School Musicals and Homeland Visits

February 17th, 2012

My Chinese-born daughter has been cast as an orphan in a school production of "Annie." She sings the songs until they are constantly cycling through my head. "No one cares for you a smidge when you're in an orphanage," she sings. "Empty belly life. Dirty smelly life." The other members of the orphan troupe were never orphans. They're just playing them on stage. And of course, "Annie" is a 1930s period piece based on a comic strip, with cartoonish, larger-than-life heroes and buffoonish villains and fun, catchy songs, far removed from the Chinese orphanage where my daughter once lived. We've been back there twice. The first time, the babies were squirmy and curious. They reached for us and other visitors and nibbled on our fingers… [more]

Dealing with the Wait

December 6th, 2011

CribI was reading an adoption blog the other day, and the author basically said, "Sorry I haven't updated this blog for a number of months...We're still waiting for our referral...It's easier for us not to immerse ourselves in the adoption world while we wait." Huh. What a novel idea. Imagine not spending all your free time reading adoption blogs. Imagine not checking your agency's website for updates that you may have missed via email. Imagine not connecting with other adopting moms, particularly those from your agency, to share tidbits of information (which I'm sure the agencies just love). And if you're waiting for a referral, imagine not making a little wish, in the hopes that THIS is THE CALL, every time your phone rings. I… [more]

Orphan (Every)Day

November 6th, 2011

southamerica2Today was Orphan Sunday at many churches around the US. This couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Recently, Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children's Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, reported that, "Last year [fiscal year 2011], US citizens adopted more than 9,000 children from countries around the world." In fiscal years 2004 and 2005, Americans adopted nearly 23,000 children each year from other countries. The number of international adoptions has been on a steady decline since then. And it seems this fiscal year, which ended September 30, is no exception. There are some obvious clues as to why international adoptions have declined. China has dramatically slowed down international adoptions. The Guatemala adoption program was very popular, and the closing… [more]

Hail to the Chief

October 20th, 2011

iStock_000012764290XSmallAs an American, there are a few things I take for granted, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness being the big three.  I’m also guaranteed certain liberties such as the right of free speech, the freedom of religion, and the right to own a gun. Another right I have as an American that I don’t often think about is the right to be President of the United States.  Growing up, children are told they can be anything they want to be.  If they work and study hard, they can be a doctor, astronaut, or President. But, because my daughters were born in a foreign country, they are ineligible to be President of the United States.  My Russian daughter who plays basketball and my… [more]

Going Home

October 13th, 2011

iStock_000009028466XSmallHome is where the heart is.  But, for my daughters, their hearts aren’t just under my roof. As internationally adopted children, I know a part of them still resides in their birth countries.  As they grow up as red, white, and blue Americans, Elle is still Russian, and Bunny is still Guatemalan. And I love that about them. We recently celebrated Bunny’s Adoption Day, the day we brought her home.  Although I punted on making tamales, I did have cake.  While we enjoyed her red velvet cake, she asked when Elle’s A-Day was.  It’s in June.  Then she asked when her daddy’s A-Day was and then when was mine. We told her we didn’t have A-Days because we weren’t adopted.  Then she questioned our citizenship.  Apparently… [more]

Lost Opportunity

October 6th, 2011

iStock_000014869787XSmallI am disappointed.  Disappointed at a lost opportunity. This morning, over a cup of coffee, I read this headline in the Hollywood Reporter. Jillian Michaels Warns Against International Adoption Unless You Have ‘A Lot Of Money’ In the current issue of Prevention Magazine, Michaels, a former trainer on The Biggest Loser, discusses the difficulties she’s had adopting internationally.  She left the TV reality show last December and this February announced she was adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Celebrity adoptions are not uncommon.  Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have adopted children from Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.  Madonna controversially adopted a boy from Malawi.  Meg Ryan adopted a baby girl from China, and Katherine Heigl adopted a special needs daughter from Korea. When celebrities adopt… [more]

Tamales and Borscht

September 27th, 2011

Tamale, traditional food from Latin AmericaTomorrow is Bunny’s adoption day.  It’s been six years since we brought our little bundle of joy home from Guatemala.  Every year I think about holding her in my arms knowing she was finally mine. In years past we have celebrated with cake and singing, taking time to celebrate the expansion of our family.  Rather than sugary sweet confections this year, I’ve decided I want to try something different.  Tamales.  I want to make tamales. Tamales from Guatemala are different than the Mexican tamales we typically see.  They are usually wrapped in banana or plantain leaves rather than in corn husks, and they are smaller, although there are more variations than there are Guatemalan regions. I’ve been searching around the… [more]

Scissors and Crayons

September 20th, 2011

iStock_000014990202XSmallSometimes international adoption can throw a curve ball when you least expect it. When Elle was in the lower grades of elementary school, she brought home an assignment.  They had been studying the 50 states in school and how the states related to the students.  The worksheet was a map of the United States with \instructions to color in the state where they were born. This presented a problem for Elle.  She wasn’t born in the US.  She was born in Russia.  She could have colored in the state I lived in when I adopted her, or she could have colored in the state that had recognized her foreign adoption, but neither of those choices seemed right. My husband and I stared at each other… [more]

The Not-Exactly-Reluctant Husband

September 19th, 2011

Sleeping dadIf you're like me, you are thinking about adoption all the time. You're doing the dishes and thinking about filing the I-600A. Folding laundry is a time of reflection for your next blog post. Playing with your kids leads to daydreams about how great it will be when your next child is finally home. And thank heaven for DVR, because you have paperwork to do and Modern Family will have to wait. And then you look at your handsome, loving husband. He's watching the scores scroll across ESPN to find out the score of the Chiefs game that wasn't televised. And he's thinking about...football. That's it. Just football. So why is it that husbands--those who are fully on board with adopting--seem to be less… [more]

What I Didn’t Expect About International Adoption

September 10th, 2011

Holding HandsHaving just gone through the home study process, I'm new to the whole experience of international adoption. I have read several adoption books, but I haven't made it to the adoptive parenting books on my shelves. (When expectant mothers read books about pregnancy, they certainly don't skip to the chapters about delivery, right?) But as I browse adoption blogs, I have come across several health and developmental topics that are new to me:

  • There are medical centers and doctors across the country that specialize in international or adoptive medicine. In addition to treating adopted children, they offer pre-adoption evaluations to help parents understand the medical information they receive during referrals.
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder and Sensory Integration Dysfunction are conditions that can particularly affect children