The Consulate

posted Aug 25, 2010, 6:10 AM by Charles Boling

Wednesday 2010-08-25

Today turned out a bit differently than we had originally planned. Jonathan slept in until 8:30 (nice, since we didn't get to bed until late last night). We had a leisurely morning and wandered out to take a walk before our scheduled phone call with our interpreter (she was going to call us to go over paper work) at 11:00. We got outside and ran into Judy (the bubbly shop owner) again. Her mother and niece were there and so we ended up standing and talking for over half an hour. Her niece is 16 months old and she and Jonathan played a bit (with tennis balls and Chinese hacky-sacks). Michele even tried kicking a hacky-sack and was thankful that unlike the chopsticks on the airplane,, Charles didn't try to take a picture of it :-/. So, after only walking half a block it was time to turn around and head back to the hotel.

Instead of going up to the room where Jonathan could tear stuff apart while we talked on the phone, we went to the playroom in the hotel. Helen had our phone number so she could call us there. When we got there we found another family, similar to us, there already. They had a little girl – taller than, but about the same age as Jonathan. In talking with the family, we found we had a lot more in common than just adopting from China. They were from St. George UT, and were LDS too. They had four children at home, and like us, this was their first adoption. We talked for quite awhile and let the kids played. While we were there we got a phone call from Helen – but not the one we expected. She was letting us know that our consulate appointment for late tomorrow had been moved to 2:15 today! Another family came in about the same time the first one left – this was a Chinese family with two boys (quite a rarity actually), about six years old and 18 months or so. Jonathan got tired of the play area shortly after that, so we left and went down to 7-11 to grab some food (breakfast had been snacks in the hotel room).

After that we came back to the room to eat and get Jonathan settled down for a nap. While we were there Charles looked into seeing about coming home early (since we don't think we have any purpose in being here after our consulate appointment this afternoon). But there weren't any flights home open until Saturday. (And, it turns out, Jonathan's exit visa still won't be ready until Friday afternoon.)  Oh well – nice thought!

The LDS family in the play area agreed with us – they were ready to be DONE with this and just get home! We just want to get a normal routine established again.

Michele has been reading on this trip, what she considers to be the best parenting book she's ever read (and she's read many, many, many parenting books). A good friend loaned it to her and she's spent every free minute reading it. If anyone ever wants a book that answers how to get kids to listen, be nice to each other, obey their parents etc... this is the book: “Hold On to Your Kids” by Gordon Neufled, PhD. It's just an amazing book – it doesn't give any great parenting “technique” to put a band-aid over behaviors like most other books do. It gives the way to hit at the root of virtually ALL misbehaviors. Some books and parenting styles dance around the concepts presented here, but none articulates them so well. It validates some things we've personally done as parents that have always been considered “weird”, and chastises us in others (which chastisement has been taken to heart, and we'll be seeing some changes when we get home). Michele has been using it with Jonathan and can see the difference. If anyone out there wants more info, just email Michele – she'll be happy to share.  Editor's note: Hey, we don't have any ads on this site; shouldn't we at least try to get paid for the book promos? ;-)

Once Jonathan was asleep and we were satisfied that there was nothing we could do towards a speedier homecoming, Michele worked on the computer and Charles went out to grab what he considered a “real” lunch at “Lucy's Restaurant” a few blocks away.

Michele had to wake Jonathan up when it was time to go. Charles got back just at the right time and we all headed over to the other adoption-family hotel: the White Swan. It was quite the elegant hotel, but with rooms twice the price, we had gone with the Victory hotel. Anyway, we got there and found the family from D.C. that's in our “group” there, plus lots of other adopting families. We met with our guide, she briefed us on what we were about to do (much bigger trip than we had thought before) and then the entire group of families went outside. Down a ramp we found a parking lot of buses and smaller shuttles. We loaded up and filled almost two large touring buses. These were just the families from our little island. There were more to come...

We rode on this bus (very nice one actually) for over half an hour. It took us to the US consulate office where we met the rest of the adopting families for that week (this is what happens every week there). We were herded up to the fifth floor via escalators, much to Jonathan's sheer delight. He LOVES escalators – we've encountered them several times in malls this trip, but never this many at once.

On the fourth floor they stopped us and had us show them our passports. At the fifth floor we had to go through security – very similar to that of the airport. Except they let us take fluids, but confiscated ALL electronics (phone, extra battery, camera). We were bummed because later there were many things we would have liked to have taken pictures of up there. We went through a hallway and into a room FILLED with adopting parents from the US with their Chinese children. Ranging in age from 6 months old to almost 14 years. One couple even had twin girls! One family was there for the FOURTH time adopting. There were probably 70 families at least there. Luckily, they had a little corner set aside with toys for the kids to play with. The rest of the room was just chairs. The called each child's name and each set of parents came up, were given copies of their passports with official stamps on them and more paperwork, then asked to go sit back down. It would have been boring – we were in there almost an hour – but between Jonathan's antics and the chance to talk to lots of other families from all over the US it went by pretty quickly. Then a lady (Chinese, with only a faint accent) told us about our group, about how the process worked and then did the swearing in (we had to hold our right hand up, and in some detail, swear that everything we had told was the truth to the best of our knowledge).

She then said, if any of you are making connecting flights home, you might need a visa. If you didn't have one, come up and ask to be sure. At this point, Charles was sitting with the bags in the middle of the room. Michele was in the back by the toys with Jonathan. Charles got up and left with the group, assuming Michele would too. Charles assumed that Taiwan was close enough to China, relations-wise (like Hong Kong) that the visa thing wouldn't be a problem. He assured Michele of that fact several times. But she wasn't too sure, and thought it wise to ask just in case. So after the group left, she went up and found another father asking the exact same question. To their surprise and frustration, this lady couldn't answer, neither could the people behind the counter. They had to go and make a phone call (which took a long time). Then they said that they didn't believe that the Taiwanese government would honor a Chinese passport (Jonathan's) without a visa – even if all he was doing was sitting on a plane in the airport!

About that time Charles wandered back in looking for Michele and too was dismayed to find out this large glitch in our plans. All they could tell us was to talk to our travel agent... But we don't have a travel agent! So they suggested the one there in the consulate office. So both of us went there. But we were afraid of missing our bus, so Michele and Jonathan ran down to the buses to tell Helen what was going on. She was surprised – she had never run into this problem before. Apparently, you can fly through Korea and Japan just fine without a special VISA as long as you don't leave the airport. Hong Kong too – just not Taiwan.

We waited a little while and finally Charles made it out and we got on the bus to go. He said that they said flying from Hong Kong to Taiwan was fine. As was taking a train from China to Hong Kong. So, that is an option we are looking into if we can possibly change our flight.

The other possibility is to try to get the necessary visa (and actually it's not called a visa, since China considers Taiwan to be part of the same country, but technically that's what it is). But it's really hard to do because there is no Chinese consulate in Taiwan. No Taiwanese consulate in China and no American consulate in Taiwan. So, Charles emailed a few of our American contacts through the adoption agency to see what they knew or could possibly do. We have two days left – Thursday and Friday before our trans-pacific flight. Cross your fingers!

Our ride home was slower than coming because traffic was awful. We sat with out moving at all on the freeway for 20 minutes. When we finally got back we walked back to our hotel, dropped off some stuff and went down to Subway a couple of blocks away (we just saw it for the first time this afternoon).

Charles came back to the room to do some research on our problem while Michele walked around the island (about 5½ km) to try and entertain Jonathan until bedtime (and give Charles some quiet time to think). When they came back Michele got Jonathan ready for bed and had him in bed a little before 8:00. It took him about 20 minutes to finally fall asleep (and stop complaining about being put to bed :-)). Hopefully while we are sleeping over here, people will be doing some research state-side and we can figure this problem out tomorrow.

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