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, April 28, 2010

Bopa and GaiGai

Attachment and bonding is a funny thing. So many books have been written on it that I don't even want to think about it and yet it's still such a mystery. We are told so many things to do "right" to help aid the attachment process: parent facing strollers, child slings, co-sleeping, parent care instead of daycare when possible, time-ins instead of time-outs, feeding them instead of allowing them to feed themselves, massage, and constant eye contact.

That's quite a list of "correct parenting" pressure and that doesn't even begin to touch all the other regular parenting stuff. That's just the attachment and bonding stuff. And that's just some of it. And oh yeah, all of that effort doesn't guarantee anything, because attachment is a mystery. Yes, we need to do all that we can to help our kids through this very difficult period but we also have to just do the best we can and cut ourselves some slack.

Skeptical? Allow me to tell you the story of Bopa and GaiGai.

Bopa and GaiGai would be my parents, Button's grandparents. They arrived for a visit about 10 days after we came home to America and stayed about 4 days. The second Button met Gai Gai they had a gentle, pleasant communication. No strife. If Gai Gai said no then he just accepted that and moved on. If Mommy says no there is hell to pay. If Gai Gai changed his diaper it rarely turned into a bloodsport whereas, in those days, if Mommy did it there was carnage. Then there is Bopa. The whole world stopped turning for Button the second Bopa walked through the door. It was as if his favorite person ever, who he had known always, suddenly showed up to rescue him. Dare I say it? Bopa was more popular even than Daddy. Yes, it's true! Now my Dad has always been sort of a pied piper with little kids. I would not hesitate to say that all children like my dad and his 6 grandkids adore him...but this was RIDICULOUS!

It has been more than a month since my parents left town and Button asks for them daily. When he picks up his toy phone he calls "Bopa, Gai-Gai, Bopa". If he gets mad at us (frequently) he runs to the door and calls "Bopa" as if Grandpa is going to come and rescue him. Last week we took him for a picnic and he had a lovely afternoon out. Running and playing all day! Naturally, he was upset to go home so you can bet as soon as we put him in his car seat he started screaming for "BOPA, BOPA, BOPA!"

Then several days ago, I took him to the Best Buy to get a Sesame Street DVD and as we walked out there was an older couple who actually looked a great deal like my parents. Button went nuts waving his arms and calling to them "Bopa, Gai-Gai". Before I could stop him he raced over and hugged the woman's legs. When he looked up and saw it wasn't the right face he started screaming in terror and we had a full scale meltdown all the way home.

We don't know what enabled him to make this amazing attachment to my parents but meanwhile, we (his loving parents who care for him every day) are still working to gain access to the locked parts of our little boy's heart. Are we sad or jealous? No, absolutely not! We are thrilled that Button has a great relationship with both my parents and the Duchess. Do I wish that when Button had met us in Thailand he had been able to react to us with this instantaneous kismet love in the same way he reacts to my parents? UM....YEAH! That would have been amazing not to mention about a million times easier. But that is very rarely the way toddler adoption works - especially when the children are grieving for loving foster parents who they think are their parents.

There are no instant fixes and there is no activity, purchased item or therapy that can cause a relationship to grow when a child needs time. All we can do is give them love and patience and accept their grief. We need to give ourselves a lot of love and patience too because this is an amazing and strenuous new relationship that has taken over our lives. Attachment whether it be fast, slow, obvious, hidden or inexplicable is a mystery of the heart.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Button Eats

One of Button's favorite words is eat! He says it in Thai "mum, mum, mum" and just recently he has proudly started shouting "EAT!" while motioning to his mouth. But the fact remains that no matter what language he is saying it in and, pretty much no matter what he is actually consuming, the boy loves his food!

Once we switched him from fortified formula to milk and then once we were able to cut him back to the recommended 16 to 24 oz of milk a day for a 19-month-old child instead of the 64 oz a day he was consuming when we met him he started eating like a linebacker. Button now takes a milk bottle (8 oz) with his afternoon nap and another when he goes to bed at night, and a mini-bottle (6 oz) when he wakes up at 5 am. Outside of his milk, which he still calls "nahm", what is Button eating though? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Mushrooms and peas are his favorite thing on earth, he also likes zuccini, avocado, brussels sprouts, squash, potatoes, and onions. He will NOT eat broccoli or carrots though.

He loves fish of all kinds! Fish and rice is probably his favorite meal. He will eat small bites of pork depending on how it's been cooked. He does not like chicken except fried chicken still on the bone. We suspect he just enjoys holding the chicken leg. He is not really a meat eater in general. He prefers rice, veggies and fish, which my friend Jutiporn says is a more typical diet for a small child in Thailand.

He loves almost all fruits. Papaya remains his favorite though. He loves bananas but he won't eat the large bananas available here in the US. I can't say that I blame him considering how much sweeter the little ones in Thailand are. However, if I can find the "baby bananas" that Dole sometimes offers he will eat those. He loves grapes, oranges, mango, raisins, watermelon, and pears. He does not like kiwi, apples or pineapple.

He loves to eat sandwiches probably because he can hold them himself. His favorites are tuna, egg salad or Morning Star Chick Patties Veggie substitute (meatless). He loves pasta dishes of all kinds as long as the sauce is simple and not too gloppy. For breakfast he usually eats oatmeal or grits and some fruit. His favorite snacks are: turkey sausage links, hard boiled eggs, fruit, crackers and hummus, nuts, peanut butter crackers, and cottage cheese. He does not care very much for most dairy though: real cheese and yogurt are no shows. We are trying to keep Button off sugar because, trust us, this kid does not need stimulants but we do let him have a little bread and jam after dinner. We were surprised to discover that Button loves breads of all varieties!

We haven't been eating out much but when we have he has loved the dumpling shop in town, the Himalayan Fusion buffet and, of course, our local Thai restaurant. We haven't yet ventured into any "American style" food offerings with him.

When it comes to food we have no complaints. Button is a champion eater - he will even eat our spinach lasagna. I have to admit though...we met our waterloo at eggplant.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Potty Trained?

All about the potty training:
I wanted to do a post on this because a lot of people have had questions about the subject and I know that I myself was very curious/worried about where Button would be in the process before we traveled so I wanted to make sure I gave details for families coming behind.

Button was 18-months-old when we brought him home and he was NOT in any way potty trained. His foster family's form of waist management for Button was, when at home, for him to "go" wherever he went and then they just cleaned it up. Because they had a simple plank-floor home with very few possessions this may have posed less of a problem than we would imagine. When away from home he wore a cloth or disposable diaper. Due to this, Button rarely wore pants when at home, but usually a long shirt or a t-shirt and loose shorts. This method is a common, culturally accepted, part of childrearing in Thailand (and many other countries).

Some adoptive families don't want to talk about this because they don't want their children (and foster families) to be judged by small minded people (understandable) but I feel comfortable just saying this is one thing that is done differently in a different culture and it is perfectly acceptable. Americans don't do it that way, and I am happy about that, but it's ok that Thai society is more comfortable with body function. A superior attitude might be simple to feel but it's healthy to remember that we are one of the few countries with the money and resources to diaper our children 24-hours a day.

Button is much more conscious of his body functions that the average American diaper trained child of his age probably due to actually having been able to feel himself going to the bathroom for the last 18 months. When he does his business he tells us ASAP and then when I ask, "Do you want Mommy to change your diaper?" he will shake his head yes. So while he is not potty trained he is aware of his bowel function and I am trying to keep him from loosing that awareness with all of our plastic sterility. I have hopes (naive though they may be) that this will aid in our eventual potty training.

The other thing I will say is that when we first met Button we accomplished a diaper change under the watchful eye of his social worker, the amazing Mo, in our hotel room. He was placid as a summer lake. I thought, "Fantastic! No problem! The kid doesn't mind diaper changes!" The thing was that as long as diaper changes remained infrequent they were kind of a novelty. So that was cool. When Button realized that he would be wearing said diaper all the time and there would be no more peeing on the floor and these diaper changes would occur regularly every two hours he sort of went berzerk. For the next 3 weeks diaper changes were a fight to the finish. Now we pretty much have it under control but for a while there it was American Gladiator in the nursery.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

1 month Update

April 10th marked 1 month that Button has officially been in our custody! In some ways it seems like we were seeing his sweet face for the very first time only moments ago and in other ways it seems as if a lifetime has passed. The one thing we know for sure is that we are so blessed to have had this month with our son. What an amazing experience it has been to become parents, bring our child home from the other side of the world, overcome jetlag and illness together, introduce him to his grandparents, and start getting into the hang of a routine. That's a big month!

In the past month this is what we've seen:
Progress -
*Button now naps! It took weeks to get this figured out but he takes 1 afternoon nap from 1 to 3ish. He will only sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed (where he sleeps at night) and I have to lay down with him until he falls asleep. He sleeps fitfully, waking several times during the nap, but as long as I am right there to keep him from panicking he will go back to sleep quickly.
*Button now takes his bath without screaming!
*Button now sits happily in his booster seat at meals!
*Button now understands that diaper changes are a part of life. Unavoidable and best to just simmer down and get it over with.
*Button has started to say both our names occasionally when he wants something.

Regression (or part of the healing process depending on how you look at it)-
*Button shows more anxiety now if one of us leaves a room even if it is to walk around the corner in our open floor plan living/dining/kitchen main room.
*He will start crying for no reason sometimes and be inconsolable for quite some time.
*He loves to meet people and is a super cute social butterfly but we are pretty sure that he is "mommy/daddy shopping", a very real part of many adoptees experience, with almost all adults we introduce him to. We are limiting his social interactions and trying to make sure that bonding happens only with us. The reality of this though is that it limits our social interactions and that can be frustrating.
*His temper tantrums are becoming much more marked. It is healthy that he can show his anger and let us know how sad, confused and hurt he is by everything that has happened to him, without his permission and for reasons unknown to him, but we are working to find appropriate ways to keep this behavior at bay because we want him to be safe inside the boundaries of our family.

All together bonding and attachment is progressing as it should, Button got a fabulous report at the pediatrician who declared him in perfect health (other than eczema) and very bright, and we are EXHAUSTED but happy first time parents who adore our son and are finding our way through the maze that is life after kids.

Monday, April 12, 2010

House of Grace

In my efforts to recount our time in Thailand I want to make sure I don't fail to talk about the four days we spent in Chiang Rai. Many people adopting from Thailand spend their pleasure time at the beach but we chose to go north because we have wonderful dear friends at the House of Grace, a girl's relief and rescue home in Chiang Rai, where I worked for many years.

We didn't stay at the home because we were worried about so many people interrupting the flow of bonding with Button so instead we took a room at a lovely hotel close by and would go out to the girls' home after breakfast and return later in the day. Initially we had some concerns that Button might feel frightened by all the children or overwhelmed by so many new faces but we ended up being so glad that we made this trip!

He had a great time and it was the first place that we saw him relax. He loved playing with all the little girls and being doted on by the big girls. Of course, all of the staff members were delighted to see him and love on him too. Most of all though I think he really enjoyed the opportunity to eat his meals (truly authentic Thai food) outside on a mat or gathered at a table of Thai speakers. We could see him blooming in the cultural blessing of familiar language, food and faces. He just adored my dear friend and former co-worker Jutiporn, the director of House of Grace, and her two young sons.

We were glad that we had rented the hotel room because we think it was important that we step away from all the super-fun socializing he was doing and reinforce those VERY tenuous bonds of family at naptime, bedtime, bathtime and breakfast but after everything he had been through we were incredibly grateful to see our baby smile. We were also pretty grateful to get a little bit of help ourselves and to see the loving smiles of precious friends.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Button's Massage

Those of you following our journey will remember from my previous posts that we had been reading about infant massage as a way to foster bonding and attachment. We heard a lot of positive things about the power of touch and everything we read really compelled us to try infant massage.

I would like to immediately go on the record saying, "Toddler massage is not infant massage!" Button was 18-months-old when we met him and getting him to sit still (even when exhausted) was a feat of miraculous powers so the massage seemed as if it could never happen. The infant massage book calls for these long sessions with the child prone on their back, gazing up into your eyes, totally relaxed at your touch. Yeah right, my poor kid hasn't been relaxed since he met us (don't blame him) and he never lays down until he passes out. But we really did feel that if anyone ever needed to relax and feel calmly loved, if only for 2 minutes, it was our over-excited, traumatized toddler so we persisted.

Every night before bed, after his final diaper change, when he is just in his nappy, we lay out a soft towel on the floor of his nursery, put on a lullaby cd, and let him sit between the two of us while we put lotion on our hands and rub it all over his body. At first it was like wrestling an eel into a garbage sack. He would scream as if we were hurting him and use all his rather considerable muscle to get away. We would quickly finish slathering him and let him get up. Then one day as he was crawling viciously away from me, I was rubbing his legs and I moved onto his feet to keep hold of him and he started making almost a moo-ing noise and quit moving. That was the first positive sign of physical contact during the massage. After that we started and ended with long sessions on his feet.

Tonight when we went upstairs to change his diaper and get the "going to bed" routine started he grabbed his lotion off the low shelf and sat down in the middle of the floor and started pretending to rub it on himself. When Brian and I went and sat next to him he pretended to rub our legs. We have a lot of road left to tread with massage (and all of the techniques we are working with) but I am really glad we didn't give up. He still won't lay down and let us massage him and the massage never lasts past 85 seconds but each second is pure happiness for all 3 of us and it always ends with a kiss. WORTH THE EFFORT!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Learning how to parent a child who already has a catalogue of likes and dislikes, fears and a personal history with the world is an interesting task. Ever since we took custody of Button in BKK bathtime has been an absolute nightmare. Button, who is not afraid of anything, (dangerously unafraid in fact) has been terrified of the bath. We tried everything. Still the screams persisted.

Finally, we decided to use the inflatable tub recommended by my friend Terri on her adoption blog. Peace reigned in the bathroom. Now Button loves his evening bath!! We don't know what made the bath so scary. We never even ran the faucet while he was in the room but maybe he just felt lost in such a big sea of water. After all, his prior experience with baths was being sponged off in a large bucket so I can see how this was pretty different.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Button's first Easter was lovely! We had a wonderful weekend. Brian actually had the weekend off and Sunday was my parent's last day in town so we really enjoyed ourselves. We didn't try to go to church because we knew Button couldn't possibly sit through a service yet and we didn't want to leave him in the church nursery. We just feel it's too soon for that kind of separation. So my mom planned a super cute Easter egg hunt in the backyard and made him his very own Easter basket. He had a blast with all the goodies and the grown-ups had just as much fun watching him figure it all out. Afterward, we ate a delicious brunch at one of our favorite places here in town and still made it home for an effort at naptime.
Hoping you had a wonderful weekend wherever you may be,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Journey Home

There is no way I can describe a 24-hour, 3-plane-change journey with a newly adopted child. No one can convey that experience via the written word. It's simply not possible. What I will say is that if there were any other way to bring Button into our life I would have done it. I would have paid any amount of money (were it ours) not to have had to do that. It was the most unpleasant experience of my life and I am not a wimp. I once made the trip home from Thailand with typhoid fever. This was worse. Much worse.

Button was actually pretty good, all things considered. He is always pretty good. He is a great kid! We took the non-stop flight BKK to LAX which left at 6:30pm so by the time they finished the dinner service he was exhausted and ready for sleep. We were super lucky to be on a 1/2 full flight. The angels sang!! The seat between us was empty and since we were already in the bulkhead we were able to lay Button on the floor in front of our feet and he slept for about 6 hours straight. AMAZING! Travel tip: even if you suspect that your child is too big or won't use the bassinet service offered by almost all airlines go ahead and order it anyway because it will ensure you a bulkhead row. Your child must be 2 yr's or under to use the bassinet on most airlines so we just squeaked by and, of course, Button was way too big but the bulkhead row is soooooo worth it! Another travel tip: don't make the mistake of ordering the "baby meal" on Thai airlines if traveling with a toddler. It is jars of baby food so if your kid is a big eater like Button then Mommy will go hungry all the way across the pacific.

Once Button woke up though... we still had 5 hours left to go and he was mad! We walked the aisles, we played with every toy in the bag (and we brought a bunch), the stewardess brought a Thai airlines goody bag, he played peek-a-boo with the lady across the row. Still time crawled by. It. Just. Crawled. Then just as they put on the seatbelt light for descent into LAX Button had a massive diaper blow out so severe it was bubbling up the back of his pant's waistband and the attendant wouldn't let me change him.

After a layover in LAX we still had to face down a 7 hr. red-eye to the east coast. When Button saw we were boarding another plane I think he went a little crazy but fortunately we had pleasant seat companions on the completely full flight and Button slept at least half way there. The rest of the way he screamed and threw toys. It was mind-boggling. We arrived in D.C. at dawn, ate breakfast and played chase and hide-and-go-seek with Button at a deserted gate while waiting 2 more hours for our shuttle flight home.

Was it worth it? Of course! What a ridiculous question. There isn't anything on earth that isn't "worth it" in order to be a family and be with our son. What advice would I give to traveling families? Prepare for the worst; leave optimism at home; take more toys, snacks and diapers than you imagine ever needing. Just in case this post is too bleak for some folks I've included a few of my favorite pics from our journey home as a bit of a cheer up.