Our time in China has come to an end - we have enjoyed seeing Makenna's birthplace, but we are more than ready to get home to the rest of our family and start life as a family of five! We didn't sleep much on Thursday night - too excited, I guess. At 5:00 AM, we woke up Makenna and were headed to the airport by 5:30. Our flight to Beijing was delayed an hour - not a problem, since we had four hours or so in the Beijing airport before our flight to Newark. Our flight ended up leaving about 90 minutes late - still, shouldn't be a problem. The flight to Beijing was two and a half hours. We needed to claim our checked baggage and then go upstairs to check in for the international flight. We should have had plenty of time... BUT.. Our luggage ended up asking over an hour to come off our first flight. Then, we had a long line to check into our next flight. We hit every delay possible.... More long lines at Immigration and security and our flight at the farthest gate possible. Add to this that Makenna still wants Mama to carry her all the time.
We arrived at the gate as the plane was boarding... No time for eating or resting before strapping Makenna in for the thirteen hour flight. But... We are headed home!!
Wednesday is our last day in China and we have nothing to do, but pack everything up and wait for Makenna's Visa. We decided to take Makenna to the zoo for the morning -- we had really wanted to go to the Safari Park, but it is entirely TOO HOT! The heat and humidity are indescribable and so oppressive - a few hours at the zoo was plenty for all of us. Makenna is not a big an of animals we learned - the only animal that interested her was the brown bear going for a swim -- this could make our homecoming to our two dogs interesting!
Makenna's Immigrant Visa and packet of paperwork arrived for us at 4:00 - that's it, we have everything we need to make the long trek home tomorrow! One last dinner of Chinese food and time to finish packing! We leave our hotel at 5:30 AM on Thursday!
Tuesday morning was our consulate appointment - the last appointment to finalize our adoption if Makenna and her immigration paperwork! We left for the US Consulate at 9:00 AM for our 10:00 appointment. We made our way through security and up to the fifth floor to the Adoptions Unit. Each appointment time has about 10 or 12 families from the US present. The US Consular came to address the group from behind a glass window - all parents stood and raised their right hand to take the oath on behalf if their children. After the oath taking ceremony, each family was called one by one to a window and provide all the required paperwork to issue the immigrant visa for the child. It was simple and straight forward, but this step means that when Makenna steps foot in Newark, New Jersey on Thursday she will immediately become a citizen of the United States. Our guide will pick up her immigrant visa for us on Wednesday afternoon and then we can finally go home!
Since we dressed Makenna up in her red, white and blue to celebrate, we took re outside to get some pictures of her! After her nap, we went for a walk (actually Jason & I walked while we took turns carrying Makenna!) we found a western restaurant and celebrated the day with sandwiches followed by a chocolate milkshake and cheesecake!
Monday was another day of no appointments - a great day for shopping on Shaiman Island in the morning! Shaiman Island is a landmark in the China adoption community as it used to be the hub of international adoption. All families adopting from China would stay on the island since this is where the US Consulate was located. The island is a charming little village that resembles what you would see in Europe. This was originally the site of many international consulates in China. Unfortunately, several years ago, the US Consulate moved off the island into the city of Guangzhou. For the many shops and businesses that thrived on the constant flow of adoptive families, this has put a definite strain on the economics. The famous White Swan hotel closed over a year ago to undergo a major transformation and updating - hopefully the new hotel will help renew the tourist interest when it re-opens.
We were taken with our whole travel group to the island for two hours of shopping. It's a great place to get the traditional souvenirs of chop sticks, kites, silk dresses, silk accessories and, yes, squeaky shoes. We were one of "those parents" that bought Makenna squeaky shoes and she loved them! We enjoyed the time to get outside and walk around - although we didn't expect Makenna to decide that she wanted to be carried the whole time by Mama - little girl gets heavy, but definitely good signs in the attachment process so I'll take the back ache!
Monday night we opted to go on the Pearl River Dinner cruise so we could see Guangzhou at night time - many if their buildings have beautiful lights along the river. Makenna wasn't quite sure about the boat at first, but she warmed up to the idea and had a lot if fun! She especially loved when the clown came out for entertainment!
Shaiman Island is a popular destination for wedding portraits - there were couples all over getting pictures taken!
We had no appointments on Sunday, so our guide arranged for us to do some sightseeing in the morning. Our first stop was in a new section of the city that was constructed and redone for the Asia games last year. It was full of large skyscrapers and modern buildings - beautiful area! And.. It was HOT - like REALLY HOT! I think it was upper 90's and 150% humidity! Oh my word - ugh!
We watched a woman dance in the square and then walked around to look at the stadium and architecture.
Our other stop was at a local museum, Makenna decided to throw a fit, so much of our time was spent calming her down. The only time she gives us a hard time is really when we are out in our travel group. There is a 7 year old big sister in the group, and Makenna would rather be with her and do what we ask or stay with us. We are trying to separate a little more, but occasionally she freaks out - that's what happened this time. Each time we get through one of these episodes helps her learn what family is about. We decided to take it easy the rest of the day and spent most of the time playing together in our hotel room to reinforce who we are and how much we love her - she is getting it one step (or fit) at a time!
We are a family of four answering God's call for us to adopt - we are on our way to being a family of FIVE! We have been blessed in so many ways - 14 years of marriage to my best friend - 2 amazing children ready to welcome home their sister that waits for us in China. We welcome you to follow our journey through this blog!