Aelex’s Adoption Diary

Tuesday February 25, 2003

Stop. Relax. Take a breath.

  • When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.

O.K., so we have a daughter and she is the coolest thing ever. This morning Aelex ran head first into the side of her crib and immediately popped up laughing. It was the proudest moment of my life. I have already alerted all Division I college women’s hockey programs to hold a spot for her in 2020. Plus with a head like hers, think of all the money we are going to save on helmets! She is all over the place pretty much non stop and loves to run. This is especially amusing because she has yet to learn to walk, so when you hold her up on her feet she immediately starts a forward momentum that takes her about 10 feet until she plows face first into the floor. She gets up hysterically laughing and wants to do it again. I love this kid! Can I get her in a WNBA developmental league or something? I cannot wait to get her on skates.

Besides watching our child do her best impersonation of Curly from the Three Stooges, there was nothing else going on today. Our first day in China with absolutely nothing to do. So with that in mind, Dorothy and I got up at 4:30 A.M., a full hour before our daughter. Why? Because we have become zombies is my best guess. Anyway, after breakfast, we decided to go for an exploratory walk around Nanjing. Oh by the way, we have both grows horns out of our head, turned purple and added a second set of arms to our torso. Neither Dorothy nor I can see any of this mind you, but based on the looks we get on the street it must be so. We feel like a zoo exhibit and I have heard more than one utterance of the word “Yankee”. I guess it is my uncanny resemblance to Derek Jeter. Most people have been nice however and I think the staring contests we get into walking down the street are more an act of curiosity than anything else.

Our walk was relatively uneventful. We tried to find baby shoes for Aelex, but apparently in a country with 1.5 billion people there are no children. What’s more, even if there are children, none of them need any shoes. So our child remains shoeless, which must be the case with every other child in China since they don’t sell any shoes their size. Anyway, on we walked along the sidewalks of Nanjing. Well, they are not so much sidewalks as freeway onramps. There are almost as many cars on the sidewalk as there are in the street. This is not sarcasm, this is actual observation. If you are not looking out for what’s coming towards you, you had better be looking over your shoulder at what’s coming up behind you. The Chinese stoicism in the face of ever impending doom is admirable. Our heads are on constant swivels while they don’t even bother to look up from their paper as the walk across the street against the light. I am not making this up! We have actually seen this happen!

After miraculously making it home alive, we went to the Szechwan restaurant in the hotel for some lunch. I ordered the (again, I am not making this up) “Soft shell turtle with fungus”. How could I not order this? Is your mouth not watering as you read these words? I found the turtle a bit too salty but the texture was firm and very palatable. The fungus was to die for however. I highly recommend the fungus. Seriously, it was very good.

The rest of the day was spent playing with Aelex in the hotel room. We gave her her first dose of American culture with a screening of “Shrek”. She was mesmerized. You could practically hear her brain cells dying as the movie played. We also played airplane (her personal favorite, I believe), stacking cups (for approximately 43.6 straight hours) and “Aelex, stop chewing the phone cord”. So if you try to call us and cannot get through, you know why. While all activity took place in our hotel room, it was one of the most enjoyable days of our lives. It feels great to be a family.

At one point Dorothy took Aelex out for a walk around the hotel to show off her daughter. While they were gone, I actually relaxed and watched some Chinese T.V. I saw the Chinese version of SportsCenter which consisted of table tennis highlights, an overview (again, you can’t make this stuff up) of a Chinese checkers tournament, and about 27 minutes of coverage of Yao Ming’s last game. After that I watched the greatest television show I have ever seen, anywhere, ever. A full half hour devoted to — clear all liquids that have the potential for shooting out of your nose out of your mouth — sports played on unicycles! They had basketball, hockey, wrestling and, my personal favorite — downhill. These incredibly bored people would ride their unicycle straight down the side of a mountain. What does it take to decide that this is a good idea to do this? Shouldn’t these people be sterilized?

As I write this, Aelex is crying her fake “how could you do this to me?” cry, because we have just put her in her crib for bed. Apparently she was up for one more round of stacking cups (she leads 187-164). Dorothy, is herself falling asleep after a demanding day of being mommy (a much, much harder job than being daddy I will concede). And I sit here with a glass of “Great Wall Cabernet Sauvignon” (which tastes almost exactly as one would imagine the the Great Wall in red wine form would taste).

Tomorrow we meet up again with Dr. Hong (This guy rocks! More on him tomorrow.) and visit the orphanage that Aelex came from. Not sure if that will really play into my narrative style but that remains to be seen. So until tomorrow loyal patrons, another day, another yuan…