Saturday, January 31, 2009

Toxic Waste and other trappings of parenthood

Do you remember the Ashley Judd/Morgan Freeman movie “Kiss the Girls” that came out more than a few years ago?  It is every single girl’s worst nightmare—a stalking Casanova who prided himself on knowing her most intimate secrets, including her time of the month because he went through her trash.

Well, I’m pretty sure I won’t be having that issue any time soon.  In fact after I paid my bills tonight I threw away some statements without shredding them (gasp!). 

There is no way delicate way of saying it….the Spud’s shit stinks.  I’m a nurse and even I am gagging.  I suspect it has something to do with the antibiotics he is on which may be creating another issue in his belly.  I’m just hoping it doesn’t lead to another nasty infection.   I’ve lit scented candles, double-bagged, I can still freakin’ smell it. 

Not that you really need to know this, but the Spud has been quite regular since we met in VN six weeks ago (six weeks ago today we became a family—wow, where has the time gone?).  Usually every other day with very little fanfare or smell.  Oh, how times have changed!

Not only that, but I am beginning to think it will be easy to get him potty trained.  For the last week, every single time I put him in the high chair he grabs the side of the tray, grunts, his face turns red and his eyes begin to water.  Within a minute or two my eyes begin to water.  Oh my goodness, nothing that awful should come out of anything that small. 

It reminds me of the last few days we were in Vietnam.  While staying in Hanoi we decided to take a tour of Halong Bay (correction: I decided that long before I ever had a referral—we were going to Halong!).  Anyway, the Spud was his usual charming self and because he is the perfect baby he never pooped when we were out.  Yeah, I know, I am really fortunate. 

Anyway, we were traveling the two or three hours back to Hanoi in a van with the three or four other child-free couples. Well, on the way back everyone is sleeping.  Everyone but the Spud.  Not only is he not sleeping, he dropped the biggest, nastiest poo that I have seen in a long time.  And let me tell you, Vietnamese diapers are not made to handle that kind of waste.  It was so bad that even our guide sitting in the front seat starts to gag quietly and discreetly covered his nose with a finger.  Mom and I are laughing our butts off because it is awful and we know it’s awful and I don’t know why they haven’t pulled off the road or at least cracked a window.  The only ones immune were the couple in the far rear of the van.  Well, we finally did pull in and knowing there was no changing facility I suggested to the other couples that they leave.  Most did, except for the couple immediately behind us.  They said it was fine with them.  Well, I no sooner got his pants pulled off and they decided to seek higher ground, preferably upwind of us.  As they stumbled over themselves to get out of the reach of the green cloud the woman called over her shoulder, “he’s cute, but that is awful”. It truly was awful.  It was everywhere.  Have you ever tried to change a diaper in the dark when the baby has had a blowout?  Yeah, ten minutes later and I still can’t shake the smell.  I start searching and realize it is on me.   I started whining at my mom “get it off of me!” It was that bad. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where do we fit in?

Addendum:  Spud’s Uncle Mike came over and shoveled us out.  I went out to help, but after about 10 minutes the Spud was crying so hard I had to stop (oh my goodness—it broke my heart!  His little face was red and covered in snot.  Evidently there is a little more separation anxiety going on than I thought).  Fortunately my neighbor saw Michael shoveling alone and came over and helped him finish. Thank GOD I have the support system that I have!

I have been a single girl for a long enough time to be referred to as a single woman, and now I struggle to see where I we fit in with this new dynamic. 

The dynamic changes somewhat when a woman skips the whole marriage thing and goes directly to family.  I grew up in a conservative Christian family within a conservative Christian community where nice single girls do not have babies by themselves.   Lest you think I am, like, 60 years old I will remind you that small, rural mid-western communities take a long while to catch up to the rest of the country.  After all, this particular town is still proudly sporting a mullet—a look that hasn’t been acceptable since Billy Ray’s Achy Breaky Heart went mainstream.

Although I have grown up and am certainly not a conservative, I still have some conservative values and I attend a Christian church.  I say all this because I am trying to figure out where I fit in.  I was reading this month’s AF magazine and one of the questions posed was how is a single woman with a new baby supposed to do it all without feeling overwhelmed?  Their advice was to reach out in your circles of friends and create new ones through a variety of resources—including faith based ones.  I am fortunate that I do not feel overwhelmed (at least not while I am pretending to be a stay at home mom for a while).  We just don’t have single moms at my church nor have I been able to identify any divorced moms that I might be able to reach out to. 

I enjoy my church more than any church I have ever attended, but I struggle to see where the Spud and I will fit in in the long haul.  There aren’t any adopted children at his church, but we do have a number of Asian families that attend (mostly Korean).  I don’t know any other single moms so there aren’t any children without fathers that Spud will be able to identify with.  They are really trying to increase the number of events for theirs members to socialize in, but I struggle even there.  I am not over 40 (one such group) and I am not married with children, and while I could attend the 20/30 year singles group, I am hardly a single any more.  I am 1 + 1/2.

So, does anyone have any advice for me? 

Contrary to what I thought, Spud has not drastically changed me or my life.  What I mean is that all the things I did before, I still do, I just bring him along.  I am very fortunate that he is up for anything and enjoys hanging out with people.  I think I have mentioned this before, but I will say it again, that boy will skip naps and food just to hang out with people (that was the reason for our HORRIBLE flight home from VN—he wouldn’t sleep or eat for the duration). 

The Spud and I have been snowed in for the last three days.  Yep, we have been stuck in the house since Monday afternoon.  There is more than a foot of snow outside my door and I today I can’t even see my car tires.  Unfortunately because of cold-induced asthma I can’t do a darn thing about it.  My dad bought us tickets to a Home Show on Saturday, but unless someone volunteers to dig me out, we are effectively stuck until it gets warm enough to melt. 

The Spud doesn’t seem to mind.



Those little “bumps” in the snow are my outdoor lights.




This little face kills me!  He is just so beautiful!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Who peed in your cornflakes?

People frequently ask how the Spud and I are doing and my response after we got through the first two weeks home is “Good!” and I mean it.  The first 10-12 days home was absolute hell that I hope to never repeat (hopefully my daughter will adjust to the time difference easier, but I also realize she will probably not be as easy as my son). 

He truly is an easy baby and as I’ve said all along—he makes this look easy.  He also makes up for all my inadequacies as a parent.  The truth is he is just a very easy going child.  For some reason, however, people love to say “well, you just wait until he hits the terrible twos and threes” or laughing they will say “you won’t think he’s such a good boy when he is a teenager!” 

Adoptive parents take another route, '”wow, it just shows you how awful his time in the orphanage was.  If they took better care of him he wouldn’t be so shell-shocked” or “once he begins to feel safe he will start to open up more”. 

I find both of these responses somewhat offensive.  While I realize the Spud and I have only been a family for a little less than six weeks, I do know his moods.  I know when he is worried, happy, hungry, curious, etc.  At his core he is just an easy going little guy.  This was apparent to the orphanage staff which I suspect may be why he was one of the favorites.  When I was visiting the orphanage the day before the G&R the staff told me they called him “Bubbly” because he was outgoing.

According to the international adoption MD he has absolutely NO delays—physically, developmentally, or attachment wise.  In fact, he is ahead in some ways.  And yes, I know that he won’t always smile at me just because I smiled at him (that will be a sad day).  I know that someday he will try to set limits and assert his independence (terribly 2/3s and teens) and that we will both have some growing pains when that occurs, but why do parents that don’t know me, and especially don’t know my son, insist on telling me that he will someday be a monster?  I know he won’t always be like this.  He will grow up, but I suspect at his core his temperament won’t change much.    

People love to guess what he will become based on how he responds to things.  He studies people quite intently—it is interesting to watch.  He studies faces—expressions, changes in voice inflection, he loves to listen to me laugh.  Today as I was watching him I thought “here is a boy that will work with people”.  He could be an anthropologist, sociologist.  I think he will make a great public speaker someday.  Any time I turn the TV on he tries to talk to it.  Same thing at church.  He thinks it is call and respond kind of service.  The preacher says something, Spud talks back.  Back and forth they go.  However, he does have a strong attraction to computer equipment.  He goes ape every time he sees a keyboard (seriously, he starts grunting like an ape) and he LOVES to watch the screensaver on the computer monitor.  The tech guys at work saw him in action and thought he could be a mechanical engineer.

I don’t care what he does—just as long as he is healthy and happy.018

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dearest Son,

You are getting so big!  You haven’t gained any weight since coming home, but you are changing so much.  Your face looks different and I find myself amazed when I see a glimpse of the baby that I remember from the photos I received while I waited for you.  Every day I tell you, “Please!  Don’t grow any bigger.  I just want to enjoy you like this a little longer.”  You don’t listen.  How could you when you are in such a hurry to show off what you can do?  I know you need to grow bigger in order to do those things. 

Some days I feel cheated that we didn’t become a family earlier.  I so enjoy watching you grow and explore—even when it makes me think smarter.  Every day you amaze me.

Last week you crawled into the kitchen and practiced falling down.  I thought you were goofy—why would you choose the only uncarpeted room in the house to practice falling down?  It didn’t take long for you to show me.  The kitchen has always been the scarier room—for me, not so much for you.  The floors are slick and it is  difficult to navigate with your little socks and feet.  I don’t know how many times you cracked your head on the floor before you decided to take matters into your own hands.  So you practiced.  For nearly half an hour—up and down on your butt you went until you were sure your head was safe.  Only a day or two later I learned why.  It was time to stand holding on with only one hand.  Yep, one hand, baby.  You didn’t expect applause like you did when you first began standing up.  This required more thought.  You mastered it quickly and now I catch you letting go with both hands and I watch you drop after a second or two.  Always on your butt. 


When we were returning from Vietnam you were doted on by the Korean Airline staff.  Among your many gifts was this airplane on a key chain.  For the longest time you didn’t know that the string on the bottom of the plane could be pulled.  You would watch me pull the string and place the vibrating toy in your hands.  Last week I watched as you were able to pull the string a few inches with your teeth.  I couldn’t help but cringe—ouch!  This week you have mastered the toy.

You amaze me every day.  Today after the church service an elderly woman beat a path to us and told me she had seen us on TV.  She thought you were pretty amazing—even more so after meeting you in person.  You have that effect on people.  You can’t help it.  I was prepared for all the “he’s so lucky” comments, but amazingly most people recognize what I already know “I am the lucky one”.

You are a wonderful baby and a joy to be around.    Every day I sit and marvel at you.  Whether you are playing or sleeping or smiling up at me.  I just find you to be amazing. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Today Show

Because I have been so private about a lot of things in my life (believe me, it’s not limited to just the adoption) I have struggled with what is safe to put out there about me, but especially more now that the Spud has come into my life. 

After much thought and consideration (and pleading from some people) I have decided to let you in another something in my life.  My life and my son’s life are no longer so private. 

Today Show--Cost of Adoption Segment

I looked at the greater good which is why I agreed to allow them to be a part of my son’s adoption story.  I know that there a lot of people out there who want to adopt.  When people have learned that I am adopting/have adopted I often hear “oh, I always wanted to do that, but it is too expensive”.   It is expensive and it is difficult and it definitely heartbreaking somewhere along the way, but if we continue to follow that path, at the end there is usually a child that brings us unspeakable joy. 

As a single woman, like so many of you reading this blog, things are not stacked in our favor.  It is often more difficult to find an agency that will work with us.  Since we are one income household it is difficult to find the money.  I am not rich.  I spend $200 per year on clothes/shoes/purses/accessories/etc.  I don’t buy Starbucks unless it is bought for me.  I don’t have cable TV and until I took a job that required a high speed internet connection I lived with dial-up.  I don’t often eat out just as I don’t eat the sushi that I love unless it is a special occasion.  As a single it is much more difficult to find organizations that give adoption grants or low/no interest loans.  Believe me, I have looked.  Most require a check box in the married box on the form and others also require families to follow a particular faith.

I feel very blessed that I stumbled across and they were able to provide a handsome sized grant.  Becky was certainly an answer to prayer.  I remember stumbling across their website and seeing that the packet had to be in in only a few days or I wouldn’t meet the deadline.  I remember writing the essay—pouring out everything that was on my heart, just in case.  When I took the envelope off to the post office I had to pay a pretty penny to ship it overnight.  I kissed the envelope goodbye and said a prayer expecting nothing. 

Not only did I receive a grant, I got to be a part of something greater.  I got to be a part of Becky’s dream to assist those of wanting to start a family—regardless of marital status, race, sexuality, religion, etc. 

So, for any of you reading this I hope you will consider giving money to and assisting this dream that will allow MORE families to adopt.  And for those of you, like me, who had a dream but had difficulty finding the funds, please contact

Vietnam and Duc 144

My beautiful son.

Monday, January 19, 2009

8 months--a letter to my son

IMG_1875My biggest fear has been realized--time really is racing by now that we are together.  I see you growing--it's more than just height and weight.  You discover new sounds and new things every day.  Lately you have taken to exploring rooms that you previously were only held in.  The kitchen and your bathroom are especially busy places these days.  Today you are 8 months old and we have been a family for 32 days.  Every morning you greet me with smiles and hugs and every evening as I prepare you for sleep you nestle into my neck and hug my shoulders.  I could never have imagined anything feeling so good in all my life.  And when you giggle...well, I smile with gratitude.  It is the best music I have ever heard and I would make any face, give you whatever I had to hear you giggle again.  You give smiles away freely, but you always reserve the double-dimple ones for me.  I can't even get a photo of them because you get so serious when I put the camera in front of my face.

People often ask me "is it as hard as you thought it would be?".  I never have a good answer for that because I don't know how hard it is supposed to be.  I know that parenting you has been a joy so far.  I know how lucky and blessed I am.  I know what a miracle you are--not that you were born and survived, but that we became a family.  Two people from opposite sides of the world with nothing but a need for family in common. 

Your trust amazes me.  I am amazed every day that you smiled and reached for me that first day.  I am amazed that you still do.  Your faith is so much greater than my own.  You trust that even when I am late with meals or diaper changes that I will do what I promised to do from the beginning--to love and care for you. 

I am amazed at how you impact those around you.  You make me smile.  A lot.  Honestly, I don't feel any different but people tell me I look happy.  Content.  Peaceful.  Glowing.  I hear these adjectives every day.  I look in the mirror and see the same person, but I know I smile more as a result of you.  Even when you aren't around I smile more.  I can't wait until you wake up in the morning--I just want to see your sweet face again.

You reduce strangers to tears.  That, too, happens almost daily.  People approach us after reading our story and obliged to tell us both how lucky we are.  After spending only a few minutes together they tell me repeatedly how lucky I am.  I suppose the repetition is to remind me how lucky I am.  I need no reminder (although it is always nice to hear).  I am lucky.  You are an exceedingly happy baby and I think you will be a very happy man someday.  You make men and women want to have children, even those that have sworn they would never have children.  So, yeah, you make parenting look easy. 

I look at your face and see the wonderment of it all.  There are so many unanswered questions about who you are.  I can't help but feel like I am stealing another woman's joy.  It's a question people ask me that I always cringe away from, but one that I often ask in a rhetorical sense "how could anyone possibly look at that face and walk away from it?"  I know why--I understand the financial strain a child brings and the difficulty of raising a child alone or without family assistance or approval.  I get it, but I don't.  My brain understands what my heart can't possibly comprehend after loving you. 

I love you, son.  I love you in ways I didn't think possible.  Your pain is my pain and your joy is my joy.  I thank God every day that I get to feel both of these.    


With your cousin.  She loves you more than I could have ever hoped for.  She tells everybody that you are her baby.  She wants to hold you constantly and whines until she does.



With Auntie Lou.  She fights with Opa just to hold you.  You are really going to like her the older you get.


Told ya.


With Opa.  He adores you. 



With Oma.  You both light up every time you see each other.  It's beautiful to watch.



Monday, January 12, 2009

We are here!

Leah, please email me!  I don't even want to tell you how many times I  looked back at that comment you left all those months ago.  I always wondered who left it, and for some reason it made me feel strangely better.  What you said what slightly prophetic--he was one of the last boys out of Vietnam.  


Today I even felt the need to email the CIS officer that worked on my paperwork last year--I'll let you scroll back to January and February to read about it (I'm too lazy these days to link).  It was an awful time I remember wishing/hoping that the CIS wouldn't be the reason that I didn't receive a referral.  Fortunately, they weren't.

Some of you know the story and some of you don't, but now that we are both home safely I feel I need to be open.  Those of you that I privately email know that I have felt a strange link to my son from the beginning, but despite that there was a lingering doubt about whether or not I would receive a referral.  While I was was looking over the paperwork I received before we exited the country I was amazed to learn that many of those feelings that I felt actually correlated to something significant with him.  But still, when you see a shutdown looming it is incredible difficult to maintain any sense of hope.  

On August 29th, on the last day that referrals were signed, my son and I were permanently matched together.  Unfortunately it took several days before I was notified and I didn't lay eyes on his photo until September 3rd.  There are a number of reasons I decided not to share this information publicly.  One of my primary early reasons was because I was very aware of how many families were not receiving referrals and would not be able to share my joy.  It was heartbreaking to know that many of my blogger buddies would not be bringing home children from Vietnam.  How could I possibly share my good news when so many were hurting?

My second reason for keeping it quiet was 'what if?'.  In a country that is closing there are so many things that can go wrong.  Up until the time I boarded the plane I kept expecting someone to call and say they had changed their minds.  I could not endure that kind of heartbreak publicly.  And just so you don't think I was being a total jerk, I didn't even tell my co-workers until after I had received I-600 Approval in late October.  The people at the church I attend didn't even know until two days before I left when my pastor made me a part of the sermon.  People have come up to me the past two Sundays with tears in their eyes (yeah, that phenomenom still amazes me) wanting to see my son.

Oh, and his name isn't Haven.  As you might have noticed he is a BIG boy.  He was especially beefy looking in his referral photos and when I tried to imagine people chanting his name at football games, well, Haven didn't make the cut.  I am working on a name and I have trying it out on him.  Unfortunately when we were in Vietnam I began calling him Spud and now others have picked up on that.  The last thing he needs is a redneck-sounding nickname...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

For Opa--Merry Christmas

We are still having late nights so we make the most of them--we play!  The penguin is from Opa and Duc LOVES to bat it about.  Sometimes he head butts it until he is the penguin is down!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Introducing...the new man in my life

It's true, there is a new man in my life.  He is pretty short and has a bad haircut, but I love him like no other.


I'll try to post more information soon.


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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