At 0700 we rolled from bed and began again our newly adapted daily pattern. Eyes are a little puffy today, this is our souvenir from a night of multiple wakings. This is no annoyance though, because these days are all for Sterling… 100% pure Sterling.
A hot shower and a cup of coffee has a way of making a day fresh. I took our thermos to the hot portion of the breakfast bar and filled it halfway with porridge. This is another day on the road in Guangzhou, and warm porridge is a great belly-filler for a toddler. We also stashed some small bread loaves and a few pieces of fruit.
We loaded into the van along with two other couples, our guide, and our driver. Our required documents for the day were: my passport, Kel's passport, Sterling's passport, the medical examination form for Sterling from the orphanage, and RMB550 (about $85). Today we would need to accomplish two undertakings in order to stay on course to catch that Wednesday 0815 flight to Beijing: complete a successful medical examination, and begin the application process for Sterling's visa, which includes the visa photo.
The medical exam was treated as a formality, but the unspoken truth was that we had to have permission from the examining doctors to apply for the visa and bring her to America. The findings of today would then be sealed and could only be opened by the American Immigration folks when we land in Chicago. We had questions to answer, a baby to be prodded and examined, and conditions to be met.
Sterling was born premature and abandoned, and has a scar from the process on the side of her head. It reminds us of how amazing this child is, to have come through such impossible odds. We are amazed at how she can have such an incredible smile and enjoyment of life. It sounds like a reach, but I tell you… this is a life that has endured pain and darkness, has fought through it, and now is thankful to embrace her days.
We were able to have her examined by three doctors, and they all agreed that she was fit for immigration to the States. Two of them closely examined the mark on her head, took careful measurements, made notations, and then agreed that all was well.
This was a moment of relief for us. Sometimes you just don't know what the next moment might bring. Each step of this process must happen precisely in order for the adoption process to happen as we hope… and each step is meticulous, with no room for even the slightest clerical error. A single misspoken word or incorrect answer can have dramatic effect. And so, with documents signed, sealed, and in hand… we again exhaled and smiled.
Grandmas and friends, good news… we have measurements! Sterling is 19.8 pounds and 30.7 inches tall. We have found that she fits into size 12M perfectly right now. So, if you have a hankering to buy her something… let the clothes purchasing commence! I know some of you have already (I heard about Mammaw Ruth) and we are excited to see what you've bought her!
The visa pic was a little tricky, requiring multiple attempts because Sterling was more interested in the activity in the room and hallway than she was at looking at camera, but finally the picture was secured, placed with the necessary documents, and the day was accomplished.
The scale and rate of construction of this country is breathtaking. An entire highway system that covers the city and is 3 layers deep was completed in under a year. As we stood in the heart of countless skyscrapers, an Olympic stadium, and countless architectural wonders, we learned that a mere 10 years ago it was all unbroken, open fields. For anyone who wants to see it, Google: Flower City Square.
So, for tomorrow we will have documents to complete in preparation for Monday's visit to the American Consulate which will be our final step to completing Sterling's Passport with Visa that will allow us to leave China with her and then enter the United States. We plan to have those precious documents in hand at 4:15 Tuesday evening, and then we will be ready for Flight CA1330 leaving Guangzhou.
For now, we are enjoying a few hours of rest at our hotel, and taking turns with Sterling and visiting the health club for some exercise that seems to balance the mind. Our biggest choice for the rest of the day will be: what's for dinner?
We look forward to uniting again with our family and friends, and in the meantime… we are thankful for these days and we are taking care to savor each moment. This is an amazing time. I am so happy to be able to share it with you. I could talk to you for hours about the beauty we see, the desperation we encounter, and how we walk this fine line between both.
May the mercy of God fall on us all.