Today, I thought I would talk a little bit about the part of Guangzhou we are staying in. Guangzhou is a large Chinese city that used to be called Canton. We are staying in a section of Guangzhou, known as Shamian Island, which was a very important area in terms of the Chinese trading during the 18 & 19th centuries between the British & French. Both Great Britain & France built trading houses and grand residences here during that period. There are now, old colonial residences from that time that emanate a sense of former granduer - think of Pirate of the Caribbean with large, old trees with moss hanging down. The island is bordered by the Pearl River and a man-made moat.
It is popular for the local people to practice dancing, Tai Chi, badminton (it is huge here), and also for wedding photography. Today, I saw 3 brides with rented dresses with jeans and tennis shoes on underneath. There are beautiful hotels, small shops and a elementary school. There are also two 7-11 stores and a Coca-Cola store.
Our schedule today included a visit to the medical clinic for Ruthie's physical, which is required for her visa to the US. That was an experience in and of itself. The clinic run by China. The first thing you notice is that the doctors wear the old-fashioned band around their heads with the circular mirror in the front. The nurses wear the old-fashioned caps. The examination lights and the chairs are very old looking (like from the 50 & 60's). But, some of their equipment is very modern - for measuring height and weight, they have you stand on what looks like a scale. It reads the height & weight electronically without the nurse having to do anything other than have you stand on it. It gives the reading out loud.
Ruthie had a basic physical today at the clinic, along with the other kids in our group who are being adopted. The doctor spent a lot of time giving her vision tests. They used a variety of corrective lenses to help to improve her sight and had her retake the vision tests. I am looking forward to having her vision tested back home to see what kind of treatment she will need.
Once we finished at the clinic, we all went to the playground. You form a special bond with the families you travel with on an adoption trip. We have been blessed to be traveling with 3 great families. The adults had a great time talking while the kids played together on the playground. Ruthie has really enjoyed playing with Katy (the other 9-year old in our group). Katy gave her a traditional red thread bracelet and Ruthie just loved it.
Ruthie is doing very well in fitting in with our family. We are careful not to make too many demands right away because there is such a steep learning curve for someone who was raised in an orphanage and totally different culture from ours. We are gradually introducing social norms and rules to her, but realize that we need to be patient and do it gradually. She is watching us closely and learning so much.
She really likes playing with Kai and they have a lot of fun together. She is helpful with Gracie as well and they have some fun together as well. We spend time each day doing some homework. Below is Ruthie practicing her name.
*For those of you who know Gracie - she loves the wooden snake she bought last summer in Williams, AZ. She spends a lot of time just playing with it on hard surfaces. We brought it with us and it was so nice for her to have it while we are in such a different place. Well, Todd accidentally broke it 2 days ago. Gracie was very nice about it. I was going to have to try to get another one from the little store in Williams, BUT, while shopping this evening, I found another one in a shop here on Shamian Island. YEAH! Gracie was beside herself, she was so happy.
There are many other families who are adopting and it is fun getting to know some of them. We met a family from the US who are adopting a precious little 9-year old girl. She is from Kai's orphanage in Hangzhou. She is very small for her age, she looks about 7 years old. She has a severe heart condition and cannot walk far distances, so her new parents push her in a wheelchair. I found out after speaking to her father today that she may only have 2 years to live. They are hopeful with surgery, that she will be able to live, at the most, 10 more years. At that time, they are praying that there will be new cardiac procedures so that she can survive longer. I was so touched by this. This little girl is so friendly and so fragile. It is obvious that she has bonded so well with her new parents. Her new dad carries her on his shoulders all around and he is such a proud dad. Please include her and her family in your prayers.
Tomorrow, we are all going out to dinner at the local Thai restaurant with the rest of our group. The next day, we travel to the US Consulate to take our oath regarding our adoptive children. We then will be leaving on Thursday morning.
"Talk" to you all tomorrow.