Tuesday, July 9, 2013

US Consulate/Shamian Island

“As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.”

decked out in our red, white and blue 

Oh, how true.  For Rob and I, this trip to China has certainly caused us to "appreciate more lovingly" America.  After less than two weeks here I can say we both feel a new sense of gratitude to be living in the United States.  That is not to say things in China are horrible, or that we don't appreciate things about this country.   We do! We have learned SO MUCH about China since we arrived.  Our guides are filled with knowledge and Rob spends every free second driving them crazy asking them question after question about China.  We are trying to learn and remember all we can so we can tell Vivian when she is older what our time here was like.  This is her birth country and we will always hold a special place in our hearts for China.  It is now and forever a part of our family.  There are wonderful people and wonderful customs here.  However, the living conditions for many are bleak, and opportunity is much harder to come by than in America.

We had one of many moments of appreciation when we arrived this morning at the US Consulate building.  Outside were lines and lines of people.  Our guide informed us that 1,000 Chinese citizens come to the US Consulate each day in the hopes of a chance to travel, work or study in America.  While we were able to walk right in the front door, most of them will wait hours in line outside.  Our guide explained that it is very, very expensive for Chinese citizens to apply for an American Visa, and there is no guarantee that Visa will be granted.  For many of them, coming to America is a dream and a priviledge; and all of us who live here should view the ability to do so as the same.

We submitted the required documents to obtain Vivian's American Visa.  We took an oath that promised all of the information we were giving was true.  We were in a room with maybe 10 or so other families and it was very moving to realize that 10+ children who, a few days ago, were orphans with no family and little hope for the future, were now sons and daughters and soon to be American citizens with bright futures ahead.

After our consulate appointment, we met our travel group in the hotel for pictures.  We all got the kids in their traditional Chinese attire and attempted some pictures.  I never really got a good one of Vivian but she looked beautiful!

our CCAI travel group

After pictures we took a trip to Shamian Island with some friends from our travel group.  The US Consulate used to be located on Shamian Island, and it is famous for being very friendly to adoptive families.  It is known for its beautiful scenery, good shopping and restaurants.  We ate lunch at the well-known "Lucy's" and I enjoyed a good old American lunch of grilled cheese and french fries.

On the island there are some statues of children.  Almost every adoptive family gets a picture of their child here.  It was again one of those surreal moments to be standing at these statues putting Vivian in the same place I have watched so many before her stand.  I still can't believe I am here and I can't believe she is MINE!

And, once again, it was made even more special because I was there with my friend, Katie.  Katie had these matching outfits made for the girls when we got our referrals.  Never in a million years did we dream they would wear them together in China!

Rob and I took it easy tonight and just ordered a pizza to the room (again).  Vivian is eating EVERYTHING we eat and everything we give her.  We actually think she is binge eating a bit.  She has yet to turn anything away and it does not appear she ever gets "full".  I have read that this can happen with orphanage children b/c they are used to being fed on a schedule.  Food is taken away from them when time is up so they have never regulated their own eating.  We have to cut her off when we think  she has had enough.  But, all in all, we are glad she is open to trying new foods.  She still had a few tears when she woke up this morning, but other than that she was a happy girl today.  And we seem to have gotten over all the crying at nap and bedtime.  Rob made the observation that it seems like all she wants when it is time to go to sleep is for us to leave her alone.  Sadly, I think he is right.  It is so hard for the mom in me to do this, but if we just lay her down and leave her alone she is asleep in minutes.  I lay next to her but I have stopped touching and trying to hold and rock her.  It kills me b/c she gets her sad lip and fights off tears, but if you try to comfort or console her it just throws her even more.  She does best just working it out on her own.

It is hard to believe this is our last night in Guangzhou! This leg of the trip was really a lot of fun and we've made some great memories here.  Tomorrow we have one last activity and then at 4:00 we leave for Hong Kong, where we will spend our last night in China before heading home!!!!  We are SO ready to get home and hug our kids.

*PS:  Wrote this update last night.  Got tired and decided to go to sleep and edit and publish it in the morning.  Rob and I were talking when we got in bed and Vivian woke up.  She was a little scared and reached over to Rob and look what she wanted to do!  After what I just wrote above we had to laugh!  So cute.


  1. Oh my word. That last picture. Absolutely pricesless. I bet you just stared and stared at them! Very happy to see you. Sad we won't be in Charlotte when you get back. Would love to have been part of the welcoming committee.

  2. I just cannot get over how much she looks like she just "fits" with your whole family!! Love, love, love!!!


  3. Oh my goodness...that last picture is just too precious!!! It must make your heart burst to see your baby girl snuggling with her daddy for the first time :-)

  4. Great update. In 2009 we were on Shamian Island at the white swan kinda bummed we wont be in 2013. Love checking the blog!! Kelly