Bringing Home Laine, Part 8: Paperwork

Previously: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6, Part 7

September 3, 2019

One more hoop jumped through: Today we visited the US Consulate to apply for Laine’s exit visa so we can all finally get the bleep outta here and come home.

We spent most of a day in a waiting room at the US Consulate office in Guangzhou so we could submit visa paperwork, pay a fee, and submit to a cursory interview. Even though we were dealing with American bureaucrats here, rather than Chinese bureaucrats, all this was still conducted as an elaborate ritual dance, where I had to hand this packet of papers to this person and say these words, then go to that window and pay that fee with these bills, and so on and so on. Again, our guide Aron was invaluable in organizing the paperwork and teaching me the choreography.

In spite of having to endure the red tape hassle, there was a warm feeling of relief that came from standing on US soil. We got there pretty early in the morning, and there was already a long line of people snaking down the sidewalk, all waiting their turn to apply for permission to come to America. At the head of the line, near the entrance, was a flag pole topped with a fluttering US flag. Several in our group wept when they saw it.

September 3, 2019 (Later)

Also today, they brought in this artist to do super cool calligraphy for the adoptive families. Here he’s writing Laine’s Chinese name, Wu Xiao Fan. Watch and be mesmerized.

This was super cool, and hypnotizing. I could watch it all day.

September 4, 2019

More downtime while we wait on Laine’s visa to process. We walked around Shamian Island, which was used by the British during the colonial period, explaining the European-style architecture. It had some shopping, the White Swan hotel, a little church, and the world’s swankiest Starbucks, where all the baristas wore white shirts and black ties.

This was a day to wait, rest, and gather our strength before we faced the final hurdle of this endeavor: international air travel with a brand new baby.

Our time on Shamian Island was “fun” such as it was. We got a bite to eat and took some pictures and bought some souvenirs. But it was obvious that we — along with the four other newly-adoptive families in our band — were just dragging ourselves to the finish line, physically and emotionally spent, counting the minutes until we could get back home.

Our 18-hour flight from the US to China had been miserable. We could only imagine how much worse it was going to be with a 15-month-old whom we had only known for two weeks and who, frankly, didn’t care for me much at all. However, I was prepared to ride all the way back to the States holding onto the wing of the plane if that was what I had to do. We just needed the proper documentation, one more wake-up, and we would be, like the Ming Dynasty, history in China.

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