But before that, I want to make another jump backwards in time, all the way back to the first year of The Wait. After the paperchasing had begun & we knew the adoption process was actually underway, A sent out (with a little help from her IT geek older brother) a mass email announcement to our large & geographically scattered family and equally scattered friends. (What does "scattered" mean? The emails to family alone went to destinations spread over 33 municipalities in 14 states and the District of Columbia... Add in friends & acquaintances and we told people in more than a dozen countries on 5 continents!) I'm glad to say the response was, as expected, universally positive -- my niece was going to have enough uncles, aunts & cousins, real and honorary, to make her head spin! Of course, one of our cousins had a little extra fun with the announcement, happily surprising a number of other relatives who hadn't gotten the notes yet with, "Did you hear that A is having a baby out of wedlock?" before explaining more fully...
Anyway, we all thought that was pretty funny... :-) But now let's fast-forward back to the last few weeks before we got to meet the Pipsqueak in person. Good news travels fast when your friends are waiting for years to spread it, so people very quickly began planning baby showers for A. There was a certain element of surprise, but she kinda sorta knew what was going on... just not the details. The way things worked out, A wound up with two showers: one that was primarily the group who'd been waiting along with us, some of whom had already completed their adoptions in the interim; and one that was mainly A's old friends & colleagues. I don't want to name names for fear of accidentally leaving someone out, but (assuming you're reading this!) those of you who worked so hard to make both showers such special occasions -- you know who you are and your efforts will always be a bright spot in our family history. "Thank you" doesn't always sound like enough...
Both parties were a big success, with a few tears now & then and some old faces being seen for the first time in a long time... I'm only including a couple of photos (out of the several hundred we have) to save space, but they show some of the level of detail & incredible effort A's friends put into the events:
Thoughout it all, there was still a slight touch of unreality to everything; after five years of wondering if the process was ever going to end, if this child was ever going to join the family, if we were ever going to actually get to China... I had to stop every now & then to just shake my head, remind myself it was real, and figure out what the next step was. In the space of 5 weeks we had lost a beloved family pet, been to the unveiling for a longtime family friend who all along we'd expected to be introducing to the Pipsqueak when we got home with her, changed or cancelled all plans for the latter half of the year... Keeping track of one's position in the time-space continuum was becoming a challenge.
|Photo ©2010 Xinhua News/News.CN|
This all sounds fairly straightforward, but there was a lot of wiggle room in those 16,744 miles... The first point that struck me (and I continually pestered A about it until threatened with a horrible death -- and I'm still not sure she was kidding) was that the itinerary read, "Guilin River Cruise - Wednesday, July 14, 2010 through Sunday, July 18, 2010" but the cruise had been listed as lasting just one day. Then we both noticed that we had flights booked all over the place except for that mysterious Nanning-to-Guilin leg of the journey; no timetable, no airline info, no nuthin'. There was also a note that the Guilin-to-Guangzhou flights had not yet been booked and would be handled by our guide in-country; after a few minutes' worry, that faded to the background in the shadow of trying to figure out how the heck we'd get to Guilin in the first place. All I'll say about it at this point in time is that it's a trip neither A nor I are likely to ever forget...!
And now the calendar had "JULY" at the top of the page. All you would see was a series of empty numbered squares until your eyes came to rest on a big, red note: UA897 IA to PEK
All the waiting was finally, finally over -- we were going to China!