May 18th

Our last full day in China. We’re all saying that we’re ready to go home.

The group headed to Shamian Island by bus at 9:30 AM, with the plan to have a little shopping time then head for the American Consulate for our appointment. We only had one and a half hours to shop! The storekeepers knew we were heading out tomorrow, and we could almost see them rubbing their palms together as they showed us baby clothes and souvenirs. Wayne and I had wanted silk robes, and we almost gave up on finding them, but we happened across a neat store that had silk robes, so we each got one for $10 apiece (wow!). We were wishing that we had bought more things back in Beijing when the street vendors were rather desperate, since the bags that used to be 4 for 10 yuan were now 40 yuan! We had worried about the weight of our luggage, so we hadn’t bought back then, thinking we’d find as good deals in Guangzhou, our last city. Heading home we can check in 70 lbs or so per person, and we have the additional traveler, who can also have checked luggage. No, Amanda is not considered a “carry-on” herself.

After doing some whirlwind purchasing, we met back at the bus. We were told to leave everything on the bus, including cameras and purses, and just take ourselves and our passports, as we walked to the American Consulate. Of course we took our daughters. The American Consulate was a rather plain building, and we had to go through two metal detectors, up some stairs, and into a waiting room. We had shown our passport initially, and then we received a copy of our baby’s passport photo. Then we walked to a window, showed our faces to a woman who made sure we had the right baby, then headed back to the waiting room. Soon an obviously American man came into the room, told us that Guangzhou processes all 7000 of the American adoptions from China. Then he had us all raise our right hand, he asked if we swear that the information we’ve submitted for this adoption is true. We said yes, and he said thanks, you’re free to go. In a way it should have been a photographic moment, since all our paperwork and process is now final, but we couldn’t bring cameras into the building, and it was rather anticlimactic anyway.

We got back on the bus and headed back to the hotel. Wayne and I went in search of lunch, and finally settled on Pizza Hut again. He got the pizza while I took Amanda back to the room and fed her lunch. She loves yogurt mixed with rice cereal. We feed her while she’s sitting in the stroller. She stands up the best she can and nearly dives into the yogurt.

At 3:30 the entire group met for a photo. There was no professional photographer planned, so Wayne stood up on a stair landing and aimed down at us. He was going to Photoshop himself in later, but Rosa took a couple group shots with Wayne’s camera so everyone would be included. Afterwards the families were taking photos of each other. At one point Amanda was getting hot and a little fussy, so I ended up sitting her on the very shiny clean floor. Someone else sat their baby next to Amanda, and soon we had a little gathering of 6 or 7 babies, with the parents squatted down shooting photos. One baby would cry, then another, then one would smile, then one would take the duck from Amanda, then one would try to steal cheerios from another. Through it all, Amanda sat solidly, occasionally starting a chant, raising her arms and waving at all her admiring public (little did she know they were watching the other children too). She didn’t seem to care whether Wayne and I were around. Sometimes she would look for us, but overall she was in her glory just sitting on the floor entertaining the troops. We wondered how long the festivities might last, until one baby launched herself backwards, clunking her head on the floor, ending the fun. She’s doing ok, but the fun was over. Amanda was happy to be back in our arms so she could wave and chant at the passersby in the lobby. Always the entertainer.

We needed a little more cash for the trip. Instead of changing $100 American, we decided to use a $50 traveler’s check. Wayne had cashed a traveler’s check a few days ago at this same hotel. We have the two-signature traveler’s checks so either of us can sign. After he waited in line, he came back upstairs and said they needed my signature as well as his. So I went downstairs, stood in line for 20 minutes. When I presented the traveler’s check, the cashier told me to sign it too. Then she took it somewhere and came back saying, “I’m sorry, we cannot accept this.” She couldn’t give me a good reason why, but said that the Bank of China down the street might be able to do it. Never mind. Luckily I had some old fashioned American cash with me, and I exchanged that.

Most of us ate dinner in the hotel. Wayne took a photo of his last meal, which turned out to be rather bland. He says he won’t miss the food here. We’re looking forward to iced drinks, ice cream, salads, fresh fruits, and our own soft beds. We won’t miss the hard, board-like beds.

By the way, what’s the difference between a Chinese bed and the floor? The floor has more room…. What’s the difference between a Chinese bed and a check? You can bounce a check.

We’re packing up tonight. We have to leave at 5:30 in the morning! Yuck! So we’ll sign off for now. We hope to write another entry in our diary on Friday or Saturday, as a final chapter once Amanda is home. Home… home… aah, what a sweet thought.

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