11:34 AM

Merry Christmas

1:52 PM

Mother and Child - a review


I LOVED THIS MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I watched "Mother and Child" last night and thought this was not only the best adoption related movie I have ever seen but also just one of the best movies ever.
The plot was original, real, fascinating, deep, dimensional. I really loved this movie.
It looks at adoption from so many view points. I am fascinated that this film maker is not him self adopted, I am dieing to go learn more about his process, so curious to find out how he managed to make it so real.

This is a must see, and will be a predominant fixture in my movie collection. I think one day this will be a great movie to share with my daughter. I wish every one was forced to watch this movie, it really confronts every adoption myth, and it is a good story to boot.

8:15 PM

It is our responcibility

I realize that my earlier post was fiery and judgmental, but I was trying to make a point by showing the extremes. It is a post that comes from anger surrounding how parents seemingly choose to stay ignorant about the challenges and issues in adoption. It is about how steamed I am for the complete disregard for the other people affected by the adoption triad.
As adoptive parents it is our responsibility to understand the role we play in the injustices of adoption. We need to help change the tide in the media, with the general public, with every one. And so I screamed and shouted yesterday because I feel this voice is not heard enough, so I over compensated with volume. As Kelli mentions in the comments section, this is a multi-faceted issue, so true, but I just guess in that moment I needed to shout out the one side that never gets talked about.

Just so that you do not think I am full of angry BS please familiarize your self with these two handy lists, if you have not seen them already:

From Adoption Families:

The following is a list of wrong motives to adopt:

  • Because everybody is doing it (children should not be a fad)
  • To have someone who will love you back (not every child may want to reciprocate your love and affection-initially anyway)
  • Your biological clock is ticking (not good motivation for adoption)
  • You want some company (adopt a dog!)
  • Because you feel sorry for the child or want to rescue them (feeling any sense of indebtedness is not fair to a child who did not ask to be in the position they are)
  • You could really use another person to help out around the house (hire a housekeeper!)
  • A playmate for your other children (baby-sit or do more play-dates)
  • Because children from ______ are so cute (may be cute, but cute is not a good reason to adopt)
  • If I can't have a child biologically, I guess I'll settle for adoption (adoption is not second best, it's just a different path-and it's not easy)
  • A child will bring my spouse and I closer (might be true, but will likely cause more tension and less one-on-one time together; not good for a struggling marriage)
  • I need someone to pass on the family name (poor reason to adopt)
  • I'll start the adoption process and hopefully my husband will come around (it takes the full cooperation of both in the relationship to do this otherwise it is likely to cause great tension in the marriage)
  • Love will cure any problem a child may have and I have a lot love to give (unfortunately no amount of love in this world can help some children; though patience, proper advocacy and empathy can help)
  • Tired of watching other women have babies (not a good reason to adopt; children who are adopted often have very unique special needs that require a lot of devotion)
  • Could use some extra income (some special needs adoptions provide subsidy to cover a child's extra care needs; often the subsidy does not meet all the expenses of the child)
  • You want someone to leave an inheritance to (donate to a worthy charitable organization)
  • You think you'll gain respect and status of sainthood (this is a purely selfish motive; likely you'll feel more like a servant than anything high and mighty)
  • I need a reason to get up in the morning (program your coffee maker; with children there are likely to be days when you don't feel like getting up in the morning)
  • A big tax write off (while this is a bonus, your children will likely cost you more than you'll get back from your taxes)
  • To make me feel complete (you really ought to feel complete before you adopt)
  • To have someone to care for you in your old age (children don't always outlive their parents; it's terribly sad to hear such expectations being placed on a child; start saving for your future now)
Go ahead and count how many times these reasons/justifications appear in our community. Count how many times they appear in the starfish conversation I was responding to. Count how many people feel that you should not be able to adopt unless you are infertile. Check to see if any adoptee has ever put fertility ability on their list of ideal parental qualities.

Point # 2, this is not about the parents, it's about what is best for the kids. The best voice we have that represent our future children is that of the adult adoptees. Buried somewhere in that angry post below, I do not think I made this point succinctly. But if you read their words you will hear time and time again, that our children will be burdened with our motivation to adopt, it is a part of their adoption story and being, it will influence their sense of self.

From Adoption Survivor:

Sage Advice for Adoptive Parents
Re: What if? Questions to Adult Adoptees

After reading the heavy traffic that this group generates, I was
wondering if the adoptees would like to share specifics of what was
good and not good, what would have helped, what should have been
avoided, in their upbringings.

Here are Sunny Jo’s perfect answers:

do’s:

keep b-culture alive in daily life through contact with immigrants from
the child’s b-country who can take the contact beyond ethnic food and
cultural artifacts

make sure contact with b-culture (mentioned above) is introduced early
on so to make the b-culture an equally natural part of life as
the ‘culture’ of the a-family

keep in contact with other a-families

live in diverse areas where your child won’t be the only person of
colour. do NOT believe, however, that ‘anything but white’ is ok, an
adopted korean child won’t necessarily have more in common with a
person of african or arab origin than a white person will.

go on frequent homeland journies back to the b-country, and even
(partially) pay for the child’s first (and/or subsequent) homeland
tours as an adult

involve the entire a-family (parents, siblings etc) in the
adoption/cultural activities, without appropriating and appropriating
it (a difficult tightrope to walk)

read ‘beyond good intentions’ by cheri register

if possible, enter your child into a mentor program which gives him/her
a chance to meet adult adoptees (and/or ‘native’ koreans)

encourage language studies

give back to your child’s country of origin by supporting social
change, e.g. through sponsorship through SOS children’s villages or
other charities

read books, articles, websites, blogs etc written by adult adoptees
(and APs with adult children)

support local adult adoptee orgs (e.g. financially) but accept that
it’s up to the org to let you in to their events or not

love your child like your own, but accept that s/he never will be
fully ‘your own’

allow your child to grieve and be angry

seek professional help if necessary

don’ts:

adopt only one child from the same country, esp. in families with bio
children

adopt children from totally different countries/culture (e.g. africa
and asia)

accept adoption agency advertising, information and propaganda at face
value

be possessive, an adopted child will never be ‘yours’ in the same way
as a bio child since the BPs will forever, whether known or not, be
part of your child’s life (and APs can never take their place)

think that food, education and other stuff valued in your culture, will
make up for the losses caused by adoption

ignore or trivialize racism, e.g. by comparing it to injustices you
have suffered

expect your child to be grateful

think you ‘saved’ your child since many adoptees have bio siblings who
stayed with BPs and are doing just fine

feel threatened if your child wants to move back to tyhe b-country as
an adult or young adult

accept any kind of racism or bigotry coming from family, friends,
neighbours or anyone else

accept your child to be treated as an exotic pet, e.g. by strangers who
want to ‘pet the hair’ or ask private questions about the child’s
background etc etc

believe that it was god’s will that your child came to you, b/c that
would automaticly make it god’s will for your child’s BPs to end in the
unfortunate circumstances which led to the abandonment – and no god
worth worshipping should want that on anyone

force your religion, culture etc onto your child since it might
conflict with the child’s original religion or culture. as a family
member the adoptee should ofcourse be part of celebrating holidays like
anyone else, but if the child chooses to opt out of certain regulations
(e.g. dietary regulations which prevents certain foods from the b-
country) then this should be respected

And from Heart, Mind, Seoul

Twenty-Three Things This Korean-Adoptee Thought About as a Child

  1. That many times I was embarrassed and ashamed of my birth culture because it was so profoundly different than that of my family and my friends. That too often it served as an easy and irresistible source of teasing and fodder for others - strangers and classmates alike.

  2. That despite my parent's unconditional love for me, I couldn't help but feel that I was the last option for them to finally have children.

  3. That phrases like "Thank God we can always adopt" or "Well, at least there's a world of unwanted children we can adopt from since we can't have kids of our own" only fed into my belief that adoption truly is, for virtually all couples, the very last resort by which to create a family.

  4. That as a young girl, the thing I was most grateful for was not having a sister who was my parent's biological daughter. That even the mere thought of being compared or having to share my parents with a sister who was their "real" daughter was too much for me to bear. Being the oldest and the only girl was my way of telling myself that I was special, even when I didn't always believe it.

  5. That instead of always hearing, "You're so lucky to be adopted", that it would have been nice to just once hear "It must be hard sometimes to be adopted."

  6. That the insatiable need for me to be perfect was a way to make me feel more valuable, and therefore less likely to be abandoned once again.

  7. That the insatiable need for me to control every facet of my environment was a way to feel safe and secure during a time when I felt that I was disposable.

  8. That my mind understood why my Korean mother had to give me up, but that my heart didn't.

  9. That the message "She loved you so much that she gave you up for a better life" meant that it was sometimes scary to be loved so intensely by my adoptive parents.

  10. That deep down, I wondered if I could ever be good enough. After all, I was left and given away as a baby; why would anyone leave their baby unless that baby was bad and unwanted?

  11. That I dreamed of going back to Korea just to be able to fit in amongst my peers. That I would have given anything to just once be the girl who was thought of as being popular, pretty and "normal", instead of the one whose sole appearance brought forth so many unwanted questions and assumptions.

  12. That often I thought of ways I could make myself look more white, just so I wouldn't feel like such a monster.

  13. That I wondered what it would have been like to be the girl someone fought fiercely over, instead of feeling like the child my Korean parents didn't want and the daughter that my adoptive parents had to settle for.

  14. That I felt so incredibly guilty anytime I felt anything sad or bad about my adoption. That it was much better to hold everything in than to hurt my parents who I know loved and adored me more than life itself.

  15. That I became very adept at spinning my own adoption story, for the sake of my own survival.

  16. That it was impossible to be angry or hateful towards my Korean parents for leaving me, and yet impossible to forgive myself for being left.

  17. That I got to a point where my mind truly believed everything I was saying about not feeling any effects or fallout from being adopted, even if my heart and body felt markedly different.

  18. That one's body will not lie, no matter how much you ask it to keep on pretending.

  19. That my tantrums, outbursts and fits of rage were my way of trying to say, "I'm hurting so badly inside and more than anything, I am afraid that you will leave me."

  20. That love, no matter how deep nor abundant, can ever erase the past.

  21. That in spite of everything, I knew I would come out on the other side.

  22. That I have loved, and been loved and that one day I would feel that I was actually deserving and worthy of that emotion.

  23. That what others saw in myself would one day be evident to me as well. And hopefully one day, I would truly learn to love and forgive myself..

P.S.
Some more links I like
10 do's and don'ts -Love isn't enough. Raising a family in a color stuck world


9:33 AM

What if this was my girl?

Baby girl in China abandoned on the street... because she is BLONDE

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:46 PM on 23rd November 2010

A mother abandoned her newborn baby on the street in China - because the little girl was blonde.

The white-haired Chinese baby was discovered by a passer-by on a street corner in Nanning, Guangxi Province.

The woman who found the child heard a cry and made the shocking discovery.

Enlarge The little girl was found on the street in Nanning, Guangxi  Province with a note and some baby clothes

The little girl was found on the street in Nanning, Guangxi Province with a note and some baby clothes

'I was walking to work and heard cries from a wrapped-up quilt in the corner' she said.

'By opening it I found a baby crying very sadly.'

Police found a bag of baby clothes besides the quilt and an envelope containing 3,900 Yuan, about £390.

On the envelope the mother had written: 'I hope warm-hearted people can help to send the baby to the orphanage house. Wish you all the best.

'My dear baby I am an irresponsible mother and an incapable mother. I am sorry.'

Police suspect but have not confirmed that the mother dumped her child because of the baby's white hair.

Police suspect the mother may have dumped her child because of the  baby's white hair

Police suspect the mother may have dumped her child because of the baby's white hair

She may have been given up because she was a girl or because her mother could not afford the fine for keeping her.

Most Chinese families are allowed only one child to reduce the 1.3 billion-plus population and cut unsustainable demand on resources.

Many children, mostly girls, are abandoned because of the policy.

The policy also leads to an estimated 13 million abortions every year, with many of those ordered by local authorities. Infanticide is also widespread in many rural areas.

Those who violate the one child law can be fined up to £25,000.

Nanning, Guangxi Province in south central China

Nanning, Guangxi Province in south central China



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1332341/Baby-girl-China-abandoned-street--BLONDE.html#ixzz16D7cAHqv

I found this article in the Daily Mail, and it has really stayed with me. There seems to be so much missing from this story, and yet still the words the mother left for her child are words that are seldom heard. The comments left by Joe Public regarding this article were also telling of how little understanding there is regarding China, adoption and relinquishment and this article does very little to help educate. I wonder why this made the news in a UK newspaper, why this baby as apposed to the thousands of others?
Regardless of the quality of it, I am thankful for this article. I hope that it lands in the hands of this child's future adoptive parents, what a treasure for them to have these photos and words, to see the concern of the world, every one wanting to care for her, populations united wishing for changes in the reasons for why this moment came to be.
This has left me also wondering, what if this was my girl? How do you explain her mother's assumed reason for relinquishment? I, as a mother, have to believe that the children with Albinism are abandoned because the mothers fear the condition is too medically complex for them to afford/manage. Here in the west many people wrongly believe that albinism = mental retardation, deafness and blindness, so it is not hard to believe that these children are loved but are placed in orphanages with the hope that medical care will be provided and that the child will be better off. I have to believe that, because I can't believe that any mother would abandon her child simply because of a prejudice or superstition.
But I could be wrong. China is a different culture who's people have generations of thinking that is contrary to my beliefs. It is wrong of me to assume that my concept of maternal love is the global standard. I am reading a book right now about Korea in the 30's and a line in the book really got me thinking. The father in the book makes a special effort to ignore his children and to be sure to remind them what pests they are to him because he loves them and wants them to grow up with modesty. He struggles (yet prevails) in fighting his affections towards his children for the greater good of not "spoiling" them.
As an adult who is seeking out this information, who is trying to learn and expand my mind, this is very interesting and I can put my self in this parents shoes. But how would I ever help my child to equate this type of parenting with love, when she has only been exposed to my form love.
I hope that she can one day see past how the western world judges China's mothers and find her mothers perspective and her mother's love for her.

5:20 PM

Homestudy is in my hands

We are in the home stretch of this first big step, but I feel other worldly. The rush is gone.

Literally, we have no deadlines to meet any longer, so all that remains in this step is checking off some more boxes. But I think the rush of the chase, paper chase that is, has also worn off. I am in a zen state, that has not even a tinge of irrational urgency. How very odd...

I think I may have used up all that type of energy on the Thailand process, where there were ticking time lines galore and each day late could mean a month longer in the end, tiny mistakes extrapolated into unknown and unfair delays. There were quotas and limits. With China now, I know there are more children then waiting parents. There is no sense of competition, the needs we have selected are not in a high demand. Our little girl just needs to be born, the wheel of fate just needs to be put into motion, its like we wait and as soon as she appears we will be matched. This process in of it's self feels much more right, calm, assured and peaceful.

I am reading so many blogs right now, I can not seem to get enough of them, and I see the joyous frenzy and the frustrated frenzy. I know that frenzy lays ahead of me, but not now, not till the match. Then, then I will need some sort of retraining device to keep me firmly stuck in the rules and the process, because I can not imagine having the state of mind to be able to check boxes at that point.

Signing off from bliss bubble,
Sylvia

p.s. I got to read my homestudy before it heads out to the government for approval and I will say that after all of that talking and paperwork the final product is a pretty glossed over version of all the deep (sometimes trick) questions. If I could sum up the whole homestudy process I would have to say the bark is worse then the bite.

9:01 AM

Links I Love

It’s National ADOPTION Month, not National ADOPTEE Month. If it were National ADOPTEE Month things would be way different.

If it were National Adoptee Month..

There wouldn’t be any of those sickening adoption fairs where they parade those poor kids around like a bunch puppies.

There would be access to original birth certificates for all adoptees.

There wouldn’t be people prattling on about showing their love for Jesus by adopting children.

There would be a mission to acknowledge the loss this causes for the adoptee.

There would be no mass adoption finalizations gaveled in courtrooms packed with “new families” all over the county.

There would be a waiving of fees for adoptee access to court records concerning their adoption.

There wouldn’t awareness campaigns touting how adoption can make an adult’s life complete.

There would be an awareness campaign bringing the fact that many adoptees need answers to make their lives complete.

There would be no propaganda about saving a child’s life.

There would be access to medical records that really could save an adoptee’s life.

But most of all, it would be about the ADOPTEE, not ADOPTION.

Copied (with love) from:

10:07 AM

Uhgg... November

I hate November. It is like a dentist waiting room to me, something you just can't wait to get over and done with but has the strange ability to warp time to snail speed. I can tell you that June's 30 days never slow down one tenth of the speed that Novemeber's do. February is also a hated month, but at least it has the common decency to have only 28 days and we get some nice holidays in there as well.
I LoVE love love Halloween, and we had a great weekend of dressing up and fun times with friends. It is my favorite holiday, but admittedly it can also feel like a farewell party for the great seasons of spring, summer and fall... Leaving us undeniably in the onslaught of winter.

We had our last home study visit this past weekend as well and now we have to wait until the end of November to move onward to the next step of getting approved by our province.
I have had a lot of though fragments about our adoption recently, but nothing that in of it's self seemed worthy of it's own post. But here they are in no particular order:

I was wondering what it will be like to parent a daughter. With my son when he was new and we were bonding I remember feeling like a kid with a new boy you have a crush on. I always wanted to be touching him, when he looked at me I beamed, I could not stop talking about him, every thing he did was magical. All these months later he is still my little sweet heart who I am crushing on and I feel "off" when we have not had enough snuggle time. I guess since all of these feelings remind me of innocent love, falling in love, I wonder if it could feel the same for a mother and daughter. I guess that might be why we have Mama's boys and Daddy's girls. I was also wondering how it will feel if my little girl does not want to be snuggled. That will be so hard for me I imagine, and also so special when the day comes that she feels ready for all my lovin'.

I was thinking about how to explain the arrival of a sister to a non verbal child, when, how... When??? How???

I am also noticing that I am doing a very good job at gaurding my heart this time. I don't talk about our adoption with any level of certainty. Although I still read a lot and prepare, I did take a small break from even that. And now that we have some level of uncertainty regarding what special need she will have I don't day dream like I used to. I think that is mostly because I can not envision her in my mind's eye.

Mostly I just want time to fly by, well winter at least. I am stagnant and I hate it, I really am looking forward to being able to start to check some of that list of acronyms (DTC, LID, LOA, PA, TA, CA) off the list. I guess in the mean time I will just try to remember what they all stand for and if Canadians even have to do them all.

Hey guys it's referral day, the second best (bloggy) day of the month (after matching day). Check out all the cutie pies! I am day dreaming about the day our little blog will be listed and we can share our joy with the world. Until then it is all about reading another's joy and becoming infected by it :)

9:04 AM

Dreams

I had a dream of Elora in the early morning of the 11th. We were in China, the dream was so much more real with sights, sounds and even smells from my real memories of Beijing. I was caring for her, playing with her, but when I woke up I could not remember her face. I could not even summon up the colour of her hair, was it white or black?
There were other babies being adopted, the children of travel mates, one little boy in particular who was so skinny with a very wide toothless smile and legs that were like wet noodles. Those faces I can see and remember, but not Elora's.
Maybe you have guessed, but we are going to be marking albinism as one of our special needs we are prepared for - thus my curiosity regarding hair colour. :)

9:34 AM

She and I

I am knee deep in researching all the different special needs, selecting a new agency, recalculating time lines and the age differences between the kids when all of a sudden, like a load of bricks the most profound thing hits me.

My little Elora is not just particles in space any longer! She is in her mothers womb waiting to be born.

Here is the math that lead me to this realization. We will send our dossier to China in the new year, we need to state that our next child be under 12 months but born after January 2011, so that we do not violate our province's 18 month between children separation rule. The wait for referral is about 1 year, but may be shorter as we are looking at some needs that are considered moderate vs. just mild. Children are a minimum of 9 months old at the time of referral. So this means that our child will be born some time in the winter or spring of 2011, so any way you look at it, she is a pretty well developed fetus at this moment in time.

Now here is the really thought provoking part. Her mother is progressing with this pregnancy with every intention of parenting her. At this very moment she is preparing for the birth of her child with love and anticipation. It will not be until her daughter is born with more needs then she can cope with that she will have to make a decision that will change all of our lives forever. One day soon she will have to make the choice to relinquish her daughter, her loved and hoped for daughter.

But right now at this very moment in time, she and I are both loving and waiting for our girl to come into our lives. We have a lot in common at this moment, we are day dreaming about her, we are envisioning our lives with her, what will change, what we will hope to instill in her, impatient for her arrival. Right now we are just two mothers so different but on many levels just the same. The only thing is she does not know that a loss is coming, the break of the bond she has established all these months already is about to leave her with immeasurable grief. I know loss is coming, I am preparing for my role in this loss, I am doing everything in my power to be prepared. I will help our daughter heal, but I will never be able to help the woman who gave her life, to sooth her or even to change her fate. I can not say if she will make the right choice, if she will ever find peace.

I am just now beginning to really understand the link we will forever share is so much more then the daughter we share. But right now, I am the only one who knows what is coming. I am the one who started this chain of events that will link us, by choosing to adopt. It is like I have dipped my finger into the ocean, sending ripples across the water. A simple act right now, but as the ripple grows a tsunami awaits at the other end.

I had viewed adoption as a sort of cause and effect, there was a child in need of a mother (cause) and I chose to be the mother for that child (effect). Really though it is much more like there are two causes, the choice both mothers both mothers make, and the affect is the adoption and the child left in the wake of all these adult choices beyond her control or understanding.
Beyond the role I will play as loving mother to my longed for daughter, I now see I also will play the role in the domino affect of all our lives.

Right now in this moment, it is eerie (to say the least), to be the only one who knows that the tsunami is on its way, and I am utterly helpless to stop the hurt that is coming her way, and the joy it will bring our family as a result.

10:33 AM

there she is

This is my favourite photo I took while we were vacationing in China. There is Mao, and there is this little girl and her kite... and... there is me who is taking the photo. In that moment I remember I was day dreaming of Elora fiercely. This little girl and her kite her innocence juxtaposed against the square that has been bathed in the blood of the innocent. Her white sandals on the very stones, this photo just screams hope, to me.
This is where we were always meant to be, in China. It is where the dream of Elora began, and it is where it will become a reality. I worry about China, it's policies and their impact on the future of it's citizens. I worried so much, and I wanted so much for Elora to have a way in the future to know her first parents, and China makes that so near impossible. I thought that if we adopted from China, that would mean that I think what is happening there is okay, because in a way I will be profiting from their policies, and I would become a part of a cycle that needs to end, but I will not be helping to bring the end. So I forced my dream to morph to embrace Thailand for everything that China was not. But here we are again, come full circle, back to China. I can not yet say that I am glad that we took this detour on our adoption route, there is still too much pain associated with it. But I am glad for the lessons I have learned, the stories I have heard (and shared), and the friends and insights I have gained along the way.

So Elora is in China, now we just need to find the strength and the money to go and find her.

Oh ya, I guess I forgot to mention that: My husband is 1/4 Chinese (hence the Chinese surname we all have), that we have travelled in China, researched it, celebrate it (happy moon festival every one!), are learning mandarin (thanks Kai Lan). None of these things have to do with our desire to adopt, it just so happens though it makes adopting from China the obvious choice. Well obvious to any one but me :)

8:41 AM

I'm just a girl in the world


Did you know that in the poorest regions of the world, millions of girls face barriers to survival and development simply because they’re girls?

Did you know?

  • 70 per cent of the one billion people living in extreme poverty are women and girls.

  • Girls are 3x more likely to be malnourished than boys.

  • Over 60 million girls are denied access to primary school.

  • An extra year of school for girls will increase their lifetime income by 10-20%.

  • Children of women who have completed primary school are less likely to die before age 5 than children of mothers with no schooling.

  • Women who do work reinvest 90% of their income back into their household.

Today is National Day of the Girl in Canada. Thinking about all girls in the world, and my girl too.

8:13 AM

where in the world is Elora Eng

I am a planner, there are no ways to get around it. I like lists, agendas, plans and check boxes. Scratch that I LOVE them, can't live with out them. And when one of those just can't get the job done, I made charts, graphs and spread sheets.
So now I ask my self what may be the biggest question I have ever had to answer, where in the world is Elora, and I can tell you that even the prettiest pie chart has been no help at all.
How do you rank the importance of each factor that needs to be considered when you adopt a child.
We want an infant, we have limited funds to dedicate to another child, we would prefer a girl, what race is best for our family and for her?, what resources can we find and provide, short term? long term? We would love to have history about her origins her birth family, we would like some openness. What country can we be happy to be forever linked with? Should we reach out to the child with the greatest need for a family? How exactly would that be measured any ways?
I have tried to do a pro and con list, a weighted grading system, a gut reaction, an educated detailed research... I am no further along. There are just too many questions. Just to make things difficult my opinion on many of these questions also seems to be in flux.

Until recently I was really sure that the youngest child possible trumped every thing. The idea of missing out on that itty bitty baby stage, and more importantly our child not having all the things that a fragile little one should have in those first months was just too heart breaking. It is no less heart breaking now, but now I am looking through a different lens. If a young itty bitty baby who had been loved and cherished from day one was truly the most important thing, then I would not choose to adopt, I would birth a baby who fit that criteria. Choosing to adopt is the only thing that has not been up for debate. I had what Oprah calls an AhhhHA moment when I realized that a very young baby actually needed to be on the nice to have list not the must have list.

I am having difficulty with this list of criteria in the first place, I wish that a child just came to me, that I did not need to "play god" and pick and choose each element. It makes me feel guilty each time I choose one thing over another. Mostly I just wish that we could have more children, that this one did not need to be the last one, it sure would help with those tough choices to think, well this time girl, NEXT time boy. Since we know this is the last time it makes things so much more difficult.

I have actually come to a place where I am looking for signs, dreams or any thing that will tell me that our child is waiting for us in (fill in the blank). This may not be a choice that involves any logic what so ever, and that feels really irresponsible to me, to just go with what feels right, not proven to be best. But in the end I think the graphs are telling me that this gamble with the fates may just be the only way.

P.S.
In reading my back my old posts from the beginning of the blog, I think the choice may be as clear as the writing on the wall... but I am resisting making that choice out loud or even to my self just yet, because I think I am not done yet with the waffling. I am not ready to invest my heart into any thing just yet.

8:31 AM

Moving Past Denial and into Anger

Well, well what an eventful week. I went to war with our adoption agency Children's Bridge because they refused to refund our fees that we paid early. These fees were not even due yet, and they should not have even had them yet, but I paid early, and now I am paying the price.
This event swiftly moved me forward into the anger stage of grieving and the following was the result. Oh yes we were on the news. My 15 minutes of fame, not what I had hopped they would be. And we didn't get the money back either.

9:30 AM

that tear in your hand

you don't know the power that you have
with that tear in your hand
HAZE all clouded up my mind
in the DAZE of the why
it could've never been
so you say and i say
you know you're full of wish
and your "baby baby baby babies"
i tell you there're pieces of me
you've never seen
maybe she's just pieces of me
you've never seen well
~Tori Amos

This post is a jumble, I know it already, even though I haven't even written a word of it. I know this because my mind and my heart are a jumble.
It has been 5 days since the news and I can not say that I am any steps closer to healing. I have spent the days holding my son too tight, staring off into space, crying and in a lot of denial.
My husband had sudden urges to "fix" things in the house, so the bathroom is in great disarray, and honestly I am not sure if our bathtub will ever work again (even though I don't really believe it was broken in the first place) with out the aid of a professional. So although we are united in pain I know we are grieving separately, I think he has progressed to the anger phase, while I am stuck in denial.
We have four main options available to us right now; domestic through the Children's Aid Society (CAS), domestic private adoption, South Africa or China Waiting Child (special needs). One bonus is that we can be "in line" with CAS, domestic private and one international country at the same time, so that is up to 3 separate paths. Once we are matched though we must end any other process, and loose any time, heart and money invested into that route. Although I know this is a great advantage for us, a chance to improve our odds, I am really having trouble with the idea of so much unknown.
Domestic adoption (whether private or CAS) will result in an unknown time line, as soon as 2 weeks and as long as never. Both extremes scare the ^%$!# out of me. We liked the idea of planning the separation between the kids to have only one in day care at a time, to work on my career for a while, to have only one in diapers at a time. Our timing was very thought out. If you recall that was the reason we choose to wait 9 months before starting our dossier to Thailand, so that we could perfect the separation between the kids. Oh ya, I am totally aware of how ironic that decision is. That is fate giving me a big ol' slap in the face and telling me to stop believing I have any say in this what so ever. Yet still I CAN NOT LET GO and give up control.
Second thing about domestic that is eating away at me, our child could be any race, any gender, any special need, any time... so a complete mystery. It is not that I feel that I could not parent any of those out comes, I think our family is so full of colors we could welcome a wide variety of children and they could see them selves reflected in one of their cousins faces. But you see I just thought that my daughter was Asian, I thought I knew what her eye color was, I thought I could picture her shinny black hair, I knew she was a girl. We have been told that despite my husband's Chinese heritage (1/4 from his dads side) that Asian children never become available for adoption in our region, so that match is very unlikely. I am also having trouble laying to rest the idea of having a daughter. I love love love having a son, but I really want the experience of having a daughter as well. I have researched and do truly believe that a daughter would be the best way to complete our family and ease sibling rivalry.
I know that you can not pick and choose the features and gender you would get with a child you birth, and in my mind I agree that adoption should be no different... I am none the less going through what I suppose many adoptive parents go through as they decide to adopt... I am having to let go of the pre-conceived notions of who my future child would be. I have to surrender the simple dreams like being able to picture your child in your minds eye when you are longing for them, because that picture is completely unknown.
This experience with Thailand has robbed me of my certainty. This is the hardest thing of all.
I now wonder if I am as open hearted as I thought I was. I am realizing that because I never really "chose" adoption, because it was always just a reality for me since childhood, it was just an eventuality, I never really had to face the hard facts and the loss involved for so many other parents who adopt. It seems that when put to the test, in my core somewhere I actually have a lot of conditions about what adoption means to me. I am not sure I want to adopt "any child". I just want my daughter, the one who has been in my dreams longer then I can remember. I am sure I could parent any child, but I am not sure I can stop wanting my Elora.
So I just heard this ancient Arabic proverb: "Through your heart out and then chase after it." I sure lived my life this way. But I would say this is horrible advice for any waiting parent who cares about the health and safety of said heart. I am entering this next phase of my adoption with a very closely guarded heart, out of necessity, but I feel absolutely sick about this necessity. That kind of heart is not the kind to welcome a child with. The world seems a darker, lonelier place to me now, five days after.

2:52 PM

hit the wall

So Thailand said no. I am still in too much grief to think about the next step or even why this happened. So many families from around the world have contacted me and given me hope with their stories, I really thought this might just be a test or another hurdle. I don't think I was ready to hear that this is the end of my destiny with Thailand. But I heard it from the horses mouth and there is no ambiguity or what ifs left.
I don't even know how to move forward from here.

11:14 AM

My Shift of heart


Let me begin this post with a review of a movie I just watched.
The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins
This is a movie I have wanted to see for a very long time. I have been thinking about how I have changed since I first heard about it in early 2008. If I had viewed it then I think it would have shook me to the core of my beliefs. However viewing it now, I just shook my head and was glad that it was out there and hoped it would come to be the shift in mind set so many others need.
As the movie unfurls we see an egotistic liar scramble and scurry to adopt twins who she falls in love with while working as an artist in Sudan. Now I fully understand that falling in love feeling, like it's me against the world, do what you got to do to get what you love and all that jazz. In fact it is one of the reasons that I have not used my fight-to-end-injustice-passions in practical ways like volunteering at an orphanage. I know that the ego maniac in me could be ignited when faced with the very real love I would feel for real babies in real dire conditions. This my friend is where my empathy for the "art star" ends, because each frame after that just leaves me more and more appalled and scared that she may actually be allowed to adopt the twins and be their mother. I knew at the beginning that this was a story of a woman who adopts after having biological children, she is a preferential adopter. Wow, I think, a movie about an adopter like me, fantastic! At the end of the movie how shamed I am that we fall some how into the same category. Now I know why Thailand does not want preferential adopters, if this is how we are portrayed, I would also forbid any child to be adopted by them.
This movie hit me in a really personal way, because I wished (yes, again) to see a portrayal of my family in the media, to see us, and to fit in. Instead I just found another place that we didn't belong.
Now let me start at the beginning...
Once upon a time I believed that every one should adopt. I found it unbearable to watch people I knew and love spend a kings ransom on fertility treatments all in the quest for your own biological clone. This sum of money could have changed the fates of so many children if only these parents could open their hearts and let go of biology. I still feel that adoption gets over looked because of misconceptions and stereotypes and I would like the general population to change their views about adoption, but I no longer think that every one should adopt.
I think the shift began when I started reading every and any blog I could get my hands on that was adoption related. I started reading blogs from all points of the adoption triad (first family, adoptee and adoptive family). Mostly I began to be repeatedly surprised that it was an adoptive parent who was acting or judging in a way that seemed so destructive to their (future) child. I saw a trend, and I really got that it would be really easy to be an "angry adoptee" when this was a portrait of the normal adoptive parent.
More recently in our PRIDE class (adoptive parenting class mandated by our province) I met a room full of adoptive parents and I hoped that none (save 2 couples) ever got the chance to adopt... well that is a bit harsh, but they needed monumental shifts in their being and in that of their families and communities being first, and I had doubts that this shift would happen in time for the arrival of their child.
By the end of the class I think I got the well deserved reputation of being the lecturing-know-it-all-bitch of the class. I just could not help my self :P
Real quotes from real adoptive parents in my class:
"Our cousin adopted a child from China, she is known as the "freak child" in our family. But we have all grown to love her now."
"Birth mothers give away their children because they live in countries where there are no morals to guide them, they are faithless."
"In other countries it is considered the social norm to abandon children, so that is why they have so many orphans"
"I don't want to tell my child they are adopted, that is why we can't adopt a child of a different race."
Maybe now you can see why I could not keep my mouth shut, or keep the bitch at bay.
So here I am now, on the other side of the shift, oh so aware that adoptive parenting is a life long skill that always needs to be honed. And further more it is a skill that most don't acknowledge or develop past the home study.
So my husband and I entered our PRIDE class glumly the day after hearing about the rule change in Thailand, and we left with a renewed united determination to adopt, one way or another, because we were meant to do it. I think that for him especially seeing the other parents struggle with why those above statements were even wrong assured him that we are naturally inclined to this type of parenting. It eased his fears and let us walk with great unity in our choice. I will never wonder again if he is doing this to appease me, I won't have to suspect his motives. And I am so thankful that he is the only one who has never suggested a pregnancy as our next move or even as a future possibility, because he really and truly get's it. I have a great man, and I never dreamed that I could have a man who would parent with me side by side with as much unity as we have, and I am SO THANKFUL.

3:48 PM

Glimmer of hope

Just came across this post from another Thai blogger. She used a difficult pregnancy letter and is now in Thailand picking up her beautiful baby. It's old info (2008) but it is the closest thing to hope I found in all my stalking erm... researching.
Here is my Glimmer of hope.

8:53 AM

I'm just a soul who's intentions are good, oh lord please don't let me be misunderstud.

If one more person tells me to just get pregnant I am going to scream/melt/cry. I would never betray my daughter that way. That is a betrayal, to drop her at the first sign of challenge to just give up. Who are these well meaning people who know me and love me and yet still timidly suggest that I just re-evaluate and grow a baby instead.
Oh ya, here is another doozy, "the Lord works in mysterious ways" or "all things were meant to be". Very curious things to say to an atheist. Putting that aside, why would this atheist choose now look to a higher power. In this moment that seems to be a cruel twist of fate or at the very least horrible timing I see none of a supposed Lord's involvement and resent you implying that yet another person (in this case some heavenly father in the sky) really feels that I don't deserve/need this child.
On the other hand Buddha and I may be on a journey together right now. That I can wrap my head around. Maybe the universe wants me to learn some things that will make me a better parent to Elora. Maybe this is a step towards letting go of control and the belief that I can possess any thing, let alone particles in space that will one day be my daughter. I know I am filled with want and desire, they are the fuel of my drive and dreams, so I never faulted them. My Husband looks at me with pity and confusion when I grieve for something that was never even mine, some thing I had to right to claim. I think he was born with out desire, he never has to work at giving it up, he is like a natural Buddhist so I think he can not understand why it is hard for the rest of us.
I never asked for enlightenment. I don't know if I can give up desire and still be me. Sylvia falls head over heels, Sylvia loves first and questions later, Sylvia gets what she wants, Sylvia owns her dreams, Sylvia has a daughter named Elora who is waiting for her.
So Buddha, I hope this is not a lesson, or a test to prove I am worthy of your daughter. I would not be at your door asking for her still if I walked a Zen path.

9:26 AM

Time flies when you are having fun

There is this strange phenomenon that happens when you start to parent, time flies. And I mean ZOOMS! I am not sure why but the first year of my son's life was faster then any 12 months I have ever known. It is so cliche when you hear the grannies tell you enjoy it now because it is over too fast, or it seems like it was just yesterday that my little one was crawling and now he is at college. I get it now, and I understand the need to warn every parent behind you how fast it really goes.
I know I am so lucky to have my son with me during my waiting time for Elora. That was not the original plan, but it sure is great that it went this way, because he makes time fly. I think about all my (virtual)friends who are waiting for their little ones in the pre-child movement of time and I wish that we could change it all and make pre-child time fast and post-child time slow, how sweet would that be.
I have no such magical powers, but I do have the power of extreme cuteness, so I thought I would share that for now.


Emery at one month, seven months and thirteen months

In other news we have submitted our request for pre-approval using a note from my OB about my pregnancy troubles. I am not sure if that is powerful enough alone, but luckily I wrote an appeal to our agency talking about our choice to adopt from Thailand and my heartfelt words travelled along with my doctors note. I am hopping that the two combined will be the ticket we need. I will know if we got pre-approved by early September. More waiting, but waiting with a date attached, piece of cake! Just kidding about that easy part, but I think I am not alone in saying that this process sure makes you value the small things like a time-line that is relatively soon and finite :)

8:22 AM

Sing. Breath. Wait.

My moments of peace come to me when I am encircled in my music singing along. Each verse forcing me to breath, rhythmically, purposefully. Each breath passing reminding me that this too shall pass. At times like these I always forget to breath.

As a child a dream grew with in me, I heard a news report about the girls in China, being abandoned just because they were girls, and something in the little girl in me understood injustice for the first time. From that moment I knew I would have that little girl and she and I would forever stand together against injustice (a child's view of adoption, quite unformed but still filled with passion). I was not sure if I cared to marry, I was not sure where I would live but from a very young age I knew where my daughter lived, where she waited for me, where we would be united. From that moment on I lived my life with that one common goal, every other goal just a stepping stone to my girl. When the time came and it was clear that I could not choose China, I grieved for that dream. I grieved for a long time, but not in the way I do now. I didn't grieve as hard because Thailand was there like a shinning beacon of hope, and I felt the transition was right and fated. I came to understand all the great things that my Thai adoption would bring me that China never could. The gift of contact and information about our birth mother, the best orphanage care, the shortest stay in institutionalized care, an ethical transparent program, the people the culture, it was a perfect fit.
Now the time may come that I need to alter my dream again, but I can not do it yet, I can not see another beacon of hope. I have been researching and I can not see any other program that is clicking with us, nothing that lets me know that this is just the next logical step in a twisting journey. I feel like the road is blocked, that I can not possibly go another way. We will still adopt, that is the only certainty. But will I ever be able to stop searching faces and places for my Elora. Will I always feel that I have lost a dream even if I fulfill my intention to adopt?

There you are
Your beauty consoles me
I've gone far
And I almost didn't find you
And I almost lived without you
There is nothing in this world
I'd rather do
Than live in you
Here we go,
Our favorite adventure
You should know
I was never more complete
And I never thought I'd see
The meaning of my life
Wrapped in you
Next to me
If you ever fear
Someday we might lose this
Come back here
To this moment that will last
And time can go so fast
When everything's exactly
Where it's at
Its very best


Breath, sing, breath. Wait.

1:40 PM

Dear Thailand please don't break my heart

Okay the last time I titled my blog that way, every thing worked out. So I am just trying to keep it together here and not freak out.
Here is the update:
Got word from Children's Bridge this afternoon that TRC is planning not to approve the file of another family who is not medically infertile. They are requesting medical proof of infertility. This of course will impact us and they will deny our petition to adopt.
I am reeling with this sudden change, they will not grandfather us in. Our only hope is that we can get a letter from our doctor stating that it is medicaly not advisable for me to be pregnant again. Even this may not be enough to meet the requirements and we may still be rejected. Our agency reports that this is only the TRC that is imposing these guidelines but she suspects the DSDW will follow suit.
It really hurts to have gone all this way only to be rejected now. What hurts the most is the rejection will come because of a parenting itentity I am most proud of, I will be denied because I am a preferential adopter.
I never believed that my choice could possibly prevent another parent their own chance to have a child. I know this is a fear other parents express and it just did not seem valid to me, it's not like there are a finite number of children who need homes, a number that will one day run out. But it seems Thailand agrees they are more worthy of a child then we are, and I wish to whole hardheartedly disagree.
But I do not get a chance to plead my case or show my worth, that hurts the most, that I will not be seen as a valid (enough) parent for the daughter I already love.
I have been reassured that we can change programs, but I refuse to do so until all options are exhausted and we hit the wall.
Dear Thailand, it is your daughter I promised to love for as long as I shall live. It is your daughter who is in my dreams and in my heart. Thailand I do not just want any baby, we pledged to raise your baby girl and I don't want another, not even if she comes from my own flesh because I love her, my Thai daughter. Shouldn't that count for something?

8:52 AM

Self Googling. Spiritualy and Litteraly.

So I googled "preferential adopter" just to see what I would find. Hoping to find allies and comrades. I am not too sure why this has become important to me, but I feel a bit like a teen needing to find a label and a community for my identity, plus work is less then challenging currently and I am looking for mental nourishment. So when you google "preferential adopter" you will get 29 pages, and apparently I make up 3 of those hits with this blog and other forum comments I have left. Me and my posts are 10% of all talk on this topic on ALL of the internet! Poo. I did not want to find my self. Maybe you guys are calling your self something else, is my terminology just not the real term? I did find this online shop that I thought was really great, and considered contacting the shop to see if they ever thought of uniting their customer base into a community.
I am dying to know how many people bought the "first choice" thongs!!! They are now top of my birthday wish list.
Thankfully I did come across a few other blogs that I now plan to follow, so the search was not fruitless. But really disappointing over all. That plus a comment from another blogger bud lead me to believe that it may be time to open up the comments section. I mean with this post now heading out into cyberspace I will now be 13% of all hits, and with the amount of times I have used the words in this post I may even be the top hit. I better give other searchers a way to communicate with me so we can build on our meager but mighty community.
I am really shy about the comments function, I have issues about being picked on and ostracized, but those issues never out weigh my tendency to speak my mind. I am controversial by nature not by desire. My greatest hope is that the comments section will not cause me to self edit and second guess and that it will create interesting dialogue and greater connection with in this community. The community is after all the founding reason for this blog. Blogs have been my adoption guiding light, they are my go to resource for real life parenting, inspiration, food for thought, and cutting edge pulse of the real wait lines and challenges in our program. I need to pay it forward for all the other waiting moms (and dads)trolling for any news they can get.
On that note I thought I would share a message I got from our agency.

This week I connected with the DSDW and was able to get a bit of an update. Right now they think that the timelines to referral could continue to take longer than 2 years. Their international adoption program continues to be small and they don’t have as many children available for placement as other countries do. To reassure you, this has always been the case, but the difference now is that they have so many applications from families which has resulted in an increased timeline. They are hopeful that the timelines will decrease which is the big reason for them taking this year off. They will also be implementing a quota for every agency moving forward; this is nothing new for us as we have always had a quota with them.

In the past the timeline for the TRCCH was approximately 18 mths. We need to be prepared that their timeline could also increase as they too have many applications.

I know that waiting is very difficult. Try to connect with other waiting families as you can be a great support to each other!


This is hard news to hear and visions of the deterioration of the China, Ethiopia and Nepal programs haunt me daily. What if....
Never mind that is a totally different post... Stay tuned.

1:43 PM

Copy and Paste - Just wanted to share

10 Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents
Especially in front of their kids.
by Tracy Hahn-Burkett


Author Tracy Hahn-Burkett has a four-year-old daughter adopted from Korea and a seven-year-old biological son. Whether well-intentioned, curious or inappropriate, Hahn-Burkett has had many a question lobbied in her direction regarding her daughter and their family make-up. Hahn-Burkett offers you, the curious, some advice before you speak. Along with ten questions one should not ask an adoptive parent, she gives her blunt responses.

*
Is it difficult to love a child who isn’t your own?

My children are my own — both of them. Yes, I know what you mean. And I repeat: both of my children are "my own."

*
I could never love someone who doesn’t share my biology.

I’m sorry your heart is so limited. And presumably your spouse doesn’t share your biology, so I’m sorry for him or her, too.
*
She/he’s so lucky.

If there are adoptive parents who haven’t heard this one, I don’t know them. Yes, my adopted child is lucky, just like her brother who was born to me — just like any kid blessed with a good family. Moreover, my husband and I are lucky to have her as a daughter. My daughter is not lucky, however, by virtue of having been adopted or because she’s been adopted by an American family. Her life story will always be one that begins with wrenching loss of family, country, language, culture and all things related to the place and people from whence she came. She will have to figure out how to incorporate all of this into her identity at some point, no matter how much we love her.

*
That’s great you’re adopting;
it’s so much easier than having the child yourself.

Clearly, you have never adopted a child. What, exactly, is easy about it? Is it the hundreds of questions prospective adoptive parents have to answer along the path to adoption, questions that go to the heart of what kind of people they are and dissect every aspect of their lives? Is it committing to a lifetime of knowing that at anytime from toddlerhood through adulthood, your child may come to you with wrenching questions about his or her origins and your answers may be unsatisfactory? Is it knowing that the very fact that your child is yours means that somewhere a woman will probably grieve every day of her life for the child she could not raise? Is it missing the early months, sometimes years, of your child’s life? Is it telling your child when he or she asks to see baby pictures, "Sorry, I don’t have any"? I could go on, but you get the point.

*
She’s so adorable; she’s just like a little China doll!

Yes, thank you, I think she’s cute, too. But she is not Chinese and she’s a human being, so please don’t characterize her as an inanimate stereotype. And if you’re going to gush and coo over her, please consider that blond-haired, blue-eyed boy standing right next to her. He’s my kid, too. He’s pretty cute, too. And he can hear you.

*
Her "real" mother was probably a prostitute.

I’m her "real" mother, and so far as I can recall, I have never been a prostitute.

*
What kind of a person would give up such a beautiful, sweet child? (This comment is often accompanied by a clucking of the tongue.)

In general, the kind of person whose options are limited in ways you have never even had to imagine. Birthmothers are not bad, immoral people. Very few, if any, birthmothers who relinquish their children do so lightly. For most, it is a searing, heartbreaking decision that will haunt them forever. Also, please understand that when you say things about my child’s birthmother, you are commenting about the woman who gave my daughter life and whose genes remain an inseparable part of her — forever.

*
People who adopt children from other countries just don’t want black babies, or People who adopt children from other countries just want an "exotic" child, or People who adopt children from other countries are shirking their responsibility to adopt at home.

Very few parents who choose international adoption do so because they don’t like "dark" kids or because they want an "exotic" child. The systems of international and domestic adoption differ in fundamental ways, and most parents who choose to adopt educate themselves thoroughly and then pick the program that is best for them.

*
Anything in Chinese addressed to the Asian adopted child.

This happened to me when my daughter was a year old. A woman in an elevator said something to my daughter in Chinese, and by the time I figured out what had just taken place, the woman was gone (thereby robbing me of my opportunity to deliver any sort of snarky reply). My daughter is American, has lived in this country since infancy, and the language she understands is English. Why would you assume anything else?

*
How much did she cost?

Another one we’ve all heard, generally more than once. But my child is not a melon; I did not pick her up at the store. She cost me nothing. I did, however, spend quite a bit on adoption fees to support the process and travel costs, just as I spent quite a bit on medical care, etc., in conjunction with the conception and birth of my biological son. If you truly want to learn more about the financial aspect of either process, I will be happy to discuss that with you. If you’re only interested in knowing in order to pass judgment, it’s none of your business.

4:48 PM

She is my Daughter not a budget line....

It is hard sometimes to have to defend our family. I know adopting means that I sign up to be an educator and advocate to every person, well meaning or ill intentioned, I have to set the record straight. I don't blame them for not understanding, I never see media pieces that accurately display adoption in all of it's complexities. I guess it is up to the APs to lead the cause, because that responsibility should not have to lie on the shoulders of the birth family or the children, so that leaves us.
I sometimes feel that being a preferential adopter makes the critics feel freer to tell me what they really think. I am not some emotionally delicate person who is adopting because there was no other option, so there is no guilt involved in telling me how wrong we are for choosing adoption.
I am not saying that I can't take it. Bring it. Really, bring it. I can take it, in fact this ability is one of the reasons I knew I would be a good AP. I just pity the fool who tries to diss our family in front of my children, get ready for mama bear.
Ultimately though I know I can not fight my way through this each time. I will have to learn some diplomacy. And some short answers as well, currently well intentioned but curious folk get a 15 minute lecture. I am not sure how to keep it concise but still get the message across. Sigh, I will just add this to the reading list.

Speaking of reading lists, I am plowing through some good adoption books lately. I have 2 hours on the train every day now so I am reading more then I have in a long time. Forever Lily was a great memoir about a China adoption. And I am currently in the middle of Parenting your Internationally Adopted Child, it really clicks with my parenting style, I think I finally found a book addressing attachment that makes sense to me and seems really easy and usable. I will do a real review of the book once I am done. With so much reading, Elora is never far from my mind and I miss her in a way I never thought possible, since she is still to the best of my knowledge just particles in space. All of a sudden 2013 seems like an eternity from now and way too far away.

Also muddling around in my head if we should take Em with us to Thailand or leave him home with my mom. Thought I had my mind made up but now I am not sure. Will need to save for another airfare, so I should not leave the choice to the last minute, although I have no idea how my 4 year old would do on an international flight.

9:15 AM

Returning to work

I am ending my year long maternity leave and now must go back to work and leave my son at day care. Tear...tear. It is very hard on me, I just don't want to be apart from him. Every job but the job of motherhood seems trivial to me. But the bills gotta be paid, so hi ho hi ho it's off to work I go.
I wanted to print off some photos to remind me what I am working towards. There are some very special adoption bills that are being payed with my new pay check. So I made this photo to frame and take to work along with some great photos of my son. Sadly when I am at work I am apart from both my babies, but I just keep humming the song 1000 oceans and gazing at their photos... Eyes on the prize, eyes on the prize.

These tears I've cried
I've cried 1000 oceans
And I would cry 1000 more
If that's what it takes
To sail you home
I'm aware what the rules are
But you know that I will run
You know that I will follow you
So I will cry 1000 more
If that's what it takes
To sail you home

9:32 AM

From the Frontlines in China

I still follow very closely the Chinese adoption community even though we have committed to Thailand. It does share many similarities, and is a great resource because of it's shear size and length of program, the evolution of it is fascinating and the children who are growing up now are an invaluable resource for me. There have been rumours this past year that the situation in the Chinese orphanages is not what it was/should be and that non special needs adoption would be impossible for international adopters. There were rumours that is was coming from circumstance, policies or both, but regardless it was coming and it was coming now. So when our time came I headed these rumours, they have been so right in the past and chose Thailand. Now for the first time I am hearing reports of what we all worried might be true. I am reposting this blog entry in its entirety rather then linking because I want to a record of it in my own blog.
From the blog Adoption Talk:



Sunday, July 11, 2010
Amy Eldridge of LWB Speaks
The BEST adult session at the Chinese Heritage Camp was the talk by Amy Eldridge of Love Without Boundaries. She spoke about the changing face of Chinese adoption and about the current challenges of orphan care in China. It was emotional, informative, and fascinating. I'll try to report it all, but I hope others who were there will add anything I missed. Amy spoke for almost 2 hours, so I don't think I could possibly remember it all!

Amy first talked about the immense changes in China adoption in the past 10 years. The landscape has changed considerably from the days when Chinese orphanages were filled with healthy infant girls who had been abandoned because of the government's one child policy and the social preference for boys. Now, the orphanages are filled with special needs kids, many critically ill. She reported that 98% of newly abandoned children in China have serious medical needs, which explains why 60% of adoptions in 2010 were special needs adoption.

Why the significant change? First, she said, there has been a growth in more modern attitudes about girls. It is really only in the rural areas that the social preference for boys remains. Ten years ago, 85% of the Chinese population lived in rural areas. Now, only 50% are rural, 50% urban. With that urbanization has come more education, the internet, and the like, which has led to more modern attitudes. Second, there has been growth in the availability of ultrasound technology. Now, anyone who is pregnant can know the child's sex. Anyone who carries a girl to term does so knowingly and with every intention of parenting her. Those who want a boy instead will have an abortion. Third, domestic adoption in China is growing rapidly. That's caused in part by the public interest in adoption after all the news reporting about the orphans of the Sichuan earthquake. And another factor is the increased rate of infertility in China. One government agency estimates that as many as 40 million couples in China are infertile. Infertility is skyrocketing because of increased premarital sex without much sex education, causing increased rates of STDs and frequent abortions that might be less than sterile and because of environmental toxins and pollution. Domestic adoption is preferred by orphanage directors, because domestic adopters pay higher fees than international adopters. In Guangzhou, domestic adopters pay fees of $15,000 to the orphanage; in Hefei, the fee is $7,000 for domestic adopters. Most adoptions are handled on the county or provincial level, even though the CCAA now has a national office of domestic adoption. Orphanages just don't send the files of healthy infants for international adoption when they can place the child domestically.

So, for these three reasons, there are fewer and fewer healthy infant girls available for international adoption. And there has been skyrocketing abandonment of special needs children. One reason for that is the increase in children in China born with birth defects. Birth defects in China have increased 40% since 2001. It is estimated that 1 in 8 to 10 children born in China have birth defects. There are a number of theories about why the rate of birth defects is so high in China, but most believe it is environmental exposure -- after all, in a recent list of the 20 "dirtiest" cities in the world, 16 of them were Chinese cities. In one area of Shaanxi Province, where there is considerable coal production and other environmental hazards, it's reported that the birth defect rate is 85%.

Special needs children get abandoned because of the stigma associated with disabilities and/or because of medical costs. Extended family, espcially the mother-in-law, will insist that a disabled child be abandoned becasue the child is considered unlucky, a curse on the family. Children with visible disabilities will be refused education, and when they grow up will have difficulty finding a job. Medical costs can be too high for a family to bear -- there is no health insurance, no free health care in China. All health care has to be paid for up front. Even if you're in an accident, you won't be treated until your family shows up to pay the bill first. There are no emergency rooms in China. Poor families will abandon their children in the hopes that they will receive health care in the orphanage. Amy said LWB has to be careful about media reports in China, because if there is a story about them doing medical work in an area there's a sharp spike in the abandonment of special needs kids there. She also talked about my FAVORITE fund at LWB, the Unity Fund, which provides free life-saving medical treatment so that poor families don't have to abandon a sick child. I think we all know that adoption is not the solution to the orphan crisis, only preventing children from being orphaned in the first place will solve it.

So how has the increase in special needs abandonment affected orphan care in China? Think about how overwhelmed nannies might be with a room full of healthy kids to take care of. Now think how overwhelming it would be with the same nannies with the same training or lack thereof and the same resources taking care of a roomful of special needs kids. Amy talked about walking into a typical orphanage "baby room" and thinking it should be a hospital ward instead. Nannies will also have the same fear of "unlucky" disabled children as others in China, and may not want to care for a child with albinism or a visible disability.

Two of the biggest needs, then, are education/training for orphanage staff and financial resources. LWB does both. Some of their training is with orphanage directors to help them prepare files on special needs kids to submit for adoption. They sometimes have to encourage the directors to submit files, since the directors will harbor the belief that no one would want to adopt a child with particular disabilities. They also help them make the files more appealing, like encouraging them to have the children smiling in their referral picture, something that culturally isn't the norm in China. Amy related that she told a group of 100 directors in a meeting that it was especially important for the boys to be smiling, since Americans were less willing to adopt boys. She said the room simply erupted in disbelief. They absolutely couldn't believe that girls would be preferred to boys! The directors are still more likely to submit files on boys than girls.

The poorest orphanages in China might get from the government only $25 per child per month, and formula could cost $20 per child per month. Then there is salaries for nannies, power, clothes, other food, and there isn't much left over for medical care. Those orphanages that haven't done international adoptions don't have loyal parents who are willing to help out; adoptive parents want to help their child's orphanage.

The CCAA has two initiatives for medical treatment of special needs kids, but both have their limitations. First is the Tomorrow Plan which provides surgeries for orphans. They've funded 6,000 cleft surgeries alone since its inception in 2004. But it takes too long to process applications, so it can't help children who are in immident need for surgeries or other medical treatment. The plan also designates the hospitals the orphanage must use, and in some areas, the orphanages refuse because they feel the designated hospital is inadequate. The second program is the Blue Sky Initiative. China is building mega-orphanages that can house 600 children, and has on-site medical care and therapy. But there are none in rural areas. And, in places with such mega-orphanages, they are pulling children out of foster care to return them to the orphanage. Amy says they are watching closely to see if there are worse outcomes for children no longer in foster care.

Even with these initiatives and with all LWB and other orphan care organizations can do, Amy said that adoption into a loving home does more for a child than anything else. In China there is a significant stigma about being an orphan. In many areas, orphans cannot go to school outside the orphanage, and in the areas where they can go, they go to the worst schools. They won't be admitted into better schools because parents won't pay for their children to go to school and sit next to an orphan. Companies wouldn't hire an orphan, either, since orphans are considered bad luck. LWB paid for the schooling for the first orphan in Guangzhou to go to and graduate from college. She earned a degree in accounting, and couldn't find a job because employers were afraid that she would bring bad luck to the financial bottom line. She eventually found a job with a foreign company. Another orphan who graduated teacher's college was hired by LWB because no one else would.

Amy also said that adoptive parents need to be prepared before adopting. When they have seen disruptions of adoption in China -- where adoptive parents decide not to go through with a special needs adoption even before returning home -- it's usually because they have not been adequately prepared. She received a call from a family who had switched from the NSN program to the special needs program to adopt a cleft child who had been an LWB child. LWB had repaired her lip, though her palatte repair needed to be done when she was older. Amy knew the child was perfectly healthy, chubby, interactive -- everything you'd want from a institutionalized child. The dad said to her, "Do you know that when she drinks her bottle, milk comes out of her nose?" Duh, yes, Amy knew that and the family would have known that if they had read ANYTHING about cleft-affected children.

Finally, Amy talked about orphanage conditions that adoptive families need to be aware of, so they can understand some of the issues their children may face.

First, as to attachment, APs need to be aware that children may have had numerous changes in caretakers. A child might spend time with birth parents, especially since there's been an increase in older-child abandonment in China. Then the child might spend time with the person who found her, who thought she might keep the baby before the neighbors or extended family said she wouldn't be allowed to.So the child is turned over to the police, who might keep the child for a few days before turning the child over to the orphanage. The child might be in quarantine for a month at the orphanage who is trying to avoid the spread of HIV or Hep C. Then the child enters the young infant room, and then in a few months to the older infant room, and then the toddler room or foster care. And the child in foster care may be returned to the orphanage for two weeks before the adoptive parents come. With a special needs child who might have had hospitalizations and/or surgeries, the child would likely be alone at the hospital through all of this. The orphanage can't spare the nanny who might have been the primary caregiver, so they might send a groundskeeper to take the child to the hospital and then leave her alone. In Chinese medicine, there is a great reluctance to give children pain medication, so post-operative time will be painful and scary for a child alone. All of this affects attachment.

Second, children may have feeding issues. Overcrowded orphanages don't have the time to hand-feed children, so bottles are propped and often boiling hot. Solid food is beyond the resources of the orphanage, and most orphanages can't afford meat. Newborns might wait 5-6 hours between feedings. Infants might wait 12 hours. There won't be between-meal snacks for toddlers or older children. Children are often hungry all the time, never feeling full. From this, you can expect aversion to certain food textures, no ability to suck, food hoarding, gorging, no off-switch when eating because no feeling of being full.

Third, children might experience "irrational" fears that aren't so irrational after all. They would often be alone in the dark at night, with only a skeleton orphanage staff on hand. There might be bugs and rats in the dark. Fear of the dark, of thunderstorms, of animals, of bugs, are not irrational fears for these children. Adoptive parents can't know what their children experienced in the orphanage, so must be understanding of these fears.

Whew! That's all I remember -- if you were there, and want to add or correct, please comment! As I said, it was an amazing presentation. I was happy to meet Amy Eldridge and thank her at the end of her presentation, and she was kind enough to say she loved my blog (brag, brag)! If you ever have an opportunity to hear Amy speak, run, don't walk, to hear her!

8:01 AM

Another dream

I had another dream last night, this one had Elora in it, but the main focus of the dream were her two older siblings that we also adopted, a boy and a girl. It seems we were unprepared to be bringing home 3 children, and my dream is filled with creative solutions on how to manage this little clan I was now mom to. The strangest part was my relationship with the older girl, the middle child, who told me her name was Mawma. I tickled her tummy and said "but I am the Mama", and she gave me the look that I believe I had patented - a slight eye roll, combined with suppressed "what ev's" coated with a boat load of patience.
Yes the moment I had been dreading had finally arrived, I was about to have to parent... myself.
Now don't get me wrong, I love me, and I was a pretty good kid, but when I the ultrasound told me I was having a boy, I thought that would give me a good chance to raise some one who was not me. (Turns out I am parenting a mini version of my husband, down to the very last detail, boy is that interesting.)
I realized, many moons ago, back when I was dating, that all me all the time might spell trouble. I tried out that classic advice to ditch your must have list, and date out side the box. So I was on the quest to find the male me, I thought we would just be like two perfect peas in a pod. WRONG! Turns out I am not so fun to date, I am very needy, like to be the centre of attention, and really competitive and stubborn not to mention that I get bored of myself pretty quickly. Lesson learned, I need the opposite of me, to balance me out. Now I am pretty sure that bad dates are not the ultimate predictor for mother and child bliss, but that little experiment has really left it's mark, so I have always been very nervous of my very own Mini Me.
I guess the real cause of the dream though is my home study questionnaire. There is one question I keep coming back to, wondering if I have answered correctly. It is not one of the 4 page long essay questions... it is the would you accept a sibling group... check yes or no. The box is currently checked as no, but I just keep wondering...

9:09 AM

The Paper Chase is ON!

Wow, wow, wow. So we have been moved up the list! Some one ahead of us has pulled back and we get their spot, we will make the 2010 quota after all. (For other Thailand waiting parents, this may not apply to you. My agency works directly with the TRC so that is how they are getting around the DSDW's halt on 2010 dossiers)
We thought we had another year before starting but now it is happening so fast, we have to get our Dossier to Thailand and get logged in before the end of the year.
man they do not call it the paper chase for nothing, it is even more work then i was planning for, i thought i was prepared, but this is about doubly harder then i thought. Bring it! I am top form and I will win this race! Gotta Run!

3:53 PM

a question of worth

I was very vocal during my pregnancy that this was not the thing that dreams were made of, for me, this was 10 months of body snatching hell. I said it in the hopes that I would stop being the only one who felt that way, and to be a voice for these feelings, to let them into the light so that I did not have to hide them in shame.
Now that my son is nearly one, I get told all the time that all my suffering was "worth it" because I now have this bundle of joy who clearly we love to death. But, I can not agree that it was worth it. If I could have had him come into my life in any other way I would have done it. So many times I just wished to wake up when it was all over and there was a baby and no more pregnancy.
These conversations leave me in turmoil. There is this implication that if I don't agree that my personal hell was "worth it" then that means that I don't love my son enough. For the record I would lay my life down in exchange for his, there is nothing I would not do for him. But I think that any logical person who has the option of saving both them selves and their child, would do so. A child will be better off with a mother who is safe and present rather than a martyr who laid down and died for them.
I have options, I don't have to sacrifice, and risk in the same way for Elora, I can choose to be a parent by a different channel. Why wouldn't I choose to be the most healthy happy me for my children. To me, choosing not to be pregnant again, and having some assurances that those ordeals are behind me forever, gives me peace of mind and a sense of gratitude that we all survived that year.
I have heard other adoptees shy away from the "worth it" phrase, and I get that now. By saying all the things the adoptive parent had to get though to bring home their child was "worth it" really trivializes the true trauma that the child and birth family experience. It is like saying I would hurt as many people as are needed to get the end result that pleases me.
So it is not a question of worth, more simply it is just gratitude, pure and simple thanks. I have my son and I will have my daughter, and they will come to be my family though trials and journeys long and hard for many, and I will just be thankful each and every day for them.

10:05 AM

Adopted - the movie

Last night we watched Adopted, a documentary movie about a 32 year old Korean adoptee and an American couple who are waiting for their adopted daughter from China.
My husband is not much of a planner and has been moving along this process by getting, "the coles notes" (as he calls it) of all the things I have been reading. This movie is a good snap shot of lots of adoption issues, especially inter racial parenting strategies.
At 32 Jennifer, a Korean adoptee, finds herself facing an identity crisis as her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. She feels the need to connect with her mother and to be honest with her about her feelings growing up adopted in white America. Her mothers approaching death wells up feelings of re-abandonment and a longing for a closer more "authentic" relationship with her parents.
Intermixed in her story are an infertile couple waiting to adopt a daughter from China. We see them prepare for her and see what they do in that adoption to try to address the situations and feelings that Jennifer says caused so much pain for her in her childhood.
At the end of the movie, the viewer is left questioning if the "modern" couple who adopt from China are really that much more prepared then Jennifer's parents were in the 70's. They seem to be blissful parents who can not stop proclaiming how perfect and easy their child is. Though out the whole movie, Jennifer warns how an adopted child learns how to be perfect and easy from a very early age. "we adapt, you adopt." she says.
Although I had done a lot of blog reading from adult adoptees and heard many of these same statements and feelings, it was very different to see it unfold first hand, to hear the pain in her voice. It was also amazing and interesting to see the real "gotcha day" unfold live, even though I must have read and seen pictures of over a hundred of them by now.
For coles-notes-husband, I think the film left him feeling rater deflated, hopeless and a bit depressed.

I really feel though that we who are waiting today have so many great resources available to us today, the Korean adoptees experience is so invaluable to me. Their experience mimics what my child will experience and I am so glad that they are of an age now where they have processed their experiences and are trying to teach adoptive parents how to make it better for our children. I also feel so lucky to have a multi-racial family to bring Elora home to, her cousins are every shade of the rainbow. I also value the fact that Elora will have a lot more information about her birth family, and maybe even the opportunity to meet them if she chooses to when she is older. We will not need to create a fairy tale of how she came to us, we will not need to cover up the hole in her past. I hope these things can help make her a more complete and rounded person.

You see, we were meant to adopt. It may be the one thing I am most qualified to do. I am not saying that I can not improve my skills, but we come to her with the most selfless intentions. We do not adopt in order to save her, nor to follow a commandment from above, nor to fill a void with in ourselves. We adopt her because we want to be her parents, and we have the willingness and the resources available to us to make sure we are the best parents to her that we can possibly be. I vow that she will never be made to feel, rescued, or a last resort by our family.

At the end of the movie I gave coles-notes-husband the above speech and we went to bed peacefully dreaming of our daughter to be.