Olivia’s Adoption Diary

Tuesday March 21, 2006

Ma ma redux.

  • Olivia and her mommy go stationary biking.
  • A stoic Olivia contemplates existence.
  • Performing my fatherly duties.
  • China is slip-slidin’ away.

Well, well, well. I do not know what has brought on my wife’s recent prolificacy in the writing department (probably trying to mitigate whatever damage I may cause) but she has yet again decided to grace these pages with some observations of the sugar and spice and everything nice variety. And then I will prattle on once she is done, just so you know where to stop reading.

It is 3:30am on Wednesday the 22nd of March and although we have only been away from home 12 days, I can tell you it feels like months. I am counting the minuets until I am holding Matthew and Aelex in my arms. This has been an extremely difficult trip without them. Mark has been left sitting at the breakfast table many times with a weeping wife, especially as I see children that remind me of Aelex and Matthew. We have met many families here at the White Swan hotel whom have traveled with their other children and many who have left theirs at home; it seams that some who have traveled with more than one other child would rethink taking them again, those who have left their children at home would want to bring them if they had it to do over. There is no right or wrong way to do this trip when you have other young children and if we had Matthew and Aelex here with us we may be pulling our hair out, however right now I wish I could hold them and make the heartache go away. I am sure Mark would be happy too, so I don’t get his computer all messed up with tears.

On another note, as I said we are at the famous White Swan hotel and the amount of children here this time is amazing. When we came to get Aelex in 2003 we met one family who were adopting a baby boy. In 2004 when we got Matthew there were two or three couples that had boys, this time I would say close to a third if not more are boys, ranging from babies to six or seven years old. Although many are special needs some are not and all are as handsome as can be. We have met many people from other agencies including a couple from North Carolina not far from were we live. We have also met a couple from NY who will be on the same flight home with us. Their daughter is three and about six inches taller than Olivia.

Little miss Olivia is doing well. She has a little cold and is still getting mad at us to buy her everything she sees when we go out. We understand her more and more each day and although we cannot speak her language we are getting some reaction that she is somewhat understanding us. In the last few days she has really formed a strong attachment to Mark, and has even went as far as telling staff at the hotel so. The people at the hotel and in the stores have been great translating for us what Olivia is saying. One lady in the store was able to speak English so well that we had her translate a number of things to Olivia, including that she cannot have all the things she sees. She has started to interact with other children that we see in the playroom daily. It has been difficult for us to get her engaged with other children, as we are pretty much on our own. What I mean is with both Aelex and Matthew we were in a Brightside group, and the kids seen the same kids everyday when we would go out to eat or go site seeing. This time we are on our own and only meet up with people when it is time to do the formalities like paperwork.

Olivia loves clothes and has gone through every outfit we have brought or bought for her. Both she and Aelex will have a blast together, however Mark and I are rethinking putting them in the same room. We are feeling they may need their own space and perhaps a little time to adjust to each other. Olivia uses the bathroom in our room to get away from us if she does not want to do what we are asking of her. She storms through the room, heads for the bathroom and closes the door. The first few times she did this we went after her to check that she was OK. Now we leave her and she comes out when she is ready, she seems to need the time away from us. We have been working on trying to get her to use a quite voice. Last night Mark fell asleep while Olivia and I watched a movie. In due course Mark started snoring, Olivia put her finger over her mouth and was telling him to hush. As Mark’s snores got louder so did Olivia’s hush, it was so funny; at one point she got up in his face to tell him to hush, and woke him up. She certainly got her message across. We have started to prepare her for the flight home and today we are going to get someone to help us translate the importance of the seat belt. She is a little girl that is full of life and I think I can speak for Mark when I say we are so happy to have her as part of our family and I feel in time she will be very happy to be with us.

Ba ba redunce.

Something I’ve been meaning to talk about on each of our trips to China and I never seem to get around to doing it: napkins. The Chinese don’t use any. Its quite amazing really when you think about it. Here is a group of people that eat with 2 sticks and they never, ever need a napkin. Oh, sure, they use the hot, lemon scented towel before and after eating but that’s not for mid-meal touch ups. Now in most restaurants here in China when they see that you are western, they will supply you with some type of napkin-like substance — usually a one of those travel packages of tissues — but its not standard. They must see us coming and go “oh jeez. Here comes another crowd of western slobs again. Break out the tissues and a garden hose.” Anyway, its just something I’ve been meaning to discuss…

Things here are continuing to go good, outside of the weather. We had another rainy/cloudy day today and decided to stick close to the hotel again in case the sky opened up at any point. We received our “all clear” call from Lee this afternoon meaning we were a go for tomorrow’s visa appointment at the consulate, so we decided to get Olivia out for some fresh air. We walked around the island trying — often in vain — to escape the siren’s call of the shop keepers beckoning us inside to buy their silly trinkets. Although, sometimes I wonder how hard Dorothy really works at resisting.

One thing we have noticed, is that the prices keep going up, and the bargaining is harder and harder to find. That’s a good thing. There’s nothing I hate more than spending 20 minutes trying to get someone to knock 5 yuan off of the price of a t-shirt. Dorothy, tried to get one place to adjust the price of a slew of things that she wanted to buy and they flat out refused to bargain with her. She walked out of the store and they did not even come after her. This is unheard of! The new tactic is to claim that they are giving you a special discount off of the ticketed price (“30% off just for you. I like the cut of your jib.”). The pressure to buy has been upped however, so the overall shopping experience has not gotten any more pleasant.

Things on the parenting front are staying interesting. Olivia has caused us to totally redefine our concept of patience. When your kids can understand the words that are coming out of your mouth, you can at least explain to them why you are being such a mean, unreasonable parent. For example: “Matthew, stop stabbing your sister with the fork. She’s going to bleed all over the rug.” Or: “Aelex, do not do swan dives off of the bookcase onto the couch. You might spill my drink.” Unfortunately with Olivia, it gets a little tougher. While she is getting pretty good at understanding what we tell her, and there are times I know she is getting more than she is letting on, some things are hard to get across. “Yes” and “no” are clearly communicated, but things like, “we have to leave the playroom now because I have to go sit in a room filling out visa application paperwork for the next 2 hours” is lost in translation. So when she gets frustrated sometimes, we have to remember how hard this all has to be for her. As frustrated as Dorothy and I feel from time to time, we try to remember that we are not 6. Well, intellectually I may be 6, but still, Olivia has it harder.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Tomorrow is our consulate appointment as well as our last full day here in China. We are dying to get back to our other 2 kids and relieve my parents, who we are sure are even more eager for us to return than anyone else may be. The end draws nigh.

Looking for something to wipe the sauce from my chin…