I know I said I wouldn't write about poop any more (and I'm not going to here), but I didn't place any bans on vomit. Those of you who know me know I am a self-proclaimed chain-puker. I just don't like the smell. So you may be amused to know that yesterday on my way to breakfast, I had to chide my mom and Jason when I looked in the elevator mirror only to discover there was still curdled milk (also called spit-up) in my hair. Yuck. Well, that was nothing. . . in the middle of the night Marcie woke up. This surprised us because she has been sleeping through the night. But because we removed the rice from her diet and have been holding back on solids, I think she is getting hungry more frequently. So at midnight we gave her a bottle. Which she inhaled. I am not exaggerating. She finished the 8 ounces in maybe a minute. And because she has been spitting up, I thought I should burp her before putting her back down. So I patted her back, and she burped. And then she started coughing. Hacking, really. And the next thing I knew, there was vomit all down the front my shirt and my pajama bottoms. And I got up, completely freaked out, to walk over to the bathroom, where Jason had scampered to find me a towel, when she upchucked again-- right into my hair. We changed Marcie, wiped down my hair, removed my stinky clothes, and put Marcie back to bed. I wish I'd done what Jill (whose daughter also threw up last night-- only from being sick and not because she drank her bottle too fast) did-- Jill just got in the shower with all her clothes on. And no, I didn't think to get any photos of this incident, so you'll just have to use your imagination.
We had plenty of time for breakfast this morning before we took taxis over to the pearl market. The pearl market is just like a big mall. The prices on pearls was really good. So good, in fact, that I had to question their reality. But Lauren, the doctor from Michigan, says he knows pearls, and these were really high quality fresh-water pearls, so I'm glad I got myself a pair of earrings. The picture is of me and Marcie at the pearl market.
After the shopping excursion, we returned to Lucy's for lunch, where I had a cheeseburger and Jason had a ham and cheese sandwich (and they removed the crusts of his sandwich!). I gave Marcie some pieces of my fries, which she gobbled up. She also gobbled up cheerios. So far, she's liked everything (which means prunes and Benedryl, french fries and cheerios) except for watermelon. She spit that back out. Then we returned to our room to get ready for our trip to the consulate.
On the bus ride to the consulate, Kathy (the guide) explained that Dana (read yesterday's blog for the details here) was already there with Raymond. I'd been thinking about her earlier in the day, and when I bumped into her aunt in the hallway, I asked how it was going-- she said they were only 75% in the clear. Once we got to the consulate, I asked Dana how things went, and she explained that there was a form that the Illinois DCFS sent to the consulate after their referral, but it apparently got lost. The consulate was supposed to notify the Illinoise home study agency to confirm its receipt of the form when they received it, and her home study agency didn't catch that the consulate never contacted them. And our adoption agency didn't catch it either. So this was a case of no one doing things as they were supposed to-- and all the safety measures failing, too. Then, once at the consulate, they said she needed an additional form-- one she had never heard of and Raymond had never seen (in 10 years of doing this!). Talk about frustrating! Dana asked to speak to the consul general (she told me she wasn't going to leave until she did), and he waived the form requirement, allowing Juliana (Dana's daughter) to get the necessary visa. When Raymond handed out Juliana's visa and immigration packet to Dana after the oath, our whole group clapped and cheered and whistled. It was another one of those emotional moments-- I was just so relieved for Dana, and for everyone really-- who knew it would be such bureacracy once we got here?
Anyway, the consulate was exactly how I remembered it (how could it not be? I was just there yesterday!). We all filed into this big room next to the room I was in yesterday. I think there were like 80 families. Then our guides gave us photocopies of our passports and Marcie's passport, and we got in line. The woman at the window compared our passports to the photocopies to our faces. Then she stamped the passport photocopies with the word "Guangzhou" in red (it looked totally unofficial, so that was weird). Then we returned those papers to Raymond and Kathy. Then one of the consulate employees (named Jason) took the microphone to speak. He explained that Marcie will become a U.S. citizen when the customs person at our port of entry stamps her visa. Once we walk through, she will officially be a U.S. citizen and we can apply for her U.S. passport immediately (and should). We also have to enter through the "foreigners" line because Marcie isn't a citizen yet. He also explained that the U.S. does not honor dual citizenships, but because Marcie has a Chinese passport, China will allow her to travel there with that instead of getting a visa on her U.S. passport. Of course, then if she runs into trouble in China, the Chinese government doesn't have to let the U.S. government help her because she'll be in China as a Chinese citizen. I think we'll just hang onto the China passport as a keepsake and part of her history. . . we are also going to readopt her in California so we can get a U.S. birth certificate issued.
Anyway, after Jason told us these two things, he had us all stand up and raise our right hand. We had to swear and affirm that all the information we provided during our adoption application and registration process was truthful and honest to the best of our knowledge-- and that was it! So it's over (well, almost over-- we do still have to cross through customs in Los Angeles). We took a bus back to the hotel, and we had a photo taken of us after the oath:
A bunch of the families went to the Thai restaurant for dinner, and said our good-byes at the restaurant. Then I found some cookies n cream ice cream and headed back to our room. A bunch of people are leaving very early in the morning tomorrow (bags outside their rooms at 5:00am). We are not leaving until 5:00 pm, so we have the day to pack and relax and do last-minute shopping, if we want. We said good-bye to a lot of people at dinner, and Jason decided to connect with some of the other fathers downstairs in the cigar room, which is where he is right now.
It's a little crazy to think this group of 13 families came together as strangers, a mere 15 days ago-- at first it seemed like a tour group. But as the days creeped on, we came to know each other as friends, as fellow journeypeople, and most importantly as parents. I have really come to respect many of the people on this trip, and I can't really imagine having had this experience with anyone else. I feel like we really came together for a common purpose, worked together to make sure we all achieved our goal. We really worked as a team. . . There was: Paul and Jackie who are so amazing with their son Nathan and now their daughter Abigail (the kind of parents I hope we will be to our children); easy-going Larry and Kyndra with their animated Cassidy; always-smiling Jill and David who lost the same piece of luggage twice on this trip, filled with Alexandra's clothes; and performers Brad and Joia who miss their children Jack and Cademon at home while they are here with Ava as much as we miss Casey; quiet Lauren and Elizabeth who know their way around pearls and are bringing home beautiful Catherine-- a mere two pounds lighter than Casey; Dana with her friendly band of extended family to help her through the journey to bring her daughter Juliana home to her husband and two boys; and Lisa and Nathan who knew they wanted to adopt from China since forever ago and finally achieved their dream as they celebrated their tenth anniversary-- their daughter Noel sure is one lucky little girl. There was also Annette, who knew she wanted to adopt a girl from China and caught CCAI at the right time, lucky for her daughter Emma! There was: Jeff and Sarae with five-year-old Marissa, welcoming Josceline into their warm Nebraska home; Vicki and Robert who have rearranged the next six months of their lives so they can both be home to spoil little Katelyn; Joe and Margrit whose three grown sons are about to begin spoiling Jane, the newest member of their family; Laura and Brian whose six-year-old Stephanie just became a big sister to Hannah; and ever-calm Natalie whose daughter Naomi gave her a rough start but has come around for her Mama in the days since her placement. There were also many travel companions who helped out in large in small ways-- like Gene, the ever-present second-set of hands who accompanied Jason on his weird food-testing excursions; Howard, who protected us from beggars outside of markets and helped us feel safe around town; Lois, a friendly face and warm smile; Kairen who knew how to shop; and all the other extended family members our group brought along to help wrangle siblings, run out to buy diapers, and to share in the adventures of Beijing, Chongqing, and Guangzhou.
Now that this trip is almost over, I can hardly believe it's all been real. I keep thinking I need to pinch myself to make sure Marcie is really ours, we really did climb the Great Wall, that really was a Starbucks in Chongqing, and I really did visit the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou-- twice. But I know it's all real-- I've got the blog to prove it! So thank you to all of you who e-mailed me, posted comments, and sent your good wishes and prayers from halfway around the world. There is comfort in knowing we're not alone over here in China, that their are people tracking our whereabouts, and awaiting our arrival to great Marcie with oodles of love. Just as I can't imagine the experience with another group of travelers, I can't imagine it without all of your thoughtful comments and support along the way. When we set out to adopt Marcie in November of 2004, I never dreamed it would take so long, that we would run into as many glitches as we have, or that we we would feel so amazingly rewarded by our beautiful baby girl . . .
I don't know that I will be online tomorrow-- and if I'm not, it will probably be in the middle of the night Friday to Saturday that I will post (I imagine I won't be sleeping if only because on Marcie's body clock, it will be the middle of the day). We have quite a klan of people greeting us at the airport (well, not just us-- Mom, too). So, just to make sure you recognize us, here are a few more snapshots of Marcie: