Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Consulate Appointment and Pearl River Dinner Cruise

On Tuesday, February 3, 2015 we had our US Consulate Appointment.  This was the time that our entire trip centered around.  We had to be there for this appointment and it also dictated when we could leave.  This was our application for Hannah's visa to enter the Untied States upon our arrival home.  I'm not sure if those outside the international adoption world understand how some of the immigration portion of the process works, but with Chinese adoptions, your adoption is final in country (ours was finalized on January 27, 2015, the day after we met Hannah).  Your child is issued a Chinese passport, since they are still Chinese citizens.  You then apply for your child to receive a US Visa (there are lots of steps involved in the visa process and it begins very early in your adoption journey with various approvals from the United States for you to bring an orphan child back into the country).  Once your child receives the US Visa, you are golden.  You can GO HOME!  Upon landing in the United States (for us, it was Detroit) you process through immigration and have a couple more steps that you would if it was only you landing.  Your child becomes a United States citizen in that moment and you receive their certificate of citizenship a few months after arrival.  Hannah is a United States citizen now and has all the same rights as you and I.  The only thing she cannot do?  Become the President.  You have to be born here to become the president.

Anyhow, I digress.  Tuesday was a bright and early morning.  Like, be on the bus by 7:30 or something ridiculous.  With a kid like hours who could literally spend all day grazing at the breakfast buffet this meant some seriously early waking hours!  Ha!  This was not one of our better days (nor was the day we went to the zoo).  Hannah needs beauty sleep, people!  Regardless we dragged her grumpiness out of bed and did our best to survive the morning's activities.

The US Consulate appointment (referred to as CA) is really the most non-monumental experience....ever.  I had this thing all built up in my mind, like this super formal interview, etc.  BEEEP.  WRONG!  It was a whole lot like going to the DMV, only the man behind the glass window actually had a personality and was really quite funny (or maybe I was totally delirious at this point, which added to his humor).  Your guide gets you there and I kid you not, the lines out front are wrapping around the building.  US Citizens sort of get a "jump to the front of the line" pass and get sneaked in some side entrance door.  You still go through security, but I kind of felt bad as all those people watched us cut through the line, get passed through by the guards, and then enter, after they'd been there lots longer than we had.  Your guide cannot enter the consulate with you, so she gives you very clear directions about what door to enter, what floor to go to, what window to go to and how to get a number.  We were there with all Lifeline families and the kids enjoyed the small play area while we adults got the funniest lecture ever about "not opening the special envelope" we would be issued along with her visa.  Opening the envelope would lead to all kinds of being detained in Detroit until China was awake 13 hours later to verify the authenticity of our documents.  Yes, the funny man had us all convinced to place the coveted brown envelope into a deep crevice of our carry on luggage where we would not be tempted during the 13 hours home to open it under any circumstance.  We were also reminded that they are not FedEx at the consulate and while our visa "should" be ready in 24 hours, there was not guarantee (none of us really liked that "no guarantee" disclaimer....we all had flights within 36 hours and were very eager to be on them).

Our consulate interview went something like this:
Man: "Paperwork please?"
Chris had already done all of this paperwork and had it neatly organized in a folder by our guide a few days prior.  All we had to do was slip it through the window.
Man: "Tell me about your child's medical condition?"
Us: "Uhhhh....cleft lip and palate?"  (Like, isn't it obvious?)
Man: Okay!  Have a nice day.  You should receive your documents within 24-48 hours. 

.........And that was the consulate appointment.  I kid you not.  We waited for all members in our group to jump through this hoop and exited the building together and walked back to where we were told to meet the bus back to the hotel.

We broke out the red, white, and blue for Hannah to wear to Consulate Appointment.

We got back to the hotel still fairly early in the day and we decided to venture to a park with the R family (I'm pretty sure it was called Martyrs Park).  It was a longer walk than expected, but we got to see some neat things.  Chinese people take their exercise very seriously and there was all kinds of activity to see in the park, despite being a Tuesday, mid-morning.  People playing something like hacky sack (I mean, these people could play!), ballroom dancing, rhythmic dancing/interpretive dance, jogging, karaoke, you name it, we saw it there.  We really wanted to check out all the communist monuments, but they all had tons of steps leading to them and we both had strollers and kids who were getting a bit frustrated at the notion of the stroller that day, so, we skipped out on them.  It was still a nice walk.

 Read the sign closely and you will see all the communist monuments listed.

 Scenery inside the park.

 Scenery inside the park.

Later that night we went with our agency group on the Pearl River Dinner cruise.  I wish I had been feeling better that night because I think it could have been really neat.  It had been a difficult day and I was just drained--and now trapped on a boat--with a child who was not really pleased with anything that particular day.  The food was so, so, but Hannah loved the corn on the cob.  Who knew?  Cleft kids eat corn on the cob!  The food was buffet style, so we Americans kind of stood on the fringes of the frenzy while other people got their food and then we went through all orderly like westerners.  Chinese people aren't rude, just culturally they don't do lines or orderly progression through things like a buffet. The bridges and buildings are all lit up along the river and it is really quite pretty.

 She pointed and grunted when she saw the corn in the buffet line and I kept telling her she couldn't eat it.  She was about to throw down in a massive temper tantrum and since we were trapped on the boat, I decided I would just put it on her plate.  Who knew?  She at that cob clean.  I mean clean.  Not a kernel of corn left.

Other cruise boats passing us on the river.

 The rainbow tower is the biggest part of the cruise.  It changes colors and is really very pretty.

 For the return portion of the cruise there was entertainment...juggling.  This lady was a hilarious actress, but a great juggler and the kids loved her!  We are all so glad that one of the staff members stopped the R family from throwing out a poopy diaper in the bag of balloons for the kiddos!  HA!

So, consulate appointment behind us.  Tomorrow, we meet our guide at 4:30PM in the lobby to get our child's visa.  Let's pray it is ready!

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