Over the next few days mister Ding had organized excursions every morning. Unfortunately they were exactly the same as the ones we had three years ago. This was a minus of our stay in Hefei. The first day we visited a department store. Now that we knew the real measurements of our daughters, we were able to buy some extra clothes if needed. Or, of course, if not needed.......
There was also a large food section to stock on rice cookies, fruit, chocolate and milk. Children could participate in a sand painting class in the store. Our eldest Ajiet (7) loved to participate and I saw how well she blended in this scene.

We basically did normal simple things, that were special because they were firsts with Dido. Eat out, bath, sleep, play and eat out more. We visited the little park in honour of lord Bao, That had a small wax museum on the site.

We bought ice cream and tried to keep the children and ourselves cool. We also visited the museum of Hefei, that looked as if we left it only yesterday instead of three years ago. It was very hot in the city and not too comfortable to walk outside.

The hotel swimming pool was a favourite spot for Ajiet and Lotus. It was a godsend to have this pool available in our hotel. We went for a swim every day and most of the times Dido came along.She needed some time to get used to the water. I had to hold her close, for she could not keep herself upright in the water if I held her away form my body. She loved the water more and more every day. We threw money in the pool for Ajiet to dive for. She plays under water like a fish. We were glad we brought her goggles, even more because Dido loved to play with them in the hotel room.

We ate out most of the evenings. One more child to feed! We brought forks and spoons but also chopsticks for children. We had a lot of fun. One evening the menu was not available in english. Erik tried his best. He ordered sweet and sour pork, but they brought us a large plate filled with melon topped with cream! After that he just walked around the tables and pointed out some dishes. This worked out fine. We ordered a bottle of water. It was not available. Luckily I carried a bottle in my backpack. The waiter took over my bottle and poured it out in great style.

On Thursday mister Ding took me and Ajiet to the orphanage in Lu'an. It was a two hour drive. We were told that we only could make photos from the outside. Even so, I wanted to go.

When we arrived, it started to pour with rain. Mister Ding went inside and got permission to take us inside the orphanage. I was surprised and even nervous when we entered the orphanage. The nannies were very nice and showed us Dido's room and her little bed. We saw other toddlers, who according to our guide were also waiting to be adopted. We were allowed to takes photos, which we treasure.

At the end of the week we received Dido's passport from the director of the orphanage. We could travel to Beijing! The flight to Beijing was uneventful.
We stayed at the Jianguo hotel and our first evening meal was a take away McDonalds. We have to get used to ordering three happy meals from now on!

On Sunday we visited the Summer Palace with a chinese-american colleague of Erik, who happened to be in Beijing with her daughter. With her we saw beautiful, peaceful parts of the palace grounds and took a boat ride on the lake.

Monday all the paperwork was brought to the Dutch embassy for the visa. From that day on things got a little bleak because first Dido and later Lotus got ill. They ran a fever, a sore throat and felt miserable. The hotel doctors delivered lot's of medicine. It was now Eric or me who went out with the healthy children, while the other stayed in the room with the sick. Waiting what food the others would bring home with them. Chinese or pizza?

On Wednesday we visited the Great Wall. Fourth time for Eric and me, third time for Ajiet, second for Lotus and first time for Dido. It did feel like a family tradition. It was a hot hazy day, so there wasn' t much to see. Ajiet was the best climber and she ran ahead in front of us. In the inescapable cloissonné factory she stayed behind to watch the factory-girls work. They showed her how it worked and even let her paint a few spots.

The rest of the days we mainly cared for the sick, we did some school work with Ajiet, made small trips in the neighbourhood and talked with the other families. We bought some books, toys, and CD's with Chinese music.

On one day Ajiet and I visited the Lama temple. It was truly beautiful. There werent many people around, so it was also a very peaceful place. We took the subway, which was much faster than a taxi. Over the last years Beijing had become one big traffic-jam. A taxi ride took forever. Not much fun in the heat.

The Beijing aquarium was our final outing with the whole family. It was a very modern part of the Beijing zoo. You can easily spend a few hours. The children enjoyed the large fish tanks.

The aquarium even had a dolphin and sea lion show in the Sea World Theater. Dido was not fully recovered yet and I don't think she has a lot of memories of this visit.

At the end of the week all paperwork was ready and we flew home!
On the flight home stewardesses brought champagne for all new families.
What a nice gesture!

Coming home was as wonderful as it could possibly be. After landing we changed Dido in a set of spotless clothes to show her off. When we waited in line for passport control we already saw a large banner that said "Hello Dido".
Lots of friend and family were there to welcome us. Dido had seen so many new things, that 50 people with balloons and banners hardly surprised her. It certeinly was a warm surprise for the rest of the family.

We are home. We are complete.

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