Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Day two with Elaina

Sorry, I waited about a day and a half since updating. On Tuesday morning Wuhan time we packed into the bus again to go back to the Wuhan Civil Affairs Ministry. Once again we all crowded into the small classroom-type space on the second floor of the ministry -- this time so that they could take pictures of each new family, and interview parents couple by couple as they completed paperwork. The combination of a return to the same traumatic, hot room, the sight of some of the orphanage directors they had seen before, and the nervous tension in the air set most of the babies crying. Elaina was quiet but unhappy.

We took a picture first, the ministry officials trying with little success to push Elaina's cascade of hair out of her face. Then we sat with the ministry official, our Holt guide translating, to answer questions and sign documents. They asked us why we wanted to adopt (because we love children and wanted to complete our family -- a standard answer, if perhaps in retrospect inpolitic in a country with an enforced one-child policy) and whether we had a criminal record. They wanted to know if we would educate Elaina. I said we'd do our best, that we had excellent primary and secondary schools in our neighborhood, and that we'd like for her to go to college, as long as it wasn't USC. Just kidding; China is a pluralistic society tolerant of all sort of human infirmities and would support us even if we sent her to SC.

Then we signed five documents, stamped them with our right index fingerprint in red ink over the signatures, and inked Elaina's right foot so she could stomp her assent on one copy. She liked it. And like that, she was ours, as far as China is concerned; we will re-adopt her in the states, though, so that we can get a certificate of citizenship.

Despite the heat, crowd, and the crying babies, the air was festive, and everyone was cheerful as they piled onto the bus. Pictures later.

Edit: Pictures:

Happy new parents, with Elaina hiding:

Elaina happy at the civil affairs office:

Signing the documents:

Elaina's foot gets inked:

Sweaty Baby, Sleepy Daddy:

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