Saturday, February 4, 2012

How Could They Leave Me?

Peanut has brought up her birthparents off and on for the past 6 months. She usually says she misses her "foster parents"...Big Girl had foster parents, so that is what she thinks is in China. We have been explaining to her that she had a nanny in the SWI, and a birth mom and a birth dad.

She's expressed before that she misses them. And it hasn't gone much further than that.

Last night, she wasn't feeling great, and was out of sorts at dinner. For some reason, out of the blue, she brought up foster parents again, so we got into the discussion. We were having the normal had a birth mom and dad, for some reason which we don't know why they couldn't take care of ANY know, the whole thing.

It was all going ok. We were good...having a good discussion. We were talking about the differences between the two girls' stories etc. All good open honest age appropriate discussion all around.

All of a sudden, Peanut starts to SOB. Big, giant, chest heaving sobs. I reach over to her and rub her arm, and ask what is wrong...what is she thinking about?

She heaves about 3-4 more giant sobs. Then stops. Dead. She meets my eyes in the strongest beautiful chocolate colored stare I've ever gotten from her:
"But...but...but...Mama...they LEFT me! They left me ALONE. I was a baby. Babies aren't supposed to be alone."
And then as she didn't move, and the biggest, roundest tears I have ever seen came rolling (even worse) silently out of her eyes as she just stared at me with knit eyebrows. For about a minute, but it felt like an eternity. Pure unadulterated pain was etched across her face.

Then the sobs racked her body again and she collapsed into a puddle of sorrow.

I've read the books. I've read the adoption boards. I've talked to older adoptees, and talked to friends about their kids when they hit these realizations.

And I can attest straight out that NOTHING...absolutely nothing in this world, can prepare you for the moment you see your child realize that they were abandoned helpless and alone. For that moment that they realize that their birth parents, for whatever reason, were not able (or didn't want to) make whatever sacrifice that would keep their babies with them. The realization that an adult...worse...their parent...failed them. Even if the parent couldn't help it...and these days I believe that more and more cases the parents could have done something to alleviate it, to our children, the parents failed them. They left them, helpless.

Gawd, what a horrible feeling for anyone to shoulder...and for a 4.75 year old to have that knowledge? To extrapoloate that themselves? No child should ever have to go thru that.

She was much more vigilant today at our CNY playgroup celebration. A lot more calls for us to both be within close proximity to the arts table or such.

Peanut's heart seemed to die a little bit last night.

So did mine.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A New Year

Ironic that I use this blog to air out the clutter in my brain, but when it gets really cluttered and overwhelming, I stop writing. I close up my brain, I close up myself, I hunker down, do what I have to do, and really THINK about it all later. I do that here IRL too...I talk after the fact. Something my constantly questioning older daughter does not do well with. She needs to take my emotional temperature about 50 times a day, which sometimes gets very old. I remind myself though that she cares, that we haven't had to fight any of those battles.

2012 has already become a year I did not expect back around that once a year day where you get reminded that time marches on and you are headed towards the dirt at some point...the ironic celebration of your birth when your reminded via Hallmark about your (apparently imminent) death. August had me reevaluating my job, our house, myself. I had made some vows to myself, some of them to be content/ride out certain things.

And I'm about 2 lightyears from all that, just from August!

My Dad moved out West. About 18 months ago he up and sold the company. There's no acrimony between Dad and I, but he's a totally unsentimental/utterly Vulcan kinda guy. Anyways I knew this was coming...they bought the AZ Palace at about the same time as he sold the company. And of course, new management has put our whole company into a tailspin. It's not like how it was. It was a tight knit I never sought out before - wanted a big company (or the government way back when) where one could function in anonimity or fly as high as they wanted. Didn't want that personal crap that came with small companies. Got sucked in when I graduated, thought I'd stay a year until the economy improved...been there 15 years now. And I loved it. You might have had someone come up to you and say "What the hell did you do with this?!" and I liked it that way. No bullshit. No target markers. No extraneous crap. Sit down, do your job, do it YOUR way, as we were all unique in our talents, and move on. Have some pizza lunches, bbq out back, do stupid shit together if we had a slow moment and it was all good. Then the Bigger Company came. We're underutilized. We're marginalized. Attitude is in the crapper. I'm coasting. Doing my job. And I hate it. If I had to be in the office, I'd have a knife to my own throat.

I got offered the idea of changing careers. It sounds wonderful. Why haven't I jumped? Well...the first is that their is a schmuck there too. One I hope is gone soon. That'd make it easier. But it's also scary. I have max flexibility, I can write my own life for right now still day to day (there is no future though), at this place...but once my Dad retires in 3.5 more years, what little shreds of what is good here will be gone, if there's even any left by then.

And that gets me back to Dad. In typical Dad fashion, we saw him on Turkey Day. He said we'd be talking before he left 10 days later. We did. About work. Now mind you, he lived about 3 minutes away. He saw my kids as much as the Grandparents in FL. I spoke with him 2 days before he left...about my step-mom dropping off the sports car. And then I realized he was gone. Yeah, it's only a 4 hour plane ride away. But he didn't say good bye to me. To his 2 granddaughters. To anyone at the office. Just left, like it didn't matter.

And that sucked. That hurt. That made me angry. And it hurt my kids. And it drove all the way into my heart, way down in the corner, the one that still holds the hurt from being left by him when I was 3, to live the life he wanted. And even though he kept talking about when he was going, it kept moving backwards, and he's ALWAYS lived by me, and poof he's gone.

And gone on his terms...again.

I know, Daddy issues. Sadly, Daddy issues feed into work issues and that together is a decent part of my life.

Moving on...
I tell you, the men in my life I driving me crazy.

There was a boy. I saw him, back when we were paperchasing for Big Girl. Still weren't DTC yet. Thought many nights to myself, if we didn't have her, I'd talk husband into a boy. He was the age that husband wanted...but we were in love and in process for our girl. Moot idea.

Then I noticed, amazingly, he was still waiting. That was now Fall of 2010.

Then we came home with Big Girl...Christmas. New Years. Husband's Bday.

Noticed he was still waiting. Could not believe it.

Summer of 2011. He was still waiting. Why? Why would such a perfect little boy still wait? Just cause he has a penis? Seriously? Minor needs, beautiful eyes, supposedly in a pretty good care situation. He didn't appear on any advocacy board, nowhere. He was forgotten on the shared list since middle of 2009. I asked for updates from our agency. They went to work on it. I threw out the line to my husband.

He would not bite. No way in hell.

I threw down, demanded a discussion. He closed up. OK. Not my best move.

Asked again for updates...just got little feel good stuff, a few pics, nothing concrete.

Now it's Fall of 2011. Ask again. Husband digs in again. Ask again about those damn updates. Somewhere I've gotten my heart invested in this. Decide to lay it all down.

I spent over a week getting all the financials of the house. Then amazingly I got an update from the SWI. An open and honest one.

He said no. I knew he would. He always does...knee jerk husband of mine. I mourned. It was over.

Three days later, husband got home from work while I was in the shower. When I turned it off, he was standing on the other side of the door. Head bowed, hands in pockets. "You know, you are right. I always say no right away. And I shouldn't do that. With the girls...or with you. I know how much xxxx means to you. And you are right, there is no reason we can't do it. When you are married, you follow each other's dreams sometimes."

I looked at him and said that we couldn't do it just cause I wanted it. It wasn't fair to him. He paused..."He is darn cute...he reminds me of Peanut. He has a good personality for our family. I see it. I just didn't want to. And the SWI started I know they aren't hiding anything. They seemed like they were hiding things. His file was so old." That...for my husband, is huge. All of it.

I waited another week. Asked him again and again...gauged his every reaction to see if it was really what he wanted. In the end, he finally got fed up with me..."Will you please send LOI already so we can go get our son?" First time he used that word. And I sent it an hour later.

So now, here we are, the beginning of January...I'm hating my job, but making money and that's the important part, still haven't decided if we should move or not, and I'm waiting for my son. Yin and Yang. That's life. More good then bad and call yourself lucky. And I am...

My girls, every day, ask when they get to go get Squish. They are overjoyed. He's 6.5, and my husband is right...he's got eyes that are going to make every girl's heart skip about 20 beats.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fixing Me...

Ahhhh, a breather, dare I say it. (Insert knock on plastic keyboard surround). Dare I risk saying: A Week With Not One Doctor's Appointment. That's a new thing. It's been over 3 months since that's happened. Now, I realize that there are people who live that life, or worse, for years. And I know we'll end up there again, but I'm thankful for this breather. Big Girl is back in school now, and is happy. Her holes from her skin biopsies are bothering her, but are healing. She has access to a new study, and therefore new options now. Peanut is waiting for Begindergarten to start, and excited for that too.

I'm a year older as of last week. The air is starting to turn just a tad cool in the morning, when we walk to school. It feels lovely. It feels fresh. Odd that as the growing season starts to think about winding down, I feel like everything *could* start to bloom in life...potential seems to fill the air.

I don't know if this is a mid-life crisis brought on as I move upwards towards 40, "deflating" since the stress of the last months has eased off, or if this is something more positive...I'm feeling need for change. Maybe it's just all the House Hunters International I've been watching, but it feels deeper than that.

I need to travel.

I need to change the house.

I need to

I'll be honest. I've been trying to lose 20 pounds, for years. I look in the mirror and I'm not happy. But I'm also not happy with how I present myself. Once upon a time I never left the house sans makeup. I'm glad I'm less uptight than that now. But I've fallen into the SAHM uniform of jeans and tshirts. My beautiful jewelry sits mostly unworn in the box. Most of my shoes go unworn. (I'm not a Vogue-reading fashionista, but I do love my shoes.) I've got my intellectual-in-training (read: nerdy bookhound) glasses, but everything else is blah. I come across to myself as blah. So how does everyone else see me? There's lots of cool shit rattling around inside my brain...but it stays there mostly.

I found myself more and more speaking of kids, school, errands, to do lists, and parenting my kids as waaaay too much of my communication load. I hate that. I'm so much smarter and more interesting than just that.

Last year, before we renovated, we looked at moving. I hated the idea of leaving my house, my beautiful, tons-of-work-poured-into-it home. Now, I could move for the right house, or the right opportunity. New. Adventure. Excitement. I am actually excited at the thought when emails from the real estate agent hit my inbox.

We hit 15 years of marriage together this past summer. A feat I'm proud of, rolling thru the rocky times that were partially brought on by infertility, and getting thru over double the length of marriage that my parents ever were able to attain, and still going. But at the same time, I had probably, for myself, the hardest summer of feeling a lack of communication between myself and my husband. Topics came up that had us at odds, and I've never ever had it where discussions were shut down on me without being treated as an equal, worthy of discussion merely because I was the partner that was speaking. And that has me still smarting. Partially cause I don't do well with that, period, partially because his parents are masters at that technique and any and all disfunction in that family unit stems from it, and is my biggest source of irritation. Therefore, I'm very vigilent as to if I ever see P starting to slide into that territory. Partially because the topic at hand sits very deep in my heart, no matter how I try to purge it from there. Do I fear for our marriage in any way? Hell No. Has it changed? Yes. Is that bad? No. Good? No. Just different? Yes. And that takes an adjustment.

Peanut will be gone 4 mornings a week this school year. Next year, it's K for her, then I've got both girls gone most of the time. Now I can look at what I'm doing with my life - I'll be chef/chauffeur/teacher/mom most of the time, but for the first time in 3+ years, I will have devoted time that I can be "me". Yeah, a lot of that will be errands and cleaning and such, but I'll have time, if I want it, to devote to me and what I want out of life. And I realize now that I have not done enough of that...nothing since Big Girl came home, not very much in all the years Peanut has been home, and actually not very much from the time we put in our paperwork for Peanut back in 2005.

So the question is: What do I do with myself? As I see it, I have a few options:

1. Embrace the new me. Come to terms with it. A few pounds I don't want, feeling like less than a *star* in life, coming to terms with suburban contentment, but potentially mediocrity. Do I say that with disdain? A smidge. But that's my point...not that I have to settle, but maybe I have to readjust my viewpoints, and realize the good I do have and be content with that...that there is nothing negative about it at all.

2. Revamp, restyle, recreate. Keep the cool glasses. Lose the weight. Tell the hairstylist to take the new haircut further...devote a few mornings a week to *me*. Find time to scrapbook, excercise, read, or better yet, learn cello, get my master gardner certification or get back to horse back riding, like I've wanted to. Push the "buy" button on that shopping cart with the cool new purse and the funky sweater with the polka dots and the crisp white - needing ironing - nicely fitting dress shirt to go under it. And most importantly, not feel guilty for making life for me too. The kids are my life, but they don't need to have my 24/7 adoration...they are of the age that if I want to read a book, I should be able to be left alone for a wee bit. Find more time for P and I too.

3. Go bat shit over the top. New hair color, lose the weight, get a tattoo, take a job, move the household to a new house with a new feel - ultra clean lined contemporary maybe. I'm guessing this is probably not the best idea, especially if I got a tattoo before losing the weight I want to lose. Oh, and make that house sitting on the cliff overlooking a valley or water of a far off place.

Either way, I have to learn to live with, or change the issues deep in my heart. That's gonna be the hard part.

But as to which option...I think 3 gets kicked to the curb cause P has an awesome job and loves it, and the girls would kill me if I moved them. Door number 1 is a good lesson in appreciation of the fine details of life, and realizing it's the little stuff that makes the biggest hill when it's piled together. Door number 2 though is a lesson in setting a goal and achieving it, for not settling for anything but everything for yourself and your loved ones. Both admirable lessons, but which is the one for me?

Friday, August 12, 2011

THIS could be your story...

I've wanted to post this, in a complete post, for awhile, but I've hesitiated...I believe in SN adoptions. I totally believe in older child adoptions. I believe in IA.

I honestly believe, above a doubt, that you can love any child you are placed with. I don't believe in fate...I believe it's what we make it. A lot of people would argue with me, and I don't want to argue the's how I feel.

But I ALSO believe that there are so many people who want a child, who got, well, fucked, by the shut down of much of IA in the world, so many that have dodgy agencies (cause most of them are, I dare say) that some really don't want to know what CAN happen...does happen, and have gone into SN adoption, at best, semi-prepared. Period. I believe that most agencies don't facilitate gathering of information, and some people really want to just go into this process starry eyed at the idea of a new child, which I understand. They want to play the odds, and roll the dice that it comes out in their favor, and chances are that it will. But it's foolish.

So I don't want to dissuade people by our story. But I do want to educate them, and it's a fine edged sword...and I've decided to sum it all up because in the end, I *think* it'll all turn out there's that moral to the story...

What We Were Told

We were told that Big Girl had limb differences of the left upper and left lower limb. We were told she was smart, articulate, outgoing, and had no other issues. We were not told limb lengths, and of course she was 8.5. The name given to the difference was universally dismissed by the Drs. It was not agenesis. They were growing, but were smaller.

What We Thought We Were Walking Into
We figured between the more advanced age and the lack of limb measurements that that was why she sat on the list for 3 years. We had three doctors review it. We even had my FIL the fancy neurologist look at it. We came to the assumption that either this was a random occurrance of skeletal abnormalities, probably due to environmental factors, or, more likely, we were going to get a diagnosis of minor CP when she was brought home. We knew she'd be delayed in behaviors, the language would be a huge issue, all those things that we knew would be big hurdles like customs, social mores, language, family integration etc and worked on learning about that...a LOT. All the Drs felt this was basically a non-issue...the limb difference was minimal from the photos, and everything looked great. She was on the shorter side, but hey, on the charts.

What We Saw When We Got To China
She came to us much as we figured. Clean, quiet, introverted, scared, inquisitive, and quickly changing to curiosity and exploration mode. She wanted to know everything. She had a basic learning of the English language - most alphabet letters were known, some basic words. She proudly showed off her math skills. She played quite well with our 3.5 year old...too well. She really does NOT act like the now-9 year old she is. And honestly, that has taken some getting used to. A lot, on our parts, actually.

We also saw spotting on her skin, on her forearms and calves. Ehhh, dry skin. Our proverbial Titantic Iceberg...but we had no idea at the time...we figured dry skin. The SWI told us "a lot of the kids" had had this start happening, about the time that the weather started changing. We did lotions etc. Her limbs were as we expected...except it was the wrong leg. And she had some thin spots in her scalp. One was under her pony tail, which seemed to have never been removed, so we got that. Or so we thought.

December to Late May
Shortly after we came home, she started the Great Doctor Tour. Ahhh, eczema, glasses for the bad vision we found in Guangzhou. Oh, a slight lazy eye, no problem, prisms in the lenses of the glasses.

Then we went in to see the orthopaedic. Yeah, one leg shorter, one arm shorter. Not neurological. Oh, and she has scoliosis. And a dislocated elbow. And her one finger is shorter. And about 3 little other quirks of a skeletal nature. Genetics are thrown in there. Ok...research. Dr never calls back. We "fire" her in March, go see a specialist and he says no genetics, probably environmental, and no big deal, surgery when she's 14 ish, dont' touch the dislocated elbow, she's fine.

The eczema doesn't go away. We see a dermatologist. He says ichtyosis, gives a cream. It works, we move on. Ok, a small bump in the road, seriously, this is it?! No issues. I even looked at a file for a boy waiting for adoption with ichtyosis because this was so not an issue...

I *think* I see a mark on my daughter's sternum. Could it be a scar? No...they wouldn't hide that...I keep looking at it. It's so light, I think I'm crazy.

Big Girl starts to aquire language...rapidly. Crazy rapidly. She settles in, starts to go to school in January, becomes part of our family rather quickly. She just...does. She acts very juevinile. She has NO logic. No "common sense". Was never ever taught anything but rote memorization. And she's damn good at that. She becomes a clinging shadow, and we work thru that. She gives love freely and openly. Her transistion to being our daughter only has one rough patch, when sister has her birthday and the jealousy is just too much for this little one to bear. It's what finally pushes her over the edge for a week, but she sulks, and keeps the acting out to minor harrassments and mayhem. All in all, we're overjoyed at how easy this has been. I had a rough time about 3 months home, being the go between for language, etc etc...everything is very time consuming...every bit of homework has to be handheld, everything explained in 2 languages, teaching her all those things like how to shower properly, wipe properly, brush her teeth properly (which none of these things were taught!) etc that we thought we wouldn't have to teach her. But, again, hey, we do it and move on.

Late May
Something happens. We don't know what. Big Girl ends up in convenient care with an all over body rash. We get antibiotics, ointments, follow up appts.
And they keep coming. And so does the condition. And the ichtyosis gets horrible. And everything gets horrible. And it doesn't get better. We start going to the Drs almost daily. No one knows what is going on. We start doing 3-5 Dr appts a week. We start to climb up the Doctor chain. Life becomes Dr appts. We do light treatments and more potions.

We finally, late July, get to a wonderful Dr at Children's Memorial. She takes one look at my daughter and says "wow, your daughter is quite an interesting case." You never ever want to hear that about your kid.

We got thru cycles. We get it under control, and then it flares again. We go around and around. I have a BOX of creams and lotions. Some help, most don't, some set us 10 steps back. The kid takes nightly bleach baths. She is a puzzle of cream application. Any trauma to her skin can set off a chain reaction. The daily maintenance of her skin becomes a huge task.

The wonderful Dr comes back with a name...Conradi-Hunermann. Look it up. There's not a lot of info. We're on the cutting edge of rare disorders. And she's atypical Conradi for some reason. That we still don't know - the how and the why. The interesting thing about Conradi? The ichtyosis comes in patterns...when she's flared, her chest looks like the patterns of a butterfly wing. Think about that - a rash type condition that is symmetrical across the two halves of a body. That line I saw? The kid's midline stays clear no matter what.

Limb differences, alopecia of the scalp, ichtyosis...main indicators of Conradi...

And what did we find yesterday? She has the most common of other indicators of Conradi...cataracts, in both eyes. And strasbismus. And Ambloypa (I know I don't have that spelled right)...and we don't know if we can correct those at this advanced age either...the cataracts will grow at some rate, and she will need those removed.

The Moral Of The Story
There is no way that the SWI didn't know about this. She says she never had it like this in China, but she talks of her foster mother scrubbing the ichtyosis off her skin. Chances are she presented quite obviously in her first years of life. Chances are almost absolutely that China did know some of this...that it was purposefully left out of her file.

And when I started asking those questions of my contact in China, she disappeared. She won't answer emails. That speaks volumes to me...

We're lucky. we have damn good insurance. I don't work that much outside the home. This is hard. I worry constantly. I fear the next Drs appt. Thankfully this kid is as easy going as they come...she takes this with style and grace and does what we need willingly. She whines about another Dr, but from what we could have, who knows. I know she'll tire of her eye patching...but, for an almost-10 year old, I'm thankful she works with me so well on this. My Peanut is insanely jealous. She hates when Mamam leaves with Big Sister for another appt, she misses the extra time we had with each of them.

I would not change this for a kid that came as she presented in her file. I accept all these challenges willingly vs the potential behavior issues I've seen with many older adoptees. Especially with a little one in the house, omg, she's been wonderful with her. I'm grieving right now. I am mad at myself...what did I miss? What Dr should I have consulted? Why didn't someone catch this? Why couldn't we stop this bus of trauma from hitting her these last 3 months? Why did China hide this? I'm trying to focus on the good, that this doesn't preclude a "normal" life for her...but right now, I'm just tired. Tired from having to fight stupid Drs, cut lots of the "fun" out of life, tired of wondering *why, why, why*??

And the worst part is that I'm scared of wondering "What's next?"

This, my dear friends, is what can happen, and does happen. More than anyone wants to let you know. If you are ok with this, this worst case, or worse, then adopt SN. I would still, again, do it, one more time. But everyone should realize that it can turn out like this, even when the Doctors give you the big grin, the big thumbs up and say "no worries" over and over and over again. If we didn't have the resources: the really good insurance, the HSA account, the red headed stubborness, or the schedules that we can adapt to this schedule, our family would be in crisis right now. Absolutely. And that we are not... I am trying to be thankful for that every moment right now.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

When I Get Mad at Well-Intentioned People...

When we first got mired down in the lengthening crushing wait that China NSN became...back when we were waiting for one time we asked our crappy agency about SN adoptions. Mind you, back in 2006, these were so very much not the norm in China adoptions. After being treated like line-jumpers, we were advised "If you want to do this, just get a cleft lip and palate easy surgery, maybe two, and you are done."

How wrong these mis-guided people were...9 out of 10 times...

As the line grew longer, and moved slower, more and more people began advocating for SN kids as the SN program grew rapidly hand over fist in size vs. the NSN program. I'm all for that SN program growing, though I'm not all for it in the manner that it occurred, at the expense of the NSN program. Every kid deserves a home of course.

What I'm not ok with is with many degrees of the advocacy. I've seen some great advocators out there...don't get me wrong. I've seen people who have kids who have x y and z condition, and they go out there, post links, tell their stories, tell the good and the bad, the realistic, and the truth. And I commend them for using the internet and their time to do so. It helps people so much. I try to be this kind of person, someome who people can email and say "Hey, I read about Big Girl...can you tell me about this?!"

What I'm not ok with is the "It's Just" mentality. That's usually coupled with the "(s)he is so cute! Look at that dimple, SOMEONE has got to scoop him up" mentality.

Here's the themselves aren't NSN. Sorry. They aren't. All kids, or 9,999,999 out of 10,000,000 of them will always be their own kind of mother-traumatizing ball of energy somehow...broken bones, or speech delays, curved spines, bad vision, rare genetic disorders etc etc etc

But I see these people say "It's JUST Cleft Palate." "It's JUST a missing hand." "It's JUST Hep B."

Here's the can't promise that. You just can't. Cause guess what...a lot of times there's moderate (or bigger) issues that are never placed in these kids' files. Period. And even the declared can NEVER say "It's Just..." until that child is here and diagnosed and dissected and reviewed. And even then, another Dr will come and say "nope that one is wrong"...and sometimes that diagnosis is better, sometimes it is worse. There's misdiagnosed conditions. There's that dreaded "s" word: Syndrome. There's non-disclosed information. It's the dirty little secret of the adoption'll all be ok with just love, we the people promise...

NO ONE should go out there and say "it's just". Gawd yes, you will love your child nonetheless, but one has to go fully into this saying "I'm ok if it isn't just..." and not just paying lip service to that discussion. Too much of this advocating is falling into the "Cute Puppy" arena these days, and it makes me nervous. Very nervous.

Should these kids be available for adoption? Hell Yes. Should people educated in the SNs that this child is supposedly presenting be free to advocate for these children? Damn straight, and I welcome it with open arms... Should people who see a cute pic on a website run around the internet squealing: "We can't afford one more, but if we could, this one would be it! Someone adopt him/her cause she's wearing the cutest little dress!" And on the flip side, people shouldn't be taking "IHeartChina7932" and "somebody28"'s word that this is "just no big deal."

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and store up buckets of education and love to share when you decide to walk down that path...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Screwed Up...

A few days ago, my mom came over and watched the girls while we got some work done around the house. She brought pork chops with her, and asked if husband would bbq them for dinner for all of us. Sure. All is good.

Big Girl likes fat. It's a delicacy in China. When we had country ribs, she picked the fat off my plate and smacked her lips as she ate it. Gives me the heebies, but, hey, that's ok. Now, I do want to temper it, cause it's not the healthiest habit, and she's eating a LOT more meat than she ever had in China. Anyways, she tried to scam everyone's fat from the edge of the mom instantly, in her tactful, kind hearted way kinda squealed " don't eat least here you don't."

I should have let Big Girl have my fat. Just mine. But I didn't. I was tired from working all day, and I hopped on the bandwagon. "No, Babe, not tonight, it's not good for you." "But it's yummmm." "It's not good for your heart." She was disappointed.

I'm mad at myself. I want to teach the girls moderation - something I wasn't taught as a kid. My mom was the kind that would not allow herself any chocolate for a month, then take down a whole bag of M&Ms in a day and a half because she had deprived herself. Like, it's ok to have a piece of chocolate. Not ok to take down a bag of them. It's ok to have a glass of wine or two...not ok to routinely take down a case of beer by yourself. etc etc etc

And I'm mad at myself for a bigger reason too...this is how she was raised. This is what her tastes and inclinations have been formed as...and who am I to say "no...ick."???

And this goes to a bigger issue I'm seeing more and more as older kids are being adopted more and more...this belief that we should make them conform to our desires, mores, and wants. I've seen things on blogs that turn my stomach...a man who shattered an amulet from a beloved caretaker in China (no, throwing it out wasn't good enough even) because it wasn't part of his religion...people talking smack about the horrible country these kids come from, people changing habits that don't need to be changed asap, to suit the family's life asap.

Here's the thing about adopting older: I see too often posts on boards that go like this:
My husband and I believe in (insert here - religion, non religion, vegetarianism, the world is flat, that vampires exist...whatever) and we want to adopt an older kid, but husband is worried that the kid won't take to our weekly honoring of the Eggplant God in our Family Room.

See, this is reversed messed up thinking...

WE, as prospective parents, have to be preparing ourselves now for how we'll cope with the kid not wanting to give up their fat, or not go to church or being a die-hard Communist. We have to prepare to change...not figure out how to change their minds!
If you are religious, realize your kid may not believe what you believe. In fact, these kids may have been raised in another religion and be devout. I should have taught Big Girl about moderation with the fat, instead of forbidding it. Or if your kid loves to shower at night instead of the morning, then, what's the harm? Or what if your kid has no interest in a college education, but wants to be an electrician...even though 4 generations of your family has become doctors. Or...what if you are a devout pacifist, and your new child aspires to join the military? It may not be how you would do it. But that's not the point...

Ask YOURSELF instead: How will I feel if she insists on eating meat that's been slaughtered against my wishes. How will I feel if she doesn't take on my religious beliefs. What is she takes on a different religions beliefs? How will I feel if she thinks Communism is The Bomb? How will I accomodate HER? How will I not strip her of all the things that she feels makes up who she is?

You may not want the little palm sized Buddha, or the amulet from the caretaker...but your kid might. It might mean something non-religious to them...just a small piece of the life they are leaving for us. You may not want to eat fat...and they probably don't want a twinkie either, cause let's face it, if you weren't raised with them, they are gross. Would it have hurt for her to eat a few pieces of fat? No. Would a child bringing an amulet, a certain ratty toy from the SWI, or a little religious statue hurt your home? No. Can you explain why YOU believe in vegetarianism, atheism, Model T Car Sacrifices on the Full Moon? Of course...that's being a parent. (And of course, when issues of safety or laws etc come into play, that's a different situation that I'm not tackling here...)

Being an "adoptive" parent just means that you may not like the response you get when the child gives their opinion on your opinion re the topic at hand at that moment. And you have to be ok with that. A vegetarian may have to produce grilled chicken breasts for the kids, a Christian may have to allow a small statue of a non-Western religious figure because that brings comfort to the child, for religious or social memories and love. A staunch Right-Wing Conservative might have a kid that wants to become a supporter of socialism in the US. A picky eater may have a child that needs them to go get 4 different hot sauces and rather eat dofu, spicy noodles and eel than mac n cheese. Morning people may get a kid that just can't move more than snail speed in the morning for the first hour. A family of pacifists might get an aspiring army officer.

Cause these kids come as a package deal...they have likes, dislikes, hatred, and loves. They have histories, and cultural norms embedded in their brains.

If you want to adopt older, be willing to learn to live with a child that very well might not emulate your thought process on many subjects. Learn to embrace that new different thought process embedded in that little body and appreciate seeing a different viewpoint of the world around you...and anticipate learning to appreciate what they deem important, even if you don't.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bad, Bad Language...

I've got a lawyer in my oldest daughter. I can see it now. She lawyers who has the best cup for juice and why, she lawyers why what Peanut said about her doll getting married is wrong, because OBVIOUSLY the doll can't marry the teddy, cause it married the giraffe the Tuesday before last, etc etc etc...she negotiates everything, analyzes everything...

We've had lots of "glimmer discussions" lately...things in China, histories, events, timelines etc etc etc. And that's cool. Sideswipes me out of nowhere, but I *think* I've been holding my own. Even though she discusses the symantics of every bit of the discussion...

Of course I have to figure out what she's talking about...she's like Peanut in that she doesn't set up her story/discussion first. And we do have a small language barrier still. And *gasp* she doesn't know her *proper* adoption language.

Bad, bad, bad adoptee!

She swiped me while I was making oatmeal about a week and a half ago: "My real parents no keep me. I no know them."

Gasp - I'm not the "real" mom. Gasp - I'm not "mom". So many of my original agencies Social Workers from Hell would be rolling over in their grave right now.

"My mom take me to the little ocean to swim this summer" (That threw me - I thought she was asking - she was talking about her foster mom.

But, I'm not a go with the norm kinda girl as it is, and the more I thought about it, I don't care. I did give her words - foster mom has been offered up as China mom (which, considering she has 2 China moms didn't rub well with me, just for clarity), and she's gravitated towards "foster mom." That's great with me - it's clear and concise. I gave her the words "birth mom", she sometimes uses it, sometimes no. Which is ok. If she thinks she's her "real" mom, so be it. Her choice. She doesn't have the vocabulary to use it otherwise yet, but if that's how she thinks about it, that's gonna have to be ok. She doesn't seem to long for them - I think more she is thinking about her abandonment, but we'll get there.

So I started thinking about my names...Mom, Mama, Maaaaaaammmmmmyyyy, and what the rest of the adoption world calls me: "AP...adoptive mom".

I don't like it. We rail against people calling our kids "our adopted kids." So why am I her "adopted mom"? Why do we so much identify ourselves as such?

No doubt, we are different critters, we face different hurdles with our kids than bio kids...most of the time. There are RAD kids and PTSD kids that are living with their birth parents. There are ones that have ODD or sensory issues or Autism. There are ones that couldn't be with their babies the first x months of their lives as they struggled in incubators, or the parents could not be there to parent for whatever reasons. There are "APs" that have perfectly well adjusted babies and kids who have no issues. I don't go out to the world and say "I'm a Limb Difference Mom". So why am I an AP?

What Big Girl calls me is between her and herself. But, to the rest of the world, I'm "mama" to my girls. Period. I refuse to quantify my mother-ness (as saint or as second best) to the rest of the world.