Funny Business with Jane Wells

"Daddy's In A Meeting, But He's So Proud of You!"


I am out here in Mojave, California, about as desolate a patch of scrubby desert as you will find. The wind is blowing, the dust is flying. This is where about a half dozen private companies are designing or building rockets and spaceships.

My dad was an aerospace engineer who spent all his free time tinkering on "other stuff" in the garage. This place is like my dad on steroids...really big garages packed with all kinds of really big "other stuff," and lots of engineers puttering around. They're not all aerospace refugees. They come from Intel, or the car business. But they all believe that with enough money, they can do what NASA can't, or won't do--get things happening again in manned space flight.

But that's not what this blog is about. 

I'm writing about a man I met here at a company called XCOR. His name is Doug Graham, and he was given the job of escorting this reporter around his small private aerospace firm. He didn't talk about himself, he just kept talking about the company and its aspirations.

Later, we had lunch. In the middle of it he got a call. He answered, and after a bit I heard, "That's great! Daddy is in a meeting right now but I am so proud of you!" Ah, I thought, the proud papa!

So I asked him about his kid. Turns out that a few months ago, Doug and his wife flew to Estonia and adopted a seven-year-old boy. Estonia! Seven! Boy! The kid had been abandoned at age two, and they found him in an orphanage. He spoke no English. They spoke no Estonian. Yet suddenly he was boarding an airplane with two strangers to fly a world away. It has been an adjustment.

At first their new son would shrink whenever they tried to hug him. He wasn't used to being touched. Now, after much patient work with him, Graham tells me his son kisses Mom, and loves to 'rassle' with Dad. Graham spoke of it so matter-of-factly, as if everyone goes to Estonia to adopt kids who were left to die. I marvel at how average people are capable of great things.

By the way, Graham and his wife are in the process of adopting another Estonian boy. Why not?

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