Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Good-bye Guangzhou

This is our favorite shop, and shopkeeper, Stella. We took our laundry here, and she quickly knew all of our names, and relationships -- quite a feat, considering the number of people here. (I just realized I look like a giant beside her!)

Yesterday, before our consulate appointment, we spent some more time exploring Sha Mian Island. This park along the river was full of people dancing, singing, practicing Tai Chi, and enjoying the beautiful day.

My mom thought this sign was funny:

Doug and Katie made some new friends at the park.

We were not allowed to bring electronic equipment to the consulate yesterday. I wish I could have captured it, though. The American official who administered the oath was very nice, and the experience was both more formal, and more touching then I expected. There were at least 50 American families with Chinese babies. We all raised our right hands, and swore that the information we had given during the adoption process was true. I got a little choked up, and then it was over. (Of course, when we raised our right hands, Zoe started giving us high fives).

Tomorrow, we travel by high speed train to Hong Kong (or as Sean calls it, King Kong). We are all a little sad to be leaving the mainland, and ending this amazing adventure. We have had so many wonderful experiences here. I have no idea if I will have a chance to post again before we leave. Thank you to everyone who has followed our journey. Your comments and e-mails have been one of the highlights of our trip. We can't wait to see everyone!

We'll miss you, Rui

Today, we took Zoe to the American Consulate in downtown Guangzhou to receive her U.S. Visa. After verifying that her face looked like her passport photo, we were asked to take an oath along with about 50 other families. And that was it . . . Zoe is now officially ours according to both the Chinese and United States governments. She will become a U.S. citizen when we go through customs in Newark.

This event marked the end of our 1.5 year journey to get Zoe.

And the China part of our journey was made so easy because of the leadership of our guide, Rui (pronounced "Ray"). It was like having a personal assistant for two weeks. In addition to managing our paperwork, money and travel, she arranged for our sightseeing tickets, made dinner reservations for us, organized wake-up calls, facilitated networking between the parents, acted as a tourguide, arranged for buses and taxis, served as a translator, sang to our babies in Chinese on the bus, and was available 24 hours a day (remember when I had no pants at 10:45 at night?). She also told us jokes and Chinese stories on our long bus rides.

I cannot say enough about Rui. She was fantastic, and really seemed to care about us, our babies, and our families. We will miss her.