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

Friday, January 30, 2009


So I took a little mini-break from blogging this past week to try to get my life back in order.  I just couldn't catch up.  Even before the holidays hit we were having a lot of work stress.  Then Christmas, followed by a trip to Thailand and some rather unexpected upheavals at the company and long story short - I still hadn't gotten my suitcase off the guestroom floor.  Sound familiar?

Some days it seems like our life is passing by at a snail's pace. Especially anything having to do with this adoption.  It all seems to move so slow I can practically feel my hair growing.  Then on other days, I put my head up, take a look around and think, "What's going on?  Where am I?  When is it?"  and I'm simply amazed to realize that months have flown by and we've actually, by some miracle, moved up the list.  

Today I looked at my calendar and saw:  Jan. 30, 2009.  That means the entire first month of 2009 has already disappeared!  I have projects, deadlines and goals bearing down on me and I need to be getting a move on.  STRESS!!  The main thing I freaked out about today though is that it is only a few short months until we move.  Which means, for my Type A personality, it's time to start sorting, organizing, labeling, and packing.  Yes, I'm a little bit excited about the prospect, because us boring, Type A personalities live for organizational projects, but I'm also feeling daunted.  The thing I'm the most overwhelmed about is loosing our adoption network.

We've really developed an entire world of adoption/diversity resources here in NYC.  As you guys know, it takes time to find those communities, programs and people.  Most important of all are the people!  So this is a special request going out to everyone who reads this blog (Yes - that includes all our friendly lurkers) who can make recommendations about getting hooked into the adoption and Asian-American communities of Virginia.  We are looking for any type of information/support about:  adoptive families, interracial families, the Thai Community, Asian American Adoptees, and mothers groups for adoptive families of the Virginia area.  

So if you have any information or suggestions to share about life in Virginia, or if you're a fellow family-adopting-from-Thailand in the region, please leave us a comment!  If you would rather, feel free to email us at: 

- Rosemary

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why Culture?

On this last trip to Thailand, the interplay between birth-culture and adoption was in the forefront of my mind.  The idea of "first language loss" played in my heart constantly as I listened to Thai being spoken all around me.  Again, I was blessed to be able to view an interesting phenomenon at our girl's home.  All of the kids at our home are of the Akha tribal group.  The Akha, and all the other Hilltribes, are a minority group inside Thailand. For many of us farongs it can be hard to tell the difference between a Thai person and a tribal person but rest assured that they all know the difference.  One of my favorite quotes is by John Irving where he says, "Every society has it's own hierarchy." As Americans we focus a lot on the racism in our own culture and, of course, it's appropriate for us to do so. But every country has racism. Even in a country like Thailand, where on the surface it might appear that almost everyone is Asian.   Yes, but what kind of Asian?  And so the hierarchy begins and the evils of racism/classicm persist.

The Hilltribe people of Thailand: Akha, Karen, Hmong, Lahu, Lisu, Mien, etc. have a long and interesting history that has been fraught with difficulty. There are a lot of social justice programs out there now that are working to help these people groups get back on their feet. The real trick though is how to help them find an education, jobs and fulfillment without raping the culture. A lot of people would love to believe that the problem only exists externally.  That EVIL WHITES have come in and sold these innocent folks an empty bill of goods. Sadly, it's not that simple if it were then it would be simple to fix. The reality is that the Hilltribe people are no better than any of us.  They want their children's lives to be different than their own.  They have lived in almost pre-historic poverty for centuries, ravaged by drugs, domestic violence, a complete lack of human rights for women and children and no medical care. Within the last 50 years they have seen the widespread advent of all of these concepts in their region. These are not a selfish, grasping people desperate for microwaves and plastics. Many of the people we work with come down out of the village and leave their tribal lifestyle behind to work a city job so their daughters won't be sold away.  

So the question remains, "In the face of so many rapid changes how can we, the people working to support this culture, help them face new challenges and maintain a connection with the old ways?" Let me explain how we are attempting to do it at our girl's home.

Almost all of our staff are Akha. Our girls are all taught akha dances, the Akha language, given full Akha ceremonial costumes and we prepare both Akha and Thai food. It is important to us that we make them feel good about who they are. In a world full of racism, (and in Thailand being a tribal person is not considered a good thing by the wider majority) we help them celebrate who they are. After all, if they don't feel good about who they are at home, then how can they feel good about who they are when they're not at home? We also want to make sure they are all capable of furthering what is proud about their Akha heritage. These things must not be lost. So many of the tribal cultures, from every continent all around the world, are losing their young people and their traditions every day.
I watched our girls proudly perform an Akha dance during our Christmas celebration. I heard them singing in Akha all over campus. I watched them getting dressed in their Akha ceremonial outfits. I heard them tell each other, "You look beautiful!" At some point in their lives, they will all face racism for being a tribal woman.  This is a hard fact of Thai culture. But it is getting better every day and we are raising strong, independent, women who feel good about who they are.

How are we doing it?  Through language, food, culture, role models and honest discussions about race. So I remind myself once again, "If it's important at a group home then how much more important is it in my home?" Brian and I have always intended to focus a great deal of effort on these things in raising our children but I return from Thailand with renewed zeal for the culture and language of our children, which will become the culture and language of our family.

- Rosemary

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Finally, my replacement USB cord has arrived! So here is a sampling of our trip to Thailand. Enjoy!!

Our House Mother and my dear friend, Jutiporn, with her 18 mon. old little boy.

Meena, one of our highschoolers, with her older sister, one of our alumni, who is now married and the mother of this adorable kiddo who just charmed us all and spent the week being spoiled rotten by everyone!
Travis with his sponsor daughter.
I double dog dared Travis to eat the Tuna-Corn fried pie at the Bangkok McDonalds!  HAHA!!
Our elementary girls performing the cutest nativity scene I've ever watched!
The Christmas Parade begins.
Travis is a fierce competitor in the ping pong tournaments.  I am not asked to play.  ;-)
Our two sponsor daughters.  Teeda, has been with me since I was a "single mom" and she is a very special part of my life.  After we got married, Brian and I felt we could do more and received the honor of sponsoring little Patcharee!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Family With No Parents

Something else that was very different for me on this trip to Thailand was how I viewed the girl's rescue home I work with. I was viewing it with a fresh set of eyes.  Adoptive parent eyes.

Our home is widely considered to be one of the best group homes in Northern Thailand. Our facilities, an upper and lower campus, are gorgeous. Considering it's an institution, we offer a huge variety of amenities to the girls such as: a library, computer labs, English lab, sewing room, tv rooms, playroom, basketball court, etc. We even have a talking bird and multiple doggies on campus. The girls all get fantastic birthday presents in the summer and Christmas presents in December. We will even pay to send them to college, vocational school, or nursing school if they can get accepted.  To top it all off, the majority of our staff are alumni of the home so they really get it.  They truly understand and can empathize with the life experience our kids are having.  They handle the girls social and emotional needs with infinite patience and gentleness.  

Long story short: It's a great group home. If I had to grow up in an institution you can bet I would pick this one! However, how does it rank when compared to a family? I was really watching closely this trip. I don't think I was searching for evidence to support a pro-adoption leaning.  Of course, maybe I was and I'm just less self-aware than I think.  I want to tell you about three things that happened though.

1.) I am very proud and pleased that many of our alumni come home for the holidays. It touches me that instead of hating every memory of their childhood in an institutional setting they pack a bag, buy a bus ticket and come see their old roommates and dorm mothers. They hug my neck and say, "Why you still work here? Get rich job in America!" They sit around in the kitchen and eat Akha food and play with the new little girls. It is their home and I am honored to be invited in. This year I was talking to one of our alumni who is turning into quite the little fashion designer in Bangkok. I told her how proud we all are and asked why she made the long trip back when she's so busy. She smiled sadly and said, "Who else would I go to?"

2.) All of our little girls line up in the mornings before school. Our Children's Director makes sure everyone's uniform is clean and straight. Then we sing a few songs, do the multiplication tables, spelling words, Bible verse, remind everyone they are loved and walk them to school. We have more than 100 girls so this is as good as it gets to "having someone help you get ready for school". On the way to school, the girls all pull on me grabbing for my waist, my hands, my arms. Just a chance to hold on. I'm so worried they're not being hugged enough. How much is enough? They all want to know if I know their names. I feel terribly because I can't remember every girl's name. I just can't. We have so many new little ones and it's been a while since I've actually been at the home (I work in our US office). They are so thrilled when I know their names and so devastated when I don't. Why? Maybe they need parents to love them and call their names everyday.

3.) My brother's sponsor daughter is nine years old. He and his family have been sponsoring her since she arrived at our home several years ago. They send gifts and cards a couple of times a year. Her biological family situation was dangerous and she had to be removed. She has met Travis twice. He came last Christmas for two weeks and then again this year. She is a funny, sunny, cheerful, obedient little girl who everyone loves. The day we left Chiang Rai she hung onto Travis like a barnacle. She cried giant crocodile tears. She refused to go in the gate to school. She begged to know when he would return again. All in all, it was a heartbreaking display. Why? If she doesn't need a family then why?

I support our home and the work we do 100%. I am very proud of our staff, our donors, and our girls who are the real heroes. However, I still say that no group setting, no matter how well run it may be, can take the place of a family unit. And yes, I do understand that adoptive families come with a less than ideal set of circumstances. But the purpose of family is not to be perfect, it's to love each other just as we are and to be available for each day as it comes.

- Rosemary

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Hero

I was reading a psychology essay several months ago that discussed how children begin to assume a great deal about who they are supposed to be by seeing who their parents admire.  This piece asserted that if athletes are the only men dad admires then his son may begin to understand that he needs to be athletic in order to really matter.  Of course, I am paraphrasing the ideas expressed but the concept did give me pause.  For the first time I found myself asking:  As a parent who are my heroes?  Perhaps even more importantly, as the mother of an international adoptee who are my heroes?  If all my heroes are white what does that tell my children?  These thoughts brought me to consider Asian people who I admired deeply.  I am blessed to have quite a list of, not only historical figures, but dear friends who have touched my life considerably.  

On this trip to Thailand I was given the opportunity to study the life of one of my personal heroes. A woman whose powerful legacy continues to grow even in her death.  When my grandparents first brought me to Thailand, Chiang Rai was still mourning the loss of Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother, Princess Srinakarindra, who passed away in 1995.  Despite coming from rural poverty and being orphaned at age 9 the Princess Mother, King Bhumibol's mother, worked hard to get an education and become a nurse. Her life story is like the plot of a movie. Orphaned girl, goes to a nursing school for the poor and wins a scholarship to study in America. While there she meets the young prince of Thailand at a reception for Thai students in America. He falls in love instantly and they end up marrying. Fortunately, Thailand doesn't have any rules against royalty marrying commoners! She eventually survived the loss of her husband and her eldest son both at very young ages. She raised wonderful children and was an advocate for healthcare, literacy, education and hard work. In an era of increasing plasticity, she was dedicated to simple beauty and loved flowers, nature, sewing and reading. You can find
 a full english language biography of her here.

How I came to be aware of The Princess Mother's work was through The Doi Tung Royal Villa where she 
built her dream home. It's about an hour's drive north of Chiang Rai and has the most beautiful gardens I've ever toured. The Royal Villa was built at Doi Tung for the Princess Mother to live in while she carried out her environmental and development work. On deciding to live there, Her Royal Highness told her private secretary, "If there is no Doi Tung Development Project, I will not have a house here." She was 100% dedicated to bettering the lives of her subjects, especially rural and tribal people. Her work on behalf of the tribal people of Thailand, who have gone either forgotten or abused by the general public, almost brings tears to my eyes. On this trip one of my kids at our home (all of our girls are AKHA) told me proudly that her mother now had a job for the first time ever. She had gotten work through Doi Tung Coffee which sells delicious locally grown, locally worked Thai coffee out of the northern province. Almost all of those employees are tribal people who have never had the ability to support themselves before. In different places around Thailand, I saw four Doi Tung Project shops selling the most beautiful Tribal made handicrafts. Yes, for anyone wondering, I shop a lot in Thailand. ;-) The Doi Tung Project workshop provides on the job training and steady work for many of these people who have never been given a chance.

All of these social justice programs came from the heart and mind of the Princess Mother of Thailand. She fought for a people group that I love dearly.  She believed that the world could be made better; so she made it better. Even now, almost 14 years after her death, every time I return to Thailand I see more Doi Tung shops, more people going to the gardens and tribal learning and awareness center, more coffee being sold, I hear of more AKHA with jobs. I cannot think of anyone whose life I would more want my children to know that I admired than H.R.H. The Princess Mother of Thailand, Princess Srinakarindra.

- Rosemary

Friday, January 16, 2009

The difference in me

I mentioned in a previous blog that this was my first trip back to Thailand since we started our adoption process and I was curious to see how our impending parenthood would affect my experiences. Well, everything was different. Thailand was the same - the difference was in me. Much of it is just too overwhelming (and boring) to re-create in a blog but some of it I am going to try to share because I think it's important. Trust me when I say, "It's really the tip of the iceberg."

The first thing I noticed (and I noticed it right away) was that all my defenses were completely down. I was the Starship Enterprise with a broken forcefield. When we first arrived in Bangkok I went out on the street to walk around in the sunlight for a while and try to let my body clock understand it was now daytime. I saw a beautiful little girl, maybe age 4, sitting alone on the sidewalk, begging. Now I knew that someone (a parent, or a more nefarious character) was watching from a nearby spot. Like many kids, the child's job was to beg because children and disabled people bring in more money than healthy adults. I dropped a few coins in her cup and walked on. I turned and looked back. She seemed so hot and tired. I couldn't stop wondering if she ever got to play. What was her life like? How could I help her? Was there a quota and if she made enough would they let her quit for the day? Or if I put a lot of money in her cup would they think she was a valuable asset and make her stay longer? I couldn't figure out what to do for her. Finally, I went and bought some noodles from a street vendor and took them to her. She just stared at me and then started eating like a starving wolf. I was so afraid someone would come along and take it from her that I stood there watching over her until she finished. I understand that buying food for little kids on the street is half crazy. I know that this one act doesn't solve any social problems or change anything for that girl's life. I get it. But I don't know where my child or his other mother is and every suffering person seemed like family.

- Rosemary

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Oriental Princess

Jet lag really hit me hard this time. I guess that's a sign of getting older. When I first started going back and forth from Thailand I was 21 and just bounced back like rubber as soon as I got off the plane. We've had a busy work and personal week as well so that has slowed me down quite a bit too. I've also managed to loose our USB cable so I can't share any of my fun pictures from the trip until the new one arrives.

For a while I couldn't even think of a place to start talking about 2 weeks in Thailand. I'm sure you can all understand when I say, "There's just too much to say." However, I'm going to try to remember everything and describe it as best I can. One of the most interesting little moments from this trip occurred on the last day we were in Bangkok. I was out shopping on my own and I finally found an "Oriental Princess" store! For those of you who have never heard of this brand, it may quite possibly be the world's best skin care and makeup. It is a Thai owned and operated company, which produces all natural products from locally grown herbs and vegetation. As far as I know there aren't any stores outside of Thailand. However, I think it may now be possible to order it on the website. I'm not sure about that yet so don't hold me to it.

Their website is a fun find though especially if you're into girly-girl stuff. They even have an English setting which makes it easily navigable. The small differences really make it a cultural delight. They have a seasonal makeup package but the seasons are: "Rain, Winter, Summer". All of the models are truly gorgeous Thai women which will make you think "What convent can I pre-enroll my daughter in?". Since it's a cosmetics company the women are, of course, wearing the most up-to-the-moment hair, clothes, and make-up trends in Thailand so that's kind of fun to check out. They also have a section where you can watch a bunch of their television advertisements. Again, I just think it's a kind of cool way to get a glimpse inside Thai culture, trends and feminism and femininity.

Here's the real point of my story though. I was wandering around the lovely, air conditioned, mint green store searching for my favorite moisturizer and I suddenly thought, "How come I never buy cosmetics here?" Despite the fact that they have a wide variety of colors and I have loved each of my purchases, all I have ever purchased are skin care products. I started to really think about the oddness of that as I looked at the delicious smelling body sprays. I am a fairly confident person and, due to having spent so much time overseas, I'm also pretty familiar with the experience of being a minority. However, I don't think I have ever been aware, as a consumer, of experiencing marketing for "the other" before.

Every picture in the store was of a beautiful asian woman wearing vibrant colors on her healthy, glowing skin. Meanwhile, I am a slightly chubby, PALE, white girl. All of the other customers were Thai women and the employees, who were modeling Oriental Products, were all Asian as well. Subconsciously, I had decided that this makeup was not right for me. That my face could not really reflect the look of the faces I saw in the ads around me. I toyed with the lipgloss display and allowed myself to feel grateful. Grateful that I had been given this chance to understand, on some small level, how my children may one day feel watching commercials full of white people and attending a predominantly white school. How my daughter might feel buying L'oreal from all white spokemodels. How my son may feel eating Wheaties with a parade of never-ever Asian guys on the box.

I bought skin care, lipstick and eyeshadow. The girl behind the counter said, "This color very beautiful on you." I thanked her profusely. My purchases came with cute little booklets detailing their product line and showing more beautiful Asian models. I will keep buying "Oriental Princess" as long as I can. I want to make sure my kids know that not all products are marketed to white people, nor should they be. I will be more vigilant in searching for reflections of my children's race instead of mine.

- Rosemary

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas in Thailand

It's always so hard to describe Christmas at a children's home. In the years that I've worked here I have tried and tried but once people come here and expereince it they always say, "Everything you said was true but I didn't come close to fully understanding this." I can start by saying that we have tried very hard to develop a day that emulates a family Christmas despite it being at a group home.

About 5:00am the highschool girls called through the windows for Travis and I to wake up. We walked over to the elementary campus and sang Christmas carols outside the little girl's dorms until they all came tumbling out sleepy and excited to head up to the main hall. That's where we meet to open stockings, sing carols and have breakfast in our pj's. Like children everywhere on Christmas, the girls love their stockings. The staff has worked hard to make a stocking for each girl with her name sewn on it(we have more than 100) and they are filled with candy, small toys, cosmetics, and other miscellaneous treats.

After breakfast we do the Christmas parade. The little girls all dress up in hilarious outfits that they pick out themselves from various bits of finery laying around. It's classic "dress-up": stockings, long skirts, tons of makeup, scarves, high heels and anything shiny they can get their hands on. The big girls carry posters and drums made out of empty tin food barrels. The procession marches across both campuses and around the basketball court. The drums beat solemly. One of our teenagers carries a poster which reads "God is good all the time." It brings tears to my eyes and I have to look away for a moment. The parade ends at the official ribbon cutting for the Christmas ceremonies to begin. Our youngest girl brings me a pair of scissors. Everyone cheers! The girls all change into play clothes and we do field day for hours. Broom ball, basketball, sharks and minnows, eating contests, english games, etc...

The main event comes after lunch though. The sponsor boxes! Each girl at our home is sponsored by a loving family in America and all of those fantastic people send a Christmas box at the holidays. On Christmas our girls get to open their presents from "Mom and Dad" in America. The excitement is palpable. The little girls are hopping all over and the big girls are doing their best to help the staff keep everyone calm. Travis and I work our cameras as fast as we can taking pictures everywhere to send back to these wonderful sponsors who have sent so much love to these kids. My brother watches one girl open a big box full of gorgeous presents. She is shuffeling through everything looking for something. Finally she comes up from the bottom with a happy shout! The card and picture of her "family". She starts showing it to everyone proudly. It is the thing she wanted most. Travis cries.

That night we meet for our gathering. The girls all do dances and skits and we sing songs. I speak for a few minutes and tell the girls about how much they have meant in my life and how I love them. After the service they each get a present from the organization that we work for which runs the home. Then we have a big special "Christmas feast" on tables outside on the lawn. The little girls run around playing with new dolls. The big girls are wearing pretty new dresses and jewelry. We are a family only different and this is a good Christmas only different.

- Rosemary

Monday, January 5, 2009

From Chiang Rai

Hi Everybody,

I have so much to catch up on that I don't really know where to begin. We have been in a whirlwind of activity since we arrived. Things have only settled down just a bit this morning and I finally found myself with a bit of time to think about the internet. It's been a great trip so far though! Travis and I got in on Dec. 31 and checked into the Silom Serene, in Bangkok for one night to try to rest a bit before coming north. Of course, I woke up the next day about 4:00am but I grabbed my journal and went down to sit by the pool. In true Thai fashion someone brought me some hot coffee without my even asking and I sat and watched the sun rise. I couldn't help but think that Bri and I have every reason to believe we will find out who our child is sometime in 2009 and here I was sitting in Bangkok on the first day of the new year. That's got to be a good omen, right?

Later that morning, after a giant breakfast at the delicious hotel spread, I was out shopping and I couldn't help but wonder if our baby was already born or not. Is he/she living somewhere close to where I was staying?

Ever since we arrived I can't stop thinking about one of my favorite affirmations which goes like this:
"We are all connected. On the checkerboard of life we are constantly moving closer to people who seek what we provide. We are all giving what others need."

So here I am in Thailand, very strangely connected to people (my child's biological family) who I don't even know by sight, being moved constantly closer, emotionally and physically, to a child who needs me and who I need as well. Life is interesting isn't it? I am very excited about 2009.

I will write more about our trip later. We had a wonderful Christmas celebration with the girls though and I'll tell you all about it!

- Rosemary

Friday, January 2, 2009

Buddha's Lost Children

So here I am making a post all by myself while Rosemary's gone.  I'm watching the Cotton Bowl on TV, missing my wife but happy she's doing such good work and getting to enjoy Thailand.  I've got a movie sitting here that we're waiting to watch until she comes home next week.  We first heard about it from Jen of Jen and Jeff's Baby Blog, and ordered it online.  It's called Buddha's Lost Children, and is the story of a monk in Thailand's Golden Triangle, in the rural north, who has devoted himself to the children of the impoverished region.  This is an area, which includes Chiang Rai where Rosemary is now, known for its nebulous borders, nomadic peoples, and drug trade.  People here are far from any country's government, and many of the Hill Tribes are officially considered people without a nationality.  This monk travels around the remote villages of the area on horseback, and brings many orphaned and destitute boys to his Golden Horse Temple, where he trains them in the disciplines of Buddhist monasticism and Muay Thai boxing.  We're really looking forward to watching it, and will publish a review when we do.  I just thought it'd be a good movie to spread some knowledge about.  Hope everybody is having a great new year so far.


PS: Below is the trailer from YouTube: