Matthew’s Adoption Diary
Wednesday October 6, 2004
Matthew goes to the American Consulate to get sworn at… I mean in.
First of all, I cannot believe that you people would actually place any stock in anything that I tell you. Who in their right mind would possibly believe that Matthew would be issued his passport today considering that he is not even a U.S. citizen until he lands in the States? Why on earth would you be so stupid to take anything that I tell as gospel? Let me tell you something, if you do believe what you read on these pages, then that says a heck of a lot more about you than it does me. Everyone knows I’m an idiot. What’s your excuse?
(Editor’s note: Special thanks to the author’s wife, Dorothy, who pointed out his inveterate stupidity on the above mentioned passport issue the first thing as he woke up this morning. There is nothing like knowing that you might have misinformed the three people who are actually reading this tripe on an obscure point of order. We apologize if the author’s complete inability to grasp the intricacies of immigration law offended anyone as much as it did his wife.)
The early part of today was spent trying to kill time while the indomitable Linda worked feverishly behind the scenes presenting our documentation to the U.S. Consulate on our behalf. Quick note about the incomparable Linda, she is, well… incomparable. No one exhibits more good will and cheer on these trips than her. She is constantly smiling and no problem is too big or small for her to solve. So if you ever find yourself in China and happen to meet the unflappable Linda, tell her that you know Dorothy — and that you think I am a real dolt, amazed at my inability to follow even the simplest instruction — and she should be more than happy to show you around.
Eventually the imperturbable Linda called us at around noon to give us the all clear and free us from our hotel room prison. Unfortunately we did not receive the call before Aelex locked herself in the bathroom. It is not easy to talk a 2 ½ year old child who is screaming in terror through the intricacies of unlocking a door. Especially when her moron father, turns off all the lights in the room from the switch outside the door thinking he is turning them on. It’s gotta be hard to be my kid. Eventually Aelex managed to open the door herself in spite of myself and we didn’t even have to call the Guangzhou Fire Department.
We had some time to kill before our appointment at the Consulate at 3:30 (I know I said yesterday that it was at 5:00, again, what are you doing listening to me?) so we just walked around the island and had lunch before meeting up with everyone later in the day. Once the whole gang was assembled, we walked the short distance from the hotel over to the Consulate and passed through the airport-security-lite checkpoint. We were all corralled into a large room with a bunch of other families from other agencies and sat around until it was time to begin.
Trying to entertain one child in an austere room devoid of all embellishment, without being able to bring in anything through the checkpoint to entertain them (thank you terrorists!) is hard enough, I hope to never had to try it again with two. Thankfully, I managed to smuggle some illicit Cheerios through security which managed to take the edge off somewhat. At one point, I was offered $30,000 for the bag by a family from Texas with their own screaming child. I didn’t even have to think twice before saying no.
Gratefully, the whole thing eventually got started, and the process consists of the following:
- wait on a line with the rest of the other families to get up to a teller window
- once at said window, had the woman behind the glass some papers
- wait until she tells you O.K.
- go sit down and wait for everyone else to do the same thing
- eventually everyone is back in the big room and you wait for a consular official to come in
- the consular official come in and addresses the crowd making bad jokes
- fake laughter
- stand to take 30 second oath affirming that you haven’t lied in clever ploy to weed out unsuspecting — and very stupid — liars
I had to chuckle at all the first timers who dressed up in suits and haute-couture dresses for this farcical display. You could tell the repeat adopters by their tee-shirts and shorts. I will give you one guess as to which camp I was in. That’s right, the fancy dressers! It seems that while the American government does not believe in undue ceremony, my wife does. And she wields a lot more clout around these parts than does Uncle Sam.
After the dog and kiddie show, we were done with all of our official business here in China for all intent and purpose. The only thing left is to get back Matthew’s passport (the Chinese one for those of you at home keeping score) with his American Visa that will allow him to enter the U.S. This should happen sometime tomorrow. The rest of tomorrow is totally free for us so I am sure that the scant few dollars we have left to our name will be spent in some sort of quixotic attempt by my wife to fill the nonexistent space she imagines to be left in our luggage. So until tomorrow, when you will have the last words you will read from us in China on this trip.
Smuggling contraband snack foods through consular security…