Thursday, September 30, 2010

I am really not this serious

My husband thinks that based on yesterday's post I'm taking all this adoption stuff too seriously.  He hasn't read all the books yet, so probably I am taking it more seriously than he, but while I think it is serious stuff, I don't want to be too serious.  I'm thinking maybe I didn't communicate exactly what I wanted yesterday.  I certainly don't want you to fear that I will class my child as a victim and wallow in anger and grief for her woe-as-me life.  I certainly can't hold grudges for people saying things in innocence--I really do get in trouble for this myself all of the time!

So lest you think I am a too serious person (in real life I have the reputation of being funny and organized--my two most frequently used descriptions!), I thought I would share my mother's favorite joke.  *Warning* it may offend the PC police and Animal Rights Activists.

A man walked out of a bar highly inebriated followed by his pet alligator.  As he weaved down the street the alligator said, "drunk."
"Stop it," said the man.
"Drunk," said the alligator.
"I said, stop it!"
"Drunk, drunk, drunk..."
"Stop it.  I mean it!  If you say it one more time I will turn you inside out!"
 "Drunk!"
"That's it!"  Now envision me reaching my arm out and pulling it back as I say:  the man reached down into the alligator's mouth, past his teeth, through his stomach and all the way to the tip of his tail and grabbed the inside of the tail and pulled it all the way through the stomach, the mouth and back past the teeth.
"There!  That should do it."  The man and alligator started walking again.

"Knurd! Knurd! Knurd!"

Now don't judge my mom too harshly, her tastes may have changed over time had she lived.  However, she did punish me for telling my sister this joke I had read in Readers' Digest:

"You were adopted, (dramatic pause) but they brought you back."

Now you are probably thinking my friends mean I am funny peculiar and not funny ha ha, but I choose to live the lie.  Thank you very much.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Didn't Know

To my family and friends not in the adoption community:

There are some words and phrases that I recently found out are offensive to a lot of adoptive parents.  Most of them, when you hear the reason behind them, actually make sense.  Not that I'll be offended, as the queen of foot in her mouth I don't have the right to be easily offended, but they could unintentionally harm my daughter whom I know you will love and never choose to hurt.  Therefore, I thought I would let you know what these phrases are and help you understand why they are problematic.  I know I haven't learned everything, so there might be some more phrases later. 

Adopt-a-Programs (like at the zoo or a Highway)--This one really surprised me, and I remember actually feeling a little sad when our zoo changed their adoption program to sponsor an animal.  However, there are actually two problems with it--it implies children are animals, like the ones in the zoo, and it says adoption is not permanent.   As an adult it seems obvious that they are not the same, but children are very literal.  While my children think they know all about adoption since we have been talking about it for 5 years, many children have only heard the term when Grandma adopted an elephant at the zoo for them.  Next year she chose a giraffe.  There are stories of children being treated badly by other kids calling them animals or adopted children thinking they could be sent back for a new child because of these misconceptions.  I can totally buy this reasoning because I had the opposite problem--believing Adopt-a-Programs are permanent.  I have never adopted an animal because I just don't know how long penguins, whales, and tigers live, and forget about a Highway--roads are around forever! 

"You are so lucky"--First, I believe in Divine Providence so luck has nothing to do with it, but more importantly, an adopted child is not lucky.  It was not lucky that she lost her original parents, her birth country, and her birth language and culture.  Every child should be raised by her original family, when that cannot happen, the reasons are always sad, not lucky.  Adoption is a bandage over a growing problem, but it is not a lucky thing.  

"Where did you get her?"--Now if you actually know us you know perfectly well we have spent the last 5 years in the process of adopting from China.  That won't change.  However, possibly you see another family who appears to have adopted a child from Asia, and you want to connect us with them.  Thank you.  I want to connect with them, too.  However, the word "get" implies possession and turns the child into an object, an accessory, rather than a child with real feelings and the ability to hear what was not intended.  One could possibly say, "I have a friend who adopted from China, I was wondering what is your daughter's/son's country of origin/ethnicity?"  Of course make sure not to assume adoption--most Asian children still actually have Asian parents.

Which leads to: "Gotcha Day"--now this one isn't 100% banned in adoption communities.  My agency still uses it.  However, since the word Got does have implications, and my friend said her brother who was adopted expressed similar dislike of the word, I am choosing not to use this term.  Gotcha Day is the day when you actually go to pick up your child.  It is a day that needs to be celebrated.  Two alternatives that have been offered are "Metcha Day" and "Forever Family Day."  I think we'll go with "Metcha Day" basically because it is much easier to say than "Forever Family Day."  (Plus some are opposed to the phrase Forever Family, but since I haven't figured out why yet I'm not going to address this in this post.) 

Your Adopted Child--People sometimes introduce families by listing the childrens' names--for example: Huckleberry, SnapDragon, Sunflower, and Sweet Pea who is adopted, or Cedar's adopted daughter, Sweet Pea.  Family and friends usually say this with pride, but not all people view adoption as positive.  The media is often reporting stories of families murdered by their adopted son.  More importantly, it sets the child apart, constantly apart.  Yes, I know we are adopting from China.  The fact of her adoption with be constantly obvious, but words have a lot more power than we give them credit.  Please introduce Sweet Pea as my daughter Sweet Pea.

There are a few more phrases like "Meant to Be" and "You should be grateful" that I would also like you to avoid using with my child, but they deserve a lot more depth and I am not ready to write it yet.

There was one more phrase, "How much did she cost?" that I planned to address in this post (we do not buy babies, we pay for adoption costs), however, this daddy's post addresses it and other additional phrases much more clearly than I can.

Thank you for being willing to become educated on "adoption issues" for the sake of my child.  Our whole family appreciates it. 
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Monday, September 27, 2010

See I told you!

For those of you who read this post I just wanted you to know, that a few days ago, flush with confidence from my recent success from giving Sunflower a bath, I offered to watch Sunflower in the bath so my husband could go look at a waiting child on the computer.  As soon as he left, Sunflower wanted to get out.  I turned to get her towel and she climbed out on her own and went smack down on the floor, hitting the side of her face on the tub.  She was fine after a few minutes, but I am not.  I am back to my original stance--no way am I giving my babies baths.
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Our Adoption Story Part 4c--While We Waited Year 3


You can find links to the other parts of Our Adoption Story here.

So the second anniversary of our Login Date came on August 15, 2008, and I can assure you 100% I was not thinking about the adoption. at. all.  I was thinking about feeding a newborn, sleep deprivation, and Oak going back to work.  So you can pretty much guess what we did for year 3 of our wait.  However, I have it on good authority that blogs need pictures, so I thought I would tell it to you in pictures.  They say a picture is worth 1000 words, so this might be my longest post yet!

Sunflower Day 1
Sunflower Day 6
One Month-ish

Two Months


Sunflower 2 Months
Sunflower 2 1/2 Months
Lest you think I only took pictures of Sunflower (and I did take over 2000):
Steam Train with Grandpa and Cousin

Finding a Christmas Tree
Sunflower 4 1/2 Months
Christmas 2008
SnapDragon turning 5
5 years and 5 months

Sunflower's Baby Dedication Feb. 2009

Huckleberry Turning 9

2nd Place Regional Science Fair--Huckleberry

Easter 2009

May 2009

June 2009
Trip to Minnesota July 2009

One Year's Old, Not quite walking
So year 3 of our wait was a pretty good year spent taking pictures, going to the YMCA, Awanas, and Bible Studies, Coordinating Mops, taking more pictures, spending time together as a family and with friends, and taking a trip across the country to see family.  We didn't look at the numbers from China, we just enjoyed life, always while praying for our future child.

Thank goodness we didn't look at the numbers.  The wait time continued to grow from almost 3 years to almost 4.  We had waited 3, so that meant we were one year away from referral, right?  Unfortunately not.  We only had 5 months of LIDs in front of us, but at about 6 months to process one month, we were now 5x6=30 more months away from referall.

Here is the chart to prove that I'm not making these numbers up (possibly someone else is, but not me--no, they are accurate.)  

Referral Date               LID               Length of Wait
2009-08-22           2006-03-24         
1247 days
2009-07-242006-03-22
1220 days
2009-06-252006-03-20
1193 days
2009-05-202006-03-14
1163 days
2009-04-072006-03-08
1126 days
2009-03-042006-03-06
1094 days
2009-01-272006-03-02
1062 days
2008-12-292006-02-28
1035 days
2008-12-102006-02-23
1021 days
2008-11-102006-02-17
997 days
2008-10-082006-02-15
966 days
2008-09-022006-02-09
936 days
2008-08-082006-01-31
920 days

Thus ends year 3 of our wait.  Continue on to year 4.
 
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Our Adoption Story Part 4b--While We Waited Year 2

You can find links to the beginnings of our story here. 

I have really struggled with writing this post because I know many people struggle with infertility, and I do not want to hurt them. However, what happened, happened, and I am truly abysmal at pretending.  Yes, it does make it hard to make friends. 

Anyway, we had waited a year and we started realizing we couldn't live our lives in limbo forever.  We decided we needed to enjoy the kids we had, so I confess we stopped stashing every penny.  We started eating out a little more often.  We spent the night in a hotel so the boys could swim.  

Then in November we all got the flu.  Everyone recovered except me.  I coughed and coughed for two months, and I was constantly nauseous and constantly hungry.  "Oddest flu ever!" I thought.  Finally after Christmas we realized I was pregnant.  Yes, I had skipped, but who doesn't when they are sick and it is the stressful Christmas season.  We were instantly giddy with happiness, and then instantly panicked.  

Since my husband had a vasectomy that the doctor assured us was working, we had dropped my maternity coverage.  When we dropped down to the less expensive coverage the wait period was six months.  Since then they had changed it to nine months.  Since we knew I would have to have a C-section, the fact that it wouldn't be covered by insurance was daunting to say the least.

After a week of lots and lots of phone calls, our insurance company agreed to waive the waiting period and switch me back to the plan that covered maternity.  It would begin in February.  Whew!  This call came in about one hour after my husband talked to his doctor and was assured that his vasectomy was still working.  Perhaps it was just coincidence, but maybe they felt sorry for my husband.  He was the one making all the calls--I am not allowed on the phone with customer service when I am pregnant.

In January, before our insurance started covering medical, I started spotting.  They said it was normal, etc. but I had miscarried before, and I wanted to KNOW.  I already wanted this baby, who I had not anticipated at all, more than I can say.  So we shelled out the $400 for an ultrasound to see her little heart beat beating away.  Yeah, Yeah!  

We started telling people we were pregnant.  Pretty much all of them knew we were adopting and knew Oak was, well, just was.  I felt thankful, mostly thankful, that none of my friends or family assumed the worse about me, though they did make a lot of jokes about the baby looking like Oak, etc.  Now the doctors and nurses I met in the next few months were another thing.  Based on looks and a few things they said, I'm pretty sure some of them was thinking I was pretty lucky to have such a naive husband!

Anyway, the first question everyone asked was, "So you are going to stop the adoption, right?"  Now some of my closest friends that understood my heart phrased it a little more gently, but the consensus was that now that we were pregnant we would give up on adoption.  I was not offended by their questions, just startled because it did not even enter our mind.  We had been praying for this future little girl for two years.  To give up now would be like an abortion to me.  I did answer the question this way a few times, but people looked so horrified that I tempered the phrase to "it would be like a miscarriage."  I needed them to understand that giving up would be painful like losing a child.  (Now please don't get on my case about a sense of entitlement to a child from China; if China fixes all their problems and there is no need, I will joyfully grieve my miscarriage.)

At the end of January, we went to meet the nurse, and apparently had to have all our lab work done, too.   Oops, that could have really easily waited until it was covered by insurance.  I know it is rude to talk about money, but Sunflower ended up being one expensive baby--oh, no, I mean, having Sunflower was expensive.  The expenses took most of our savings and purchasing a car big enough to fit three car seats took the rest (though not the money gifted for the adoption).

Now there are practical issues about the adoption that needed to be addressed to stay in the program.  China had started to be more willing to allow you to have/adopt another child while waiting, but they did ask that you not adopt from them until the child had been in your home one year.  We did not redo the math, but went on the math that we would get a referral two years from Aug. 1, 2007, so Sunflower would be exactly one year.  We told our agency.  They said we would need to send an update to China as our referral got closer, possibly our file would need to be put on hold, but most likely we just needed to be open to "artificial twinning" the children.  We were.  Problem solved. 


If we had done the math, we wouldn't have even worried about artificial twinning, because after 6 months of referrals, we still had 7.5 months of LIDs before us.  This meant it was taking about 4 months of referrals for 1 month of LID's.  Thus, 7.5x4=31.5 months.  Our wait was only growing.  However, we didn't bother to look, so hadn't lost heart yet.
Referral Date        LID            Length of wait
2008-02-032005-12-27
768 days
2008-01-032005-12-19
745 days
2007-12-05     2005-12-14          721 days
2007-11-022005-12-08
694 days
2007-10-032005-11-30
672 days
2007-09-032005-11-25
647 days
2007-08-022005-11-21
619 days


Thus followed the longest 10 months of my life.  Yes, by February we only had 6 months until birth, but trust me, we spent 10 months of life between February and August.  I was tired and hungry and emotional, as I had been with the boys.  However, I also had a perpetual cold that the Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist diagnosed as producing extra fluids that make you congested because I was pregnant.  I got a laryngitis bug that caused everyone to lose their voices for one-two days.  The bug left me in two days, but my extra fluid prevented healing of my vocal cords, so for 6 weeks I had no voice AT ALL.  After that I just sounded horrible, coughed all the time, and threw up every morning.  And, I do not want to go into how perpetually angry I was through out the pregnancy.  Those hormones were playing havoc with my ability to hold my temper, and my husband was crying, "never, never again!"


So that brings us to the two year anniversary of our Document to China.  The wait was only growing longer, but we didn't pay any attention to it, so it wasn't a problem for us.  We were only thankful we weren't traveling to China with a pregnant Cedar. In retrospect, I am even more grateful we didn't look at the numbers, because in the remaining 6 months of my pregnancy, China only got through one month--January 2006.  There are now only 6.5 months of LID before us, but at 6 months for a month--6 x 6.5=39 more months!

Referral Date           LID              Length of Wait
2008-08-08          2006-01-31       
920 days
2008-07-042006-01-25
891 days
2008-06-062006-01-22
866 days
2008-05-042006-01-12
843 days
2008-04-052006-01-09
817 days
2008-03-032006-01-04
789 days

Thus ends year two of our wait.
Click here to go to the next part of the story. 

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Can we ever be prepared?

I thought today's post would be on year two of our wait, but once again reading people's discussions have sent me off on another tangent.  Maybe I'll write about the wait later while the kids are at Awanas and Oak is at his Hebrews Bible study--all of that starts tonight.

Anyway, China is talking about more follow up visits or reports to China after a child is placed in a home in a foreign country in order to prevent gross neglect and child abuse.  It really doesn't matter to me what they decide to require.  I'm a Republican in the original idea of the party--less government, rules, etc.  more responsibility on the individual.  However, I'll happily jump through any hoops to assure China that one of their daughters is doing well in America.  

Ideally I think it would be wonderful to be able AS A FAMILY to send a report to China about how our daughter is doing.  Do you know why?  Because it will benefit my daughter.  Perhaps someday the file can be reunited with my daughter's birth family or a nanny that loved her.  My child can only gain by having more people love her and care for her well-being.  Whatever these potential reports say about politics or saving face or bad, bad abusers to the world, what it says to my future daughter is that her birth country cared for her.  It is her right to be cared about by her birth country, her right to believe that she matters to China.

However, can more follow-up reports no matter who is in charge of writing them actually prevent abuse?  Well, I don't really believe they can.

I think there are two types of abusers (very broad categories)--those that will abuse a child no matter what situation and circumstance, and those that occur do to situation, lack of preparation, etc. etc.  I believe the first type are mostly weeded out during the homestudy process.  If they made it through the homestudy a follow-up visit by a social worker will probably not weed them out after the fact.  These types of intentional abusers are very good at putting on an act.

The other type, which I like to think most situations fall into, can be prevented by proper preparation and SUPPORT which a good agency can and does provide.  However, how much is enough preparation?  Can we really expect pre-adoptive parents to get it all before their child comes home?  Training is good and necessary, but can we really apply it before we have a child?

I spent the first 27 years of my life looking forward to that day when I would have a child.  While I was pregnant I read all the parenting books, etc., but nothing actually prepared me for being a mother.  If I had truly known how hard it would be, and how it would impact my life, I might not have chosen to have/adopt children.  Studies show that the higher the education of a couple the less likely they are to have children.  You could argue it is because they are on a career track or like a lifestyle with money more, but perhaps it is because they know more and know parenting is hard.  

Don't get me wrong.  I love my children.  I am thrilled to be a mother, but no amount of book reading prepared me for the trenches.  Changing diapers is one thing, but counting your child's bowel movements at age 6 to assure he isn't constipated?  No one thinks they are a selfish person until they have children and have to put their childrens' needs before their own day after day, time after time.  I would like to be selfish again and not realize it or feel guilty.

Then you could have a whole new post on depression.  When my first son was born I became terrified of driving.  I'd never been fond of it, but this was a whole new level.  Until I came out of the fear, around the time my son turned one, I never realized how abnormal it was, how over the top.  Yes, I had read books about postpartum, etc., but I did not apply it to my life.  I did not have friends that came alongside of me and said, you should really do something about this.  (This is not a slam on my friends, we had just moved so my good friends were far away, and I had not made new ones yet).

So, did I go into motherhood prepared?  I certainly thought so, but I was wrong.  However, if I had been surrounded by other mommys, I wouldn't have suffered in silence--my subsequent two babies went a lot smoother.  We need to be able to talk to others and hear,  "this is normal."  We need to have a support system where we can call up our husband or friend and say, "I am approaching a line with my children I NEVER thought I would approach.  Please come over, please pray for me, please tell me what to do, please cry with me."
(Here is another plug for MOPS; this support is why I feel passionately about it as a ministry).

Now I am learning about the unique challenges that face a mother of an adopted child--grief, loss, attachment, unrealized expectations, race issues, cultural identity, etc.  I am following my agency's guidelines and taking training, reading books, and watching videos.  In the last month I have probably learned enough to run my own Hague training.  However, I am not in the trenches.  Applying this will be a whole new thing when it is MY daughter being stared at or offended by rude comments, when it is MY daughter crying because she doesn't know her birth mother's name, MY daughter being treated differently because of her race.

When I am in the trenches (beginning to hate this phrase, but cannot come up with a better one with my limited vocabulary), I will need SUPPORT.  I feel very fortunate, because my agency will provide this support--I was actually astounded to hear that so many agencies don't.  I will be able to call my social worker, whom I actually believes has a lot of knowledge and experience and wisdom, and she will walk along side of me.  However, if I was afraid it would all go into a report and put me in danger of losing my child, I would not seek the help that I will possibly need.  I am making friends with other adoptive parents online and at the forum We are Grafted In.  Already by looking at their posts and blogs I can see how what I am reading applies to real life.  Hopefully I will make friends with other adoptive parents in my area.

So what do I think China can do to prevent abuse of their children once home in a foreign country though I don't actually want more requirements?

Keep up the requirements for study and pre-adoptive training

Require Social Workers to be trained in International Adoption issues (or at least know where to go for help on these issues)  

Have new adoptive families partner with a family who has BTDT

Will this prevent bad things from happening?  Unfortunately No.  But it would lower the probability of bad things happening and help families actually blossom instead of wilt through challenges.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some Joys!

I still have tons of adoption related thoughts swimming in my head, but although I was am still sad as I wrap my mind around those issues, I thought I would focus more on the pluses in my life today.  Mostly because I am really excited about them.

First, today was our first MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting of this year.  I am co-coordinator with another lovely lady and we have a wonderful team.  I will have to stop clapping every time we say the name of the Moppet (childcare) Coordinator, but you cannot imagine how happy that makes me.  (I have been running the Moppet program for two years in addition to Coordinating).  Anyway, I think the meeting went well.  We only have a few first time visitors, so we have room for growth, but everyone seemed to be having a good time.  There was lots of energy in the room and lots of laughter and smiles.  

The only downside is I dressed as a science geek (and forced my co-coordinator to dress as an artist) to represent this year's theme of Momology--the art and science of mothering.  Now I cannot get the tape off of my glasses (which many people actually commiserated with me for breaking) and my hair is hairspray plastered to my head.  I didn't think it mattered this morning but now I remember I do have to pick up SnapDragon from school.  Oh well.  People will definitely remember who the coordinator is when they have questions.

Secondly, I finally got my material in the mail for the Biblical Counseling course I am taking at my church.  It is a 30 hour video training with additional hours in role playing and Bible study called "Caring for People God's Way."   The first two videos last night were great and very encouraging.  The second video was on using our Spiritual gifts in ministry, and I learned my God given talent for seeing and speaking truth can be a strength in counseling.  Yes, God will need to strengthen my ability to show and express mercy and compassion, but although those aren't my strengths it doesn't mean I cannot be a good counselor.  This makes me happy because I really do have a passion for helping hurting people.  I really do see people's pain and care about it; I just need 30 hours of training on how to show them I care.

Thirdly, when we first started the adoption process our agency said they strongly recommend you do not take older children with you when you go to pick up your child in China, and they thought China might start forbidding it altogether.  At the time it was not relevant to us, because I wasn't about to take a 6 and 2 year old to china to pick up a baby.  However, our oldest son is now almost 11 and might even be 12 by the time we travel.  Given his personality and sweetness with babies, I started feeling like I really wanted to take him, but I didn't think we could.  On Saturday we asked our agency about it, and they said we could take him, and they have even seen it work very well.  When we told Huckleberry last night that he might be able to go, he was ecstatic.  I'm not sure how we'll pay for it since it could be as much as $3000 more, but I figure that is God's problem, not mine, and certainly not my son's.  I am very excited that Huckleberry may be able to have this experience.

Oh, and I almost forgot.  I got two comments on my blog yesterday!  I tell myself I am writing to process things and grow, but I really like knowing other people read what I wrote.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Linkage

Every Sunday one of my favorite blogs posts a page called Sunday Linkage.  Every Sunday I tell myself, only read a few links at a time.  If you read them all it is too overwhelming.  You won't be able to process it all, and you'll learn less.  Every Sunday since I found this site four weeks ago, I read all the links in one sitting.  Today it was while my husband chatted with my dad, Huckleberry read, SnapDragon played Wii, and Sunshine napped.  I should have been at least pretending to talk to my dad, but instead I read links.  These links are all tied to adoption in some way or another.  They always make me think about topics my non-adoptive friends and my dad are not interested in.  It was a bad time to be reading links.


Today's Links seemed a little more upbeat about adoption than usual, and even if I didn't exactly agree, I didn't feel like it was something I'd never heard before or was utter nonsense.  Yet, when I finished reading, I just listened to my husband and dad talk.  I played Mario Party 8 without much enthusiasm with my family.  I went out to dinner to a Mexican restaurant (No, Mommy, I don't want Chinese today!) and couldn't wait to get home.  Why? 

Because I was sad.  I am sad.

I am sad that there is so much corruption in some countries that International Adoption has to stop completely although there are children who legitimately need homes.

I am sad that some birth mothers, oh, sorry, first mothers feel that they were forced to choose adoption by being brainwashed that they were not good enough to parent their child.

I am sad that children sponsored by Americans actually crave and keep the letters sent to them, and yet I know if we sponsor someone we would be lame at the letter writing part.

I am sad that some adult adoptees struggle so much to find their identity and peace.  That some feel new adoptive parents still don't get it.  That some adoptive parents still don't get it.

I am sad that an adoptive child might feel like they should be grateful to their adoptive parents for "saving" them no matter what the parents say.  That my child may internalize the message that she should be grateful because "she is so lucky" regardless of what I tell her.

I am sad that my daughter from China will not know her first mom's name.  That Shannon's 6 year old daughter wept about her loss and not knowing.  That any 6 year old should feel that type of pain. 

I want to have my heart expanded.  I want to feel the pain God feels for the hurting people around me.  Yet, I feel just a touch of it, and I can barely stand up under the weight.  I do not know how to change things or how to make people stop hurting.  I have been told that an adoptive mom shouldn't do counseling for pregnant mom's contemplating adoption because I will be too biased, but all I want to do is hug the 16 year old Cassi and say, "Losing your first child might be the hardest thing you will ever do, are you sure you want to give him up for adoption?"

Yet, still I read these links and I pray and I learn and sometimes I find a gem like this that helps me continue on as a pre-adoptive parent.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Our Hague Training

I don't want to fail to document the process, but I am really bad at coming up with interesting titles to my posts.  I think that is because I rarely look at titles even when I am reading books that have chapter titles.  I recall one book the chapter title was the first part of the first sentence so every chapter I felt lost.  Anyway...

We spent today at our adoption agency's office receiving training for adoption.  Topics covered were trauma, loss, grief, race, medical, parenting, and more.  There were 4 other neat couples taking the training (at least I thought they were neat, I might have talked too much for them to like me).  However, we were the only ones taking it again after 5 years.  One couple is planning to adopt from China, one from the Philippines and two from Ethiopia.  I invited all of them to join the Christian Adoption Forum--We are Grafted InI don't know if they'll join, but I'm hoping so.  The more that join on the West Coast, the more people will post when I'm awake.  Those East Coast mamas seem to go to bed so early!

It was a good day.  I like thinking this adoption will actually happen.  Our family feels so incomplete.  We are very grateful for the three families that watched our children so we could go to this event and enjoy it.  Each of the kids seemed to have a good time.  Thank you!
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Sunflower Bath

Sunflower just finished her bath and went down for nap.  Yeah me!  I gave her a bath all by myself.  For those of you who don't know me well and who probably always give your kids baths by yourself, this is actually kind of a big deal for me.  My husband usually does the whole bed time routine, and I am personally terrified of giving my children baths.  I am convinced they will fall, drown, or crack their head open, possibly all three.  I can never rinse their hair without getting something in their eyes.  I really do have a lot of faith and believe my children are God's and He will take care of them, but when it comes to baths, I have no faith in my own competency.  However, Sunflower survived the bath, and we are all clean and excited about going to our friend's house tonight.

Now you may be wondering why I gave Sunflower a bath in the middle of the day, especially if you are said friend and know you do not care how clean my children are when they come over.  Well, Sunflower was smelling pretty sweet given the lotion she had put on all over.  However, her hair was looking kind of greasy since lotion and curly, baby hair don't go together well.  In my defense,  I was only in the other room (a room everyone has the right to be in by themselves) for a moment, but this girl is fast!  A word she now knows how to say,  "Fas, Mama, fas!"

I might have dared waiting one more day for bath, except tomorrow Sunflower is going to spend all day at a friends so Oak and I can go to our Adoption agency to renew our Adoption Training.  Once we get home after picking up 3 children from 3 different locations, it might just not be possible to give Sunflower a bath Saturday night.  I really don't want to imagine what her hair would look like Sunday morning with lotion in it for 2 days and all the items that might stick to her lotiony hair.  Let's just say I had a lot of motivation to give her a bath.  As for putting her down to nap, well, sorry to say, but I always have a lot of motivation for that one.
I didn't want to post a picture of Sunflower in the bath, so here is the next best thing to it.
  
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other--a book response

I want to share with you something that is very funny to me and I don't mean the book itself.  Scott Simon, some important news radio reporter, wrote a book called "Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption."  It is about his family's journey to adopting two little girls from China.  One person on one of the china forums I stalk read the book and enjoyed it.  This led to a huge debate over the title of the book,  strong opinions on the uselessness of fluffy memoirs, and extensive criticism of Scott Simon's interviews promoting the book.  Not once did another person say, "I read the book; let's discuss its merits based on what is actually in the book!"

I thought, well, I'm not fond of the phrase Meant for Each Other, but I do believe in a Sovereign God so it isn't the death knell it is for others.  I enjoy fluffy memoirs; I can only hope I'm lucky enough to publish one myself.  And I refuse to base my reading choices based on interviews since interviews are done for the sole purpose of SELLING books.  So I got the book from the library and read it.

Now, here is the funny part to me.  For all the hoopla over the title, it is just the title.  It, and it's possible implications, are only hinted at once at the end of the book.  "The tectonic plates shift, the radiation belt springs a small hole, and children from the other side of the world, or the other side of the street, can wind up feeling utterly right in our arms."  On the last two pages of the book he explains the title and not in the damaging way nonChristians believe it implies, but also not in the freeing way that Christians understand it.  He uses the phrase "Baby, we were meant for each other" in the same way all loving parents say, "Oh, baby, you are so cute, I just want to gobble you up!"

In regards to fluffy memoir, it isn't one!  He barely talks about the adoption process for them.  He actually attempts to address adoption issues such as culture loss, abandonment issues, racism, and being a person of color in a family of whites.  He also interviews six other adoptive families about those issues in an attempt to answer these questions.  I say attempt because it is a short book.  You cannot adequately cover all these topics in one book.  However, he doesn't gloss over them and only mention the positives of adoption--which I think would be an okay thing to do when you write a book titled "A Praise of Adoption" and not titled "Everything You Need to Know about Adoption."

Now, I did not agree with him on everything 100%, and a few times I was actually appalled by what he said only to have it explained more clearly and less offensively later in the book.  I am sure that those who did not like his title would find his foot in mouth moments even more annoying than I did, and it is probably what made his interviews so upsetting.   I'm just not sure those that approved his title would like the book either.

I did enjoy the stories he did share, and I especially liked hearing the stories of the other families he talked about in the book.  There was one I wish would adopt me.  Perhaps he was a little flippant at times, but if we can't laugh as parents, we won't survive our kids to adulthood.  I did go away feeling more optimistic about adoption again and not feeling so much like I am the devil incarnate for wanting to adopt, so I'm glad I read the book.  

I really enjoyed his observation that only in New York City would Chinese school be closed because of Jewish Holidays.  Isn't that the point?  Yes, our children lose a huge part of their birth culture and language, but we can still provide them with some of it and in the process give them our culture.  Isn't one and half better than just one?  Aren't we all improved by becoming a multi-cultural family?

By the way, there is one thing I really disliked about this book--TMI in regards to his contributions to their infertility treatment.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

SnapDragon

SnapDragon as a Baby, Swinging and Loving It
This blog is supposed to be about my family and adoption, however, it is a bit slanted towards adoption.  Since it is time for a Mamarazzi post, and this best little boy in the world (no, only in our family, Mom, since I am the only little boy in our family) said the sweetest thing today, I decided he deserves his own post.
SnapDragon guarding his Castle
Today I had to wake Sunflower to take SnapDragon to school.  As I carried her down in her jammies and SnapDragon carried her milk to the car, she snuggled her head into my shoulder.  (This is rare for her as she is a constantly moving child).

SnapDragon: I wish I was still small enough to be held.
Mom: You are little enough to cuddle.  We often cuddle.
SnapDragon: Yes.  But to be held and carried, while I am still sleepy. It just looks so nice!  I wish I could still do it.
Pictures of SnapDragon still little enough to be carried:

SnapDragon held by Oak at 11 months
One of my favorites at 1 and a 1/2 years old
Not mowing the lawn gives some great photo landscapes
Sweet, sweet brothers!
Sweet brother, SnapDragon, holding baby sister, Sunflower for first time.
Mama: Oh, sweet baby, sometimes, so do I, so do I.
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Our Adoption Story Part 4a--While We Waited Year 1

Go to this page to find the earlier parts of Our Adoption Story 
This post may be my longest post yet and for wordy me that's saying something.  However, it has been a really long wait!  We started the process in October of 2005--5 years, and we still do not have a child through adoption.  I guess I'll just write more than one post on this issue.

When we found an agency the wait for many families the last 6-12 months before us was 6 months.  However, even at our first meeting the wait was starting to grow.  Our agency's stock phrase was "people recently waited 6 months for a referral, but anything could happen." 


Referral Date         LID                  Length of Wait
2005-11-10       2005-03-31224 days
2005-10-032005-03-15202 days
2005-09-012005-02-26187 days
2005-07-292005-01-27183 days
2005-06-242004-12-20186 days
2005-05-252004-11-19187 days
2005-04-182004-10-19            181 days
2005-03-172004-09-16
182 days
I will use many such charts to explain our wait so keep in mind the top date is the most recent date going backwards towards the beginning.

Instead of processing one month of LID's a month, the CCAA started taking two months to go through one month of LID's.  We saw this and accepted it.  We spent the next 8 months getting all our paperwork done and sent to China.

Referral Date           LID            Length of Wait
2006-08-242005-07-22          398 days
2006-07-262005-07-13
378 days
2006-06-26        2005-06-28
363 days
2006-05-262005-06-15
345 days
2006-04-272005-06-06
325 days
2006-03-272005-05-30
301 days
2006-02-272005-05-25
278 days
2006-01-252005-05-13
257 days
2006-01-022005-04-25
252 days
2005-12-082005-04-14
238 days

While we paperchased the wait for waiting families went from about six months to a little over a year.  Our agency warned us it was now taking a year, but anything could happen.  We looked at the numbers and did our own math.  Taking a LID of 8/15/2006 and assuming the speed stayed at two months to go through one month with 13 months of referrals before us (2 x 13=26), we settled in to a 26 month or about 2 year, as we told people, wait.

Oak got a vasectomy so we could focus on our adoption and we started saving every penny towards said adoption.  Two years wasn't the ideal wait, but it gave us more time to save, and it gave me more time to get back to normal after SnapDragon's birth.

For the first year of waiting only our family and close friends knew.  After a year it became too difficult for overly honest me to demurely smile in answer to the question, "Are you done?"  "Well, actually...my husband got a vasectomy, so yeah, except...we have a child waiting in China for us.  No, we don't know who she is.  We are probably about two years from going to get her.  She might not even be born yet."

Yes, during that year wait the length between LID and referral stretched out even more.  We now only had 8 months of LID's in line before us, but it was taking about 3 month of referrals to go through one month.  3X8=24.  Are you seeing a pattern?  It doesn't matter when you met me in the adoption process, our answer has always been "we'll have our child in about 2 years."  If you met me this week (as many of you have) our answer is still the same.  

I think that's all for this post.  I'll leave you with one last chart that brings us up to 8/2/2007--one year after our documents were sent to China.

Referral date             LID            Length of Wait
2007-08-02        2005-11-21         619 days
2007-07-032005-11-14
596 days
2007-06-062005-11-07
576 days
2007-04-302005-11-01
545 days
2007-04-092005-10-26
530 days
2007-03-052005-10-24
497 days
2007-02-012005-10-13
476 days
2007-01-022005-09-27
462 days
2006-11-302005-09-08
448 days
2006-10-302005-08-25
431 days
2006-09-222005-08-09
409 days
2006-08-242005-07-22
398 day
Thanks for listening!


Go here for the next installment
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Propitiation

I think this is a cool word.  I have thought so since I first heard it 20 some years ago while studying Romans.  Partly because once you figure out how to say it, it's kind of fun to say--like hemlock for you Psych fans.  More importantly because of all it says about God's love for me and the world.

1 John 1b-2 "And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous ; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins ; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

1 John 4:10 "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 

God is love.  He is also holy.  Everyone sins.  I sin.  God's holiness cannot be in the presence of sin.  The penalty of sin is death, and that penalty must be paid.  We could pay that price, but God does not want us to die.  He loves us.  He wants to be with us.  He sent his son, Jesus, to be the "propitiation for our sin"--to pay the price for us.  He did this for us before we sought Him, before we knew Him, before we loved Him.  He took the initiative.

Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

The word propitiation is not used often in every day conversation, but it means so much more than its definition: "Something that propitiates; specifically an atoning sacrifice."

It means:  God's love, sacrifice, payment, gift, forgiveness, unconditional acceptance, Love, God seeking me (and you), compassion, understanding, atonement, appeasement, grace, and more. 

It is the reason I can have a personal relationship with an Almighty, Holy God who LOVES me. 

Propitiation.  Come on, say it with me.  Propitiation.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Off and Running--a movie response

Off and Running is another adoption/finding identity movie filmed for Point of View, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised I don't find it the inspiring, beautiful story of finding self as others do.  Biblical worldview often does not line up with worldly opinions; and it seems like I don't agree with anyone!

This documentary shows a year or so in the life of an African American teenager whose family consists of two Jewish moms, one older adopted brother, and one younger adopted brother.  My husband felt like it was watching a train almost crash into a car, but the car just makes it across the tracks.  Avery, the struggling to find herself main character, really, really struggles to find her black identity, to heal from being rejected by her birth mom once again after beginning a correspondence, and seems to feel her family is falling apart and she is alone.  The documentary certainly made Avery's pain felt to all who watched.  She spirals down hill, leaving school and eventually leaving home as the tension at home becomes unbearable.

If you believe ignoring race issues and abandonment pain in your child is the best way to handle things, that it will never come back to bite you, then I can maybe agree with the majority and say you MUST WATCH this film.

If you want to see every adoptee's story in the hopes of finding one that matches yours or your child's, then maybe you SHOULD WATCH this film.

If you want to feel hope that your best efforts at finding diversity for your family and having open dialogue will be enough, then maybe you SHOULDN'T WATCH this film.  

Avery says frequently that the tension at home is because her parents don't like that she is trying to contact her birth family, and yet, the only scenes we see are her moms trying to have an open discussion, encouraging her to write, and offering to get her counseling.  Perhaps there were huge mistakes made in the past such as all Jewish elementary school, but her parents appeared to be really trying.  However, Avery's crisis was so personal and intense for her that she chose an abortion  during the time she was crashing at her boyfriends rather than give her baby up for adoption--no mention was made of choosing to parent the child which it seemed like her family may have been willing/able to help her do.

This choice and watching the movie hurt my soul.  I really feel for Avery and her parents.  I believe she was hurting a great deal.  She must have been to consider no life better than a life as an adoptee.  It appeared to me more like watching a train crash into a car, and the car is in little tiny, mangled pieces, then someone waves a wand and voila, perfect again.   The movie ends with Avery being able to run track for school even though missing most of the school year, getting her GED, getting into college, and deciding her family was loving and supportive after ?one? counseling session.  Tada!  All better!  (Current reports say she is doing well  and is in her second year of college).

Do I recommend this movie?   Well, it depends on where you are at and what you believe as an adoptive parent.  As far as my family and friends, No.  It'll just make you want to talk us out of adopting. 

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Our Adoption Story Part 3b--Leap of Faith

 
I feel like I forgot an important part in the answer to Why 5 Years Ago? but I guess in retrospect it deserves its own post.  Part 3 seems to imply that going into adoption for us was "oh so easy", and in some ways it was.  We knew we wanted to adopt, and we still do.  We still believe we want another child and that because there are still children without families, we should adopt.  However...

we were afraid, and sometimes still are.  We had a couple thousand set aside for adoption, but our plan was to wait until we'd saved it all, or at least a good portion.   We don't believe we should go into consumer debt, and we got pregnant with Huckleberry after paying off our student loans with the idea of never again having debt.  However, we went to the agency we chose, and started filling out paperwork without knowing from where all the money would come, because we knew God was calling us to do it.  We figured, if God wants us to adopt, He must have a plan for the money.  And He did!  I never forget that God is my Jehovah Jireh!  Okay, I do forget, but it isn't a good idea, because when I do, He teaches me the lesson again.


Somehow in the next 8 months (our paperwork was Document To China 8/2006 and we haven't paid anything since then), we spent over $12,000 in fees to our agency, medical visits, shots, passports, translation fees, State Seal fees, US immigration fees, etc. without once carrying a balance on our credit card.  $2,000 came as a gift from family, other bits from tax return, but most of it was just there, and I still don't exactly know how mathematically or income wise.  I know God made $1 into $10 when it needed to be; there is no way I can view finances that year as anything but a miracle of my Almighty God!


Now we've had 4 extra years to save up, and 4 extra years of unexpected expenses.  We have some of the funds in savings from gifts from family, and with one or two more tax returns we will technically have all we'll need, especially if the American Adoption Credit stays the same as it is for 2010 and 2011.  It kind of makes me wonder what challenge God is planning to give us so that we remember that this adoption is His plan and not accomplished under our own efforts alone.
Continue on in our adoption story and hear about our wait.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Our Adoption Story Part 3--Why 5 Years Ago?

Our Adoption Story Part 1
Our Adoption Story Part 2--Why China?
Oak and I got married almost 14 years ago with full intention to adopt at some point.  When we felt God saying we were ready to start a family we prayed about adoption and felt the answer was not yet, so we got pregnant and had Huckleberry.  

When Huckleberry was 2 we started feeling ready for another one.  So we asked God if we were supposed to adopt our second child and still heard, No.  We got pregnant and miscarried at 11 weeks--the same week our car gave out and Oak's grandfather died.  God comfort was so present, I am still amazed by it.  We got pregnant 4 months later without praying about adoption.  I guess we just figured it was a continuation of the last no.  We had SnapDragon January of 2004.

In October '05, we thought we might be pregnant though we had not gotten the baby urge yet.  I was very excited about the thought of a third child, but I was really, really sad that realistically it meant we would probably never adopt.  We weren't pregnant, but we took it to mean God thought we were ready to start the adoption process.  We went to our agency's open house in November, had medicals in December, took training in January, finished our homestudy visits in February, had our completed homestudy by May, Documents to China by early August, and login date of 8/15/2006.

Don't ask why it took so long for my agency to complete the homestudy.  I'm sure there were real issues, but it seemed to me that they didn't have a sense of urgency.  While it bothered me a little at the time, I have real trouble with it now.  LID in China a week earlier could possibly mean a referral a month or 3 earlier!  However, I am confident we will be matched with the child God laid on my heart 20 years ago, so I guess I shouldn't complain about the journey.

Next part of the story will be on how we dealt with the 4 year and still growing wait, so stay tuned!
Part 3b--Leap of Faith 
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First Day of School

It appears I have already failed as a blogger as I did not know there was an obligatory first day of school post for all moms who blog.  My boys started school last Tuesday.  I did not take pictures.  Huckleberry left on the bus at 7:30 (Oak saw him off since I was still asleep), and it was raining cats and dogs when Sunflower and I dropped off SnapDragon.  Raining on August 31t!  I have also not taken a picture of Huckleberry in his first pair of glasses which he got Sept. 1st.  They shouldn't look too different when I get around to it next week!

I also admit that I am loving them being back in school.  I know they are having a great time and learning a lot, but I also just love it for me.  I don't really shout it from the roof tops anymore since my now 10 year old told his first grade teacher I don't like mid-winter break since it meant he was home.  However, I have gotten so much more done!  I cleaned a bathroom, spent hours on the phone for MOPS (Mother's of Preschoolers), cleaned some baseboards, and I even vacuumed under the table with only one meal of crumbs to pick up, plus more.  I have also played and played with Sunflower and snatched cuddles with her (you can only get cuddles from her by snatching them).  She is learning her colors, or maybe she did really mean "bite" when she held the white crayon out and said "bite".  Well, I affirmed her for knowing the color white anyway. We even have dinner simmering in the crock pot--though credit for that goes to my husband.

Don't get me wrong.  We had a great summer.  Because of my Positive Mom Bible Study, at the beginning of the summer I made it my goal to do one thing special with the kids each day.  Some special things entailed leaving the house but some just meant me saying yes to playing games or making muffins--things I said no to way too often last year.  I think I attained my goal all but 3 days, and I had lots of sweet moments with my kids.  However, the house did not get any deep cleaning, and I do so like to be alone.  I really believe September is my favorite month!  The kids being in school in January probably won't make me productive, but for now I am enjoying it all.
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