Five years ago today, Kevin and I were getting ready to embark on an amazing journey, an adventure of a lifetime. Our ride to the airport, Kevin's parents Bud and Connie, would be arriving at 5:45 a.m. in the morning. The leftover Papa John's pizza from dinner was wrapped up in the fridge waiting to be eaten for breakfast. Our little dog-boy Alex, our only "child" to that point in time (we also had cats and a parrot, but it's just not the same) was already at Grammie and Gramps' house. The crib was assembled and made up with fresh new linens. Tiny dresses and overalls -- mostly size 9 months -- were hanging in the closet of Madeline's future room. Four or five changes of clothes, eight or ten baby outfits, a couple of dozen diapers, bottles, formula, snacks and lots of medicine were crammed into two large Costco suitcases, one of which had been procured the day before. We both had fresh haircuts. A video camera with several tapes, a still camera, a dozen rolls of film and $5,500 in cash -- crisp, new $100 bills per our agency's instructions -- and $2,000 in travelers' checks waited in Kevin's carry-on. My carry-on was packed, too. It was a spiffy new Land's End diaper bag. At ages 45 and 47, we were finally going to be parents!
And it's been an adventure in so many ways. Sure, I knew parenting would be an adventure. Adopting a child is like Forrest Gump's proverbial box of chocolates -- you never know what you're going to get. With Madeline, we have been extraordinarily blessed, or we lucked out, whatever your perspective. I have friends with adopted Chinese children whose kids suffer from attachment problems, behavioral issues, learning disabilities and the like.... actually like a lot of biological children that I know. Madeline has none of those issues, knock wood, at least of which we're aware. And, believe me, I've looked for them. She's going to be book-smart, she's already gifted athletically, she is emotionally intelligent out the wazoo, and if that weren't enough, she's pretty. And this is what other people have said about her. No, she's not perfect, and she can definitely act too big for her britches sometimes, but all and all, it's been good.
The trip itself was also an adventure. Sure, we knew we'd have a great vacation trip in China. We went looking forward to seeing all the things we've read about and seen in pictures. We went to gain an up close and personal appreciation of our future daughter's native country. We went determined not to be "ugly Americans," but instead to represent all that is good about our country, our culture and our faith. I think we did all of these things, but there was a lot that happened over there and after we returned that was, well, unexpected.
Come along, dear reader, while I re-live a very special journey that began on March 27, 2003.