Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Expats" Part 2 (Red Tape)

Living in a foreign country can be such a wonderful, and sometimes shocking experience. In China, Pampers haven't quite caught on yet. Babies wear split pants, and they take care of business right there on the street corner. Mom usually washes up the little bundle with her hand and the nearest water supply. You have to think of new things when you reach for the handle of the shopping cart in the local Chinese market. Navagating daily life in the heart of a culture so vastly different from your own is an amazing experience. China is a beautiful country full of wonderful people. For me, the daily discovery is so motivating and inspiring. Imagine waking up one morning and everything outside the window is completely different!

This also presents a huge challange. When my wife and I found out we were going to have another baby, we were very worried. There were a whole lot of things to think about. You can't just go to your local OBGYN, or the hospital that you know and trust. Should we leave the country to have this baby? Should my wife and son leave, and I stay behind to work and support the family? If they stay, where would we have the baby? Living in the south of China doesn't present many options for western medical care. But, we found our way through the whole process, and today we can look into the eyes of our precious baby daughter.

Now at this point she is a Chinese citizen. So another trip back to Guangzhou is in order, to visit the American Consulate. Things were easier when we lived in Shanghai, everything is right there. Once your baby is born, you have to go online and schedule an appointment. The appointment line was about four weeks out. So I clicked and made the appointment. I was returning from a trip to the U.S. two days before the date. When the day came, I kissed the wife and kids, and off I went to Guangzhou with Li, and my bulging folder of documents. After two and a half hours on the road, and passing about thirty pig trucks, Li and I arrived at the Consulate.

There was no sign at all on the building. After the second pass and a phone call to the Consulate's office we finally found it. Li had to wait outside, and I ran into the building. After identity and security checks, I finally got to the office and checked in for my appointment. Not too bad, only 30 minutes late, and then an hour wait. When I got to the window I was told there was one more form to be filled out! We read the website so carefully and studied all the proceedures in the process, but ok, there's one more form. So, after filling it out and waiting another 30 minutes, I was called up to the window again.

When I got back to the window and handed over all the documents, the clerk checked them carefully, and said " where is the mother and the baby?

Back to Shenzhen...

To be contunued...



JeanetteS said...

Being an Expat can be quite adventuresome. And you have such an adorable baby. Love the hair!

I was thinking of you recently when I was tracking my iPhone order on the UPS site when it said 'shipping from Shenzen'. Wow, how cool to be so close to the Apple mfr site. :-)

Candyholic said...

Oh my goodness! Hahaha That's quite the experience! (Your daughter is beautiful! :))

Hahaha (Can't stop laughing about that last story - " where is the mother and the baby?")

Robert Petril said...

Thanks! :-) We checked that website so many times to see if they had to be there, and nowhere did it say that...grrrrrrr! lol