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, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve and we are winging our way to Tuscon to see Brian's darling grandparents, extended family and, most especially, the Duchess! We are looking forward to warm weather, some nice sleepy mornings -woohoo for no work- and days and days of fantastic food! Brian's mom is an amazing cook and she keeps us all eating (and over eating) beautiful stuff every time we visit.

We wish each of you a wonderful Christmas full of all your dreams come true and love abundant!

Happy Holidays,
-Brian, Rosemary and Button

"A Christmas candle is a lovely thing. It makes no noise at all. But softly gives itself away."
~Eva Logue

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dinosaur Train

We're not huge fans of the TV (we don't even own one) but the fact is that every parent (and kid) needs a break. Plus, media really does offer some fantastic opportunities for kids (and parents) to relax, and even learn something. The problem, at least for me, is choosing our media opportunities wisely. Even though we haven't brought Button home yet I am always on the look-out for DVD's and shows we can stream that I will feel comfortable letting Button watch every once in a while when I am truly in need of a few minutes to myself.

Several weeks ago, fellow adoptive mom, Bridget mentioned on her blog that her constantly adorable son Andrew loved a show called Dinosaur Train that aired on PBS. Since Bridget is a very wise woman with a constantly adorable son there was nothing I could do but check it out. This is what I found on the PBS website:

"DINOSAUR TRAIN embraces and celebrates the fascination that preschoolers have with both dinosaurs and trains. The series encourages basic scientific thinking skills as the audience learns about life science, natural history and paleontology. Each of the 40 half-hour episodes features Buddy, an adorable preschool age Tyrannosaurus Rex, and his adoptive Pteranodon family as they board the DINOSAUR TRAIN and embark on whimsical voyages through prehistoric jungles, swamps, volcanoes and oceans. The episodes include two 11-minute animated stories, along with brief live action segments hosted by renowned paleontologist Dr. Scott Sampson, that unearth basic concepts in life science, natural history and paleontology."

Um...hello? Paleontology, trains, and a positive representation of an adoptive family?
"Why yes, Button, you may watch some Dinosaur Train!"


Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Recap

June 2007 - Two and a half years ago Brian and I started talking and praying about adoption. We started having very long discussions about domestic vs. international. We began to discover, read and cry over every type of blog we could find from members of the adoption triad. We bought books about adoption. We tried to decide if this new reality was right for us because we could see so clearly that adoption was not what we had originally thought. We gave thanks for brave people who told the truth. We prayed through to a new place of acceptance and felt that an open and honest adoptive family could be the right choice for us.

January 2008 - We officially started our adoption process twenty-three months ago. I so clearly remember mailing our application to the Thai Program at far away Holt International in Eugene, Oregon. I felt as though I were placing all my dreams into a tiny boat made of leaves and watching it sail away on the ocean. That envelope seemed so very, very rickety.

February 2008 - We started the homestudy from hell and eight months later and three social workers later we were finally in posession of a completed homestudy.

September 2008 - We FINALLY mailed our dossier. I cried myself to sleep the night Marissa called to say we were officially placed on the Thai waiting list for a child. I was just so tired.

July 2009 - We moved to Virginia and as we were driving to our new home I received a phone call from Marissa about a little boy with "special circumstances". We were not due to receive a match for another 6 months. I nearly hyperventilated. I knew that he was our son from the second I heard his story.

December 2009 - Waiting for a travel call. I still have no idea how we got here. It seems impossible that our little boat floated this far. It seems even crazier to think that it will bring Button all the way home but I know that it will. I know that it will.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jingle Bells Meme

So just for fun (and because I totally don't feel like doing a book review) this Wednesday I am doing the Jingle Bells Christmas Meme that is going around.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. But now I am using a cute "eco-conscious" painted newspaper idea. It's very retro 40's looking when it's all done and it does a little bit to save the earth.
2. Real tree or artificial? REAL! Love that smell.
3. When do you put up the tree? The long weekend after Thanksgiving we decorate the whole house.
4. When do you take the tree down? The first full weekend after News Years Eve.
5. Egg nog, cider, or hot chocolate? Cider!
6. Favorite gift received as a child? A Cabbage Patch Doll with long, silky RED hair that could be brushed and styled. She was fabulous.
7. Hardest person to buy for? My mother-in-law. She has wonderful style in everything and I don't want to dissapoint her.
8. Easiest person to buy for? My brother.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? No, not yet, I haven't been a grown-up that long and I am still collecting decorations.
10. Mail Christmas cards? Yes, this is the first year I have missed doing them since I turned 18. I just couldn't get it together.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A doll with no head and 3 arms. She was a manufacturing mistake. My brother glued the third arm into her neck and sat her on the porch next to our pumpkin when Halloween rolled around.
12. Favorite classic Christmas movie? Christmas in Connecticut starring Barbara Stanwyck
13. Favorite new Christmas movie? Scrooged with Bill Murray.
14. When do you start shopping? Usually I am done by Thanksgiving. This year I have barely started.
15. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I would never re-gift a present YOU gave me and that's all that matters!
16. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Mashed potatoes.
17. White lights or colored? I like the great big, fat, classic multi-colored bulbs.
18. Favorite religious Christmas song? "Oh Holy Night"
19. Favorite holiday song? "Merry Christmas From the Family" by Robert Earle Keene (so amusing)
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We always go to see one of our families - we switch back and forth every year so we have to do A LOT of flying.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Not even close. Rudolph, Blitzen, Vixen, Prancer, Jerry...
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither. When we first got married we didn't have any decorations and no money to buy any. Fortunately, my amazing Aunt Eve made us a batch of handpainted star ornaments. So we went and got this Charlie Brown tree that the lot gave us for about $15 and put the little stars on it and then I bought a santa hat at the CVS and we put that on top of the tree. So now that is our family tradition. We always top our tree with a funny little Santa hat. It actually looks very whimsical and cute!
21. Open presents Christmas Eve or morning? Only 1 present on Christmas Eve after the candlelight service - we must wait to open the rest on Christmas morning.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Travel. I'm already dreading doing it next year with a toddler in tow.
24. Ham or Turkey? We experiment with all kinds of unusual and yummy stuff for our big meal. The only tradition is to spend the day in the kitchen cooking great food that we'll enjoy eating.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? A fantastic diaper bag that looks like a sophistocated carry-all but still has all those needed pockets and goo-gaws.
26. Do you do Santa? We are planning on having Santa fun with Button.
27. Do you love or hate snow? I hate weather that is cold enough to create snow. I have no issue with snow itself though.
28. What is your favorite holiday memory? Staying up super late the night before Christmas with my kid sister. Laying in bed practically shivering with anticipation. We would tell each other stories and braid hair and sing songs: anything we could do to entertain ourselves until we finally fell asleep waiting for "Christmas Morning" to finally arrive.
29. How do you decorate your tree? We do stars of every kind all over our big living room tree. Next year I am going to start a Santa ornament tree in the dining room with Santa's of every race and cultural costume.
30. Poinsettas or holly? Holly! I heard that Poinsettas are poisonous to cats and Gilbert eats everything so that doesn't work for us.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I recently saw a preview for award winning director Thomas Balmes new documentary Babies and I absolutely could not resist sharing it with all of you! Believe me when I say that we will be the first people in line to see this film when it is released on April 16, 2010. I think it is a really amazing effort at helping people to recognize the incredible beauty of children everywhere regardless of race. I also think it speaks to an interesting concept - it is possible to lovingly parent a child without a Bugaboo stroller and an army of plastic accesories.

Babies simultaneously follows four infants in Namibia, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Mongolia from birth to their first birthday. Please enjoy the unbelievable cuteness of this trailer:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Introducing Button

It has been a very busy month but we are finally back! We're happy to "see" everyone in blog-land and get all the latest news from our favorite adoptive families around the world. As far as our news goes: We were very blessed to receive Button's 12 month update from Holt. Of course, he is 15 months old now but we are thrilled to get the info even if it is 3 months outdated. Marissa, our adoption advocate, was such a doll and sent it to us the day before Thanksgiving so we were able to share new pictures of our son with our families for the holiday. That meant so much to us and we were very grateful for her thoughtfulness.

Now I know you are wondering if we are going to share those pictures with you. Well after much deliberation, we finally decided that there was just no way we would be able to keep our adorable kiddo's face off this blog for perpetuity so we decided to go for it. Here are the best of the rather grainy, completely blurry, yet totally amazing pictures of Button!

He is obviously walking like a champ at 12 months!

Posted by PicasaThis is the first genuine smile we've seen in all his pictures and we notice that it looks like he has been bribed with a nice piece of candy. ;-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fun, Fun, Fun!

Brian left today for a conference. I never fully bother to understand the ins-and-outs of his work related life but it's something... medical. Normally, I mourn his abscence like a Bronte character but this trip is different. The best friend is coming! So while Brian is lounging by the pool in San I mean working super hard to learn stuff while trapped in the ballroom of a luxury hotel I will be taking a few days off work myself and ferrying my old college roommate around to see the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. In all actuality, we will probably just stay up too late talking, get lost on Skyline Drive, spend most of the weekend laughing at nonsense and eat about a hundred pounds of creamcheese while watching movies we've already seen but I can call that "seeing the sights" can't I? Can't I??

So, dear ones, I am taking some time off from the old blogosphere in order to have a little much needed FUN and celebrate Thanksgiving with my favorite man on earth once he comes back to me. I wish each of you a very blessed home and a grateful heart!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mommy ponders

Lately, I've been thinking about Button even more than usual. Perhaps it's because we are getting closer and closer to meeting him or maybe it's because we know he's getting older everyday and that means he is becoming more of a little person with every moment. It reminds me of the song "Maybe" from Annie where she is singing about her missing parents and she says, "Betcha he reads, betcha she sews, maybe she's made me a closet of clothes! Maybe they're strict as straight as a line... Don't really care As long as they're mine!"

Well, you know, it's kind of like that... except in reverse.

I wonder if my son is left handed or right. Does he eat carrots or spit them out? Is Button afraid of the dark? Does our son love bathtime or is he one of those kids who hates it? I wonder if he is shy or a "never-met-a-stranger" type of kid. Is our son one of those boys who can't resist throwing each and every ball he sees? I wonder if Button loves to be read to. How many words can our son say? Does he suck his thumb? I wonder which of his biological parents Button looks more like. What does his laugh sound like? Most of all, I wonder when will we get to meet our son?

I lay awake at night thinking about these things but I know that, while discovering the answers will be so very special, they won't really change anything for us. Whoever Button is - he's already ours.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Good Truck Lollypop

Last night I dreamed that Button came home. It was very odd because he was being delivered to us and we were not going to Thailand. The thing that was completely right though was how excited I felt! My dear friend and, once-upon-a-time-roommate, Tiffany was there with Brian and me and the three of us walked out onto the front lawn to wait for Button. I was so nervous and overwhelmed I thought I would die. We had my parents on speaker phone because they wanted to hear the whole thing since they weren't there and my mom kept screaming into the phone, "Is he there yet? Can you see him?"

Finally this hilarious, extremely tiny, 3 wheeled truck (like the kind they use in Europe) came racing around the corner going about 90 mph. The truck was completely covered with huge blue and pink fabric ribbons that were billowing in the wind like sails. I turned to Tiff and said, "My God, the good truck lollypop is delivering our baby." My mother was screaming through the phone, "Lollypop? Lollypop? Can you see Button? What's going on?" The tiny be-ribboned truck screached to a halt right in front of us and I dropped the phone and stared through the passenger side window at a beautiful little boy looking back at me solemnly.

I woke up sitting straight up in my bed at 4:30am with my heart pounding out of my chest about to die of excitement. The good feeling has lasted all morning. I think it was an omen. A happy omen. I truly believe my son is coming home soon.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Mother Wears Combat Boots

My fantastic friend Mickey, who is expecting her first child, recently sent me this book and I love it! Even though it isn't about adoption (at all) I decided to review it this Wednesday because I think it is important to occasionally take a break from all the attachment and bonding stuff and remember that we also need to learn about the regular everyday stuff required to keep a toddler alive and keep his parents sane.

My Mother Wears Combat Boots is a really fun book about a young couple's adventure through first time parenthood. Jessica Mills, author and mommy, talks about the trials of parenting isolation, heartbreak and finances with a great deal of honesty and humor.

Since this is not, in any way, designed for the adoptive family, I feel that I should warn you that there is a lot of pregnancy, breastfeeding and post-natal talk in this book. If you are sensitive to those subjects or have sustained a lot of emotional loss surrounding the idea of not sharing those moments with your child then this may not be the book for you. I just skipped portions that I didn't feel like reading. She had so many fantastic chapters on subjects I am really interested in like co-sleeping, organic nutrition, and loving discipline that I found the book well worth it!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Protector

Recently we watched another movie by Tony Jaa of Ong Bak fame. This one is called The Protector and it released in America in 2006 but I am only just now seeing it. The Protector cutely debuted as Tom-Yum-Goong in Thailand (named after the sweet and sour soup).
In this martial arts classic Tony is chasing an evil crime syndicate who have stolen his elephants. Yes, his elephants. Oh well, they also killed his father but that is definitely played as the lesser concern. It's a pretty classic kicking and punching movie but it does explore some interesting themes. I really enjoyed the scenes from the main character's childhood featuring a beautiful little Thai boy interacting with elephants amidst some amazing backdrops. I also thought it was very interesting to learn later that one of the main reasons Jaa made the film is because his family raised elephants when he was growing up and he wanted to do something to raise awareness for the plight of Thai elephants being abused and mistreated. He actually used to practice some of his early martial arts training with elephants just like his character in this movie. Very cool, Tony!
One thing I can promise you though: You will spend the next week tip-toeing into rooms, sneaking up on your partner and screaming "Give me back my elephants!" Extra points if you can scream it in Thai.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Fantastic Folks

Looking back on our adoption journey so far I would definitely say we have learned a lot, made some mistakes, and we will do some things differently next time. But the one thing I am so grateful we have done is that we made every effort to get involved in our adoption community. We have loved getting to know people (virtually and physically) in our adoption chatrooms, blogs and support groups.

Of course, it's simple human nature that we aren't going to always like everybody in the various support groups available to us (maybe even most of them) and there will be tons of opinions to disagree with and, inevitably, there will be that one woman who wants to prostelytize for adoptive breastfeeding the whole time. The important thing to remember though is that no matter how similar or dissimilar our personalities may be we have, arguably, one of life's most defining experiences in common: adoption. Thankfully though we don't have to see eye-to-eye in order to offer love.

I feel very blessed to say that while I no longer have access to a real live adoption support group I am so lucky to have the fantastic folks from our Holt Intl. chat room and all my adoption bloggy buddies. Just recently when we were so discouraged over not getting a travel date a fellow adoptive mom, who was returning to Thailand for a visit with their daughter's foster parents, emailed me to say that she would make room in her suitcase so we could send Button a care package. Can you imagine what that meant to us? She knew what that would mean because she has stood in this place.

Be gentle on yourself and make the time to meet and develop friendships with people who can relate to what you, and your children, are going through. Trying to do all this alone would be too exhausting. I'm so grateful for all my "adoptive mom friends" - we don't have to agree on religion or gender profiling - we just have to know how to be there for each other.

A great big thank you goes out to Ben, Becca and Kailani for taking our love, and a teddy bear, to Button!!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Boy, Button, Mouse?

We were looking at some of Button's paperwork recently and we were noting a major cultural difference between America and Thailand. On his official paperwork it carefully notes his astrological sign. On the Thai zodiac, which is very similar to the Chinese zodiac with some small differences, Button was born in the year of the mouse. This is also sometimes called the year of the rat (like the chinese zodiac) but on his paperwork it clearly says, "xxxxxxxxxxxx year of Mouse". I don't know if the two words are simply interchangeable in the translation to English from Thai or if they are actually making a differentiation between the two, but as his Mother, I prefer to think of Button as "year of Mouse".

For those of you who don't know, the legend of the zodiac is thus, On the Buddha's last day on this Earth he invited all the animals to meet with him but only 12 came. To reward them he named a year after each of the twelve. More recently in Thailand, it is believed that everyone should make a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime to the Temple associated with their birth year. Anyway, this is what the internet tells about the Thai Zodiac predictions for the year of the mouse 2008:
"The Mouse character is industrious, disciplined, eloquent, shrewd and meticulous. There downfall can be in a selfish, obstinate, scheming and vindictive manner. The temple associated with the year of the mouse's holy pilgrimage is the Wat Phrataht Sri Jomtong, in Chiang Mai. "
Of course, all predictions aside, we are just waiting to see what kind of an individual our little (boy, button, mouse) turns out to be but we are awfully excited to get to know him!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Survival Checklist

What have I personally learned about adoption so far? Almost nothing since I am not yet actively parenting a child. What have I learned about surviving the adoption process? Hmmmm... a pretty good bit. I'ld like to know what you guys have learned too! Tell us your tips for getting through. Here are some of my favorites though:

"Rosemary's In-Process Survival Checklist"
  • Make copies, in triplicate, of everything. Including your dog's rabies certificate.
  • Do not attempt to diet - it is futile. Do not hang out with people who are dieting. Do not even remain friends with people who are naturally thin.
  • Understand that if you hang new curtains, change your hair color or allow your nephew to camp in your backyard for the weekend your homestudy will have to be updated. At your expense.
  • Whatever "they" told you all this would cost - that figure is incorrect.
  • Only hang out with fun people, only do fun things, only see funny movies. Laugh as much as possible.
  • If the people in your life refuse to see how constantly difficult this process is, if they refuse to help you celebrate humor at every turn in the road, subtly let them know you'll be back in contact when all this is over.
  • Eat, drink, exercise, make love, laugh, travel, shop, redecorate or whatever else you need to do to affirm life. Be kind and loving to yourself.
  • Pray, say affirmations, meditate and journal but, no matter what, do not loose touch with that inner voice or higher power. The Whisper you hear telling you to put one foot in front of the other may be the most important part of this journey.
  • Be nice to other people because they are going through hard stuff too. Our adoption troubles are not the only difficult thing to ever happen to anybody during this time.
  • Pick up at least one new hobby, preferably two, because the last thing we need is free time. Try to make it something you absolutely won't be able to do after the baby comes home. Celebrate this time because even though we want to wish it away it will never come again.
  • Adore your partner! They are the only other person who knows what it really feels like to wait for "YOUR CHILD" so share the experience as fully as possible.
  • Do something you have always wanted to do and never made time/money/courage for. Make sure that you can look back on this season as more than just a pergatory period.
  • Even though the house is empty and you are desperate to give love - resist the urge to get a puppy mere months before bringing home a high impact toddler. If you do get a puppy though please call me so I can come over and play with yours. Brian says I can't have one.
  • Babysit for everyone you know so that in a year or so when Junior is comfortable staying with other people you can start raking in the favors.
  • Read, read, read. We can't ever read too many adoption books, blogs, chatrooms, and articles.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Weekend Whimsy

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

- Charles Darwin

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Stinks

As some of you already know, we've been having a rough time here on the homestead. I want to record this experience as clearly as possible for several reasons 1) this is Button's story and I want him to have the details. 2) For everyone who is thinking of adopting. 3) For our fellow P.A.P.'s behind us in line. Adoption is not simple and I truly feel that as a community we need to educate one another about the facts and the "felt experiences".

We spoke with our advocate at our agency and she said that all the DSDW meetings in Thailand have been booked through the end of the year and we are not scheduled to travel. So, barring a miracle, it will be 2010 before we meet our son. That was the first time I have ever been upset with our agency. I have loved working with them 100% of the time up till now, so this one little moment does not weigh very heavily into my rating of their organization. She said that Button's paperwork is complete and so is ours but we are just...waiting. And apparently, the DSDW doesn't care about the I-600 form that I was so worried about last time I posted. Just goes to show there's no sense worrying. Ironic, isn't it? Until now we have been led to believe that there was a numbered list that we were all moving up in order. Suddenly though the answer is simply, "They are very busy... Backlogged... They won't review your son's case until they decide to." It was sort of like a Bugs Bunny-explains-himself-to-the-sheriff-routine. "Yeah, backlogged, that's the ticket - backlogged!"

I'm feeling pretty angry. That tends to be how my personality processes this kind of thing. It's just too horrible to face head on without fighting back so I get angry. Brian feels a lot of depression and worry. He always tries to fix everything so he feels overwhelmed by things like this because they are unfixable. We would give anything to change the situation because every day is a day of Button's life we can't recover no matter what we do or what we pay. None of that changes how we feel about Button though. Our love for him continues to grow CONSTANTLY.

Pray for a miracle. Pray for the "backlog" to unjam itself. Pray for my insane rage level to abate before I go postal and climb to the top of a bell tower. Pray for our son to be happy and healthy everyday. Pray for the DSDW to decide to review our case. Even if you don't pray just light a candle for the kiddo, ok?


Monday, October 12, 2009


I am feeling sooooooo down today. The paperwork has got my nerves completely frazzled. We had to redo our homestudy in July when we moved from NYC to Virginia. Because of the new homestudy we had to file an I-171H form. First we sent the form to the NY state office because that is where we filed and all the forms said to do it that way. Then New york told us they had received the form but we needed to re-file with Washington D.C. So we did that. They told us it would just take a couple of weeks. After a couple of weeks we contacted them via email pleasantly asking where the heck our I-171H form was. They said we would have it in the mail in 1-2 weeks. That was 17 days ago. We emailed them again last night in hopes that they will respond today.

The worst part about all of this though is that we can't file the I-600 petition for Button until we get this @#&*!* form back and I am loosing my mind. For all of you who are not waiting parents also going through this crazy process, we CANNOT travel to pick our son up until our I-600 form has been processed by the U.S. government so we needed to start it yesterday already and it is horribly frustrating that we are unable to do so.

Yea, I am really worried right now and I feel angry too. I don't know who I am angry at because it's obviously not anyone in particular's fault. It's just a sad sort of nebulous anger that comes and goes like Eeyore's little black rain cloud. I am trying to be calm, say my affirmations, pray and stay positive but I want my son to come home.

Would you mind taking a second to send up a prayer or a happy thought for Button's homecoming? His Mommy would appreciate it more than you can know.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Weekend Whimsy

"Remember no one's more important than people!" -Julia Child

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Best First Book Ever

Well, it is book review Wednesday but I have been very busy with work and out-of-town company so I have to admit that I haven't found much time to read this week. But we do have a fantastic book review for this week! All of us prospective adoptive parents need to read a million books and it can be rather exhausting so it's fun to remember that we also need to start collecting books for the little people we are expecting. This week we got a wonderful reminder of that when a fantastic package arrived from Button's Grandmother a.k.a. Duchess.

We were delighted to discover that she had shopped around for a collection of Brian's favorite childhood books (big hits in my family too): Richard Scarry! We especially love The Best First Book Ever, which is just such a perfect classic and everyone should have it. I can't wait to spend an afternoon with my son searching these perfectly illustrated pages for Lowley Worm. Do you remember?


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Lifebook

So I've finally come to the place in time where I can no longer put it off. I really need to get started on Button's lifebook. Of course, I love celebrating all things Button, but not even that can help me shake my loathing of crafty projects. Bless his sweet heart this kid is definitely not going to have one of those super-special-fancy lifebooks made by the sort of mom who has a "project and giftwrapping room". I want to be that kind of mom, really I do, but I'm just not and that's all there is to it. I forget to photograph everything important, I get glue stuck in my eyebrows, I can't cut a straight line and I hate stickers. In short - I'm a very bad scrapbooker. Thank God for grandmothers or else our kids probably won't have a single surviving picture of their childhood.

So who has suggestions for EASY, no-fail scrapbooking? Ideally I would most like a website where I could drop all the pictures and text in digitally and not have to deal with all that cutting and pasting. You think I'm joking but Brian makes me use the child safety scissors. I know some of you out there are serious scrapbookers so hit me up with all your best tips and shortcuts! Or you could just volunteer to drive right over and work on it for me while I whip up something delicious for us to snack on. Now doesn't that sound lovely?


Friday, October 2, 2009

Weekend Whimsy

image courtesy of flickr

"No matter how you feel - get up, dress up and show up. Life is waiting!" - Dixie Carter

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Love In The Time of Color

I think one of my favorite social dynamics to observe are interracial couples. Here in our sweet little college town I see them all the time. I'm so happy to know that this generation coming up right behind me seems even more eager to forget race barriers. For me there is just something very full of hope and bravery about it. Perhaps it's because I grew up in a small town in the deep south where that was very much a "taboo". It was certainly something I never saw as a young child. I still remember the first interracial couple I ever met. One of my father's dear friends, a fellow minister, was a black man who married a white woman and in the social aftermath following it my parents had them over to dinner. My Dad sat us kids down before they arrived and said, "Remember not to act shocked when you meet his wife. She isn't the same color as him and that's ok. Jesus loves everybody and he wants us all to love each other."

The other day, I witnessed the sweetest, gentlest moment between a young Asian man and a beautiful black girl. They were walking through our pedestrian shopping center holding hands. He said something that made her tilt her head back and laugh. He stopped and touched her cheek in the most tender fashion and then he kissed her so sweetly that it made me want to cheer for him and good men everywhere. I wondered then what sort of lovely girl my son will bring home to us some day. I made a mental note to live my life in such a way that all my children know that no matter who they love their parents will welcome them. I don't want Button to ever feel he has to call home and say, "Mom, I met the most amazing girl but I just want you to know she's (insert race)." That sentence should never have to be uttered because Button should know that his parents don't care what color love is.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child"

Today's book review is a little different. I am recommending Betsy Keefer's book, Telling The Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child: Making Sense of The Past but instead of reviewing it I am going to feature her list "The Ten Commandments of Telling", which has been floating around adoption-bloggy land for some time now but bears repeating in every venue. I think it will help everyone to see what a blessing her book can be to the adoptive family no matter the age of our children. Even if you have no intention of buying this book and have never read an adoption book in your life - please read this list!!

I. Do not lie.
This is a no-brainer, right? It's your child's story, and they are entitled to have it told straight. Omissions are OK if developmentally necessary (but see IV), but no lies. Kids have a way of finding out the truth, and then we've broken trust. Adopted kids tend to snoop more than non-adopted kids (curiosity about their background), so it's not at all unusual for them to ferret out the truth before they are told.

II. Tell information in an age-appropriate way.
Of course, but how exactly? Betsy gives the example of telling a child the very hard truth that their original mother was a drug-addicted prostitute, and the child was removed from her care because she left her alone and neglected her. This needs to be done at different ages, building to the whole truth. For instance:

Age 3: Your first mommy couldn't take care of any baby. She wasn't ready to be a mommy.

Age 7: Your first mommy had trouble taking care of herself. She wasn't able to take care of any baby. Neighbors were worried about you and called the social worker.

Age10: Your first mom made a bad decision and started using drugs. She couldn't think well when she was using drugs and made even more bad decisions. Sometimes she left you alone. That wasn't safe for you.

Age 12: Your first mom felt sick when she couldn't get drugs. She could not hold a job. She needed money, so she sold herself through prostitution. She left you alone when she met customers or bought drugs. Neighbors called the social worker, and a judge agreed you needed a safe home to grow up in.

III. Allow the child to be angry without joining in.
You know how you can say mean things about your brother, but no one else can? Same goes when your child is angry with their first parents. Acknowledge the hurt and anger without bad-mouthing the first parents.

IV. Share all information by the time the child is 12.
It's important to give the child all the information before the teenage years. That's the key period for identity formation, and they need all available information before that point. And, by the teenage years, kids don't believe a word their parents say! So you better get the information out while they are still listening.

V. Remember the child knows more than you think.

See snooping, above! Not to mention, if anyone in the family knows it, chances are your child has overheard parts of the story and are filling in the blanks on her own. Or someone else -- older siblings, school friends who heard something from their parents -- is telling your child. And they are likely not doing it in a kind and understanding way. Even if they are, the game of "rumour" should remind you how skewed the story will be by the time your child hears it.

Also, your child is probably developmentally ready to hear parts of the story before you think they are. Although parents are experts in their child, their reluctance to share hard truths and desire to protect the child might lead to underestimating their ability to understand.

VI. If information is negative, use a third party professional.
Choose wisely, interview beforehand, and discuss parameters of telling. You MUST STAY when the therapist tells, so that you can offer your child emotional support, so you know the details shared to clarify later anything your child missed or misunderstood, so you can demonstrate to your child than even though you know "the worst" about them, you still love them and are there for them.

VII. Use positive adoption language.
It's important to model positive attitudes about adoption, and that starts with language. Your child relies on you to teach them that language, too.

VIII. Don't impose value judgments.
Even horrific information needs to be conveyed in a neutral manner. Conveying negative judgments of original family or their actions will be seen as a rejection by adopted children. "If you don't like my biological parents, you don't like me."

And what we see as terribly negative information may not be that for the child. Betsy was called in by a family to share the fact that their son was conceived as a result of rape. Everyone was surprised that the boy was actually happy to hear it -- he had internalized ideas of his first mother as promiscuous, and was glad to know it wasn't so.

IX. Initiate conversation about adoption.
Waiting until kids ask questions isn't adequate. Look for opportunities to raise the issue of adoption:

1. Watch movies/programs with adoption themes with your child and draw parallels and contrasts to your child's story; use as a springboard to further discussion;

2. Use key times of the year (birthday, Mother's Day, adoption day) to let your child know that you are thinking about their original family;

3. Comment on your child's positive characteristics and wonder aloud whether they got that characteristic from biological family members;

4. Include the biological family when congratulating your child for accomplishments -- "I'm sure they would be as proud as we are."

X. The child should be in control of his story outside the family.
Intimate details should only be shared at your child's discretion. Make sure, though, that your child realizes the difference between "private" and "secret." Secrets connote shame, and you don't want your child to think negative facts are shameful.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Race Watching

We recently moved to an adorable little college town. One of my favorite things about life here is getting to see all the university students at various venues around town. They basically run this place with their commerce, their vitality, their ideology and I LOVE IT! Another thing I really love about life in a college town is that it always brings in a higher level of diversity and we are very blessed to have many minorities here even though this is a very small town. We have a 3% Asian population, which is extremely important to Brian and me. That may not sound like a high percentage but it is actually pretty good for any town not on the west coast and it's very good for a small town. We want Button to grow up seeing faces like his on a daily basis. We hope to find same-race role models like a pediatrician and a pastor for our children.

I have noticed a new phenomenon in my lifelong "people watching"obsession though - race watching. I have developed an avid interest in observing race as it occurs in group dynamics. It's fascinating and college towns are such a great place to see so many different hybrids of the basic variations on old themes. I am always extremely interested when I see Asian students come into the restaurants or stores where I am. I love to notice what they wearing, who they are with, and the kind of things they are saying. I am just a silly woman wondering what my son will look and talk like when he's all grown up. I know there is no particular reason why an Asian teenager would be more reflective of Button's future than any other race but still I eavesdrop on their conversations wondering if Button will share their feelings about parents, politics, race relations, girls.

It's interesting to me to observe how many times I see large groups of Asian kids with no other race represented. I think that's great! They are identifying with their own culture and race and enjoying that inimitable bond of similar experience. I hope that Button will be able to share in that many times throughout his life. I also find it very interesting to watch how often I see a solitary Asian kid in a large group of white students. I ask myself: What is their social experience in that moment? What is their cultural background? Are they lonely?


Monday, September 28, 2009

The feedback

When I wrote my blog last week about Adoption Dissolution I was certain it would receive some negative feedback. And it did. Oddly enough though the people who supported Ms. Tedaldi's decision to place her son for adoption a second time didn't leave comments on my post they sent me emails instead. Some of them were interesting to read and some of them were just plain ugly.

One woman said that in the years since their adoption took place they have had a lot of difficulties and she could really relate to Ms. Tedaldi's story and she felt grateful that someone was talking about it so honestly. She said that post adoption depression is very real. It was interesting to read that email because I agree with that sentiment completely!! I totally believe that post-partum and post adoptive depression is a natural and obvious condition that afflicts many families. I am reading a book now about post adoption depression so that in case it is something Brian and I face later we can know where to start dealing with it. I also wish more people would talk about their experiences honestly - I guess everyone is afraid of being called a "bad mom". However, all that being said, I don't think that has anything to do with adoption dissolution. Lots of great, fully committed families face post-adoption depression, special needs children and many other stressors (like spouses on active deployment) and don't dissolve their child's place in the family. Commitment does not mean doing something as long as it is easy.

I also got several incredibly SNARKY emails from adoptive mothers which basically all said the same thing "You haven't even brought your child home yet. You don't know how hard adoption is. Maybe your kid will be perfect but maybe the whole thing will be awful. I think Ms. Tedaldi had every right to do what she did."
Hmmmm.... How to respond to that?
It's true our son has not joined our family geographically yet but it doesn't affect our love for him. It's also true that I don't know if he will be an easy child to raise or a difficult one but that doesn't matter either. I am his mother and I am not expecting him to be perfect (nor would I even want that) I am committed to him no matter who he is. The same idea that these women all expressed to me was "You don't know how hard adoption is." Of course, that is 100% true! However, I feel that the better reality is that I don't yet know how hard parenting is. But I am expecting it to be hard, just like marriage can be very difficult but ultimately rewarding, and full of love. I am not going to give my husband away and I am not going to give my kids away either. They are my family and they are allowed to be difficult.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Columbia University Children's Medical Guide

Book review day! Since R is out of town, I am the designated blogger for this Wednesday. I have a great book that we picked up at B&N a few weeks ago. It's the Columbia University Children's Medical Guide from DK. As with most of their books, it's heavily illustrated and easy to flip through. It's very well organized for the non-medical person with simple non-technical vocabulary. They've got a nice little breakdown about many common childhood illnesses, from earache to hemophilia. There's also a nice couple pages on development and milestones, safety and health, and even a little section on "adolescent development" with the nice encyclopedia drawings of the maturing body.

Even for me as a doctor, knowing what to do with a sick baby is a little intimidating. That's why I love the "Symptom Charts" section of the book, with large flowcharts broken down into broad symptom categories like "fever" "diarrhea" and "painful joints". These make it easy to decide what your little one's rash looks like and whether you should insist on an immediate appointment with the pediatrician or not. This is huge, especially for the new parent.

We say in medicine all the time that the technical aspects are easy to learn, but that what we really learn in all those years of medical school and residency is judgment. I think that learning how to be a parent is the same thing - learning what's a big deal and what isn't. Hopefully a book like this will help those of us who are new to the game to freak out a little less and save a few copays along the way.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What does this mean?

What the heck does adoption dissolution mean? Well, I know what it means but I don't understand it. Technically the definition of adoption dissolution is: A reversal or voiding of an adoption after its legal finalization. This can occur for a variety of reasons, the most common of which are: 1) That there was not a good match of the needs of the child with the talents and capabilities of the adoptive family, and 2) That the circumstances of the child or the adoptive family have changed substantially since the finalization, which would make a continuation of the relationship impractical or impossible. However, my heart absolutely does not understand this. Just reading the definition is scary because it reminds me that a lot of people don't feel committed to their adopted children. I mean honestly, how many families formed through biology are in NO WAY a good match for one another or capable of meeting one another's needs? A lot. And yet they go slogging onward because they are simply committed to each other. Sometimes out of love, sometimes out of hate and sometimes out of inertia but they don't just dissolve all the bonds of family and disapear.

Some of you may be aware of this as it has made some small sensation in adoption-bloggy land but I, as always, am late to the party. Recently there was this terribly disturbing article about an adoption dissolution. A woman named Anita Tedaldi wrote an essay about why she chose to "unadopt" a toddler after keeping him for 18 months. If you haven't read the piece yet I would strongly encourage you to take the time. I found very little to agree with the author about. I thought her tone was self-indulgent and her vocabulary inappropriate.

Do I feel that the little boy this story tragically centers around is better off with his new family? I FERVENTLY HOPE SO. Do I think that the "adoption dissolution" and the time he spent with Anita Tidaldi did him irreparable harm? YES ABSOLUTELY. Do I think that Ms. Tidaldi is responsible for the additional developmental delays and emotional scarring of rejecting him and the lost years of bonding he could have had with his true adoptive family? YES ABSOLUTELY.

I think the thing that frustrates me most about this entire situation though is the very fact that we even have something called "adoption dissolution." When a biological parent places a child for adoption we call it by many names: relinquishment, abandonment, giving up for adoption, making a placement plan. All of those words and phrases though come with a harsh stigma for the original mother, including being referred to as a birth mom for the rest of her life. I really feel that in instances when adoptive parents make the choice to "dissolve" their child's place in the family, a child that has already been relinquished once before, we need not to lessen the weight of this act by giving it minimizing vocabulary. If first families have to face stark terminology then I think that adoptive families who make this choice need to as well.

Ms. Tedaldi should not be able to merely explain all this away to her social circle by saying that she is "dissolving her adoption" but rather she should have to tell everyone that she has made the choice to give her child up for adoption. After all, that's the truth.


Thursday, September 17, 2009


This month is just crawling by. I think our scare in the early weeks of September absolutely slowed time to a death crawl for us. Thank God that is mostly over!

Now we are just anxiously waiting and waiting to find out who gets those precious referrals! I can't wait to see everyone's update pictures and all those adorable new babies who have been matched with their families! If you are a fellow adoptive, or pre-adoptive, family who reads this blog and you have one of your own then please share your link with us. I love following everyone's journey!

Happy Waiting,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Infant Massage"

I've been reading "Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents" by Vimala McClure. I really enjoyed this book tremendously. I love the focus it places on respecting the power of affection and touch to show not just tell our children how much we love them. I became interested in infant massage as a way to aid bonding with Button a while back but I didn't know if it would be possible since he was a toddler. This book really encouraged me that it is never too late to begin showering our children with physical affection and having it received - eventually.

My favorite things about the book were that it has an entire section written directly to the adoptive and foster parent. I found this to be very helpful. It addressed a lot of the questions I had about our specific family needs. She also includes chapters about children with special and developmental needs and sibling bonding through massage that I think may be useful to many adoptive families. Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was that she dedicates an entire chapter to dads and how they can use massage to bond with their babies, which received the "Brian seal of approval". ;-)

Something I felt could have been done a bit better was that sometimes the author used rather over-the-top opinionated language in her supportive of massage. Even though I am also a strong proponate of the idea and intend to try it out in our family, sometimes I felt like she made too strong a case for the idea that loving touch i.e. massage was the only thing keeping children from growing up to be mass murderers. I just sort of skimmed those rather preachy paragraphs though and they were pretty rare.

All in all, I liked the book a lot and I felt like it was straight forward instruction with easy to follow pictures and sound advice. I am going to practice on a friend's baby this weekend!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shopping fun

Guess what I found? Well, fine then, don't guess but at least look!

This cute little book just flew off the shelf at me and, of course, I had to have it for our Button. It's completely adorable! All the buttons are on brightly colored ribbons and toddlers can pop them in and out of the page's cute counting themed pictures. I'm thinking it will be a fun way to start learning his 1-10 in english.


Monday, September 14, 2009

The Update

I have struggled over whether or not to write this post but here I am. We decided to do this blog both as a record for Button and to actively join in the adoption community. In light of both of those goals we feel that this is important but I am going to work hard to maintain our son's privacy and not share too much.

You may have noticed that my regular blogging schedule has been interrupted in the past 2 weeks. That was partially due to a terrible work schedule but mostly due to a real emotional crisis that Brian and I were facing. In fact, I don't think I have ever been so frightened, so helpless, or so utterly without recourse.

Somehow we received Button's 9 month update extremely early. It came in long before expected and before most of our fellow PAP's updates arrived. At first we were thrilled to hear we had an update! We've been waiting months for new pictures of our son!! I couldn't wait to pass them around. But then several things were... of concern. Without reporting anything that could damage Button's complete privacy, we became VERY WORRIED that he was showing signs of a condition we knew he could easily have.

Everyone at Holt has really been amazing! We talked to Marissa several times and she has been nothing but kind and helpful. Working with our pediatrician, we sent a (short) list of simple, easily translatable questions to HSF to gain more information about our son's developmental status and they promptly responded with answers that have reassured us greatly. We are waiting for more info to come in soon, however, we feel much better now and we are expecting our God to continue to do great things for Button as He already has.

I want to say this though: Nothing could or would stop us from bringing our son home. Button is our child and that relationship is not contingent on his being in good health or being a genius or behaving well. It is simply a truth that cannot be erased. Button is our son whatever sort of little person he may be.

Thank you so much for your prayers, support, and all your positive thoughts. We are bringing our healthy, smart, brave little boy home by Christmas. We refuse to believe anything else.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How we spent Button's Birthday

So I'm sure that by now you're all sick of hearing about Button's birthday but your first child only has their first birthday once so cut us some slack! All our family is very far away and we still don't really know many people here so, unfortunately, a party wasn't really in the cards.

So how did the proudest parents in the world celebrate Button's birthday proper? Build-a-Bear, of course! We purchased a very cute stuffed owl. R was convinced that a stuffed owl was much cooler than a plain old bear, and she managed to convince me, as she usually does. R felt that the owl looked ridiculous in any of the available outfits so she just "accessorized" him for quite some time. I have to admit though, it did turn out pretty cute. We put the little voice chips in his paws (wings?) - one sings happy birthday, and the other is our recorded voices saying, "We love you, XXXXXXX". If any of you haven't been suckered into Build-A-Bear yet then allow me to explain that you create your bear (owls?) birth certificate when you are done. When we filled out the certificate for Button's owl we named him "Nok" which we believe to mean "bird" in Thai. Cute, huh? We'll save his Owl to give him after he gets home with us but we hope it will be a sweet memento of his first birthday for him to keep.

After Build-a-Bear(Owl), we tried a new Thai restaurant in town, since none of the other ones we've been to have really impressed us. In an auspicious turn this one was excellent! Great food and nice ambiance, with very friendly Thai staff (not all of the Thai restaurants in small-town Virginia have Thai waiters or even cooks) who we talked to for a long time.

All in all, it was a good day. We hope our baby boy had a good day, too. We were very grateful on that day for his foster family, who have given him a loving family home to spend so much of his first year in and to celebrate his first birthday with.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Button's birthday package

As you know from our recent posts, last week was our little boy's first birthday. While it was heartbreaking for us to be away from him on that special day, we were very excited to have sent him a birthday package, which he hopefully got sometime around his birthday. Our agency, Holt, has recently tightened their restrictions on packages that PAP's are allowed to send over to their waiting children. We're basically only allowed to send something every two months, and it must be flat, noiseless, and fit into a gallon Ziploc bag.

So, of course, my brilliant wife has found a way to stuff two gallon freezer bags in the past two months, packing them to the absolute breaking point while still leaving them relatively flat and noiseless. The birthday package we sent off about a month ago, which was less than two months after our initial package, but they were very generous to us because it was his birthday and we wanted him to have something from us. The way the mail works to Thailand, it hopefully got there around his birthday and he had some presents from Mom and Dad. We did manage to squeeze in a disposable camera, which hopefully will have some good pictures on it. Rosemary's favorite, though, were these little shoes which she said he NEEDED because he will be walking soon:

We can't wait to meet our son!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Button!!

Dear Button,

Today is your first birthday!! Congratulations on being such a big boy! We are so proud of you and we love you so much. We wish, more than anything we have ever wished for, that we had been able to be with you on this very special day but we celebrated your life and your other parent's lives and we sent all our thoughts and prayers to you. Since you can't be with us for this birthday we are glad that you are getting to spend it with your wonderful foster parents who love you so very very much. We are also happy to know that, since we are still apart, at least you were able to spend your first birthday in beautiful Thailand!

We want you to know that we think of you every day. Really every hour. But you have never been more in our thoughts and hearts than on your birthday. What a celebration!! The day that your beautiful mother brought you into the world. We are so grateful to have you as our son. Our first-born son. No parents have ever been luckier.

Happy birthday, Button!
Daddy and Mommy

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Home Game"

A rare appearance from Brian, for all the husbands/dads out there:

This week's book review is of Michael Lewis's very funny book Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood. Michael is a novelist, freelance writer, and father of three children. This book starts with his account of their move to France, when their oldest daughter was a baby, and moves through the phases of their lives with each section focusing on one of the three children. His unique voice makes each of the stories - most of which are well-worn fatherhood anecdotes - fresh and amusing. One of my favorite passages, from the France episode:
"Gymboree, I am told, is an American company. But it could not have found more fertile soil abroad in which to plant itself, importing, as it does, the love of order into a chaotic marketplace. ... it appears to be a carefully crafted, scientifically based institute for infant development. Just beneath the science, however, is an infant rendition of Lord of the Flies."

Through all of the humor, though - and this is definitely a humorous book - is evidence of his deep love for his children, and his contentment and happiness with the role of father. He describes growing into the position, learning to bond with his kids and how to do "fatherly" things. As a side note, it was nice to see someone from outside of the adoption world refer to the process of bonding and attachment. It's comforting, every once in a while, to dispel the notion that all biological families just instantly "click" while we have to work at it.

There is a section of the book where he discusses his son's being sick in the hospital as a very young infant and my wife may claim that I cried while reading this section. However, I will deny this like a Soviet press secretary. The fact remains, though, that it is a deeply affecting portrait of fatherhood. It gave me ammunition for the road ahead and lots to look forward to.

-- Brian

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Always on Our Mind

We spent a lovely day on Sunday with some old friends in Virginia Beach who have a gorgeous little 16-month-old daughter. Of course, we are hoping to pick Button up when he is exactly that age so we were watching her pretty closely to see what kind of stuff she was doing. Mostly she was being extremely cute and wrapping Brian around her little finger so thank goodness our first child is a son or it would just be a lost cause!

Image Courtesy of Flickr

As we drove home that night we were listening to some good music, watching the sun set and just enjoying the ride. Then Brian asked me what I was thinking about I said, "Button." Instantly Bri said, "He is waking up right now." and I knew that he had been thinking of our son too.


Monday, August 24, 2009

This is going to hurt you more than it hurts me

Sometimes when I think of everything a person looses and gains in adoption I am overloaded by the immensity of it all. It is such a huge amount of information to process. Any person who has to walk down the adoptive path to self is carrying a much heavier load than those of us from the typical biological family. How do they answer one question in light of the next? Because as some of us, who have tried to think our way through the tangle of broken family, know there is always a next question. Wouldn't it be great to get to the FINAL ANSWER? To find an ultimate exposition on original family dissolution and the creation of adoption!

I don't know why this has happened to Button. I don't know why some children are born with the great luck of having biological parents who are fully capable of parenting them and blessed with all the resources for the difficult journey ahead. I know that it is not because those children are more deserving or because those mothers are instinctively more maternal. I do know that my son was not able to stay with his first family and after 7 months in foster care he was assigned to our case.

I also know that at some point in his life this will cause him deep pain. It is not debatable. I refuse to even listen to the people who say things like, "Some kids aren't really bothered by the adoption thing." or "He'll know you're his REAL parents and that's all he needs to know." Hogwash! Perhaps Button will be the kind of kid who doesn't want to talk about his feelings a lot. Maybe he will even work through to a deep and abiding peace regarding his adoption at an early age but I refuse to deny the truth that I know. At some point in his life "being adopted" is going to hurt and confuse him terribly.

I wish I could save him from it but I can't. I can't even find his peace for him. He has to work through all of this on his own. But I will be there with whatever support he needs whether it's tissues, or screaming matches, or reunion research, or bail money (please God no) or engagement ring shopping. I honestly can't begin to imagine all the experiences or people that might help him as he surfs through this emotional reality that is his to own. But I'm not going to tell him that one thing or another can't be of value to him. He gets to decide what he needs in order to become whole and accept this complex legacy: two sets of parents, one genetic heritage one adoptive heritage.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Weekend Whimsy

Image courtesy of Flickr

"Every object, every being,
is a jar full of delight."
-- Rumi

"Your Family Health Organizer"

Well, I have fallen down on the job this week with my blogging but we've been busy. Plus one of my old college roommates and her delightful husband were in town before heading out to their new post in Hawaii so we really wanted to enjoy our time with them!

That being said, I am (ever so slightly) overdue on a book review. I'm making it really easy on myself this week though. I didn't exactly have to read this one. But it is a book so it counts. Honest it does!! I bought this a couple of weeks ago and I still haven't stopped liking it. It has plenty of useful purposes for parents of every age but especially for the slightly freaked out new mom. Allow me to introduce you to Your Family Health Organizer by Jodie Pappas.

This trusty little binder is fantastic for adoptive parents since many of us are welcoming children with medical needs, or have medical needs ourselves, and cataloging all those documents can be a nightmare. The binder has different colored tabs and pocket folders for two parents and three children but you can order more sections and page refills. Each kid's section includes: medication records, medical appointment records, medication instruction forms for school/daycare/camp, growth charts, food allergy diary, and a child's identification profile for fingerprints, hair sample and photograph.

It's a great little size and will be easy to carry with us when we travel or leave on the counter for babysitters or grandma. It has a large section in each person's file for notes and it will be no problem for me to pop it in my diaper bag and take it along to all those pediatrician and early intervention visits in order to organize Button's medical files. So if you are facing a lot of health issues or are easily overwhelmed by the complicated but IMPORTANT process of organizing your family's medical paperwork please allow me to highly recommend this little book.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekend Whimsy

"Faith is a bluebird you see from afar. It's for real and as sure as the first evening star."
--Penny's feline friend Rufus
"The Rescuers"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Connected Child

I have really enjoyed reading The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis, David Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine. One thing I especially liked is that this book gives actual scripts for dialogue with children of all ages. They even provide sample daily schedules for engendering "felt safety". The Connected Child has a direct conversational tone that focuses on parents developing empathy for the child so kids can develop trust. Here is an excerpt from page 5 that I found quite moving:
"We'd like you to visualize a scene: imagine you raised your healthy, biological child in a loving home until he was four. Then somebody kidnapped him and you didn't know if he was dead or alive for three long years. During those years your baby boy was starved and abused. When he is finally, mercifully, returned to you at the age of seven, he is more like a wild and frightened animal than the curious and playful little boy you knew. Grateful to have him back and sensitive to his suffering, you focus on doing whatever he needs to heal from his trauma. You don't take him to the amusement park on his first day home, or bundle him off to day care within a week. You know that he needs weeks and months of daily nurturing and retraining to comfort, guide, and heal him from the harmful experience."

Another thing that was extremely helpful to me was their section on discipline for the adopted child. This is such a complicated topic for any family but especially for the adoptive family and almost none of us AP's were raised experiencing discipline that truly works for the newly adopted child. So how are we supposed to figure it out? The Connected Child is very firm on their stance that unsafe and selfish behavior cannot be tolerated but they truly do give exact details about providing loving, empathetic discipline for the particular set of circumstances involving the adoptive family.

What I wish the book had done differently:
Like much adoption literature, it focused a lot on bringing home the older child. Of course, that info is much needed for many families but since we are adopting a toddler I wish the authors had more clearly identified what issues families were likely to face in adopting from various age groups. The book also spends a lot of time dealing with the effects of institutionalization. Again, with our specific case that is not as pertinent.

I would recommend this book to any adoptive family. The examples are clear and simple to relate to and it's a very easy and encouraging read. The most important thing I think this book has to offer though is a constant reminder to see things from your child's perspective. The book spends a lot of time outlining the emotional and mental processes adoptees go through and the fears they experience.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nervous Nelly

So I am in an interesting place. It's sort of a panicky, angsty, overwrought place. Yea, I said interesting, not pleasant. We just moved to a new town where we don't know a single soul. I desperately miss our friends and families right now. I am so very much wishing I could share this time with them. And by "share" I mean send up a flare for some freakin' help!

We are hoping against hope that we will be picking Button up in 5 months so I have a ferocious need to prepare for the baby right now. I know you can all understand that what this has created is one crazy lady-friend. Brian keeps saying, in this very calm and patient voice, "But we have plenty of time to worry about baby stuff later." Total guy statement, right? I have no idea how long it takes to get a nursery ready but the room we plan on using is currently painted this hideous color of olive green, from the last tenant, and is basically acting as a storage closet. Plus, we need to toddler proof (which everyone says is much harder than baby proofing) and we can't toddler proof a house where we haven't even finished hanging pictures yet.

Then we have to get all the stuff for Button and, apparently, Button requires a huge amount of stuff. Just the amount of all new, semi-important choices we have to make is exhausting. What kind of car seat? What kind of formula? What kind of diapers? What if I buy the bad, evil, plastic bottles that leach toxins? Just walking into the Babies R' Us practically requires a graduate degree in consumer reporting!

Oh yea, I had a teeny-tiny break down at the Babies R' Us and we had to leave. Don't worry, I didn't attack any innocent employees, I just started to cry in the playpen aisle. It is my firm belief that the store is designed to overwhelm and I am sure that many dozens of women have had similar reactions. Well, that's what I'm telling myself so don't burst my bubble, ok? And all of that foolishness doesn't even begin to touch on the really important choices we need to make like finding a pediatrician and researching vaccines. How did the human race ever survive through the dark ages? Right, we almost didn't...

Aston Church Mother's Union circa 1953

I just feel like my head is about to explode with all the lists of everything that has to be done and I wish that someone would call in the cavalry. What? You mean to say that an army of 1950's housewives will not be coming to my aid? I have to do it myself! This is what parenting is all about?? Ummm yea, is there someone else I can speak to?


Monday, August 10, 2009

The Compass

I've been thinking about Button's other parents a lot lately. Knowing who our son is and knowing, at least a little bit, about his original family is a weighty thing. I now know the specific story of a woman and a child on the other side of the world. I know some of the details and some of them are lost to me. I roll the tale over and over again in my mind like a pebble in my mouth. A flat, smooth, truth that is completely indigestible.

Her son is also my son. She and I have more in common than any of my dearest friends. My heart keeps referring to their story like a compass. What direction is it pointing me in? How should I best serve my son to be true to the hopes his first mother had for him? I wish I could ask her. I wish I could tell her that I would honor her intentions. We have no way of knowing what she wants for Button. All I can assume is that, like any mother, she wants her son to be loved, encouraged, supported and given direction.

I can also safely assume that like any mom she wants to be recognized as his mother. Without her, humanity in general and, our family specifically would not have Button's precious face. She brought my son into this world and he is exactly who he is because of her DNA. What a blessed opportunity for me to be able to recognize her as my son's other mother!

Our hopes for an open adoption have not changed although we have been told not to expect that. However, should we be given the opportunity to have contact with her I think the most important thing I would want to say is: "You are always remembered in our home. You are honored and loved as a member of our family. Button knows he has two mothers: me and you."


Friday, August 7, 2009

Weekend Whimsy

"Super Cell" courtesy of the University of Missouri Storm Chasing Team

"Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?"
-- John Page

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stage Fright

I know that none of you will be surprised to learn that I did a fair amount of theater in high school and college. After all, it involved dressing up in costumes, talking and staying up late and those are three of my favorite things so I was absolutely thrilled to get involved. One problem. I get terrible stage fright. Fortunately, for my short lived acting career, it was the manageable kind of stomach-churning, palm-sweating stage fright that goes away after a few minutes. No, really, I swear, I was a pretty good little actress...

So the other day I was thinking about Button and finally getting to meet him and becoming a mom and I started to feel well--- odd. I couldn't quite put my finger on it but it wasn't exactly the most delightful feeling in the world. What could possibly be wrong with me? I am completely in love with this little boy. Nobody has ever been more excited about becoming a mother. And yet, the feeling persisted.

Then I recognized it. All the symptoms were the same. STAGE FRIGHT.

So after a week of crabby attitudes and high strung nerves, I decided I couldn't live with constant stage fright for 5 more months. I pushed all the noise out of my psychic space and focused on the problem. I finally found it and I was none too pleased with myself. "What if I'm not good at it? What if my kid always has jam stains around their mouth and mis-matched socks? What if I'm the mom who can't remember spirit day and is late for carpool?" Oh my goodness, was it possible that my parenting angst could be boiled down to high school, nerdy girl, not-good-enough issues? The horror!!

So I reminded my incredibly subdued ego that good parenting is really only contingent on loving and valuing Button for exactly who he is. Then I walked into the bathroom took a long look at myself in the mirror and said, "Grow up, Rosemary, you are about to be a mom." and I smiled because it was the best advice I'd ever given myself.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Operating Instructions

I've always a been a reader. When we move somewhere new I get a library card almost as quickly as I get our power turned on. When a new challenge or joy comes into our life I spend hours on the internet surfing from one article to another. I've always believed that if the problem can be researched we can find some way of making it better. Of course, this doctrine has been pretty beat up over the years, but I cling to my little hope with dogged determination.

With our simultaneous leap into both the adoption world and the parenting world it seems like there is just an overwhelming amount of material to study. We need to learn how to play attachment and bonding games and we need to learn how to mix formula and heat a bottle. Sometimes the most obvious stuff feels the most overwhelming because everyone expects you to know how to do it. The biography of the two women who wrote The Joy of Cooking is called Stand Facing The Stove, which I think is one of the greatest titles of all time. Sometimes when I think about actually being responsible for the care and feeding of a child I wish some kindly British nanny would come along and begin with instructions exactly that basic: "Rosemary, stand facing the baby."

Well, all my parenting books are in and the house is mostly unpacked so, I am doing a lot of reading these days. There are some really good books that I'm enjoying and I think I'm learning a lot. I know book reviews are considered kind of lame but I always really enjoy it when other people do them so, on Wednesdays, I'm going to start walking you guys through my giant stack of books. Maybe it will help you decide which ones you want to invest in and, hopefully, it will help keep me on my reading schedule.

I just finished reading Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott and found it to be a quirky, beautiful, little book that really inspired me. It is the record of the first year of her son's life. It's really a story of her intense love for a child she never expected to have. She is a single mother with a million struggles to face and in spite of it all her enjoyment of this little boy is really a beautiful thing to behold. Her motherhood story (and her fantastic writing) encouraged me and I hope you'll find some cheer in it too. It also provides a great parenting book break from instructional tombs like What to Expect The Toddler Years. Fair warning though: she uses rough language throughout the book and expresses political ideas that everyone may not appreciate. If you can't agree to disagree with people then this may not be the book for you.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Sleep Sheep

This is my favorite thing that Button owns so far. His Gai Gai bought it for him and I think it is the most adorable (and practical) little guy ever. You can find them at Pottery Barn Kids and they're available in two sizes. Button received the travel sleep sheep, which we are hoping will help soothe him while we are in Thailand. They are suppossed to be wonder workers.

"This cuddly companion features four soothing sounds that will gently help your baby fall asleep. These include mother’s heartbeat, spring showers, ocean surf and whale songs. Comes with a removable sound box with automatic shut-off timer, plus volume and on/off controls. A hook and tab on the back let you securely attach it to the outside of your baby’s crib. 100% polyester fiberfill with plush polyester shell. Proven safe and effective, and winner of an iParenting Media Award." -PBK website


Monday, August 3, 2009

The view from here

From the day we started this adoption I kept telling myself we just have to get through to the referral. We just have to make it that far. I worried this was a bad strategy because I kept hearing people who had already completed their adoptions saying, "It gets so much harder once you have their picture and you know what and who you're missing." All the same though, I just tried to keep going through the seemingly endless wait for a referral by thinking once we get there it will all be so much better.

Well here we are.

It feels different than I thought it would feel. I've had a hard time blogging recently because I absolutely feel as if I've been struck dumb with the weight of emotions I've been carrying around. Like I said earlier, I didn't expect to feel like this. I knew I would love Button I just thought that this desperate, mind-sucking, all encompassing love would wait, at least, until I had met him. That only seems fair! Instead, here I am incapable of doing anything to care for him and it's pretty much all I want to do. Yes, it's fair to say I did not know the post-referral wait would feel like this.

However, for all of you who are starting to get depressed, there is good news!

Getting a referral has definitely made me feel like there is actually a light at the end of the never-ending adoption tunnel. I wake up every day and definitely experience that, "Hell yeah, we are almost out of here!" taste of victory. The referral has also given me a real sense of validation as a mother. I used to feel so awkward when people would ask us if we were starting a family. And they always ask, don't they? Because I knew that if I said, "Well, we're adopting..." then it was going to get some huge reaction, either positive or negative, and a bunch of questions that I couldn't answer. Now though when people ask if we have kids I just head it all off at the pass. "Why yes we do. We're adopting a beautiful, little 11-month-old boy from Thailand. His name is XXXXXXX. Would you like to see a picture?" I do not flounder. I am awesomely in control of the situation. I am a Mommy.

Having a referral has also brought me the ability to plan. Adoption is all about NOT being in control. Ever. Over anything. For me, it's been a very hard lesson in surrender but hopefully I'm a better person for it. However, I am so pleased to know the sex and age of my child. To have a basic idea of a "due date". To be able to think about nursery ideas and winter coats and wooden airplanes. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to finally plan for our baby and this stage of the adoption has gifted me that along with the crushing love and overwhelming worry.

If you are still waiting, then don't be afraid to count down until referral. It's a whole new world on this side. If you are on my time-line, then good Lord, call me up and tell me what you're packing because I seem to be losing my mind these days!