One common experience in every American adoptive parent's experience is the journey to Guangzhou. Located in the south of China, just a few kilometers northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is the home of the American Consulate. Wandering around the streets of the "Flower City" you are apt to see other American couples awaiting their child's citizenship consulate appointment, and no place is this more true than Shamian Island.
Shamian Island once served as a concession to Britain and France during the 19th century. Wandering around the tree line promenades it's easy to feel the presence of that European period. Sandwich boards outside cafes advertise high tea, expats and the elites of Guangzhou society mill around the entrance to the tennis club, wedding portraits and fashion shoots take place on every block.
But as I wandered these streets, my newly adopted son holding my hand, I thought about my grandfather. The Vice President of National Supply and Armco Steel my grandfather spent a lot of time in China in the early 1970's, and in particular in Guangzhou. This would have been at the height of Shamian Island, when every consulate and hotel worth staying in were bustling with European and American visitors. I think of my grandfather, dressed to the nines, with my grandmother on his arm greeting and entertaining on these tree lined streets. Could they have conceived that three generations later their granddaughter and her Chinese adopted son would be walking these same paths, marveling at these same moss draped trees?
As night began to fall I wished more than anything my grandparents were still alive. I wished they could be here with us, experiencing this moment. That it could be their finger in my son's small palm.
The wind picks up. My son's hat skips off his head. He laughs out loud and starts to run merrily after it - enjoying the game. I smile and look up at the trees. And in that moment, all three generations are united as one.