Mister Ding, our local guide, takes us out on a trip every day. Although it is cold outside, he doesn't want us to stay inside the hotel all day. The first trip is to the department store! Now that we finally know what size our children wear, most parents are happy to buy some extra clothes. The next days mister Ding takes us to the park and to the museum. It is fun.

One night Ajiet and I go to the supermarket together. Although the buildings are modern, the streets look exotic in the light of oil lamps. There are a lot of street stalls with all kind of food. It smells delicious. It is very special to walk with my daughter in her country. "This is my China, isn't it, mom?" says Ajiet.

When the four of us walk the streets we are the center of all attention. Hefei is not a tourist city, and we are definitely an attraction. Ajiet gets ill, and she runs a fever. We are worried, because we don't know what's wrong. Most nights one of us stays in the hotel room with Ajiet, and the other one goes out to dinner with Lotus and the group.

Lotus doesn't feel part of our family yet. For hours she looks at us from a corner of the hotel room. She doesn't want to interact and she certainly doesn't want body contact. She is very sad and afraid and tries to understand what has happened to her. It is difficult to reach her. So these last days in Hefei aren't easy. Worries about Lotus, worries about Ajiet. However, there are also happy moments, especially when the girls play together. Lotus is curious, and she plays more and more with her new toys.

Then we get the Chinese passport for Lotus, finish the paperwork and fly to Beijing. The arrival in Beijing is a turning point in our journey. Ajiet no loger is ill and Lotus seems to be more at ease with us and becomes a happier girl.

This makes our days in Beijing feel like a holiday. In Beijing there isn't much paperwork to do, so we are free to visit some touristic highlights. We visit them for the second time already with Ajiet. We like to show her the places she knows from the photos of her adoption journey. It is pretty cold in Beijing, so we cannot walk the streets too long. The girls are very cold. In the hotel, however, it is so hot, that I regret that I took only one or two T-shirts.

Beijing has changed the last two years. Again there are more foreign influences, more foreign shops and foreign food. More modern buildings, more MacDonalds, more Internet.

We visit the Tiananmen square, the zoo and the Great Wall. At the zoo we see our first giant pandas. The girls are dressed in tights and two trousers each. They look like sausages. All Chinese children are dressed this way. At the Great Wall the kids run and climb. They enjoy it but I worry about the many opportunities to fall of the Wall. A camel at the Great Wall, used for photographs of tourists is a high point of the visit for Ajiet.

In the hotel room Ajiet and Lotus sleep in two cribs next to each other. In the morning when I awake, I hear them talk. "Yes" Ajiet explains to her sister, "there are our mom and dad....".

Finally we get the visa at the Dutch embassy. In a small ceremony 23 newly adopted kids get their papers. An emotional moment. Lotus proudly wears her new dress. One more Chinese dinner and then we are all ready to go home.

The flight is tough going, because of the 23 children aboard. Never a quite moment. Our children don't get much sleep. Just before landing Ajiet falls asleep. We have to wake her, but she experiences little of our arrival. When we walk off the plane, someone says "Welcome home". And then I realize we are indeed home and tears are in my eyes.

In the arrival hall, there are hundreds of people with balloons, flags and whatever. We feel like a football team that has won the championship.

We look for familiar faces, and there they are! Proudly we hold up our new daughter behind the glass. When the suitcases arrive we plunge through the doors in the arrival hall. There is a glow of happiness, hugs and tears. Lotus is curious and relatively at ease. But of course we all are very tired.

We drive home. We lay Lotus in her new bed, but her lips are trembling and she looks afraid. Of course, we can't let her alone now, after all these nights together in hotel rooms. We take her to Ajiet's room. Put a pillow at the foot of the bed and lay her down. Lotus looks around, sees Ajiet, and then immediately lays down and falls asleep reassured.

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