An excerpt from the book Grace
from China by Jacqueline A. Kolosov, published by Yeong & Yeong.
Shamian Island, where our hotel stood right by the U.S. Consulate, was
once a sandbar in the middle of the Pearl River. When Europeans first
came to China, they developed the island into a trading outpost. British
and French colonial buildings are still there, but now they're used as
schools, offices, and homes for local people.
These days American adoptive parents bring their Chinese daughters (and
some sons) to the consulate on Shamian Island for their U.S. visas. First,
though, the children get medical exams and photos. After marching around
from our hotel to a photo shop to the clinic, we headed to the consulate,
passing the Chinese guards outside and the U.S. guards inside the gate.
On the day we visited, more than thirty girls and their families were
waiting for visas.
"More than four hundred adopted Chinese children will travel to Shamian
Island with their new parents this month to get U.S. visas," Sam
explained as we settled into the waiting area. Some of the babies were
already crying. It was going to be a long day.
Four hundred adoptions a month to the United States alone. That's around
five thousand a year. How many more children were still waiting to be
adopted? How many would never have families again?
As we waited our turn, Xiao Ting's bright, curious eyes darted everywhere.
Perched in my mother's arms, she pointed to strangers and said, "Da!"
Most people managed a friendly smile in return.
Every family filled out a visa application. Here, Mom had to write down
everything we knew about Xiao Ting. She also needed to state that Xiao
Ting had no known family. Under eyes, she wrote, "brown"; under
complexion, "fair." I wanted to add "curious and lively"
to the miscellaneous column, but Mom said that wasn't a good idea. "Jess,"
she said, frowning, "comedy and immigration just don't mix."
I sat on the floor of the special waiting room for adoptive families and
played with Xiao Ting, trying to keep her occupied so she wouldn't get
fussy. After a few minutes, Mom gently touched my shoulder, and I turned
toward her. Mom's eyes were bright with tears. "I couldn't have done
this without you, you know that?"
I nodded, then gazed into my mother's eyes. "We're a family now.
You said so yourself."
Xiao Ting was smiling at me.
"You, Xiao Ting, and I are a family."
"We certainly are," Mom agreed, her eyes wet with tears.
"Don't cry," I whispered.
"But Jess, I want to. These are tears of joy."
Copyright Yeong & Yeong. 2004.
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