Today was our consulate appointment! We had the first time slot of the day I believe- 8:30 am which meant we were up early to leave by 7:30. We met Cordelia our guide downtown at the medical clinic to pick up Mila's TB results (negative thankfully- that's a real headache if you have a positive test. It involves an X-ray and the if that's positive, at least another three days added on to your time in China. We met a family who was dealing with that today- say a little prayer that their son's health improves and they get that all resolved quickly so they can get home!). Then we walked across the street to the ultra modern looking U.S. consulate. Like any consulate I've ever been to, there were hoards of people with official looking documents waiting outside to get in. Since we had a confirmed appointment,we were able to bypass the crowds but still had to wait in line outside for a bit. We met a few other families adopting from China and had a nice chat while we waited for the doors to open. Our guides had to wait outside so we were on our own.
First there's security. No electronic devices. Snacks are ok though but if you bring in water you have to drink it to prove its not... Not water? I don't know. Then you head over to the adoption/US citizen services office. It's a room with ten windows that look like bank teller windows with rows of chairs and a small kids okay area off to the side. There were ten families competing adoptions together at our time slot. We were given numbers and then told to wait. While we were chatting and helping our kids play, consulate employees filed in very official like and formed a semi circle in front of us. They held up folders and dinned Christmas - themed headbands and started to sing Christmas carols! They sounded pretty good for government employees. It was such a strange moment- these official people wearing ridiculous things on their heads, singing Christmas carols in China to a bunch of ragged families and overstimulated adopt kiddos. I teared up at Deck the Halls- no idea what got to me!
After the concert, they called one parent from each family over to a window to be sworn in. Then one parent at a time was called to a window to go over paperwork. Austin was sworn in and I handled paperwork. They check passports, go over medical information, and ask a few questions. The consulate employee handed our documents back, gave Mila a sticker, and U.S. A commemorative button for 20 years of adoptions in Guangzhou. Then we were called to another window as a family where they took her passport, asked a few more questions (how old is your child? What is there special need? Was this need represented correctly to you?) handed us a few documents back and told us we were done. We were in and out in less than an hour and overall it was a pleasant experience. Tomorrow our guide will pick up Mila's passport with her visa in it to travel to the U.S. and the needed immigration documents to enter the country with her.
We drove back to the hotel and hung out in the hotel room for a little while. Since we had an early a morning,we decided to try to hotel dim sum (heard it was actually kind of famous in the neighborhood) and try to get Mila down for an earlier nap. The wait staff thought we were nuts for wanting dim sum (we were the only non- Chinese eating there) but we convinced them to seat us and serve the tea. This jasmine tea is starting to grow on me! And the ceremony of pouring it is rather interesting. Our guide taught us a few of the traditions and manners for eating and drinking- we know that you use two fingers to tap the table in thanks for being served (just one finger if you're single though), you always pour tea for others and then yourself, use the serving chopsticks to get food, use your bowl not the bone dish to eat off of, oh and slurping and picking up your bowl to shovel food in your mouth is ok. So we faired ok I think on our own! I just kind if picked random things off the menu and it was all delicious.
We had vegetable rolls, fried noodles, steamed shrimp dumplings, fried bums with something yummy inside, and sweet buns- these were almost a gelatin outside with a nutty inside. They tasted absolutely delicious but the texture was almost enough to make me gag! It was a weird sensation. All of our dim sum eating friends at home- we're ready to try your favorite place once we get back to San Diego!
After dim sum, Mila took a nap and actually austin and I both got a little nap in too. We let her play for a bit when she woke up and she seemed to be in a good mood... Although that good mood turns a little destructive if left in the hotel room too long. So we took off for a walk down the pedestrian street to the large square.
We walked a little further and found the street food section- lots of squid tentacles on a stick and little paper plates with whole crabs and other sea life. We were not feeling particularly adventurous so instead opted for- McDonalds. I'm almost ashamed to write that.
We came back, got Mila a little soup and then gave her a bath. She lets me do the whole thing now. And she loves being dried off and lotioned up for the night. She chatters away and with her nose still being congested, most of her words are snorts. But happy snorts. We played with her coloring book and crayons and she packed and re packed her backpack, waving bye bye to me and carrying it over to Austin's backpack and then coming back and unpacking everything. She got some of her squirrelies out and was able to fall asleep a little faster tonight.
She has come so far. It's been a week since we drove back to the adoption office with a very sacred little girl and answered the question, "is this child satisfactory?" Such a strange thing to think about- how else could you answer that question? She is beyond satisfactory- she is worth the pain and the hurt. The money it cost to travel here to get her and the savings and raising we did back at home. She is more than satisfactory- she is absolutely perfect even if she just looks like a tiny, angry shell. And one week later I see smiles and hear giggles and know that even though she hasn't quite decided that having a mama is a good thing, I know being her mama is the best thing. It may take years of baby steps but we will get there. And soon she will realize that Austin and I aren't going anywhere- she became one less orphan one week ago and Mila will never again face this life without having experienced the love of her family.