We designed this site in order to keep in touch with friends and family who are far away and in order to communicate with other adoptive families from around the world.

When we first started researching this wonderful way to become a family we read everything we could get our hands on. Even though there are a lot of great books out there, nothing was as informative or touching as the blogs we found by adoptees, biological parents, and adoptive families. So we are writing this blog now in hopes of returning the favor. We hope that if you are dear to us you will enjoy keeping up with our adventures. If you are someone out there involved in a part of the adoption triad we hope you will find information and comfort here and provide us with some of your own!

If you would like to get in touch with us we can be reached at:
Feel free to stop by anytime. We're happy to share our family story.

Take care,
Brian and Rosemary

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Still here

We have not dropped off the face of the earth. I just had to take a little leave of absence from blogging with everything we've had going on in the past month. My health hit a few tiny stumbling blocks so Button and I made a trip out to Tulsa to stay with my folks for a little while and that kept a us quite busy in a wonderful way. Then we finally made the decision to move to Oregon in July for Brian's work so as you can imagine that has thrown our whole household into chaos!! Plus, I have been busy with my own work and then Button himself keeps us running, running, RUNNING.

I did want to share briefly with everyone in blogland that Button and Mamma continue to bond more and more everyday. The pattern we see is "2 steps forward, 1 step back". If we have several days of hugs and kisses and very few tantrums then it will surely be followed by a big, bad, horrible day of endless fits and hitting. However, the overall picture is one of progress and bonding. We are very proud of him and hopeful for the future.

I also wanted to mention our trip to Tulsa because I know a lot of people wonder about the "when and how" of traveling with their newly adopted children. We made this trip after Button had been home for 3 months. We went to Tulsa without Brian because he couldn't come and we needed to go. There were not any other options - it was as simple as that. If we could have avoided breaking up our little family unit for 8 days I would have. I was with Button every second and he adores his grandparents. However, he cried frequently for Daddy (and the cat) and he slept poorly at night and nap-time. He also FREAKED OUT on the plane and the less said about that the better. I am pretty sure he remembered air-travel, much to my dismay.

The things that seemed to help the most during the trip were keeping his routine and food as much the same as possible, taking his security objects, and skyping with Daddy once or twice a day. Now that we are home though he is doing great with the exception that he calls constantly for his "GAI GAI, BOPA" (my parents) and seems very frustrated that we don't all just get with the program and move into the same house.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Button and Mamma pt. 2

After yesterday's stark post about bonding with a traumatized child allow me to offer some hope today. Yes, it does get better. Slowly. Very slowly. I also want to make sure that I put out this disclaimer since I am talking about a very personal thing in such a public forum: "I am neither feeling sorry for myself nor feeling bad about my son. Button is the most amazing little boy on earth and I couldn't love any other child any more. There is nothing about him I want to change. I simply long for the day when our relationship gives him the peace and comfort he needs."

We have had Button now for 10 weeks and both Brian and I can change his diaper with equal amounts of ease. He shows no preference for one of us to do the task over the other. This took a month.

We can both put him to sleep and he actually shows a preference for ME at bedtime and naptime!! Can I just tell you what it does for the bleeding, shreds of my heart when Brian comes down after a bedtime struggle with Button and says, "I don't know how you manage to get him to fall asleep in under 15 minutes!" And he falls asleep, face to face, with my arms around him. This took at least 5-6 weeks.

The feeding thing has almost resolved itself too. When I am alone with him (most of the time) I can usually feed him his meals without a hitch but if Dad is home things can get more complicated. He will almost always demand Dad if possible and then throw fits in the middle of the meal about odd things. That may not be adoption related as much as "terrible two's" behavior though. Hard to know.

There were two interesting things that happened that let me know we were making real progress in bonding and, even though this post is getting long, I want to share them with you because I think they are an excellent picture of the bleak realities of a non-bonding child. I tried to imagine what this would be like before it happened to me and I tell you - I could not wrap my mind around it.

The first thing that happened was that Button has this little mantra he says to himself, on and off all day, as he plays. He sort of chants his people's names. I think it's a comfort mechanism. Anyway, he would say, "Bopa, Gaigai, Dada" over and over again while stacking blocks or doing any quiet activity. At about the 7 week mark I suddenly heard him say, "Bopa, Gaigai, Dada, Mamma." I had been added to his list of comfort names. Now he always chants me in with the group. Trust me, it's a big deal.

The second thing was that about 2 weeks ago, Button woke up from his nap and I got him out of bed and carried him into our wouldbig chair for "book time" like we do every day. As we walked along I realized that something was different. At first I couldn't identify it but then I realized that Button had snuggled against me koala style with his hands around my neck, head on my shoulder and legs wrapped around my waiste. Yes, I carry Button constantly and have done so for more than 2 months, but unless he was passed out cold that child has never snuggled against me. He holds his body away from me, rigidly, making it so heavy and difficult to carry him but he demands to be carried none-the-less.

I stood in our hallway holding him and cried. It was such a small thing and it felt so huge to me. My tears made me feel so pathetic, like I was desperate for love or something. Since that time Button seems to have decided that he can perform this "koala snuggle" with me safely and he will now do it once or twice a day and then pull back, look into my face searchingly and smile. Once though, he looked at me very seriously and then slapped me hard. He is working so hard to find safety that it breaks my heart for him. And, yes, a little for me too.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Button and Mamma pt. 1

In "Toddler Adoption: the Weaver's Craft" it tells us that 75% of toddler's adopted bond first with their father while rejecting their mother to some degree. This may be for a variety of reasons - scary female caregivers at orphanages, a tight bond with a foster mother or suffering from the primal wound of infant loss of their biological mother but whatever the reason they are slow to find room in their hearts for Mom.

And yet, pouring over adoption blogs for the past 2 years I never really found very many that reported stories like this. Hmmm... could it be that we are embarrassed? That the "super mommy" myths and the stroller derby that is modern parenting has forced us into some kind of self-imposed silence? Yea, I think that's possible but whatever people's personal reasons are for not sharing I totally respect that but I am going to talk about our bonding struggles on this blog. I want Button to have the story later and I also want any other moms struggling with this to know they're not alone.

When we first met Button he seemed to "like" us both ok. But he obviously thought Brian was wicked fun for all the dude reasons: wrestling, ball playing, truck sound effects, etc. It wasn't that I didn't do those things with him but I just didn't do them as well as Daddy. Testosterone deficient. Then, while we were still in Thailand, that preference seemed to suddenly turn into a dislike for me. I can't begin to tell you how unlucky it was that Brian was sick they day of the "child transfer." After he officially became ours Button really seemed to feel that everything he was experiencing was my fault. If Brian left the room he just freaked out. Only Brian could get him to sleep, bathe him, or make him laugh. If I could explain to you my level of discouragement at that time I would. But I'll just let your imagination go to work.

Once we got home, he did a little better in fits and starts. He would let me feed him at one meal and then, at the next meal, throw food at me and hit his tray screaming until Brian took over. He would allow Brian to hold and sway him to sleep but when I did nap/bedtime he would just scream and point at the bed until I would lie him down and then he would just roll away from me and cry himself to sleep.

He was happy to let me entertain him though. I could play blocks with him, take him on walks, push him in his car, read to him. I was a great "clown" but as soon as I tried to be a caregiver he started to show great ANGER and really tried to exert toddler rejection. He hated having his diaper changed by anyone but when Mommy did it it was an unbelievably violent exchange. Sometimes he would lie still and smile at me until I cautiously moved close to him then he would kick sideways, directly into my stomach, with all his might while screaming and laughing.

Button is much too active for the Ergo and we pretty much figured from the second we met him that it was going to be a no-go but we valiantly tried it a couple of times to see if he would adjust. He allowed Brian to ride him around the yard a few times before screaming to get down. The one time we put him in the ergo while I wore it he pulled my hair and bit my neck so hard I cried.

How does it feel to wait for years to be a mom and then find out your child wants nothing to do with you? Oh it feels terrible! I won't sugar coat it. It's the most discouraging, depressing, debilitating emotion I've ever felt. Especially when I see him giving love so freely to his dad and grandparents.

Button and I have already come a long way and I am going to talk about that in some additional posts on this subject but for now I will say that if this is happening to you or if you are a pre-adoptive parent and you experience this in the future: "Hang in there! You are a good mom (or dad) and I think you're great!"


Monday, May 10, 2010

My First Mother's Day

May 9, 2010 was my first Mother's Day and I will always remember it. Brian and Button let me sleep for ages and finally woke me with a sweet breakfast in bed and loving cards. French toast with peach preserves! Button was so adorable. He couldn't believe that Daddy was bringing food upstairs and that we were sitting in the bed eating it. Naturally, he thought it was all a giant treat for him! Who could blame him? Everything we do is a treat for him! I couldn't have loved anything more than having that happy, laughing little boy sitting in my lap being fed french toast though. Brian was on call so he had to spend most of the day at the hospital but once he got home he made sure to let me "off duty" and I got to spend the rest of the afternoon reading and chatting on the phone. It was such a delightful rest!

I did think of Button's other mother. Several times in fact. My heart sent her loving gratitude as I watched my son play in the yard on this very special day. But we didn't talk about her. We've decided that we're going to just celebrate the ways we parent Button on American Mother (and Father's) Day. We are going to do a separate celebration of all the ways Button's first family is important on Thai Mother's and Father's Day. I don't know if that is a good or bad idea but adoption always has so many elements of loss and love mixed together and we want to try to sort them out as much as possible so that all of us, especially our children, can truly find the joy and also mourn what's gone.

I had a wonderful day and I couldn't have loved anything or anyone more. Thank you, Brian, for being my perfect husband and thank you, Button, for being our just right little boy! I'm grateful to be a mom.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Button Talks

Lat week I talked about the incredible healing power that language is having in our family. But I know that many of you adoptive and especially pre-adoptive families are wanting the specifics. It has been two months since we met Button and only 6 weeks in America so what exactly does Button say and understand? OK, here goes:

We feel pretty confident that he understands almost everything we say to him now. If I notice he isn't responding or he seems angry I will get down and make direct eye-contact, slow my speech and try to simplify whatever I am saying. If that doesn't correct the attitude problem then it usually isn't language related. He doesn't seem to be grasping abstract feeling words yet though. For instance, even though we say "I love you" a million times a day he doesn't seem to know that it means anything. We even say it in Thai and try to act it out by saying it to each other and giving hugs and kisses. I say it to the cat with a big funny hug that he loves! My parents say it on skype and touch their hearts. He will mimic all the motions but his eyes have that blank look I have learned to recognize and he never repeats the sounds. We did have one "abstract" breakthrough though. He learned what "hurt" means. He was pulling and pulling on his teeth and I kept talking to him about "hurt teeth" and suddenly I saw the light go on. Now he points at the orajel and his teeth and screams "hurt!"

He says lots of nouns but like most children his age he can't really say compound consonants so truck, train and trash all basically sound like slight variations of "tuck" but he applies the noise to the object in question at the time so we know he gets it. He says: car, egg, milk, cup, dog, book, ball, duck, socks, pants, shoes, toes, bread, keys, teeth, hair, hat.

His verbs are pretty limited. He screams "eat" like a guest star at Medieval Times so we're pretty sure that's his favorite word. He says, "a walk" to mean "let's go", or "I want to leave this place" or "take me outside". So it's sort of a verb/command/all purpose wish for him. He also says "play" and "bath." His baths are definitely an activity so I'm putting that on the verb list.

His proper nouns are limited to: Mama, Dada, Bopa, Gaigai and Gilbert (the cat) who he screams for frequently by shouting "Baber." The cat does not respond. Oh he also calls Elmo "Lalala" because of his stupid song. So I guess that's another proper noun... unfortunately.

He has no adjectives yet except for "wow" and "ah-oh" but he says them so cutely that I am pretty sure he can get through life with just those.

His sound effects are developing well too (an integral part of the healthy toddler brain). He cannot whistle but he makes a fake whistle sound when we whistle. Yep, it's cute! He makes about 10 different animal noises which he can match correctly to the named animal!! He makes a honk noise when he drives the little car Duchess bought for him. He makes a vroom noise for the truck and a "choo-choo" for the train. Neither of these sound right but he is working on it!

We are so proud of our Button-Boy who is working incredibly hard to communicate with us!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


It has been 2 months since we met Button and I can say, without a doubt, that the number one change is language. Button's ability to understand what we are saying has decreased his anger and frustration level by about 75% and his ability to communicate his simple toddler needs has raised his trust in us a huge extent. He tells us what he wants i.e. cup and then we give it to him = he feels he can trust us to provide for him. You might be thinking that is a ridiculous oversimplification of relationship. Well, of course, it's not everything - not even close - but like I said before language has brought the single most powerful change we've seen so far.

For instance, 1 month ago a scenario would play out where he would start screaming suddenly and for no discernable reason. I would ask over and over what he wanted. I would volunteer objects. I would carefully check the big 3: tired, hungry, wet. If I didn't get lucky and happen upon the desired item (one time it was a tiny plastic cat sitting in a high windowsill) after kicking and hitting attempts, he would simply scream himself out. Now just a month later, he can easily just tell me what he wants but if he gets too hungry and starts to head down this road I say,"Button can you point to what you want?" He will then point at the object. If it is a word he knows like "truck" I will say, "Can you ask nicely for that truck?" and he will say, "Peas tuck." If it is a new word we will practice that word once and then he can play with the item.

His ability to express himself and to understand us has released so much fear from our beautiful little boy. Don't get too excited here, but sometimes he will even play with his car in the hallway and allow me to go into the potty-room alone...if I leave the door open and if I sing the whole time. Baby steps, folks, baby steps.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bopa and GaiGai

Attachment and bonding is a funny thing. So many books have been written on it that I don't even want to think about it and yet it's still such a mystery. We are told so many things to do "right" to help aid the attachment process: parent facing strollers, child slings, co-sleeping, parent care instead of daycare when possible, time-ins instead of time-outs, feeding them instead of allowing them to feed themselves, massage, and constant eye contact.

That's quite a list of "correct parenting" pressure and that doesn't even begin to touch all the other regular parenting stuff. That's just the attachment and bonding stuff. And that's just some of it. And oh yeah, all of that effort doesn't guarantee anything, because attachment is a mystery. Yes, we need to do all that we can to help our kids through this very difficult period but we also have to just do the best we can and cut ourselves some slack.

Skeptical? Allow me to tell you the story of Bopa and GaiGai.

Bopa and GaiGai would be my parents, Button's grandparents. They arrived for a visit about 10 days after we came home to America and stayed about 4 days. The second Button met Gai Gai they had a gentle, pleasant communication. No strife. If Gai Gai said no then he just accepted that and moved on. If Mommy says no there is hell to pay. If Gai Gai changed his diaper it rarely turned into a bloodsport whereas, in those days, if Mommy did it there was carnage. Then there is Bopa. The whole world stopped turning for Button the second Bopa walked through the door. It was as if his favorite person ever, who he had known always, suddenly showed up to rescue him. Dare I say it? Bopa was more popular even than Daddy. Yes, it's true! Now my Dad has always been sort of a pied piper with little kids. I would not hesitate to say that all children like my dad and his 6 grandkids adore him...but this was RIDICULOUS!

It has been more than a month since my parents left town and Button asks for them daily. When he picks up his toy phone he calls "Bopa, Gai-Gai, Bopa". If he gets mad at us (frequently) he runs to the door and calls "Bopa" as if Grandpa is going to come and rescue him. Last week we took him for a picnic and he had a lovely afternoon out. Running and playing all day! Naturally, he was upset to go home so you can bet as soon as we put him in his car seat he started screaming for "BOPA, BOPA, BOPA!"

Then several days ago, I took him to the Best Buy to get a Sesame Street DVD and as we walked out there was an older couple who actually looked a great deal like my parents. Button went nuts waving his arms and calling to them "Bopa, Gai-Gai". Before I could stop him he raced over and hugged the woman's legs. When he looked up and saw it wasn't the right face he started screaming in terror and we had a full scale meltdown all the way home.

We don't know what enabled him to make this amazing attachment to my parents but meanwhile, we (his loving parents who care for him every day) are still working to gain access to the locked parts of our little boy's heart. Are we sad or jealous? No, absolutely not! We are thrilled that Button has a great relationship with both my parents and the Duchess. Do I wish that when Button had met us in Thailand he had been able to react to us with this instantaneous kismet love in the same way he reacts to my parents? UM....YEAH! That would have been amazing not to mention about a million times easier. But that is very rarely the way toddler adoption works - especially when the children are grieving for loving foster parents who they think are their parents.

There are no instant fixes and there is no activity, purchased item or therapy that can cause a relationship to grow when a child needs time. All we can do is give them love and patience and accept their grief. We need to give ourselves a lot of love and patience too because this is an amazing and strenuous new relationship that has taken over our lives. Attachment whether it be fast, slow, obvious, hidden or inexplicable is a mystery of the heart.