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

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