I know, promises, promises...we have failed to post the past two nights. We're sorry. It has been so nice here in Guangzhou, we end up taking walks around the little island after dinner and last night we went on a river cruise on the beautiful dragon boat. So by the time we make it back to the room, we are wiped out. Anyway, here's a little recap of the past few days:
We opted out of the tour to the Banyan Temple on Monday morning. Instead we visited the White Swan Play Room - its a big room here at the hotel that Mattel has outfitted with a ton of toys and games and even a flat screen with DVD player (that we couldn't get any sound out of unfortunately, though Ralph tried and tried). It is a nice little gathering place for families and an enclosed space for the kids to run around and get rid of some energy. The afternoon was the oath taking ceremony. It really is not much of a ceremony, but it is a celebration nonetheless, as it means we are done and we can go home. It means Joshua has his visa and he is ready to be an American citizen. We took a bus ride to the consulate and gathered in a big room to await the ceremony. They had to check our passports and Joshua's to make sure that we all matched the faces they were looking at in the little books. After about 45 minutes, a very nice gentleman came out and talked about how much he enjoys the adoption oath taking ceremonies - he has two Chinese daughters that were adopted as well and so it really is something near and dear to his heart. Then, he had us stand, raise our right hands and swear that all of the information that we provided on Joshua was correct to our knowledge. Once we said, "I do", he said congratulations and we were done. It is quite comical really, as one would expect a little more pomp and circumstance, but it is over in about 10 seconds. As with Makena, though, I found myself emotional once again at this little ceremony. Once we hear the congratulations, it is as if all of the time waiting, praying, hoping, etc., all comes to a magnificent end.
The river cruise last night was beautiful. It was a warm night, the boat was beautiful and the lights along the water were amazing. The Holt staff ordered us Papa John's pizza to eat on the boat and we were served hot tea. Makena had a great time playing with the older girls that are in our group. It was a very peaceful evening.
Today was a busy day. We visited the largest Safari Park (or zoo) in China. It was very crowded because people here are on holiday. We first went on a train ride that took us through animals that are roaming out in the open. The train went pretty fast and didn't stop, so we are hoping most of the pictures came out. We saw yaks, deer, bear, giraffes (one ended up running right along side of our train), hippos (which Makena had really wanted to see), elephants, zebras and more. After the train ride, we walked through the rest of the zoo. It was really cool to see the panda bears. We've seen panda bears before, but for some reason, to see them in China was different - its their home turf. Makena crashed after seeing the panda bears and we had forgotten to bring the stroller, so it was a bit of a tough walk to the bus, each of us holding a kid and a heavy backpack......we've really got to learn to plan better. Joshua just kind of took it all in. He likes being on the move and whenever we get ready to go anywhere, he will bring us his shoes and sit down for us to put them on. So he was a happy camper throughout the whole zoo experience.
When we got back to the hotel, I took the kids to the play room while Ralph went to the exit meeting - where they give us all of our departure information and some of Joshua's documents. We thought we would give the pool another try, so when Ralph got back, we got the kids in their suits and headed out. The pool here is great and there is beautiful landscaping all around. We were a little nervous how Joshua would do. Makena, of course, jumped right in and was swimming around like a little fish. Joshua cried at first, then he loved it! There is a little wading pool and when he stood up, the water came up to about mid-chest and he was fine with that. He was splashing around and wanted us to let go of him so he could walk around by himself.
Well, the battery is dying on the computer and Ralph already packed the power cords, so got to go. We'll see you all very soon! We'll post more at home!