Problem solved!

Sorry to anyone who tried to click the link I provided in the earlier post. I made a mistake with security settings, which unfortunately led you all to a page that looked pretty scary. All is well now, and the link on the previous post should work. Please comment on this post if you continue to have troubles!

Thanks for following along!

Still Alive

This was a triumph. I’m making a note here: huge success! It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.

Well, we’re back in our home. Kathleen is feeding Alexander, and the cats are being cautiously curious. Jimmy John’s is waiting in the fridge. I don’t think we’ll get any unpacking done to speak of tonight. It’ll be a win if we can bathe the guy, frankly.

Tomorrow will be his first day in the USA with mostly conscious parents.

The Wheels on the Bus

Tomorrow morning begins The Longest Day 2- Revenge of the Van Ride.  Our first van leaves at 6 am, bound for the China-Hong Kong border. We get out about an hour and a half later, clear HK customs, and get into van #2, headed to the Hong Kong airport for another long van ride. Our flight departs a little before noon, and God willing, we arrive at O’Hare about 14 hours later, which will be mid afternoon on the 4th in Chicago to clear our little man through USCIS.

It will be a long day.  There had better be fireworks.

Surviving the US Consulate, better known as “How Brian almost got his watch incinerated”

Sorry, Alexander. We were really hoping that your first experience with the US Government would be a little better. Still, we all survived, your father got to keep his watch, and as far as we know, your visa and immigration papers will be ready for pickup tomorrow.

We were up bright and early this morning for our consulate appointment in the city. Our entire trip to China, even including Alexander’s placement day, was scheduled around this “magical” hour when Our Government would accept our little man’s Chinese passport. He’ll be issued a US visa and a sealed immigration packet. We’ve been told numerous times, including this morning, that the sealed packet contains very sensitive information and that under no circumstances should it leave our possession until we hand it to Customs and Immigration on Thursday afternoon. No pressure, right?

When we arrived at the Consulate building, we were instructed that we could only bring our application packet with us– no phones, cameras, anything. Our guide told us that back in the day, each family would have their photo taken in the Consulate with their immigration officer by an American flag– now you can’t even bring your camera into the Consulate! I did grab a diaper just in case… Our guide also indicated that he could only walk us so far before being stopped by security. After standing in line awhile, we were checked in by security stop #1 where our appointment time/day was verified and passports checked– then past two more guards, and up an escalator to the next security stop.

This is when things got unpleasant.

This security stop was the x-ray machine. I started to put our packets and diaper on the belt, when the guard pointed to Brian’s watch. “No watch.” Brian tried to explain that it wasn’t electronic (he has one of those self-winding mechanical watches). “Sorry, no watch.” Brian asked if he could leave it, but the guard indicated that we couldn’t go through to our appointment with it, and that if it was left, it would be immediately destroyed. (Quick side note here– about a month ago, there was a mysterious powder threat at the US Consulate in Guangzhou. Families were stuck for several days because the Consulate was closed, and I think that the security folks are being extra extra cautious now.) There was no negotiation– either Brian’s watch would be destroyed, or we would try and find our guide.

We decided to exit the Consulate and try to find our guide to pass along the watch. My watch had stopped about a week ago, so we were down to one watch between the two of us. We found Bill, did a quick watch handoff, and raced back upstairs to our appointment, where we joined the back of the line for the first security. They had closed admissions, but after much passport flailing and explanation of why we were already checked off his list, he let us pass. Back upstairs, through the x-ray machine, and finally into a holding pen bearing a striking resemblance to a DMV. There were about a dozen families there waiting, and within a few minutes, the show started. We were all asked to swear an oath about the applications, and then we waited for our family name to be called. Alexander was a sport, but we could tell all the noise and people was getting to him (he’s snoring now as I type!)

Our immigration officer was very friendly, and after a quick look through Alexander’s application packet (most of which was already sent and has been waiting for our arrival since April), we were finished. Pretty unexciting to be honest, aside from the watch fiasco and meeting other families– just a few brief chats, but we met families from Nebraska, Arkansas, and even Pittsburgh, PA! They asked where I went to school, and they said– “Oh, so near Oakdale, right?”  What a small world we live in!

For as frustrating as the red tape was in getting into the Consulate (which I understand comes with the territory– just reread my entries on my Chinese Consulate experience if you forgot), the experience was fairly inspiring. Seeing so many families from all over the US who have jumped willingly through the same hoops and seeing so many children with medical needs in the arms of loving and doting families gave me great hope. Although we live in an age when a wristwatch could be an explosive or a bottle of formula seen as something sinister, there are plenty of people who have taken a great leap of faith across a wide sea to bring their children home.




Home Soil

We’re up bright and early for our appointment at the US Consulate for Alexander’s immigration appointment. We hope they don’t ask him any difficult US History questions– his response to our last question “Who was the 13th President?” resulted in the answer of “La..laaaaaa”  Millard Filmore, but we’ll give you partial credit for cuteness!

Proudly sporting his Team USA outfit.

Proudly sporting his Team USA outfit.

It’s Always Sunny in Guangzhou

As promised, I figured I’d post a few pictures from yesterday’s day of travel from Taiyuan to Guangzhou.

Waving goodbye to his home province of Shanxi

Waving goodbye to his home province of Shanxi

Relaxing on the airplane. This kid loves to travel.

Relaxing on the airplane. This kid loves to travel (so far…)

He passed out before we landed. We had to wake him up to get off the plane. Our guide Bill is next to me laughing.

He passed out before we landed. We had to wake him up to get off the plane. Our guide Bill is next to me laughing.

Van ride to Guangzhou

Van ride to Guangzhou

Now, we’re relaxing a bit in the room after lunch and some exploration of Shamian Island– which is sort of “adoption island” in Guangzhou. It’s a beautiful day, sunny with clouds and is well shaded by big trees– such a relief after Taiyuan, a dusty and gray place.  Shamian Island is very popular with the locals and with fashion magazines– I can’t tell you how many photo shoots we passed during our walk.

We had Alexander’s medical appointment earlier this morning, which went surprisingly well. Bill, our guide, has been assisting families for over 17 years now, and so he knows how to get there before the crowds. We were in and out– having seen three medical personnel in less than an hour.  By the time we were on our way out the door, the clinic was jammed was families–way to go, Bill! No surprising diagnosis for our little man– cleft lip/palate and significant malnutrition. We’re working on the second one as much as possible.  For those of you interested in where our guy is developmentally– he’s solidly in 6 month clothing. As some of you noted, he’s able to sit up by himself, but we have to bring him to a sitting position. He is dying to scoot and crawl, but his legs are too weak, so he just sorta sits and howls. The clinic doctor recommended working on leg exercises, so we’re already giving him a workout. He can vocalize, but because of his cleft, it mostly sounds like “La.” One “la”– he doesn’t hate you. Two “la’s”– Hey, look at me. Continuous “la’s”– Why can’t you parents understand me? I’m clearly trying to communicate something important here!

Brian just commented on how spacious our room is here in Guangzhou– compared to Taiyuan, where the pollution made it almost unbearable to be outside, our much larger room in a tropical city makes it almost feel like paradise– with a headstrong little kid, but still.

Tonight, we’re planning on expanding Alexander’s traveling experience with an evening cruise on the Pearl River. He likes the land and sky, so we’ll have to see what he thinks about the sea.

And for all you St Joan of Arc folks following along, we were able to locate a church “Our Lady of Lourdes” on the French side of the island. Say an extra prayer that Alexander’s first Mass is a good one!





We arrived in Guangzhou this evening after a mid-afternoon flight from Taiyuan. The airport was a little crazy, and our family was the subject of much staring.  Alexander was a pro on the plane, laughing during takeoff and actually snoring during landing. We’ll see how he does on the long flight!

We’ll have a longer post tomorrow when we’re better rested. Good news though- it appears that Alexander has decided his father is an okay guy after all. 

I was telling Brian that I still can’t believe that we were in Beijing a week ago, and now we are in Guangzhou with our son! These travels are the trip of a lifetime, but we can’t wait to get home to our family, friends, and felines.

May have troubles..

This is just a quick post about the status of our blog. As we’re traveling in China, we have no idea if we’ll have access to update this blog. A lot of blogs are blocked in China, and we’ll have no way of knowing about ours until we’re there.

Worse comes to worst, we’ll see you on the other side.

The Road (or Sidewalk) Not Taken

I was dreading today.

After the debacle during my last visit to the Consulate, I was not looking forward to a repeat performance today.  With any luck, today’s trip will be the last one for us (and our visas will be via courier!) The question you’re dying to ask– did they accept our forms? Do we have to repeat this paperwork tango again? Although we won’t have confirmation until our documents are returned to us via overnight post at the end of next week, the service agent did accept all of our forms for processing. (Last time, if you remember, they kicked back one of the  forms immediately at the window.)

If you noticed the photo I posted to Facebook earlier today, you might be wondering what happened. Well, I navigated the Secretary of State’s office in about 10 minutes, a person al record! In, out, and certified! When I arrived at the Consulate though, I had a feeling I was going to be in for quite a day.

Have you ever felt like the world was trying to send you a message?

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It’s all here

Today was a banner day!  First, Brian picked up my amended surgical history letter– and it was signed and notarized properly (yay!) Secondly, we had a big, fat packet from USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security. On very official-looking paper, Our Government certified us as acceptable adoptive parents to one child or twins living in a country operating under the Hague Convention (of which China is one). This document is the final missing piece we’ve been waiting for.

Our next step is to get those final two documents certified, then all the documents head to the Consulate. At the rate we’re going, we should have our dossier to our agency and on its way to China by early November!!!