A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

White Powder Scare at US Consulate Leaves Hundreds of Families Stranded in China

No, this is not a headline you're likely to see in the news.  For some reason, the stuff I'm interested rarely seems to make it into the mainstream media.  But it is reality.  Yesterday, the facebook groups lit up with the news that the US Consulate in Guangzhou, Guangdong was CLOSED due to a white powder incident.

Let me explain what this means to adopting families.  When you pick up your child, you complete adoption proceedings in the capital of the province they reside in.  For Hannah, that was Nanjing, Jiangsu.  After that, she was legally ours.  HOWEVER, she was still a Chinese citizen, and as such, she needed a VISA to enter the United States.  This visa is issued at the US Consulate in Guangzhou (GZ), so traveling families go to GZ for the last half of their adoption trip.  In fact the entire trip dates are based on what day your CONSULATE APPOINTMENT is on.  You cannot leave for China without that appointment booked by your agency.  And you cannot go home until after you've completed that appointment.

Waiting families were beside themselves wondering how this would impact them.  Rumors abounded. We heard everything from "It will be closed for 2 days" to "It could be 3 weeks before they reopen."  The USCIS website initially said nothing about it.  In the afternoon, there was a red notice on the GZ field office page stating that the GZ office was CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.  That sounded worrisome and vague.

I contacted my agency, and they didn't know any more than the grapevine did.  Families that were AT the consulate when the incident occurred were reported to have been detained for over 4 hours--without food or water for their newly adopted children.  Sounds like a nightmare.  Rumors of decontamination floated about.

I felt a little fragile yesterday.  Closer to tears than usual.  It's a little like spotting during pregnancy.  You know that most of the time everything goes okay, but that is a vivid and unwelcome reminder that sometimes it doesn't.

This morning we woke up to discover a new notice on the GZ field office page at USCIS.  "Please be advised the USCIS Guangzhou will be closed on Tuesday, May 14 and Wednesday, May 15.  Customers scheduled for appointments on either of these dates will be contacted by our office when a future appointment date has been set."

Okay.  2 days.  I'm sure it's awful for the families who got stuck in it, who may have to rearrange flights and stay extra days in country while everyone gets processed out.  But the hugely selfish part of me is so relieved that it's not the indefinite closure that it was yesterday.  It shouldn't have too much of an impact on our adoption timeline.  I can still hope to travel the first week of June.  "Hope" that is.  Since the trip dates revolve around when your consulate appointment is, we won't know for sure when we leave until a day or two after we receive Travel Approval from CCCWA, the Chinese office that handles adoptions (not connected with the consulate at all, so should not be affected by the slowdown).  Our Travel Approval may arrive as soon as next week, but will more likely arrive the week after.

This is pretty much the only article I've seen online about it:  http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1237576/updated-suspicious-powder-found-us-consulate-guangzhou

In other news, a HUGE thanks to whomever bumped up our Reece's Rainbow account balance!  I woke up to that this morning and was moved to tears.  Thank you!  It's such an encouragement to have people supporting us in this roller coaster ride adventure.

Vote For Us @ Top Mommy Blogs  Spare a click to keep us visible?  Thanks!


  1. I was so shocked to hear about this today too and also am worried about all those to come affected by this. I am EXCITED to hear about your RR bump! :) Andrea posted the other day on fb that there were several families on the almost their page and to pray and give them some exposure. I read through the ones there and prayed and decided that your family was the one so I have posted on my facebook and plan to do so every few days :) I have no clue if that brought you any donations or not but I so pray it did and will :) I want to follow your journey :) I am a mama of Asian children and have a heart for China and Taiwan :)

    God bless your family
    Tamijoysisemore (fb id)

    1. Oh my goodness! Thank you so much! That is so sweet of you! God bless you!