We hope all of you are doing well. We are looking forward to seeing you when we return.
This morning, our guide went down to the US Consulate to turn in all of our paperwork. Every family in our group had to stay in their room from 9:30 - 10:30, so if there were any problems with our paperwork, we could be contacted and go down to the consulate. Thankfully, everything was fine. We then met at the White Swan Hotel where we all took a group picture, which is a tradition with adoptive families. The White Swan Hotel is a beautiful 5-star hotel that houses many adoptive families while the US Consulate is processing their visas.
Ruthie with John Blake & Wylie, both newly adopted. The other little boy, Zachary, did not want to pose for the photo.
This is our travel group, (sorry for the fuzzy photo).
Afterwards, we all went out to lunch together with our travel group. We had a really great time together. I did a little shopping later and found a little art gallery/shop, which had some very nice items (not the typical souvenier stuff sold at most of the other shops). It turns out the the shop is a charity shop that donates a portion of their proceeds. I asked them what their charity and they told me that it was the Chenzhou Orphanage in Hunan. Well guess what? That is Ruthie's orphanage. There is a large certificate from the orphanage thanking them for their regular donations. I found some unique items that were very nice and affordable.
Later, we spent part of our afternoon, beginning to pack up for our trip home. We needed to check whether or not we needed to buy another suitcase for our souveniers/gifts. But, it turns out we didn't need too.
Traditionally, travel groups meet for one group dinner at a local Thai restaurant on the island. Well, our group opted to have a little Christmas party. We volunteered our room, since we have a mini-suite. We ordered Papa Johns's pizza and the parents were all in the living room & the kids were in the bedroom. The kids watched "Rudolph" & "Frosty the Snowman" on our DVD player that was hooked up to the television in the bedroom. Everyone had a wonderful time and it was so fun to see all of our kids having so much fun together. The photo below, was taken just before the kids got up and really started to have fun :)
Ruthie had a great time with her friend Katy and the other kids. She is already acting like a caring big sister. The kids were all playing with Gracie's new ball, which was hard for Gracie. So, Ruthie got the ball for her. She also loves wrestling with Kai. Ruthie also had fun holding the new baby of one of the family's. She will be great with her new little cousin, Finley.
My "Chinism" for today is in regards to elementary school. There is an elementary school right across from our hotel window. We can see the children in their classes; they are so cute in their royal blue pants, white shirts & red scarves around their necks. School is compulsory for all Chinese children, but parents have to pay out of pocket for it. The government pays for a little of it, but the rest is very expensive according to our guide. Anyhow, school begins at 8:00 in the morning, the kids are let out for a 2 - 3 hour lunch break, where they go home. Then they come back and some of the classes go until 8:30 at night.
Tomorrow, we go to the US Consulate to take our oath and then will receive our visas. That is the last & final step. Yeah! We will then finish packing up and will leave our hotel at 9 am on Thursday morning, (6 pm Wednesday evening AZ time). We are so looking forward to coming back home.
Well, Ruthie just fell asleep on my side of the bed, next to Todd. It is so wonderful to see how well she is bonding with us. We told her that we will be leaving for the US in 2 days. It is important to us to build her trust in us, so as much as possible, we want to let her know what will be happening ahead of time so that she can prepare herself. When we told her we were leaving in two days, she jumped up and said "Yeah". However, there is no way for her to know the total reality of how much her life will be changing. When I think that it took only about 9 days for me to get a little homesick for the US, knowing that I will be going back. But, I can only imagine after the "newness" of her new home in the US wears off, that Ruthie will get homesick for China and more familiar surroundings. Her journey is just beginning. We are only coming to the close of "Chapter 1".
Thank you again for taking time to read our blog and your emails of support.
I will be "talking" to you for only one more time from China - tomorrow.