Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 10 Together- US Consulate

This morning we had breakfast downstairs in the hotel cafe and then we headed to the lobby to meet up with the Keller and Goble families to be taken to the US Consulate.  We arrived around 9:30 a.m. for our 10 a.m. appointment.  After going through security (you cannot take in backpacks, any technological devices, or strollers), we sat in a room with some windows waiting for our appointment.   Meanwhile, a whole bunch more families who are with Holt showed up.  A very nice American woman who worked there came on the microphone shortly after 10 a.m. and gave a very nice speech and talked about how they do paperwork most of the week, but this is the part of the week they look forward to most- seeing all the beautiful children with their families.   She had us all raise our right hands and take an oath for our children to become US citizens. Once we hit the US soil, Lena will become an automatic citizen and she will get her Certificate of Citizenship in the mail within 1-2 months of us getting home.  After the message, we then waited for our family name to be called and headed to the counter, where a man took our paperwork and within just a few minutes gave us some directions and a few documents back and we were good to go!   We all headed back downstairs for a few pictures and then we headed back to the hotel.  After we got to the hotel, we headed out for some lunch.  Lena was very happy again this afternoon!  :)   We tried to stay dry under our umbrellas.   Some of the water we had to walk through was pretty deep.

 Three Lifeline families who had appointments today together at the US consulate.
Goble family- Illinois
Henningfeld family- Wisconsin
Keller family- Georgia
 Family picture after the consulate appointment.
Piper and Evan sharing Lena's ladybug umbrella after coming out of the US consulate.  Evan was such a gentleman. :)

We have had a lot of rain and wind today- we are officially a part of Typhoon Vicente.  Apparently Hong Kong got hit yesterday and it was the worst storm they have had in 30 years.  125 people were injured.  Glad we weren't there yet!   Tree limbs were down here, but that was the worst of it.   Unfortunately the rain didn't allow us to go to the Safari Park today (we were going to do that on our own) and it also cancelled our Pearl River boat cruise.  We will be going to the island to hang out and have dinner.  Lena took a long nap today.  Evan and Rick watched the Lion King while I caught up on the blog and email.   We may have another day of rain tomorrow...we shall see.  Tomorrow is our last day and we are supposed to go to the island and then after we get Lena's visa, a van will come in the early evening to take us to Hong Kong, where we will spend one night and then take off on Thursday morning (Wednesday night back home) headed for Chicago.  We will arrive in Chicago around 1 p.m.

 Lena did not enjoy our time in the park with the statues.

Day 9 Together- Guangzhou Zoo

Today we woke up and had breakfast in our hotel.  We then met in the lobby for a big group picture.  There are 7 families with Lifeline (though one opted to stay at a different hotel), 3 with Small World (one is at a different hotel), and 3 with IFS so that makes for 11 families in our group at the hotel and 13 families total in our group.  Again, I cannot say enough how wonderful it has been to get to know these families better and to see them with their new child.  For some, it is their first child and for others, it is their 11th or 12th and many in between.   It is wonderful!

 Evan giving a high five to Presley.
 Presley and Piper- forever sisters!
 Lena and Presley
-Learning that I can finally get Lena to wear a headband (she prefers the barrettes/bows), 
but they don't stay on too well!

After the group picture, we drove back to the medical building to have the TB test read.   I went in with Lena alone and Rick and Evan stayed on the bus- they wanted just one parent to go inside.  The place was even more packed than the day of the medical exam.  It was just a quick glance.  Everything was just fine and we were free to go back down to the bus.  The bus then took us to the Guangzhou Zoo.  Now I had not heard too great of things about this zoo so I didn't have high expectations.  It was no city zoo we have at home, but it was a decent size and there were many animals and neat landscapes.  It was clean.  I think the issues some may have had were with the number of animals per area/cage and that some of the cages are smaller and there is not much area for the animals to roam or things for them to do.   I did not see the caged dogs that I had heard about, but maybe they were there.  There was supposedly some raccoons on exhibit too according to the map, but we did not see them.   Our guide first had us go around the zoo via a zoo-mobile.   We made stops to get out and look at the pandas and the lions and leopards.   We then were able to walk around for a little over an hour and check the place out on our own.   We enjoyed our time there.  We skipped out on the optional lunch and headed back to the hotel. 

 Red panda aka Lesser Panda

 Zoo map to prove that there are raccoons at this zoo!

Kids were swimming in this little pool at the zoo in their underwear! :)

 One exhibit is to feed pigeons and there are some HUGE pigeons here!
 White tiger

From the hotel, we headed to the subway station and went under the street and up the other subway entrance to cross the street that you are not able to cross any other way.  Lena was in the BEST mood!   She let Rick hold her and was smiling like crazy!  LOVED it! :)  When she was walking, she was actually kind of skipping...a little extra bounce in her step.  When she is a happy little girl- it gives us a glimpse into another side of her and something to really look forward to seeing develop.   She is

 Before going out!

 The inside of our hotel- lobby and first couple of floors.

 These didn't turn out so great, but she was SO happy coming down the staircase!
 Her smile was just precious!

 Our hotel from across the street.

 Friendship Store across from our hotel.

 That sign that says- Trust-Mart is the Wal-Mart.
 The fish for sale inside Wal-Mart.  There were open top freezers with processed chicken legs in them that you could just grab out and put into a plastic bag. 

We went to the Friendship Store and went up the escalator to all four or so floors, but we did not see the grocery store that had been mentioned...just high end shops.  Maybe we were in the wrong part of the Friendship Store.   We then walked out and headed a few streets over to the TrustMart, which is basically Wal-Mart.  You would never have guessed by the outside or the small sign.  It was a maze inside- we walked all over and on many different levels.  We got some diapers and some snacks and drinks.   We saw fish of all sizes in tanks (to eat).  We brought our own bag this time. :)   We then headed back to the hotel for a short nap.   I tried to confirm our flight home in the business center of the hotel, but didn't have any luck with that.  In the evening, we were having trouble deciding where to eat.  We ended up walking up and down the street with all the restaurants and finally took a side street.  We ended up finding Oggi's restaurant and ran into a handful of other families from the hotel too!   We ordered a margharita pizza, which was delicious.  A big shout of thanks to the Goble family for sharing 2 pieces of their pizza that they had leftover with us.  Many of us have learned that once our kids sit down at a table, they expect that food will be there immediately or shortly.   They aren't used to waiting to order and then for it to be cooked and to come to your table.   This helped Lena avoid a breakdown and we were very appreciative!   It was a small, but busy place.  I'd highly recommend it to adoptive families staying at this hotel. 

When we got back and Rick and Evan went swimming for a bit.  When they got back, we gave Lena a bath.  Rick put her on the potty first and she actually went!  :)   Once the kids were in pajamas, Lena was snuggling with dad.  Rick got her to give him her first kiss.  :)  Not sure if they know what a kiss is- maybe she has never been kissed before.  Breaks my heart, but she will know every day from gotcha day on what it means to be truly loved!    Then it was bedtime and time for mom to catch up on the blog that I had gotten so behind on due to a busy schedule and some tech issues.   I stayed up way too late, but it was nice to feel almost caught up.