Sunday, August 19, 2007

A moment of peace, part I

It's quiet -- Elaina fell asleep after crying for quite a while.

We joined the other anxious families in the lobby, piled onto the bus, and headed for the Civil Affairs Ministry. It's about a 45 minute drive, so we had time to look at Wuhan. It's very different than Beijing. First, we haven't seen any other Westerners here. Beijing had many. Second, there's much less construction. Third, it seems more orderly somehow -- not the riot of new and old, or of wildly different architectural styles.

We crossed the Yangtse over a bridge built in 1957, when, as our guide helpfully explained, China still had good relations with the USSR. The Sovs gave building advice and technical support. This did not exactly inspire confidence, given what I've heard of the quality of Sov public works projects, but we're hardly ones to throw the first stone on bridge maintenance this month, are we?

We reached the ministry and piled out, flash cameras clicking and videos whirring. Here's Katrina approaching the ministry:

We climbed the spiral staircase to the second floor of the modest institutional building and packed into a space that resembled a small classroom to wait. We could hear babies crying nearby. The cameras were at the ready:

A ministry official brought forms for us to sign -- not the final adoption forms, but a contract allowing us to take the babies home overnight to bond with them. Of course, the contracts were in Chinese. There were some good-natured calls for me to negotiate the contracts on behalf of the group. Maybe next time:

Up next, the moment of truth.

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