Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I guess the real answer is I need to stay somewhere in between--busy enough to make the time keep passing but not so busy as to be unprepared.
For those who have never adopted, the period between getting matched with your child and actually bringing them home is the hardest part. It would be like giving birth, knowing full well you could not bring the child home from the hospital for several months. You would get pictures and updates but you would not be able to visit your child. You also would not have a definite date of when you would be able to bring your child home. This all adds up to lots of excitement but also a sense of deep longing to be with your child.
I don't like waiting. I am not patient when it comes to waiting--especially for our child. And having done this twice before does not make it any easier. So, I have two choices--be super, duper busy and have the time go by quickly, or keep things a little calmer and quieter, but have the time go by more slowly.
At first glance, the first option seems to make sense. But really, at least for me, the second option is the one I am going to choose. Why? Because I need that calm and quiet to be able to spend thinking about our Vu, planning for him, reading about how we can make his adjustment easier. I need that quiet time to spend one-on-one with my other children, filling them up with special time and love so they will be "full" when the time comes for our lives to be turned upside down. I need that quiet time to prepare myself and our marriage for a time that will be intense with changes, lack of sleep, a child who is scared and missing everything and everyone he has ever known. I need that time for prayer.
The months are going to go by a lot more slowly, but I will be infinitely more prepared when the blessed day arrives. So instead of filling our summer with lots of activities and non-stop days, (I will be having some of that as it would be impossible NOT to with my brood), but also some down time--quiet days like today.
And so, I wait . . . .
Monday, June 25, 2007
Apparently, according to at least one adoption expert, this is almost impossible. Well, POOEY ON YOUEE!! Can you tell I'm a little bit fired up over this issue? I am!!
I went to hear a lecture last week given by an "expert" on international adoption and specifically, inter-racial adoption. It turned out to be very disturbing as I disagree with much of the speakers philosophy. As a "seasoned" parent, I can only imagine how distraught some of the brand-new parents must have felt.
Now, don't get me wrong. I like psychology. In fact, I love psychology. I love learning about adoption, the issues of adoption, child development, parenting, sociology, anthropology, ad nauseam to many. Just check out my bookshelves sometime and you will see this to be true. If you see me reading, more likely than not, it is a non-fiction book covering one of the above subjects. (Although if you saw me reading today you would see me reading the 4th Harry Potter book! Yes, still trying to fulfill that promise!)
But sometimes, I think "the experts" have spent so many years studying their particular subject of interest that they start to get a skewed view of what is normal and what is right.
Let's back up to the lecture. Honestly, the speaker did have a lot of good information. BUT she also had some information that was, IMHO, not only wrong, but potentially damaging to families.
The speaker told the audience that we need to start preparing our children for racism and discrimination in the preschool years. I made the simple point that in my experience, being able to differentiate between races seems to be a developmental stage that most preschoolers can't see.
I remember years ago, when James and Joe were young, I used to babysit a boy named Charlie. We had been watching him for a couple of years and the boys liked to play "Ghostbusters" together. One day, James, who was about five or six, looked at Charlie with wonder and amazement and said, "Charlie, did you know you're black?" It was as if a lightbulb had gone off in his head and he had never realized this before! He was so excited because he finally saw that Charlie was the same color as one of the Ghostbuster characters!
What I shared at the lecture tho was that my son Paul was nearly eight before he could differentiate between races. We would sometimes refer to someone being "Asian" and he just could not understand or see what made someone who is Asian different than someone who has black hair and brown skin but is Caucasian (like his dad). It wasn't a big deal to me, I just found it refreshing and interesting that kids really don't see racial differences when they are young.
Boy, did I make the speaker mad! She went into a tirade that the reason my son could not see racial differences was, in fact, because my son was prejudiced against his own race! That he had been so surrounded by "white" faces his whole life that he had turned away from admitting he wasn't "white." (I found it interesting that she used the word "white" instead of the politically correct term, "Caucasian." I mean, she was so careful to refer to Asians as "people of color"--which I also found odd.) She further went on to say that my son had turned away from his own race because it brought back memories of us taking him away from his Asian culture, country and people.
Whoa Nelly! First of all, as I tried to explain to her (tho she did not want to hear my explanation) my son is NOT surrounded by "white" faces. His best friend is Chinese, other good friends are Indonesian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Thai, Hispanic, Indian, and Hawaiian. His soccer coach is from Mexico, our dentist is Japanese, a family doctor is Chinese. Paul has an uncle who is Korean, a Korean cousin, and Japanese cousin and for goodness sakes, a SISTER who is Korean!!! A full 30% of the children in his school and our community are of minority races.
As to the idea that he has turned against his own race because he was "taken" from them. I'm not even gonna go there that is so preposterous!
Why would I want to take my children aside as three-year-olds, as the speaker suggested, and let them know that someday, someone is going to dislike them simply because of the color of their skin and their almond shaped eyes? First of all, I don't think a 3 yo is developmentally able to understand this and secondly, I feel that in the young years, my job is to build up their self-esteem about who they are and where they were born.
We DO have generalized discussions about prejudice and racism. And I DO know that there will come a time and a place that my children will be discriminated against. But, at least where we live, it isn't happening now. In fact, it's almost the reverse. I actually see that my Korean born children receive extra smiles, attention and even favors because they are adopted and they are Asian. People are drawn to them. And I think that all of this extra attention has actually helped them feel good about who they are. They feel GOOD about where they were born and the fact that they are Korean. They love to brag about their tan skin to me, who is perpetually Wonderbread white. They are both extremely popular in their schools, among ALL the races.
For now, we have a 1000 batting average on how my kids feel about who they are, where they came from, and where they're heading. And so for now, I'm going to keep right on doing what I know is working. What I know is right.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Now, I just feel a sense of panic! How am I going to learn to speak Vietnamese? I stink at learning languages. I scraped by my college requirements by learning sign language, which I learned quite easily actually. I guess I'm a visual learner. Anyhoo, the whole tonal thing of Vietnamese has me worried.
Just look at our son's name--Vu. If we say it with the wrong accent, we are saying "breast." I am terrified of walking around Vietnam calling my son a breast! This is ONE word I am going to have to practice until I get it right!!!
Incidentally, we originally gave everyone the wrong way of saying Vu--"Voh." We have asked several different Vietnamese speaking individuals the proper pronunciation and received two different ways of saying it. But, through the joy of the Internet, we know a mother who has met our son at the orphanage and she told us it is Vu, like it looks, as in rhymes with Lou, as in Lou Gehrig the baseball player. Yes, everything can eventually be tied into baseball around here!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Patrick: "Do I have to?"
Me: "Yes, hurry, it's almost time to go to the game."
Patrick: "Do I need to wear underwear too?"
Me: "You don't have any underwear on?"
Patrick: "No." Like it was the most normal thing in the world.
Me: "So, you didn't have any underwear on all day??"
Me: "Patrick! You need to wear underwear! So, yes! You need to go put some underwear on too!"
Patrick: "But why do I need to wear underwear? I like how relaxing it is without underwear."
Me: Trying to think quickly about why it is we wear underwear. Why exactly DO people wear underwear? I know that in Vietnam many children do not wear underwear but there must be a very good reason why people should wear underwear. I mean, I'm sure it helps keep one's clothes cleaner, but for the life of me, I can't come up with a reason we REALLY need to wear underwear and yet I KNOW there must be some VERY good reasons. Reasons a 5yo would agree with.
Me: "Well, you need to wear underwear because we are going to be sitting on the grass and an ant might climb up your leg and underwear keeps bugs from being able to climb up too high."
Patrick considers my answer for a moment.
Me again: "Oh! And you are going to be playing on the playground and someone might be underneath you when you are on the monkey bars and might be able to see up your shorts and see your You Know What!"
Patrick thinks about that for a moment.
Patrick: "Well, I don't care if they see my penis!"
Aye-yi-yi-yi-yiah!!! What to do! I was raised in a family of four girls! I'm not cut out for this!
Me: "Patrick. Just go get ready. Go put a shirt on and go put some UNDERWEAR on."
Patrick looks at me as if I'm the meanest mother on the planet earth.
Finally he turns around, arms crossed, and marches away to get his underwear with a final comment:
Patrick: "Thanks for ruining my life!"
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
After the chemo, he will rest for a few days, then his own stem cells will be put back into his body. The miracles of modern medicine! His biggest danger is getting sick during this time that he will have no immune system to even fight off the smallest of colds.
Yesterday I had a bit of a minor meltdown. It wasn't a real meltdown and in fact my kids thought it was quite funny and Lizzy even mimicked me at one point to which I could do nothing but break out in hysterics. (If it had been a real meltdown that would NOT have happened.)
I know I was feeling stressed about Joe and it just seems that every summer we have to reinvent the wheel on how we are going to have a houseful of people and yet keep the house clean enough to avoid using shovels. I also have to re-educate my children on things like throwing away their Popsicle wrappers. I mean, is it really too much to ask that everyone walks to the garbage to throw away their wrapper? You would think they would be happy to have the treat of Popsicles and would remember that every other summer mom got upset when kids didn't throw away their wrappers. No, no, I have to remind every single child, and the older the child, the more reminders needed!
One thing that worked well last summer was assigning a room to each child to keep picked up and clean for a month at a time. At mealtimes, I have all the kids do a "house sweep" which means to go all over the house and pick up anything they've left out. Then, once a day, we each work 20 minutes on our assigned room, not only cleaning it but also doing some deep cleaning like blinds, baseboards, closets etc.
So, after my mini-meltdown, I let the kids each pick and room, they all cleaned for 20 minutes, I cleaned for 200 minutes, the house looked much better which means I felt much better.
Ah summer!! The good, the bad and the ugly!
Thanks again for your continued thoughts and prayers for Joe.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Today is a tough day. Today Joe starts his stem cell transplant. Last night was actually harder than today. Just knowing it's coming and being worried for him and worried about how much he will suffer. I have heard stories from people who have undergone the same thing. Some say it was simply horrible and some say they really don't remember that much because they were kept very drugged up. I am praying Joe will get lots of drugs!!! He will undergo massive chemo and radiation for the next three days.
I would appreciate any and all prayers from any and all religious/spiritual-belief mindset. I believe in the power of God AND the "higher power thing" in general when it comes to praying.
:-) I am specifically praying Joe will see God in his dreams, feel God's presence all around him and turn toward Him during this process. I am also praying Joe's wife will let God in and let us in during this process.
My mind is full of Joe today but my hands are full of children enjoying the lazy days of summer: water balloon fights, reading stacks of library books, and making ice cream sundaes. These little ones keep me from getting too caught up in the worries of life.
Thank you God.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
I am not good at the whole entertaining thing. My mom and dad are very good at it and two of my sisters are Martha Stewart's. (Texas and Nicole, come quick!!! And Lynn, even tho I'm sorry to say you are not a M.S. you are a hardworker, come and help me! Quick!) I missed out on the M.S. genes somehow. I kind of get panicked at the idea of even figuring out what we are going to eat so, we just kept it a good, down home, BBQ.
The menu includes:
Hamburgers and hotdogs including buying the "good buns"--not the cheap storebrand that usually gets thrown in the cart. Also, some Boca burgers in case they are vegetarians.
Toppings include extras like real, sliced cheese (not the haphazardly cut off the block cheese that usually suffices, REAL slices), avocados, BBQ sauce, chili, and all the other normal "fixings." Oh, and bacon. Me, being the sort-of vegetarian that I am will have a Boca burger with bacon. (Now you see where the "sorta" comes from!)
Homemade potato salad. I forgot how much more work that is than just picking up a bucket--but it tastes sooo much better. I love the recipe on the back of the Best Foods/Hellman's mayo jar.
Baked Beans--canned on those.
Various chips including Sunchips, a household favorite.
For dessert, strawberry shortcake including homemade angel food cake. I burned it a little. Oh well, that just makes it seem more homemade, right? And it really isn't burned, its just browned.
Oh, and Corona beer with lime and various types of pop. I should have gotten some wine coolers too but oh well!
It's been a CRAZY week with the last week of school and lots of extra daycare kids. Need to go clean that house before they come! Wish me luck!
(Let's see, she still needs to clean her house before the company arrives that she would like to impress and yet she still has time to knock out a blog. That's a serious problem folks.)
But just for the record Lizzy, this was an eleven minute blog! Ha-ha!
Friday, June 15, 2007
Here's our five who still live at home--Will, Lizzy, Kim, Paul and Patrick. This was Lizzy's graduation night. Can you tell I am still figuring out how to post pictures? But hey! I did the one of Vu and it turned out!
BUT HEAR THIS! Graduations are getting out of control!
When we pulled into the parking lot it was difficult to navigate around all the limos and stretch Hummers. Yes, there were that many! Three years ago, when Will graduated from 8th grade, there was one limo. Four years before that, at Joe's graduation, there weren't any.
What's going on? When my older boys finished middle school, the girls were dressed up, wearing nice dresses paired with the trend of flip-flops. For Lizzy's event, many of the girls were wearing PROM dresses! I heard the mother next to me saying she had spent over $200 on her daughter's dress! And she felt that was a good deal! Yikes! I mean, it's not like we live in an area where people just have money to burn. We live in a middle-class community with many ESL families. I can't help but wonder what new immigrants think.
It just leads me to ponder, if we start going all out for something like 8th grade graduation, how are we going to "wow" our kids when they get married?? They will have been in a limo so many times by then, probably starting at kindergarten graduation soon, we'll have to hire a whole string of horse and carriage drivers. And I can't help but wonder if we are taking away from the excitement of high school and college graduation. Kind of a BTDT kind of thing?
And now, apparently, it's becoming appropriate to give gifts for each graduation, starting with preschool. Some of Lizzy's friends received money from multiple relatives, and parents gave gifts like laptop computers, trips and one even got a car! She's 14 for goodness sakes! The girl won't even be able to get her permit for a year!! What kind of gifts are these kids going to get when they graduate from high school? And college? Maybe a new house or a trip to the moon?
James once told me I was "stuck in the 80's" which I actually considered a compliment since at that time it was still the 90's so I was only one decade behind. Maybe I am "stuck in the 80's" but I just think parents are overdoing it. Lizzy received some of the highest awards possible for perfect grades and involvement in school and community projects but I just don't feel like we need to reward her with money or a car or a vacation. We gave her a pat on the back and said, "Good job Honey! We're proud of you." And I'm going to write her a letter telling her how proud I am-- not just for what she's accomplished, but for who she is. Her reward should come from within--and she IS proud of HER accomplishments.
And that should be enough.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Hello fellow bloggers and blog readers as well. Lizzy's back! Only for once it's not with pictures.
My mother is beginning to make me proud. She's getting her blogging down to under one hour...most of the time. Haha. Though I do completely understand why she finds it so fun to blog! You can type completely random things and everyone reads it.
Okay, this blog isn't actually going to be pointless. Actually I suppose it depends on what you consider pointless. I do have permission to do this, but I had to wait until my mom went to sleep to have it be a surprise. However, I have decided to tell you all how the steps of my mothers blogging go.
1-The blog is typed out (Obviously she must start somewhere!)
2-The author(My mother) generally asks some random question. Today's was 'What's that scientific word for when two things combine and can't be separated?'.
3-The blog goes under construction. (Editing time)
4-More random questions are inquired. (The one on my mind is- do you capitilize redneck?)
5-The blog tends to end up nothing like it originally was.
She has done something to make me proud though. She figured out how to print off pictures with more than one on a sheet- ex: 2 4x4's. It's a small step, but baby steps eventually lead to great strides.
Well this blog could go two ways. One, it could be read as entirely pointless, or two, it could be read as a genious blog. Up to you. :]
Thank you and Good night!
Dear Mrs. M,
Your a great teacher this year. I hope that your another great teacher next year too. I really like you personality of kindness, careing and you could get kind of grumpy sometimes and sometimes your happy.
I hope you have a great summer!
Your student Kim
That was our laugh of the day!
When I came upon my favorite baby photo, the one I framed, I just wanted to reach out and touch that downy fur that stuck straight up. That picture reminded me, like no other, of the time we have lost with this sweet child. Years. A lifetime.
We adopted Kim when she was 6 months old and Paul at 9 mo. Again, I had the sense that we were missing out on first smiles, first teeth, and in Paul's case, first words. (At 9 months he already said 8 Korean words!) But we didn't miss out on their first steps or their first birthday, or their first day of preschool or their first time riding a bike. With Vu, we have missed out on all of these.
As I looked at that sweet baby duckling, I felt sad knowing what I missed. But then, I realized that I know what down feels like. And if I close my eyes I can imagine touching Vu's little baby head and the feel of his petite, warm baby body in my arms. I can imagine him doing and achieving every little milestone.
I see myself beaming as he takes his first steps--and the look of pure accomplishment in his own eyes. I feel a two-year-old, with an orange Popsicle stained mouth, cuddling up and content after a summer day of play. Me, snapping pictures at each birthday, his siblings clapping encouragement as he blows out his growing number of candles. His dad, pushing him ever higher on the backyard swing with me saying, "Be careful! Not too high!"
I've missed out on a lot. But I can either lament it, or I can make up my own happy memories to fill the void. I'll choose the "memories."
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Our shopping adventure included the continuing search and discover for the perfect journal for Vu. I keep a journal for each of my children.
Some of the goodies for the package we are sending
Vu. And yes, of course, we have Poke'mon cards!
The sweet baby picture of Vu
Vu's part of the family now!
Monday, June 11, 2007
Saturday I took a sweet baby picture of Vu and framed it, placing it on top of our piano with seven other frames, featuring each of our sweet, smiling babies. When Paul was dusting he came running into the kitchen and said, "Mom, there's a new baby picture on the piano--and I think it's Vu!!!
Sunday, Lizzy and I went shopping. Not only did I go, I enjoyed it! We went shopping for things to put in the package we are putting together for Vu. Now I have this Spiderman bag sitting on my bedroom floor with some goodies packed into it for our little guy. I also put in a pair of Superman p.j.'s so he will have his own pair to match the picture we sent of our whole family wearing them. I still need to find a little baseball cap--hopefully with the emblem of our favorite college team.
Today, I was mailing some church forms which Eric had filled out. On the back of the form it asked the names and ages of our children. Eric had listed all eight--it was so wonderful to see that last little name--Vu.
We really do have a new son. Really!
Well, now we are both 44!
Eric, you are my true love and sweetheart forever! I love you! Happy Birthday!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Today at church, this was the verse our pastor's sermon was based on. He was speaking of Paul and his joy even in the worst of circumstances-his ability to find happiness and to continue to share the love of Christ, even while suffering in jail.
We must make sure we see the good and the joy, even in the worst of circumstances.
Paul would understand me. That was the thought I had while leaving church today. Most people do not. And, I must admit, it is even a mystery to me at times, the ability I have to feel joy in the midst of difficult circumstances. The ability to go on, to get out of bed each morning, to smile at my children, to share a laugh with Eric, to help a friend in need. To be normal. And to be normal not because I am trying so hard, but simply because that is truly how I feel. I have joy in the Lord! It is not my doing, it is the Lord's.
I have joy, even when Joe, my son, has cancer and is preparing for his stem cell in two weeks. Most people seem to find that strange. They think I must be in denial. I sometimes wonder if I am. People seem to think I should be crying and depressed every day and so filled with worry and pain that I can't go on. While I sometimes do feel those emotions, for the most part I feel utter peace. I can only point the mystery to One, Our Father in Heaven. He has helped me feel peace in every circumstance.
My peace comes from knowing that God has a plan. His plan is bigger than mine and it is much, much better than mine, even tho I may not always understand it. Even though I may not always like it. I don't know what the future holds, but I have faith that God will do what is right. My faith, strengthened since I was a child by my grandmother, mother, sisters, friends, mentors, ministers and complete strangers; my faith, gives me peace. My faith comes from God.
My prayer is that every person will reach out to God, find comfort in His presence and His peace, so that when hard times come, they will be able to say,
"For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Friday, June 8, 2007
"Who travels for love finds a thousand miles not longer than one."
"Where there is great love there are always miracles."
"A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair and the Hope of the future with a frog in its pocket."
"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"
--2 Corinthians 9:15
And here's a poem from the book that really touched my heart:
The Waiting Child
by Debbie Bodie
I saw you meet your child today
You kissed your baby joyfully
And as you walked away with her
I played pretend you'd chosen me.
I'm happy for the baby, yet
Inside I'm aching miserably
I want to plead as you go by
"Does no one want a child of three?"
I saw you meet your child today
In love with her before you met
And as I watched you take her out
I knew it wasn't my turn yet.
I recognize you from last year!
I knew I'd seen your face before!
But you came for a second babe.
Does no one want a child of four?
I saw you meet your child today
But this time there was something new
A nurse came in and took MY hand
And then she gave my hand to you.
Can this be true? I'm almost six!
And there are infants here you see?
And then you kissed me and I knew
The child you chose this time was me.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Several years ago there was a baby girl who caught our eye on Holt's photolisting of waiting children. She had cleft lip and palate so we were especially drawn to her and we even called Holt and talked to them about her. We never requested her file because in the end, we decided that it wasn't the right time to adopt again. Patrick was only a year old and life was pretty busy then. As it turns out, it was probably a good thing because shortly after that time, Vietnam closed down all international adoptions, for 2 1/2 years, due to all the unethical problems occurring there. (I have a future, very important post coming on ethical adoptions.) I can't imagine how heartbreaking that would have been to have to wait all that time to bring our child home-tho there are several families who did just that.
Fast-forward 18 months. During this time we continued to pray for this little girl named Phuong, and for all the children caught in Vietnam's shutdown. For some reason, this little girl just stood out in a very special way. We kept her picture, which appeared in a Holt magazine, on our fridge. I continued to wonder if someday, we might adopt her.
Summer of 2004, we thought it would be fun to do a fundraiser for Holt. We decided to do a fundraiser for the Waiting Child Dept. We thought it would be more meaningful if we raised money for a specific child; perhaps a child who needed funds to repair a cleft lip or palate.
So, we called Holt and shared our idea. They said they would get back to us with a particular child in need of surgery.
Can you guess which child it was that they chose for us? Yes! It was Phuong! I hadn't mentioned her in the conversation at all!! Wow! Could we see God's hand, or what??? She was still in need of having her palate repaired.
So, we did a full-of-laughs fundraiser hosting an Elvis party at our home complete with peanut butter and banana sandwiches, one of Elvis' favorite treats. It was very successful thanks to the generous gifts of many people. Of course, Elvis DID make an appearance too!
A year later, Holt called to tell us that Phuong had been reunited with her birth family. We were so happy for her! She continued to be in our prayers and I thought of her so often over the years. I always will.
Fast-forward to today. I was told that our new son, Vu, was raised with four other children in the orphanage, the same age as him. In many ways, these children were like siblings to him. Can you guess who one of them was? Yes, it was Phuong! Her beautiful little face fills several of the pictures we have received with our Minh Vu right next to her. I couldn't believe it! This little girl who we have never met and will never really know is very well known to our son! God's world really isn't so big after all.
Now, all four of the children who were our son's friends have gone home to their forever families. Vu will soon be home with his. God does have a plan. And it is good.
Yes, it's crazy. Adoption can do that to a person. I could just do this all by mail, I could even do it just by regular mail and save some money. But you know what? My little guy is depending on me to get him home :-) By doing it this way, we can have our dossier sent to the Vietnamese Embassy on Friday and if that means getting our son home even one day sooner, by golly, I'm going to do it! :-)
We got a BUNCH of new pictures today. They are so precious! Not only do we get to see our little guy growing up over the years, we also get to see the environment he has been raised in. I know he has been so loved and that means so much to me.
We are starting to make a picture album that will be sent to Vu so he can get to know us before we actually come. We are going to put in pictures of each family member and then do a storybook type thing where we will show him all the things our family likes to do together. One picture we will include is a picture of our family, my parents and part of our extended family and we are all wearing matching Superman p.j.s. (This has become a Christmas tradition that we borrowed from my sister,Texas.) Anyway, I am also going to send Vu a pair of Superman p.j.'s so he can have his very own pair and feel like he is a part of this big family already :-) We can send a small box of things so we will also send some other items.
Time to do some shopping!
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Friday, June 1, 2007
We are hoping to travel in five months. This is the easy part, putting the paperwork in order. Once I get those 19 pieces of notarized, state certified documents Fed Ex'd to Holt, that's when the hard part comes. THE WAITING!
Mommy and Daddy are coming Minh Vu! We are coming just as fast as we can get there!