The Fontenots, our guide Miko, and our family all got in the van and rode to the US Consulate. There were so may Chinese people standing outside the Consulate. I'm not sure if they were hoping to be allowed in to apply for their Visas or if they were people watching or if they were waiting for their appointment for later that day. All I know is there were dozens and dozens of people waiting outside. You are not allowed to take wallets, purses, cameras, watches, or anything like that into the Consulate. We only had a clear plastic bag with diapers, wipes, and snacks for Tucker. Miko snapped a few pictures of us before going inside.
We walked right in to the front of line (that was a first for China!). :) Ryan said, "It sure is nice to be on US soil again!" He was right. It just made me more excited to get home. :) You can't see Tuck's shirt very well, but it has a tie sewn on it with the letter "T". My friend, Kelley, sent it to us before leaving for China. We didn't represent "red" very well, but we had "white" and "blue" covered.
We went inside, got a number, and played with Tucker/waited patiently. At 10:00 a.m., a man asked all of the adoptive parents to stand up and take our oath. We sat back down and waited maybe 10 more minutes or for our number to be called. I went to the window to hand over our paperwork, and Ryan brought Tucker over so that they could see that he was the correct child. They went back to this little area to play while I finished the paperwork. Then, we were done! While the Fontenots finished their paperwork, Ryan and I went outside and just smiled in the sunshine. We saw the American flag waving in the cool breeze, put our hands on our hearts, and said the Pledge of Allegiance. It was a sweet moment. Tucker grabbed the hand of one of the Fontenot's little boys, and they walked out of the Consulate hand-in-hand together. Again, so sweet.
We met Miko by the medical clinic, hopped in the van, and made our way back to the hotel. Tucker's Visa to enter the United States should be ready today (Thursday) at 4:20 p.m. Then we can leave the country!
Tucker was pretty antsy at the Consulate and really needed a solid nap, so Ryan and Tuck stayed back at the hotel while I went to Shamian Island (pictured above). This is a very famous area of Guangzhou for adoptive families because previously the White Swan Hotel is on the island, and that was where all adoptive families stayed in China. Because it is being renovated, that is no longer the case right now. I joined the other two adoptive families (Fontenots and Parsons) for lunch and shopping at the island.
We ate lunch at Lucy's Diner (not Lucky's, Brad). They have several American food options, and we sat outside because it was such a beautiful day.
The famous lemon tea.
My club sandwich and fries...delicious!
Our first stop after lunch was Peter's for some souveniers for family/friends. I cannot share what we bought because the recipients read this blog! :)
Below you'll see my friend, Carroll Lane, bargaining with Peter. This chick can shop!
We stopped in a few other stores but didn't buy anything until we reached Jenny's. She and her husband are super sweet! I was able to buy Tucker an English Standard Version of the Bible where one column has English and the other column has Mandarin. So so special! I also got a couple Christmas gifts for my nieces, and a few things for adoptive mommas at home who are trying to raise money to benefit orphans.
I'm sad to say that I didn't take pictures of the last store we went to called A Gift from China. This store is especially unique because all profits benefit orphans in China. I found a few items here and called it a day. My favorite kind of gift is one that blesses the person receiving it and blesses a charity of some kind. Here are some more beautiful pictures of Shamian Island. There are models and photographers everywhere taking pictures. It was fun to see in person after seeing so many picture on other momma's blogs.
The Fontenots had a bit more shopping to do, so I took a cab back to the hotel with the Parsons. They really are the sweetest family! We have been together since the flight from Beijing to Chongqing. Their sweet daughters were so well-behaved and had the most positive energy. I loved it! Carroll Lane has become such a dear friend to me. We have bonded over so many experiences here in China. Her husband, Brad, was such a good sport and is clearly such a great daddy. Ryan got along with him very well! We are hoping to see each other next Spring or Summer...and FaceTime very soon.
After getting back to the hotel, I took the elevator up to the 13th floor and noticed that Tuck and Ryan were walking toward our room after coming back from the pool. Tucker hadn't taken a super long nap and was pretty wild, so we decided to get him dressed and go take a walk.
This is the waterfall at our hotel. I cannot explain how surreal it was to finally stand on that bridge with my son. I have seen family after family take pictures in this very spot over the past year. We had made it!
This is just another beautiful area on the hotel grounds.
I love this sign: "Mind your head." The ceilings and walkways often have low passages, so you really must "Mind your head." After walking around our hotel, we decided to make a quick run to the grocery store for formula. Tucker was NOT into it at the grocery. Cue the screaming and thrashing side to side in the carrier. We grabbed a few snacks and the formula and high-tailed it out of there. Something that I have never gotten used to seeing is the items available for sale at the check-out area. In the US, you will see batteries, gum, candy, and small toys to lure in kids. In China, you will see condoms...lots and lots of condoms. At home, they are located in a more private area, but here, they are just out in the open to grab on your way out the door. Very interesting.
We met up with the Parsons and another woman named Caroline, who had her Gotcha Day a few days ago, and Caroline's brother Jeff. We all went to Tekila for dinner. It was the first time we had dinner with anyone else in China, and since it would be our last night together, it was perfect. After dinner, I started to say good bye to Carroll Lane, Brad, and the girls, and I couldn't help but cry. We had been through so much together, some of which will always stay in China. It was such a blessing to experience nearly two weeks in China with this family. Seeing Caroline with her daughter brought tears to my eyes. We made a toast to "Three Less!!!"
Three children who will never again live behind the walls of an orphanage.
Three children who will forever be loved by their families.
Three children who will become US citizens as soon as their feet hit US soil.
Three children who will know the love of Christ and what He did to save them.
There are few things more beautiful in this world. I am convinced.