This is a picture-less post. Sorry y’all. They barely let you inside the U.S. Consulates with underwear on due to security concerns (can’t blame ’em), so there was NO way I was getting a camera in.
I want to take a moment to record what the immigration process is like for an adopted child and why everyone needs to understand the privilege us Americans have been given in not only being allowed to bring these children into the States, but also to have a free pass to something other people can only dream of.
We pulled up to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou at 9:30am for a 10:30am appointment. It was already nearly 90 degrees outside when we stepped out of our nice air conditioned van and onto the sidewalk that was absolutely teeming with people. ResponsiBoy took one look at the queue outside that snaked multiple times along the hot sidewalk and said in a voice that conveyed horror “do we have to wait in that line?” He was already sweating through the nice collared shirt I had forced him to wear.
No son, THAT is our line.
He looked to his right at a line that read U.S. Citizens. The empty line.
“So, all these people…the ones in the other line…are waiting for…what?” He was so confused.
“Their chance to come to America.”
“And, they all have appointments for visas today?”
“No love, some of them will come back over and over and over again, for months, or even years at a time, just hoping they’ll get a turn to come over to see their family, get medical care, have a chance at a better education.”
“That’s so sad.”
Yeah, yeah it is.
We were immediately sent to the front of the line, up an empty stairs and to our own room for people using the Consulate just for adoption. When we entered the room, the noise of children laughing, crying, playing and the noise of their parents chatting surrounds us. It was nearly overwhelming. Not just babies, older kids, children with severe, visible special needs, all waiting for their new parents to take the oath of citizenship on their behalf.
This is where I always LOSE IT. Every single time, I lose it. They call us up to a window in a group. I estimate there were 15 families there, holding their children, and raising their right hands. As the Officer asks us to repeat after him, I can barely choke it out. Tears sting my eyes. All these kids, all these families, it all comes down to this one moment for us. This is months, sometimes YEARS worth of waiting, paperwork and a whole lot of praying to get to this point. For some kids, this is their only chance. Their only chance of ever getting medical care, an education, a family. As we take the oath, I look over to see a little girl with Down Syndrome with her hand in the air, mimicking what her new parents are doing. If ever there was one gesture that reflected hope, and promise, that would be it.
She has a chance now. My daughter has a chance now. My son before her. My other daughter before him. My Ghanaian children. They have all been given this amazing chance. A chance that I will never, ever take for granted. At the same time, all these children are about to lose everything they’ve ever known. They’ll lose their country. They’ll leave the beauty of their homeland behind.
My mind never wanders far from the people in that hot line outside. And as I exit, only 90 minutes after I have entered, with the promise of a visa in my daughter’s passport within just 24 short hours, I see that the line has barely moved. I see the same hot and tired faces, standing there, just waiting for their chance.
And, I nearly lose it all over again, right there on that crowded sidewalk, the one my daughter just walked in on as a Chinese citizen and left on as an American. One culture lost, one for which she will probably always grieve, but one that will, God willing, give her hope and a future has been gained. And all around us, so much hope.
–FullPlateMom, who is proud to be an American, and for today, is so proud of her government and all they do for these kids who really need them, but is so sad for her daughter and what she will now leave behind.