Thursday, July 31, 2008

Who knows

Mama is tired.  I was so tired at work this afternoon that I was in danger of keeling over my keyboard.  I didn't want to wind up with a workman's comp claim from having imbedded keyboard keys stuck in my forehead so I opted to go home.  Since I have to work with the emergency department folks closely (as in, spent my entire morning yesterday in ED working on their computer issues) it would really have been really uncool to get stuck there with a computer related accident.  They would have laughed their butts off and then they would have taken pictures and laughed some more.

I was so tired I felt drunk--you know that slow-motion feeling of being underwater where you are unable to form complete sentences?  I was there complete with word slurring.  Rest assured, I'm not sick and I've not had a drop of alcohol.  I'm just working a lot.  Today I had to be at work at 6:30 AM.  6:30, people, that's just stupid.  The good news is that I am only working until noon tomorrow and I'm getting overtime pay.  Yee ha!  If I want to take a nap and am not overly tired, I will turn the TV on to a low volume on a boring station and will be out in a few minutes.  This afternoon I turned it on, but didn't even have a chance to change the channel or lower the volume and I fell asleep to the sound of Jaws.  Talk about some interesting dreams!

I thought I would do a little Q&A about the tattoo.  Evidently the people I work with don't have tattoos and I have been asked a LOT of questions (I didn't tell them the adoption link).  Most of them are in their 50s and either divorced, widowed or don't care what their husbands say anymore and now they all want tattoos.  I had no idea I would be setting a trend with the baby boomers. 

1.  Does is hurt?  Are you freakin' kidding me??  Of course it hurt!  I'm not going to be all macho and pretend it didn't.  When Kristen was videotaping and taking pictures (thank you, Kris, so much for doing that!) I kept telling her to not take pictures of my sweaty red face. Honestly, the worst part was the outline.  It felt like a hot poker dragging across my skin.  Not cool.  The actual coloring part wasn't so bad.

2.  Why a dragonfly?  I know a lot of PAPs have identified with dragonflies if they are adopting from VN in the same way those adopting from China use ladybugs.  I have no idea what the story is behind this, but let me assure you that is not why I chose a dragonfly.  My fondest memory of my favorite grandma was of going to her home, giving her a hug, and running to play with her jewelry box.  She had a lot of costume jewelry that featured dragonflies and I absolutely LOVED it.  It is such an awesome memory for me and the most clear memory of the woman before Alzheimer's ravaged her brain.  She was in incredibly woman that I really wish I would have had more time with.  When I started the adoption process for my daughter, I just felt the essence of her (for lack of a better word).  I think she would have loved knowing that I was adopting, I think she would have enjoyed seeing my independence, and I think she would have loved knowing her great-grandkids.  When I began the second adoption I felt it even stronger and I realized that although I often viewed her as a victim of her circumstances (see Saturday's post), none of this (my life) would have happened if she hadn't taken that hard road.  About the same time I read a passage in the Bible (I'm horrible at memorizing names and books--sorry) that discussed how sometimes we don't get to see the fruits of what God started in our generation.  The work He began in her was good, but maybe it won't be realized until the time of her great-grandkids.  My mom and I have talked about this a couple of times--maybe there is a reason we were both spared as kids, but maybe it isn't because we are meant to do great things, maybe it is for this future generation.  Ok, maybe that is a bit too deep, but you have to know me and my propensity for analyzing. 

3.  Why the foot?  Again, grandma.  I'm not a big fan of openly displayed tattoos--I love them on other's, but I never thought it was a look I could pull off.  Since she was constantly on my mind during the process it made the most sense to either put her on my shoulder or on my foot.  Since I like to be able to see pretty things, I wanted it on my foot.  I would have wrenched my neck constantly looking at it--how narccistic, right?  But, what's the point in putting it somewhere where I can't see and enjoy it?

4. Why those colors?   Once again, grandma.  I was nervous about red because it tends to have a higher incidence of allergic reactions and those that know me know I am a hive waiting to happen.  I had asked my mom a while back what Grandma's favorite color was and she said it was red.  When I was at the tattooist, I was able to find a bit of flash with similar colors.  We just tweaked it a bit so it would not clash with my coloring.  I did not ask for the shadowing and at first I didn't like it, but in a sense it completes the message I was trying to convey.  I don't feel that Grandma "lead" me to adoption, that's just crazy talk (hehe) but I have a sense that she and/or her story have followed me.  For all those years I viewed her as a victim, but my mom has been telling me more about her and even though her life wasn't easy, she would have done it all again for her kids.  IMG_0634

5.  Are you going to get any more tattoos?  YES!  I am not giving birth to my children and I will not have the stretchmarks or other physical markings of motherhood, but I do want something to mark the connection I feel to my kids.  Last year I had a tattoo done for my daughter and I will do the same for my son once I have a referral.  I do want something very specific to VN (a Lotus blossom) and his VN'ese name.  I will admit that after the last one I was beginning to think that maybe he and Grandma could share a tattoo!  I am now back to letting him have his own, but I'm not sure where to put it.  I guess I could put it on my other hip so I can enjoy it.  I hate putting pretty things on my back where I can't enjoy them. 

My mom has also commented that since I am doing one for Grandma (a woman I only knew for a few years) that I should get one for her as well.  I am considering that although at the time I told her it was like a postage stamp--you had to be dead for so many years before you can get your own skin stamp!  I have since reversed this policy.  My poor mom...I'm always giving her crap.

I will say that for the first week I was kind of shocked by the tattoo.  It felt and looked out of place on me, but I absolutely love it now.  I love what it represents and it is kind of fun to see people's reaction when they catch a glimpse of it.  If anyone is interested in a foot tat, I would remind you to do it in the summer if you live in an area was cold seasons.  You can not have anything touch it for 5 days--not even your shoes. 

Monday, July 28, 2008

What you were waiting for...or not

Well, perhaps it isn't exactly what you were waiting for, but it was what I was waiting to share with my family before sharing with all of you. Evidently after starting two adoptions and getting a tattoo the only thing that would surprise my family is actually getting married. Go figure. Ok, here it is:
Yep, I got another tattoo! Evidently my family didn't even notice. I'm even sitting on the floor with my foot kicked out in front of me with an overly pointed toe and still nothing. I finally asked them if they noticed anything different and they started looking around the room. Still nothing. I finally asked if they noticed something different about me and Chennie yelled, "Tattoo!" Although they were oblivious, Michael noticed it while walking behind me down the steps--either he has a foot fetish or the flash of red and pink stood out against my uber-white skin. Honestly, it is the first time I have thought being this white had an aesthetic appeal.

And for those of you that are not faint of heart, here is the video of getting the tattoo:

video
I don't know if you can hear the audio over the buzzing, but Kristen asked me how it felt and I said something about it feeling worse on the foot. The lady doing my foot responded with, "Funny, I don't feel anything." Yeah, could've kicked her if she hadn't such a firm grip on my foot.

video
Chennie is visiting from Hong Kong this week (she wanted to be here following my mom's surgery, but I am afraid my mom will probably wear her out!). We were taking the grand house tour (very cultural, is what she said...haha...I need to post photos) and after looking at my bedroom my mom said, "What room is this across the hall?" Very nonchalant I answered, "My son's room." It took a few seconds for that to sink in and she gave me the biggest smile--it was so worth saving that moment up and sharing it in person! We were jumping around and hugging all excited. She wants to be meet up with us in HCMC and she has volunteered/been drafted to be the family photographer.

You may be wondering why I am planning, planning, planning and I don't have a good answer for you. I guess for the first time in my life I am filled with a hope that defies explanation. Yes, I realize that my hope may be severely deflated come August 31st, but until then I am clinging to hope. I'm starting to plan for more than just me and I am overwhelmed with the need to fill my freezer with home made meals for those times when I am too tired or too tired to drag Haven and myself to the grocery store.

Oh, one last parting shot of my new, beautiful tattoo:
Feel free to ask any questions...I'm happy to answer!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Outsmarted by a 20 month-old and other realizations from the church nursery

Yeah, it's true.  I was corrected by a 20 month-old today.  Did it hurt my pride?  Nah, it was pretty funny.  Adrienne, the smarty pants, was playing with the baby swing...you know the kind where you dial a number and it rocks little babies?  That one.  There is a buckle system to snap the baby in in the event the swinging gets too vigorous or the baby slides out.  She was trying to get one of the four corresponding snaps to fit together.  As I watched her I tried to correct her, "No, Adrienne, I don't think those go together."

Boy was I wrong.  To prove to the girl that I was right I attempted to put the two snaps together that I thought went together.  They didn't fit.  So I tried her way--wow, it worked!  Fortunately she didn't gloat and I apologized for being an idiot. 

Kids like me.  I have never understood why.  I've never been one of those women that went out of my way to seek out babies at the grocery store.  I will smile and wave at them if I see them staring, but I do not engage otherwise.  Well, for whatever reason kids like me and it isn't long before they try to get close.  Eve, a very allergic 6 month-old, decided I was awesome today.  Her mom plopped her down across the room and within a few minutes she crawled over to me and wanted to play only with me.  That sounds lovely, but did you forget the allergy part?  The poor girl's eyes were constantly dripping, her nose was a faucet and when she sneezed (which was every few minutes) snot would go flying everywhere.  Oh, did I mention she's a puker?  Yeah, poor Eve proceeded to puke up everything her mother had just fed her.  After 8 spit-ups I lost count.  I've never seen anything like it--fluids were leaking out of this kid all over.  And because she liked me so much many of them wound up on me.  Yep, I walked out of there with booby juice spit up in various degrees of drying on my pants. 

And people wonder why I really didn't want to work the nursery? 

I like the kids, I really do, but I think it's more precious when the child is your own. 

Oh, stay tuned, I'm going to be posting some pics and videos of my last weekend tonight or tomorrow.  There are some things I don't post until I've had a chance to shock my family. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today's Fortune

I just couldn't force myself to get groceries tonight so I got some take-out at my neighborhood Chinese restaurant.

Today's Fortune:

Travels from nesting space will take you to a broader cultural horizon. 

                                   and today's word is:

                                              Week

 

Hmmm...hopefully that means I will hear something within the next week. 

Order has been restored and my mom and dad's phone is now working.  I even got the name and number for their service provider in case it goes down again when I need to reach them!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A week, really?

Yeah, I guess it has been.  Unfortunately the longer I go between talking to someone or to connecting with someone (like this), the less I share.  It's not that nothing is happening, but some of it is too stuck in my head being processed before I write about it or I'm not quite sure how I feel about it.  No, I'm not trying to be cagey.  I honestly haven't heard anything from my agency (although my gut feeling tells me otherwise), but I did do a trial run on the phone tree tonight!  Actually, I tried calling my parents but evidently their phone service is knocked out.  My sister and I are the only ones that call them regularly, but usually they just call us.  So, the first tier of the phone tree has failed!  I left messages on their cell phones and my dad's work number to have someone check their home phone service.  Honestly, if I can't reach them on the big day I'm going to be pissed. 

It's been an interesting couple of weeks.  Anyone that follows my daughter's blog knows that work has been challenging lately.  I'm involved with a huge project and I'm developing major eye strain as a result.  Honestly, I'm looking at a small computer screen for 8-10 hrs of my work day and then I attempt to check my email and blogs at home.  My apologies to my bloggy buddies, but something had to give.  So, please forgive the fact that I have not responded to emails or commented on all the the interesting things in your lives.  I will catch up, I swear! 

I did escape town and the small print of my computer by leaving the state Thursday evening after I finished work.  No amount of telling my co-workers "I'm leaving as soon as I finish this batch" seemed to work.  My intention was to leave just past 3 pm, but in reality I was there until after 4 pm.  I was making good time heading north when my cell phone buzzed.  Work wanted to know if I could do one more thing...  Fortunately they just wanted to buy me dinner after all the hard work we have put in to this project the past few weeks and months. 

While visiting Kristen I was going to do this whole "where in the US is Erica?" thing, but honestly, neither of us really felt like blogging.  We stayed so busy with other things.  Kris had a lot of shopping she needed to get done, but Duc got a couple items too.  I'll try to post pictures of the trip throughout the week.  Even after returning I am busy, busy, busy.  Chennie is coming in from Hong Kong this weekend and has not yet seen my house.  There is major cleaning to be done!  Also, I think it will be time to tell her about Haven Duc.  She does know about my daughter, but I think she was horribly disappointed when I called her nearly two years ago to tell her what I was doing.  I think she thought I was going to tell her I was getting married.  That's what she wants for me.  Actually, I think that's what most of my family wants for me especially now that I am going to be a single mother to two children.  I can understand her confusion--many of the people she knows get married and then have children.  The same is true in my family unless you are my slutty cousin Kathy.  At least she broke that barrier for me (the having children before marriage thing, not the slutty thing). 

While shopping this weekend I couldn't help but remember back a year.  At the time I had only been officially waiting for my daughter for a couple of months, but since the time I was working on my dossier for baby girl, I just knew I had a son out there too.  I just couldn't understand how it could possibly work out.  Only a few people knew how how torn I was by this.  In my mind I thought I had figured out God's plan.  First I would get baby girl home and after a year of adjustment I would submit a dossier to VN.  Kristen even reminded me this weekend that I had sent her a list of little boy names last January!  Although Kristen and I both shopped for our someday daughters last summer, my heart ached for this son that I didn't yet understand.  Until now no one but Kristen and my mother knew that I bought a little boy's outfit.  I kept it close to my bed and every night I would bury my face into the soft cotton and pray and wonder what it all meant.  I held on to that little onesy for months and it wasn't until the end of October that I finally tucked it away in a drawer, my drawer of relics--old school records and diplomas.  Old journals and old dreams all tucked tightly together.  It was only a week or so later that the CCAA reversed their rules on concurrent adoptions/births while waiting for a match from China.  I had given up on the dream only to have it revived again and refashioned into something new.  I'm so thankful God kept banging me upside the head to tell me to step out in faith one more time.  When I look at all the things that have gone wrong in my life, none of those things separately or collectively could have hinted that this would be my future.  It's beyond anything I could have imagined.   

In reviewing my life the past couple of days I realized that there are still some things that I haven't done and things that I would still like to do regardless of when my children come into my life.  About five or six years ago I began writing a novel.  I'm not referring to writing a few pages and giving up because I ran out of things to say, I'm referring to writing 152 pages and giving up out of fear.  I have been reading a lot lately and with nearly every book I read I can't help but think "I can do that" or "I can do that better".  What I write here on my blogs does not in any way compare to what I write privately.  While the blogs I run are dedicated to telling the story of my children, for my children my novel is a reflection of feelings or emotions that I have felt over the years.  It is complete fiction, but I think every writer invests a certain amount of him/herself into the story.  How could they not?  The truly gifted story tellers are those that create a whole new world for the reader to walk in to.  Somehow they make us fall in love with the characters (or hate them) and make us believe that we know these characters, they become real to us. 

Unfortunately, writing has a way of taking over my life.  I can think of nothing else but that perfect sentence to convey all that the character needs to say.  It takes over my sleep, distracts me from driving and makes me daydream at work.  I sleep less, I forget to do basic things and I crave solitude for the story to breathe.   Perhaps this is the perfect time to finish this story.  With all that is going on with both the Chinese and Vietnamese adoptions, maybe it would be best to completely focus on something else. 

Wheww.  If you made it through all that, you are crazy or bored!  Maybe I shouldn't have tried to sort it all out in my head--maybe I should have written it out so I could see everything more clearly. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Need a new ring tone

talking on the phone Seriously, I have to find a new ring tone that I can assign to my agency (still no referral, but the heavens seem to be raining goodness all around so I continue to remain hopeful).  Every time my cell phone rings, I jump.  Yeah, like a foot.  In some ways it's kind of fun, the excitement of what it might be, but so far the calls have in no way compared to the call I really want! 

My sleep deprived brain has forgotten how to assign a ring tone to a particular number, but I am working on remembering.  In the meantime I thought I would ask you: what ring tone should I get for the much coveted call?

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'd like to thank...

My fabulous friend that received her referral Friday told me I was the first one she called. Not mom. Not dad. Me. Wow, what an honor! But then I got to thinking...I'm going to have to rearrange my "call" list! I had told my dad last weekend that I would call him first because he so badly wants to hear something good and I want him to be the first to know he has a grandson. Then, Saturday while I was at a baby shower for another soon to be AP (Shasta, I'd love to link your blog once you update with photos! Aubrey and Nicole did such a wonderful job of putting it all together) she told me she also wanted to be notified as soon as I received a referral and I joked that I was going to have to rearrange the call list. It got me thinking...is this what the celebrities go through when they win Oscars and forget to thank their husband or agent? I certainly don't want to leave anyone out because I know they would be upset. I'm going to have to create a calling chart of some sort and so far I have three columns of names and a separate column for those I need to e-mail. While there is a very short list of family and close friends, the rest are those I have connected with over adoption during the last two years. It feels nice to actually have to concern myself with this.

To be clear, my agency has not told me to expect anything as momentous as a referral, but I feel it is better to be prepared when unexpected greatness occurs.

Even before my mom had surgery last month, I got into this sort of zone. While in the zone I am not allowed to be a Debbie Downer, nor will I surround myself with Debbie Downers. Here is my anti-Debbie Downer anthem:

Honestly, how can you possibly frown when you hear that song? (unless it was the 300th time you have heard it today)

Friday, July 11, 2008

"Mommy, I not redneck"*

While I am a city girl at heart, my family lived in a very rural farming community of only 500-600 people.  A town where the cattle outnumbered people and you could help yourself to fresh cream at the dairy farm as long as you left a couple of bucks.  A town where men wore bib overalls--and nothing underneath.  Entertainment included, drinkin', sexin', and cow tippin'.  Yeah, I didn't quite fit in. I kind of view myself as redneck by association in the same way the cops arrest you if it was actually your buddy that was smokin' dope and you were in the same car.  Not exactly fair, but not exactly something you can fight. 

The past two weeks I've been rockin' it the redneck way.  My kitchen faucet started dripping and I didn't consider it a huge problem, but a mere six days later it was a stream of water and I was going through a couple gallons an hour.  I was beyond horrified and decided to turn off the cold water.  Problem solved, right?  You don't really need cold water for anything in your kitchen.  Well, I decided to fix it myself.  I should preface this by saying I know as much about fixing sinks as I do about cow tippin'--which is nothing.  I looked up information online and I youtubed it.  Yes, you can actually learn how to do anything if you watch it on youtube.  Feeling prepared with my new bit of knowledge I returned to Lowe's and asked for some O rings.  After explaining the situation the gentleman explained that it was likely the washer and not the O ring that was giving me problems.  I returned home, took the cold faucet apart and tried the O ring.  He was right--that wasn't the problem.  I took the old washer with me as I spent the better part of a Sunday afternoon going to every hardware store in town trying to find that same part.  Not only did no one have it, I learned it isn't even in production.  Long story short, I decided to go ahead the put the faucets back together and just live with the hot water until I could afford to have it replaced (dad didn't think I could replace it myself).  Well, when I put it back together and turned on the HOT faucet, it shot a geyser out of the cold and the faucet and ALL the parts took off like they were shot out of a canon.  I had water dripping from the ceiling and I'm just glad the metal handle on my faucet hit my cupboards instead of the ceiling because I am sure it would have busted it.  The parts were so badly degraded that I wasn't going to be use either faucet.  Translation: I couldn't use my sink AT ALL.  So any time I wanted to wash dishes (I don't have a dishwasher) I would have to fill a pail of water from the hall bathroom and carry it to the kitchen sink and dump it in the sink.  I've been living on take-out and Lean Cuisines.  In the morning I have to rinse my cereal bowl out in the bathroom sink.  Yeah, I was proud.

As if that wasn't bad enough, one of my shutters fell off the house, and let me tell you, it is a huge shutter.  Not only does my plumbin' not work right, my house looked dumb on the outside.  I was pretty embarrassed I would get irritated every time I saw either one. 

The redneck story doesn't end yet.  The contractor that was supposed to place the big, beautiful sliding glass door that my dad bought for his grandson (let's face it, it was the kid that motivated him, not me) quoted a ridiculously high price.  My dad and I agreed--it was ridiculous and neither of us want to pay that.  Well, I had a Starbucks (sorry, I say Starbucks because I hate coffee) date with a good friend of mine and as she was telling me about her carpenter husband that was getting ready to be laid off, I had an ah-ha moment!  So I asked her if he would get me an estimate.  I'd rather pay him (and my friend) anyway.  So, hopefully that crisis is averted.

Last crappy thing that turned good--I am terribly allergic to grass.  Well, to be fair, I'm allergic to most things in the outdoors which is why I try to avoid going out.  But I can't afford to pay the $35-40 the local lawn guys charge to mow grass so I have been stuck mowing it all season.  Every single time I mow I get sick with horrible sinus infections, bronchitis or miserable hives.  I was complaining to a co-worker at work and word got around.  Yesterday I learned there are TWO people not far from my neighborhood that can mow my grass for cheap!  I've offered the job to a co-worker's fifteen year-old daughter that lives about a mile away.  I'm really hoping that will work out. 

Imagine my absolute delight when I came home this afternoon and learned that my dad had replaced my faucet with the beautiful new faucet I bought, he fixed my shutters, replaced the light fixture in Haven's room and replaced my burned out exterior lights.  This man is awesome!  Not only that, my mom (yes, the woman that just had major surgery two weeks ago) push mowed my entire yard--even the back yard with it's steep hills and limestone rocks. 

And while I have not heard anything about a referral yet, one of my favorite people in the world (you could call her my BFF) got a call out of the blue today with a referral.  I can't share the details until I know it has all been confirmed, but I am beyond excited!  When she called to tell me she told me to sit down because she had some news.  I was so overwhelmed with joy and excitement that I could barely talk!  I was teary eyed and had goose bumps every where!  I am so incredibly happy for her and I can not wait to hug them both!  Ok, enough exclamation points for now. 

Anyway, life is definitely looking up (that, and I just had a fabulous margarita so I am feeling quite mellow) and I can't help but think that I should also be receiving some very good soon. 

*Oh, and the quote in the title is actually courtesy of my almost-three-year-old niece.  Her parents were in the yard working the Saturday before my mom's surgery.  Instead of dragging babygirl in and and out of the house to pee (this kid thinks she has to pee every time she farts so she is on the toilet a lot), they took her little potty outside and whenever she needed to go she would use it out there.  Well, they forgot to empty it and bring it back in the house.  A few days later my sister remembered about the toilet and was telling me the story.  She ended it by saying, "yeah, we are a couple of rednecks with a dirty porta-potty in our garage."  Without missing a beat my niece says, "Mommy, I not redneck."  I'm glad somebody thinks we aren't rednecks!

Monday, July 7, 2008

It's not so black and white

As I was driving down the road today I noticed several women walking.  They weren't together and didn't appear to have anything in common except for their apparel.  Each one had a nearly identical camisole top on and tight pants either rolled or cut off off below the knees.  All of them were talking on their cell phones while holding their iPods (or whatever mp3 device they owned) in their hands.  Strangely, all of them had the same color of clothing as well.  After pondering that for a few minutes I had a realization: they aren't too different from those of us in the adoption community. 

ALL of us have been through home study visits with the social worker and most of us (depending on country and agency) have had extensive adoption/adoptee training.  Most of what we learned focused on using correct adoption terminology--birth mother instead of mother or first mother, adoption plan vs. abandonment, and learning our child's birth country culture.  Sounds simple enough, right?* 

For those of you that are shaking your head affirmatively, I suggest you read the adoptee blogs that are out there.  There are a great number of international adoptee blogs--mostly Korean and Taiwanese, but I suspect there will be a growing number of blogs from Chinese adoptees in the coming years.   

We use terms in our mostly white-American adoption communities without really exploring some of the meanings closely.  We use terms because we are told by others in our community to use those terms.  Well, sometimes you need to ask.  If you say a person is of Indian descent most people would now assume you are referring to a person of East Indian descent.  Now days we refer to the first settlers of this nation as Native Americans.  Is this a term they chose for themselves?  No, this is something we created for them since Indian no longer worked (nor did it makes sense since it was based on the lack of directional sense on Columbus' part).  If you ask a "Native American" what he/she prefers to be called, they are going to tell you they prefer their tribe name.  Since there are probably over a hundred tribe names it is just easier for us to call them all "Native Americans".  The same issues have followed nearly every race of people that have called America home.  While I was a nurse first, my greatest love has been anthropology.  While working on a project several years ago I met with various senior community members that have watched our city grow into the more diverse town that it currently is.  While talking to one retired professor I asked about his African American culture and he quickly corrected me, "honey, I am not African American.  I was not born in Africa.  I am a man of color and that is how I prefer to be referenced."  Does every person person prefer to be called 'person of color'?  Certainly not.  For years I bristled at being called Caucasian.  Why?  Because the term Caucasian came from the Russian Caucasian Mountain ranges (the first Caucasoid [people with skull features most resembling whites] skeletons were found in this mountain range) and my ancestors are not from Russia.  What seems small and insignificant to us may mean something completely different to someone else.

And how do you incorporate your child's birth culture into your home?  I'm sure people have a lot of different ideas on this--culture camps are one good recommendation I have heard or belonging to groups like FCC and FCV so your child is able to interact with other adopted children.  Some APs might buy magazines or books that feature the child's birth culture or incorporate certain meals, but does this mean we are adding their birth culture back into their lives?  I don't know.  It certainly will not emulate the the culture they lost.  How could it?  It's a completely different language, different history, different everything.  In a sense many adoptive parents have created a third culture--a culture that tries to include both birth country and American culture but can't be true to either one (actually I can't take credit for that term--it came out of a discussion with someone who was writing about this third culture for his dissertation). 

Does this mean we should stop?  Certainly not.  What I have learned from doing ethnographies and talking with (and reading blogs from) adoptees is that no two people are like--including your children.  My plan is to educate myself as much as possible.  I aware that my children may wish to search for a birth parent some day regardless of what country they came from.  I've heard some APs say that the reason they chose international adoption is so they won't have to deal with a birth mother.  There is always a birthmother regardless of whether you ever meet her or not, your child will think of her more times than you realize.  I hope to learn from other adoptees, adoptive parents and birthmothers.  I hope to learn to cook pho and dim sum and will encourage my children to participate in Vietnamese and Mandarin lessons.  Ultimately it comes down to your child.  Some will want to learn about their other country and their birthmom, others will choose to leave it all behind.  In the end, I think we really have to follow our children's lead, be supportive with their decisions, and encourage and provide them with the tools that make them a better person in whatever way may be required.

*For an interesting article on adoption language, please see Adoptive Families, August 2008, pg 26. 

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wow, a week

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, the minutes and hours seemed to tick by so slowly.  It was painful--I would watch the clock and would think an hour had passed only to find out it had been 2 or 3 minutes.  There is something to be said about waiting and wanting and watching.  Following surgery time seemed to speed up again--too fast, as usual but at least it wasn't a painful wait. 

I caught some flak about not posting a mom updated at the beginning of the last post instead of at the bottom (I did change the font color to red though!)...hehe, sorry about that.  She is really doing awesome.  I keep telling her "your crazy, but you are doing awesome".  In less than a week from surgery she had begun walking her usual 5 miles a day.  She's not as fast as she was, but she can go to the distance.  She's amazing, quite an inspiration.  She makes it look like recovering from a cold, not a major surgery to remove cancer!  She's healthy, she's happy and the doctor cleared her to go to Vietnam.  Yay!  She still has another 4 weeks off from work and she is BORED.  I told her I was making her responsible for planning our itinerary.  So, for those of you that have been before, what recommendations do you have?  Which places are must-see and where should we shop and eat? 

I spent the last two days at my parent's small rental house.  Five adults and one almost 3 year-old girl.  Wow, talk about a lot of noise!  My niece is in the stage where everything is "no".  You can say, "you are a very pretty little girl" and her response: "I not pretty".  It's opposite world!  We did have some fun together.  I was on the blow-up mattress in one of the bedrooms and my niece came in while I was getting ready.  She threw herself down on the blow-up and then I belly flopped to watch her bounce.  She loved it!  Before long her mom joined us and the 3 of us belly flopped and watched each other bounce.  My poor dad was listening to all the abuse his blow up mattress was receiving downstairs.  Yikes. 

My parents rental house borders a park which is where they let off the fireworks.  We had a front row seat to the action by sitting in their driveway.  Here are a couple of prettier pictures:

IMG_0454 IMG_0470 IMG_0498 IMG_0537 IMG_0501 IMG_0563 I think I will be getting some of those photos enlarged and hanging them in my kids' bedrooms.  My mom took some photos that looked like jellyfish.  Cameras can capture some pretty cool images these days.

I hope you all had a restful and happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

...of Duc and dreams

Before I woke up this morning I was having the most intense dream--it felt so real!  My cheeks were still wet with tears--sadly sweet tears, does that make any sense?  Ok, just to be clear, my dreams are very vivid and often filled with a lot of details so just bear with me for a few minutes.

I dreamed I was in Vietnam so I must have had a referral, but when I arrived there I was introduced to a 12 year-old girl, not an infant son.  My initial feeling was of intense disappointment--don't get me wrong, I hope that someday I have a daughter, but I was expecting a son.  I have little boy clothes (ok, it's only about 5 little outfits, but still), I have a boy name and a boy room.  I was expecting a boy! But there was something about this girl...somehow I just understood her and in a strange sort of way.  She wouldn't make any eye contact with me and she had obvious attachment issues.  Several other families were supposed to adopt her, but none of the families worked out.  She had grown up in the orphanage.  She shrunk away from me when I attempted to hug her and the very sight of her broke my heart.  The more we were together I got this sense that we were supposed to be together, but I was still wanting my son.  Whenever I would tell others about her I would get choked with emotion (hence the tears in the dream) and tell them how incredible she was.  I finally realized that despite wanting a son, I deeply loved this girl. At some point Duc enters the dream and I learn that he will be coming home with me, but they also want her to come home with me as well.  Because of the deadline I didn't think there was any way the paperwork would clear and the DOS or CIS would grant her a Visa.  But I couldn't leave without her...it felt like I was leaving my heart! As the dream ended, I had decided that I would live in Vietnam if I needed to so that I could be her mom as well as Duc's mom.  The very last thing I remember of the dream before I woke up is sleeping in an overly large chair.  The girl is sitting on my lap, Duc is laying across her and the cat (where the heck did this cat come from...it's not my cat!) was sitting on Duc's lap. 

It seems strange that a dream about a girl that broke my heart would actually bring me peace, but it did.  I don't know what it was supposed to mean, if anything.  Perhaps it was just my mind's way to telling me to prepare for anything.  Nothing is ever really in out control, even our hearts.  I think it reminded me that we can find love in places that we don't expect, even sad-faced 12 year-old girls.

I guess my mind was telling me I'm ready.  For whatever happens next, I am finally ready.

Mom Update:

Mom called me today when I was in a huge testing session/meeting to tell me SHE'S CANCER FREE!  That's right, the surgeon got all the cancer.  She won't need any radiation and the doctor has cleared her to go to VIETNAM!  She is also up to walking 3 miles a day so that's also awesome.  Compared to the last time she called me at work, this is a much better call!

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About This Blog

This started as my story, but has evolved to OUR story. This is the story of life as a single parent to a wonderful little boy while we wait for baby sister. China LID 2.12.07.


But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day.
Habakkuk 2:3

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