Saturday, February 28, 2009

Memories of Ha Noi

This should go without saying, but please do not copy any of my photos for your personal use.  Unfortunately, although I am without skill, someone has used my photos for their own use.  From now on I will try to watermark to discourage this, but I really don’t want to!   


Just down the street from the hotel.


Outside the Temple of Literature.  Picture was taken from across the street on a balcony. If you zoom in it appears the man is staring directly at you!



Just inside the Temple of Literature


One of my favorite moments.  Two little boys, two moms and a whole lot of energy!  I could see my son in the faces of these boys and I knew in that moment I was going to be in for a fun ride.  I loved how the women tried to convey that with me once they saw that I also had a son.  Watching them run away, streaking up the sidewalk and appearing to dart in to traffic had my heart racing, but I was smiling at the same time. 

Friday, February 27, 2009

Memories of Vietnam

I’ve been thinking a lot of Vietnam.  I think about it everyday, actually, but little things are bringing back memories that I haven’t recalled since leaving the country. 

The other day it was a smell.  There was a hotel we stayed at that had this incredible smell.  I don’t know what it was—kind of spicy and sweet, but not in an edible sort of way.  It could have been perfume or cologne—it didn’t seem to bend more towards one gender or the other.  Anyway, I LOVED the smell.  I would sniff my hair constantly (because the shampoos and soaps also smelled like it).  Ahhh, sweet Vietnam.

And tonight I remembered this:IMG_1358

We were in Saigon and after a day out we walked over to a little pizza restaurant behind the hotel.  The menu was huge!  Like, American pizza restaurants can in no way compete with this place.  Page after page of specialty pizzas.  We walked back to the hotel with our piping hot pizza and warm drinks and enjoyed it. 

I had forgotten all about it until tonight when I decided that I had to have pizza.  I remember the wait staff—as always, so accommodating.  The waitress wanted to chat while we waited for our pie.  She was from the Philippines and told us about coming to VN.  She told us she was a contracted worker and could work in a number of different countries (I have totally forgotten now, but they were all Asian countries with the exception of one, I think).  She talked about her boyfriend and how their next job would probably not be in the same country together and I realized something.  As an American, my life is relatively easy.  I don’t have to worry about going to another country for work (well, hopefully the economy will turn around so I won’t have to worry about it). 

So much of what we recorded of Vietnam was on the tapes and camcorder provided by NBC.  Since they haven’t yet copied the tapes and sent them back to me I have to rely solely on my memories.  When we were in Vietnam I found myself on a number of occasions trying to hold on to the moment.  I would will myself to remember that moment.  No amount of video tape or photos can really save that moment or the emotions and thought behind it.  It wasn’t the big moments—not the moment I finally had my son in my arms or the ceremony.  It was the quiet moments.  Just me and my son.  Driving down a road.  Watching traffic or the pregnant woman saunter slowly across the street.   Sitting on the empty beach in Da Nang one last time.  Even yesterday I felt a cool wet breeze and the Spud and I both raised our faces to catch it.  Just as we had in Vietnam.  

Ahhh, I miss Vietnam. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Time for your close up

I am so thankful for all the great things that have happened since Spud entered my life.  I am just beginning to realize that when you give love to someone, that love often spills out and spreads outside of you and them.  It seeps out of your pores and touches different parts of your life.  I think people around you, whether you know them or not, respond to it and want to be around it also. 

At least that is the way I am explaining the good fortune that has come into my life:)

Last week we had our photo shoot with the photographer working with the Mead Johnson people (the people that make Enfamil) and the photos turned out beautifully (from what I have heard).  They will be using at least one or two of his photos at their new headquarters.  His photo will be “supersized” and placed in the lobby of the new building.   Unfortunately there is no $$$ for all his hard work, but the photographer will be giving us all the digital images and a credit towards prints at the print lab she uses.  I have to tell you—this is an answered prayer.  Of all the things I have really regretted since coming home it is the fact that I can not afford to pay for a professional sitting.  I so badly wanted to have photos of us together and a picture of his dimples.  She took several photos of the two of us just ‘cuz.  God bless her—I can’t wait to see our photos!  The few she showed me on her camera looked absolutely beautiful.  I am so thankful we had this opportunity.

Prior to doing this shoot Shasta had shared info with me about Celebrating Adoptions.  They are a collection of photographers from all across the nation that volunteer their services to newly adoptive families (that doesn’t sound right…?  How are you supposed to write that?).  Anyway, they waive their sitting fees and discount their photo packages for new families.  I made an appointment with a photographer before we knew about our photo shoot last week.  Anyway, Spud was really having an off day.  Like, I have not seen him feeling this off since we were on the plane from Vietnam.  Yikes.  He didn’t cry, but he was very clingy.  Kind of a problem when you are trying to get him to pose for the camera.     I am still grateful for the photos and I am going to show the two that Kristi has placed on her blog this evening.


I like my expression here, but I don’t think she realized—this is not his happy face!  He was working up towards a scream. 


Check out the chubby baby!  I almost don’t recognize him—he looks like a little sumo baby, but I love the baby rolls.  His belly was so flat when I met him in Vietnam; even though he is not built small, he was pretty lean.  His pediatrician placed him in the 25th percentile, but the international adoption doctor put it lower, maybe 10th percentile.  I think those numbers have changed.   

I love his messy hair and sleepy looking eyes.  I can’t believe how long my hair has gotten.  I usually keep it about chin length, but now it is brushing my shoulders.  I can’t afford a haircut at this time, but hopefully next month after I am making some money again.  I don’t want it to sound like I am complaining.  I have really enjoyed my time home with Spud.  I needed it as much or more than he did, and I think it has really been good for bonding.  Every time he reaches for me my heart sings.  There is never any hesitation—I’m just amazed that he trusts me so much.  Honestly, I know I blather on about my love for my son, but I really can’t help myself.  It just spills out.

Hi, my name is Erica and I am a…

polkaholic.  I can’t help it.  It started when I was in 4th grade (wow, I really do sound like an addict!) and my mother made me a dress with pink polka dots.  Nothing in life has compared to that dress.

After pimping the blog last night I realized it looked a lot like my other blog—both now have polka dot backgrounds.  I can’t help it—I LOVE polka dots.  Spud should just be thankful I haven’t been able to find any boy or gender neutral polka dot clothes or he would also be sportin’ some dots.  IMG_2231_edited-1 I did crop his little butt out of the picture.  Didn’t want this haunting him later.  I do have a bad habit of sticking random letters or numbers to him.  During meal time I will stick the number ‘1’ to his forehead.  He looks so cute!


Yeah, the Spud lives in a gated community.  Oma bought this for him last week when she was visiting.  It helps me out since I can put him in here and know that he is safe.  She thought he looked more like an inmate—with the bars and stripes and all.  All he needs now is a tin can to drag across the bars. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slow day in the ‘hood

Since I am slightly twisted and know my days are limited before the Spud says “get away crazy lady!” I present you with my afternoon fun:


I don’t know about this, mama….


Ok, there is a little bit of a smile.

And then we watched the neighbor’s septic tank get pumped.  That was exciting!  Ok, not really, but Spud was entertained and it certainly explained the rather unpleasant odor outside that was NOT my heap of dirty diapers. 

And then we took a nap and I looked through my old photos, well, as old as a 9 month old’s photos can be.  And here are some recent photos.


The weekend before last the women from my church held a baby shower for me.  It was a lot of fun and Spud spun in circles for two hours showing off before finally passing out in my arms.  Ahhh, bliss.  The flowers in the background are from my dad.  Each year he sends me Valentine’s Day flower…ok, everyone say aaahhhh.  This year Spud’s name was included on the card with the flowers.  Double aaahhhh


Let’s just say he had a good reason to be spitting that corn out.  It had had better days.  I’m not saying who tried to feed it to him…let’s just say he doesn’t spit when I feed him.  At least not yet.


Looking Dino-mite!  Spud received this cute little robe at the shower.


Spud throwing down some west side with Uncle Mike.  I need to get him a ball cap…


One of the many faces he makes during the day.

I am so thankful for many things every day.  The biggest thing I am thankful for is my son.  Every day.  Every. Single. Day. I thank God he is in my life.  Yesterday at church the pastor asked that we pray for each other that we would have something incredible happen to us this week—big or small, it didn’t matter.  The gentleman that prayed for us seemed to know that every day Spud and I share is something incredible.  I couldn’t ask for more.  And yesterday as I laid on the couch so exhausted while he played with me among the pillows I began to cry.  I was just so overwhelmed with gratitude for having this beautiful little man in my life.  He blows me away. 

And because I am feeling quite cheesy after reviewing all these photos I had to share this song with you:

I haven’t heard this song in years, but I heard it this weekend and it seemed pretty appropriate. 

I could not ask for more than this time together
I could not ask for more than this time with you
Every prayer has been answered
Every dream I have's come true
And right here in this moment is right where I'm meant to be

These are the moments I thank God that I'm alive
These are the moments I'll remember all my life
I've got all I've waited for
And I could not ask for more

There you have it.  I love my little man and I feel like the happiest woman in the world. 


I have not really been into the Oscars the past couple of years—it just seemed like an overly bloated version of its former self with a lot of self-congratulations for movies that the general American public never sees, or worse, doesn’t have the access to see.  Finally we had a year when many of us, even those living in more rural locations, had the opportunity to agree or disagree that these particular films were good or bad.  I think Hugh Jackman, the consummate performer, did an incredible job.  I didn’t watch all of the Oscars, but it really seemed that he brought old Hollywood glamour back to the show and it was a beauty to watch.

The Spud was down by 8 pm, but I was working feverishly to clear out my email in-box.  I still had unopened mail from the weeks we were in Vietnam and from the first few weeks we were home.  His room is also my office until I have the money and my contractor has the time to rebuild an office in my living room.  Spud got the boot a few weeks ago whenn Aunt Krissy and Cate were visiting and in an attempt to wade through the mess I have been trying to read and respond to emails more appropriately.  So, I went from 400+ emails in my inbox to 150.  Much more manageable, but I did miss the first hour of the Oscars.

Please tell me I was not the only one who really wanted the man with funky large teeth to win in the documentary category to win (I can’t remember which of the two in documentaries, but oh my goodness, wow).  I remember when I was young being so self-conscious of what I thought of as chiclet sized front teeth.  The rest of my teeth are smaller and they just seemed so obvious.  If I had known this man I would have felt a lot better about my teeth. I wonder if he had the same prison dentist I had (long story, but for some dental procedures I saw the prison dentist in his home office—no x-rays were performed and he was a bit “light” with the anesthetic.  Bad, bad memories which make for a good story some other time). 

Who else was ecstatic over the Slumdog Millionaire wins?  I saw Slumdog last week with Michael while my mom watched the Spud.  I loved it.  It was hard to watch some scenes, but the life and vitality that was portrayed was incredible.  And who is capable of not smiling when Jai Ho starts playing?  Not me!  I want to buy the soundtrack when I am working again.

And how excited is India for this film and it’s people???  Check out this video:

I love the person being interviewed for saying “it feels great and I am looking at them and they are all on the street and I am with them.  My heart is there.”

What an amazing film filled with hope.  If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I knew this day would arrive—it was inevitable.  It was also one of the reasons I was so reluctant to adopt as a single person without family in the vicinity.   What do you do when you wake up feeling ill and your child isn’t?

I woke up feeling so exhausted that I could barely move.  I don’t know if I am coming down with something or I’ve just been too busy and this was my body’s way of saying “sit your cheeks down!”   The joints ached and all I wanted to do was throw the blanket over my head and sleep.  All Spud wanted to do was get up early.  Of course it would also be a day when Spud decided only to take a short afternoon nap. 

The only thing harder than keeping up with him was the knowledge that I was shortchanging him a mother.  I hated that feeling.  But he is such a dear.  He seemed to know I wasn’t having a good day and for the most part stuck close by so I wasn’t having to chase him throughout the house.  He even spent some time on the couch with me—we curled up and played and I would try to make him laugh.  His laugh is like medicine for me.  And the strangest thing happened…I started feeling better.  Maybe the early afternoon nap we had taken was finally kicking in or maybe, just maybe, the joy of being with him revived me. 


Yep, that’s my little man trying to help me out.  What a sweetie!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

9/2 months

Dearest Son,

I love that I get to celebrate your birth and the date we were made a family on the same day.  I love that every Friday I wake up with a song in my heart, not because it is TGIF, but because Friday will always and forever be the day we became a family.  It’s my own little holiday—a celebration of yet another week that we have been family.  Nine week family, two months as a family and nine months since you entered the world and stole my heart.

I mark my time BD and AD—before you and after you.  My life feels too long in comparison to you—how could you have not been a part of it from the beginning?   How did I survive my mornings without your smile?  You, sweet son, are turning me into a person that loves morning. 

Your laugh is still the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.  Evidently you think the same of mine.  From the beginning, from our first hours and days in Vietnam, people would comment that you would smile and giggle when you heard me laugh.  I remember our time in the orphanage—oh how I laughed through my tears!  You laid your hand on my face and watched me so intently.  You placed your fingers over my lips feeling my lips move under your fingers.  Even now after nine weeks of bottles, you still lay in my arms with your bottle at your lips and a hand on my face or lips. 

When we were out yesterday visiting with your doting aunties they reported that you started imitating my laugh while I was in the car hunting down wayward toys.   You giggle a lot.  After I giggle (and vise versa), when you are tired, when you see your bottle full of formula ready for your belly and when you are amused by someone or something. 

I think about your birth mom—the woman and people that knew you first. I find my sadness and jealousy intertwining leaving me with a jumble of emotions that are sometimes hard to describe, let alone process.  I feel a deep sense of sadness for your first mother—every time you smile your double-dimple grin or you laugh at something I am doing or discover something new—I think of her and all that she is missing.  And a new feeling has emerged as the weeks pass—jealousy.  I could never have given birth to someone so perfect and so perfectly matched for my family, but I can’t help but wish I was one of the first people to see you.  To see you breathe in that first breathe and smile your first smile.  There are so many empty spaces between that time and now.  I wish I could fill them in somehow and put the puzzle of you together—to marvel at the way you were so perfectly knit together by two people I don’t know.  

I never knew to pray for someone as incredible as you.  I had prepared myself for a sickly, pale, underweight child and you were none of those things!  Just the other day I was telling Oma that I was amazed at how quickly my sun rose and set on you.  That with one smile or giggle I forget that you are pulling my hair or terrorizing the cat. 

I love to watch you learn.  You focus so intently on everything that is in front of you.  Your look is so intense you look as if you are glaring.  So many new things going on:

  • seven and a half teeth (ok, it’s not quite out, but your gums are definitely hurting.
  • blowing bubbles.  And you are really good!  Sometimes you even blow your food.  It cracks me up so bad I can’t help but laugh.  Probably not the best thing to do.
  • You LOVE to turn the lights off and on.   It took a few times, but now your little fingers flip it pretty easily.  If only you could feed yourself your own Puffs…
  • you are growing!  I see your face changing constantly and while I didn’t think it was possible, you get cuter every single day.  And if the ache in my arms is any indication, I think you have finally started gaining weight.  You finally have your very own Buddha Belly!
  • You love people more than you love toys.  I love that about you.
  • You hate it when I eat and don’t share my food with you.  You just stare at me with big puppy dog eyes.  You don’t whine—you let your eyes do all the work.
  • You pull up all the time and walk down the hall while holding on to the wall.  I know you’ll be happier when you are finally walking and I suspect that moment will arrive all too soon.

Every morning I walk in to your room  and listen to you coo.  Eventually you look up and see me.  You smile and clap and I feel like the most important person in the world.  Every day, whether we have a good day or not, I am thankful for that day with you.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hercules, urine fountains, baby curses, ANTBM and other full disclosures on motherhood.

My son is strong.  Like ridiculously strong.  Like big men trying to hold him say “wow, he’s really strong!”.  And that was when he was sick (he’s been sick since we’ve been home—long story—not going into it here).  Now he is feeling ass cheek kicking awesome.  I don’t have a problem with having a strong son other than I am not sure how I will keep him contained once he reaches, oh 10 months, because I have big plans for him.  The next time I move, he’s helping.

As a result of being so strong I have experienced my very first purple nurple and can I just say, oh my God, that hurt.  The first one might have been an accident, but the ones since?  Not a freakin’ chance.  Talk about spine paralyzing pain.  I’m surprised I haven’t dropped him while  he’s doing that.  So, here is the question…what the heck do I do to discourage this?  At what age does a child understand what ‘get the hell off me’ NO means?  At this point I scream in pain at such a high octave he looks at me stunned—but still pinching.  Yowza.  I’ve already started putting mittens on his hands during bottle feedings so he can’t pull my hair (he used to stroke it so nicely).  If he keeps this up he will be wearing those stupid mittens like socks—24/7. 

Seriously, he is that strong.  And since he is a male he won’t likely know his own strength until he nearly 45 years old.  I’m not sure I’ll be around long enough to notice.

Some of you have seen my attempt to diaper my child (or laughed your cheeks off while watching).  He doesn’t cry, but he loves to wrestle.  There have been more than a few diaper changes that have taken place while standing on his head (the pediatrician is aware), while I pin him to the floor with an arm or on bad days, my legs.  I didn’t buy a changing table before I came home and thank God I didn’t.  I can just see him flying right off of it. 

When people ask how I am adjusting (really well, thank you for asking) the only issue I ever mention is diapering.  The only thing more difficult than diapering him is getting him dressed after a bath.  He loves bath time and gets all riled up.  Well, today I decided to let him play naked for a few minutes before dressing him because I needed to catch my breath before round 2 he is so cute.  He looked so stinkin’ cute I ran to get my camera.  Twenty seconds later I return to find him standing up holding on to the jumperoo peeing on my carpet with a huge grin on his face.  Somehow I managed to cover him up with a diaper while I proceeded to laugh myself stupid.  The kicker wasn’t really the urine fountain, it was the absolute joy and pleasure on his face while he stood there watering the carpet.  Seriously, I think potty training is going to be a breeze…as long as I teach him to pee on a wall and poop at the table. 

I have been known to use a few curses in my life, I am not proud, but after working with nurses and doctors for the better part of 13 years I have picked up some of their poor language choices.  Obviously with a child in the home I need to correct that so I looked at the words I typically use (believe it or not, there are only a few).  I’ve started using ‘cheeks’ to replace ass.  It’s a shame because whether I see it in writing or hear it used out loud ASSHAT is still the funniest word I have ever heard/seen.  And, yes, I am aware that my sense of humor is in line with what you would typically see among 12 year-old boys.  Unfortunately referring to someone as a ‘cheekhead’ does not have near enough zing.  Given the number of “oh shit” moments I had in Vietnam, my biggest fear is that shit will indeed be his first word.  Seriously, walking down the narrow, wet steps around the mountain when we were in Halong Bay I repeated “ohshitohshitohshit” more frequently than my heart beat (and believe me, my heart was racing double time).  I have found a couple of fillers “oh doggies” or just putting in the name of someone I dislike.  Unfortunately that one only works if they aren’t standing in front of you.

After our fountain incident earlier today I decided we needed to get out of the house (I wanted to know if the living room still smelled like pee pee after smelling it with a fresh nose—thankfully, it doesn’t).  I was in desperate need of an oil change and while I was there a woman approached me and started chatting (hey, she had 3 kids, one of them a blonde and Spud likes himself some blonde).  Anyway, Spud has just been discovered!  Evidently a leading baby formula company is looking for baby models, especially “ethnic” babies.  She thought he looked cute (well, duh) and photogenic so we are hoping to set up a shoot soon.  Obviously it’s not definite that they will use him, but I thought that would be pretty freakin’ funny to see his face in the advertisements I am suddenly swimming in.          

This is so totally unrelated to anything else this post, but Spud got his Certificate of Citizenship last Friday (I have a “single and loving it” shirt that I need to pose him wearing while holding up his CoC since they identified him as single—what the heck?).  Anyway, we filed for a social security number on Monday when Kris and Cate were here and it arrived today.  After all the issues I have had with adoption related paperwork over the last 2+ years I was expecting it would take 14 weeks and then because they lost it (because you know they would) it would take 14 more.  But then I realized, my name isn’t anywhere associated with his SSN.  He is working with a fresh, clean slate.  Wow, so jealous of that. 

And because I am letting it all hang out today I am going to try to post next time on our little blow out at a Mexican restaurant last week.  Yeah, cliche, I know.  And by our, I mean Spud’s.  I don’t want anyone thinking I ‘oh doggied’ myself at a Mexican restaurant. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Family from afar

Last Friday, Kristin and I were discussing when to have a family reunion and get our kids together.  I was dying to get my hands on Catherine finally and she wanted to snuggle Spud (little did she know he is quite the wriggly worm that would rather wrestle).  I will admit i was rather hesitant to go any distance.  Lately Spud has begun getting really upset when I am out of sight.  Even using the bathroom and literally being 6 feet away (but out of sight) reduces him to tears.  It’s heart breaking.  Being in a rear-facing car seat is murder lately.  Over the weekend I listened to 75 minutes of non-stop, breath-catching tears.  It was awful.  That and some brake issues that I haven’t yet addressed had me feeling very nervous about going any distance.

They arrived Sunday late afternoon and we had a BLAST!  Oh my goodness—both Spud and I had a wonderful time.  It was just wonderful to spend time with someone who understands how wonderful and how hard being a single adoptive parent can be.  Sharing this experience with one of my closest friends made it that much richer for me.

My favorite, absolute favorite, moments were when all of us were just jumping around on the bed or the futon just playing.  Kristen or I would take turns taking photos and tickling the kids.  Catherine has boundless energy and for several days we would play a little game of  “I tickled you last”.  I will admit she was a bad influence on Spud—he didn’t want to take a nap with her around! 

I was concerned she would feel threatened by Kristen giving Spud some lovin’, but as long as she got her turn she was quite happy to share Spud with Kris. 

Spud absolutely adored Catherine!  I couldn’t keep his eyes off of her and his hands weren’t far behind!  His little head would whip around constantly trying to see where she was.  Nearly all my photos were blurry because they both move so fast!

My second favorite moment was when we stuck them in the bathtub together for a shared bath.  They both love water.  And splashing.  Spud would just stare at her.   It was fun to watch and I imagine that once he starts walking it will definitely be double trouble!


A rare photo with me and my Spud (now you understand the nickname, don’t ya!)


One of the rare, and I do mean rare, photos of all three of us looking at the camera at the same time.  How stinkin’ cute is Catherine!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Spud Valentine

Best Valentine’s Day ever!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Camera suggestions?

It has become quite obvious to me that the Spud is faster than a speeding bullet, more mighty than a locomotive.  Ok, I don’t know what the heck I am trying to reference here, but Spud is really fast and my camera is not fast enough to capture him and it kills me that I am missing all his wonderful expressions.  Just this week he began sucking his lower lip under his upper and making smacking noises when he eats.  He also made his very first fish face!  And I have no photos to remember the moment later (not that I would have had a chance to grab a camera, but I can dream). 

Anyway, back to the point.  I filed for the Spud’s social security number this week and was told it will arrive next week (hallelujah!) and I am already planning on how I can help stimulate the economy with my tax return (really, Mom, I promise I will pay you back before I buy anything!).

I want a camera.  A really nice digital SLR that I can grow into.  A DSLR that I will allow me to capture every. single. precious. moment of Spud’s life.  I have asked a couple of you out there that are profession or semi-professional (or look professional) for suggestions and so far I am hearing Nikon D40 and Canon Rebel.  I am leaning towards one over the other, but I thought I would ask for input from ya’ll.  If you were looking for a new camera what features would you want?  What do you wish your current camera had? 

Thanks for your help and God speed the US postal service and the IRS!

Two years

It was two years ago today that my dossier for my daughter in China was finally logged in.  I remember the anxiety of the whole process--my 1600A paperwork had been misplaced and it was taking them a while to process my file.  In some ways it was very similar to the wait for referral for my son and I guess waiting for my daughter prepared me for the grueling wait for his official referral. 

I remember the anxiety of each day checking the mailbox until one day  something came over me and instead of feeling defeated by the wait, I began to plan everything that needed to happen.  I still had to visit the state capitol for the oh-so-precious state notarizations and because I couldn't leave anything to chance I decided to make the trek to Chicago to have the Chinese consulate authenticate and stamp everything.  My friend Sherry was in on my plan and without 171H in hand we booked a hotel in Chicago and planned time off work. 

And like I felt it would happen, on January 24th it arrived.  Sherry and I took off at noon the next day and we shared an incredible little adventure that didn't end until Saturday evening when we drove down to my agency and personally delivered it on January 27th.  

On February 2nd my dossier was en route to China and on February 12th I officially lined up between 44, 532 other people (ok, that's just a number I made up, but it sounds about right).

Since my son has come home people have assumed that I dropped the quest for my daughter.  Nothing could be further from my mind.  She was the one that began all of this and if not for her I would not have EVER attempted to bring home Spud. 

She is still with me.  In my heart, in my mind, and especially in my dreams.  The dreams of her never ended and actually intensified after my referral for the Spud.   Before I traveled I dreamed that once I got to Vietnam they tried to give me a 12 year-old girl and at first I didn't want her.  I wanted my son!  I kept trying to find a family for her and the entire time I searched for someone for her I found myself falling even more inexplicably in love with her.  The last thing I remember is of the four of us--me on bottom, her, Spud and Siva the Cat all piled into a big recliner sleeping.

Yesterday morning another dream.  The more recent dreams have been different--older than I thought or with a special need (I am not on the waiting child list because I think I have my hands full for now).  This child, definitely one after my own heart for so many reasons, was still there.   

In the dream my China agency had sent me a little gift for Spud with a note attached:

We have a referral, and we think she would be best with you.  VSD repair with murmur.  Born July 29, 2006. China is willing to waive the 12 month wait period between children or they will keep her for you until you are ready.

I am sure the dream has something to do with with feeling the 2 year mark creeping up on me, but after two years of waiting it is good to still have those moments when I feel close to her.  Like she is still real even if she is only real to me.

Today I have to reflect on every thing that has occurred in the last two years.   While my son has been a part of my heart as long as my daughter has, I never imagined that things would work out like this.  As I write this I am looking down on his smiling face and marveling at it all again.  Every little thing, every precious little second was perfectly measured so that we would be a family.  It never ceases to amaze me that if I had waited one more day to make that decision, if CIS had been delayed by yet another day he wouldn't have been my son.  Same goes if things had gone sooner--I might have been matched to another child. 

So as I light a candle tonight and think of my daughter, I thank God that He put me on this path and that my daughter lead me right to my son.  I think he will be a wonderful big brother some day. 

Construction: Caution Ahead

I knew after I received my referral and that my Spud was not a Haven that I was going to have to re-tool the blog.  I had planned on pimping it before I left for Vietnam, but you all know how rushed things can get once you have travel plans in hand.  And since Spud is sharing his nursery with me (was and still is my office until my contractor/cousin builds me another unit in another room of my house) I rarely get much computer time.  He is a light sleeper and the tapping of the keys wakes him up.  Fortunately for me, I was too lazy to move his pack 'n play where he sleeps back into this room after Auntie Krissy and cousin Catherine's visit for the past few days.  Yay, for me! 

So I am staying up way past my bedtime to work on the lay out.  It's not done yet--I don't like the dotted background and I am going to work on the header some more, but ya'll may be stuck with it for a few days until I have the time to work on it again.  If you like it let me know, if you have specific suggestions, let me know those as well.  I'm not really sure beyond the poem what I really want in the header. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009


What does one do with unsolicited advice from well meaning parents (or non-parents—the even bigger paradox)? 

Last week I left a little blurb on Spud’s facebook page that he was yelling at me and wanted to go out and play and I asked for suggestions (for what to do).  I received a response from a woman that I know that has several children that said “let him cry it out now or you’ll be sorry later”.

I was horrified.  Part of me wanted to correct her, but I realized that would be counter-productive so I decided to just let it go.

Today I saw her at church and she asked if I had taken my advice and how it worked out.  I said, “I can’t do that”. 

“Sure you can.  You have to.  I did it with mine,” she responded.

“He’s adopted.  It’s contra-indicated,” I told her quietly.

She looked at me like I was smoking crack.  I re-iterated my position and told her that many orphanage raised children have been forced to “cry it out” since birth and as a result no longer rely on caregivers to care for them.

She thought about it and then told me a heart-breaking story of a friend of hers who had adopted twins from a Russian orphanage and that the children would literally cry tears without making a sound. 

People assume that because Spud is such an outgoing child and never gets upset that he has no ill effects from being in the orphanage.  While they did take very good care of him, as I shared with the woman today, I can see the effects of institutionalization.  Because this is a public blog and my son deserves some bit of privacy I will not divulge that information here, nor will I with casual acquaintances (like the woman this morning).

Yesterday I visited a favorite shop that I rarely go to.  They have pretty little things and native instruments that I thought Spud would enjoy playing with.  As the cashier was ringing up my purchase she asked me, “what is your daughter’s name?” 

I said, “HIS name is ….”. 

“Oh, I just assumed that you adopted a little China girl,” she quickly covered.  “I guess I should have known he was yours.”

Yes, he is mine.  And, no, I don’t think that was the question she was asking.  I never know whether to fake it and let people believe is my biological child or to correct (it’s a little gray for me since we have been so publicly identified as adoptive parent and adoptee).  I do want to educate people on adoption as I have previously state, but at what point am I over-exposing him to the comments and questions from strangers?   

Last week my mom mentioned that my aunt had called after seeing the Today Show.  Before she even had a chance to tell me what she said I told her, “if she ever says a bad word about my son or this adoption, so help me, that is war.  Not only will I verbally attack her until she cries, but she will be lucky if I don’t pop her one too.”  Evidently my sister said something along the same lines “she (our aunt) isn’t just taking on Erica if she says something, she is taking on the whole family.  She better watch it.”

As you may have guessed my aunt isn’t so nice.  I was verbally attacked by her repeatedly growing up and I am sorry to say, I don’t recall anyone ever defending me from her assaults.  I don’t know what it is about me, other than the fact that I probably resemble and have the mannerisms of my mother, that provoked her wrath.  The most hurtful attack was, wait for it…about my skin color.  Can you believe that?  Evidently I am “too white” for our family and was accused of coloring down.  Hellooo????  My g’ma is translucent…of course I’m friggin’ white. 

Fortunately she didn’t have anything good or bad to say, but she wants to have a family reunion.  Can I get a “hell to the no” in here. 

Most people comment that I am calm, like really calm, especially when things get nuts.  While I have always defended my family, my sister especially when we were kids, being a mother has awakened a very protective, very angry mama bear.

My son is adopted.  He is also kind and funny and incredibly smart with a great sense of personality.  He has the most beautiful smile and a giggle that melts my heart every time I hear it.  This is my son.  And I love him from the tips of my hair to the bottom of my toes.    


Saturday, February 7, 2009

More NBC

I received a surprising call this evening from Becky at 6:20 PM reporting that our story was being re-run in a different format.  When I asked why I was told NBC was hoping to reach a different population than the Today Show because they received such  positive feedback from the first show.

Months and months ago I mentioned to Becky how much I wanted to encourage others to adopt and to help other families through the process.  Financially I can not help at this time (I haven’t had a paycheck since December—yikes!), but what I can do is educate every person that has an interest.

Last week I opened a facebook account for my son.  Since then I have received a number of questions from others about the process, how did I do it as a single, and other more specific questions pertaining to adoption.  It is a small thing, but I am so happy to help others who were in the same boat as I was.  As a single person, adoption can be overwhelming.  It’s not just jumping through the hoops.  It’s the waiting, the unknown, and not always having a strong support system knowledgeable about adoption.  People that haven’t adopted, haven’t waited and wondered if it would ever happen or worked against an impossible deadline can never understand what it is like.  For singles I think it is doubly difficult (not that it isn’t hard for couples) because we don’t have that partner that can share the emotional burden. 

I am glad that the original show touched people and I do hope more people will look into adoption.  So many children need families and until I met my son I had NO idea how incredible being a parent could be. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dinner with my man

I finally got the video loaded and it is of my son after dinner.  Remember my toxic dump story from a couple of posts a go?  Yeah, just keep that in mind. 

Yeah, is it any wonder why I walk around smiling like a goof ball everyday?  His giggle makes me giggle. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Spud for your thoughts…

I have to admit, my mother was right.  It’s not often concede defeat to my mother’s wisdom, but in this case she saw it coming long before I did.  I wish I could be a stay at home mom. 

It would be so easy…except for the loss of a paycheck every couple of weeks.  I so enjoy being home with my son.  The things that I didn’t think I would enjoy about motherhood have actually become my favorite parts of motherhood.  I love to sit him in the high chair and feed him.  With every other child  I have ever cared for it seemed tedious—the food prep, trying to get them to eat, trying to clean them up afterwards.  What a mess.  But as I have said so many other times—he makes this all look very easy.  The Spud with eat anything and I enjoy making him my own version of congee.  I don’t have to play games in order to get him to eat, but I do like to do a little zoom-zoom with the spoon on occasion because there is nothing cuter than a baby smiling and giggling with green peas dripping out of his mouth.  He even likes it when I clean his face—thinks it’s a game.  Silly boy.

Bath time is actually my favorite and if it weren’t for the fact that his skin was so dry I would try to wash him a lot more frequently.  As soon as he figures out it’s time for a bath he gets so excited.  Today he tried to climb into the tub fully dressed.  I finally laid him down and got his sleeper and onesie off, but I had a hard time wrangling the diaper off of him.  He banged his head against his door frame in his glee over bath time.  He likes to slap the water and watch me duck for cover. 

Lest you think that every moment is magical—not all are.  He’s still not a big fan of taking an afternoon nap, even if he is a constant state of eye rubbing.  As a result he is cranky and clingy, but he will not give in!  When times get tough I have often raised my fist in the air and said loudly even to be heard “I will not be defeated!”  Evidently he feels the same way about naps, and I can applaud his stubbornness.   Lately, though, he has fallen asleep while I gave him a bottle and rocked.  Ahhh, that is by far the best feeling in my world!  He doesn’t do it at night—just for his morning nap.  I am so going to miss that when I go back to work!

I still have a few weeks before I return to the work force.  I don’t want to go.  I want to stay home and watch my son grow.  I want to make lots of food and spend my evenings writing.  I find myself wishing there was someone here to take photos of us together.  I need someone to record these moments because I don’t trust my mind to remember the way he looks.  I have trouble imagining what he looked like two months ago, let alone what he will look like in a few years.  I love the look on his face when he finishes a bottle—it is pure happiness with a hint of mischief.  I love that he holds my face while I give him his bottle and runs his fingers through my hair.  I love the look he gives me in the morning when I pop into his room to check on him (yes, the boy is awake before I am nearly every day). 




Thank goodness his arm blocks, uh, some of his essentials. 

I will try to include some video with my next post.

Monday, February 2, 2009

When is enough, enough?

I am going to break away from the usual love-fest that my blogs have become since my son has arrived and look at something that has me shaking my head, wincing, and wondering where it all went wrong.

Last week Nadya Suleman gave birth to 8 surprisingly healthy babies.  I say surprisingly because it is a miracle all of them survived the pregnancy, but there is no way that they will leave the hospital without some sort of impairment as a result of being so premature.  Many multiples suffer from CP, blindness, respiratory problems, etc.  as a result of competing for adequate nutrition and oxygenation in the womb and being delivered early.  It is very taxing to provide the necessary care for these children and I imagine that the first couple of years are the most difficult.

It is being reported that Nadya is angling to sell her story for $2 million and wants diaper sponsorship and wants to start a career as a TV child care expert.  While I would normally be very hesitant to comment on any person’s choice to build a family, I feel her doctors should be held responsible in making some incredibly poor decisions.  I am a single mom and I love my son, but he keeps me very busy.  Nadya is a single, unemployed mom to 14 children under the age of 7, living in a 3 bedroom house with her parents (her mother has publicly come out and said her daughter is crazy and she is moving out). 

Who is going to be taking care of these children?  The better question is, who is going to be paying for these children?  Currently the state of California is paying for the care of her previous 6 children.  Since this story has come out the media love has cooled for Nadya.  If she can’t secure some sort of TV sponsorship and sell her story, will California pick up the  exorbitant cost of these special needs kids?  Personally, I think the physicians should have some fiscal responsibility. 

Obviously it sounds like Nadya has a few screws loose.  The real icing on the cake is that she is in school right now studying to be a mental health counselor.  No offense to my mother and others in her profession, but I think even they are aware that those that need the most help are often drawn to counseling.  Usually schools are pretty good about recognizing these people and weeding them out.

However, I could be wrong.  Perhaps Nadya will make a wonderful mother who will be able to bump Jon & Kate + 8 off TLC.  Maybe she will receive enough endorsements to care for her children adequately and will be able to hire the necessary help to raise these kids.  Maybe Ty Pennington and his building crew will build her a 15 bedroom home so they have room to grow.  Maybe one of the schools there will waive tuition so her children can go to college some day.  Maybe everything will work out and she will prove us all wrong.  I certainly hope so for everyone’s sake.

Either way, I know one thing for sure.  If Jon & Kate + 8 gives me nightmares, there is NO way I will ever watch Nadya + 14. 


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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