There are always tons of people lined up outside the consulate. Being Americans we get to walk right past all of them and go in another entrance. It was all I could do not to bust out singing “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…” Although I was singing it in my head the whole time we were there. We stopped to take a quick picture outside before turning our phone over to Aron since they do not allow phones inside. She gave us directions on where to go, and then we left her there. We were the last in our group, which is surprising since David is always trying to get to the front of the line wherever we go! After a security check, a quick walk through the courtyard to another building, and an elevator ride, we were met with a room full of chaos! For Lily’s adoption it was literally us and one other family. There had to be at least 50 people in that room today! I think because Thanksgiving is on Thursday there were more people than usual scheduled for each day. I’m not even sure if they are doing appointments on Wednesday, because they would be closed for processing the visas. We proceeded to the window to check in and get our number. We were C525. They were currently serving C511. We were definitely in for a wait. This was confirmed a few minutes later when we saw that family that had left the hotel an hour earlier than us was still there! There is a small play area for the kids, but I think it was a little too crowded for David. He was just happy to sit in the chairs with us and wait. Normally we hide snacks and drinks from David because he wants them the second he sees them, but we were only allowed to bring a clear bag into the consulate. About 10 minutes into our wait I caught him opening up his snack cookie. There went our main source of distraction! Oh well. After he finished his snack he got a little braver and took my hand and led me over to the play area. I sat with him while he played with some of the wooden toys at the table. Finally at 10:15 (we got there around 9:30) they called our group up for the first step of the process – taking an oath. Since I was with David, Brian was the representative from our family. It was cool to watch a whole group of people raise their right hand and repeat words about caring for and protecting orphans together. Once that step was over we waited for our individual numbers to be called. We were the last ones from our group (except for the two extra families who joined us on the shuttle) so we watched everyone go up one by one and turn in their paperwork. Finally it was our turn! We handed over our envelope of important documents, received a few things back, and then went back to our seats to wait for the final step. At some point I went to use the bathroom, and it was an actual clean, western bathroom complete with hand soap and toilet paper! I almost just stayed in there marveling at the cleanliness and familiarity of the whole thing. For the final step the man at the window calls you up by name. The room had definitely cleared out at this point, so we could actually hear what he was saying. When it was our turn all three of us went up to the window. I lifted up David so he could see him (this is a required step) and the man said “Ni Hao David!” David, being the charmer that he is, gave him a big smile and a loud “Ni Hao!” right back. Then he continued to say ni hao over and over again to get the man to smile at him. I finally had to put him down so the poor guy could concentrate! He asked us to describe David’s medical condition, then Brian was fingerprinted, and we were done! We walked back across the street to the lobby of the medical facility to meet our group.
The original plan was to meet in the lobby at 11:30 to go to the Chen Family Temple, but we didn’t make it back to the hotel until almost noon! I felt really bad for all the people waiting in the lobby to leave. If we had working phones they could have told everyone to come down 30 minutes later. Oh well. I quickly ran upstairs to drop off our paperwork and grab Dad who had gone back up to watch the Patriots game. To be perfectly honest, I definitely could have done without going back to the Chen Temple again. But I wanted to get a chop (a stamp with David’s Chinese name carved into it) and a name scroll for two of his gifts. What we probably should have done was just have me go and spare everyone else the 90 minutes of waiting around and dealing with tantrums. Sadly, hindsight is 20/20 so we all went. When we got there I went to the gift store first and ordered both of the items I wanted. Then we took a walk around looking at the art exhibits. There are some pretty sweet ivory carvings. We also saw pottery and sculpture, and tried to find the embroidery but were unsuccessful. Once we had seen everything we took a seat on one of the walls and started to give the kids a snack. Lily was upset about something and starting to cry, so I took her on a walk to distract her. As soon as I walked away, David went into a full blown tantrum because Brian tried to give him half a banana and he wanted the whole thing. He did the whole head hitting, shoe throwing, undressing thing and apparently there were all kinds of people staring at him. And not like a subtle looking over their shoulder to see where that noise was coming from. They literally walked over and made a circle around him like it was a show for their own personal entertainment. My dad basically shooed them away, and eventually they got David calmed down. I’m not even sure how. I was happily shopping for tea and looking for another gift for David and missed the whole thing! It was getting close to time to leave, so Brian took the kids outside with my dad to wait at the meeting place while I went to pick up the name scroll. I went out to find them and didn’t see them anywhere! I came back in thinking maybe I missed something, but they weren’t there either. Finally my mom and I started walking to see if maybe they went back to the bus, and then we saw them sitting on benches behind bushes. They were there the whole time, I just couldn’t see them. But, while I was off looking for them David had another tantrum! This one was because he didn’t like the bush poking him in the back while he was sitting on the wall. It also resulted in a audience, complete with a woman videoing the whole thing with her phone. My dad let her know that he was not okay with that, and she quickly ducked her head and walked away. Yep, definitely should have left everyone at home. I don’t know what it is about that place, but Lily had a huge tantrum there two years ago. Anyway, we could not get out of there soon enough!
Mom wanted to go back to Liwan market to look at pearls again, so she and Dad did that while Brian and I took the kids back to the hotel to nap. Miko gave them directions and tried to help them get a cab but they were all full! They finally made it there and walked all over the market. The entire thing, floor after floor after floor, is all jewelry! I have no idea how anyone makes a living. There are so many shops that are all the same, and none of them seem to be busy. It totally blows my mind. Once they were done there they had another adventure with Chinese taxi drivers on the way home. I think my dad is a little over the culture here ;o) While they were off adventuring, Brian and I enjoyed some time relaxing on our bed while the kids all played nicely out in the living room. Maybe there is something to this whole four kid thing after all! After about 30 minutes Lily started self destructing so we decided to enforce nap time after all. Both she and Matthew have a cold and could definitely use the extra rest. David watched the other three go in their room to nap, and then climbed into his bed and went to sleep without complaint! While they were sleeping I went down to run on the treadmill for a while. I am so looking forward to being able to run outside again when I get home!
The two little ones woke up first, and as it got closer to dinner time we started to wake up the other two. We did wait to leave until we watched most of the Patriots game on replay though! This was our last night in Guangzhou and we wanted to go out somewhere. We decided against Chinese food, and thought we would try a new pizza place that opened up nearby called Oggi’s. It was only a short walk away, and was really good! It actually tasted a lot like American pizza! David isn’t a huge fan of pizza yet. I’m sure that will change when his palate is repaired, because it’s a little hard for him to eat right now. The other three kids devoured theirs, and then we walked back to the hotel for bed. Bedtime for David didn’t go as smoothly this time. Probably because he had taken a nap. It went great for me though, because I fell asleep in Lily’s bed while I was snuggling with her and stayed there until midnight! Tomorrow is our last morning in Guangzhou before we head to Hong Kong.