Today we went to a part of Guangzhou called Shamian Island. It has beautiful architecture and is a favorite spot for all the locals to come and practice their photography. Sunday also happens to be the day when many weddings are held on the island so we were able to see some happy new couples...at least 15 - 20 of them. Shamian Island, in the past, was the home to the embassies of many countries(including the US.) Because of that, in earlier years most adoptive families stayed on the island to have easy access to their appointments. Now it is still a popular destination for adoptive families because of some great gift shops, the beauty of the surroundings and the symbolism it holds for adoptions. We were able to pick up several souvenirs and gifts from A Gift from China. It is a non-profit gift shop that uses it's proceeds to help orphans in China. They also source their items ethically. Most of the items they sell come from programs they have helped develop for women in China to learn a trade. It was a great visit, and they even presented us with a gift after we made our purchases. Sweet ladies.
We found a restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, to eat at for lunch. Crazy I know! This was one of the ones where they speak only Chinese. Also crazy. Since they only spoke Chinese and we didn't, we stumbled through the meal. We kept waiting for someone to come and take our orders. Finally we flagged a server down and she pointed to an order form on our table. Obviously we were supposed to write down what we wanted from the menu...which was all in Chinese. Characters I can't write. We convinced them to write it down for us as we pointed to the pictures. The food was good although the table was noticeably napkinless. And we have messy little eaters with us. At a restaurant later in the week we were offered packs of napkins to purchase. So maybe that explains it? BYON or buy some.
As we were walking the island after lunch, we were drawing a lot of attention as usual. Dakota was stopped and asked if she would mind having her picture taken. So she obliged a group of girls with a mini-modeling session. So random. Then as we were trying to take some pictures of the boys, we started being inundated by a group of students asking us for autographs and pictures. I would love to know what makes us that interesting to them!
|Fun with bubbles!|
|Dakota looking grown|
|A Gift from China|
|Dakota's photographers ;)|
|What we didn't order for lunch|
|Jake and his lunchtime tea|
|Seriously, that smile though|
|Brant giving his autograph!|
|The required picture that all adoptive families do on Shamian Island|
|Brant's moment of fame|
Today was a "mama disappeared into the bedroom" day because sometimes you just need one of those. Downside = Netflix doesn't stream very well here. Upside = Brant bought me chocolate. Brant also took himself and the boys minus Jake for haircuts at a local barbershop. He said it was quite the experience. He and Gavin had the full works with the shampoo, warm towels, oils and everything. Milo was in desperate need of being relieved of his dear mullet and fabulous sideburns. He looks like quite the little man now!
Today was the day the boys officially became Maynards! We started the day at 7:30 so we could run by the medical office and pick up their medical reports that had to be included with our visa requests at the embassy. Then we walked over to the embassy and stood in line until it opened. We went through security where the guards made Brant drink from both of the boys' water cups to prove they weren't poison. No....really they did. Security is tight. We could not even take our cell phones in for pictures. We went through the formalities of the oath that our information was correct and the interview about our boys and it was done! Never again orphans. Ours forever. We are blessed beyond measure!
We celebrated with lunch at a hot pot restaurant. Think Chinese fondue. The meat part of fondue. It was one of the best meals we had thus far. Jake and Milo were in heaven over the food. Their favorites were the stir fried green beans and the fish balls. The fish balls were....different. But everything else was pretty amazing. I am going to miss the food. China has been good to us.
|About to become a Maynard!|
|Meet Milo Maynard and his shoes!|
|If you get stressed during the adoption process, help is nearby.|
|Our guide, Lily, getting us started. Because Chinese.|
|They have the BEST big brothers|
Today we pack to leave. We have mixed feelings. Of course we want to be back with our family and friends, but our time here has been so special. The boys are doing well. They are bonding. Jake especially is coming out of his shell. He is going to be hanging really well with the boys. He is a tough one and so full of life and personality and words. Lots of words. Milo is happy if he is held so I see a lot of baby wearing in my future. We leave our hotel at 9:00 am in the morning. That is your Wednesday night at 7:00 pm. Be praying for our safe travels and sanity as we endure over 26 hours of getting home! I'll try to post brief Facebook updates as we move from Guangzhou to Beijing to Detroit and then finally home Thursday evening if all goes well. Pray it goes well.
Thank you for your support. The financial blessings that came pouring in were so overwhelming and encouraging. Our hearts are moved. I know I haven't contacted you each individually. I want to. I am so grateful. Be patient with me as I find our new normal and know that I haven't forgotten what you did to help us get our boys. We love you and can't wait for you to meet them. They are precious and so much more than their orphan status or special need said they were. They are God's children that He has now entrusted to us. May we do His will raising them and may we show them His love so they may share it with others. God bless you all!! See you in Huntsville!