We’re in the hotel room getting ready for the day. Penelope is sleeping, fighting to stay asleep as much as she resists going to sleep.
I was unable to write last night due to exhaustion. The day started with breakfast downstairs. A steady stream back to the buffet to find items Penelope would eat while Jenn and I chipped away at our own breakfasts. Scrambled eggs and bread, watermelon, banana, and yogurt were favorites.
Next, all the families gathered in the foyer and headed back to the office where we received our children. Penelope was upset but calmed down soon enough. A brief ceremony by the local officials and a formal declaration that we were now officially the guardians of our babies took place. Jenn and I were both nearly moved to tears.
Our next stop was the local notary office. Climbing 6 flights of stairs, avoiding the odd placed 2″ metal obstacle on the 4th floor, led us to an office with a massive conference table where all the families sat and signed paperwork.
Back at the hotel we went back up to our room and ate lunch around our makeshift dining table, using saucers for plates.
After lunch it was back downstairs for the trip we were dreading; 2.5 hours one way to Zhumadian, Penelope’s birthplace. We were thankful to get an opportunity to see it, but concerned about having a small child who knew us for only a day on such a long trip. Our concerns were legitimate, but misplaced. On the way there Penelope slept soundly on our laps while Jenn and I kept an eye on the driver.
After an hour or so the combination of heat, sparse landscape, and no conversation was making the driver sleepy. He rubbed his eyes, rolled down his window, drank his tea. Nothing seemed to alleviate his exhaustion.
We made it to the city and immediately saw the aftermath of a traffic fatality. Two bodies lay covered in the street, a crowd gathered around waiting for the police. Not a moment later we passed an accident at an intersection. Traveling further we saw what seemed a never ending row of car dealerships. If I were one of those bike or moped riders I’d seriously consider going to the dealership. Those tiny transporters are a nuisance to the automobile drivers. Thank God guns are illegal here or you’d hear a shot fired every other second on the highways.
We arrived at the security office , having picked the orphanage director up moments earlier. As we went inside heads turned, eyes stared, people talked. The orphanage director asked Penelope to come to her, setting off a hysterical crying fit. We guess Penelope thought her time with us was up. Thankfully for all of us it wasn’t. They informed us her shirt was not dark enough for the passport photo. The found a jacket several sizes too big, with no zipper, and proceeded to put it on her, setting off another crying fit. She had her picture taken for her passport and we went back to our seats. My sympathy went out to the government officials as everyone in the building was at the desk talking at the same time trying to get their business done. You’d never see that in Atlanta.
A brief interview with the local police and a local translator concluded the proceedings. Vivian, our CCAI guide was able to get permission for us to use the bathroom. We also received the extra passport photos and a packet of precious photos from the orphanage we had never seen. Penelope appears to have been well cared for based on the pictures.
The trip back to the hotel was more exhausting. No A/C and the rising temperature left us all a hot sweaty mess. Jenn and I struggled to keep Penelope awake while trying to keep ourselves awake.
Arriving back at the hotel for the last time was a relief. We ordered pizza through room service, took showers and got to bed.
Hopefully that was the roughest day to be had on the trip.
Sorry for the length of this email. I will be posting this to our adoption blog when we get back to the states.