Psalm: 90:09- We spend our years as a tale that is told


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Consulate Appointment and Shamian Island

It's Official!

We started early today to make our 8:30 am US Consulate appointment. We were seated at breakfast by 7:00 am. The place was quieter than usual since we were early. I didn't realize it, but it seems I was the only one that was seated in the main dining area while the other families I met up with were seated in the back away from the buffet. It wasn't until one of the mother's asked how I get seated in the "adult" section. I said, "I have no idea! They put me here the first day and keep giving me the same table each day!" Talia was fussy today so we wrapped up breakfast by 7:30am and headed across the street to Starbucks for my first cup of "real" coffee since the trip began. I needed a pick-me-up!

We arrived at the US Consulate early and got in line behind a real nice couple from Texas that adopted a boy from Beijing. We chatted for a bit and then the line started to move quickly. When we got to the room where we would submit our paperwork from the past 10 days, it was a-buzz with about a dozen families and children playing on the toys provided in the back of the room. We were called second, but at first I didn't hear our name. The intercom was so low, we all had trouble hearing who was being called. Luckily Karen Rapp, a fellow DTC facebook friend of Mary Jane's,  was near the front and got my attention to head up to the clerk (thank you Karen!!) Five minutes later, we were official! No more paperwork -- whew! We headed out the door and onto our next destination -- Shamian Island to do some shopping for the girls. This is where the landmark hotel, The White Swan, is located. It's where countless of adopted families have stayed ever since the adoption program opened in China years ago. They are famous for their red couch where adoptive families line up their sons and daughters for a photo op. The White Swan is  also where we stayed with Harper so it is very near and dear to our hearts. Shamian island is very small -- about 5 blocks long by about 3 blocks wide. The English used to occupy this area a few hundred years ago. The island has beautiful old stone buildings with hints of French influence. There are long garden malls lined with trees and plenty of flowers. There are fountains and statues of children, bluegrass players and people taking pictures. Most of the streets are lined with shops that cater to adopting families and other tourists carrying things like traditional Chinese silk dresses, children's shoes, and many other souvenirs. The island is dying, though. The number of adoptions have dropped off significantly over the past 5-6 years. Our guide said a typical month would see about 600 adoptions a month! Now, sadly, that number is about 50 or so (this week alone only 12 adoptions). There are a few main factors causing this decrease: a back log of non-special needs adoptions from 2005-2006 are still being worked; the economy and other reasons. Because of this, the shops are watching their once lucrative revenue decline each year. To make matters worse, the White Swan is under renovation and a complete mess, so all those folks are now staying off the island. In addition, the medical center (where all adopted children must get there general physicals) has moved off the island to a brand new facility. Just another reason for families to stay off the island.

We jutted in and out of the stores picking up a few things here and there for the girls. We ran into another family we met in Nanning the week prior with their daughter Lily. They were staying at another hotel on the island, so they were stocking up like the rest of us at the stores! The traditional silk dresses are extremely reasonable here. They are any where from $2-8 dollars with a majority of them $3-5 dollars. The girls will wear these during the Chinese New Year celebrations and other events throughout the year. It's a good time to stock up since they cost up to 10 times more at home! Of course I picked up some squeaky shoes as well! It was hot, but between the air conditioned stores, we found time to see the statues on the mall ways. There is one statue of a woman playing a violin with a train of children following her. Talia quickly fell into the line holding on to the last child's shoulders. She then tried squeezing between them and finally gave up and hugged them! A little girl about Talia's age came up and they said "Hi" to each other then danced around a bit. It was back to shopping -- Talia was focused on getting more shiny things for her to play with or wear!

Well after about five shops later, we were headed back to the hotel room for lunch, nap and start getting packed for the trip home. I got and an early start just in case something comes up tomorrow unexpected! Talia had fun with the bag of bows and headbands. She put one on and was so proud that she figured it out by herself! She paralleled Daddy as I packed by packing her new lady bug back pack. She has figured out a way to get it on all by herself. She swings it a couple times in front of her, then flips it over her head and onto her back where she finally straps it on her shoulders. It never gets old watching her figure things out. She is something else.

I looked outside and it was already getting dark! We took a break and darted outside to get something to eat. I stopped at Starbuck's to get a China mug (we attempted to bring one home last time with Harper, but it didn't make the trip home in one piece!) After that, we found a tea shop selling fresh teas of every variety. The mother and her 5 year old daughter greeted us. She called her teenage daughter on her phone when she realized I didn't speak fluent Chinese. Her little five year old daughter was such a hostess. She was cute as a button and looked identical to our Karen Rapp's daughter, Julia. She immediately, without hesitation, took Talia's hand and sat her down on the little wooden stools off to the side. Then gave her some candy and kept her occupied while Mommy and her big sister conducted business with me. It was the coolest thing to see these two china dolls hanging out in the tea shop! I wish I had my camera on me to take a picture of the two of them.

Afterwards, I made my almost daily pilgrimage to Oggi's. Yes, pizza again for Dad. I know, I know, we all agree -- I have issues. Talia can't get enough of the penne with pancetta and onions so she got a fresh batch. We bumped into the Rapps at Oggi's and the girls played while I waited for my food. I think Talia is going to miss seeing Julia. They live in South Carolina, so we'll have to try to get the girls reunited at some point after we get home!

Off to bed and almost home!

She reached her arms out to me and wanted Baba to hold her and so I took her out of her crib!
Okay we snuggled all night long...don't tell Harper! 

Now where? This is too early in the morning to be up!

Yay! At the US Consulate in China! We are on American territory!

Hmm...some Subway for lunch?

She walked right over to them and got in line! She is the same size! 

Super cute! Hopefully she will want to hug Harper this hard! 

I spotted another bride for Mary Jane

Mommy and her mugs...grab the China one!

I think she is getting spoiled with her BaBa already! 

1 comment:

  1. Oh my GOSH I miss Guangzhou! These photos bring back such great memories!!

    And I totally have that Starbucks CHINA mug!!!
    Much love,