So my sister-in-law and her husband had several weeks to spend in China in a tour which began with landing on the east coast just long enough to get sort of acclimated to the time zone, and then go to the rather inland province from which they would meet their child, and have the chance to decide whether their personalities really did mesh. (They had decided ahead of time that absolutely they would adopt her, but I can understand the agency's desire for a last-minute ``are you really, really sure now that you've seen her in person'' decision.) Part of this was supposed to come from pictures which I had been told would be uploaded to a flicker account linked to a digital picture frame which we got last Christmas, but they never appeared, so I supposed that I was just not looking at the right time. It turned out my brother was sending them to a different account whch I finally was told about shortly before they came back home.
The other means of contact was Skype messages, over the web camera attached to my father's computer. My father does not have a fast computer, although it's speedier than my mother's then-dying Windows laptop in that it would move at all. (She hadn't got the MacBook Pro by then.) But there are also bandwidth problems involved in streaming video and sound from the center-east middle of China. As a result what I would see, when they chatted --- and my parents and my siblings chatted most every morning and evening, mutual times --- was my brother and my sister-in-law in a hotel room that looked uncannily like every hotel room ever, with the audio a little rattly and noise-laden, and the video freezing up every three seconds to be later replaced with that spinny wheel of delays. My parents, ever-helpful, would explain, ``You've frozen up'' every single time the picture froze, whether or not anything was going on that really required a picture.
After the first couple days the happy couple was joined by this sweet, energetic, and occasionally talkative two-year-old who was fascinated by the keyboard, by my brother, by doors, by how many times she could throw something on the floor before it would no longer be handed back to her (three), by the web camera, by shirts, and by my brother's Blackberry. Also you've never seen my brother so smiley. I grant almost none of you have seen my brother under any circumstances, but even if you had seen him, you hadn't. My sister-in-law warned that if the adoptee's first words were ``you're frozen up'' my parents would be in a lot of trouble.
I never really got their itinerary straight; it seemed to me to be two straight weeks in which they would inform an appropriate authority that they accepted this child and were formally adopting her, and then they were going to a zoo. While it would not surprise me to know there were many organizations that had to be told the same thing about adopting her, it seemed like they were having the same conversations a lot. But they didn't seem to tire of the subject. The child was also fascinated by inflatable giraffe toys.
Trivia: San Francisco banks, plagued with orders for wire gold transfers on ``Black Friday'' 24 September 1869, the peak of Jay Gould and Jim Fisk's attempt to corner to gold market, generally ignored the requests out of fear of causing a shortage of West Coast gold reserves. Source: Dark Genius Of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life Of Jay Gould, King Of The Robber Barons, Edward J Renehan Jr.
Currently Reading: Off The Map: Tales Of Endurance And Exploration, Fergus Fleming.