So what do I see when I check the adoption blogs and such? Some blithering #&@%! sent an envelope filled with a powdered "mysterious substance" to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou.
Not to worry, though; no one was hurt, and only "some" of the consular functions were affected; the Chinese authorities were being kept in the loop, and so on and so forth.
Most news sources included some a comment about how that particular Consulate processes roughly 12,000 adoptions each year; this datum was usually tacked onto the end of the article, or appeared as part of a data dump (X employees, Y adoptions, Z per year, N passports, and so on).
Strangely, disturbingly, maddeningly, the vast majority of the news stories forgot to mention one teensy-weensy little detail: the consular functions that were shut down apparently involved any- and everything involving the adoption process, leaving almost 100 American families trapped in China.
Let me say that again: almost 100 American families were trapped in China. That's anywhere from 300-350 people, all unable to return home because the absolutely, invariably, unequivocally, critically necessary immigration papers for the newest member(s) of their family could not be processed at the Consulate.
(Dude - deep breath... hold it... exhale... again... now think for a minute...)
I am in no way blaming the Consulate staff for the event, and in no way excusing the sorry excuse for a human being who perpetrated it... BUT...
Much as I dislike the term, I'm a (former) Foreign Service brat. Although less well-traveled than some of my peers, I still lived "on the economy" on foreign soil, enjoyed the privileges and dealt with the limitations & dangers that went along with having diplomatic plates on the car and a nonstandard passport. I grew up thinking it was perfectly normal to be in an environment where I was hard-pressed to communicate with the people around me, signs were unintelligible random scribbles, radio and PA systems useless background noise, voices a babble carrying little meaning. Even as a young child, there was a constant background "feed" of information about how to stay safe and how to be ready for almost anything*, ranging from near-daily power outages, anti-American demonstrations, and military coups to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, epidemics, and food & water that would essentially try to kill you if you consumed any.
There were backup plans for transportation, power, food, water, clothing, evacuation, school, medical emergencies... you name it, there was a backup plan.
So where was the Guangzhou Consulate's backup plan? Why the bloody hell couldn't the processing of those adoptions be moved into temporary quarters elsewhere in the building? Where were the computer backups, the duplicate papers? It took almost a week for Consulate staff to figure out (apparently only after noise was made in the media) they could not just shut down the adoption & immigration processes until some unknown amount of time had passed and they could go back to exactly the same office, the same desk, the same chair and figure out what they had been working on when the stuff hit the fan.
Why were almost 100 American families stuck having to dole out thousands of dollars each for extended stays, new airline tickets, cancellation fees, re-booking fees, unplanned meals, unplanned laundry? Why were almost 100 American families stuck having to put off important medical appointments, business appointments, personal appointments? I can understand & accept one, two... maybe three days... but where was the backup plan?
Someone really oughta be nailed to the wall for this... I doubt it will happen, or that we will ever get any kind of answer... but where the blazes was your backup plan, people?!?
* One quickly learned how to plan around having power and/or water cut off during the day without advance notice, often while one was showering... memorized two, three or four separate and distinct routes to & from every regular destination... found substitutes for an entire shipment of household goods on a ship that sank in the harbor... kept small items of personal importance with oneself at all times in case one had to be evacuated from the country without advance notice, like one young woman I know who arrived back in the U.S. with literally only the clothes she was wearing at the time, all other personal belongings had to be abandoned without advance notice... there's plenty more, but I think you get the idea...