The big question?

I mentioned before that watching The Little Couple got us thinking.  Add to that this book I’m reading, Carried in Our Hearts and by golly if I don’t wanna just hop the next train to orphanville and get me a new kid to love!

To adopt again or not?  That’s the BIG question.  HUGE question!

When we started the process to adopt Macey we asked to be approved to adopt 2 children.  We got the approval but between the approval and finding Macey’s file, we didn’t come across any sibling pairs, nor did we wait for one to be referred to us.  I didn’t really give it much thought again until we were in the homestretch which in adoption means the paperwork is done and you just wait to go get your kid.  That lasted a month, maybe 6 weeks.  During that time, however, I started thinking about the next adoption. I even contacted our agency to find out how long we would have to wait before going for it again.

And then we got into the frenzied oh shit we aren’t ready to go to China to get our kid phase and forgot all about it.  Until a month or two ago.  We never put a cap on how many kids we want to have.  Before we got married we discussed it and I said 2 kids would be great to start with. Parker said 5.  Yep, 5 if you can believe it!  What guy says he wants 5 kids?  The guy that married this beautiful baby making body, that’s who!  I kid. Seriously.  The baby making part of this body gave out after just 2 measly kids.  Pfft.

Now here we are with 3 and life couldn’t be any better. Macey is nothing like we anticipated. Thankfully!  She’s amazing. She’s happy, bright, energetic, playful, spirited, brave and charming.  We’ve all fallen in love with her a million times.  She bounds into our bedroom in the morning with the biggest smile and it turns on the instant happy button in all of us.  We were a pretty damn happy foursome before she came but we are full of joy thanks to this little girl.

The boys have asked about adopting again a bunch of times.  Colby usually asks about getting another little sister. He and Macey are best buds and he has thrived in his new role as big brother.  Much to our surprise. We thought he would hate not being the youngest and flick boogers on his new sister.  Chase is on a kick of asking for someone older than him.  As he says “I want to know what it’s like to be a little brother.”  It may sound nuts to you all but I hear this and all I can think is that I want to give my kids the family that they want too.  Not just the family that Parker and I want.

There’s just so much in the way of making that decision right now.

What if the next child doesn’t transition as easily?  What if she isn’t as healthy?  What if it brings up insecurities in any of the other 3?

Is it even feasible to travel with 3 kids to another country to get ANOTHER kid?  I’m not even sure how we made it home from Hong Kong!  You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. It’s a stress and anxiety blurred memory.

We both would love to adopt again.  Macey has been such a gift to us as a couple and to our family that we would be honored to share our life with another little girl but we also know that it’s easy to make an emotional decision because we would be making it as a result of THE. BEST. POSSIBLE. OUTCOME.  And the best possible outcome only happens what, maybe 10-25% of the time.

We are also in the middle of big changes for our family.  We like to keep it interesting over here at the Colvin house!  I am doing a 20 week training program and will be opening up a small business early next year.  How can I possibly consider compiling another dossier right now?  For the first time in 7 years I will be taking 3 days a week for myself.  3! WHOLE! DAYS!  I will be gone at school from 7:30am to 8:30pm on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays.  That’s going to be tough for me (to be away from the kids) and probably really hard on the kids (or am I in lala land assuming they’ll miss me?).  The last thing I want to do as their mom who is gone half the time is spend any of the time I am with them doing anything but focusing on them.  It wasn’t just the physical act of putting our dossier together last year but after was complete there was even more emotional capacity eaten up by the stress of doing things right, waiting, waiting, waiting, not sleeping knowing our daughter was in her crib alone with nobody to comfort her.  I hate to admit it but I was terribly distracted for at least 6 months.  I can’t do that to the kids right now.

There are so many other issues and questions to consider.  The bottom line is we are going to hold off deciding until about this time next year.  It will help to be a little further removed from the process and a little more settled with our family and careers.  We are smart enough to know if we were forced to decide right now we would definitely say yes.  But we need time to be able to fully evaluate, and ruminate on, the emotional and practical pros and cons.

 

 

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The Little Couple Colvin Connection

Say what?  For those of you who know who I’m referring to, this is probably perplexing and for those of you who have no effing idea who or what The Little Couple is, you’re probably wondering why I’m drinking and writing.  Well, for one, it’s Saturday, my husband is playing poker at the club, the kids are asleep and the only pressing task is either finishing cleaning the kids’ bathroom which I hastily started as they all bathed together.  Yes, I said ALL. They ALL took a tubbie. Isn’t that cute. Or maybe a little creepy depending on your level of judginess.  Suck it if you are having creepy thoughts. Maybe your kids are pervs, but mine aren’t.  Yet.  There’s plenty of time for them to perv out though.  I’ll keep you posted.

Well isn’t this taking a turn for the worse!  It’s going to get worse before it gets better so prepare yourselves.   So, back to The Little Couple.  They have a reality show on TLC and I love me some little peeps.  Just ask my girlfriends about the Broadway singer I once dated who came to Seattle for a weekend and took me to lunch with his little friend.  His little friend who he didn’t tell me was little.  I was a little awestruck. Imagine later the horror of finding out that this little friend passed him a big package while we were at lunch. A big package that surfaced later in the night as we were getting ready to go out.  A big package of coke. As in Cocaine.  Dead freaking serious. He asked me if me and my friends liked to “party,” and like the dancing at the after club till my buzz wore off and my feet were throbbing party girl I was, I happily proclaimed that “uh yeah! Duh.”  Who knew he meant partay as in partake in illegal substances. I almost had a panic attack. I literally went into my bedroom and thought about calling my mom first and police second.  (Mom to give me the kick in the ass to do the right thing kind of slap in the face I needed and police to come arrest this criminal!) Now I know not all little people are coke horrors. Bill and Jen are so not like that!  Bill is a business owner and Jen is a neonatologist.  And what do we have in common? Well, Jen and I have the same name, yay!  AND!  And Bill and Jen have the same aqua pillow shams on their bed as Macey has on hers.  No shit!

And you know what else?  Bill and Jen adopted a little boy who is from the same orphanage as Macey.  The same freaking one people.  That’s crazy talk.  Seriously it is!  While there aren’t many accurate statistics, due in full to China’s lack of honesty and communication about such, I did find that in 2009 and 2010, the percent of submissions into the social welfare institute in Inner Mongolia was only about .7-.1% of the total of all submissions in all provinces combined. Submissions = children who entered into the care of the SWI.  So, if rate of kids in = rate of kids out then there aren’t too many kids adopted out of Inner Mongolia when you look at the total kids who are adopted from China. I would tend to agree with that.  Nobody on our trip had even heard of IM.  And on all of the web related sites I’m on and/or belong to, I only know of 5 other kids who came out of IM in the 6 months prior to/post Macey’s adoption.

So, what does this mean?  Well, on the upcoming episodes they will show Bill and Jen’s journey to pick up their new son.  They will travel to Beijing then to Hohhot and on to Guangzhou.  Just like Parker and Jen!  And Chase and Colby and Macey!  I have no idea what they will/will not show but if you’re at all interested at a glimpse of where we are and what we did, please tune in. Wednesdays at 10/9 central.  I hope they show the good, the bad and the ugly.  The best part of the good is the gift of welcoming a new little one into your family.  A new little one who is scared and a little broken and very, very sad.  The bad is the official side of things where the officials count their cash before asking you the most asinine questions ever spoken. Such as “are you satisfied with your daughter?”  Um, no, actually, I would like one who is potty trained and doesn’t hate us?  Got any of those in your trunk, asshole? Blech.  And the ugly is all that comes with being among a communist society.  I am proud to be an American and am honored to have given my daughter the ability to become a free citizen of this beautiful, beautiful land.

Speaking of beautiful, The Little Couple’s little guy is absolutely beautiful and perfect and he, along with a book I’m reading, Carried In Our Hearts,  has gotten me thinking about our future which I will write about in my next post!

Cheers!

 

 

 

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April 23, 2012

Lisette

I didn’t want to fuss with the title of this because her name alone is powerful and beautiful and while I think of her often, I don’t get to say it aloud enough.  So simply writing it helps.

My sweet friend Lisette would have been 40 tomorrow.  She died 1 day after her 39th birthday. Sometimes it seems like 10 years ago, others it seems like yesterday. I remember what I was doing. I remember what I was wearing. I remember the car that drove past on St. Mary’s Road as I looked down at my pone.  I remember the call in all of its haunting tragedy.  Lisette fought a short battle with leukemia. A battle in which there would be no victor. Had she fought harder she would have compromised her faith and her future in what she believed would be her after life.  I don’t think it really mattered in end. The type of leukemia she had was aggressive and acute and had been churning inside her body long before it was discovered.

I have thought of her often as I became a mother for the third time. And the funniest thing is that I find myself thinking “What would Lisette do?”  As in Colby’s first ear infection. Actually, a Colvin kid first. I really resisted antibiotics, opting instead for natural remedies as that’s what Lisette would have done. Only Lisette was MUCH better at this and she would know what to do that would actually work. Me?  Well, let’s just say my warm rice sock, saline spray and ibuprofen weren’t exactly successful. But I tried because I secretly want to do some things that I know would have come as encouraging advice from her.  And I just want to keep some of her alive and involved as weird as that sounds .. or looks as I write it. Really, a rice sock.  Like I said, weird.

I took many things from my friendship with Lisette. In her darkest days, nearing death, it would have been easy to turn my back on her.  I had one day of utter frustration and devastation. I was frustrated because in order to treat her leukemia, she would need a blood transfusion to boost her counts and give her strength, and as a devout Jehova’s Witness, that wasn’t something she could do and that tore me up inside as a mother.  Devastation because I knew without the transfusion that she would die soon.  It’s heartbreaking to know your friend is going to die. It’s CRUSHING to know that your friend knows she’s going to die and leave her children without her loving strength to guide them through life.  It’s not so much the leukemia that I hated. I hated that she had to know what was going to happen.  Thankfully she had her “faith.”  Even as bat shit crazy as that faith is, I take solace knowing her last days offered hope.  Not hope to live but hope and faith in all the bat shit crazy Jehova’s Witnesses coming back to life in one big, bat shit crazy party any day now.  Hey, you tell yourself what you have to, right?

In the end I learned from Lisette how to be a better mother and a better friend. It was all I could do to sit by her in the hospital while all the bat shit crazies made decisions on her behalf .. but that’s what you do. You stand by your friends and your husband and your family NO MATTER WHAT.  I am a stronger and more faithful person and my work in progress is reaching out, being more thoughtful and more supportive.  Friendship is a true gift and I strive to be as good a friend to each and every one of mine as Lisette was to me.  One of her last midnight notes to me follows.

Jen – I just wiped my tears after reading your latest post tonight – all three of your children are lucky to have a mother like you. I am grateful to have a friend in you. Bottom line – The world is a better better place because of you and Parker. Keep sharing!

I love you girlfriend 

Lisette

PS. She is absolutley adorable! Can’t wait to celebrate with you. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

 

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8 months and a million memories and milestones later

So to say I’ve slacked off would be an understatement. I’m not even really sure why but I think the main thing holding me back, other than having 3 little kids and 1 big one to take care of, it’s that I am a teensy bit afraid of jinxing it and even more afraid of over sharing our good fortune.

Parker and I talke at least a few times a week, at the end of the night, about how totally amazed we are by Macey.  Yesterday was a great example. I was sitting outside at Starbucks with her. My back was sort of facing away from the seating area and she was facing it.  She yells and points “look, Sheryl!”  So I looked and wtf?  It WAS Sheryl. A Sheryl she has seen all of oh, maybe a handful of times and that’s literally it.  The girl is a brilliant, bursting with joy, little sponge. Nothing short of amazing and about as different as we ever could have anticipated.  She remembers everything! Except to tell us when she poops, of course.  Stinker.  Literally.

For the 1-2 people out there who actually read this, you may recall the gut wrenching decision we made last year in moving forward with Macey’s adoption.  Based on one of our most qualified pieces of medical advice, the best we could hope for was a learning disability.  The worst was severe mental impairment and the possibility that she would never be able to be independent.  The question we had to ask ourselves, over, and over, and over, and then ask for an extension from our agency so that we could ask ourselves over and over and over again, is could we indeed parent this little girl if the worst case scenario played out.?And the answer was obviously yes.

Macey was a special needs baby. She had a bad head CT scan so her file got passed by and passed around for over a year.  Few people want to go “there.”  There meaning mental stuff. As adoptive parents the one big risk you know (versus the million you don’t know until you get the kid) is whether they will bond with you.  We were scared to death. TO.  DEATH.  That Macey would not bond with us and with her potential mental/emotional issues, the risk was even greater.  And now?  She loves us just as much as we love her. Not to say it didn’t take a while and not to say we didn’t have to actually work at it. Many nights forcing her to let us lay on her bed next to, but not touching her. Tickle sessions so that we could have physical contact and playing the “baby” game where we cradle her and talk to her like a baby.  Nights of Parker and I talking to each other about how we longed to be able to really love on her and snuggle up without her squirming, grimacing and even laughing.  It’s still a work in progress. She won’t snuggle up close face to face but instead prefers to rub an arm or a cheek of ours without us hugging her too tightly or laying too closely.  But now she does openly run up to us for love and I can’t put words to how that feels.  I guess I am a really big deal!  At least to one little person!

There’s also part of me that still feels guilty though. I’m sure there’s a name for it. I feel like we cheated the system.  We adopted a special need kid with a messed up brain for God’s sake and she’s totally freaking fine. Maybe even above average.  I’m starting to feel less guilty about it but that’s probably the biggest reason I haven’t shared too much.  I don’t want to boast. Instead of therapy and early intervention, she puts on her flip flops and runs out the door to music class and is getting ready for, as she says, “Macey big girl, go to school!” We are so humbled by how well it’s going.  So rather than continue to blog about the challenges of adopting a special needs baby,  I’ll simply be sharing about the normal chaos and challenges of family life.  Back on the horse.  The strong, galloping, less gimpy than last year’s, horse!

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2 months later

Time really is flying by.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been home for 2 months today.  I have totally neglected my blog and it’s for a couple of reasons.

The main reason I haven’t written in so long is that I feel terribly guilty that Macey is doing so well and that our transition has been so ridiculously smooth and easy.  If you aren’t in the adoption community you’re probably wondering why I’m feeling guilty. If you are in this little circle, you know exactly what I’m feeling.  We decided to adopt from the Waiting Child program in China for a couple of reasons.  We didn’t need healthy and we didn’t need a baby. We are fortunate enough to have had 2 healthy bio kids already.  We also didn’t wait for a placement … instead I plucked Macey off of our agency’s shared list.  The kids on that list are all special focus meaning they’ve been on the shared list for months. Macey’s special need was one that most people run from – abnormal head CT scan.  Hence the reason she had been available for over a year by the time I spotted her chubby little face.  We struggled with our decision to move forward with her only after finally accepting that she may be mentally retarded or have other developmental delays, learning disability, executive function issues, etc.  Bottom line, we thought we were bringing home a daughter with issues. We should have been bringing home a daughter with issues. Or at least AN issue.  We realized immediately that “the lights were on” and we were pretty sure there wasn’t any sort of developmental delay. Each additional day solidified our early hunch that she was fine.  After we got home, we had a little speed bump after her first appointment with the pediatrician.  She heard something in her heart that she suspected to be structural as well as an abnormal heart beat.  She referred us to a pediatric cardiologist who kindly made room for us in his schedule that was booked out till after Thanksgiving. We were convinced THIS was it. She was going to have some issue and it was going to be serious. She was born with a PFO, which is very common and most heal/close on their own and even those that don’t aren’t usually an issue.  However, coupled with her irregular heartbeat, it was more of a concern.  Her cardio appointment was on November 7.  Ironically it was the day after election day. Something else we were stressed about prior to the worry about little M’s hear.  I think I held my breath for those two weeks.  I just needed to know what was going on with my baby girl.  And guess what?  NOTHING is going on with her. Well, other than her heart beating so powerfully strong that it causes a rush of blood that is audible to a doctor’s trained ear.  They looked and listened, and there is not a single issue with her heart or heartbeat.  Like I mentioned, she just happens to have a very powerful heart, which is probably a big reason she survived!  She also has sinus arrhythmia which means her heart rate accelerates as she inhales and it decelerates as she exhales.  Not totally normal, but common enough to not be problematic.  Now or ever!

Macey is healthy.  I love typing that and I sleep well now knowing that.  But there’s a big part of me that feels like we cheated, like we shouldn’t be this fortunate.  I’ve heard so many stories of those we’ve parallel pathed on this journey, some who we were honored to actually meet while we were in China, whose kids aren’t doing as well as they should be, or aren’t going to do as well as they’d hoped or planned for. It breaks my heart and it makes me feel so terribly guilty.  The last thing I wanted to blast on my blog is how easy it’s been and how well she’s doing. It just didn’t seem right or considerate. I know many of those same families we’ve talked to, chatted with, followed and/or met will be just as happy for us as we are hopeful for them. I’ve never been so humbled by or grateful for anything else, as I am for my vibrant little girl.  She has brought us more joy and perspective than we ever could have imagined.

The second reason I backed off my blog is that I had to really recover from our trip so as not to say anything that Macey may be offended by in the future.  To say the trip was emotionally draining is a huge understatement.  I can’t even put into words how tough it was for me personally.  And for me as a mother and wife … good Lord I think my heart got torn out, ripped apart, stapled together and shoved back in.  Add to that being in a place where you can’t communicate and are witness to countless crude acts, are getting stared at, are being talked about and criticized.  Sprinkle on a dose of hunger. Yes, hunger. I was so damn hungry while we were in Hohhot, Macey’s hometown.  I got bad belly on the second day, which was the day after Colby got it and I could barely stomach the food after that.  And guess what folks?  It lasted 6 long weeks.  Don’t get me wrong, after we got home, I was able to eat better than I was able to in China, but still, I was a sick chick for weeks.  Not fun at all. It also wreaked havoc on my immune system that I’m still working against!  Who needs a treadmill!  So back to the misery that was our trip.  There were parts that were amazing and China’s natural beauty is a sight to behold.  That is when you can actually get to it and if it is then actually visible.  But for the most part, it was the most challenging two weeks of my life.  (Second only to Parker’s dad’s sudden death which will always be a haunting memory.)  I didn’t have high expectations but many of the people and places were disappointing.  I hated hearing the one child rule discussed so casually.  This is a quote from one of our guides “so yes, we just give up our girls because the boys bring so much more honor to our families.”  I could go on and on, but I won’t because this is also the country which gave birth to my daughter and for that reason I will bite my tongue from here on out!

I will close by saying that Macey is thriving. She has grown out of her once baggy 18 month old sized clothes. Her saggy wrinkles have been replaced by the most adorable fat rolls ever. Her sallow skin has turned beautifully brown.  Her gums no longer bleed when we brush her teeth.  We went shopping for new shoes because her little baby size 5s are now whopping size 6s!  2 months ago she couldn’t navigate a crack in the sidewalk and would instead resort to crawling … but now she can run around the house being chaser or chasee!  Her vocabulary is up to about 40 words and she can speak in 2 word sentences when prompted.  She is the best gift we ever gave to our family and we are so incredibly grateful to have her in our lives.

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Settling into our new normal

It’s hard to believe we have only been home almost 2 weeks!  We battled jet lag for almost a week.  I was being the schedule warrior and trying to get everyone back on track as quickly as possible. Then mama hit a wall 4 days later which also happened to be Macey’s birthday. I sat down in the living room for the big present opening craziness and I literally couldn’t get up for the next hour and a half. Crashed!  So needless to say, her celebration was and will be a long one.  I’ve yet to put her in the birthday tutu outfit and take “official” birthday photos.  BUT!  She did get presents, of which her favorite is her fancy, new plasma car.  AND!  She did get her first Colvin family cupcake.  The boys like to call them “Mommy’s special delicious rainbow cupcakes.”  Amazing how far a little food coloring will go!  Macey thoroughly enjoyed her cupcake.  She would close her eyes as she took bites.  Soooo good.  We all had a great time watching and celebrating with her.

Now almost two weeks later, we’re finally over the jet lag and I think the Chinese pollution has officially and finally left my lungs and skin.  Reason #2,458 I’m happy to be home!  The boys are back on track at school and Parker is back at work and hitting the school board campaign trail hard.  Macey and I are getting in our girly groove while the boys are off doing their things during the day.  It’s so different starting out at 2 years old.  Different in a good way, but also different with inherent challenges.  She is still a little hesitant to wander far from me, but getting more courageous every day.  She is also very small for her age, a little unsteady on her feet and not very strong .. all things that make climbing playground equipment for the first time a little tough.  But with the amount of food she’s consuming and the running around she’s getting better at every day, she’ll get there soon.  We started kindergym (think gymboree at a very neighborhoody/small towny level) last week and she loves it!  I need to find some other 2 year old chicks for her to hang out with.  Playgroup here we come!  I’m so out of touch.  I did a couple of playgoups when the big kid was a babe, nothing, of course, for the second kid, but with 5 days on my hands, mama needs some interaction .. for my sanity and hers.

To say Macey is thriving is an understatement.  She’s babbling up a storm, copying many words and phrases, and loves to sing, and sing loudly!  Drives the boys bananas.  She also mastered the spoon in about 2 days.  My observations are that 1) she is fiercely independant 2) She hates to get her hands dirty.  We go through about a dozen napkins at every meal. No joke.  She is constantly reaching for the napkins or shoving her grubby paws at me for help.  She’s sleeping like a little champ.  We read her a story, sing twinkle twinkle as we snuggle and then toss her into bed. Yes, we toss her.  She loves it.  She loves nothing more than to be tossed in the air, chased after and to rough house – 2 year old tiny girl style – with the boys and Parker.  I still have to wake her most mornings.  However, yesterday morning we went in and she was sitting on the pile of pillows on the floor next to her bed (??) sucking her thumb. I have no idea if that’s where she slept or if she slithered off the bed and set up camp there to wait for me to come in and get her.  She has fallen out of bed twice.  One time I heard it, went in and put her back into bed without her really even waking up.  The other time, I didn’t hear it happen and only found out when I went in to get her the next morning and there she was, sound asleep on top of the pile of pillows on the floor.  That was probably a week ago so we aren’t doing too bad.  She’s also fine in the car now. It only took 3 trips for her to get it.  She even tries to help do her buckles and gets mad if I don’t let her.  She’s a very calm, happy girl most of the time. She’s starting to throw fits here, which is actually a good thing as it’s a very developmentally normal thing for a 2 year old.  She’s smart about when to throw them too.  And she’s also quickly learning that they don’t really work all that well.  Her food issues have rapidly improved as by now I think she realizes she will always get fed and there’s no need to rush as she can have more if she wants it.  I’m very relieved for this one as it was so sad to watch her in the early days.  How upsetting to think of what “meal” times were like for her before she joined our family.  And furthermore, how many other children have to endure much of the same until they get their forever families. If they ever do.

Our trip to China was an eyeopening experience on so many levels.  As difficult as it was, I’m so happy to have shared it as a family.  Parker and I came home with much greater appreciation for all that we have.  Not just the stuff we own or otherwise have.  But on a grander scale.  We have opportunity. We have freedom.  We have rights. It doesn’t take long in a place far from the big cities in China to realize how good we have it as Americans.  Don’t get me wrong, China is not all bad!  Deeply rooted customs and beliefs that are rich and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  So much natural beauty that it makes the walls of smog even more saddening to look out at.  However, I will just say that having a taste of life in a communist country was just the dose of reality I needed to come back, especially during an election year, and have a much better outlook on what a gift it is to have the life we have and to be able to share it with another human being whose life probably wouldn’t have mattered to anyone, or who would have otherwise not have amounted to anything.

Top Ten Reasons I’m Glad to be HOME!

  1. 1. I no longer have to witness men dropping trou and peeing anywhere, anytime.
  2. 2. If anybody touches my kids’ hair, face, arm, they will clearly understand and comprehend when I say back the f off and not just keep on with their inappropriateness!
  3. 3. I missed my seatbelt. A lot!
  4. 4. Traffic laws – those who abide by them and those who enforce them.
  5. 5. Mirror, signal, blindspot
  6. 6. Non-smoking establishments instead of “sections” (aka a non-smoking table right next to a smoking table)
  7. 7. Produce!  Fresh, crisp, non-diarrhea inducing produce!
  8. 8. Drinking and brushing my teeth with water that comes right out of the tap.  My teeth are happy too as they saw firsthand what non-fluoridated water can do to a mouth!
  9. 9. 2 lane roads and not a car in sight as far as the eye can see (nothing scarier than a 10 lane road but yet nobody’s driving fully in their own lane!)
  10. 10. Our beautiful girl is finally home!
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Our week in a nutshell .. or in many grammatically incorrect, run-on sentences…

It feels like we’ve been in China forever!  I have to admit that Hohhot totally wore on me.  And the first few days with Macey were admittedly very difficult.  Toddlers are tough!  You can’t really communicate that well with any 2 year old, let alone a 2 year old that is emotionally shut down, doesn’t speak English and is scared out of her wits. Macey did what we were really hoping she wouldn’t do, which was to reject one of us.  And it happened to be poor Parker.  Yes, the same Parker who was able to hold her and get her to show us her first few smiles on day one.  But day 2 was a whole different story.  If he so much as looked at her, she would scream and throw a big fit.  It’s gotten much better since then, but we still have a ways to go.  I have to hold her at every meal and in the car.  Wonder how the flight home on Wednesday is going to go when she has to sit in her own seat?  Or how the drive home from the airport will go in her carseat.  That should be a freaking blast!  Well, before I get all stressed out and negative about what may totally suck, let’s cover the positives and the progress that we’ve made:

1. Parker can look at Macey now … and even get a kiss here and there!  He gives her most of her food, which she would literally throw onto the floor the first couple of days but will now grab it without hesitation and gobble it up! She also smiles at him and watches him like a hawk.  We’ve come a long ways since Tuesdays epic 25 minute fit that ended when she fell asleep standing up, leaning against the bed, gripping my thumb in her right hand while sucking her own left thumb.

2. She can now eat, most of the time, without stuffing her mouth and gagging/throwing up.  She has the occasional “face shoving” incident as the boys like to call it.  She stuffed so much watermelon in her mouth at dessert last night that she chewed on it for 5 minutes at the restaurant, all the way back to the elevator, up the elevator, back to our room and a few minutes in our room.  She’s a cutie, that lil’ chipmunk of ours!

3. I can now leave the room without her!  Well, not the hotel room, but I can walk, say, into the bathroom by myself.  Though she does find toilets pretty entertaining so she usually shows up for the flush. And if she gets there early, she points to the flusher to make sure I don’t forget!

4. She has totally perked up physically and emotionally. She was shut..the heck..down..for the first few days. She relied on me for everything but would literally throw herself at me and just stay in whichever position she landed in. She did obviously have enough emotion to cry, but that was it.  Now she walks up for hugs and puts out her pout for kisses.  She does like to go boneless here and there but that makes us feel so much better that she’s just as sassy as any other 2 year old.  And like Parker tells her “go for it, girl, start wrecking stuff and acting like a 2 year old.”  Mark my words, he’ll regret saying that!  She likes to go for walks and has gotten much steadier on her feet in just the week we’ve had her.  She hasn’t quite yet mastered running but is pretty good at hurrying to catch up with the boys or rush into another room if Parker sneaks up on her.  She can also balance on one foot which is pretty shocking!

5. She’s a solid sleeper.  The first night zonked from bedtime to wake up.  And boy what a nice welcome we had the next morning.  Poop everywhere.  Goodbye brand new Hello Kitty jammies, hello, second bath in 12 hours!  But since then she has slept better each night.  One of the first few nights we tried bringing her into bed with us but she had no interest, even scooted off the bed to go back to sleep standing up.  Little punk would rather sleep by herself standing up than in bed with her new parents.  Tonight she squawked for all of 30 seconds before settling in for the night.

6. She loves, loves, loves to play games. She makes up little games all of the time. Most are copycat games … she pats her hair, we say pretty hair, she pats her hair, smiles and looks at us like “well, come on, play along!” Or she slides her hand under a napkin, pulls it out super fast.  And every little one’s favorite, fetch!  She throws her cup, we fetch it!  Or, my personal favorite, the sibling fetch game.  So much more fun to watch the kid whose cup you fetched 3,756 times have to do the same for his little sister.

7. She’s healthy!  And no longer special needs  … we had her medical exam on Saturday and the doctor was astounded at how well she is doing.  He said it was her heart condition that nearly killed her so it sounds like that should have been her special need, not the swelling at birth that they finally looked into … 9 months later!  So we need to get her heart looked over but the doctor here said it sounds fine and healthy so we aren’t really too worried.  She also is plump by Chinese standards, which is funny because we think she’s so skinny!  But another mom, who has 2 heart babies, told me if her ticker wasn’t working well, there’s no way she would have caught up to her peers so quickly.

We’ve come so very far.  I’m sitting here thinking about it and the little girl we know today is such a far cry from the shell of a girl we met last week.  Truly amazing.  Children are so strong and brave and resilient.  I am so thankful we get to be Macey’s parents.  I’m even more thankful that we get to give her a life that will be full of love and opportunity.  And siblings!  One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had here was with our guide in Beijing.  She’s a product of the 1 child policy.  There are millions of children to adults here who can’t even imagine life with siblings, or big family gatherings with lots of cousins.  They only see it as a very western thing, like swimming pools, which our guide also asked us about.  They always see depictions of American families as lots of kids and a pool in the backyard.  Little does she know all of the other things we have that she never will .. the right to own our home, forever, not just rent it from the government for 70 years, the right to have as many kids as we want and not have to worry about being dragged from our homes for forced abortions, or paying unaffordable fees to corrupt officials for having a second child, or even the right to drive our cars, anywhere we want, anytime we want to, or simply having the right of way as a pedestrian…. I could go on and on.

Big things and little things that all make us feel so grateful for where we are today.  We have grown our love and our family beyond anything we ever could have imagined.  Many people say we’re changing Macey’s life, but really, we’re changing all of our lives.  We are better because of her and we are honored to have her.  We have gained important perspective these last two weeks, as parents, as adults, as Americans.

On that note – a quick update on the protests going on here.  They are happening all over China and it’s because of the dispute they are having with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands.  Yesterday’s protest here in Guangzhou culminated outside of our hotel. We were on lockdown in our room for about 7 hours.  It was mostly peaceful but there were a lot of broken windows from rocks being thrown.  I should mention the demonstrations culminated here because the Japanese embassy is located within the hotel.  Today was business as usual.  Tomorrow will be a whole different story.  It is the anniversary of an incident of occupation between the two countries and more demonstrations are planned.  There are military trucks along the perimeter of the building and barricades ready to go up.  The hotel asked us to leave as early as possible tomorrow, but we aren’t able to get Macey’s visa until 3:30 so we are pretty much stuck.  Our guide arranged for us to settle our bill tonight and stay until 2pm tomorrow. We will depart through a private staff  entrance and walk a few blocks to meet the van that will drive us to Hong Kong.  We expect it to be a little crazy, but not unsafe.  What an adventure it’s been!  We fully expect to leave skid marks as we hit the road to Hong Kong :)

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Introducing the brave … the sweet … the AMAZING MISS MACEY!

I spent the early morning in Beijing typing up a post about our travels thus far.  I’m ditching that post as we got our girl today.  Yes, a day early.  And with a whopping 30 minutes notice. Our flight from Beijing was delayed a bit and we arrived here in Hohhot an hour and a half late.  I don’t even know if that’s accurate because at the time, I didn’t care because all we had to do today was check into our hotel and prepare for the big day.

Little did we know that much like the last couple of weeks, today was insane.  Totally freaking insane! We got into our little van, with our luggage tucked here and there. Clearly, they weren’t prepared for 4 people, 4 suitcases and a few carry ons.  Once we got going, our guide turned to face us and asked if we wanted to meet our daughter today or tomorrow.  Today? We asked today, really?  She said yes, that they could be there at 4:00.  It was 3:30pm at the time.  No shit.  I looked at Parker and he had that what effing ever look and may, or may not have thrown his hands in the air.  So we told her that yes, we would like to meet her today.  I told her that I just wanted time to change my clothes and put on some makeup.  Her reply was “if there’s time.”  I didn’t even shower this morning!  My hair hasn’t been washed in days!  I had this big plan of what we would all wear, how I would style my hair, the time we would spend putting together our list of questions tonight to ask the orphanage in the morning.  And none of it mattered because now I was just hoping to at least be able to brush my freaking teeth and not scare my daughter with my nasty tea and bbq pork bun breath!

I almost panicked!  Once.. twice.. a hundred times.  But somehow I managed to dig out my cosmetics bag and get my makeup on in the stifling heat of the van.  Did I mention you can drive in any lane here?  All white lines, cars going every which direction. Yesterday, that would have freaked me out but today I didn’t care because I was struggling with the notion we would meet our daughter in a matter of minutes.

We made it to the hotel and checked in in record time.  I desperately wanted to escape the lobby and have a moment as a family to get us all ready for the big moment. I didn’t want it to be that rushed nor chaotic.  We got to our room and I gave the boys the task of picking out lollipops.  One each for them and one for Macey.  Poor Parker, who is usually the yin to my yang, meaning cool as a cucumber, was freaking out.  I had to give him tasks too.  Get out the cameras.  Put on a nice shirt.  Brush your teeth.  Focus!  I managed to brush my teeth, put on a cute dress and change my earrings. My hair was pulled back in an atrocious bun of dirty, sweaty (climbed the Great Wall yesterday), slept in, tangly hair. I dug out the gifts, which I had planned to take photos of as a keepsake and to share on here.  I also dug out the bag of pajamas we bought on the request of the foster program.  Just as I got my lipstick on, the phone rang that they were on their way.

We calmly headed out the door; the boys totally oblivious to their parents crippling anxiety!  We got down to the first level and before we even made it to the lobby, we saw our guide.  We walked towards her and behind a little partition of sorts was a woman holding Macey in her arms. There she was in flesh and blood.  The real life version of the photos I’ve been staring at for months.  She was crying and obviously knew something was up.  The next 5 or 50 minutes are a blur.  I don’t know how long it took.  Maybe 5 minutes into it, she was in my arms.  Not happy to be there.  She kept looking at the director and crying even harder.  It broke my heart and it was impossible for me to hold it together completely.  I didn’t collapse into sobs as my body desperately wanted to but I did let a few tears slip out.  It was an incredibly intense few moments .. or maybe many of them .. here we were, meeting our daughter in the lobby of a hotel in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China.  Gawkers, onlookers, everyone watching us fumble into our new family of 5.  You can’t truly prepare for it, no matter the circumstances, but we went in with blind faith.  We didn’t even talk about it in the hotel room as we rushed around trying to get ready on the surface.  In the moment the thoughts in my head consisted of these:

Please don’t be so sad, I promise we’ll be the best family ever….

Oh shit, how the f**k do I do this?  What do I do?  She is so sad!

Oh God, I think Parker’s going to faint!

Please don’t be so sad, please don’t be so sad….

You get the point.

Once she sort of calmed down and at least stopped crying loudly, the director from the institution blew doors.  She left so fast that our guide had to run after her to give her the bag of a few dozen pajamas we brought for the foster program.  I am trying to find the good in how easy these transitions are for the adults involved, but I admit, the lack of emotion astounds me.

A minute or two later we moved down a few chairs to where our guide had laid out a piece of red fabric as a “background” for our official gotcha day photo.

After that, our guide told us we could go back to our room now.  That was it.  We came back to our room where we tried to get acquainted while Parker did some paperwork with our guide.  It was so strange to just be this new family unit in an instant.  The boys were truly amazing. They did a much better job than either one of us!  They brought her toys and told her what they were.  They just kept at it for an hour or two.

The paperwork took maybe half an hour.  I took my turn signing pages and pages of Chinese documents.  I didn’t even ask what they were.  I probably should have, but shell shock will do that to you.  Just… go… through… the… motions.

Our guide finally left and there we were, our new family of 5.  We’re getting through it as best we can.  It sure would be a lot easier at home but one week down, one to go.  Macey is a brave little soul.  She has shown us her adorable smile and cute little dimples.  We’ve heard her laugh and cry.  And scream!  But they come few and far between.  Her laughs consist of about a dozen tiny giggles almost inaudible unless you’re face to face with her.  The latter, well, she has fits of what we assume is grief and also fights her nap a bit.  We aren’t sure if it’s normal toddler not wanting to nap stuff or her fearing when we walk out the door, we may never come back.  Who knows.  So we’re working through it.  And we’re slowly winning her trust, bite by bite and kiss by kiss.  They may seem like insignificant steps, but they’re huge in our world of meeting a stranger in a lobby in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia.

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The home stretch

We are into our final wait of the adoption process.  The wait for TA.  I’m not as stressed about this wait as I was for the others.  I know we’ll get our TA soon. Maybe late next week, and if not, then by Labor Day weekend for sure. Then we confirm our consulate appointment and get ready to go!

The last few weeks have torn me up a good deal.  My stress and anxiety level is on a constant simmer and could boil over at any point.  It’s weird because I’m totally excited and absolutely can’t wait to meet Macey and bring her home.  But the waiting and the what ifs and the laundry list of projects to get to, vaccinations to finish up, how in the world are we going to survive 2 weeks, 50 hours of flying on 6 flights, a train ride and 4 different hotels, and hoping we have everything ready to come home to, is killing me!  I told a friend this morning that I can’t wait till October.  As much as I love summer, I love the fall even more.  It’s calming and welcoming to this Northwest girl!  And on top of that, the projects will be done, the 2 week trip to China will be over and we’ll be settling into our new life of 5.  I still don’t know how 2 people conquer 3 bedtime routines with 3 different aged children, but we’ll figure it out. Maybe one reads to and snuggles the boys while the other does the girl then switch off each night? Or maybe put the youngin to bed a little earlier so as to keep the “normal” routine for the boys.  Ack!

I’m killing myself with all of these details.  So what do I do?  Escape.  When the stress first set in, instead of tackling something I should have been doing, I did something totally unnecessary and terribly time consuming.  I made strawberry jam.  And lots of it.   Last week, we escaped to the city and the only thing I got done was some much needed girlfriend time.  Hanging out, enjoying conversation that wasn’t all about this … nails done, pilates taken, lunch eaten, massages enjoyed.  Oh and I managed to get the big kid signed up for after school stuff.  Also wrote everything down in the big giant calendar I’ve been carrying around like a crazy old lady.  I am terribly afraid of screwing something up, not getting the timing right, and most of all, missing something when it comes to the boys.  As much as I know this transition is going to be hell for Macey, I also am going to do my darndest to not skip a beat with the boys.  I will take them to school and be there for pick up. I will make pancakes, waffles or banana bread for breakfast and pack surprises in their lunches.  I will play card games, super mario memory and super mario brothers on the wii with them. I will TRY to make dinner even if it’s stuff I’m making now and freezing for later knowing I’ll be in the weeds.  And my hope is that in a couple of months it won’t be a struggle and it will just be the new normal.

This week I’ve escaped to Target, Starbucks for a couple of hours with a friend, the car wash and then hours in the kitchen yesterday preparing a delicious dinner for the family.  I haven’t gotten much else done.  Well, I take that back, I did paint the new bookshelves (we are re-fashioning built in cupboards in our hall to open shelves for the kids books, etc.) and sent in some preschool paperwork.  I have yet to clean the floor and paint the trim in Macey’s room which has to get done today as her furniture arrives tomorrow. I also haven’t called to see if the typhoid vaccines are in.  And most importantly, I haven’t made an appointment for a facial before we leave. God forbid I have bad skin for all of those photos.  I kid. The stress alone will put me in the teeny bopper zit zone!  Hence the need for a facial.  Or two.  Or weekly.  Sheesh.

Oh and the big kid starts first grade next week.  Good thing I am OCD and got his school supplies about 6 weeks ago and along with shopping for clothes for Macey, I always threw in a few things for him knowing the race to the finish would be completely unproductive (duh, as I sit her typing rather than doing anything important and/or necessary!).  The one thing he really wants to do is pick out some new sneakers. I bought him one pair a the anniversary sale but he spied some fluorescent orange nikes at Sports Basement last week that he is just dying to have.  Hoping we can locate some this weekend.  That kid will be so pumped to have his new orange sneaks to wear on his first day. Those, along with the promise of lunch at school and 2 recesses make for one eagerly anticipating first grader!

So for all that is going on now, all that is going to happen in the next 6 weeks, and the subsequent transition to the new normal, I’m a total freaking, stressed out mess.  But now I must wrap it up because it’s time for breakfast.  At 10am.  Yeah, yeah, they should’ve eaten hours ago but duh, they’ve been watching TV!

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So much going on that I don’t even know where to start!

I don’t even recall where I left off with my updates. I feel like I’ve been neglecting to fill everyone in.  My own mother got all attitudy with me when we talked last week and I tell her everything.  The problem is that I’ve been so busy for the last month that I can barely keep up with what’s going on in our process, let alone filling anyone in along the way.

It’s funny that just 6-8 weeks ago I thought for sure our travel would slip to October, or maybe even November.  Now here we are today planning to leave in just over a month, September 13th to be exact. Holy crap.  No, seriously… holy crap!  We got our I-800 approval otherwise known as the I-797, duh!  After that we waited for a documeent from the National Visa Center informing us that our file has been forwarded to the consulate in Guangzhou.  For whatever reason (can anyone explain this one?) it’s called being “cabled.”  Once we got that, I promptly forwarded it to our agency who then instructed their person in China to drop off our DS-230 to the consulate in Guangzhou.  I think I sent it on a Thursday, which was Friday in China.  They aren’t allowed to drop off on Monday, so she dropped it off on Tuesday.  It takes two weeks for the consulate to issue what is called the Article 5.  Our agency’s contact will pick it up presumably on Tuesday and overnight it to CWTS who will then hand deliver our signed Letter Seeking Confirmation (Article 5.. again, what is with all the screwy confusing names and numbers!) to the CCCWA.  The CCCWA will then issue our TA (Travel Approval Notice) in 2-3 weeks.  But as good record keepers/slightly obsessive adoptive parents will say, it could be issued in about 10 days.  Once our agency receives the TA, they will fax a copy to the consulate and request a CA (Consulate Appointment).  Once our CA is confirmed, we’ll book our flights.  Until then we wait, and stress, and wait and stress some more.  Oh and try not to be so full of stress and anxiety that we allow ourselves to get excited about bringing baby sister home.

In the meantime we’ve been super freaking busy!  We re-did the boys’ room into what we are calling their new super room. Super heroes and Super Mario brothers.  It’s a hybrid sort of room as they share but it all came together beautifully. New paint, new artwork, new lighting and new window coverings.  Oh and some new throw pillows … Super Mario and Toad for the big kid and the little kid’s name in Superman fabric.  One day I shall share with you my deep affection and obsession with Etsy.  (Thank you Colleen!)

We also have Macey’s room ready and waiting for her new furniture to be delivered on Friday.  Fresh paint and a pretty little chandelier.  Add to that a new rug, bed, side table, dresser and wall art and that girl will have one beeeoootiful room.  I’m really hoping her drapes and window shade show up before we travel but if not, we’ll just figure out how to get them up and ready for her to sleep in her new room without the blaring sun waking her up nice and early. Because I’m sure like all new adoptees, she’ll sleep in her bed, every night, by herself, for 12 hours straight.  Yeah right her and some ambien maybe.  Can you even get ambien for kids?  if not, hello drug peeps, there’s a money maker just waiting to happen!  Just sayin.  Look, not all pharmaceuticals are ethical, so whatever, don’t hate just because I had the idea before you did!

I’ve also gone a little cookoo for cocoa puffs on the shopping. Just ask Parker.  He never, ever says anything to me about spending or shopping (because truth be told I hate to shop and most of my spending is at Target!)  but he told me at dinner the other night that after our trip, maybe “we” should ease up on the spending just a bit.  Umm yeah, “we” should dude.

We are also trying to have some normal, summer fun with the boys.  We don’t want this summer to be remembered as the summer we spent preparing for Macey’s arrival. So while that is totally spot on how Parker and I feel about it, we have been making a concerted effort to ensure the boys don’t catch on!  We spent this last week in the city. I had signed the boys up for a really awesome day camp in the city months ago and it just happened that the week they were signed up for camp, our friends were planning to attend the Olympics.  So courtesy of these awesome, generous, world traveling friends, we were able to enjoy the city at its best.  Breathtaking views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge from their apartment in Presidio Heights.  Walking out to shop, breakfast at the boys’ favorite pancake spot, doughnuts from the little place on the corner of Chestnut and Steiner (I’ve never known the name but lost a bet years ago because I was sure it was Dunkin Donuts!) where the owners marveled at how big the boys are (we used to go there … frequently…) coffee at my favorite Starbucks where they still know my name but Brian Wilson was nowhere to be found (we used to see him on a daily basis), a cheap mani/pedi at my favorite little spot, the best foot massage ever with my dear friend, sushi with her family one night, pizza and magic shows at our other dear friends’ house… I could go on and on.  I love the city and miss it like an old best friend who moved away.  If I could rationalize moving back, I would be there tomorrow!  Especially after enjoying foghorns and frizzy hair this morning only to be welcomed back home to a blasting heat wave that moved the dial up 40 points to 100 freaking degrees.

We have about a week and a half left to pack in some more fun and finish up a few little projects then school will start and we’ll be packing for China!  Craziness.  I also got an update on Macey that I just realized I haven’t shared but will do so this week. I’m a crappy blogger, I know it, but I’m trying.  Trying, at least, to keep afloat for now!  Looking forward to calmer waters and floating down the stream with a drink in one hand and my little girl in the other.  Ha!

 

 

 

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