I don't remember it looking this dark. Perhaps it was a bit lighter in the conference room from where this photo was taken. What you see here is a very crowded elevator hallway way up high on some unremembered hotel floor. It is September 16, 2002 in this photo, at the Dolton Hotel in Changsha, Hunan PRC. The Muffin Man and I were about to become first time parents. He was over come with joy and excitement. I was simply overcome, naive, still healing from the wounds of cancer and infertility and seemingly prepared for the auspicious event armed with a copy of Jasper Becker's The Chinese. Why it didn't occur to me to bring Your Baby, The First Year; I'll never know.
The ten babies had to travel through this mass chaos to meet their new parents. After they sat on 2 hot buses all day to travel to Changsha. Maybe this is why one minute after meeting us, 8 month old Jing Tang broke out into what turned out to be hours and hours of inconsolable heaving fits of sobbing. Or maybe the powerful grieving was because she had been placed into the eager arms of two very inexperienced Americans who had in essence arranged for her to be pulled from the arms of the only caretaker she could remember. But grieve she did. She screamed. She shouted. She fought sleep. She thrashed and arched her back. She made sure we moved constantly to keep her eyes and mind entertained as if movement and bright lights were the only thing that would temporarily distract her from the obvious horror of being placed with us. When she entered our hotel room she started to wail, when we took her outside in the Bjorn pack or in the stroller she quieted down. We did a lot of moving that trip.
The adorable and obviously verbal Ava Jing Tang started to scream again as soon as Brian finished clicking this photo. Even though I'm sure she was grateful for those brightly colored stacking cups. I plopped her adorable and loud self into a stroller immediately after this photo was taken. It had started to rain outside so she and I walked most of every floor in the hotel in attempt to make her happy. I would have done anything to make her happy or at the very least to stop the crying. It cut through me like a knife to realize this child that we loved with every fiber of our being, waited for, and traveled the world to meet quite frankly was less than impressed with us. Our meeting was not the making for a Hallmark movie. I think it was during a 3 mile trek through the hotel that we discovered there was a floor devoted entirely to Chinese cigarettes and gambling where women were not permitted to enter. Hmmm...we both snorted and backed up our stroller and headed off the the 2nd floor again for a French sugar roll. Our first bonding moment. I then passed her crying little body off to the Muffin Man who took his shift of pacifying circus tricks while I passed out from complete exhaustion. If I remember correctly she continued the reindeer games of intermittent screams for another several hours until she too succumbed to the the less than super hero need for sleep. Glorious sleep. Heavenly sleep. She never got the memo. It would be another 3 years before she would sleep regularly. Clearly you can tell I didn't know this from the look on my face in the photo.
Now it is 8 years later and she's decided she likes us a little bit more. That too will probably fade as the next few years pass. She is strong willed, quick as a whip, and still in need of constant lights and movement. Her heart, as it turns out is made of gold. She has the voice of an angel with perfect pitch. It's another September 16th where I find myself even more in love with her than that last one.