Robert Whiting In search of awesome

Taiwan day eight


visa day

In order to adopt across countries, we needed to get an immigration visa in their Taiwanese passports to bring them through the US border. The appointment at AIT (the American Institute in Taiwan) determined the timeline for the rest of the trip, and we woke up that morning with four kids for the first time.

the morning

It felt a little weird to have two other kids in the apartment when we woke up. At the same time, it felt right. I went to get some more fruit from the fruit guy, but it was too early. Instead, I bought some cabbage & pork fried steam buns. The steam buns were a hit; and with the previously horded eggs, we had a good breakfast together as a family.

than breakfast

Abbie’s hair definitely requires brushing morning and night, so Becca brushed and styled her hair before playing more hide and seek in the small apartment.


I excused myself to pick up the last remaining paperwork just hours before the AIT appointment. I took the familiar metro line a few stops over and walked into the entryway of an apartment building where I waited. Not long after I arrived, our social worker walked in and handed me a couple packets of documents and wished me well. I had to switch metro cards for the return trip, leaving less than a dollar on each adult metro card. That was my last trip on the MRT.

We thought that we’d have all six of us within 10 ft of each other for the first two months, and within 24 hours of custody, we the parents had already been separated three times. It was surprising how all the plans disappeared when confronted by reality. It wasn’t even that stressful, just a quiet realization.


Taiwan has a complex history and relationship with all other countries. Instead of an embassy, they have the AIT; which is, for all intents and purposes, an embassy.


Our Holt in-country-contact picked us up in her van and took us to the AIT appointment. She parked and walked around the block to join us in line to enter. While we were waiting, a man walked up to the security guard at the entrance and sounded like he wanted asylum based on some local police interaction.

We emptied water bottles, waited in lines, gave up our phones, and ushered our four kids through the metal detectors before waiting in a very poorly designed room. It felt like we were back in America in one of the worst DMVs (and I’ve seen many DMVs across the US). We had a brief “interview,” paid a fee, and went to a more distant waiting room so our kids didn’t have to sit in our laps. We were alone in the other waiting room, but when the kids laughed loudly and rolled the ball slightly too far on the floor a security guard walked over and reminded us that it was a government building with no fun or joy allowed. We went back to reading paper books.

I suspect the no-phones policy is less for security and more to remove the availability of evidence of such a horribly designed building. The visas didn’t take as long as we had feared, and we herded the pack back out of the building and into the van.

the rest of the day

We ordered Pizza Hut for dinner and as a contingency, I decided to get some more steam buns just in case. It was surreal walking hand-in-hand with a little girl (my daughter!) down the road to buy some steam buns. It was only a few blocks away, but I felt such a tumultuous mixture of fatherly pride and self-consciousness that I could never have guessed the distance.


All four kids ate the pizza! Abbie disassembled the pizza, slid it to the edge of her plate, and bent over to eat it off the edge of her plate; but she did eat all of it without complaint! If pizza was a win, we could do this!

We watched the rest of Frozen 2, put on pajamas, and went to bed: Becca with the quiet tears of Abbie and me with the wild thrashing of a sleeping 5 year old.