Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This weekend we celebrated nine months of being a family. For many women it takes nine months to become a mother, but as I continue to grow in this role I realize that although I may have become a mother when the adoption decree was signed and stamped, I am still becoming a mother. It was a process that began in the moment that I decided to adopt, decided to become a mother, but it was like school. I spent that time studying, observing and interviewing (it sounds so clinical, no?). I watched other mothers, reflected back on my own mothering, discussed different thoughts or observations with my sister, mother, friends and sometimes even strangers.

I learned what so many have learned—classroom studies only take you so far. At some point you graduate, they hand you a child and you quickly learn that while the book reports that patting Susie Q’s back when she is fussy stops her crying, it does not work on your child. So you improvise. You try different things, sometimes unconventional things. But it works. The baby is happy. You are happy and you file what you have learned away somewhere deep in your brain. You learned what a book couldn’t tell you. You learned something that only you and your baby know. No grandparent, daycare worker or other mother can replace what you and your child share.

I had to be away from Duc for several days. It was unplanned, sudden, and neither of us was prepared for it. It was difficult for me, but I could tell it was more difficult for him. He was angry and in the few minutes that we did see each other every day he ran from me and clung to my mother. It was heartbreaking and I cried following our time together. I couldn’t wait to get home and take care of him. But it wasn’t easy when I got home. He wasn’t angry with me anymore, but he acted out and intentionally did things to get my attention—touching things that he knew that he wasn’t supposed to touch, trying to get into things that were not good for him. I reflected on all the advice, all the magazines, shows, and books I had read and I realized they were all wrong. In the midst of all this I noticed some other new behavior and I realized that what he truly needed was me. That was all. No more. No less.

Last night I watched Duc get between my mother and her dirty dishes in the sink. He started pushing her away. What seemed like a game was something else entirely and I was able to tell her what he taught me, “Mom, he just needs you stop and hold him for a few minutes.”

He needs extra cuddle time, and you know what? I need that too. I walked away from my blog for nearly two weeks so we could do that. No camera, no computer, no cleaning up. Just me and him. We went to the park a lot. We rode the slides a lot. We rough-housed, played ball and tickled each other until we laid exhausted on the floor. I learned that he can blow raspberries on my bellies, just like I have done to him so many times before. And I learned that motherhood is a process and I am still learning how to be the mother that he needs.IMG_7314 copy

IMG_7315 copy 5 Always close at hand. You never know when a na-na moment might arise (another thing I learned in the last two weeks, Duc refers to this as na-na).

Friday, September 11, 2009


Somedays I have to put the camera down.  Somedays I want to be a part of the action, part of the memory and not recording it for some far off moment after my memories have faded and my son has grown and left.  I find myself putting my camera down more these days, preferring to share that moment with my son.  I love to play with him.  Today we went to the park.  I brought my camera and intentionally left it in the car.  I wanted to slide down the slide with my son.  I wanted to watch the sun set behind his head and marvel at the beautiful halo. I wanted to get dirty with him and scratch bug bites together. 


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Monday, September 7, 2009

Mother to Mother

There are days, albeit few and far between, when I think I have it together.  Happy kid, happy house, happy mama.  But most days the house is a disaster, the kid is happy, and I am tired.  Really tired.  Lately I have been more tired than usual and I know why and I know it will improve at some point.  But until then I awaken each morning hopeful that today is the day when the kid is happy, the house is happy, and me and my mama are all happy.IMG_6845 copy

Today I feel like a horrible mother and a horrible daughter.  My sister warned me that my relationship with our mother would change once I had a child.  As the older sister with a completely different personality I poo-poo’d my sister’s warning, but she was right.  Unfortunately.  Things do change.  I have talked to a number of newer moms and the answer was always the same: the relationship between mom and the new mom does change.  I am not sure why it happens, but it does bother me.  I notice I am short with her and my responses come out sounding differently than I intended.  Perhaps that is just the way it is supposed to be.  The new mom has to learn and stretch her wings and figure it out for herself.  In some ways, it feels like the last rebellion.  The last final stretch.  The final thing that both separates and binds us to our mother’s.  Maybe we just need to know that we can do it on our own.  Maybe we want to separate ourselves from our mothers—make right what we didn’t like when we were the child.  Or maybe, just maybe, it is because we see our mothers in our mothering and we don’t always like what we see. 

I’m not sure why, but I am sorry Mom.  It feels like our roles have reversed and I don’t always like it.

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Little man, I see you changing every day.  It’s not just your face or the length of your arms.  You are a deliberate, brilliant, challenging child and most days I wouldn’t want it any other way.  But other days…well, I look forward to bedtime.  I love you, Duc, and I am so grateful to have you in my life.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Another one

IMG_6457 copyMy birthday was last weekend so Michael and I celebrated it as big as we know how to do. Did you notice the duct tape securing the card to the gift? That was the most difficult gift I have ever opened!

We decided to visit a park that I had never been to before. It was a pioneer village with lots to see and lots to take pictures of. It is sometimes too much to try and manage a camera and Duc (yes, he is that busy) so I put Michael behind the camera lens. He hasn’t learned manual yet, but he is working on it:)

IMG_6476 copy This year’s birthday photoIMG_6503 copy

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Can I just say that this is my favorite recent picture of Duc? I love the way he is looking at me while the slurpee drips from the corner of his mouth. IMG_6621 copyOk, this is probably runner-up for recent favorite. I just love the way he is taking absolute joy in enjoying that leaf. How and where did we lose that ability?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

September 3, 2008

An excerpt from the journal I am keeping for Duc:

I didn’t know what to expect on this day.  I had planned on it for so long—I dreamed of the moment and wondered if I would be shocked speechless or if I would be hysterical with joy.  I guess it was a little of both.


Somehow when I woke up this morning I knew today was “the day”.  I had called my coordinator in the morning around 8:30-9 am just asking if I could get your info today, but he told me it would be later today or tomorrow.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it.  I had never felt more excited or anxious in all my life—it was like being 8 years-old again and the feeling of wrapping all my birthdays and Christmases into one day, one moment.   


At 1:56 pm my cell phone rang and it was the call.  I had been planning for this moment for so long, but I hadn’t considered I might shake.  My hands were shaking so badly I could barely log into my email account.  My coordinator kept talking about the specifics—what would be included in the Fed Ex’d package, about your health, about the orphanage in general.  I kept interrupting, “Pictures, Carl, Pictures!”.  He started to tell me your birthday and I interrupted him and told him I already knew it was May 19th.  “How did you know?” he asked.  I told him, “I just knew.  I’ve always known.  Just like I know he is in Da Nang.”


I rushed down the hall with my computer and phone still waiting for the photos but even more on the verge of tears.  I called my dad and there was no answer on his office phone so I asked the plant operator to page him.  He seemed somewhat surprised to hear from me and even more to learn that you were, indeed, real.  He asked if I had seen your photo yet and when I checked my email again, it was there.  I tried to click on it to open it, but to be honest, my eyes were too blurred with tears and my hands and legs were shaking so bad I had a hard time downloading your photo. 


Your skin was a beautiful caramel color and you were all arms and legs.  I had prepared myself for a scrawny, pale, sickly, frail child that looked anxious, nervous or scared.  I wasn’t prepared for the beautiful boy in front of me.  In my wildest dreams I would never have imagined that I would be matched with the healthiest, happy, chubby baby that I saw in those photographs. 

I was crying hysterically as I looked through each photo memorizing each curve of your face.  I called my mom next and she shrieked with joy and within a few minutes I could hear her running for the car.  She was so excited that she couldn’t wait to see you! 

I have decided to keep my referral photos private—just for those of us that were involved in that moment, but I will share some of the photos that Chennie took of us while in Da Nang.  DSC_2092My beautiful son.  It amazes me that it has been a year since I first saw your face.  It is your face that pushes me onward when I am tired and I don’t feel good.  It is your face I think of when life is difficult and I feel frustrated.  It is your face that still has the ability to bring me to tears of joy.  It is your face that prompts me to strive for more, to do more, to be better. 



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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