Archive for the 'adoption' Category

Bits & Pieces

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Sabrina is getting ready to take off.  She stood up in the middle of the room today and took 7 steps without any coaxing from me.  She is so darn cute!  Dare I say even cuter than kittens.

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Okay, now I turn to the internet for some wisdom.  Debra would like to know 2 things and I can’t necessarily answer either intelligently.

First, what is the different between clothing sizes 24M and 2T?  Good question, we aren’t there yet and I don’t know.  Anyone else?

Second, when filling out paperwork, if Latino isn’t an option, do you check Hispanic?  I find this question quite anxiety provoking myself.  I’m not sure what the right box is for our little Guatemalan beauties.  I believe I’ve been told that neither Latino nor Hispanic is accurate – but I can’t verify the accuracy of these comments.  So what is the “right” box?  I thought I would check Native American for Sabrina because she is Mayan (and Native Central American) but many forms I’ve seen lately have specified Native North American.  So what is most accurate, oh wise internet?

Lastly, I just thought I would give a shout out to my sister who happens to be one of the least computer savvy people I’ve ever encountered.  She is actually chatting with me on yahoo IM right now!  I was shocked today when she said she wanted to download it.  Way to go sis!

A Milestone

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Today is an important milestone – at least in my mind.  As of today, Sabrina has been with me as long as she away from me.  She spent 7 months with her foster family and I picked her up 7 months ago today.  Why have I been waiting to reach this milestone?  It doesn’t make her more my daughter.  It doesn’t make me feel more legitimately her mom.  Guilt over missing so much of her early life?  Maybe.  For whatever reason, this is the milestone I’ve been anticipating most.  Not her being home for 6 months or home for a year or her first Christmas with us or getting her TN birth certificate – just the day that I know she has been with me longer than she wasn’t.

I think of that first week in Antigua often.  As she becomes more attached and bonded with me, I realize how hard that first week was for her.  She was fine the first 2 or 3 days and then she seemed to realize Maria (her foster mom) wasn’t coming back and she was stuck with this tired white woman who spoke a weird language and couldn’t sing worth a damn.  For the next week or so, Sabrina seemed uneasy with me.  She didn’t cry a lot and wasn’t difficult, except when it came to sleeping, but there was a general sense of unease.  We didn’t fit and move together yet.  There was a clumsiness about our interactions.  She slowly started to relax as she realized that while I couldn’t sing, I would get her bottles and change her diapers and avoid dropping her on her head.  At the time, I told people how easy going she was and how the transition was mostly smooth but looking back with the knowledge of how things progressed, it wasn’t as easy as I thought for her.  She didn’t sob and grieve the way other some babies did – but she wasn’t sure what she thought of me or the situation.  She didn’t know me or trust me.  She gazed at me out of curiosity and confusion not out of love or bonding.  But we made it through.  We found our rhythm and most days I feel great about our bond.  (Like any adoptive mom, I have days where I question her behaviors and wonder if we are back pedaling in the attachment department.)

But here we are at the day I have been waiting for and I wonder why I thought it was so important.  Today feels like every other day.  Sabrina woke up smiling and saying “Mama” like every other day.  (Okay, some days she wakes up smiling and saying “Puppy” but let’s just pretend it is always mama.)  We are going to meet up with some moms at Starbuck’s and have some coffee.  Then we will come home and take a nap.  I guess these arbitrary dates on the calendar don’t matter that much after all.

Great news!

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Most of you know Cheri’s story – heck most of you contributed to a fund for her and Erin this summer. Cheri has been in limbo for 11 months. She has been living in Antigua for almost a year. She has been waiting for Eliana’s birth mom’s cedula to be signed (long story – if you aren’t familiar with her predicament, read back through her archives). Friday she was notified that they FINALLY got a signature. I can’t even express how happy I am about this and I can’t imagine how happy she and Gary must be. Go give her some love! There hasn’t been a lot of good news in adoption world lately and this is some of the best news I can imagine (short of her and Erin coming home with their beautiful babies).

Memo to the old man at Sam’s Club

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Dear Kind Sir:

I tend to cut those from the older generations a bit of slack when it comes to asking politically correct appropriate questions.  I know your generation doesn’t always think about the “right” way to phrase things.  You seemed to be a nice man who was genuinely interested in my daughter so I continued to smile, if somewhat stiffly, when you asked “What is it mixed with?” after commenting she was beautiful.   I explained that my daughter was from Guatemala and you said your daughter was considering adopting from Central America because she had spent a bit of time teaching in Costa Rica.  However, I do believe I should expect some manners from your generation so when I answered your question about why we decided to adopt, I played dumb and answered the question I was comfortable answering – why we chose Guatemala.  But instead of taking the hint, your reply “No I mean can’t you have children of your own or what?” led my smile to turn a bit frosty and my “Maybe, maybe not but we decided adoption was right for our family” was much more polite than what I was thinking.  I hope if your daughter does adopt, she teaches you a better way to communicate about such things in public.  And I’m sure she wouldn’t appreciate you telling random strangers in Sam’s Club that she can’t conceive.

But thank you for your interest in my daughter.

Sincerely,

The Young Whippersnapper who didn’t throw the 10 lb can of tuna at your head

Weekend Wrap-Up

Monday, November 5th, 2007

I made kick ass chili last night.  No, I’m not going to give you the recipe.  Partially because there is no recipe and partially because chili is one of those things people get passionate about – I don’t want to come to blows over chili recipes.  I will give you a general idea of the ingredients:  tomato sauce, onion, garlic, jalapeńo or other hot pepper, ground beef, ground pork, a couple of chili seasoning packs (1 tex mex and 1 hot), brown sugar (have to have a little sweet with my heat), ground cayenne and chipolte pepper powders, 3/4 bottle of a good beer, and black beans (not a fan of kidney beans).

But almost better than my chili?  The Amazing Race premiered last night!!  There are only a few reality shows I watch – Project Runway, Top Chef and the Amazing Race.  I LOVE the Amazing Race.  So I happily ate chili and watched the Amazing Race last night.  Did I mention I LOVE it?  Steve always jokes about us trying out.  I don’t even think that is funny.  I love to travel but I hate the act of getting from point A to point B.  I would totally end up sounding like Flo from one of the early seasons (she whined “L-e-n-n-y” all the way across the world).  Or I would try to pretend to enjoy the running from airport to car to village to airport and about 1/2 through I would have a total meltdown.  No thanks.  I’ll just sit on my couch and watch other people do it.  It would be completely amazing though.

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Steve is concerned that Sabrina isn’t walking yet.  She turned 14 months old yesterday.  I’m not worried in the least – she is on track with everything and will walk when she is ready.  But Steve wants to help her so he spent all weekend hunched over doing this:

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And why don’t they make one piece sweat suits like that in mommy sizes?  I swear I wouldn’t wear it to the grocery store – strictly at home.  But doesn’t it look warm and comfy?

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And finally…some fundraising to bring home some precious babies out in blog world.

Matt & Jenny recently brought home Eliana from Guatemala.  Sabrina and I had the pleasure of their company for lunch in July – they are incredibly wonderful people!  They have decided to adopt 2 little ones from Ethiopia and are doing a neat raffle in addition to some other fund raising.  They are raffling off a different Longaberger basket every day in December.  Does everyone know Longaberger or is it a region specific thing?  They make awesome baskets that are highly collectible and pretty pricey – and they last forever.  The company also has the coolest office building I’ve ever seen (it is based not too far from where I grew up):

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I almost drive off the road every time I drive past it because I can’t stop gawking at it.  Go here to learn more about their raffle.

AND

Julia and Holly promised us the mother of all raffles and they have delivered!   They have set up 15 different prizes to choose from when you enter the raffle – with lots of amazing prizes.  The raffles benefit Sig and Krystal.  Sig is working to bring home Tarana on the heels of Abby’s adoption.  Krystal is trying to bring home brothers from Guatemala – but they didn’t plan on adopting 2 when they started!

If you are able, go help out at one or both of these fundraising opportunities.  If you aren’t, go check them out and keep all of these families in your thoughts.  I am so amazed by the generosity and creativity of others in helping other adopting families.  It makes me very proud to be a part of this community.

Attachment

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Most of us obsess over attachment.  We watch for signs.  We read books.  We piss off extended family by asking them not to hold the baby the first few weeks.  We keep a watchful eye for signs of healthy attachment and bonding and celebrate every shred of proof that it is happening.  We try to explain our joy over little Johnny gazing into our eyes while we feed him a bottle.

We have been lucky in so many ways with Sabrina.  She seems to have attached and bonded with us relatively easily.  We struggled a bit the first few weeks in Guatemala but she is such an easy going child that our struggles didn’t compare to those of many who I met.  Even though I am confident in where we are now, I still like to keep an eye on things.  Attachment isn’t just done in 6 weeks or 6 months.  It is an on going issue that we need to be aware of as adoptive parents.

Find the original list of signs of healthy attachment here.  I left off the last couple simply because they aren’t age appropriate for Sabrina yet.  I find that just taking a quick inventory like this every couple of months reassures me that all is well.

# Joyful the majority of the time.  Check.  Sabrina is a definitely joyful.

# Seeks out primary caregiver for comfort and to meet needs.  Check.
# Likes to be cradled and held facing primary caregiver.  Check.
# Makes good eye contact with primary caregiver and initiates eye contact–both close & distant proximity.  Check.
# When primary caregiver makes eye contact, the child smiles back, showing signs of being happy with the interaction.  Check.
# Smiles and exhibits pleasure when seeing self in the mirror.  Check.
# Frequently engages in playful interactions with primary caregiver (interactions initiated by both parent and child.)  Check.

# Uses different cries to alert primary caregiver of needs and wants; easily consoled by primary caregiver.  Usually.  Check.

# Accepts limits placed by primary caregiver.  Usually.  Check.
# Willingly allows primary caregiver to hold bottle, hand feed, and nurture.  Check.

# Melts into primary caregiver when held; lays head on shoulder; holds on when held; faces primary caregiver rather than away.  She doesn’t hold on when I carry her.  But the rest of this – check.

# Enjoys cuddling, hugs, and kisses given by primary caregiver and initiates cuddling, hugs, and kisses without wanting something in return.  Check.

# Can co-sleep without major difficulty.  I can’t co-sleep without major difficulty but she is usually fine with it once she gets over the excitement of sleeping with mommy.  Check.

# Prefers primary caregiver to all others.  This one I can only confidently answer yes in the past 6-8 weeks.  Prior to that I swear she would have left the grocery store with anyone who said she was cute.  Now she gets a little shy with anyone who approaches closely to talk to her.  She curls into me and puts her head on my shoulder – makes me melt!  Check.

# Imitates primary caregiver regularly (actions, language, etc.)  She and Steve have this sighing game in the car – he sighs, she imitates then they both giggles – cracks me up!  Check.

# Content to sit on primary caregiver’s lap or stay in primary caregiver’s arms for an age appropriate amount of time.  Check.
# Settles quickly when held by primary caregiver.  Check.
# Enjoys skin on skin contact.  Check.
# Prefers close proximity to primary caregiver but not in an anxious, desperate way.  Check.
# Consistently sleeps well and peacefully. Usually.  Check.

# Wants to please primary caregiver because he knows it will make his parent happy.  Check.
# Reacts appropriately to pain; wants primary caregiver to nurture him when in pain or sick; easily consoled.  She is a tough little girl but I’ll give this one a check too.
# Uses food appropriately. Recognizes when hungry and full.  She definitely recognizes when she is hungry.  The full part we are still working on.

# Shows true personality to primary caregiver and family and friends (discovering a child’s innate personality takes time.)  Check.
# Initiates “sweet nothing” talk with primary caregiver.  Check.
# Shows appropriate stranger anxiety.  Check.
# Displays age appropriate anxiety at brief separation from primary caregiver but is able to be reassured.  Usually.  Check.
# Reunites happily with primary caregiver with eye contact and physical contact.  Nothing better than the big smile I get when I return or the smile Steve gets when he comes home from work.  Check.

# Show signs of feeling safe in social situations; able to play and interact with others, but stays close and checks in with primary caregiver regularly but not in an anxious or desperate way.  Check.
# Is gentle to self and others.  Usually.  Sometimes hits mommy.

# Gets along with other children & siblings most of the time.  Check.
# Is okay with primary caregiver leaving the room for short periods of time. Conversely, cares that primary caregiver has left the room and shows happiness when that person returns.  Took awhile to get there but can now say check.

# Speech/language skills are developing appropriately.  Check.
# Angry outbursts/tantrums are infrequent, short in duration. Parent can soothe child.  Usually.  Check.

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Joyful seems like a good word.

The winner is…

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Sig has announced the winner of her first raffle.  Over $2000 was raised!  Thanks to everyone who donated or sent good wishes her way!  Click here to check out her new public blog and see if you were the winner.

8 The Hard Way

Monday, October 15th, 2007

 

Many of you know my friend Sig. She is a wonderful lady. She has 7 children – including a Guatemalan princess who much of blog world fell in love with before Sig’s blog went private…and if you want access to the private blog, leave a comment and we will get you access. I met Sig on my first visit trip to Guatemala last December but we had been talking via email and message boards for awhile. I kept thinking to myself “This woman is nuts. Seven children?!?” Then I met her and knew I was right – she is nuts. But in a wonderful, fun way. I also had the pleasure of hanging out with Sig and Abby in Antigua when I was fostering. She has a huge heart and loves her family like no one I’ve ever seen. She is passionate about her children.
 
Sig and I talked via email and sometimes phone during our adoptions. She talked me off the ledge once or twice and I returned the favor. When despair would set in, as it is likely to do during this gut wrenching adoption process, Sig would talk about how long she had been trying to bring another child home. She mentioned a little girl in Aberbaijan, Tarana, who had stolen her heart but that she finally had to accept that she couldn’t bring her home. She turned her heart to Guatemala and fell in love with the vivacious Abby. Abby brought so much joy to Sig’s family – I can only imagine this is what prompted Sig’s husband to recently say “Let’s bring Tarana home.”
 
We all know that God/fate/the universe/our hearts don’t give thought to what is rational or financially sound. Sig has found that she can finally bring Tarana home and at this point only finances stand in the way. Tarana is a beautiful 10 year old girl who has been living in orphanages her entire life. She has a medical condition that will improve with treatment in the US. If she isn’t brought home to Sig’s family where she belongs, she will age out of the orphanage system when she turns 16 to live on the streets. (That is the heart string tugging, it costs less than a cup of coffee a day, infomercial portion of my blog post today. But sadly, all true.)
 
That brings me to the point of my post today. We all hate the reality that finances might stop a child from coming home. Sig is determined to bring Tarana home and is humbly asking for our help. With this adoption coming so closely on the heels of Abby’s adoption expenses, Sig is doing some fund raising to make it happen. We all know how expensive adoptions are and many of us are adoption poor so please don’t feel guilty if you can’t help. Send prayers and good thoughts if you can’t help financially.
 
Sig’s first payment to the agency is $2500. We are trying to help her raise that. But, we aren’t asking for something for nothing. Sig is doing the first of several raffles this week. For a donation of $10, you will be entered for a chance to win $180 worth of gift certificates:
$25 Barnes & Nobles
$15 Toys R Us
$15 ITunes
$25 Hodge Cafe Press
$15 Orphan Warmth
$10 Little Clippies
$20 Itty Bitty Burp
$10 Scrap N Tell
$20 Mandy’s Moon
$25 The Family Gems

$10 to help a girl 1/2 way around the world find her forever family AND maybe win some cool stuff – what a bargain! Sig will happily accept donations of any size $1 – $100, but only $10 is required to get your name included in the drawing for this stack of gift cards. Below is a donate button that will take you straight to a secure site (PayPal) which will allow you to make your donation securely with a credit card or through a PayPal account if you have one set up. PayPal is completely safe – I’ve been using it for 8 years without a problem. The donation will be credited directly into Sig’s account.
 
Go ahead. Press the button. You know you want to. This raffle will end next Monday October 22nd.
  

Guatoberfest – Have a seat

Monday, October 8th, 2007

Lots of photos to follow so get your coffee and have a seat. First I should say that we arrived a day later than everyone else and left a day earlier – we were only there for just over 24 hours. Because of this, I didn’t get a meet a good number of families. I did get to meet Kelly and Alleen – the 2 I most looked forward to finally meeting in person. (Hey P – where were you girl? I’ve met you but haven’t had the pleasure of meeting M and missed you guys!) We even had a couple of lovely non-Guat adoptive families (hi Muriel! hi Dorie!).  But Atlanta seemed like a lovely city with a lively downtown area. Our hotel was next to the aquarium and across the street from the Bicentennial Olympic Park.

Self Portrait:

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At one point we took over a very large portion of the park with strollers and beautiful Guatemalan babies. This was the last wave of strollers arriving:

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Kelly and Kathlyn:

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Alleen chasing after Gabriella:

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Sabrina thought it was all kind of cool for a while but then started to get a little tired and overwhelmed:

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So we grabbed some dinner and went back to the hotel. The beds sucked so no one slept well except Miss Sabrina (and that is what counts, right?). The next morning we wandered down to breakfast and it felt like very familiar – it was like going down to breakfast at the Westin and looking around for other families, asking how the night went, etc.

Sabrina and Gabriella made friends during breakfast – Gabriella even let mommy sit down for a little while and chat!
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After breakfast, we returned to the room so Sabrina could nap before the aquarium. Unfortunately, she fought the nap so we had to wake her early to check out. For those who think my child smiles all of the time – I give you the result of waking her early from her nap:

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On to the aquarium – which was very cool but very crowded.

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I loved the beluga whales

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Sea lions swimming by:

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We left after the aquarium. Thanks to Julia and Kerry for organizing this (and anyone else who was involved)!

After our 4 hour ride home, Sabrina, who had spent 90% of her day in the stroller or the car seat, proceeded to go insane. She crawled all over the apartment like a mad woman and played with every single toy that she could get her hands on until we put her to bed and she passed out.

Funk

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

I’m having a hard time with the newest crisis in Guatemalan adoptions. There were several during our process and I eventually became immune to them. I couldn’t get on that roller coaster every time something happened so I just waited them out. Yep, call me an ostrich. But this one feels more real than the others. Yes, my beautiful daughter is home. Our adoption is complete. Selfishly, I would like adoptions to continue so that we can have the option of Guatemala when we are ready to adopt again. But I have friends who are not home. And I know that many strangers are doing everything in their power not to curl up in a ball and sob out of fear and frustration. I know there are many of you out there having this panic hit home. I honestly can’t wrap my brain around the horrible things that could happen if Berger does his thing and the US DOS sits back and says “we warned you” without trying to help these families. Please, everyone, write, call, fax, email your senators, the president, DOS, and anyone else you think might listen. Sign the online petition. 5000 hearts out there waiting for their children to come home are breaking.

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Okay, it seems odd to continue with my stupid chattering about normal life in the face of that but I will do so anyway.

Yesterday, I had a blind date with another mom (a friend of a stranger friend) who just moved to Nashville. I wasn’t sure what to expect but we had a perfectly lovely lunch! I was pleasantly surprised (not because I doubted her…just because the whole blind date thing can be uncomfortable). We are talking about having dinner with men and children sometime in the next month or so. THEN (yes, my social calendar was full – I had actually triple booked my morning and had to cancel 2 other things), one of the mommy groups had a mommy night out (sans children and husbands). I got to leave the house without the diaper bag. I drank 2 margaritas and ate yummy mexican food without having to share with a little one frantically signing “more” to me – all while talking about a variety of topics (okay, yes poopy diapers did come up but we talked about other stuff too).

I only have 1 photo for you today. Sabrina’s favorite new thing is to stand or kneel next to her high chair and shake it furiously while laughing. I trimmed her bangs a little because Steve kept complaining they were in her eyes…doesn’t she look like a Romulan now? (Yes, that is a Star Trek reference…give me a break, I’m married to a geek.)

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