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]

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]

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]

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

What’s In A Name?

July 27th, 2011

Names2To change an adopted child's name or Not. That is the highly debated question. On the one hand, it's natural for parents to dream of naming their children, long before they've met them. I had names picked out long before I had my first boyfriend! On the other hand, some parents feel strongly that a child's name is one of the few things they have that is truly theirs. To take away that piece of their identity could cause immeasurable damage to their self-image or ability to connect with others. It's obvious that some names can be difficult for children. Certain names may lead to teasing. Names with difficult spellings or pronounciations can be difficult for kids and adults, too. (If I had a nickel… [more]

The Lucky Ones

July 22nd, 2011

LetterI received a lovely letter from my grandmother yesterday. In her letter, she wrote, "We see how you interact with your son - such wonderful parents. And that little child you're looking for [in reference to adoption] is going to be one lucky baby." I cherished my grandmother's words. After all, she's a tough woman and a wonderful mother, having birthed seven children. Even in her mature years, she is a painter, she still braves the cold winters of Small Town, Iowa, and her ideals and fashion choices are much more modern than her age would have you expect. But after thinking about her generous words, I couldn't help but think, "No, I am the lucky one." I completely understand the point she was trying to… [more]

Heritage Hard Core

April 28th, 2011

Banh ChungWe adopted our oldest daughter when she was 14 years old. She had previously been adopted by another American family when she was 13 years old but they disrupted their adoption a year later. During that first year in America, life was very hard on her. She didn’t know any other adopted children. Her first adoptive family had very little interest in maintaining her cultural heritage. She felt isolated, frightened and alone. We had heard about her situation and began visiting her. After a few meetings with her, my husband and I brought her home to stay the weekend at our house so she could get to know our two sons. Our sons were older child adoptions as well. They immediately… [more]

Is International Adoption Part Of Your Family Picture? Be Aware of S.S.P.E. Measles Kills Internationally Adopted Children Through S.S.P.E. Complication

February 23rd, 2011

Measles

International adoption is a wonderful way to grow your family and share your love with a child who desperately needs a "Forever Family." If you have adopted from another country, you already know about the large amount of paperwork involved and the time it takes to complete the adoption process. The whole time, your new family member is still in another country being cared for by caregivers who are probably not doing what we would do in our country for a child. You don't know what kind of care your child is currently receiving. There are pieces of the information puzzle that are not going to be filled in by your adoption agency. You have to prepare yourself to look for specific… [more]

Where Do Babies Come From?

February 23rd, 2011

Stork & BabyNow that Bunny has turned six, I am anticipating the question all parents dread…where do babies come from?  Six years ago when Elle was getting ready to ask the question, I did my homework.  Rather than write an elaborate answer with technical terms and diagrams, I did the smart thing.  I bought a book with a lot of colored pictures…age appropriate pictures, of course. Actually, I bought three books, each containing the basic information with cute cartoon characters dressed up as sperm and eggs, and each geared towards a different age range.  I felt it would be easier to hand Elle a book, let her read it, then let her ask me any question she wanted.  My plan has worked well. … [more]

Flags of Heritage

January 6th, 2011

533821_41933236When you adopt children internationally, the adoption agency always asks how you intend to keep the link between your child and their birth country. At the time, I thought that was a silly question, and I had so many other things to worry about at the time. I don't remember what I answered, but it must have been enough to appease the agency, and the foreign courts. Once we arrived home, I didn't think much about my daughters’ heritage. With Elle, if you didn't know she was adopted, you would never guess she was from Russia. With Bunny, it is a bit more obvious considering her dark skin, black eyes, and ability to swing her hips to any music… [more]