China Adoption Trip | Beijing

Many of you followed our adoption trip on Instagram (follow Simple Purposeful Living here) but I thought I would share more of the details of our trip here!  So let me begin with our 3-week adoption trip with the first week spent in Beijing, China!

If you are just getting caught up on our adoption story, you can catch up on some of the waiting process in these posts –

Adoption Announcement

Adoption Process Part 1

Adoption Process Part 2

Adoption Process Part 3

Adoption FAQ

China Adoption Trip Part 1 | Beijing

Day 1 & 2 | Travel

We got matched on February 26th with our sweet Quincy James and spent all spring finalizing paperwork and getting a gotcha day date and consulate date so that we could buy plane tickets and head to China!  Scott’s parents took us to the airport bright and early on June 4th to start our journey.  We all hopped out of bed and were ready to go.


We had a 4-hour layover in Detroit but its a great place for a layover.  They have a fun underground tunnel between terminals that has lights coordinated to music plus moving walkways so we got a little exercise. We then rode the elevated terminal tram and enjoyed the large water fountain before going to Max & Erma’s to enjoy one last all-American meal!

Then it was time to board our flight for Beijing.  We had 3 seats together so the girls and I sat together and then Scott and Solon sat across from us.  The flight took about 12 hours and unfortunately Scott and Solon’s tv’s along with their whole section did not work.  Thankfully, we had downloaded movies and tv shows from Netflix so they were fine.

Unlike domestic flights, international flights still offer meals so about an hour after we boarded we had our first meal.  The kids didn’t love them but I had packed lots of protein bars and snacks to supplement the meal.  On international flights, they also offer complimentary drinks so I enjoyed a glass of wine with my meal ;).

We all watched some TV.  I chose to watch both Momma Mia movies before we dressed the kids in pajamas and got them ready for bed.  They each brought a blanket and these blow-up footrests helped the girls to lay flat while they slept.  They each slept for about 4-6 hours and Scott and I slept on and off as well.  I wore my favorite joggers (found here) so I was nice and comfy too.



We arrived in Beijing at about 3 pm (which was 3 am our body time) and went through customs.  At this point, we were all pretty tired (like your body aches tired), but we got our bags and found our guide who took us to our hotel.  When we stepped outside the airport, I instantly noticed how thick the air was in China.

Beijing’s footprint is the size of 20 New York City’s.  It’s HUGE!  Of course, we arrived at rush hour so we didn’t arrive at the hotel until about 6 pm and by that time we were ready for a shower, dinner and a bed.  Our guide ordered us 1 large Pizza Hut pizza to be delivered to our room.  She used the Chinese equivalent of Grub Hub.  Fun fact the pizza was the size of a medium but we all ate it, showered and went to bed.

Day 3 | Great Wall of China

The next morning we met another adoptive family from Kansas City and our guide and hit the road for the Great Wall of China.  We went to the Mutianyu portion of the wall which took us about 2 hours with travel to get to from our hotel.  It started to rain when we arrived and I only brought 3 ponchos so I bought one more for $3 for Lucy and me.  She was strapped to my back.


The awesome part about the Mutianyu portion of the great wall is it is a little less busy and you can take a chairlift up and an alpine slide down.  Unfortunately, due to the rain,  we couldn’t do the alpine slide but the good news was there was NO one there which is unheard of in China.  There are always people EVERYWHERE.   We enjoyed walking the wall.  It was all built by hand which is mind-blowing!

There were some really steep parts and Solon and Scott traversed up.  The picture doesn’t do the slope justice.  We all had fun exploring before we took the chairlift back down!

After a late lunch of traditional Chinese food, we stopped by a Jade factory where we saw a lady making a jade family ball.  It’s one piece of jade they make into interconnected balls.  The ball represents the family and we picked one up in Guangzhou.

That night we went to a Kung Fu show.  we were really tired and it wasn’t quite what we thought it was going to be so we all ended up nodding off, whoops.  After the show, we headed back to the hotel and went to sleep.  The kids all slept great.  Scott and I kept waking up at 3 am.  Not sure why that’s the magic time but we did the same thing when we came home.

Day 4 | Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City & Old Beijing

Our hotels all offered a western breakfast buffet included with our stay so we always ate a big breakfast.  After breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee we met up with our guide and other family to head  to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.  It was actually the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests but no one discussed that in China.  All our guide mentioned was that it was the largest political square in the world.

From Tienaman Square we walked into the Forbidden City.  It was MASSIVE.  Huge building after huge building with huge courtyards in between.  Our guide was very good and filled us in on all the history and facts.  The kids enjoyed the ice cream stand in the middle the most!  Did I mention it was HOT?  It was in the ’90s with humidity!

After the forbidden city, our guide took us to a local Chinese restaurant and ordered for us.  We had a large variety of food including coke 😉 and the kids loved using the lazy susan to pass the food.

After lunch, we went to the Hutang part of Beijing which is considered “Old Beijing”.  It sits along the dragon line which means good Fung Shei and therefore expensive, prestigious real estate.  We rode rickshaws around and even toured a local family’s house.

After that, we stopped by Starbucks for caffeine and snacks before going to see an acrobatic show.  This show was incredible.  We had great seats and I had to cover my eyes for some of the stunts they did.  Our guide told us the performers start training at 3 or 4 years old and their families basically give them to the art.

After the show, we headed back to the hotel and said goodbye to the other adoptive family who was heading to their son’s province.  We would meet up with them again in Guangzhou.

Day 5 | Summer Place, Dumpling Cooking Class & Temple of Heaven

We started our last morning of sightseeing at the Emperor’s summer palace.  If you can believe it, it’s even larger than the forbidden city.  They even built a lake and a hilltop temple.  There was a nice breeze and lots of shade which was a nice break from the heat of Beijing.

After visiting the palace, we went to a dumpling making class for lunch.  This was another highlight of our trip.  It was so fun to work as a family making dumplings.  After we made them, they cooked them and then we had them for lunch.

After lunch, we headed to the temple of heaven and at this point, my kids were over it.  It was SO hot.  Literally, Scott said he thought his shoe would melt to the marble floor – ha!  We survived but barely.

Did I mention it was hot?  It was hot so we opted to go to the mall down the street from our hotel that night to get out of the hotel.  Their malls are a little different.  It consisted mostly of one large department store with all these little boutique sections.

Of course, they also have American/International stores like Adidas, Lego, Croc, Nike, etc. as well.  We stopped into the lego store and the kids played while we found some cool Chinese special edition legos to give to Quincy on one of his gotcha day celebrations.

Day 6 | Travel to Hefei

The next morning we packed up and got ready to head to Quincy’s province, had breakfast at the buffet and walked down the street to a local park.  Most parks in China don’t have kids playground equipment so our kids were a bit bummed but we saw people practice sword and fan dancing, tai chi and ballroom dancing.

We walked back to the hotel and met our guide to go to the train station.  We took the bullet train to Hefei which we were all excited about.  Our train’s top speed was 230 mph and it would show above the door how fast you were going.  The trip took about 4 hours but it was super smooth and so much easier than plane travel.

Our favorite guide of the trip was Helen!  She was AMAZING.  Our agency recommended her.  She booked our hotel, train and show tickets, came up with the itenerary and took us out to eat.  I call her the “fairy godmother” of Chinese adoption because she also delivers birthday and care packages to orphans from their American families while they wait to come get them.

We arrived with all of our luggage in Hefei and we couldn’t believe we were so close to Quincy.  It was all setting in that the next day we would meet our son.

Why did you go to Beijing first?

Many people asked why we went to Beijing first and not right to Quincy’s province.  Every situation is different but our agency suggested we go a few days early to get adjusted to the time change (hello 12 hours difference) and get to know our son’s culture first-hand.  It was a great experience and we weren’t holding our eyelids up with toothpicks when we arrived in Hefei.

I’ll be back with our next part of the trip – our week in Hefei, Quincy’s province!

You Might Also Like –
doption Announcement
Adoption Process Part 1
Adoption Process Part 2
Adoption Process Part 3
Adoption FAQ
Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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