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

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.