Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Last Official Appointment And Shopping!

This morning, April 17th, was our Consulate Appointment, the last official appointment of our adoption paper-chase! We met our guide, Lily, in the lobby at 7:40 a.m. and drove off to join a bunch of other adoptive families in the waiting room of the American Consulate. The whole process was very quick and anti-climactic considering all the hoops and obstacles and reams of paperwork we tunnel through to get to this point, but I still found myself choking up when taking the vow on behalf of my daughter. The vow is nothing more than an "I swear that all this documentation is as true today as it was at every step along the way" kind of oath but still, it is "THE" official oath that all legal immigrants must take before entering into the United States of America. And just like that, our daughter is now an official immigrant to the United States. When we arrive in Newark on Friday and hand over her legendary "brown envelope" to the Customs Officer, she'll no longer be an immigrant but a citizen!!!! Only two days till then. YAYAYAYAYAYAY!

Once that was over, we headed over to do some shopping and strolling on Shamian Island. For those that followed last time we adopted, that is the island where we stayed for this part of our trip. That is the island that flooded so badly that we had to trudge through about 12" of muddy, dirty, sewer water to get to our medical appointment. So you'll understand when I say that I was so glad for the sticky muggy but NOT RAINING weather that I could have danced in the streets. I didn't, but I sure could have!

The island is spotted with this kind of lovely little statues in many
of the open courtyards between streets.

Mei Mei wanted to make friends :)

The Boss and I were on a mission to find a little artist shoppe in particular. When we were here in '08, we had a lovely piece of art made with Li'l Empress' name on it and we really wanted one for Mei Mei. We had heard that the island was much less busy and many shoppes had closed since the famed White Swan Hotel closed two years ago for construction. But then yesterday we also heard that this particular artist was still working on the island. We were sooooo excited to find the shoppe where he works right away and we commissioned a pretty piece for Mei Mei.

While he worked, we wandered around the island, peeking in shoppes and enjoying the fact that Mei Mei LIKED the stroller our guide lent us. She's tiny but when she's squirming like an octopus, she feels like she's 25 lbs. heavier! Plus, it gives me hope that she will adjust quickly to the car seat at home. Of course, while we peeked, we lightened up The Boss's wallet a little bit. Can't have him being weighed down by all that Chinese currency now, can we?! I won't spill the beans about all that we purchased, as I'd like the kids to have some fun surprises.

However, I will tell you that we found a wonderful little store others had spoken very highly of and tried to purchase what we could from them. It's run by an organization that donates to Chinese children's charities and features a lot of beautifully hand-crafted items made here in China. I love that they are equipping craftspeople to care for their families and turning around and investing in the children of this rich land. For those of you traveling in the coming months, heading over to Shamian Island JUST to shop at A Gift From China is well worth the trip!

Once we knew the artwork would be ready, we headed off to pick it up. When we got there, the artist was just finishing the piece and he treated us to another style of his work - all done with ink and fingers. It was beautiful to watch the mountains and trees appear as he placed fingertips and parts of his hands... I was amazed.

We made sure to tell him how much we loved the one
he'd made for us in '08, and how Li'l Empress loved it too.
I can't wait to frame this and hang it in their room!

From a blank card to the beginnings of a double
waterfall surrounded by trees. I don't have an artistic
bone in my body so I am always completely intrigued
that he can see this in his mind and then make it happen.
And with no tools beyond what God gave him at the ends of his arms!

By this time, Mei Mei was BEYOND ready to call it a day. She had skipped her morning nap because of the timing of the consulate appointment, so we hurried off to catch our driver and get lunch in the room before an early nap. We're pretty excited about tonight - we've put together a little group of us to head to an Irish pub about 10 minutes from our hotel for dinner. And tomorrow, we are meeting a fellow blogger friend for a nice Chinese lunch. And last night, The Boss and I ate here at the hotel, enjoying freshly made personal gourmet pizzas. I swear, I'm going to be so spoiled by all this international cuisine that I will be a cooking fiend for weeks. Once the jet lag wears off, that is :)

Tomorrow is a down day for us, likely spent packing and re-packing and off-loading the "excess" that we don't want to cart home. We've collected quite an assortment of stuff that was great to have while living in a hotel or two but I'll be just as happy to pass it on to our guide or the families from Living Hope that come in behind us. And all of it will be for one singular purpose - getting HOME to our other five kiddoes. I can't even believe how much I miss home. And tap water. And sugar-free hazelnut creamer in a Tigger mug. Can't wait to hug my gang and get on with the business of our completed family!


Aus said...

Great stuff GM - this post must be fairly current - I make it about 6:20 PM on 4/17 your time! Couldn't be any happier for you guys - love that particular artist too - Jordon? by name? - ack my memory sometimes!!

Glad you had a nice day on the island as well - love it there!

Enjoy the packing / weighing / packing / stuff tomorrow - and then it's homeward bound!

And yeah - looking forward to seeing you with the rest of the gang too!

hugs - great joy - aus and co.

Stephanie said...

I've loved following your time in China! Brynna is soooo sweet!

Jen said...

I have enjoyed your blog posts! Taking it all in as I just received PA!!

Blessings for a wonderful trip home!