My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅) -- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

One Year Ago Today (July 23 2010/2011)

We seem to be having the same weather here, now, that we had in Guangxi and Guangzhou... the difference is, while we were in China there was plenty going on to distract us, plus we were (in a sense) on a mission and weren't ready to be sidetracked... here, on the other hand, it's just the everyday usual stuff going on (with the happy addition of the Pipsqueak!), so the heat & humidity just sort of creeeeep in around the edges when you're not looking, sapping energy & dampening shirts... <sigh>

One year ago today... We got up early, even by the standards we'd gotten used to; even so, and with most of the packing done the previous night, and rushing as best we could in the morning, we barely had time to finish breakfast (one last morning at the White Swan!) before it was time to load our stuff onto a bus and head to the airport.  I took advantage of a surprise "extra" couple of minutes alone when I did one last sweep through our room -- and found two or Miri's outfits still hanging in the closet! -- and quickly scribbled a note to her future self that our guide Lucy mailed to us here at home. She'll get it a few years from now, when she's old enough to (hopefully) appreciate it.

The trip to the airport was quieter than usual ; the sense of The Trip Is Over was hanging over everyone, I think (along with some serious sleep deprivation).  The flight from Guangzhou to Beijing was, by the standards of our trip, uneventful, and the epic journey that took place between Terminal #2 and Terminal #3 brought home to us how spoiled we'd gotten, having guides & drivers to handle loading/unloading, timetables, and so on. The three of us were supposed to be the last to leave by a margin of several hours, but the Airline Gods conspired to thoroughly screw things up for the S & B families. Thoroughly spooked, AJ and I ran to check in for our flight several hours early only to have the smoothest, easiest check-in & upgrade ever. (And now we know the truth: wishes granted by that big cast-iron brazier at the temple only apply to the wisher, not the entire travel group!)

We all delayed it as long as possible, but there was eventually one final goodbye/group hug and AJ, the Pipsqueak and I headed left and everyone else headed right; at that point, the trip really was over, it was just a matter of the flight home. Aside from a truly ridiculous amount of pre-boarding security (at least 3 permanent checkpoints, with a surprise 4th set up literally just a few feet from the plane's door), everything moved smoothly and we were leaving Chinese airspace not too long afterwards.  The flight itself was pretty good, just a couple of minor annoyances that one encounters any time a couple of hundred individuals of varying shapes, sizes, ages and levels of cleanliness are crammed into an enclosed space for almost 14 hours. As with every other flight, the Pipsqueak handled it like a champ; diaper changes were at a minimum, and she only tossed herself off her seat headfirst once during the entire flight (less than an hour before landing).

There were some glitches at the airport, but we got to -- and through! -- that magic moment when the Pipsqueak officially became a U.S. citizen without any problems, found our luggage, and made our way through the maze mob crowds to where our folks were waiting to say "Hi!" to their granddaughter in person for the very first time.  My niece really seemed to recognize her Grandma & Grandpa as those funny faces she saw during all the Skype sessions, and she only wailed  howled  screamed  cried for a few minutes of her first encounter with a car seat before calming down & falling asleep.  We found AJ's house decorated with "Welcome Home" banners, streamers & balloons (a surprise from a neighbor), and our folks had fun helping their granddaughter explore part of her new home & even more fun feeding her for the first time... and then they took me home, and for the first time in what felt like a lifetime I was going to bed without hearing a tiny little voice quietly snoring nearby. Because of the time zones we crossed, we had finished the trip with a day that lasted slightly over 30 hours... and we'd gotten the Pipsqueak home. :-)

Meanwhile, back in the present day (2011)... Friday night was rough at work, so I got up pretty late, then headed over to the folks' for a bleary-eyed lunch. AJ & Miri were there and my niece was being very "two-ish" today, so I hung out to help give the other grownups a break (it kinda sorta almost worked, too!)  I think at one point I commented to AJ that after watching Miri in action, I no longer thought of "Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde" as science fiction -- it was more of an allegorical description of a two year old child!

After a couple of hours Dad and I went out to get some badly-needed haircuts (it was MUCH too hot to tackle any of the yardwork at either house), and by the time we got back AJ was doing her usual, "is anybody else hungry?"  While discussing the merits of different potential meals, Mom suddenly realized that a year ago at that moment she & Dad were standing nervously in the Arrivals area of the main terminal at Dulles, wondering when we'd come out of the crowd; unfortunately, when she said "we ought to celebrate!" we were all so tired that the best we could come up with was for me to go online and check the price of different brands of local pizza.  The five of us had a family meal together (which in reality is enough of a celebration for us), the Pipsqueak bounced happily in/on/beside my lap along to The Wiggles' "Hot Potato" on YouTube, and then it was time to go home...

...and here I am, a year after dragging my suitcase through the door and dragging myself upstairs to my room after two weeks in China, marveling at the energetic, amazingly bright, and irresistably cute little girl who joined the family just 12 short months ago as a quiet, nearly bald, but inquisitive & interactive little baby. (Ironically, it seems that she's got the same ear infection & mild cold now that she had when we first met her... Oh, well...)

And it just occurred to me that I still haven't finished sorting & cataloging all the photos & videos from the trip, and the DVDs I keep planning to burn & send to our companion families still aren't made... Guys, if you're reading this, I will get them to you soon!  <8-P


It just occurred to me that this post essentially closes out the first chapter of this blog; I've completed my account of the adoption trip that brought the Pipsqueak into the family after so many years of waiting & hoping. There will still be looks back (e.g., the upcoming -- and ongoing! -- baby gate saga) but for all intents the character of the blog is going to have to change a little because from now on the posts will mostly be recent past, or in the present & future, or discussions of issues & ideas.

Knowing my niece, I suggest y'all buckle up; this is going to be quite a trip...! :-)

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