Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thai, Latin and English....Oh My!!

Our munchkins have been attending a summer program at our church this week.

Last night, I am listening to Jet and Bug play and think I hear him saying something that sounds like Latin. Part of a Latin song we sing at Mass. But I am quite sure I am just hearing things. I listen again, more closely.

Peanut is sitting next to me and starts to giggle. She proceeds to tell me they are learning the songs we sing in Latin at Mass!! And I wasn't hearing things, Jet was singing it!

Then all 3 broke out in song....

Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi miserere nobis.

They are having a blast!!

And Jet is fitting right in. In fact a few of the leaders didn't even realize he hadn't been in the country very long until I said something the second morning!! (His teacher did know)

Bug and his best friend have enveloped Jet right into the fold. When John Paul asked for us to get together, he said Bug and Jet's names!! Made my heart feel good. Such a sweet boy!

Thanks for letting me share!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lost in translation

There are two situations we haven't been able to really explain or help Jet to grasp with English, Thai or gesturing.

The first is a touchy subject for any of us in our house. Since we had just lost our Sam right before traveling to Thailand, we are still grieving. Quite frankly, we still have up and down moments in regards to it. We have pictures around and haven't been able to get rid of his toys/bones.

Jet is very interested in dogs and loves to hug my sister's dog, Daisy. He naturally has looked at pictures and looked to me with questioning eyes. I know we have been able to help him understand Sam use to be here with us, live inside our house, didn't bite and those were his toys. But I do not know what he thinks happened to Sam. I have not had the words to explain why we are at times in tears about Sam. Why Bug prefers we don't talk about Sam in front of him. Jet at times, seems concerned and I am unable to give him an understanding. That is difficult for us both.

The second subject is a personal one for me. I am a plus size gal, to put it bluntly. Recently Jet saw a picture of me at my Grandma's from my HS senior year. Years before PCOS ravaged my body. He gestured with his hands indicating small to big while puffing out his cheeks. Lovely. I simply smiled and gave the "God makes everybody a different size, shape and color" comment. One or two more times here at home he has made similar gestures and I have responded the same as well. I don't want to discourage him from expressing his thoughts but do feel uncomfortable. Then he did it while waiting in line at the post office a day ago. Obviously, I am aware he means no harm by it. And I know he doesn't have a grasp on our words for inappropriate, hurts feelings, for me to let him know why not to do it. Difficult for me as I already struggle being comfortable in my skin.

We knew there would be times we would struggle with the language barrier and I must say it has been so much easier than expected!! Just a few of the quirky times I thought I would share!!


Thursday, July 23, 2009


Why? Why?? Why would someone consider making a movie about orphans, depicting such ugly things on CHILDREN who have already suffered huge losses in their little lives.

How is Hollywood accepting such trash when it is so "popular" to adopt among the stars? Is it different because they are adopting babies or toddlers? Or different because it would never happen to them? They could never have a child who has been hurt so badly by others in their life, they are no longer able to "feel".

I am now not just an adoptive Mom, I am the mom to an 8 year old who joined our family about 2 1/2 months ago. MONTHS. He was over 8 when he came home. The child depicted in this movie is 9 years old. I am outraged to say the least.

I am so angry with a society that would allow movie makers to even THINK a movie such as this one would be profitable. We should be making Warner Bros very aware of how deplorable this movie is to all. Each and every member of our families should be outraged for their nieces, nephews, cousins, grandkids, kids, children who are adopted. All the people party to the making of this movie should be bombarded with mail from the adoptive community.

Truly it is trash, even if you aren't personally touched by adoption. There aren't many people nowadays NOT touched by adoption personally. So you might say it is more common place/acceptable to adopt so the movie is "no biggie". So NOT true!

Infant adoption is much more acceptable today. Toddler adoption is starting to be more commonplace but older child adoption is still filled with horror stories. The few you can find. It happens rarely and is talked about even less. This movie will sure change that! All the negative stereotypes will be rearing their ugly heads squashing any positive voices that are trying to cry out for these children.

I love adoption. I wouldn't be a mother without it.

Thanks be to God, I am now a strong advocate for older child adoption.

I have been to the orphanage. I have seen a few of the 143 million orphans searching for a home. I have had them reach out and clutch my arm, shirt, purse, as soon as I get close enough. So happy to see and touch a fellow friend's new mom. Not even their Mom, another child's mom. I have looked at a group of 36 cottage mates standing before me, smiling and giggling, wiggling with excitement. As I silently count them, the math makes me even sadder. See, I know only 59 children came HOME to their families in the US in 2008 from Thailand. I know there are other countries involved but it still leaves alot of numbers behind. Except it isn't numbers to me. It is faces and eyes.

These are the faces being hurt again by such a film being produced and shown. To prejudice a society against considering giving these children a family.

Please watch the trailer as seen. It opens tomorrow, July 24th. Please please consider boycotting Warner Bros. And let them and all those involved in this film know your feelings.

Not attending the film isn't enough. More must be done.

For the children left behind. The faces I will NEVER forget.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Inspiring Grace

We were out shopping the other day and Peanut announces to me she loves telling people about her brother. Her new brother. I asked her why. (Isn't it great to be able to turn that one on them after answering why a million times when they were younger!!)

She said it is inspiring. She wants to inspire people. So more kiddos have a family. Because there are some million (143 million) orphans in the world. And less than 5% over the age of 5 will be adopted. And that's not right.

Be inspired. I am.

Peanut with much loved Great Grandma

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All in a heartbeat

I believe it is crucial for babies to be just that, a baby. To be loved, cherished, cared for, picked up when crying, consoled, held for a bottle, rocked, hugged, snuggled, kissed. To experience that gentle touch, soft body to snuggle, close feeling of being held, soft blanket to hold, things that are familiar. Things that create security and allow an infant/toddler to be calm, feel loved and safe.

Did you know a newborn baby knows their Mother's heartbeat from being in the womb and is comforted by that same heartbeat on the outside of the womb? But if an adoption plan is made for them, they never hear that familiar heartbeat again. Instead they hear a different heartbeat, or two or three or a different heartbeat each time they are picked up.

One of my munchkins had the birth mother's heartbeat, first foster mother, hospital nurse heartbeats for a week, second foster mother, travel escort and then me. All in a matter of 5 months.

Jet missed the first eight years of "normal" infant/toddler experiences. That sense of security and familiarity. That is alot of different heartbeats.

I had gone through 2 infant adoptions without much knowledge of the attachment part. Nine years ago very little was shared or talked about related to attachment in adoption, particularly in infant adoption. What a shame that was and continues to be, with such a small focus on the losses infants experience. I know now the mistakes made with our first child and the consequences there are for that lack of knowledge. I was very determined to do what I could to set Jet off on the right foot.

Allowing him to be my baby/toddler in as many ways as possible was what I set out to do.

Most suggestions I read about in books were targeted for the toddler adoptions. If my son wanted to lay in my arms and have a bottle that would have been fine, however with a 6 and 8 year old in the home, I couldn't imagine the new 8 year old would even think about it.

I knew we would snuggle, I would hold him in the crook of my arm like I did my babies and still do with Peanut and Bug, I would sing to him, I would apply lotion for the touch, I would find opportunities to feed him, ensure we were the only ones to offer food for a long time, keep him close by, help him with daily skills even if he could do them on his own.

But I felt like something more tangible was needed. Something that would always be there to remind him he WAS able to experience baby/toddler time with his mom and dad. To heal that loss he had experienced. Peanut and Bug are both still blankie kids so I got Jet a baby blanket. We took it to Thailand with us so he would have it from the start.

As a side note, I was very bothered by the idea we would be leaving even the clothes he had on at the orphanage. I knew it was very important to have that one familiar thing and to not wash the clothes right away so they could have the familiar smell as well. I thought the blanket could serve for both. As it turns out, he did not have to change his clothes.

I had the blanket ready for the first night and made sure it was with him every night since then. He showed no real interest in it until about 2 weeks ago. Then boom! His baby blanket has become very important to him and goes all around the house. He asks to take it in the car with us, reads with it and snuggles it at night. I quite frankly have yet to wash it either!

I am so thankful he has taken to the blanket and I feel it is playing a small role in his healing the past losses he has experienced. I would highly recommend using something like this if adopting an older child!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Jet's vocabulary is astounding! He is able to use sentences and understands so many things you tell him. He started saying "hey" about 50 times an hour, so at dinner tonight when he said it again, I made a comment. I somewhat seriously and somewhat teasingly mentioned we needed to work on not saying "hey" so much. I really wasn't sure if he would completely understand me. A couple of minutes later he is in the middle of a sentence and says "hey", then claps his hand over his mouth, giggles and says "sorry"! We all busted out laughing, but he got it!

Some of our more fun word mishaps--

"Mama, here's milk!" Shouted to me from the foyer while he had been playing outside. Took me a was the mail!!

His arms in a muscleman pose after moving something--"MUSTARD" with lots of pride in his voice!! After a moment of confusion--MUSCLES!!

The wonder Jet shows for all things continues to keep us all more wonder-filled. It makes you stop and smell the flowers so much more and remember to thank God for all the many blessings in your life. I was running to our grocery store recently with Peanut and Jet. I was not looking forward to the trip and as I pulled into the parking lot, Jet lets out this "AWESOME". He was so excited to be going there!

It is so fun to hear "awesome" in a Thai accent! It is another favorite word. Bug says it alot so now Jet does too.

Foods Jet didn't like before are now enjoyed, some of them. Mac and Cheese is good as is oatmeal. Peanut butter is still not. He really enjoys helping in the kitchen. Actually he likes to help everywhere. He voluntarily comes up and asks if he can help quite often with many tasks.

He is rather proud of the fact he is no longer freezing cold all the time! Just wait till our winters come, sweetie!!

We have days of struggle, sadness was very evident a day or two ago. Even Peanut came up to me and said she thought he seemed sad. I used our Thai book to show him the word sad. I was saddened by the fact he didn't know the word sad in Thai. But he needs to know it in English? We just keep loving each other.

In the mail today we received about 40 or so Thai/English books I had ordered. I wish I could have captured the smile on his face when I showed him the books! He was so excited and so proud tonight when he read the bedtime story to Peanut and Bug. I love to sit and listen to him speak in Thai.

I realized something while listening. He speaks in this quiet gentle voice. We thought he was shy with his voice and his English and had been asking him to speak louder. Why is it we are so loud? I am going to work on the other 4 of us being quieter and more gentle in our sounds. It sounds so much nicer!

Jet no longer sucks his thumbs at night. His sores are gone. Quite honestly, that happened rather quickly, I am so amazed. A good sign of attachment!!

We are so thrilled Jet is home! We are very blessed to have this boy as our son and thank God he is home where he belongs!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Only" American

One of the many facets of adoption I have spent time thinking about is the name given to international adoptees. This 4th of July gave cause for me to think and re-think my position on this subject.

Korean-American, Thai-American, Chinese-American.......

Our first 2 munchkins were born in S. Korea and were placed in our arms at 4.5 and 5 months. Our children have tan skin, almond shaped eyes and jet black hair. They are Americans. They have been raised Americans, even though we incorporate their Korean culture into our lives. We live in America. I have not understood the need for one to say Korean-American, etc... We are all American citizens, regardless of our nationality, and I have felt it is something that actually works to divide us as a people. We have chosen to live in the United States of America as Americans. It simply feels like a division, showing and creating a difference where it doesn't seem necessary to have one.

I mean, our children are Asian. Papa and I are not. Papa has black hair and olive colored skin but me? Not so much. In fact, I am a glow-in-the-dark kind of white gal! It is fairly evident upon seeing us as a family we are multiracial. Yet why must there be that separation? They are OUR children, our sons and daughter. They simply could not be more ours had they come from my womb. We became family and each of them an American citizen when a judge declared it so. (Really it was before that but you know what I mean!)

I do not mean this to say it is not important they were born in S. Korea. I do not have any desire to deny their start in life. We discuss their birth country, birth family, customs and traditions of S. Korea. Our munchkins celebrate all 5 of our nationalities with art like this:

(For your reference, 2 S. Korea flags, 1 Thailand, 1 German and 1 Poland flag)

I end up feeling like we are being asked to separate our children from us by stating the rather obvious Asian-American or Korean-American. There are so many moments and times we have to differentiate our relationship to our children because they are adopted. I don't feel it necessary to add to it.

It is Jet's situation that made me start thinking about this conundrum.

He lived a Thai life for a little over 8 years. 8 years. He experienced the culture, food, Buddhism, traditions.....He speaks, reads and writes Thai. He has piles of pictures from his first 8 years in Thailand. His friends and caretakers were all Thai. All of them "like" him.

By saying he is an American instead of Thai-American does that "remove" the Thai life from him. Would we be saying his first 8 years living in Thailand weren't important? Yet he is OUR son. He will become an American citizen in just a few short months. Could we be saying to him "you aren't a full American" by including the Thai?

As a parent, we want to do the best for our children. Adoption adds an extra element of circumstances where you feel the need to proceed with caution. Each child is different in the way they will connect with their birth country and what it means for them.

It feels like we live in a world where everyone struggles to be "better", noticed, more important than the next person. That can only cause division and conflict.

It seems to me like it should be really pretty simple. We are Americans living together in the United States of America.

One nation. Under God.

We are all blessed to live in a country where we are free to live our life, incorporating our nationalities, beliefs, customs and traditions. God bless the U.S.A.!!

Some may agree and some may disagree with my views. Please respect that and be kind in the comments. I do appreciate good healthy discussions that makes one think.

Monday, July 6, 2009

1st Post placement

TWO MONTHS have flown by!!!!!!! Can you even believe we had our first of 3 visits? We LOVE our social worker! We have literally known her for 9 years. She has done all 3 of our home studies and post placement visits. Papa and I were talking today afterward saying we can't imagine doing this with another SW'er! We decided we will have to ask her if she is up for another go around if we are!! She is amazing!

Now, if you don't know the story, this dear woman had to do our HS quite a few times to get it all Hague approved. And they went over it with a FINE tooth comb since we were WACAP's first Hague family for Thailand and second total!

Here is a pic of our SW'er with Peanut at her first post placement visit May 2001. Sorry about the quality, it is a scanned in picture! Peanut is not quite 5 months here!

Doesn't she look loke someone who LOVES her job!! May God bless you, BP, for all the children you have helped over the years!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Most adventurous?

Papa had to do a bio bit about himself at work this week to present on a teleconference. I haven't seen it, however I did email him some pics at work one night to use. One was of the 3 kids.

This teleconference included people from all over the country. It was well received. The last category to respond to was "tell us something no one would know about you". One of Papa's unknown facts was he had traveled to Thailand to bring home his son.

The director was making comments to Papa and asked him what he thought most adventurous about the trip.

Well, let's see........

We went to Thailand. Well, it is a global company, though many at his site have never even flown in an airplane. So no that's not it....

We went to Thailand, a place with beautiful beaches. True, but we weren't able to GO to the beach so best not to use that one.......

We live in the rural midwest. In a town of 130,000, the biggest town in the state. Enough said! But adventurous??

We don't speak Thai, culture shock, food changes.... Potentially overwhelming but most adventurous?

Oh, wait.....

We flew to Thailand and came home with an 8 year old son! Yes, THAT must be it, definitely most adventurous part!!

Neither one of us can imagine what else would be an answer to that question! I mean he DID have a picture of the kids!! LOL

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Our Struggles

Wow, does time fly!

Our struggles here come and go. Each day brings new experiences for everyone. We have been spending alot of time working on individual relationships.

Peanut and Bug have never been very competitive with each other. It is something we worked hard at, like we play games to have fun with each other, not just to win. They have never been the type to challenge each other alot or to constantly struggle to be first.

It creates a different environment when there is a strong desire/need to be first or to always be looking to be the winner. I feel the atmosphere becomes more tense and that became hard for Peanut, Bug and myself. We all started to crack.

I will admit I did not anticipate not being first to be an issue. Jet came from an orphanage. He could not have been the first every time! Jet also struggles with a need for personal space that I didn't see as a problem because of living in an orphanage. It is a two-fold though, because he doesn't have a problem with invading YOUR personal space but prefers to have his own personal space left alone.

Bug is a very laid back kid. He has struggled more than I anticipated from the changes. Mostly from having to share his sister. He did start last week to be very bothered by the fact he was always last. Jet and Peanut were getting along well and would forget to include him.

Peanut has been an incredible big sister to Jet. She has been forgiving, helpful, generous and patient. Last week she momentarily lost her ability to tolerate all when the increased language skills brought out some not so nice words. Peanut is a spirited child who reacts dramatically to most everything. Fortunately, she only shared her thoughts with me, not in front of Jet or Bug.

Jet is at the stage with vocabulary where he understands alot, is able to communicate most things but lacks the names of the feelings or has a hard time using his words when he is upset. We have had more emotions from Jet in the last 2 weeks than we have had in the last 9+ weeks. More personality, more crying, more smiles, more frustrations, more sadness.......

Papa and I have spent time re-evaluating the needs of each member and of the family. We have purposely set up scenarios to address the above situations. Our focus till now has been on our family of five as a whole. Now we are trying to break it down as well into smaller relationships. We continue to keep our world small, though Jet does much better when we do go out. He is still often like a deer in the headlights. Not surprisingly.

We are having more days where the laughter and giggles out-numbers the crying. Thank you, God!!

Learning, loving and growing as a family of five!!