Friday, July 15, 2005

Settling in

Settling in
Originally uploaded by Dennis&Terri.

Saturday will mark one week since we've returned from China with Eleanor. The bags are all unpacked, the jet lag has diminished, and we've already made one trip to IKEA - so we must have turned the corner. We've had a couple of long nights while we (i.e., Eleanor) have cycled away from China time, but by and large things have gone well. Eleanor has settled in to her new surroundings and seems to be flourishing. Frankly, she continues to be delightful. She has a marvelous sense of play and definitely knows how to make us laugh. Physically, she gets stronger every day and is beginning to try to crawl. Terri and Dennis have a $5 bet on when she'll manage to crawl from one room to another; the over-under is Terri's birthday (August 27 HINT) and Terri has the under. Basically it looks like another of Dennis' loser bets, right up there with the time he bet Terri that the actress who plays Mrs. Landingham on "West Wing" is the same woman who portrayed Ruth Ann on "Northern Exposure. (She isn't.) Or the time he bet Terri that Carol would not become romantically involved with Mr. Martino on "Ed." (She did.) Funny, we don't seem to find the time to watch much TV lately.

Not that Eleanor hasn't presented her challenges. So far she has been the very babbling, cooing picture of the happy baby during the day, but she can definitely vent white-hot steam if things don't go her way when the sun goes down. They warned us in China about these "spicy Hunan babies" - she can get mad, and when she gets mad she hunkers down and gathers all the air and indignation and vituperation and unmitigated fury she can muster and launches an ear-piercing, moon-rattling, Hounds of Hell-unleashing, has-to-be-heard-to-be-believed cry that surely registers on the seismograph at Cal Tech. But then she usually sleeps all night, too, so we have nothing to complain about. She is a dear precious child, and we are lucky, lucky people to have her, despite that odd ringing sound in Dennis' left ear that doesn't seem to want to go away.

Now that we have had some time to decompress, that feeling of immediacy of having just been halfway around the world to China to adopt a child is, inevitably, beginning to dissolve. But it was an experience that will be with us forever, just as we know it will be for the other brave and wonderful families who shared it with us. It was daunting enough to undertake the adoption process and see it through, ultimately making our way to an incredibly foreign place to start a life with a child we knew only from a few small photographs taken months before; for that foreign place to be China, an epic adventure unto itself, made the trip nearly hallucinogenic at times. We'll reflect more on this as time goes by, but China is a massive, fascinating, beautiful, hyper-crowded, insane country with a list of problems - pollution, unemployment, cultural upheaval, surly rickshaw drivers, etc., etc. - a mile long, but with the kind of potential that rocks you back on your heels. Obviously we're no experts after three weeks over there, but China strikes you as a big, lumbering, heavily armed battleship that is slowly but inexorably turning around and beginning to focus all its considerable might in one direction. When they figure everything out, stand back.

But China is losing some of its lifeblood, too, in the form of these countless children, most of them baby girls, flowing from Chinese orphanages into the US and many other countries and into homes like ours. We don't presume to judge - China's loss is most blessedly our gain, and the beautiful little girl who now graces our home is living proof of that. But places like California are filling up with these girls, and you can't help but wonder what will happen when these incredibly gifted children become women with minds and voices of their own. I'm not sure what the future holds, but we know this - they will be heard.

That seems a long way off at the moment. In our little corner of the world Eleanor finds great amusement in soap bubbles and great sustenance in strained peas, and her parents are working hard to make sure that she feels truly loved above all else. Perhaps when she cries at night, hitting those operatic notes, she isn't really crying - maybe she's just trying to find her voice. A couple of people already are listening.


Blogger Alan, Lila and Katie said...

Your ideas on the second to last paragraph are so true and so well put. Thanks for putting them into words.

Alan Berris
Group 88

1:17 PM  
Blogger gwprice said...

Sounds like she is a great baby. I think I am in love with her.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Shana said...

Beautifully said!

3:58 AM  

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