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China adoption diary: Tears and a monsoon in today's forecast

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Courtesy of Belsie family

(Read caption) Madeleine Bao Yi dances with an umbrella in the rain, a la Gene Kelly, while waiting out a monsoon at the Guangzhou Zoo.

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Part 8 of Gretchen Belsie’s account of her trip with husband Laurent and their first adopted Chinese daughter – 10-year-old Grace – as they head to meet and bring home 7-year-old Madeleine Bao Yi.

Summer, which had been lurking in the intense humidity and the hazy skies, pounced with a vengeance today, bringing out yet another surprise from its meteorological bag of tricks – the monsoon backlash.

The day started well enough – Simon came to the hotel and whisked us off to the Guangzhou Zoo. He took us for a short ride on the city’s subway. On the descent into the cavernous station, we saw advertisements for pricey men’s cologne and haute couture.

Once on the car, we grabbed the overhead straps. Madeleine Bao Yi, too short to reach up, rejected the parental handholding alternative, spotted a tiny space on a nearby bench and made a beeline for it. She wedged herself in next to a young couple and chatted with the woman. We’re not sure if this is tomboy boldness or plain old practicality, but it is what we have come to understand – in five days – as Bao Yi’s way.

We entered the zoo at the south gate and immediately ran the gauntlet of souvenir vendors. Men selling skinny balloons twisted into animal shapes targeted us and approached with verve. Given that Bao Yi loves her balloons, we knew we were in for rough seas ahead.

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