vans and we travelled to a nice restaurant where Director Lu was waiting for us.
If you've followed this blog you will remember the lavish meal and many toasts from the first time we visited. This was the same although there weren't quite as many people. Many toasts went back and forth about the love and care that Claire has received from her "Chinese Family" and us. Director Lu was pleased to see that she "is more beautiful" and "can do many more things" than before. He immediately quizzed us about her health and we about school and medical history. The whole time, Claire was treated like a celebrity . . . or a baby depending on your point of view. At one point she was sitting on the lap of one of her nannies and being fed noodles! I told her "Don't get too used to that!" and she said "I know". While Luke and Catherine are not Zaozhuang kids, they too were treated well. Everyone wanted pictures with them and as a mom I love how special all of my kids are to Claire's other family.
Next we traveled to the new orphanage where we got to see several sweet children and some of the other nannies that cared for Claire.
We also found that there we a couple of posters of us and the Dotsons, up in the new building. These are made of pictures that we have given to Director Lu. Clearly they are proud of Claire and Tai and still love them a lot!
The day ended with more pictures, promises to visit again, and for Director Lu and his family to come visit us and the Dotsons with his family some day.
It was a very important day for all of us and I think that all involved are so happy to see how well God's plan for Claire is unfolding.