Matthew’s Adoption Diary

Friday October 8, 2004

To us, it’s still October 8th.

  • Matthew meets his Aunt Ginger at the airport.
  • Three children on a looooooooong flight.
  • The Congiusta kids finally get the American flags their mother demanded so vociferously.
  • Matthew meets his Grandpa at the airport.
  • Matthew makes himself right at home.
  • The best thing about youth? The ability to fly in your PJs.
  • Matthew prepares to leave home for…well…home.
  • Matthew meets his Uncle Paul at the airport.

Sorry it has taken us so long to post the final Travel Diary entry for our trip to China to adopt our son Matthew. Dorothy and I have been taking turns sleeping while trying — mostly in vain — to get our 2 kids onto some sort of schedule that comports with the circadian rhythms on non-vampires. Gratefully we have just recently found success. Lucky for me, I returned to work last week where I was able to catch up on some much needed rest, leaving the bride to deal with our children who had decided that any block of sleep longer than 3 straight hours was for the birds.

The other reason why it has taken us so long to post the last entry was in order to give Dorothy the extra time she needed to finish writing her personal thoughts down so that you could read a much more loving and honest account of our travels. Alas, I have grown impatient with my wife’s lackadaisical writing pace and am posting this final entry sans meaningful, feminine thoughts. I imagine that Dorothy really does care about her son and our trip to get him, but you would never know it by her refusal to write about it.

In spite of my wife’s icy silence — and without further ado — I give to you the Congiusta Family’s final diary entry from their trip to get Matthew…

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting Reading this Entry Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.

As I did with Aelex’s final Travel Diary entry, I will hand out some awards, both celebratory and derogatory of certain people, places and events that we experienced on our journey. As always, my opinions do not necessarily represent those of the rest of my family, the management of this web site, or the general mentally stable public at large. So without further ado:

“Worst. Airline. Ever.” Award

This award is presented to Continental Airlines for without question, the two most passenger-unfriendly airplane trips I have ever taken in my life. I am sure that you have all already read my description of the stimulus free flight from Newark to China on Craptinental but this collection of airborne boobery managed to outdo themselves on the flight back if you can believe it.

As we checked in for our return trip, Dorothy asked the check-in agent if we could have bulkhead seats — and the accompanying added legroom — since we were traveling with two small children. We were politely informed that since these seats had already been assigned, and the flight was quite full, our request could unfortunately not be granted. However, it would be possible to assign us an extra seat to give us some sorely needed extra room on the 15 ½ hour flight home. Sounded good to us as long us the seats were all next to each other that would be great. Absolutely, we were assured.

We boarded the plane to discover that the fourth seat was not across the aisle from the other three as we requested but rather in the row behind. O.K. not the end of the world. This would allow Dorothy and I to switch off child care and sleeping duties during the flight so we were not totally distraught by this misunderstanding. That is until another passenger came up to us holding a ticket for the middle seat in the aisle where we supposedly had an unbroken block of three seats. In short, this is what the ticket agent did: he took our three seats and gave the middle one to someone else and moved one of us into another row after telling us he was giving us an extra seat. I cannot begin to describe the stupidity involved in this setup. Needless to say, the aforementioned middle-seat ticket holder was quite thrilled when I offered to switch seats with him from my place in the row behind meaning that he did not have to sit betwixt Dorothy holding Matthew on her lap and a fidgety Aelex.

But our story does not end there. Oh no! So here we were back in our original seating configuration, which we would have been fine with us were we not tempted by the false promise of additional seating, but now, every time the flight in-attendants came around to deliver food and/or beverage, they totally ignored our daughter who was sitting in a full fare seat of her own. At every single serving, we had to specifically ask for Aelex to receive her allotted serving of whatever inedible gruel that happened to be handing out at the time. The capper was when one of these idiots (I need to calm down, I am starting to get angry all over again) dropped a hot towel on Dorothy’s head when she had the temerity to ask for one for her daughter. Were it not for the draconian post 9-11 passenger conduct rules regarding the thrashing of stewardi, we might have had some serious problems.

Needless to say, the Congiusta Family will be avoiding all travel with Continental for the foreseeable future.

“Been there. Done that.” Award

Hong Kong: In order to fully appreciate Hong Kong, I think you would need the following 1)5 full days 2)at least U.S. $10,000 and 3)no children. Needless to say, we had none of the above. Except for the children. That we had.

Hefei: The true China as far as our limited exposure to the vast country goes. No sugar-coated tourist claptrap here. The people were friendly, the culture palpable and the air chunky. Highly recommended for both adventurous tourist and the person who would like to take up smoking without the costly prospect of actually buying cigarettes.

Guangzhou: A little slice of colonialism in Red China. Shamian island (where the White Swan Hotel and American Consulate are located) is almost surreal in its detachment from the rest of what you see while you are there. China sanitized for your protection.

“Couldn’t have done it without you.” Award

Presented to the magnificent Linda, who’s patience and sunny demeanor kept the seemingly impenetrable logic of the adoption process moving smoothly and the occasional speed-bump in perspective. She is without question the M.V.P. of our trip and more than worthy of every single superlative that I have heaped upon her over the past few weeks.

“Communism? We don’t need no stinking Communism!” Award

Capitalism is alive and growing at a rapacious clip in the Chinese worker’s paradise. On our last trip, I had to shell out a total of approximately U.S. $10 for internet access over the course of two weeks with access totally free in two of the hotels we stayed at. This time, the only hotel offering gratis internet access was in Hefei, and between the other two hostelries, I could have put a down payment on a small vacation home for what they charged in connection fees. Sure I could have gone to any of the numerous free to low-cost internet cafes that dot the Chinese landscape but that’s like asking Rush Limbaugh to subsist on mere Valium sample packs. Some people’s appetite for their drug of choice is a bit harder to feed.

“Must have souvenir.” Award

Presented to our two incredible kids. Nothing in either Dorothy or my life can compare to the love we feel for Aelex and Matthew. The immense amount of paperwork, the seemingly endless wait, the unforeseen delays and the sometimes trying travel are all but minuscule specs of minor discomfort when considered in the grand scheme of things. The only thing that really matters, when all is said and done, is the two little faces we kiss goodnight and the two fragile bodies we hug good morning. The reason why I have such a good time writing these Diary Entries and I am able to conjure such good humor from our adventures is that we are truly having the times of our lives. China has given us the two greatest gifts we could ever hope to receive, and who knows, they may even have one or two more up their sleeve…

So that’s pretty much it for now. Our journey for Matthew is officially over. He’s ours. The next few weeks will be spent trying to decompress from our journey and incorporating Matthew into our nuclear family. In the months ahead, I will try to faithfully post some updates on Matthew’s progress as he learns the mysterious ways of the Congiusta’s (I also have an update for Aelex in the works as you read this which should hopefully be posted very soon). We hope you enjoyed following us on our trip, and again, we thank all of you for your kind words and thoughts.

Blissful in Yonkers…