Aelex’s Adoption Diary
Wednesday March 5, 2003
Inching (or centimetering, since we are in a country on the metric system) out the door.
Dorothy has finally done it! I have pried her arms from around our daughter and forced her to sit down and type up her thoughts on the last few days. Enjoy your freedom from sarcasm for the time being, because there is plenty more where that came from after all the purty girlie words…
Lovely words and thoughts from someone who is not a complete idiot like her husband.
On Monday, March 3rd at 8:30 A.M., we all met Linda in the lobby. Linda is the person who will take us through the last three days of our trip. Although it is a short stay here in Guangzhou it is the paper trail part. We were rejoined with Lisa and Mike and their new 4 year old daughter Hanna. We also met Susan who is part of our group with her new 4 year old boy Oliver. Off we went, all five families with the children, Aelex, Hanna, Anna, Tilly, and Oliver to get their photos taken for their visas.
Our next stop was to go to a health clinic for the children to get a routine health exam for their entry into the United States. It was quite crowded and we were led to the back of the clinic were there must have been about another thirty families with babies all going to the U.S. The exam went like this, first a nurse weighed Aelex at one station. Fully clothed they said she weighed twenty pounds. So far she has gained a pound a month since we got her referral. She was eighteen pounds in December, nineteen pounds in January, and now twenty. Mark and I feel this is still not her true weight and we will find it out when we get home. Aelex did some wiggling and was not happy to be on the scales (typical female). It appeared that the nurse did the best she could under the circumstances. At the next station Aelex had her ears, eyes, and throat checked out by a doctor , she did not flinch at this exam even though mommy was uneasy watching her get her ears puled and a stick down her throat. Although Aelex has a nasty cold she was all clear to move to the next station. Once again we picked her up and moved her along the production line to have her chest and other body parts checked out, her head, legs, and body were also measured. Our calm sweet daughter lost it at this point. She did not want to lay down and wanted no part of any toy the doctor had to offer. The tears just kept coming and the longer she had to stay on the table the worse she got. When it was all over the magic Cheerios did the trick of slowly calming her down. It was amazing how well the system worked as one baby was finished at one station another was moved in and that one moved forward. Aelex was given the go a head and Mark and I were very happy to scoop up this little one and go on our merry way.
On the way back to the hotel we met a group of children from a local school, they were so happy to wave at us and Aelex was happy to see them. As we ventured through the park we saw many people doing all kinds of exercises. I could not believe my eyes, the age range look to be from about three to ninety-three, and all exercising very hard.
Aelex refused to take a nap and after several attempts of trying to put her down Mark and I decided to take her to lunch. We went to a place in the park called Lucy’s, where Barbara, Bruce and Anna joined us. We put Anna and Aelex on a train ride, which Anna loved, however, Aelex got very frightened. The rest of the day was filled with small walks to look at the buildings and a trip to the bar in the hotel for a complementary drink.
Aelex has been in so many restaurants and hotels since we got her that we think she feels this is what life is about. Boy does she have a reality check coming.
Aelex is an independent, strong willed, adventurous, energetic little girl. She fits into our family perfectly and although we have only been united for a little over a week we feel she has always been with us and we cannot imagine life without her. She is a get up and go, no nonsense, easy going little girl, who is always ready to explore. Her love of people is extremely noticeable when her little face lights up and she is very willing to allow most to hold or touch her. She appears to study the faces of the unknown with curiosity and wonder. I have yet to see her be unhappy with the exception of not wanting to be put to sleep. I believe she is afraid she may miss something. Aelex is also a very nosey individual, she likes to stick her head into other peoples conversation. It is astonishing how well her caregivers at the orphanage knew her. They were really well in tune with the children and we are discovering every day the things they told us about our little one.
Things we have found out about Aelex
To her daddies disappointment she does not like Ice cream. She also does not like porridge, or very sweet things. However, she will not spit her dislikes out but will hold them in her mouth forever.
She can drink a bottle like it is her last and regardless of how much is in it, it is gone in seconds.
Aelex has a great appetite and gets very impatient waiting for the spoon to get from the bowl to her mouth.
She likes to be thrown in the air and any kind of bouncing one can do with her.
One of her favorite pastimes when in her stroller is to wave at anyone and hope they wave back.
Aelex really likes to pull hair and thinks it is the funniest thing in the world. (we have to work on that)
She does not like to share and Mark and I think she was the bully in the orphanage the way she can throw things and grab as quick as lightning.
If Aelex hears another baby crying she does a whimpering sound, Linda told me this is to help and let someone know the other baby is crying.
She does not like to go to bed and will try to stay awake as long as she can.
Aelex has a love of music and she loves to dance, even to daddy’s karaoke sining of “New York, New York”.
Much to her mom’s disappointment she does not like hats.
She is learning to like taking a bath. The first few times were very traumatic for her and at one point mommy got in with her clothes and all.
The idiot is back!
First of all, I’m an idiot. Let me explain. It turns out that Aelex is not yet a full fledged American citizen just yet. She has all of the proper documentation, but she will not be considered an American until our plane touches down on U.S. soil in Chicago tomorrow. I really have to get a proofreader or something because I rarely, if ever pay attention to the minutiae of life, such as when my daughter actually becomes my daughter. As I said earlier, I’m an idiot.
Anyway, today was our last full day in China. We had all day to kill before receiving Aelex’s visa this afternoon from Linda (have I mentioned how great Linda is? I can’t even bother to figure out when my daughter can legally enter the country and this woman breaks her butt for days to afford me the luxury of remaining ignorant of my surroundings). So Dorothy and I decided to go out for the day with our daughter to an art museum that Paul and Leslie told us about. We got a cab, did our best to explain where we wanted to go and off we went.
Dorothy held onto Aelex for dear life as we zipped in and out of traffic, never looking up for fear of seeing how actually close to death her daughter was coming at every turn. Speaking of which, I can’t believe that I forgot to tell you about this, but two days ago we saw out first car/bicyclist accident! We were walking down the street from our hotel when all of a sudden we heard tires screech. Normally in China this is not unusual but this was followed by a sickening crash and thud. I ran down the street to see a cab at stopped at a corner with a woman laying in the street on top of her bike. I bent down to see if the woman was O.K. as the cab driver came out of his car as well. The lady seemed O.K. if not a little shaken up and I looked up to see the cab driver collecting his fare from the people leaving his cab! When his business transaction was over he came over to where I was helping the woman up off the pavement and, I swear to you, started yelling at her. He was pointing at his fender while, I have to repeat this, YELLING at the woman he just nearly killed. I started to get in between the two when the woman just got on her bike and rode away like nothing happened, then the guy got back in his cab and drove away like nothing had happened, and there I am standing the middle of the street like an idiot. I cannot figure this place out.
Regardless, back to the story, the cab driver pulled up to the front of a beautiful park and told us that we were at our destination. We paid, got out and realized, just as the cab drove away that this was not the place we wanted to go. We were now faced with the option of getting another cab and trying to explain to that person where we wanted to go and risking the possibility of that person just driving around the block and dropping us right back in the same spot we were standing right now, or just enjoying where we were. The park seemed pleasant enough so we decided to be adventurous and check it out. It was the perfect decision. The park was really nice with lots of flowers and gardens for Dorothy, a bunch of memorials (another Dr. Sun Yat Sen memorial, and yes it was at the top of approximately 14,984 steps) and history museums for me and half the population of Guangzhou stopping to play with and talk to Aelex. We were all quite content with our predicament.
We walked around for about 4 ½ hours before braving an equally terrifying cab ride back to the hotel. We actually got where we wanted to go this time because I had enough foresight to grab preprinted hotel name cards stating “please take this dumb American idiot and his beautiful family back to the White Swan Hotel please” written in Chinese. We then gave Aelex a bath, and for the first time she did not act like we were trying to drown her. In time, Linda showed up at our door with our daughter’s visa signaling that we could euphemistically, get the hell out of Dodge!
So we (and by we, I of course mean my wife) are trying desperately to spend every last Chinese yuan before we leave tomorrow. We have lots of packing to do and will be up at 5 A.M. tomorrow for our early flight to Hong Kong before the dreaded 14 hour jaunt to Chicago, which precedes our 3 hour hop back to N.Y.C. I have been toying with the idea of puncturing my eardrums now to avoid the rush once we are in the air with at least 3 sure to be unhappy children.
So that’s about it. Keep checking back for the next few days to find out how our trip home went and to read both my and Dorothy’s final summations of our trip to the Orient. I cannot tell you when we will get the chance to get all this stuff up, but it should be before the weekend is over. Wish us luck as we exit the People’s Republic stage left…