Day 10 & 11 – Waiting and Waiting

Yesterday was our Consulate appointment where we should have had her visa issued but we were delayed due to fears from the doctors at the medical clinic.

To catch you up on how this process works (I’ll spare you LOTS of small details and hit the VERY high points), you finalize the adoption in her home town. At that point, she is legally your child. They issue you her passport and you’re on your way. Then you travel to the provincial city and await your consulate appointment where your child is issued her visa permitting her entrance into the United States at which point she becomes 100% a citizen of the United States. Pretty straightforward process once you’ve walked through it. That is, unless your child develops a rash on the day before her medical exam.

Part of the Consulate issuing her a visa is this medical exam that is intended to ensure she doesn’t have a communicable disease that then gets spread in the US. Makes sense. Except that due to a back story that I won’t share out of respect for her home country, this medical clinic is very strict on any rash. They immediately force the child into quarantine and run lab tests that slow…The Process… Way… Down. Even though she had no fever. Ever. And never showed any symptoms of these infections they were looking for other than the rash that went away in the stretch of a little more than a day. Then blood work and more blood work. Take her temp. Call her back in to the clinic for more observation. All of this extra attention has now forced us to delay traveling back home by at least two days.

Saturday. We waited for results.
Sunday. We waited for results.
Monday. More waiting for results.
Tuesday. Still more waiting.

We were told on Monday we’d have definitive results by Tuesday morning which would give us just enough time to have the visa issued and keep our original travel schedule. Tuesday morning came and no labs. We waited by the phone all day. Lunch time, we called again. No results. They needed a few more hours. End of business, we called again. No lab results and now they want to see her medical records from a surgery she had more than a year ago.

There’s a saying, “If you hear hooves, think horses not zebras,” because more often than not, you’re going to find what’s most common. Kelley said tonight, “It feels like they’re looking for zebras.” It’s crazy, because if they were to examine Aila today as a new patient they’d pass her instantly but now that they’ve been digging through her files trying to find something, they can’t seem to let it go and just admit that there’s nothing ou of the ordinary to discover.

Our agent finally convinced the clinic to see her again in the morning. The doctor said he would and knowing the first test came back negative he could clear her and get us on our way. I can’t help but feel so frustrated right now because he could have done that on Monday. We have no new information today than what we had then and we could be on our way home tomorrow as planned but instead we have $2700 in flight change fees that are altogether unnecessary.

I don’t know why God is writing this part of the story like he is. I mean, I get it from a storytelling point of view. If you’re trying to tell a story, you really want to see the character move from conflict to resolution. It’s what makes it good. It’s the arc. Like a roller coaster — you’d be bored to tears if it didn’t have the climbs and falls. But it’s a whole lot easier to read about than it is to be the character who has to deal with it. What I mean is, I don’t know yet why words like delay and resistance have been readily perched on our doorstep all along the way. But every time I see her smile or hear her infectious laugh, I forget my frustrations for a little while. I don’t have a clue what’s in the books for this little girl, but I can wait to see.

She’s worth it. Worth every last drop of it.

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Day 7 & 8 – The Medical Exam(s)

By now you may have already heard some of this. I apologize if there’s some repeat information but everything in this update is intended as a personal petition for prayer. Big, bold, unyielding prayers.

Day 6 was a travel day. When we landed in Guangzhou, we were changing Aila’s diaper and noticed a rash starting to form on her belly. In just a shot while it had spread to her back. Contact dermatitis? Allergic reaction to something? We didn’t really know. We showed our guide and she seemed concerned about it. Friday morning was our first medical exam. Normally it’s the only needed exam. The purpose of the exam is to ensure that Chinese citizens traveling to the US don’t have any communicable/infectious diseases that could cause problems in the states. A clean bill of health and the US will issue a travel visa. It’s a good idea over all.

This clinic was nice. Nicer than I imagined, and conveniently situated adjacent to the US consulate in Guangzhou, which is itself is a spectacular piece of design. In the clinic, there’s a back area set aside for adoptive families. We sat and chatted with other families and waited our turn. They called our name and nothing from that point on has gone to plan. Doctor after doctor after doctor came to examine her. We were ushered to three or four other doctor’s offices for further consult. They couldn’t figure it out. At first they wanted to say it was measles. The only problem with this diagnosis is that she only had a rash that started on her belly. Calling it measles based on one symptom is like me saying, “Did you just throw up? I bet you have Ebola.” It’s just not good science. We asked them to expedite blood work to figure it out. They were not confident in the diagnosis of measles either. One doctor explained it like this. He said, “I don’t know what it is but I don’t think it’s measles. Unfortunately we have no way of knowing at this time other than just watching the rash.

The problem is, we have a consulate appointment on Monday morning to either be officially granted a visa that allows Aila to enter the country or we must wait for another appointment. And this is not a walk in and work through some paperwork. This is the Consulate of the United States in China. We had to wait weeks to get our original appointment. They don’t come easy. To add trouble to the chaos, because of my status as a Christian minister, I am only allowed to be here 30 days. That’s it. I have to be off Chinese soil by November 9th. That may seem like a long ways off but if we’re waiting, that date could reasonably come pretty quickly with no resolution and I’d be forced to leave Kelley and Aila in China without me. Not to mention the cost of lodging and transportation in a foreign country.

Kelley, Aila, and our agency rep went back to the clinic today hoping and praying for an all clear from the doctor. She failed. The rash is much improved and they have confirmed that it’s not measles but until the rash is totally gone, it’s a no go, no matter the cause.

So here’s the plan as of tonight… Kelley will take Aila back to the clinic on Monday morning at 8AM. I will go to the Consulate appointment on Monday morning and hopefully by the time our appointment comes, the doctors will have been able to give her the all clear and rush her paperwork across the street to the Consulate and we’ll be cleared for takeoff and on our way home at the prescribed time. There’s not a good backup plan if that doesn’t work out.

If you would join us in praying, here are two things we need to agree on: 1) Pray that Aila’s rash is totally gone by Monday morning at 8AM and that nothing else triggers an allergy or other response, and 2) that we’d receive favor with the US Consulate and be granted travel clearance back to the US at the time we’ve planned for. Our guide said, “We need a miracle.”

I believe that’s what we’ll get.

God’s people… Pray!

PS. If anyone of you reading this happens to have a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree connection to someone in the US Consulate in Guangzhou, we’d love to ask you for any favor or influence you might have to be applied on our behalf in the next 30 hours.

Thank you!