Thursday, April 10, 2014

Where did she go?

I measure a year by the school calendar.  Having two girls in elementary school, it’s easier, and it’s how I roll.  It’s going  towards the end of the year, Spring Break is over, and state tests have been administered, all downhill from here.   At the beginning of the   year (yes school year for those who aren’t following) I breathed a sigh of relief. Both girls in the same elementary school: 1st grade and 5th grade.  “I did it” I silently yelled at the top of my lungs.  I did it, both girls on their way.  Things WILL get easier.   The year before, we focused so much on getting Little One to the point that she felt safe, breaking down the language barrier and the family getting adjusted.  This year the focus has been to keep moving all that forward, and we have with success.  She will get promoted to second grade and continue to get the extra help she needs.  She is very smart, and it’s just a matter of getting more and more of the language.  Reminder to me:  she has only been here 18 or so months.

So why am I have such a difficult year?  Is it because I will be 50 this year?  I remember I was in 11th grade when my parents turned 50 (it’s the year we moved back to Germany).   I think its much more than that, though I don’t fool myself that it does have something to do with it.  Almost 10 years ago, a 14 month beautiful little girl was placed in my arms. I loved her so very much from the first picture I ever saw of her 6 weeks before.   We had a tough start though, as we really didn’t like each other very much for a long time. I had post adoption blues, (yes it does exist) and a husband at the time that didn’t understand, and was determined not to change his life because there was a child in our lives.  So here I was,   wanting a manual to raising a child, and they didn’t make one…. Mmmnnnnn

I use to stare at her, because she was perfect in my eyes, happy for the most part, determined and eventually came to love me, and I didn’t know why, but took it all in.  H was small for her age for many years.  My favorite time was putting her to sleep, because I would sit in the rocking chair, H with her hands tucked under her, head snuggled into my shoulder. We did this for years!!—because she was so small.  In the morning, I would spoil her, wake her up, and she would assume the same position on my shoulder, and fall asleep again by the time I got to the couch to put her down. – We are not morning people to this day.

I did this up to just a few years ago… and then one day I looked at her, and she had these long legs, and up to my chin in height. She was frustrated because she couldn’t snuggle up anymore, and my back was starting to hurt. – Overnight she grew into this beautiful young lady who can express herself, laugh, get herself up in the morning, and make breakfast. She has come to be a wonderful big sister who is very protective,  how did this happen?

As her 5th grade is ending soon, and she moves to middle school, I am back to staring at her.  Makes her crazy, but I cant help it. I still see this little girl with a beautiful smile, and cheeks and lips to kiss all over.  She is still my little girl.  95 grade point average, Honors Math, independent, happy.  As a mom you cant ask for more….

Part of me is seeing a great thing:  she is getting older, on her way,  really good kid,  makes good  choices….

A big part of me is mourning….. I miss my little girl.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Its been over a year?

Geez…………Time flies.  I have been wanting to write and post, and have lots in draft,  just can't seem to get them finished and published.  Its been quite the year…. let me summarize

- Little One celebrated her first Christmas, her 6th Birthday, got promoted to 1st grade, went to the beach for the first time ( LOVED it),  fell in love with the princess Ariel, traveled to Germany, met her Oma and Opa, started first grade in the same school as H, traveled to California, experienced Disneyland, and LOTS more firsts.  Those are the highlights that most people can relate to.

In the adoption community, some of the things that we talk about  is  being able to verbalize feelings, and knowing what to do when we meltdown. Understanding the past of our little ones, because that is who  they are, they don't come to us with a clean slate. We have made lots and lots of progress. Little One rarely kick and scream anymore. She says things "I am MAD"….. She will settle down, even when I have to discipline, and understands that I always love her, and am not giving her away when she is not acting like we should.  Little One hugs and kisses, and says the words "I Love You Mama". Asks the question if its ok to love her foster Mom in China and me. ( of course it is!!)  Ask the questions if her foster mom in china can see the same moon as we do?  Misses her big sister like crazy when she is gone for the weekend… and fight like dogs and cats with her -- just like sisters should. ( ahem)

So in summary…. yes, Little One has adjusted well, but don't be fooled. She has lots to work thru in the next couple of years. Being adopted at 5 brings its own set of challenges, not just for mommas but for the child as well.

As for me….. well the highlight has been changing jobs to one that allows me more flexibility with the kids schedules. Its an awesome job.  I can work from home, I can  work from the office, the office has a free gym, with classes, its  worldwide organization, and is family friendly in all the right ways. So I have been trying to learn my job, and since its on the Operations side, being very mindful to contribute in meaningful ways.

Of course being a Momma Bear to two girls has been a learning experience, and will continue to be…. this whole "fair thing" and making sure both get some cuddle time.  Sometimes at the end of the day, I have NOTHING left to give, but I go to sleep, pray for peace, and patience, and amazingly enough  HE does get me thru many days that I wonder if I will.

H is hitting the magic age where the hormones are starting to play havoc.  She is learning all about being a big sister.( not liking that too much, as she needs to set the example….. mmmmmnnn) H loves her sister and of course dislikes her sister all in the same breath.  Sometimes I feel like disciplining a tween and a 3 year old is the same thing.  Respect, manners, say it in a nice way… -- haven't I been saying the same thing since she was three?
We will get there…… one day at a time. I am very, very proud of H.. School is all A's, and not just A's -- I mean, high A's. -- loves school, and learning new things.  Sailing, gymnastics, ballet… still wants to hold my hand, and kisses me good night and hugs me every night. -- What else can a Momma ask for?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Week in Hefei August 26-August 31, 2012

Looking back you always have a different perspective than when you are actually there .

I must say though that this was a hard week for numerous reasons. 

 We arrived on Sunday, and the hotel was a Holiday Inn.   It was a recommended hotel, but I would not recommend it.   We did manage to get a suite and that helped ALL of us. I won’t dwell on the hotel, but lets just say that  it was  dirty and in a not so ideal location,  and  next door to our room was a revolving door all night long.  

I talked in a earlier post on GOTCHA DAY.  Monday August 27th.  Poor sweet little one,   so sad, and so scared... I don’t blame her.

The week was about surviving. It was about finding things to do, and just getting thru the week.  There was a park that we went to several times and was in walking distance. It had a playground, and rides and it would have been a OK place to go more than we did, however between the SMOG and the heat/humidity it was pretty miserable. We did manage to have a few good hours there, where both girls played and ran, and  got some energy out.  We saw a few smiles and had some fun.

This was the week, where we were starting to get to know each other.  We noticed right away, that this little one had a stubborn streak, and needed to be in control.  Communication was difficult, but we managed to do OK with the translator app, and hand motions.  We kept it simple.  The big hit was some DVD’s a friend had given me, really last minute. The laptop is a wonderful tool to have on rainy afternoons as well.  We also went swimming (inside). That was a HUGE hit, and though Little One thought she could swim... she couldn’t, and was not afraid.    She watched H with intensity, as she is a fish in water.  Little One started mimicking within 2 days, and we really had to watch her. 

During this week,   Little One started preferring "Ayi" or my best friend and travel partner. Having done this before, I knew that this could happen, and I tried very hard not to take it personally.  It really was OK, as H needed a bit of extra, as we were all getting use to this.  

It was really odd not to have a travel group with us.  Typically you travel in a group from the same adoption agency. This group is a huge support for families and many times lifelong friendships are developed. I was sad that we did not have a group, and that we were basically on our own, except for our guide.   

 This week in Little One’s province is to take care of the Chinese paperwork. This means the Chinese government officially “releases” her.  You as the adoptive parent are given the final approval from China, along with the paperwork and adoption papers from the Chinese side. 

We had the option of visiting the Orphanage.   I was told it was 2 hours away, and when I found out that the foster parents live there, and work there, and that Little One had been at the same foster family for over 5 years, I made the difficult decision not to visit. I don’t regret that decision; however I do wish H would have been able to see it.

Little One talked to her foster parents once while we were still in the province.  I had been given the phone number and address, and decided to let her call. With the help of the guide we called as we were about an hour away from leaving on Friday to fly to GZ.  The foster mother wanted us to stay in the province an extra day, so she could come see her one more time.  My instinct to wait until the day before   we were leaving to call was a good one.  I don’t think it would have been a good idea for her to see her again.  Though you never do know. 
Our saving grace was that all of us slept pretty well.    The girls slept together, and had some fun times together.  The noodle shop in the hotel was our cheap food for the week. It was actually pretty good.   The hotel did have a breakfast buffet that wasn’t bad.  We ate as much as we could, and even got the cook to understand how we wanted our eggs cooked… no small feat.
 The last night in Hefei, we did meet a mother that had a 3 or so year old son and she told us about Pizza Hut and a pedestrian area.  – DUH!! We just never walked that way, wishing we had seen that before, so we made plans to go eat together that last night.  The girls ate like they were starved and we enjoyed it as well.  Love noodles, but………..     
As we were driving to the airport, a few observations.   It looked like portions of the city were being torn down and rebuilt.   Almost like it was old, and needed to be rebuilt.  Full city blocks were being demolished (even near the hotel) for bigger and modern buildings.  The new airport was almost complete and we were told the old was going to be demolished (it needed to be).   It is a huge city but no character. I was sad to go… for my daughter’s sake….. She was truly leaving everything she knew.....

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Travel to Anhui.... an adventure in itself

We got to the Province of Anhui on Sunday, August 26th.  The journey there from Beijing was an adventure in itself.  We were ready to leave for Anhui --mentally.  Four days or so in  Beijing, and it was time.  Our bodies had gotten use to the time difference, and well it was time to go on to  the next step of our journey.

We get to the airport, and we have to take the bus to the plane on the tarmac.   I am use to this, as in Europe I experience this all the time. We get to the plane, and we get seated, and its a full flight.  We sit, and nothing happens.  Finally it is announced that we are delayed, but that that they will go head and serve lunch.  mmmnnnnn I don't think in all my travels I have ever experienced service while sitting on the tarmac,  but hey we were a bit hungry and it did make the time go by.  Everyone around us were on their cell phones talking away, and then my travel partner and I look at each other, and we both realize that people were smoking on the plane! Her and I have sensitive noses, especially for smoke, and that was cigarette smoke.  After the smog and sinus issues from Beijing,  our sinuses are in overdrive, and we aren't happy.

Lunch is over, and finally the plane is ready to take off.  We get the usual lecture about electronics being turned off, blah, blah, blah.... we know the spill.   Of course, we expect the people around us to put their phones up and their tablets, etc... that is what you think... The lady behind me was yelling to someone on her cell phone as the plane was lifting up, the man across the aisle was chatting away, and the flight attendants who did see it, said nothing.  Amazing.

Halfway thru the flight our  sinuses are once again attacked by cigarette smoke... it can't be we think... but our sinuses don't lie. We cant believe it.  We are so ready to get off that plane.

But oh,  the airport is an adventure  as well.  Now Hefei is a large town, millions of inhabitants,  but the airport reminded me of a Caribbean island airport.  We had to take pictures of the carpet, as it was unbelievably dirty and just the whole airport was more than disgusting.

In Beijing we did not experience  much of the staring and the pointing.  In the airport, we did, especially with my oldest also being Chinese, and us  having blond hair.  It was the first time I had really noticed it.

We finally found our guides and made our way to the hotel. (Also another adventure)

The pictures below are of us on our journey.

That nasty carpet.....

View from our hotel room..... yes it was like this daily... SMOG

Friday, September 28, 2012

Gotcha Day - August 27, 2012

It all seems so surreal now. All that anticipation, all that anxiety.  A month after Gotcha Day and we are at home,  the kids are playing and things are coming together with new routines and new dynamics of the family.

The morning of Gotcha Day, we were in Hefei, Anhui Province in  China. We were meeting our guide fairly early to ride over to the Civil Affairs Office. The ride took about 20 minutes, if that long.  We were not traveling in a group as its customary.  The agency I used for this adoption apparently doesn't do that. ( more on that later) . My friend and H gathered our things and made sure we had cameras, lollipops, stuffed animal, etc.   I remember looking at my friend and I said" finally here"... and I got teary eyed, we hugged and I felt very calm.

Once we got to the non-descript building,  we all piled out  of the van and waited forever for this elevator.   I remember it being soooooooo hot and muggy.  There was a little girl with her nanny (Ayi) also waiting.   She was very cute and we all knew that she would get her Forever family that morning as well.  Later in the hotel we learned that this little girl's forever family was from Spain, and was adjusting very well.

Once we got to the floor we were suppose to be on, we were lead to a room where there was a large table and little room.  It seem kind of strange for me, as there was little room to move around.  This time around the kids and the nannies ( Ayis) were lead in one by one, and families it seem, where staggered. This would have worked fine, except the family that was getting their child right after us came in early, so the photo opportunities for our Gotcha Day were a bit missed.

Anyway.... I saw Little One come in with an whole group of people.  Typically, the Orphanage Director or their Nannies bring them.  They stopped at the door because this other family was in the way, and Little One saw me, and recognized me..... because immediately, she turned to her Foster father and mother and went the other way. The foster father came in with four bags of her things, a notebook and a letter to Little One.   This is VERY unusual,  as typically the kids come with the clothes on their back and that is it.    I was touched, as all the things we had sent her since September were in the bags, well worn and the stuff animals well loved.

As the foster mother ( as I later learned) was comforting The Little One,  I had the opportunity to talk to the foster father.  I learned that she had been with this foster family since she was three weeks old.  The family worked for the orphanage and lived there as well.   She had a baby brother ( also foster) and older brother ( foster family's biological son) and a sister - also foster.  Her paperwork said she had been with her foster family a year, so this placed a completly different spin on the situation.  The foster father said that they have been preparing her and that they loved her very much.  This was so apparent and I am forever grateful to them.

To make a long story short,  We had to force the foster family to leave, as the Little One would not come to me.   It took 2 hours and finally H pulled out her I-touch and showed her Angry Birds. That was the best, and when the little one looked up, they had said good-bye and the foster family had left.   It did take another 45 minutes for her to calm down and then be able to take the official pictures and get down to the van to go back to the van.  Who would have thought that Angry Birds was universal?

During this time we learned that Little One screams,  bites, kicks and scratches with a full force.  I understand, as my heart was aching for her.   I will write more but will post pictures now, as that is what everyone wants to see.  The last picture that is posted here is that night in the hotel room, getting ready to go to sleep.  More later.......

A Perfect Opportunity - Missed

I was talking to my babysitter last night as she was introduced to the Little One and has been H's babysitter since she was 18 months old.  Actually she was one of H's first daycare teachers and thru the years I would consider us friends.   She is a wonderful young lady that I have seen grow and mature into this incredible person.  She put herself thru school and is now a third grade teacher.

Miss A and I always seem to talk about life in general, teaching, work,  and anything that comes to mind. Last night we were discussing ( among other things) our trip to China;  how H did on the trip,  the discussions, based on a 9 year old perspective, her and I had throughout the trip and overall the trip.

Its a shame that the Learning Opportunity for her classmates was completely missed.  H goes to a very small, though public school.  All her teachers, not to mention the school knew she went to China, as we have been talking about it for a year.  The curriculum is now taught towards the standardized test, and teachers are not  allowed to deviate from that.  Fourth grade is the  Texas History  year. ( I am still in wonder that you can fill a whole year with Texas History).

when Miss A and I talked about the learning opportunity that was missed, she and I agreed that it was a teaching moment we wished the teachers would have embraced.
Think about just the obvious things:

  • The time difference between China and Central Time.  H and I always did some great math trying to figure out what time it was in  TX, when in China it was......
  • Money conversions. The exchange rate was somewhere in the  neighborhood of 6.29.  Every time I went down to the front desk to exchange US dollars,  H would figure out how many Yuan we would get.   When we bought something, she would have to convert it the other way.  
  • H climbed the Great Wall.  This is one of the Seven Wonders of the world. It is magnificent, and we were in awe. We have pictures and learned a little history. 
  • China as a country. Our guide told us all kinds of facts that really are not found on Google.  Just tidbits from the different regions were visited. 
This is real world experience. I think its a shame that nothing was discussed,  no questions asked of H in school.  H missed two weeks of school, and she will not be penalized,  but at the same time,  I was hoping that someone would have her do a poster with things she learned, or pictures.  When I inquired, the response was, it did not fit into the curriculum.   Really??

H learned so much on this trip, that goes far beyond the multiple choice questions on her test.  Her grandparents live in Europe, and she now figures out for me if its a good time to call,  considering that they are ahead 6 hours.  ( just to name one thing) 

I think its up to us to take these opportunities and make sure that our kids did learn something, and remind them and have them discuss it with you.  Since we love to travel,  there will be many more, and I will do some schooling on my own, because to me real world is much more useful at times that multiple choice.  I think it has its place... but H got much more out of the trip than the two weeks of review in the first two weeks that occur. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Its Been A Week...

Its been a week.  Typically we say this if it has been an awful,  cant wait to go home and crawl into bed type of week.  Well… it has been an eventful week.  As I write this, and look up to the clock, I realize it has been exactly a week that we landed back in the USA.  A wonderful set of friends and their kids greeted us at the airport with balloons and gifts for both H and “Little One”.  We had been on the go for 30 hours, slept very little, yet both girls were smiling,  and happy and I was humbled that friends made us feel so very welcome.

I cannot put into words my feelings. I have tried all week.  I have so much going thru my heart and mind. I look at both my girls and feel as if they have been mine forever. My heart sings when I hear H say   “mom Little One did…”It sounds kind of funny, but I have wanted this for so long, and I have prayed and waited patiently until it was right, and my path lead me where I am today. 

 Imagine a child at 5 years old, being ( in her eyes)  turned over to complete strangers.  All smells, food, people are completely foreign.  Yet this little one has managed to crawl into everyone’s heart that has met her.  She has grieved heavily.  In the mornings especially she has had big alligator tears, and lots of kicking me and scratching and lots of screaming.   I understand.  My heart  breaks, yet tonight she crawled up on my lap, called me mommy and held my hand while her and I watched a princess movie.

The week had its challenges.    Much of the frustration has come from the lack of being able to communicate.  She chatters in Chinese, I try to figure out what she wants, and we all get it wrong.  Google Translator has been a great help and has helped us get some of the basics across.  I keep thinking, “Has it only been a week?”  .  Today she repeated everything I said, and started using the words correctly when I asked her a question…. AMAZING!

We are all learning about each other. H is learning what it means to be a big sister. (This will be another post- but I am so very proud of her) . Little One is learning new routines, being very 5 and pushing boundaries, and really does not liking the word no. (I try not to say No, unless it’s a danger situation. ) I usually say “please don’t. “  It’s just as powerful with a full voice.  She is learning to trust, and attach and the dynamics of this little family.  I am learning her personally, her needs,  her vulnerabilities.  She is strong willed, smart and can be very affectionate. 
I am trying to keep her safe,  to  balance two girls needs,  to love each as individuals and to make sure I take care of myself.

Thank you friends for ALL the love and support, prayers that have come our way.  I truly believe that this made the difference… we are doing amazingly well I think!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

We Are Here!!

After 30 hours of travel, 3 planes and 6,000 + miles we are in Beijing.  Our guide met us at the airport and after we told her " we are hungry" we found a 24 hour place got some rice and fried  "thing"... Off to the hotel. We collapsed about 1:15am local time.  Getting our computer to work is interesting to say the least! I am writing this from my phone..I can't get on from the laptop. I know very strange! So bear with me as I figure all of this out.

We visited the Temple of Heaven today.  It was nice and cool this morning, but got very warm by the time we left. H was fascinated with all the people more so then the buildings ( me too).  We found a great little place across from the hotel for lunch and we are now resting and catching up on email etc. BUT... We are about to go get a foot massage! Ahhhh .

Monday, August 20, 2012

Finally.. here we go

After 10 days of having the proverbially covers over my head, thinking that if I dont think about it, Tuesday will roll around, everything will be taken care of and off we go.. Well.... that just didnt work out real well.  

On Friday night after some great company with a dear friend who also has a daughter from China and some cheering up,  I was on my way home, and I knew I needed help.   I called another dear friend of mine, and all I said was " I Need Help"...... That is not an easy thing for me to ask for.. but I have learned that that really isnt a sign of wekaness as my mother always had me believe.  Its actually a sign of strength to be able to admit and ask someone for help.....

Saturnday morning rolled around and after lunch , she was at the house, sleeves rolled up, and we tackled a huge list of things ( that she made me put together) and managed to cross off over 90 %. The other 10%, she really could not help with, as it entailed packing, and getting paper work together , etc..

Sunday, I ran a few errands, that were on the  list such as prescription refills,  and took H out for lunch, and then went over to my travel buddy, and she was packed and ready to go... We just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.... OK, so my head is still  somewhere in the clouds, but I know she will make sure we are where we need to be, and when.... Typcially I am the in charge kind of gal... but I am gladly turning that over to her on this trip.

Monday rolled around, and well,  that would be tonight, and I did work today much to everyone's surprise, and a neighbor took H  for a playdate, which she desperately needed.

I am happy to report that I am packed, and ready to go..

To the friends that have helped me this week... THANK YOU.   I could not have done it without you. You are truly a gift, and I feel honored to be able to call you a friend.  I am blessed.

To all the calls from friends I received from near and far to wish us happy journeys... it means so much to me to know that you took the time and left messages and called to say you were thinking about me.  If I didnt return your call, please know that I did receive them, and I am touched.

I want to treasure the memories of this trip, and let the craziness begin as we embark on your journey early on Tuesday August 21st.    Stay tuned as we update the blog first from Beijing then on to Anhui and then down to GZ....... Memories of a lifetime!!

Thank you all!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Here we go..............................

Its been an emotional 10 days.   Waiting for the Travel Authorization ( TA)  has been the  most emotionally draining experience I have had in a long time.  I thought I was handling it ok, until I was told that I was driving everyone crazy... ok, so maybe not doing ok.  But we have TA!!!

So now I go into the mode of  get it done, book flights, hotels, get everything in order at work, home, notify everyone and lets go.  I get focused and my emotions get left behind..... sort of. I was asked yesterday if  I was holding back my emotions, that I must be so excited but I was holding everything in.  I realized that I am emotinaly drained, and exhausted.  We have been waiting for this so long, and its finally here, and I can't seem to muster  an ounce of emotion.

Maybe it just hasn't hit me yet. ( that's it) .  I think I have to be in this mode to get everything done. I leave in about a week and then I go on FLMA, without income.  I am trying hard not to think about that part... Part of my frustration is that I work for a fairly large company, and they do not offer ANY type of adoption leave with pay.   I have been on a crusade to get this changed, however when I looked at the upper management,  it does consist of all men. This company  is not known to be too family friendly.   Dave Thomas Foundation puts out a list every year of the top companies  in the US that offers the best adoption leave.  It is amazing. 

H ( my 9 year old) is a bit anxious as well. She knows her life is going to change, just not sure how.  she is very excited, but.... she has had me to herself all her life.

Dont get me wrong, I am ready for the little  one to be in our family,  I just need to be there......... Thank goodness my best friend is joining me on this journey.. she will keep me giggling, and laughing.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Family Leave Act

I am thankful that there is a law that allows me to take off time to bond with my daughter.  My company has more than enough employees, so by law I have a right to take off 12 weeks. Though this time is without pay, I have planned and have some money set aside to be able to do this.  Don’t be mistaken... it will be tight and we will be looking for lots of free things to do...

I am always very curious at people’s reactions and thought process when I tell them I am taking off for 12 weeks. Of course I get, the "well, you must have a trust account" to "I could never afford to do that".... which I expect.    But I don’t expect the attitude that comes with it the majority of the time. It’s almost as if I have to apologize for being a planner and saving, and then taking 12 weeks off.   FLMA was put in place to allow people to take care of family.  This includes adopted kids, parents, spouses, etc.  

Let’s look at what these 12 weeks of leave does not mean:
1.) It is not a vacation
2.) It’s not a time to "get things done" around the house
3.) It’s not a time to sit and watch soaps and TV all day long

Let’s look at what these 12 weeks of leave does mean:
1.) A time for a 5 and a half year old to bond,  and vice versa a new mom to bond with that child.  (This is not always the easiest thing)
2.) It’s a time to build trust and reassure a child that has lost ALL familiarity in her world, that it will be ok, and that I am not going anywhere.  That we are a forever family
3.) It’s the time for Doctor's  appointment  at  Children’s and Scottish Rite, for tests and all that is not pleasant
4.) It’s a time to build routines that are consistent and safe.
5.) It’s a time for all three of us to bond, as H will have a huge adjustment as well.
6.) It’s a time for grieving and letting go
7.) It’s a time to get the little one ready for Kindergarten, because she must feel safe and trusting enough to be able to go to school once the 12 weeks are over.
8.)  It’s a time to establish  new eating and sleeping routines ( this is huge)
9.) It’s a time of communicating when the  language barrier is so high, that all of the above will take time.
10.) 100+ other things that I can’t even begin to list.

If you think any of the above 10 items are a vacation... I have news for’s not. No, I am not at an office working on my computer making sure that clients are taken care of... I am home making sure that my family is bonding and trusting and safe.  This will be the toughest "job" I will ever have.

I learned a few things with H and the time period when I was home with her.  Granted it was 8 years ago, and she was much younger, but I still remember.   There is such a thing as post adoption blues, which I had fairly bad. I didn’t know what it was until a friend pointed it out, and I realized that it existed. I thought I was just overwhelmed.  I have made friends and my social worker be aware that this may happen again, and I am so much more aware.    I learned that hugs and kisses and snuggling is the best medicine, even if they fight you.   I have learned that PATIENCE is key…. If you lose your patience, walk into a different room, and take deep breaths.  I have learned that friends are a key to helping you…. You have to be able to ask for help. However, ask help from parents that have been in your shoes does make it easier to get an ear that understands…   I have learned that if you think you are going to get something off your to do list that’s been there for a while… is isn’t going to get done.  I have learned that if they are sleeping, you sleep, because you may not make it thru the night.   Night terrors are a common issue that comes up during the transition and they can last a while…..

So, I am not apologizing for taking this time. It’s necessary to build a strong family, to lay the foundation for my two daughters so that they can grow into adults that can trust, know right from wrong,  and understand that  this  family is forever!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Pictures - June 2012

Today I received 5 new pictures of my little one. Two of them are just her, two are of her  graduation day from pre-school with cap and gown and the whole class( pretty cute and what a great picture for her scrapbook). One picture had a close up of her in this big picture, and she is in the front row acting up, where the others are very serious.  I am sooo very happy that she has a "not so serious" side to her. I can't post that one to protect the other kids in the  picture, but it warmed my heart.  I also received one at her foster parents house at the dinner table, with food to feed an army.  This is always a reassuring thing to see for a momma who is adopting.  We know of countless kids that are not getting enough food-- and we know the long term affects of that.   My older daughter H still at times, keeps food in her cheeks for a longer period of time when she is really, really hungry.  I have a pretty open pantry policy in my house, though they must always  ask.  --
I also received  new measurements... How accurate they are, I dont know.  In February, the measurements  were pretty close to these..but it gives me an idea. Height: 112 cm ( about 44 inches) and
Weight: 17.8 kg - 39-41 pounds.   I do think she will overtake H, as she weighs 54 pounds but is ALL muscle. Lean.  Very different children....... I am a happy Mom!

Pictures- February 2012

In February I received my last update and pictures of my little one..... Still no smiles......

Pictures from December..

At Christmas, my agency sent some picture of my little one.... December 2011 .  No smiles though .

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


This is becoming real.. and I am so excited. I was going thru the few pictures I have of my little one to start her scrapbook. For H I did a "my first year Home" book, and I put a calendar page on the refrigirator and as we did things, or she had milestones I wrote them on the calendar page. This made it easy to keep up with, and I had a page for each month, along with lots of pictures of things we did. Of course since then my 23,000+ ( yes thats right) pictures of H are on Flickr because I am so scared I am going to loose them....

This is the first picture I ever saw of my little one. It must have been taken early summer 2011 , because she was on the shared list in September.  My guess is she was 4 years old here.   

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Wheels of the Bureaucratic Train is a Churning…ever so slowly…

It never seizes to amaze me that this adoption process is so slow.   There is an orphan   ---many orphan children that are waiting for their forever family, and the US Government is processing a file to approve me so that we can travel, etc.  Adoption families get very frustrated because all we want is our children.
Let me explain.  At the beginning of this process I had to file a paper called I800A with Homeland Security, because International Adoption is under that agency.
 Basically the I800A is a   pre-approval to Petition to classify an adoptee as an immediate Relative.  – OK, fine, they want to see homestudy, and the license of the agencies, that they comply with the Hague Convention, and a pile paperwork  to deem that we are following the Hague guidelines—I get it. 
The Hague Convention is something that is in place for   countries to follow for International Adoption. This created  many more steps and hoops to jump thru.   I won’t bore you, but you can read all about it at
Now China has approved me, and we file a I800 – basically same information plus the approval from China.   It took them 10 days for Homeland Security to approve me.  Everyone I dealt with at in this department was extremely nice and had lots of empathy.  My assigned officer kept telling me that she sees it in the system, but it had not gotten to her yet….     It took 10 days.
  So my I800 was approved on June 26th.  This information is cabled to NVC( National Visa Center)  and they issue a GUZ #, which is then sent to the embassy and China officials (as far as I can tell).  This allows us to get a consulate appointment with the US Embassy in China to be sworn in. –This is the last day of our time in China. From there we work backwards and we work with our adoption agency in the states to get travel dates, and the appointments with the Chinese side of the fence…… WHEW…. It actually sounds a lot more complicated than it is.  It is a well oiled machine that rarely falters.
At this point, every day seems like an eternity.  I have been working on this since end of September 2011, and I am ready to have this little one home.   I am taking bets…. My thought is we will have our Consulate Appointment (or CA as we call it) end of August.  This means we need to travel around the 2nd week in August, because the schedule looks something like this:
 Beijing for 3-4 days, and then….
Sunday--Arrive Hefei, Anhui Province

Monday--Gotcha Day

Tuesday--Apply for Adoption Registration/notary/Chinese passport

Wednesday--City tour (optional, additional fee)

Thursday--Visit the orphanage (optional, additional fee)

Friday--Fly to Guangzhou

Saturday--Medical Exam/TB test

Sunday--Paperwork review for the consulate appointment

Monday--TB Result

Tuesday or Wednesday--consulate appointment/swear-in ceremony

Wednesday or Thursday-Pick up immigrant visa (depart Guangzhou after 7 pm or depart the next morning)
SOOOOO... what is your bet?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Frenzy Time

If you follow my posts on Facebook , you know I am feeling rather overwhelmed right now.   We DID receive the Letter of Acceptance from the China side.  This means that they deem me able to mother this child. This sheet of paper sets EVERYTHING in motion.  Until you get the LOA, you can’t do anything, and you wait.  But now I get to apply for travel visas to travel, you apply for the I-800, which you have to file with the Homeland security. This approval makes the child an immediate relative to you –Basically an approval to adopt.  There was another form I had to send in, and you have a short window to get everything else in order before they tell you when you have to be in China. 
There is more paperwork and forms in between but to simplify …..

So what am I doing in this window of time before I travel?   Well, I decided to refinance my house, I haven’t done a thing to get the little ones room ready, so I am scrambling there.  I have 200+ projects at work I am trying to close, so that no one B*(^es about me leaving them hanging.   I am taking 12 weeks off work under the FLMA (yes that does mean no pay) and trying to fine tune my finances, etc. Its summer so I am making sure H is having a good summer, and is not neglected either. 

So,  yes its bit of a frenzy right now… and I do at times feel a bit overwhelmed.   But all in all I  am having a great time – and at the end the most important thing that both H and the little one feel safe, and loved.

Just some thoughts late one night...

As I can’t sleep tonight, and my mind wonders far over the ocean to a little girl I have never met, yet love with all my heart. I wonder if she is aware of the adoption.   I pray that the Orphanage or her foster parents are preparing her at least a little.....

The changes coming in her life are immense.  Imagine if you will being taken away from all that you know ( good or bad) smells,  surroundings,  "family" ( whether orphanage or foster) .  A five year old child can only comprehend so much.  My heart hurts thinking about what she may /will be going thru. I felt the same way when  H was adopted, and it left a profound mark on me.  The little one is much older, than H was, and has 5 years of life experiences.  I cannot ignore that, because I have to accept the holistic child and understand that actions and reactions that I may experience with her is part of who she is already becoming.  The   guide  to new behavior will have to take all of that into account.

 The first time I saw the little one's picture, I fell in love.  Now that we have our LOA,  I can’t' stop thinking about her, and of course how this little one will change our lives.  I guess you can say that I am in my 9th month  as all new mothers , whether giving birth or adoption,  feel a certain bit of anxiety of the newest arrival.   We are all so ready to have our little ones in our arms, and we are so tired of waiting and all the questions from well meaning friends and family, we are just ready to be at home with them.

 I have been thinking a great deal about our first year knowing that it will probably be especially hard. A 5 year old comes with much already learned.  Don't kid yourself -it will be difficult.  I think about the language barrier, getting two kids ready for school, I think about homework and soccer practice and all the "stuff" all over the house with two girls.  I think about picking up from school, and working all day and what ifs....  All that silly stuff that will take care of itself once we get home and establish a routine.

If you know me, you know that I  am fairly well organized, and that  have a plan for the plan.  I am also a bit of a worrier, though with age I have gotten better. (OK maybe not.. I just hide it better) 
  I have learned thru the last couple of years to let certain things go, and hand them over to HIM.
  My prayers are that we ALL adjust to each other, and that we mesh well.   I pray that H and her little sister take care of each other, and that both girls never feel resentful towards each other or me.   I pray that the little one feels safe and learns to trust us, and knows how much she is loved.  I pray that I make good choices for her medical needs as we learn about it all thru the wonderful people at Scottish Rite and Children's.   I think the list of prayer request is long, and I feel a little greedy asking for all of this.  I typically pray for patience in general ... rarely do I ask for specifics... I guess today I am. 

I have so much to be thankful for.... I know I do, and I am.  As I sit here and write this, I think about and am overwhelmed at the support of my friends and family.  I know that some do not agree with my choice to adopt again, especially as an "older mom" and a single mom, but even the skeptics in my circle support me because they care about H and I... I cannot put into words how appreciative I am....
I am very, very blessed. 

Why You May Ask.....

 Note:  The post dated June 21, 2012 Titled “Why You May Ask” was written  long before the LOA arrived.    It’s a bit out of order, but you get the idea.  It was saved, and am just publishing some of  my posts.

I have not "announced" my adoption. I have not received an official Letter of Acceptance from China (LOA) so I am a little hesitant to announce to the world that I am adding to my family.  Of course along the way I have shared it with friends, some family, colleagues.

Every child deserves to be someone's blessing.  Families adopt for a multitude of reasons. Some believe they had a higher calling, some believe they are saving a child.  In a way, I guess we all share some of that, but my reason is pretty basic. In my heart, I have never felt my family was complete.

Years ago, when I was much younger (and foolish some would say), I wanted 6 children. Then I decided I wanted 4. Years later I was blessed with my H, and very, very thankful for one.  It doesn’t mean that the ache in your heart goes away when you see a family with more than one child there is a bit of sadness that comes along with that. Don’t get me wrong, I, like many mothers, have days that I don't want to be a mom, and the commercial "Calgon Take Me Away" comes to mind....

Yes, I have been told I was crazy.  After all I am an “older mom”, single and why would I want to mess up my life?   

In my heart, I know that this child is my daughter; I have calmness about adopting a second child.   Am I worried about getting two kids dressed in the morning, or how to get to two places at once, or any of the other things that can occur with having more than one child…YOU BET. 

I have been told many times in the last few months that I have never taken the easy road.    I do things on my own time line, and my own way.  Thinking about this, I do think that there is truth to that.  There has been much self actualization in the last few years, and I have come to accept that I am not a conformist, and I am a bit unconventional.   My grandmother at one point told my mother that I was a strange child.  I think I have grown into myself in the last few years, and am comfortable with whom I am.  I know my strengths and my weaknesses, and I know that this child is a gift that is a blessing beyond imagination.

So celebrate  this child, daughter and sister of ours with H and I.