Tuesday most of our group had an appointment at the US consulate to get their child’s visa to the US. Since we didn’t receive travel approval until the week before we left for China, consulate appointments were full on Tuesday so ours was Wednesday morning.
We had a free day Tuesday so we took a taxi to Shamian Island to explore and do some shopping. Shamian Island used to be the home of the US Consulate and was a popular place for US families adopting from China. At some point in recent years the US Consulate moved to the downtown area in Guangzhou but Shamian Island still has a few neat shops and is a cute little island to explore.
We got a few traditional Chinese dresses for Emily and we found all of our names written in Chinese characters. I am really excited about Emily’s name. I had prayed over the name Emily for several years but when we first started the adoption process I wanted to see what our daughter’s Chinese name was before we settled on an American name. Emily and our daughter’s Chinese name (Zou Mei Hua) have absolutely nothing in common. Emily means hard-working or industrious. Mei Hua means beautiful flower. Zou is her last name. I’m not big into the meaning of names but I really wanted there to be some link. Ultimately we decided that after praying over the name Emily for so long we would stick with that and just use her Chinese first name as her middle name, Mei.
When I found Emily’s name in Chinese I discovered a link between Mei Hua and Emily. When writing English names in Chinese they use the sounds; every syllable in an English name will translate to a Chinese character – Ai mi li. Mi (or Mei) is the second syllable. So, her English name in Chinese characters means love, beautiful, pretty. I was so excited since Mei Hua means beautiful flower. Again, I’m not into meanings but I really wanted a connection between the two names and it was done unintentionally. It’s a small thing but one of the many ways I’ve seen God’s hand in this adoption.
Wednesday we had our appointment at the US consulate. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take cameras or phones in with us so there are no pictures. However, there wasn’t much to take pictures of. We walked up to a counter and handed the lady some paperwork that our agency had compiled for us. A little while later Greg stood in front of a window with 11 other parents and repeated an oath while I played in the play area with Emily. Then, we went to the counter again, they looked at the documents, Greg had his fingerprints scanned and we left. Tomorrow we will get Emily’s Chinese passport back with a US visa. Once we go through customs in Dallas she will be a US citizen!
The most interesting part of our visit to the US Consulate…the hundreds or maybe thousands of Chinese citizens standing in line, many of them outside in the ridiculous humidity, waiting for a chance to apply for a US visa. I really wish I could have captured it on a camera. As US citizens we were able to walk right in.
On another note, our daughter loves food. We knew this based on the reports we received from the orphanage but I just could not believe that she weighed the 28 pounds stated in the report. Oh, but she does! At the medical exam, out shopping, at the hotel, people comment on her size and how chubby her cheeks are. Everyone calls her beautiful. We certainly think so! But, most people can’t believe she was in an orphanage. Most people ask if she was in a foster family, which she was not. Oh how we love this little girl and appreciate how well she was cared for! One of the reports we received said she had white skin and the Holt adoption program director told us that the Chinese consider that beautiful. I didn’t really understand it but when we were in Nanjing we noticed a lot of people carrying umbrellas when it wasn’t raining and people driving motorized scooters with what looked like oversized oven mitts. I wish I would have captured a picture because it’s really kind of funny. Anyway, our guide told us that many people do this to protect their skin from the sun. They prefer light skin and consider lighter, or white, skin more beautiful. Crazy, considering all the money and time spent on tans in the US.