Monday, July 28, 2008

Waiting for a Visa

Friday afternoon was an afternoon at the American consulate in Guangzhou. The consulate used to be on Shamian Island, which is how all adopting families started staying there. Most families stayed at the White Swan and we walked to the consulate which was a few blocks away.

The old consulate is where we went for Jenna's adoption. If I remember correctly, we all went to the consulate and turned in our paperwork personally at a glass window with an officer behind the glass. We then waited in small, semi air conditioned room for everyone else to finish. Then we took an oath. We were in the back of the room and we couldn't hear what the officer was saying. I do remember raising my hand and saying "I do" or "yes" or something to the affirmative but who knows what I oathed to. The next day we received our visa from our guide and left Guangzhou that evening.

Apparently, things are different now.

Our consulate appointments were on Thursday morning but we didn't have to go. Grace, our guide, took all of our paperwork and we were sequestered in our rooms until we heard from her. We had to be there in case there were any questions but she said she would call us and tell us when she was done.

With Jenna's adoption I never questioned the visa process. It was assumed all would go through ok. But then I adopted from Vietnam. I have promised to tell my Vietnam adoption story, and I will soon. I decided that voicing my opinions about the Vietnam process might be something better done when I was finished with my China adoption. But while I was in Vietnam many people were denied visas, including one of my travel mates. So a visa for Ryan was not an assumption for me. I didn't expect any trouble or problems, but nevertheless, I wasn't assuming anything.

Grace called me Thursday morning about an hour into our time that we needed to stay in our rooms and told me "Good news! You were approved." This took me by surprise, not that I was approved, but that there might be any question about it. Even though I didn't assume anything, I still figured it wouldn't be a problem. I don't remember be congratulated that we got a visa with Jenna, but then there are lots of things I don't remember with Jenna's adoption.

So on Friday afternoon 3 CCAI travel groups hopped on 2 buses to drive to the consulate to get our visas. We went up several flights of escalators and entered into a large, nicely air conditioned waiting room. We then took copies of our passport photo page attached to a copy of our child's passport photo page where the officer looked at all of us to see if we resembled our photos. Then we waited again for everyone to finish. It was then time for "the oath."

I was very curious what the oath was. I know its surprising that I promised something 4 years ago without knowing what I was promising but I had my baby so I didn't care. But this time, especially after Vietnam which had no oath, I wondered what it was.

The officer came out with a microphone and asked us all to raise our right hands. This was it-- "the oath"-- what was she going to say?

"Do you promise that everything you have stated was true to the best of you knowledge?"



That was it. It was a little late to be saying you were untruthful. I wonder if they ever had anyone raise their hand and say " Well, now that you mention it..." I mean really, what's the point of the oath? I think we signed on our mountains of paperwork that we were being truthful.

In any case, next we received our children's Chinese passports with their coveted visas along with "The Brown Envelope." The Brown Envelope is what you hand to the immigration officials when you go through immigration upon returning to the US.

I have to admit that once that passport and visa were in my hands I breathed a sigh of relief. And then I really, really, REALLY wanted to go home. Right then. But that wasn't possible. We had to wait until Saturday morning to leave.

That's when the adventure began.


Kristin said...

Glad to hear you are home----I hope! Looking forward to the rest of the story (I think!).

Hope you are all doing well and quickly adjusting. What does Ryan think of his big brothers???

Anonymous said...

welcome back!!!
Adoppt G&R July 31, 2007
Emily and Kaitlyn