Last night we all met in the hotel for our Travel Group photos and dinner. It is customary for all families to be photographed on the steps of the China Hotel. Then, all kiddos are photographed on the Couch. We have grown to love these other families who have joined us on this venture. They come from all over the States..some with other children, and for some, this adoption journey brought them their very first child. It was truly touching to watch these lives transform. They became like family to us while we were here. We have laughed, cried and complained and celebrated together. I hope that we will all continue to remain in close contact once we all head our sepearte ways. I cannot wait to see what the future hold for these sweet children who are going home with their new Forever Families!!!
Notice Mia Xin on the far right?? She is thinking, "What the heck is wrong with these screaming kids??"
Next, we headed out to dinner with the group. It was a beautiful night and the place was close to the Restaurant, so we walked.
Dinner was delicious! Our guide ordered us 10 or so traditional dishes all to share. We were stuffed when we left. Brian was hoping to hit the Massage Parlor on the way back....Sorry, babe.......
Today we had our US Consulate Appointment. It's fairly strict at the Consulate and no cameras or videos are allowed inside where the Oath is taken (top secret!!). We basically all stood in a room, took an oath that all of the documents and info we gave during our paperwork was true and accurate. We were then called up individually where we finished up all of our paperrwork. Mia Xin will officially become a US Citizen on 6;30 pm Saturday evening, when our plane touches down in Atlanta!!!!!
Later today we took a taxi to the famous Shamian Island. Although I am unsure of the exact history of this particular island, I do know that it used to be a very famous place in the Adoption world, because the US Consulate used to be located on the island. It is also the home of the famous White Swan Hotel, which has been under reconstruction for several years now, but used to house most adoptive families. The island is really cute and reminded me of Charleston. Old, Southern and historic. It had just rained, so it was great weather to just stroll thru, taking in all that the quaint island has to offer. It is known for its local souvenir shops, Lucy's (an American Restaurant) and of course, Starbucks! (Yes, we stopped there, first!). We even got a picture of Mia in the famous Childrens statue. I have been reading and seeing pictures of this stature for over a year, in everyone's adoption blogs...and so to suddenly be standing in front of it, with my Daughter, was a little surreal! We went on to do some shopping at several of the local shops. Brian did an amazing job at bartering. They name one price, you come back with another, they say no, you pretend to walk away, and BAM...they lower their price. Thanks to Brian's amazing negotiating skills, we came away with some amazing deals. We got some shirts for the Boys, souvenirs for friends and family and 4 pairs of cute shoes for Mia.
How is little Miss doing? Everyday we are seeing more of her personality. We are pretty sure that this personality never had the chance to surface in her Orphanage. From what we have been told, she was left alone, kind of kept in the backround, because they thought she was a "fussy" baby, and one who did not like people. They said that the children with outgoing personalities are the ones who get the attention and love, and the others, just kind of get left in the dark. They said she appeared to "like to be left alone"..(umm...really???), and so that;s just what they did. We were expecting the delays due to Institutionalization since birth, but we have to constantly remind ourselves that she is 15 months old. She has learned to sit on her own and crawl, since meeting us a week ago, and we have no doubt that she will continue to thrive once we are home, but nevertheless, the delays are there. They say to expect 1 month delay per every 3 months a child is Institutionalized, so that would put her about 5 months developmentally behind. We find that to be pretty accurate...at about a 9 month old stage in US terms. She will most likely walk late and talk late, and that is just fine with us. She has plenty of time to "catch up", and we will be here, encouraging her every step of the way. I have seen, firsthand, this week, what love and affection can do to a child, of any age. These children, this week have been longing for a family, for hugs, kisses, attention, and nurturing...and now they have it......and the results are astounding.
Although we still see times of grief (upon waking, she cries hysterically, almost as if she forgets where she is), I just hold her tight, whispering her through the fit, until I finally feel her body relax in my arms. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God called us to find this child and bring her into our family. While it may sound strange, after these few days, she finally feels like she is truly MINE. Wierd, I know. I mean, I knew that she was mine, the moment we got the call about her. I knew she was mine, the moment we signed the papers. I knew she was mine the moment they placed her in my arms, but now, after having these days alone with her.;day after day, night after night..learning about each other...I finally feel like she is MINE...and I could not be more BLESSED.....
Goodnight from China,