“Working as a tour guide for an adoption group changed my life. This was in the summer of 1993, the second year after China implemented a law allowing foreigners to adopt its orphans.
“It was a hot summer day in the bustling city of Guangzhou, China’s third largest city. I was a first year English major standing near the exit of a crowded train station, awaiting the group of adoptive parents that were supposed to arrive from Hong Kong, where their overseas flights would have landed. It was my first day of the job that I had dreamed of: a tour guide and interpreter for American adoptive groups. Little did I know a life changing journey awaited me.
“My group consisted mostly of couples in their 30s and 40s. There were also two single moms and a family of four: the adoptive parents and grandparents. Albeit exhausted, they all arrived in good spirits, looking hilariously upbeat in a sea of mostly migrant workers at the station.
“The next morning, the prospective parents showed up looking great, in what must be their best outfits. Most of them unanimously holding a photo of their long-awaited child. I was curious about each of the baby pictures they held. I kept asking, “Is it a boy or a girl?”. At about the fourth baby’s picture, I realized they were all girls. Of course! In a country where families were only allowed to have one child and where the boys are traditionally so much more favored than girls, there were hardly any healthy boys in orphanages.
“I led them to a large sun-filled conference room at the orphanage. About ten care givers were waiting for us, each holding a baby each and standing in line as we entered the room. The care givers had a name tag for each baby, one spelled “Angel”, the other “Grace.” I started hearing “oohs and ahs” and seeing tears and trembling from the group. It was magical, the babies already had a magnetic pull. The parents gravitated towards the baby with the right name tag at an awkwardly slow pace. As they approached their little bundles of joy, I witnessed what was probably the most touching and uplifting moment in my life, only times ten. From that moment on, the eyes of the parents never left their babies.
“The following day, I took them to a local hospital for a physical exam of their babies and then to the American Consulate to obtain an orphan immigration visa. The next morning, I was supposed to bring the group to a tour of the city so they get to understand the birth country of the children. I had trained so hard for this part of the tour: there were so many facts, numbers, stories, jokes that I had to remember to entertain the group. To my amazement, one person showed up in the hotel lobby that morning, Grandpa Bob! Everyone else in the group wanted to stay in to spend more time with their new found love. Bob and I hung out the whole day. I learned just as much about the United States as Bob learned about the history and culture of China. He gave me a pin of the state of Washington at the end of the tour.
According to the State Department, 206 orphans from China were adopted by US citizens in 1992 and that number quickly grew to 2000 in 1995. I am proud that I got to know quite a few of these babies and be a part of their beautiful stories. My love for babies has only grown stronger. I ended up having five of my own and operated a chain of five baby retail stores. The birth of the sixth: Kyte BABY, has brought me to another incredible journey of creativity and adventure. It has allowed me to share my passion with more families, from all walks of life.”
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