It is our first stroll around the island. My husband alternates carrying our son and pushing him in the stroller. Occasionally Jack, our son, allows me to push the stroller but carrying is still off limits. The hotel has informed us there is a nearby playground. Despite the recent trauma of leaving his home province our son is still 22 months old and if all my reading preparations on child development taught me anything its that toddlers need to run.
The playground comes into view. We park our stroller by the entrance and free our son. He makes a beeline for the slide. Without fear Jack plunges headfirst down the plastic chute - and promptly knocks another toddler to the ground. I spring into action. I'm ready to blurt out my "sorry, sorry" in broken Mandarin but instead I come face to face with a man from Detroit.
I am in shock. Like an animal on the brink of extinction I have just discovered a whole pride of my species. But how??? The man laughs at my apparent bewilderment and points. I turn around and for the first time I see it: Lucy's.
Nestled beneath the cafe's umbrellaed tables there sits countless American faces with their Chinese toddlers. They wave and smile, beckoning us to join them for lunch. I take Jack's hand. He screams and runs for his father. The other American families watch and nod sympathetically. They've all been there.
Suddenly we are swapping stories. We meet families just like us who feel like they are lost at sea and sinking. We meet families who are on their second, third, and even fourth adoption. Questions come pouring out of me: Is it typical for your new child to bond with one parent over the other? What about sleeping patterns? Have you found any foods they like? What do you do when they reject water, food, toys, you? Each fear is met with a sympathetic ear and each question with sound advice. And for the first time since we set foot in China I feel I am not alone.
We stayed in Guangzhou for a total of 9 days. Each day my bond with my son grew stronger and stronger and each day we felt more and more like a family. Every morning we walked to that playground and most afternoons would find us seated beneath those blue umbrellas. Whenever I would spot a new American family I'd pull over a chair and give a welcoming wave - happy to lend a sympathetic ear and to assure them they are no longer alone.