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

Monday, December 29, 2008

leaving on a jet plane

We made it back from Florida late Saturday night and I am leaving for Thailand today.  It was worth it though!  We had a great time with our family.  It was wonderful to see my parents, grandparents, siblings and all the kids!  There are A LOT of kids now too!!  We really enjoyed playing with all of them and seeing how they've grown over the year.  Note to self: children get larger very quickly.

Life has been such a whirlwind over the past month I can't believe I'm making this long trip tonight.  I meet my dear brother at JFK at 7:30 and then we head out for Hong Kong, followed by Bangkok, then onward to Chiang Rai.  We are actually stopping to spend the night in Bangkok which means that we will be there on December 31st.  I have spent Easter in Mexico, Thanksgiving in Africa, Valentines in England, and Mother's Day in Italy.  Now I get to add New Year's Eve in Thailand to that list.  I feel very blessed to have experienced so many layers of culture firsthand.  Years ago, my roommate Dee and I walked into an Irish Pub in Bangkok and found a Thai Beatles cover band singing "Back in the U.S.S.R.".  That's the stuff I really love. When cultures just melt together to understand and misunderstand each other peacefully over things like good music and national holidays.

As always, I'm exhausted just thinking about the trip, but I'm eager for the road.  I really do love to travel and I'm dying to see our kids  and staff again.  I don't know when I'll get to update this blog again but I will try and, who knows, maybe Brian will decide to write some stuff in my absence.  It could happen.

- Rosemary

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our Christmas

We are leaving for Florida in the morning to spend some time with our family so we celebrated our Christmas today.  Ever since we were engaged, it has been our tradition to have our own private Christmas and I'm very grateful that we've made a big deal out of that.  Sometimes it can be hard to recognize that only two people (who are childless and whose relatives all live very far away) are still a family.  I think it can be especially hard for those two people. However, we've made joy out of this time and I know that even after our children arrive we will both look back on these years fondly.  

Before I describe our Christmas Day celebration I really need to put a disclaimer on this by saying: We are major "foodies."  The discussion of food, Food Network, restaurants, recipes and ingredients takes up a major part of our lives - don't hate us!  

We started our day off by sleeping late and having a big breakfast.  We always have pancakes (or puffed pancakes) because they are my favorite food in the whole world.  Then we opened our presents for each other.  I got an easy-to-operate camera, a watch and a fancy new apron!  Brian got a bunch of new clothes and books.  Finally, it was time for each of us to open our last gift.  It was then, in 2008's cheesiest couple moment of the year, we discovered we had both purchased each other the same locavore cookbook.  There is no need to mock - we already feel ashamed of ourselves.  

After that we made our Special Christmas Lunch, Oysters Rockefeller, and lay around enjoying our time together.  Then we started working on our Special Christmas Dinner: Chimay-braised short ribs with saffron risotto, manchego and garlic mashed potatoes, and panetone for dessert.  After dinner, we roll ourselves over to the couch and open stockings!  It truly is a fantastic way to spend a day together, especially if you're self-admitted, good food addicts who love cooking.  

How do you guys spend your Holidays?  Are you pre-children and doing something special as a couple or do you have a house-full of
little people to celebrate this year?  However your days come to you during this season I hope they are lovely and joyful!

- Rosemary

P.S.   I have to admit that I did buy two tiny, little presents for Baby even though he/she isn't with us this year.  I got the cutest penguin family in an airplane (all plush very soft) and some old fashioned stacking blocks. I had to buy something - it was Christmas!!  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lets go to the movies!

I love movies.  Love to watch them at home; love to go see them at the cinema.  However, nothing compares with seeing a movie in Thailand.  In my opinion, the Thai's have perfected the movie going experience!  

In smaller towns like Chiang Rai there is usually just the basic price option for viewing a movie (100 b).  This experience is similar to ours in America, with one notable exception.  At the beginning of every film they play a montage of The king accompanied by the Royal Anthem.  Everyone must stand up for this!  A very polite attendant will come and tell anyone sitting to stand immediately.  In larger cities a variety of viewing classes are available for a price.  You can choose from the Gold class, Emporer, VIP or Star seats (300-500b) which have various amenities such as: reclining seats, blankets, pillows, free popcorn and sodas, loveseat option, complimentary shoe removal and slippers, menu service during the movie.  If you really love going to the movies you honestly can't beat this treat!  Another fun thing is that you can have your popcorn flavored: butter, sweet, seaweed, bar-b-q, spicy, etc.

When "The Legend of Suriyothai" came out our girls at the home were all crazy to see the film! It was the most fantastic big budget movie that Thailand had made to date and it was all about a female protagonist.  We had a very kind donor who offered to pay for all our age-appropriate girls to see the movie.  That morning the staff each took turns waiting in line to buy the most tickets 1 person could buy - 10.  That night our vans rolled into the parking lot an hour early and we seated our girls right in the middle of the auditorium.  Most of them had never been in a cinema before.  They were so proud to stand with the rest of the audience when the king's montage aired.  They laughed so loud and oohed and aahed - so easily impressed at everything on the big screen.  When Suriyothai commits her final act of heroism on behalf of her country I looked around and all my girls were crying and holding hands.  It truly is a beautiful film and I recommend seeing it (especially if you have a Thai daughter) but even if it had been an awful movie I would always love it for reminding me of what it means to share something delightful with a child.

- Rosemary

Friday, December 12, 2008

Trip is on!

This morning I booked plane tickets for Thailand!  Our company has rescheduled the trip for Dec. 29 - Jan. 10 so that is going to be great.  Bri has to work on New Years anyway so I won't be missing anything too special there.  Instead, I'll be winging my way across the world headed towards our kids!  Not too shabby.  

We did have to make some pretty considerable changes in the trip format though.  The main purpose of the trip all along was to take Christmas to the kids - we are still doing that it will just be a belated Christmas - but I was also taking a team over to introduce them to our work there and let them really get a sense of the purpose of the work.  However, none of them can reschedule their lives, which is completely understandable, so instead we are going to be doing a lot of internal housekeeping type stuff which is also needed.  

The really great thing about this trip for me is:  my brother is coming!  Because I have epilepsy it is considered best if I don't do things like make exhausting, international trips alone and since Brian cannot possibly get off work my big brother has graciously agreed to come with. Just goes to show you're never too old to bring your kid sister home safe. ;-) For those of you thinking "it sounds like he has an awful lot of free time" it's actually the exact opposite.  Big Brother Travis is my boss and one of my favorite people.  The company we both work for is our family's humanitarian non-profit.  Our parents, lovely people who have lived a constant example of ministry and social justice, started this work more than 30 years ago.  

Anyway, I thought I would give a little bit of back story for all my stranger-friends in internet world who might be following this blog as I post from Thailand.  The confusion over who the big guy named Travis was in all my pictures might drive someone to distraction.  You just never know...

- Rosemary 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Asian Santa

So I was talking with a friend of mine, who is African American, and we were both bemoaning the fact the we don't have any of our Christmas decorations up yet.  Procrastinate much?  Yes, we do! Then she mentioned that she had found the most beautiful black Santa over the summer and was looking forward to putting it out.  That's when I started thinking about something new.  

If Santa Clause is for children and our children will be Asian do we need to make an effort to have Asian Santa Clause figures?  How important is it that children see iconic figures like Santa representing their own race?  Of course, I don't know the answer to that.  I'm just hitchhiking my way through this world but it did raise some interesting ideas.  Once again, I was grateful to have dialogue with friends from all races to remind me that being white is just one state of being and one that my children will not share.  

I think, because we are a transracial family who is making an attempt to be anti-racist, we are going to represent Santa in all of his racial identities: black, asian, white.  For the folks who will inevitably ask, "But won't that confuse the children?"  I intend to steal  from James McBride's amazing memoir of growing up in a transracial family.  If you haven't read it - IT'S WONDERFUL!  In that book, he recounts being teased by some kids about being mixed race.  Afterwards, he asked his mother what color God was.  His mother wisely responded by saying, "God is the color of water."  So in our house, God and Santa are both going to be the color of water, and we're going to try to have pictorial representation in every race.  

BTW though - finding these Asian Santas is extremely hard!!  I will certainly be combing specialty stores and buying one as soon as I see it, whenever I see it, for the rest of my life.  If anybody has any leads on where to get good racially diverse decorations please let me know.

- Rosemary

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wishes For Her

One of the oddest things about adoption is that it has caused me to have an emotional relationship with two people I will probably never meet.  Our child's other parents.  Brian and I are using a lot of terminology right now: birth parents, biological parents, first parents and other parents.  Everything respectful is fine with us (the always disparaging and uncomfortable real parents is out).  If we could ever meet our child's first mom we would ask her how she would like our family to refer to her and then we would simply honor her request.  But that is one more thing we probably won't ever be able to discuss with her.  

I wonder what questions she wants to ask me and can't?  Maybe there is a beautiful Thai woman sitting on the other side of the world thinking, "I wish I could ask my child's adoptive mom this but it's just one more thing that I'll never get the chance to say."  I wish I could meet her and answer her questions.  I wish I could meet our child's birth father too.  I know a lot of other people feel differently about this for their families and that's fine too.  There many ways to handle adoption.   

I think about our child's first mom a lot.  We do not presume to know her life.  We don't make assumptions that either vilify or canonize her.  All we know is that she's a woman who is having a child and is also, obviously, going through something very hard that has caused her to make an adoption plan for her baby.  We can only imagine that this is a terrible or at the very least difficult experience for her.  

I don't really know what I'm trying to say here.  But you know how something little can happen and help your day out?  The guy behind you in line loans you 2 pennies when you don't have exact change.  The woman at the bank smiles at you.  Your Grandmother calls just to say she loves you no matter what.  Your best friend tells you a story that makes you laugh until a little pee comes out.  Your favorite tv show is on and it's a really good episode.  All the small things that don't do anything to change the awful realities of life but somehow manage to make each day of it more bearable.  Well, I hope that during this very difficult time, our child's first mother, has a king's ransom of tiny-everyday-good-things happening to her that help make it all a bit better.

- Rosemary

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sesame Street Memories

So all of you stranger-friends out there in blog world won't know this, but I nannied my way through school.  Sure it's hard taking care of somebody elses kids and, yes, I was always glad to leave at the end of my shift but I really did love those children and I learned so much from our time together.  During my years nannying for preschoolers, I developed a very great appreciation for Sesame Street, which in my opinion, is probably more valuable than Kindergarden.  

With one family, I had this great 3 yr. old boy who really needed routine.  Every morning when I arrived at his house I would make us both an "egg in a nest".  Piece of bread with a circle cut out of the center - fry an egg in the center of the toast and you have your nest.  Butter and toast the remaining circle of bread and that's your "birdy".   This little idea never stopped delighting him. Then we would settle down to watch Sesame Street.  It was just as enjoyable as an adult as it had been when I was a kid.  Watching Sesame Street together in our pj's on rainy mornings is definitely one of those specific little things I am looking forward to sharing with our child.

Recently Babble, a very cool online magazine for parents, ran a fun article on the fifty greatest moments in Sesame Street history.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit that Brian and I watched all of the clips and actually laughed out loud at some.  However, they did not choose my favorite clip of all time so here it is: Witness the mournful Cookie Monster

Monday, December 1, 2008

what really matters

So it has been a very hard week here.  I'm incredibly disappointed that my trip got cancelled! Then, on top of that, because I was supposed to be in Thailand Bri already had a ticket to go see his family in Texas and we really felt it was important to prioritize that so... I ended up spending Thanksgiving alone.  I know: pitiful, right?  Anway, I'm trying to pull focus and remember what really matters.  So I decided to share some of my favorite pictures of exactly that.  I hope you'll enjoy these with me.

The gardens at our
 girl's rescue home in Chiang Rai.  

BTW - If it seems like I'm being obtuse in not saying the name of the home I work for it's because we're purposefully trying not to. We haven't asked permission to do that on this blog and we want to respect the privacy of everyone else involved.

The jungle-gym is everyone's favorite hangout!

Brian giving piggyback rides.

Because most of our girls don't know the day of their birth is we have an annual campus-wide birthday party with cake, presents and "celebration of being".  

Two of our middle grade girls proudly wearing full Akha dress.  Almost all of our kids are Akha, a tribal people group represented in Thailand and other Asian countries.  Of course, our kids wear regular clothes most of the time.  Their heritage dress is reserved for special occasions and ceremonies.  It is extremely important to us that our kids feel deep respect for their tribal culture.

Brian and I with our sponsor daughter.  Isn't she beautiful?  Not that I am biased or anything but she is the smartest, greatest kid on earth!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Political Strife in Thailand

For anyone who's been watching the news out of Bangkok the last couple of days, it will come as no surprise that Rosemary's company cancelled her trip. We're very disappointed but grateful that she's not stuck in the Bangkok airport.  

For those who haven't heard, there's a long story leading up to it. For several months, a group called the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have been protesting, mostly in Bangkok, against the current government. The current situation has its roots in the 2006 bloodless military coup that ousted then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. I won't do it the injustice of trying to encapsulate the whole story here, but you can learn more about it on Wikipedia.  

The protesters, who have been mostly nonviolent and civil, have been occupying the Government House (parliament building) in Bangkok since late August.  The demonstrations have been mounting ever since, and have been expanding throughout the city.  On Tuesday, protesters stormed police lines at Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok's main international airport, and broke through airport security checkpoints, rendering the terminal unusable.  Flights already in the air bound for Bangkok were diverted to Chiang Mai, Phuket, or sadly to Mumbai. All other incoming and outgoing flights were cancelled on the ground.  Worst of all, travelers who were in the airport have been stuck there.  In the past few days, the PAD has allowed buses to come and transport the civilians back into the city, although there appear to be a few hundred people still stuck in the terminal (down from around three thousand on Tuesday). 

The Prime Minister yesterday authorized the police to forcibly remove the protesters to allow the airport to be reopened.  He has since backed down from this position, probably in response to PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang's threat that any force from the police will be met with force from the protesters, and with a "people's uprising" all over the country.  I don't know enough about Thai politics to presume to have an opinion, but we're all keeping a close eye on things.  

What we hope for most is for continued peace, stability, and democracy in Thailand.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Jay and Chandra, and anyone else who is due to travel soon. We hope that this situation causes as little disruption as possible in people's adoptions, and that Thailand remains a safe and stable place for our children until we can bring them home with us. For up-to-the-minute news on this situation, I've been relying on

 - Brian

Monday, November 24, 2008

Adoption Conference

This weekend we attended the 28th annual APC Adoption Conference.  It was a really interesting day and we learned a lot.  In fact, I feel like I am on information overload.  They had a great program lined up and the cost was really affordable ($75 a person) so if you live within driving distance of NYC I would definitely recommend attending next year!

They had multiple sessions provided in every workshop hour so for much of the day Bri and I split up.  However, we did go to a few sessions together.  We both heard and loved Dr. Jan Arronson, adoptive parent, advocate and pediatrician speak about medical concerns for internationally adoptees.  If you ever get the chance to hear her - GO - she's fantastic!  Click here for more information about her  services.  We also heard a very interesting speaker named, Dr. Boris Gindis, speak about abrupt first language loss in international adoptees.  I was very reassured to hear him say that for most children adopted under the age of 3 there will be no long term affects.  However, he did urge all adoptive parents whose young child will suffer 1st language loss to seek early intervention and speech therapy.  So that's something else for us to start thinking about.

My favorite speaker was Sara Barris, adoptive parent and psychologist, who spoke on "Mindful Parenting Through the Developmental Stages".  She did an amazing job relating to her children's life stories and was so inspirational.  She recommended this book on mindful parenting by John Kabot-Zin which I'm going to try to read to the plane.

The day ended with an opportunity to sit with a panel of young adult adoptees. We both really enjoyed what the kids (ages 14-20) had to say about their experiences.  The moderator asked questions for about an hour, which I felt these teens did a great job of answering honestly and bravely.  Then he let the audience pose some questions.  However, I was disappointed that several adoptive parents asked what we considered to be pretty rude questions.  BTW - since many of you were interested you might want to know this:  I asked the kids how they felt about the new 23andme DNA testing as it might apply to adoptees.  They all said that they would be very interested in having the medical knowledge!  One girl did say she wouldn't want to know about the racial heritage info the test can sometimes provide.  One boy strongly disagreed with her for himself on that point though.  One girl also said she would not want her parents to have had the test done when she was little - she would want it to be her choice.  Other kids said it would have been good to have when they were kids.  So there was some interesting opinions but a general consensus from the kids that they wanted their medical knowledge.  The whole day was a fantastic learning opportunity and I was grateful that APC provided it.  

- Rosemary

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thailand Travels

I leave for Thailand in one week.  It's a very weird feeling.  Even though this is my job and I have been going back and forth to Thailand for years this will be the first time I have returned since we formally started the adoption process.  
I definitely feel like I will be seeing this country, that I love, in a very different light this time around.  I know that I will be more focused on learning about Thailand and not just enjoying Thailand.  I will be in Bangkok for 6 days and Chiang Rai for 5 days.

Top Five Things I Am Most Excited About:

1.) Being with the kids and staff at our home!  I miss everyone so much and can't wait to spend time with them and celebrate an early Christmas together.
2.) Thai Massage:  Best. Thing. Ever.
3.) Shopping at Jim Thompson.
4.) Visiting Doi Tung Royal Gardens - quite possibly the most beautiful place on earth.
5.) Street vendor food.

I will try to blog from Thailand but I'm not sure exactly how it will all work.  It will be a good test drive though for blogging whenever we actually get to meet our child!

 - Rosemary

Sunday, November 16, 2008

23 and Me

So Rosemary called me at work today telling me about something she saw on Oprah. There's a company called 23 and Me which has developed a take-at-home DNA test (recently selected as Time's Invention of the Year), which offers genetic analysis.  They take the saliva sample you send them and they run a full panel of genetic tests for $399. They can then assess your risk for diseases such as cystic fibrosis, colon cancer, and even depression and alcoholism. The company is run by two women who are geneticists.

As a doctor, I'm always a little skeptical about things like this, but they really do seem to have based their work on solid medical research. The other cool thing about it is that they automatically update your profile as new research comes out. So, for example, if they identify the gene for leukemia they will automatically run that test on your filed sample and update your profile with the results.

As adoptive parents, we've always regretted that we probably wouldn't be able to give our kids a full picture of their medical history.  No "my grandma has diabetes and my paternal uncle had a heart attack" to fill out on the form at the doctors office. While this may not seem
like a big deal to us we have the luxury of having this information.  Like so many things about adoption, we've found ourselves thinking about how important that family history would seem if we didn't know anything about it.  It's just one more thing about themselves that our children will not have a complete picture of.  And we feel that, if we can help him to have that knowledge, we absolutely should, both for medical and emotional reasons.

Another really interesting feature of this service is the ancestry research part.  They can determine a lot about your ethnic ancestry based on the DNA sample they take from you. Again, "your grandfather immigrated to Thailand from China" is something that we won't know to tell our child, but might be able to learn from this testing.  We've learned so much about how difficult an issue identity is for many adopted kids, especially those adopted internationally. Being able to arm them with some genetic information about themselves, even if it's only a little, seems worth any amount of money to us.  Rosemary, who is a worrier, is also relived to feel that this might be helpful if our kids were really ill.  

- Brian

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Feeling Blue

We applied to Holt almost a year ago.  Then we ended up having the most botched homestudy we've ever heard of and that process took 9 months.  Somehow while we were trying to get a homestudy completed the official "Holt Adopting from Thailand" time line changed.  We will now wait much longer than originally anticipated - along with all the other very patient pre-adoptive parents!  

I know that lots of people wait much longer than we will and that we have tons of projects to keep us busy in the meantime like taking Thai lessons and moving to another state.  However, this is one of those days when I can't seem to cheer myself up.  I just feel blue.  This is probably made worse by the fact that it's cold and rainy here and Brian is stuck at the hospital all weekend.  I have so many questions rolling around in my head.  How old will our baby be when we meet them?  When will we become parents?  I mean the kind of parents who have a baby to take care of; not just the kind of parents who love a baby they've never met.  How is our child adjusting to life in the meantime?  Is our child's first mother safe and at peace with her choice?

It really is best if I don't think about it all too much.  I need distraction.  A lot of distractions. Hmm, maybe I'll go to the movies.   Special shout out to recent posts at: Funkey Doodle Donkey,  Journey to Shaun, and Journey to Little M.  All of you have really helped cheer me up! Thanks for sharing.

 - Rosemary

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The year of the...

Even though we are practicing Christians, and intend to raise our children in our faith, we are trying to learn more about Buddhism so we can help our kids to understand it better.  Nearly 95% of Thailand's population is Buddhist and much of their culture has been informed by that faith.  We really can't see anyway to share Thailand with our children without giving them a working knowledge of Theravada Buddhism (the particular kind most frequently practiced in Thailand).  

We have been surprised to discover that many Americans don't realize that Buddhism has as many different types of beliefs and practices as Christianity does.  For instance, the Buddhism practiced by friends of ours in San Diego is as different from Vipasanna Buddhism of India as Pentecostals are from Roman Catholics.  It's not a faith that should be easily generalized.  It is very interesting for us to learn about the culture and long history of this ancient faith - especially as it pertains to Thailand.  

We did find this cool site that talks about Lanna Buddhism, which as we understand it, is frequently practiced in Northern Thailand and Burma.  In this tradition, every child is given an animal sign for the year of their birth and is meant to take a pilgrimage to the holy pagoda (or special wat) of their sign.  According to this listing, Rosemary is the year of the horse and should pilgrimage to a pagoda in Myanmar and Brian is the year of the goat and should travel to Chiang Mai.  The pagodas are beautifully designed, elaborate places of worship.  Pictured above is the entrance to the Wat Phra That Doi Tung located North of Chiang Rai.  Each pagoda is believed to hold a relic of the Buddha.  Wat Phra That Doi Tung is believed to have his collar bone.  

Here's the million dollar question though:  "What will be our baby's birth year?"  

- Brian and Rosemary

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Reflections From a Restaurant

A couple of weeks ago we went to see a show.  Afterwards, we noticed a Thai restaurant that was still open so we ducked out of the crazy Time's Square crowd and went in to eat a little late night dinner.  This was one of those wonderful, really-real, Thai restaurants where everyone working there is Thai and the walls are covered with pictures of the royal family and Thai wats.  

Our waiter was a very handsome Thai man.  It's funny because now I find myself looking quite carefully at Thai people of all ages.  I am not trying to be rude I'm just wondering what our child will look like.  What will he look like at 4, at 12, at 20 at 35 at 50?  I sometimes wish I could say, "I only want to study your lovely features because maybe my child will look like you and that is precious beyond words to me."  Naturally one cannot go around talking like that so I avert my eyes and try to act like a sane woman who is simply ordering the garlic shrimp with coconut rice.  

It was great to hear that beautiful Thai accent being spoken.  I know that many people go ga-ga for Italian or French, but for me the most beautiful language on earth will always be Thai.  I love the gentle rise and fall of their tonal speech.  I think even when Thai people speak English their lovely accent comes through giving our own language such a pretty twist.  Maybe this is why it irritates me sooooooooo much when I hear an ignorant person refer to Asians and then make that "ching-chong-ching" speech pattern.  That sound is the exact opposite of Thai harmonies.  Like most racism it's just a broken idea.  

A funny thing happened at dinner though.  Brian, who loves his food spicy, asked the waiter if he would bring out some Nam Pla Prik.  The waiter laughed and said, "You have been to Thailand. Where have you been?"  When Bri told him Bangkok and Chiang Rai the waiter very snottily informed him "Chiang Rai is not really Thailand."  This is a typical attitude for a certain type or class of people in Thailand.  Chiang Rai is a very small, very poor city located in the far north of the country.  It's proximity to the golden triangle made it the epicenter for "trouble" in Thailand for a very long time.  The local culture there has also been heavily influenced by drugs, Burma and the hill tribe people (Akha, Hmong, Lao, etc...).  It was funny though to hear such an entrenched opinion from so far away.  I couldn't help but wonder how long it had been since this Thai ex-pat had even been home much less been to Chiang Rai?  Although, I do know that it is almost impossible to believe that your own home can change while you are away.

- Rosemary

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Exciting stuff

Again, we are not going to talk about how we voted on this blog, because thats not what we are doing here.  However, I am excited to say this:  As the future mother of a non-white baby I am thrilled to be able to tell my child that a non-white person can hold the highest office in the land.  

I also think it is a great legacy for mixed race families that our President Elect, Barack Obama, hails from an interracial family.  He had grandparents, who he dearly loved, who were not the same race as him.  When strangers saw him with his mother they did not assume that they shared the same cultural heritage.  Yet, he loves his family and has become a strong, independent man who has achieved huge things in his young life.  

Regardless of all political structures, I think it is exciting that America has FINALLY elected a minority and I think it is especially exciting that he speaks positively about his mixed race family.  

- Rosemary

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thai responses to our election

Election day!  An exciting time of waiting in line, filling in your ballot, and waiting for the swing states to determine our fate.  I thought it would be interesting today to see what people in Thailand think of our election.  A peculiar thing about being American is that our politics are interesting to the rest of the world.  

I checked in on the Bangkok Post and The Nation, Thailand's two main English language papers, to see what they had to say.  The Nation, which is mostly a business paper, was debating the merits of an Obama vs. a McCain presidency in terms of trade agreements and tariffs.  The US is Thailand's number one export market.  The Nation reported opinions that McCain would be better for Thai business and exports because of his republican free-trade tendencies and that he would be less hard-nosed about human rights and environmental conditions to trade. That last part was especially interesting to me in terms of how our policies are seen by other countries and how they affect other economies.

I'm not going to talk about any of my views or preferences because this isn't a political blog. But, among other things, this blog is about Thailand and I thought it'd be interesting to see what they think of the next president of the United States over there.  Enjoy your election night tv everybody!

- Brian

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fantastic Lullabyes

We haven't bought anything for our baby yet since we don't know who we are expecting or when they will arrive.  I must confess though - this has been really, REALLY hard for me.  We agreed though that buying a bunch of stuff this early would probably be a logistical mistake.  Especially since we are moving in 8 months.  So instead I have been doing "research" online.  I don't buy anything I just find all the stuff I want to buy and then take copious notes.  I'm afraid that this is going to result in even more purchases further down the road but at least I am managing to keep my desire to "mommy-shop" in check for the time being. 

Anyway, I found something so cute I just had to share.  There is this great website called Rockabye Baby where you can find tons of fantastic albums which have all been put through the  lullabye treatment for baby.  So now when you rock your little one to sleep instead of listening to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" over and over again you can enjoy the familiar tunes of U2 .  

The website is designed very well.  You can listen to a clip of each song in preview before you order the album and the cover art is cute too.  So even though I am being a good girl and not buying anything right now I suspect that we will end up owning a bunch of these.  At the very least a nice cross section like The Beatles, The Eagles and Bob Marley.  

- Rosemary

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thai Beer Protests

There are two main beer brands brewed in Thailand: Chang and Singha.  Singha is the one better known in the US, since it is imported here, but Chang is actually the better selling in Thailand.    Anyway, Chang was planning to become the first alcohol-producing company to list on Thailand's stock exchange (SET) . . . but then a whole mess of Thai monks came along!

The monks oppose the listing, saying that it is a threat to Thailand's Buddhist character.  Thai monks have also recently led public protests and pamphletting against  drinking and smoking in Thailand generally.  They feel that consumption of alcohol also increases other social ills such as poverty and prostitution.  More details on the Thai beer protests as they arise.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rainy Season

Today it is pouring down rain in New York.  On a thoroughly wet day like this I always think of Thailand and rainy season at the girl's home.  Endless rounds of duck-duck-goose in the play room with the littlest ones.  Laying on bunk beds in the high school dorm listening in wonder while the girls sing Akha harmonies in rounds.  I remember turning the fan on high and putting hot, sweaty, preschoolers to nap with a book.  Laying in bed at night listening to the soothing plunkety-plunk-plunk of hard rain on a tin roof.   Inevitably, the boredom and cabin fever become too much, and one day we simply take the girls out into it.  Even our house mother, the golden gatekeeper of rules, can be seen dancing on the basketball court; soft, warm, rain coursing over her face.

One afternoon, I found a group of imaginative young girls playing "ship" in one of our drying sheds.  These sheds are merely tin covered cement patios criss-crossed with clothes lines so we can dry bedding and school uniforms during the weather.  On this day, the sheets blowing in the wind and the sprays of rain sneaking in the open sides of the shed suggested the deck of a ship to happy young minds.  When I discovered the girls there and asked what they were doing they shyly told me looking embarrassed.  I remembered a quote by writer Kay Boyle - "I had the most satisfactory of childhoods because my mother turned out to be exactly my age."  I could see I had only one choice.  I sat down, hung onto a post and begin bailing "water".  The delighted girls  made me their Captain and we spent the rest of the afternoon snug among our blowing sails.  It remains one of my fondest memories.

So here I sit, huddled by my barely working heating unit, watching the cold slush terrorizing the upper east side and I wish I was in Thailand.  Even though I never imagine saying this while living through it:  I pine a little for rainy season.  There is just something about hot days, rainy nights, damp clothes and all those little girls who have spilled fingernail polish inside my suitcase.  

- Rosemary

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book Review

We began seriously talking about adoption almost two years ago.  The first thing we did was start reading adoption books.  Eventually, we found blogs but books were first.  I'm a girl who likes her quantifiable and qualitative research.  It comforts me.  It's really amazing how much information is out there.  So for all you other research addicts and bibliophiles here's a book review of our latest page turner.  

Bri and I are reading this one together, a chapter at a time before bed, because it is so interesting.  I started reading "Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child" without him but then I kept wanting to discuss ideas from the book and he couldn't join in.  Now, I read aloud while he rubs my feet.  It's a nice little setup that I'm hoping will turn into a tradition. We'll see.  ;-)

We both love this book!  It is written by Dr. Patti Cogen, a child psychologist and an adoptive parent, who is also the founder of the First Year Home Group.   What I appreciate most about this text is that she's very specific about how the international adoption process affects children developmentally (physically, emotionally and socially) and then she gives straightforward ways to work on overcoming it.  The book covers children adopted at every age and also gives coping strategies for parenting these same children all the way through to college.  

Another thing I really like is that the author's tone is always diagnostic and helpful.  She never passes over into that dark, scary place that some adoption-themed books have, which always make me feel like we have no other recourse but to misunderstand our children and create a failed family.  I want someone to tell me the truth about what my kids will face but follow that up with coping strategies and a course of action.  She has great bonding/attachment games and exercises too!

Happy Reading -

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thai Cooking

We've been experimenting with Thai cooking (both eating it and making it) lately.  We bought a great cookbook, Simple Thai Cookery, by Ken Hom.  It's full of good pictures and  has about 40 basic Thai recipes that are pretty easy to make. There's a nice introduction that includes lots of information about Thai cooking style, ingredients, and utensils.  All of this combines to make cooking Thai food much less daunting. Pretty much everything is made in a wok, which is a very easy and quick way to prepare food.  The other nice thing about it is that all dishes are "one-pot" recipes, so they're easy to clean up!  
Rosemary has unfortunately had some unpleasant run-ins with Thai food in the past.  Ironically, she seems to be allergic to basil, cilantro, and lemongrass.  So that makes it pretty difficult to find things she can eat.  But it's been fun experimenting, and we've found things we both like.  

The thing that's really captured our interest lately, though has been this cool website, which is linked in the title of this blog.  It's a great website specifically for Thai food, that has all sorts of recipes and an online store where you can order everything you'd possibly want to create any Thai recipe.  They really have a great inventory, and it's cool to be able to find things, like Kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and Golden Mountain sauce, that are hard to find even here in New York.  They also have some great woks, Thai-style cutlery, rice cookers, and even traditional Thai mortar and pestle, which are used for making things like a curry paste, if you feel like going to the trouble of making it from scratch.  Another cool feature is a series of videos showing street vendors making traditional Thai dishes.  They're accompanied by an English narration that describes how the dish is being made and what's going into it.  They also make sure to let you know "you can get all of these great ingredients and more at!"  Anyway, I just thought that some people might also be experimenting with Thai food, and I wanted to share this great resource.  

I was trying to enclose one of their videos, but a combination of Blogger's limitations and my ignorance of the Interweb have conspired against me.  Instead, I've included a link here to a video of a street vendor making two different variations of pad thai.  

- Brian

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Label Crazy

This morning when I was walking the dog, I was thinking (this is my best thinking time) about all the words used to describe us as kids - words which define us so powerfully.  Even as adults many of us still struggle not to think of ourselves as a bouquet of those childhood adjectives:  "Class Clown", "Preacher's kid", "Army brat", "lonely only", "four-eyes", "learning disabled", "jock", "child of divorce", etc...  We could comprise a never ending list of these earliest labels.  What is saddest about them, in my mind, is that most of these labels are just tainted versions of the truth.  A "jock" should be simply a kid who is considered to be athletic.  However, for some, the use of that word is reflective of a whole other paradigm.  "Jock" as an arrogant, dumb, sport who crushes beer cans on his forehead and will only date the Prom queen.  

I was thinking about all of this because I was wondering what life will be like for our child.  He will carry "adoptee" as a personal adjective from the moment we bring him home.  There is really nothing we can do about that.  For most people that term is simply a description of how you came to be in your family.  For others though it is a negative word, which implies all sorts of emotional handicaps.  

There are a lot of childhood monikers I was forced to endure and, trust me, one of the delights of meeting new people in my adult life is that they don't have pre-conceived ideas about me based on age-old misinformation.  I wonder if this option will ever be much of a possibility for our kids.  As a member of a transracial family it would be very hard for people not to know of their adoptive status.  Will they always be "adoptees" and all that means for good and bad in the eye of the beholder?  

I think it must be hard to grow up constantly bearing the added label "adoptee".  I'm not sure how that must feel but I'm sure it's very powerful.   What if my accomplishments were mentioned in this light: "She's done so well especially considering she's adopted."  Or worse yet, in moments of failure to hear said, "Well, what could you expect?  You know she's adopted." While I am not assuming that our child will face this kind of prejudice we do know that everyone confronts ignorance at some point in their life.  

We can't solve this problem for our child but at least we can recognize it.  We don't know what makes some families share such enviable bonds of closeness but we truly feel that it probably begins by having empathy for one another.  

- Rosemary

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tony Jaa

Lately, we've been thinking about birth culture.  I've been trying to imagine if I were an international adoptee and America were my birth culture.  What if I knew who Betsy Ross was but I had never heard of Sesame Street, Bruce Springsteen,  Seinfeld, or Boy Scouts?  If this pop-culture divide were deep and wide enough, how much would I be able to enjoy the company of other Americans? Incorporating birth culture into a family seems to be about a lot more than just tradition and national holidays.  For us, birth culture is also about trying to stay aware of Thailand's modern trends as they develop.

Our kids at the girls' rescue home in Chiang Rai (where I've worked or volunteered for almost ten years now) are our biggest help in this pursuit!  The 60 plus teenagers in our care are always happy to explain who is cute, what music is good, what fashion is awesome or who is stupid.  Fortunately for me, I love teenagers and find their reasoning skills completely enchanting.  Brian struggles slightly more with this. ;-)

So this brings me to Tony Jaa (pictured above) who is all the rage in Thailand.  Especially among his teen followers.  Apparently, girls want to date him and boys want to be him.  His Thai name is Panom Yeerum but he goes by Tony Jaa in his film career.  He has enjoyed moderate but growing success in Thailand since the 90's but his film "Ong Bak: Thai Warrior" made him an international success.  Jaa does all his own stunts and uses no wires or CGI.  He is considered one of the best Muay Thai fighters in the world and certainly one of the most handsome!

The plot of this fantastic Muay Thai kickboxing movie really is indicative of how unusual Thai culture is.  Almost all of these low budget action films begin with an insult or a loved one in danger.  The hero then spends the length of the film either regaining their honor or trying to protect their family.  In "Ong Bak" the film begins with the bad guy stealing Jaa's village buddha.  Jaa must then spend the film searching for it so that he may return it to it's rightful place protecting his village.  Interesting twist and very reflective of Thai culture.  Of course, romance, adventure and kickboxing ensue!!  

In my opinion, it's not a movie for children, but Brian and I enjoyed it a lot and depending on your household rules teenagers will probably get a kick out of it - especially if they are Thai. The DVD that Brian and I purchased had a setting where we could watch it in English or Thai so that's cool too.  "Ong Bak 2" is in production now and is slated for theater release in the US - Tony's star continues to rise!  

- Rosemary

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Transracially Adopted Children's Bill of Rights

As white parents of an asian child we have so much more to think about than the average expectant parents. Maybe that's why it takes so long! Admittedly, sometimes the task feels overwhelming but there is always the delight of knowing it comes with the opportunity to parent this precious child, whoever he may be. When I ran across this I really liked what it had to say about parenting, adoptive parenting, and mixed-race families.

"Transracially Adopted Children's Bill of Rights"
Adapted by Liza Steinberg Triggs from "A Bill of Rights for Mixed Folks," by Marilyn Dramé.

  • Every child is entitled to love and full membership in his or her family.
  • Every child is entitled to have his or her heritage and culture embraced and valued.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who value individuality and enjoy complexity.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who understand that this is a race conscious society.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know their child will experience life in ways differently from theirs.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who are not seeking to "save" a child or to make the world a better place by adopting.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know belonging to a family is not based on physical matching.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who have significant relationships with people of other races.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know transracial adoption changes the family structure forever.
  • Every child is entitled to be accepted by his or her extended family members.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know that if they are white they experience the benefits of racism because the country's system is organized that way.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know they cannot be the sole transmitter of the child's culture when it is not their own.
  • Every child is entitled to grow up with items in their home environment created for and by people of their own race or ethnicity.
  • Every child is entitled to have places available to make friends with people of his or her race or ethnicity.
  • Every child is entitled to have opportunities in his or her environment to participate in positive experiences with his or her birth culture.
  • Every child is entitled to opportunities to build racial pride within his or her own home, school, and neighborhood.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Our Top 10 List

Whenever we tell people we're adopting we always get the same basic questions. Almost all adoptive families have had similar experiences. So in case any of you, our favorite people (and internet strangers), are also curious, here are the top ten questions and answers of our adoption so far:

1.) Why are you adopting? Don't you want kids of your own?
Answer on a good day: Pregnancy isn't safe for Rosemary's health so we are really excited to be having kids of our own through adoption.
Answer on a bad day: That's personal. Our kids will be our own they just won't be biological children.

2.) Where are you adopting from?
Thailand. It's a beautiful country with a wonderful culture and heritage. Our whole family has had a personal connection to the country for many years and we felt we could easily and joyfully incorporate elements of Thai culture into our family's life.

3.) Are you adopting a boy or a girl?
We did not specify a preference. Whatever baby the Lord gives us will be our perfect child. Our agency has told us that more boys are available for adoption and that we are likely to have a son! We will be thrilled with either. We are also available to accept a sibling unit or twins. Rosemary wants twins!

4.) When will you bring the baby home?
Our agency has told us to expect a referral around December 2009. Once we receive that we will probably go to pick up our child about six months later.

5.) How long will you be in Thailand?
About two weeks.

6.) How old will your child be when you meet them?
Probably anywhere from 8 months to 18 months old.

7.) What information do you get in the referral?
The referral is when our agency lets us know that we have been chosen for a child. They will give us our child's sex, name, age, medical information, family history available and a few pictures.

8.) Where is your child until you bring them home?
Our agency provides specially trained, loving, foster care families in Thailand. This is an answer to prayer because it will keep our child out of an institutional setting where he/she might receive less one on one attention.

9.) Why does adoption take so long?
Short answer: We don't really know.
Long answer: Paperwork has to be processed first in our state, then by our federal government, then by our agency, then shipped to Thailand - translated - and processed by the Thai government. Meanwhile, our baby has to be declared officially freed for international adoption. If you have ever dealt with a bureaucracy you can imagine how long all of that takes.

10.) How much is your adoption costing?
Adoption is relatively expensive. If you are interested in adopting and would like further information please email us and we will be happy to give you several helpful contacts. If you are not adopting and are merely curious then please email us with your annual salary, monthly mortgage payments, car note, and total credit card debt. We'll get back to you. ;-)

- Brian and Rosemary