Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol – The Red Couch Photo

For families adopting internationally from China, the Red Couch Photo was one of the major highlights of the adoption trip to China. These trips lasted about twelve days. For the first half you would stay in the provincial capital of your new child’s orphanage. There you would receive your child, sign the adoption paperwork and get your child’s passport. Guangzhou is the destination for the second half of the trip. There your child had a physical exam, you finished the American immigration paperwork and you received your child’s immigrant visa. The U.S. Consulate at Guangzhou had an adoption department that provided expedited immigrant visa service.

While you all stayed in Guangzhou, the hotel of choice was usually the White Swan primarily because it was next door to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou. That was very convenient. Later on the Consulate moved to the downtown area, but many families, like us, continued to use the White Swan anyway.

Toward the end of your stay in Guangzhou, all the adoptive families in your group would gather by the famous Red Couch for the traditional adopted children’s group photo. Pictures of that Red Couch and the many children who posed there have gone all over the world.

Symbolically, the Red Couch represents a major milestone. Many, many months of paperwork, money raising, study and just waiting for that trip to China for a new child ended there. And a new life as parents to a new and unique child, though foreigners to each other, began. Everything you had worked toward turned into reality. It was a very special moment out of a long and very special part of each families’ lives!

China 2003-201

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol


  1. Such a brilliant interpretation of this week’s challenge. It’s an interesting sort of ritual, and I do wonder what the significance is apart from commemorating a new life, a new beginning. Couches, or sofas, are typically known as a spot where we can rest and lay our head and red often symbolises life and in Chinese culture, prosperity. An auspicious kind of ritual in some sense perhaps as the children move onto better, more comfortable lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mabel. I do not know how the red couch photo tradition got started, but it was well established by the time we were adopting our girls. Everyone looked forward to trying to get their kids to sit still while we all snapped a bazillion shots!

      Liked by 1 person

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