Our morning didn't exactly start off the way we would have hoped it to. First off, Lucy did not get her typical 10-11hours of sleep last night. She woke up after only eight hours, which I think caused her to feel a bit tired and fussy. It will happen… I know. And I am not complaining, as waking up every day with our Lucy, in and of itself, is enough. But, suffice it to say she was not interested or happy in her big "photo shoot" on the red couch. The dress we got her was very difficult to get on. She doesn't like getting dressed anyway, so this got her upset. When we finally got her to the red couch she was not a happy girl. I wanted to include one photo for you to see, but really, none of them turned out. That is okay… we have plenty of other great ones. We finally did calm her down. So the family photo I got in the lobby of our hotel is nice, but Lucy is sleeping.
After the photo shoot, our guide took us to the famous outdoor "pet market" of Guangzhou. We were able to walk there from out hotel; on any of the other days it would have been a pleasant walk. But today has been rainy. Brian and I were happy to have experienced the pet market, but it was very difficult and frustrating navigating our way through these crowded streets with Lucy and an umbrella. We saw lots of interesting things: scorpions, snakes, alligators, eels, worms, chickens... I think the pictures will speak for themselves. This was really something to see.
After a very quick nap, we all loaded up on the bus to head downtown to the US Consulate for a very important and special meeting. After about a 45 minute bus ride (there is no easy or quick way to get anywhere in this country) we entered the building where our "official business" would finally come to its conclusion. (Unfortunately, they don't let you take cameras in, so no pictures of this event.) There were probably about 50 families that all filtered into this big room and had a seat. As we waited (nothing run by the government is ever quick) it was like a reunion for all of us. Many families that we have met along the way were there. We talked and checked in about how everyone's kids were doing. I met another mom from Georgia whose daughter is also from Yifeng Social Welfare Institute. It was so nice to chat and discuss our girls.
Next, each families' girl's name was called and we had to go up to a window for them to look at our paperwork and passports and make sure the child we had matched the photo in her passport. After all the families concluded this process, a nice American woman came out and addressed us for about 15 minutes. She explained what the US Consulate of Guangzhou does for US citizens, as well as what Consulates all over the world do. She then announced that there were many families who had children celebrating December birthdays. Since Lucy's birthday is December 30, her name was announced and everyone applauded….Lucy's first birthday recognition! It was very sweet. The woman next explained the process of getting the "sealed brown envelope" that cannot be opened until we get to the US. This is all the official paperwork from China that can only be opened by immigration officials in our port of entry. Once this paperwork is opened (which will happen for us in Newark, NJ) Lucy is officially a US citizen!
Finally…we raised our right hands and took our oath! This is basically where the parents affirm that they have not in any way fabricated or mislead the government about their intentions. We also stated that we will care for our child and never do any harm. Afterwards, all the moms were crying and hugging. As I write this, I don't think my description of this process is really capturing the moment. It was all very moving… but maybe I am just a sucker for ritual and commitment. The entire event was symbolic of an official close to a very long process for all of us.
One more day….one more blog from China….then we are on our way home!