Today was a happy day. It was also hectic and heart-wrenching. Today was the day we would finalize Min Jing's adoption. We had to get up early, as we needed to meet Missy in the lobby at 8:30 to head to the Civil Affairs office - one of three different offices, in three different parts of town - we would visit today. We were up at 6am and headed down to breakfast at 7. We ate in the room last night, so this was our first meal out as a family of 4. Min Jing ate well, preferring mostly Chinese fare as expected, but she did really enjoy a fried egg, too. We learned that she will take off running if she sees something she wants, and we had to chase her down several times this morning, and throughout the day. We went back to the room to get our things, and then we were off.
The first stop was the Civil Affairs office where we finalized Min Jing's adoption. we signed some papers, paid some money, and marked some documents with fingerprints. The ladies from the orphanage were there to present their documents, and Min Jing was happy to see them again. Before we left we were presented with her official adoption document, as well as other important papers we'll need in Guangzhou next week to process her visa. These were the documents we have been working toward for almost 6 months now. We were told by the nice lady working there, who had been at Min Jing's orphanage just last week, that they had our family picture hanging on the wall there, and Min Jing would make a point of telling everyone she saw that we were her mama, baba, and gege. More proof that they had done a great job of prepping her for our arrival.
We then left and headed out into heavy traffic for the local police station to process her Chinese passport. Were were quickly directed to a small, crowded hallway that led to a room where Min Jing would get her passport photo taken. We got that accomplished and were hastily rushed upstairs to another waiting room. Missy went off to get things started and then came back and rushed us to an officer. More signatures were made and fees paid and we were off to the Notary office across town. There we met up once again with the orphanage staff. We signed all the forms and paid the last official fee of this adoption. We were now officially Min Jing's parents! We took a group photo with these wonderful ladies and then we headed downstairs to say our goodbyes. A lot of tears were shed in these last few minutes together. Min Jing told the director that she didn't want them to go. She told Min Jing that everything would be alright, and that she should come back and see them when she grows up. She was then overcome with emotion and had to step aside to compose herself. The second lady, who we believe was Min Jing's primary caretaker was also visibly upset. They had raised her from about 19 days old until today, and they were saying goodbye for the last time. For us, this brought into sharp focus exactly what Min Jing would be leaving behind. No child deserves to live in an institution, but she was loved there, of that we are certain. We will forever be indebted to the people there for showing her love, and taking such wonderful care of her. They watched us drive away until we were out of sight.
On the drive back to the hotel, Min Jing was quiet. Missy would ask her if she was hungry, sleepy, or wanted anything at all, and she just shook her head slowly, with tears welling up in her eyes. She stayed like that all the way back. As excited as she seems to have been at our arrival, I think maybe she just figured out what having a mama, baba, and gege really means - leaving everyone else behind. As our door opens, the door to her past closes. We held her, rubbed her back and tried our best to console her, but it is her right to mourn, and we will let her.
When we got back to the hotel it was time to find something to eat. We first tried to go to a wonton restaurant that Missy recommended, but we got there and the place was packed. We instead headed to KFC. You read that right, KFC. There seems to be one on every corner, and according to Missy, they are more popular than McDonalds in China. But this isn't you father's KFC. You would hardly recognize the menu. They did have chicken poppers, which the kids enjoyed, but I ordered pork curry and vegetables over rice, and Leslie had red bean turnovers. I think I'll try asking for that when we're back in Lexington! Normally we don't eat much fast food, especially when travelling, but it was close, everyone was starving, and we kind of wanted to check out the difference. It was fun, and as she was eating, Min Jing started to perk up a bit.
We came back to the Hotel for a little break. Leslie tried to get Min Jing to take a nap, unsuccessfully, while Manu and I played a round of Pokemon cards. After a bit we headed out to Quancheng Square, just across the street. It was much less crowded today as it was on Saturday when we first passed by. We stopped first at a large metalic lotus fountain with dancing water jets that perform to music at regular intervals. the kids loved watching the sprayers move back and forth in an artistic fashion. We also admired dozens of beautiful, elaborate kites that were being flown throughout the square. This is a serious pastime in China, and kites are everywhere. We walked up a large, blue statue in the center of the square that is the symbol for the city of Jinan. We walked around a little more, and chased down Min Jing when she would take of running after something.
On the way back, we let them look at a toy/kite stand that was near the entrance to the square. As they were looking, a middle-aged woman comes up to Min Jing and asks her if she knows us. Min Jing identified us as mama, baba, and gege, and the woman looked at us with a bit of wonder, shrugged her shoulders and walked away. I feel certain she was looking out for Min Jing's well being; there is a strong sense of community and family here, and we were obvious strangers to these parts hanging around a little Chinese girl. I'm not upset that the woman would question our relationship with her, but it does serve as a reminder of how much we stand out everywhere we go. It has been that way for us for years now, but it's different when you are in the minority, and it is but a small taste for us of what life must be like for immigrants everywhere and probably for our kids, too.
We ended the day by ordering room service and eating in. Everyone is in bed now, and I'm about to join them. Thanks for following.
|Min Jing officially consenting to being adopted.|
|Manu, Min Jing, and her caretaker.|
|Group photo at the Notary office.|
|The kids in front of the lotus fountain.|
|Brother and sister bonding.|