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The Ruby "Registry"
Sent: Sunday, Sun, 27 Oct 2002
Subject: Hello from China 1
Here we are, on BABY DAY ONE. Well, no babies yet. For us. Babies in the hotel with other happy adopting families though, just like on our very first day, when we landed in Kunming, which I guess was two weeks ago. Don't know where the time went. Travel makes time stretch and then contract in the oddest ways.
We were initially going to see Ruby snooby around noon...by the time we left the US it turned into "late afternoon", now we have instructions to each be in our rooms at exactly 6:45 this evening. ??? For the most special kind of room service? There is always a large component of not being told things when interacting with Chinese. This is an example.
Yesterday we almost didn't make it back here from the Tibetan border. That would be another example. The excitement and drama of that story was better than the time they were going to keep us in Narita 3 yrs ago and ignore our tickets back from Thailand. But we did a good job- by yesterday our buddies (Constance, Maureen and their 6 yr old daughter Chasheng) were needing help as well. By the time we were through, they had coughed up the five tickets and government officials had called the travel agency in Kunming. Whatever works, that's my motto.
Then Joel flung a few Space Needle key chains to the main players as I gathered up my rocks (that's right, I bought rocks in China) and we all ran for the plane, dividing five people's worth of carry ons as we covered the tarmac. But I digress.
The main points for today are: 1.this is the very first day we will spend with Ruby 2. neither of us can remember our names 3. we are clean (bigger deal than you might think) 4. I cannot believe I went all the way the the Tibetan border and did not get so much as an offering scarf to show for it (all that time spent waving my arms around to get tickets while Joel snuck around the blocks in the phone lines to dial for assistance) Hey that kinda sounds like something I should print on a t-shirt. 5. I looooove water buffalo. Wonder if I can get one to Duvall? 6. did I mention we are so nervous we can't remember our names?
Love, Suz & Joel, missing Maggie and Sasha and all the family very much right now.
Sent: Sunday, Sun, 27 Oct 2002 02:27:59 +0000
Subject: Hello from China 2
Today is meant to be chill out day, so I thought I'd write as much as possible before the tour van starts rolling again, so to speak. Besides, it seems we are in a city that tour books tend to describe as, euphemistically, "a stopover to other places". It's actually not so bad, for one thing you can tell what the weather is. In Guangzhou you can't. No kidding. Someone asks you and there you are, looking up at (what appears to be) the sky, saying to yourself, hmmmmm. Five minutes later you are still saying hmmmm.
We have a life filled with plastic bottles of drinking water, the mantra of "Don't Even Think of Touching That", a well-worn Chinese dictionary, and a craving for market fruit. We are also quite skilled at bargaining these days, especially if we do it together. Joel plays the heavy, I smile a lot, we go back and forth about 3 or 4 times and then we walk. Works well. The interesting thing is, that bargaining here, like the other countries we have traveled to, can win you much respect if done skillfully and politely. People who just fork over the money are looked down upon. The market place is where people come to agreement, come to know you a bit, want to see if you think they are worth spending some time upon. Also, one is almost never buying something from the person who made it, so dickering is about the only thing that keeps the system honest. One person told me they like to buy things at the Chinese Walmart because the "the prices are more cheap". I ask you: how on earth could the prices be better when everything is made here in the first place? The thought of small businesses going under, in countries even beyond the US, is very depressing.
The exception to all this: walking back down from the Western Hills in Kunming, I found a young woman carving stone and selling her own stuff. I hardly bargained at all, needless to say. Even though I was exhausted, I was so happy I could have burst into tears at any moment. All I have is some stone, a picture and a memory though - no way to contact her or ever to see her again. Phones here have gone from no phones to 100% cellular. All the Asian tourists and many of the urban Chinese have cell phones and billboards for China Mobile were everywhere. Cell towers were to be found in the remotest areas near Tibet. Some were on top of old pagodas. Phones were never turned off and ringing constantly, even in theatres during classical music performances. There are internet cafes in most towns, but it still costs money that no one has.
Some people think America is about the stuff you can buy and wealth that can be made. To me the only difference between this country and any other is public libraries, public press, health plans and public schools.
Ok, wish us luck! 7 more hours until Ruby! But who's counting?
Suz and Joel
Sent: Monday, 28 Oct 2002
Subject: Hello from China 3
Wahoo !!!! She's here!!!!!
Ruby just wrote that; her first email. She is squirming around just like the little snake year baby she is. Holy guacamole is she cute smart and totally wonderful. WE ARE SOOO HAPPY!!!!!!
we were told to "stay in our rooms " and wait for a phone call at 6:45 pm last night to see our babies. Well, if you had waited over two years and traveled all this way, would you stay in YOUR room? No way Jose!
So we arranged to eat some dinner around 5 pm because it was located smack in front of the lobby- no child was coming into this building without us seeing. I also took the liberty of frequent inquiries with the reception desk. While Joel tried not to spill his Sprite down the mezzanine floor into the lobby. 007 we're not. We saw babies come in and parents too...but not ours. Until finally a group of four came in. We rushed down the elevator to see RUBY IN A STUNNING BRAND NEW YELLOW ENSEMBLE! We recognized the others as well, immediately. And of course went running all over the hotel telling everyone else, sincere spying began... and finally I went down myself, first one in... and they put my daughter into my arms. Same tiny chin, same curious eyes. And she took one look at me and began to cry. The orphanage director was right there, too, made the hour trip with his babies.
Then they said I should round up everybody else, and I tried, but they beat me back. Pandemonium! Crying, passports and paperwork. They gave US gifts! Including a cloth filled with soil from her orphanage, which is when I totally lost it. Joel tossed tissues to me as fast as I could catch them. Her caretakers called her Dieh Dieh, so I did that too and she calmed right down. Don't think I ever will.
She has an itchy rash, loves her food and her favorite things are songs I make up and crinkling paper.
We have more official paperwork tomorrow, but are supposed to visit her home town and orphanage as well.
That's all for now...
Suz and Joel
Sent: 10/30/02 10:27:37 PM Eastern Standard Time
Subject: Hello from China 4
Tomorrow we leave Nanchang and fly to Guangzhou. Ruby is now formally adopted per the Chinese government, and this afternoon we pick up her passport.
The whole group is going more than a little stir crazy in the hotel here. Suz, Ruby and some of the others have gone shopping this morning. I was not up for that adventure since we are going out this afternoon to government offices and a temple or two.
Ruby is doing really well, but teething and a bit fussy at times. Not bad for all the trauma she's been enduring lately.
We'll probably write again in a couple days. Love to all,
Sent: Sunday, November 3, 2002
Subject: Hello from China Continued
We have been in Guangzhou since Friday night (China date/time). It has been more stops and starts here, a lot of hurry up and wait. Ruby has had a medical exam here (very quick and cursory) for the US visa application. We have worked with our agency facilitators to fill out the US embassy forms. This whole process would have been impossible to do oneself. Too many forms, steps, fees, changed forms, revisions, etc. etc. So far everything is moving forward. We got Ruby's passport and Adoption Decree in Nanchang before coming here. Guangzhou is very large and cosmopolitan. The Chinese agency facilitators here consider Nanchang as "backwards" or a "backwater" something like being in a boring midwest town than being in New York or LA.
It seems our agency is VERY conservative about not overstressing anyone and keeping everyone safe and close to the hotel (or within it preferably). Once they had someone with a ruptured appendix who chose to be airlifted to Hong Kong for surgery. But I think they want us Americans to have a "four star" experience and keep us close to the clean western style toilets! They are overdoing it. No "excursion" is more than three hours a day. We visited Sun Yat Sen's (sort of the father of modern China) memorial hall and park and a souvenir shop as a group, in addition to the few official matters. We may see the zoo and a couple more things. Tomorrow is the important embassy applications and appointment.
So Suz, Ruby and I have been exploring the nearby few blocks. We are located on an island along the Pearl River. Lots of neon across the river and tour boats. But here is quiet and a little bit like a Chinese New Orleans. This is where the Western countries were allowed to set up shop when Canton was forcibly opened to trade in the 1800's. Lots of Western architecture amidst large old tropical trees.
Until the next message....
Joel, Suz and Ruby
Sent: Sunday, November 03, 2002 11:09 PM
Subject: Baby to Become U.S. Citizen
Read all about it! It's Monday, and if it is Monday in Guangzhou, it must be time to (as Richard, our guide puts it) "putta up you right hand and say Yes! Has everybody got that? Remember, Mei Won Tee! (Cantonese: don't worry about a thing) In two hours is our big consulate appointment. But who is it that we are bringing? Well, a little person who acts just like her photos look, actually. Ruby is a thinky baby who always tilts her head to the right when processing info, loves to smile and laugh, loves jokes, tickling, peeka boo and who just discovered she had feet on Tuesday, Quite an event needless to say. Working on introducing her to her knees. She does a good imitation of a 2 x 6 on occasion. In personality she resembles Patti as a baby, because she is so darn happy. And has a big head. Mommy has many songs she sings which include the phrase Pumpkin Head. The kid LOVES music. All Music. Any music, you name it and she is swinging her arms around, clapping as big as she can. Yes, it may be that we got the kid who will have the drum set. Sigh.
When she gets really happy, she slaps the sides of her own head, which can be, um, a surprise, if she already had something in one hand to begin with. The shock is easily overcome with a new sound or a Cheerio. Happens even faster with lox. For some reason, we can get lox in this town to eat, and she chugs it down. Like any other kind of food. Part Jewish, evidently.
Anything that makes sound is of interest - her first toy was the room service menu at the last hotel (crinkle crinkle) The first week she did not want to be anywhere near me, as our pediatrician had warned, because she had bonded with her female caregiver and is a loyal little munchkin. So I did the only thing I know how to do - not get wrapped up in feeling hurt and keep slathering her with love. Also I refused to put her in a stroller or have her out of physical contact with either myself or Joel at any time. She came to us with an all over body rash and very dry skin, so every night after her bath I grease her up with skin cream and massage her all over. Works wonders- she really loves it. Now Joel is Mr. Unknown Quantity to her, so perhaps he will use the baby carrier a bit more to even things out. Also her skin is all better now. I think they over-scrubbed the babies a bit at the orphanage in their zeal.
She is a quiet, gentle child who notices many unusual things- sensitive to
folks emotions, gets vibes from them. She also likes a challenge and has begun
to imitate all kinds of things, from my funny faces and noises to food games.
For instance, we rarely just give her a snack. If she wants it, she has to work
a bit. We hide it or put it in our hand where she can see it but has to
dog a little. She likes this so much, that last night she hid it herself in her
left hand to find it with her right.
She greets people she loves a la Tibet- she likes to bend forward to touch
foreheads. And she loves to dance. I bought her a tambourine today. She loves
it. The other families on the bus hate it. She is already gaining weight, and we
are working on teaching her how to crawl. She can barely flip herself over and
cannot flip back and can't hold up her head when on her tummy. The back of her
head is flat from lying on her back, not moving, for so many months. Her hair
may be beginning to fill in now on her scalp, with the additional protein we've
been giving her. And she hates to be hot. I think the northwest will suit her to
a T. She can fall asleep in my arms already. What a trooper!
She can say Mama and Baba as of yesterday, but only randomly. Two words that have meaning: Ma (I want some) and MeMMM (Ack! Distress!) She is just perfect for us. The other kids are all different and interesting and all, but this is the one we would choose out of all of them. And we have seen literally dozens of adopted kids on our trip so far. they seem to keep us all in the same hotels.
Back to the palm trees, the weird things that go wrong, the delightful
Chinese who crowd around Ruby with questions and comments, and, COFFEE!
Love, Ruby Joel and Suuuuuz