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

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

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

Take care,
Brian and Rosemary

Monday, 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!