My Dearest Emmalie
On March 14, 2004, it took all of about five minutes after my oldest daughter was placed in my arms, I wanted to do it again. On February 6, 2006, I was back in China, Nanchang City in Jiangxi Province, at the local adoption affairs office, where an entourage of social welfare workers and caregivers would be arriving with not just my youngest daughter, but children who would be adopted by ten other families along with us.
For some, we call it “Gotcha Day” as in I finally have you. Some call it “Forever Day”. There are all kinds of nicknames given this special moment but it results in the same, another member has joined the family. For the Edelmans, it was Ling Wan Xu, who would be legally called Emmalie Josephine Wan Xu. Just as I did with Madison, I decided that Emmalie would also have her Chinese name as part of her legal name, which would allow her at the age of 18, to use her Chinese name legally if so desired. That would be her choice.
While I have told the “Super Bowl” story plenty of times, a different tale was about to unfold with Emmy. Although today she is my “cuddlebug”, it was not the case when she first saw me, not even close. For an unknown reason, I was not able to be in the same room with her. The last I had checked, my appearance was not even half as bad as the most gruesome looking fairy tale character, but I may as well have been to Emmalie. She would get herself so worked up at the sight of me, scream at the top of her lungs, upset enough to get violently ill. In fact, she got so sick she had to be taken to a hospital for dehydration (another post… hospitals in China).
It took three days to notice a particular behavior by Emmalie. It seemed to be only me that she reacted to in this manner, until another dad happen to stop by our room. And her screams began again. What was it that upset Emmy so much about myself, and this other dad, but not the other dads? Madison adjusted nicely to me, although I was always good for Cheerios supply.
It was facial hair. I had a goatee at that time, which I routinely shave off and grow back. However, for the purposes of international travel, I chose to have it, because then my appearance would resemble my passport. I wanted no opportunity for any authority to question who I was. None of the other dads had facial hair. There was only one way to find out. So I set out to find a grocery store to locate shaving cream and a razor and then shaved the goatee off.
That resolved the issue, but created another. You guessed right. I was now getting stopped at every immigration counter. But Emmalie was happy. That was all that matters.
Eight years ago. It is hard to believe. One of the two happiest days of my life. I love you Emmalie.