(NOTE: I'd intended to post this back on Nov 24th but had left it in draft state.)
Last time in China, there was little time for thoughts or conversation. We just tried our darndest to stay on the conveyor belt and get all of the documents processed and back home without imploding. Partly due to Bella's more easy-going nature and with one adoption under our belts, we were more relaxed and able to enjoy/observe the whole experience.
1) Shamian Island, where we stayed in Guangzhou, is as close to ideal for adopting family as it gets. As one travel-mate observed, it didn't feel so 'foreign' there. At one point, several "Western" consulates were housed on the island. British/Western influence is evident in the architecture on the island. Until recently, the U.S. Consulate that processes all China adoptions was on the island. Much of the island's economy dependends on the adoption industry. Thus, you can buy any baby supply, all kinds of gifts/trinkets, and will easily find English-speaking shopowners.
2) In speaking with a new Shamian Island resident, I had one of those lightbulb moments. She mentioned that how "foreigners" view children differs significantly from how Chinese view children. For many Chinese, children are viewed in terms of what they will eventually provide for parents. Lest anyone judge, this set of values dates at least back to Confucius if not longer. Children have an undeniable obligation to care for their parents when they grow older. "Foreigners," on the other hand, view children in terms of what they/we, as parents, can provide for the children. These differing perspectives go a long way toward explaining this whole China/Internationl Adoption phenomenon.