Friday, April 29, 2011

Adopting? Boys Are Amazing Too!

There are lots of girls waiting to be adopted--in fact, we just adopted one!

BUT, there are many more boys waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting.  Even healthy boys wait.

In the adoption world, I have long said that being a boy is the greatest "special need."

Look at waiting child listings anywhere and you will find mostly boys.  My heart aches for these boys! I love my boys just as much as my girls--and God does too!  So, let me advocate for boys just a bit.

Boys are wonderful!  They are fantastic!  They are full of curiosity, love, humor, and excitement!  Boys are FUN and IMHO, boys get along better than girls. 

Need more convincing?  Watch this video from Love Without Boundaries.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grief and the Adopted Child

Today, Lan Lan is working on a scrapbook, carefully placing her pictures from China.  Her tears are turning to smiles.



We've been seeing more grief from Lan Lan the past few days.  It's hard.  And the hardest part is knowing there is no way I can fix it--and as a parent I want nothing more than to protect my child from her pain and sadness. 

And yet, perhaps, one of the bigger mistakes we make as adoptive parents is trying to "fix" our adopted child's grief--to deny it, to cover it up, to take our child's mind off it, to minimize it, to distance them from it.

Instead, we need to allow our child to experience it, and to find a way to live with it.  That is easier said than done.

Last year, an adoptive parent sent me an e-mail asking when her son would quit feeling grief.  She felt sad and personally responsible.  She said that she was giving him a life full of love, laughter, happiness, good food, an amazing education, and even Disney vacations.  And yet, there were times he still cried for the orphanage he had left behind.  She couldn't understand how he would miss an orphanage that was dirty, overcrowded, lacking food and toys. 

To answer her question, I think we need to imagine ourselves in a similar situation.  Pretend we suddenly became movie stars and were whisked off to a beautiful castle in another world, complete with a personal trainer and chef!  We had maids, butlers, a race car, entertainment, horses, doting fans, and even big screen TVs in the bathroom (with continual re-runs of Oprah and Grey's Anatomy)!  We were even given a new, perfect family. 

How would we feel?  Would we become homesick?  Would we miss our loved ones?

Some parents might argue that their child didn't leave loved ones behind, didn't have a family, didn't have anyone who loved them--and in addition, their child experienced abuse and neglect.  I would gently suggest that even in families (and orphanages) where children have experienced abuse, they still have love for their parents (or caretakers).  Children who are taken into protective custody in the US still cry for their abusive parents at night, because along with the bad memories there are good ones.

And even in a "bad" orphanage, there was almost certainly someone that our child felt connected to.  It may have not even been an adult, it may have been another child. 

Our kids miss their previous caregivers, friends, familiar surroundings, language, foods, and culture.  And they always will.

It isn't our job to help them forget, but to allow them to remember and to support them through those memories.  To help them heal from the bad ones and hold on to the good.  To validate their feelings, yet keep them moving forward into their new lives, filled with an abundance of life and love.



Not to replace what they left behind, but to build on it.


Sunday Snapshot

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Potties

As much as I dislike adoption paperwork, it really isn't so bad--when put into perspective.

There are some parts of the adoption experience that are worse.

Remember this post?

Yup.  There again.  I know.  Slow learner. 

But hey, at least this time they actually gave me a little plastic do-hickey-thingee, so I won't have to be re-traumatized by Cool Whip containers. 

And, because every post needs a photo, I will share this luxury toilet from the Korean hotel. Check out the control panel! It was also a bidet and the seat was even heated!  SWEET!


And here is a "squatty potty" from China.  Nuff said.



I believe my kids have talked more about the potties in Asia than anything else.  As you might guess, it takes very little to entertain my children.  No need for museums.  Just take them to the local potties.   

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Believe!

Rose's namesake just sent me this video.  It brought tears to my eyes and the words mean so much at this time in my life of trying to balance so much.  It was made in tribute from one friend to another, who had recently died of cancer. 

I hope this will remind all of you how amazing you are!  Thank you to my amazing friend, Rose!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wicked Chinese Spider Bite?

The day before we left China I felt like I was coming down with something.  One side of my back had shooting pains and was sore to the touch. 



I thought I must be getting a kidney infection.  No problem.  Lots of cranberry juice. 

The day after we got home, a bumpy, itchy spot appeared on my back and soon became a cluster of blisters.  It itched and burned and was very sore. 

No doubt about it.  A wicked Chinese spider bite.  No problem.  Cortisone cream.  It got worse.  No problem.  Antibiotic cream.  It got worse.  No problem.  Antifungal cream. 

Then, that wicked Chinese spider bite began to spread.  Big problem.  Scabies?  Horrid pictures ran through my mind of having to treat all 40,000 children!  Wash bedding every day!  Blood, sweat and tears!! 

Or, even worse, BEDBUGS?  My mind raced to contain the horrible images of having to use insecticide all over my home for years!  Big, BIG problem!!! 

Time for a trip to the doctor?  Oh no! Time for a trip to the computer to google search all of the above. 
But nothing was making sense!  Until I hit upon the pictures and descriptions of . . . Shingles.  I was actually quite relieved. 

What's a little ol' case of the shingles when I had already survived a kidney infection, a wicked Chinese spider bite, a bacterial infection, a fungus, scabies, and bedbugs?

And yes, after self-diagnosing I did go to the doctor.  Who told me I had shingles.  Like I've said before, I should have been a doctor.

Fastforward two weeks.  Patrick stays home with a fever.  Vu stays home with a fever.  Paul stays home with a fever.  Patrick gets some baby wicked Chinese spider bites on his face.  Paul gets some bigger wicked Chinese spider bites on his back.  Vu gets some very, very itchy wicked Chinese spider bites on his, er, um, well, you don't want to know. 

Spider bites?  No, Chicken Pox.  So far they are all surviving quite well with a wicked dose of Gatorade and video games.



I'd include a real picture, but I'm not that wicked.  Just take the photo above, keep the facial expressions, and put 2 spots on Vu's face-- and 20 on Patrick's.  They've skated through easily.

Then take this picture of Paul, keep the facial expression, and pencil in about 100 pox.  Add another thousand on the body. 



Currently, I am quite certain that Paul does not share my belief that it is better to get the disease than the vaccination.  In fact, he probably thinks I am quite wicked.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

On Good Friday I think of Jesus and the sacrifices He made--for me!  For US!   Incredible beyond words.

I also think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the sacrifices she made. 



I cannot imagine how horrible it must have been for Mary to watch her son suffer on the cross.

And yet I can. 

No words.  Just an incredibly grateful heart and a prayer lifted to Heaven. 

Here I am Lord.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

One Month Anniversary of Forever

One month ago today our lives changed with the magical addition of a new daughter.  A new life has begun--for us all.



Lan Lan recently told a translator that on that day, she was so nervous her knees were shaking! 



And yet, she bravely made her way to our family, smiled her million-dollar smile, and said in a quiet, throaty whisper, "Hello Mother.  Hello Father." 



It's an amazing thing to finally hear your child speak their first words.  Especially one that has only been known on paper--for a year.  All I could do was cry.



Lan Lan is so precious I cannot even find the words!  Her addition to our family has been so easy, so seamless, I am almost afraid to type the words--I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop!  Of course though, that shoe would be a ballet slipper because Lan Lan is quite the ballerina. 



She loves anything athletic, crafty, or with bling.  She is funny, sweet, loving, and full of spunk!  The flip side is that she can be sassy, easily-excitable, very opinionated, and a drama queen.  Like I said, she fits right in!








Honestly, I think that some families would find her personality a bit over the top--she is FULL of zest!!  But for our crazy, zesty family, she is A PERFECT MATCH! 




I praise God for the gifts bestowed on us!  Singing praises on the one-month anniversary of FOREVER!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easy Solutions

So, I'm working on the un-discombobulation and one solution has been to find little things that drive me nuts, but are easily remedied. 

Most will cost me some $$, but in the long-run I will probably have to buy those things anyway.  And hey, new underwear is cheap compared to new straight-jackets. 

Here are a few of the items that will lead to more sanity:
  • new underwear and socks (I am forever running to the laundry room to find clean ones proving I do  change them, thank you very much).
  • more nice bathroom towels (ditto)
  • another pair of glasses for Vu (one very active, highly-distractable boy = too many hours searching for glasses which he was sure had been put on his desk)
  • two new plastic milk containers for Patrick's lunch (we only had one which meant constant washing)
  • enough lunch money for the other kids to last until the end of the year (no more panicked phone calls about being out of lunch money!)
I am also spending 15 minutes every day working on my desk, files, and paperwork organization.

I can already feel a sense of relief, just knowing solutions are coming! 

And for your entertainment, the peaceful river view from our hotel room in Guangzhou.  It was really beautiful and every night there was a brilliant light show.  Rose took tons of pictures. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Are Guys Who Work At Krispy Kreme Chick Magnets?

Yesterday we took Rose to church for the first time (we were only 30 minutes late--but I think God understands!) and then did the traditional donut run.

As we were standing in line drooling over the various varieties Patrick says, "Mom, before I go to college, I'm going to work at Krispy Kreme, because I'm pretty sure that any guy who works at Krispy Kreme won't have ANY problem getting a girlfriend.  Think about it mom, any girl would LOVE free donuts!"

Of course Paul then had to add his two cents, "Well, maybe not a girl on the Biggest Loser.  If you are trying to lose like, a hundred pounds, you probably don't want a boyfriend that smells like glazed donuts." 

Non-plussed, Patrick continued to wear his Krispy Kreme hat for the rest of the day. 



Apparently, he's practicing for his future career (and relationships)--crazed-sugar-rush face and all. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Discombobulated

The last couple of days I've had a growing sense of feeling . . . well, I can't quite put my finger on it. 



Unorganized?  Yes.  Adopting a child always throws any sense of organization out the window.  And there is so much that is begging to be organized in terms of schedules, to-do lists, appointments, school work, and even closets.  But it's more than just feeling unorganized.   

Irritated?  Yes.  And yet no.  I would call it more like claustrophobic since Rose has taken to becoming my Velcro child who wants to be near me every second.  I love that she wants to be with me so much, is bonding well, but I do have to admit I miss my previous amount of "bubble space."  And yet it's more than that.

Stressed?  Yes.  And yet again, not stress I can put my finger on.  There is the stress of having a child who cannot speak English and needs to have everything translated, charaded, explained.  For that matter, there's the stress of just having 40,000 children--even if they DO speak English.  There is the stress of having Hubby out of town and the stress of what I call "re-entry"--coming back from overseas and getting into the swing of real life.  And coming home I always have a new eye for all the things that need to be accomplished around the house and yard. And yet, I don't really feel overly stressed. 

I think it's just a combination of all the above.  The only word I can think of to describe it is, I feel discombobulated.  And on top of it, I'm not really sure how to go about becoming un-discombobulated.  But I want to become un-discombobulated.

Then, I would just feel combobulated.  Which, I think is a good thing (perhaps a trip to dictionary.com is in order, just to make sure I know what I'm not saying some terrible swear word?). 

So, this week, I'm going to see if I can find a sense of combobulation.  Even if I don't know how.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tornado!

Prayers Please!!!  My son Will and his wife Cort survived a tornado! 



Luckily, they were in the Army BX when it crossed nearby.  Unfortunately, they drove home to an apartment with an upside-down SUV in their livingroom!



Thankfully, their puppies are okay and they are all safe, but unable to live in their apartment.  They are staying with friends. 



I am so, so thankful they are okay.  Please send prayers to Will, Cort, and all the families who lost their homes (lives?) to the tornado.  Hug your loved ones a little tighter tonight.

Will and Cort, we love you and we are so glad you and the grandpuppies are safe!!!  Know that we are thinking of you every second!  Prayers and more prayers, hugs and more hugs coming your way!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Miracle Photo

How do you like my new header photo?   My only sadness is that Will and Cort were not there--next time it will be their turn!  And in the meantime, maybe I can learn to photo-chop them in (and no, it isn't photo-shop, I've been saying photo-chop all these years and I'm not going to stop now).



ANYHOO, I call the header my miracle photo.  Not only was it a miraculous day, adding Rose to our family just moments before, but it was miraculous to get a great picture!

Do you know how many pics were taken to get that shot?

Go ahead.  Take a guess.  As you know, with a crowd that size it can take like a bazillion photos to get one where everyone is even looking at the camera!

10?  25?  100?

Believe it or not, only one photo was snapped of the entire family.  Yup.  One.  Uno.  One impromptu photo in the midst of the chaos of the Civil Affairs Office.  Miracle. I love it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How Easy Was It?

For Rose to talk me into buying her a new Easter dress?



Ummm, really, I think you already know the answer. 



It was equally easy for her to talk me into taking a bunch of pics--she is quite the model and loves to set up the poses. 



She loves the twirl factor of her new dress and the big-girl high heels.



It's fun to have a little girl around again. 


She continues to thrive and is doing so well.  She's full of energy and spunk, there is little down-time, but oh-what-joy she adds to our family!  Thank you God for Your Precious GIFT!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Opinionated Shopping

Lizzy has been busy prom dress shopping.  Last year she was able to get a really beautiful dress for an ubber great price (which we are happy to loan out to anyone who lives nearby--only the dress, not the cute boy--you pervs!).  And yes, for the record, Lizzy and G4 are still together!  He's a great kid, and we all love him.



This year hasn't proven so fruitful in the shopping department.  I have all kinds of suggestions, such as dyeing her dress from last year so it will look different (because it would be a SIN to wear the same dress TWICE!).  She doesn't like my suggestions.

She's also finding she doesn't like Rose's suggestions.

It appears that Rose is even more conservative in her modesty standards than Hubby.  It's a real hoot!

We were looking on-line for a dress and Rose made it very clear that most of the dresses showed too much skin!  ALL v-necks are out!  Same for slit up the side.  Sleeveless was questionable and strapless a definite no-no.

I like this girl.  Hubby likes her even better.

How do we know her ideas on modesty?  Well, when a more voluptuous model appeared on the screen Rose would say, "No, no!  Boys--Psshhaww--Boys--"Wow!  Wow!"-- No, no!" 

Rose went on to mimic a boy with his eyes great big, looking to the side while walking forward and walking right into the wall!!!  HYSTERICAL!! 

Lizzy suddenly doesn't think it's such a good idea to take Rose along this weekend for prom dress shopping.  I say she is definitely invited!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pearl River Artist


On one of our walks by the Pearl River we saw the most amazing artist. 



He painted with his fingers, hands, one marker, and a small piece of wood. 




He could complete an entire painting in just  a few minutes. 






We were mesmerized.  We ended up buying a couple and plan to frame them.  Hubby said the bottom one says, "Dumb American pays too much for my painting."  In reality, it says something about working together for unity and peace.  These are some of my favorite purchases, and for the record, they were less than two dollars each.  I love them!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chenglish

Life is very busy with Rose!  She likes to see, discover, and try everything!  There is no rest for the weary, but it's been a good week.  At times she continues to test the boundaries, but I think most of it is she just wants to have some control in her life, at a time where she has so little.

Even though it is exhausting, it is so much FUN to watch her go about her day.  Everything is new!  Adopting an older child is like fast-forwarding the joy of all a baby's "firsts" into a few, short weeks.  This week she enjoyed her first bike ride.  Imagine an 11 yo on a teeny-tiny little bike with training wheels, built for a 5yo, squealing at the top of her lungs because she can't remember how to stop!

She also had fun the big swings up at the school.  If she's ever been on a swing before, you wouldn't know it.  She likes to be pushed about two inches high, shouting, "Gentle!  Gentle!," all the while laughing with delight. 

Tonight she was thrilled to make brownies with Patrick.  She was so proud of the final product, got out the special plates, and proceeded to serve everyone. 




Her English is coming along quickly.  I accidentally bumped into her and said, "Dui Buchi," which means "I'm sorry" in Chinese, and she answered, "That's okay" in English--then realized her "mistake," laughed, and answered again in Chinese! 

We have had long conversations with her few words of English and my minuscule vocabulary of Chinese--Chenglish.  It is amazing what can be conveyed when adding in some charades.  We talked about how we will someday go back to visit China--then realized the need to teach her the difference between "someday" and "Sunday."  Google Translate is a lifesaver.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Red Chaos Photos

Jetlag has been nearly non-existent coming back from Asia--for everyone except me!  It never fails that every night I wake up and simply cannot go back to sleep for a couple of hours. 

So, why not put up some pics from China, yes?

The infamous Red Couch photos! 

But perhaps a better name would be Red Chaos photos. 



It is traditional for travel groups to take a pic of their newly adopted children on a red couch in the White Swan.  I guess I never realized just how much work goes into that photo--or how many tears. 



Even Rose wasn't exactly excited about the idea.  And I would have been fine with her not doing it at all, except that she had really wanted to the night before, and so we had gone shopping for a traditional outfit. 



So I encouraged her.  A lot.  And in the end she (and Kim) helped keep some of the littles content on the couch of chaos. 




I'm not sure we ever did get a photo with all the kids--and this is actually the best of the worst.



But we did get a pic of our whole travel group,



and some special pics of our sweet little girl.