We had a loooong day today. Started with some shopping on Shamian Island followed by our swearing in ceremony at the US Consulate here in Guangzhou and ended sharing a cab, dinner and walk with some of our travel group families in a crazy open air market.
Ha, ha – gotcha on the headline.
We decided to grab a taxi after breakfast and head back to Shamian Island to finish our gift purchases since the weather decided to go all sideways rain on us yesterday. They are doing a ton of construction on the island so there is mud, heavy equipment and junk in every pathway – it was like dodging the aggressive street vendors in Nanjing! Evidently, our fair skin and light colored hair say “MONEY” to the locals so we have learned the art of the hundred yard stare. In truth, the Chinese merchants on Shamian Island are used to Americans and are quite nice and easy to talk with. In times of less construction activity, the Island has a very European flair to the architecture and is quite beautiful. After a little shopping and haggling, we ended our time on the island with a nice beverage stop at STARBUCKS! We highly recommend shopping at Jordan’s if you get time to visit Shamian Island.
From there we raced back to the hotel via taxi to catch the group bus to the US Consulate for our swearing ceremony. No cameras or phones were allowed for some reason but the experience ended up being more emotional than I thought it would be. Since all our babies are technically immigrants in the eyes of the US Government, we must swear an oath on behalf of our infants that all information provided to obtain their travel visas was true to the best of our knowledge. I remember very little of what we said but became very moved reciting the oath as all all the paperwork, worrying and planning for our new adopted daughter was finally coming to a close. Even the instructions heavily coated in legalese were like listening to the sweet final voice of approval in our adoption journey – “The minute her feet hit the ground in the grand old United States of America, she becomes a naturalized citizen of our great country”. It is amazing how patriotic you become after spending two weeks in another country. Despite the problems and challenges our relatively young country (compared to China) is suffering through – things could be much worse.
After the visit to the consulate, we all gathered in the hotel lobby for a final group photo. Almost everyone had dressed up their newly adopted children in traditional Chinese dress and they were so adorable. It was an amazing transformation to see these families grow in size right before our eyes. Even the busrides around town took on a different tone as the buzz of little ones on every row over took the usual hum of adult chit chat. We were no longer a group of families on a mission to retrieve our adopted children – we were whole family units beginning new chapters in our lives together and despite all the obstacles of our government paperwork and agency snafu’s, we were finally together.
The last stop of the day was another taxi ride into a part of town with an open marketplace and plenty of food stands. I can only describe it as an ant hill that had just gotten the top kicked off because there were people everywhere – all moving very quickly with a resolute purpose. The site of a group of foreigners amongst them was the only thing that could slow the steady march from place to place. Although we all got their by different taxis at different times, we all found each other as if drawn to something Americana, and sat down for a nice dinner at Papa Johns, of all places. Ashamed to say, the scorpions and squids on sticks just wasn’t going to fill me up and I had not the courage to try it. The pizza was good and the gathering surreal as we sat there eating and listening to American pop music – you could have told me I was home and it would not have surprised me.
So tomorrow is our last full day in China and then we begin the dreadful trip back home. We are so anxious to get home but in much fear over the plane rides to get there.
All you AWAA families following our blog – stay tuned for the final posting and a helpful list of “things we wish we would have known”. If doesn’t get us delisted – you will find it most enlightening. And I have been working up some final thoughts on China that we will also post upon our return to the states, if you know what I mean…