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There are a couple of times a year I get all mushy and gushy over things and today just happens to be one of those days. I never imagined the littlest love of my life would be born half a world away, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
Five years ago today we met Yu Si Jia for the first time. The scared little girl who cried for HOURS when we first held her is now a happy, healthy, thriving little girl who lights up my life more than I ever imagined. My mom was right when she told me there was no love like a parent’s love for their child.
Happy Family Day, JiaJia. I love you.
Fabul-O is on vacation with my parents. She left Wednesday night and is enjoying five days of constant doting, late bedtime, boat rides, fishing and learning about crab pots. She’s having a blast. She’s also informing my mom that we bought her. I thought when we addressed it and she said she understood how adoption works, etc. that we could move on. Apparently, her little brain isn’t quite sure how to process the information and use it. She still has seeds of doubt because she is harping on it. That’s what she does when she can’t wrap her mind completely around something and make it make sense. I’m fine with that because I know how she functions and it helps me to come up with my next plan of attack. I read another mom’s blog tonight and it appears that she’s facing a similar situation at her daughter’s preschool class. And it chaps my ass. Really. Truly.
Those who know me in real life know two aspects of my reactions…one is of a calm, cool, collected, let’s see how it works out before we do anything else. When I reach my breaking point, the other is one who takes no crap from people and lays a verbal smackdown that leaves them cross-eyed. Regarding things with O, I have to watch how I say things and what I do because of, “out of the mouths of babes.” Or do I? Why do I always have to be the one with the good manners and the soft approach? Why do I have to be the one that has to explain how screwed up everyone else is in their closed-minded ways of thinking? Why do I have to take the doormat approach and let them verbally smack around my family while I listen to half-hearted apologies and then accept it while turning the other cheek. Let’s leave being Christian out of this for a minute or two. I am strong in my faith and know about turning the other cheek, etc. But I am tired of it. Plain and simple. My mother is 4 hours away not 100% sure how to handle the conversation with Olivia. I told her how I handled it and she carried through with the consistency.
I’m tired of it. I’ve gotten many compliments on the way I handled the situation and how I expressed concern. Do y’all really want to know what I think? This is it…
I’m sick and tired of some azzhole parent/relative/friend of/person/whoever thinking they have the G*d given right to say whatever lays on the end of their tongue in front of children, or grown-ups for that matter. You know what? Screw your “freedom of speech.” When you are affecting the molding and shaping of my child with your racist, asinine, uninformed opinions and ideas, you lose that right. You can cuss your child, you can do whatever you want to with yours, but leave mine out of it. If you have questions about where Chinese babies come from, let me tell you. If you want to assume you know why we adopted, let me clear it up. If you think your closed-minded, selfish, misinformed information is the gospel, you are wrong. You people don’t know anything about me. I didn’t grow up in your community. My child has gone to your school because of convenience and you have a Chr*st centered program. Wanna know how that’s going for you? It’s sucking hugely in the pre-K classes, FYI.
When Olivia pushed a child, I addressed it head on the with affected parent and child. When Olivia made fun of your child because he has a big head…Oh, wait. She didn’t do that because I taught my child that all people are different and the way they look is how they are supposed to and how would she like it if people poked fun at her. OH, wait. They do. And she takes it because that is what a grown-up is supposed to do. But she’s not a grown up. She’s a 5-year-old who wants to say, “screw you,” but is afraid because it goes against what I taught her. She knows it’s not right when kids say mean things and call her names and try to make her eat bugs because “that’s what Chinese people do.” She is a 5-year-old who practices restraint, grace and composure. She is a 5-year-old who wants to say your child is an azzhole with a big mouth and deserves to have the ever-loving crap beat out of him, but she doesn’t because she is a freaking awesome kid who turns the other cheek. She gets angry and knows it’s not fair that she has to take shit but no one else does. She has approximately 6 weeks left at this school and then we’re moving on to the next phase of her post-toddlerhood life. For the next 6 weeks, she can respond however she wants to. I’m tired of being the one who has to listen to the school apologize for other kids and parents. You know what, it’s time for you to apologize on behalf of the Chinese kid who stood up for herself and quit taking crap. She’s not a “meek” child. She is a well-mannered child who is learning to choose her battles. Unfortunately, you are making it hard for her to differentiate between a battle and a regular day at school. It’s a blur because they are virtually one in the same.
To those who want to know what makes my opinions right and theirs wrong? I tell you. It’s facts. You don’t have to do mounds of resarch. G00gle it. It’s fact. It’s common sense stuff, people. Stop gossiping. Stop it. Stop it. Be an adult and STOP IT. You want to pick a fight, do it with me. I am the representative of my family. I am dying to let you know how it feels to be belittled and made to feel inadequate.
I am a nice person. Most days one of the nicest people you’ll meet. I say that with my head high and with confidence that you can not take away from me. This bullsh*t is making me less nice and I don’t like it.
To wrap up all this rambling that is a direct result of my level of disgust: You suck and I’m not going to take your crap anymore and I’m going to let my child handle it how she feels is fit. If she chooses to continue taking the high road, then I’m proud of the little person she is. If she chooses to tell you how she feels in her own words and way, I’m still proud of the little person she is. But I will tell you this, if she sheds one tear…one 1/100000 of a tear, I’m stepping in and will likely use words that will make my mother’s jaw drop. You’ve been warned and I might just do it anyway.
To all non-adoptive parents, friends of non-AP, families of non-AP and anyone else who thinks this might be cute: Please, please, please don’t ever say adopted children are bought to another human being, especially around children who have no filter from their ear to their mouth. Want to know why? Because someone did and their +/-5 year old child heard it and that child told MY child that we bought her from another mommy. If you don’t believe in adoption. Fine. If you don’t believe in International adoption. Fine. If you don’t believe white people need to raise a child of another race then that’s on you. She’s a child. Not a commodity.
This is not the first time this has happened and I know it won’t be the last. Let me just try to tell you how freaking hard it is to stare into the most beautiful brown eyes God ever placed in a child’s head and see doubt about our family dynamic. Again. Do you know how hard it is to tell a child, without being utterly rude and disrespectful, that someone surely must have smoked crack or was just plain ignorant when they made that statement? Do you know how hard it is to try and teach your child patience, manners, love, tolerance and understanding for others and then try to reassure them that your teachings are good things and the behavior exhibited by others is what is not right? It’s hard. There is no hiding anything about Olivia’s past or how we became a family. We embrace it. We cherish it. We are privileged that we are adoptive parents. On top of that, we are PROUD of it. We aren’t saints because we adopted. We didn’t do a good deed. And I assure you it is not my ticket into Heaven.
I work hard to instill good values in my child and it shows. She is one of the most polite, well-mannered children and I’m proud to say that’s my teaching. Something else I’m having to teach her, much earlier than I had planned, is that a lot of times people don’t think before they speak and, even if they do, they don’t realize how just out of touch with reality some comments are. I’m learning that 5 is a very delicate age. Olivia is learning to define herself with the things she does. She’s a girly-girl and puts on two coats of lip gloss every morning. She crosses her legs and sits up straight. She thinks being a princess is marvelous half the time and the other half she and her superhero friends spend saving the world. If I tell her once I tell her 100 times how much I love her. She knows she is one of my favorite people in the world and that there is no love greater than our love. Something else also works to define her: the people with whom she interacts – mainly on the playground. It takes me so much time to undo the meanness, the bad words and all the other traits that she has picked up from other kids. A key phrase at Chateau L is, “just because so-and-so does it doesn’t make it right.” And it doesn’t. And I know that not everyone believes the way we do, but the core values we teach are the common sense, across the board, everyone should have them values.
You have a right to your thoughts, opinions and beliefs the same that every other person does, but what you don’t have the right to do is make my child feel she is less than adequate because she doesn’t fit your mold. Every parent wants to protect their child, and I’m no different. My final lesson to Olivia was this: Ignorance isn’t born. It’s learned and some people just don’t get it.
Be mindful of what you teach your children, please, because I’m getting tired of explaining you to my child.
Chase Community of Giving is donating $5 million to charities. One of the Charities is Half The Sky. They sponsor orphanages in China providing education, training and resources. Why is Half The Sky important to me? Because Olivia spent 365 days prior to us becoming a family in an HTS sponsored orphanage. I’ll forever be grateful for their program and hope you’ll take just a minute to vote for it on Facebook.
Every year in China, thousands of young children – some only hours old – lose the love of family. Given up by parents too poor to care for them or parents who wanted a boy, they live in orphanages where untrained caregivers provide food and shelter, but not the loving care and attention that every child needs to develop normally. They are children who soon learn that they are unwanted. And like all children – they deserve more.
Nearly 100,000 children wait inside the walls of 1,100 government welfare institutions. There they languish, their lives empty.
Except where there is Half the Sky.
Since 1998, Half the Sky has given 35,000 orphaned children the benefits of family love, nurturing care and guidance essential to normal development. The programs are so transformative that the Chinese government officially licensed Half the Sky and invited it to become its only partner – to create a model children’s center and training facility in every one of the country’s 31 provinces.
Our Big Idea: Transform orphan care forever in China. Take $1 million and turn it into 100,000 lives saved tomorrow – a million lives over time. No other organization is so perfectly poised to do just that.
Half the Sky has a dream to train every caregiver in China so that no child need ever languish without love again. The Chase prize can make the dream real.
Today there are 12,000 untrained, unskilled caregivers tending China’s orphans. We can train them all! It can cost as little as $88 to provide initial training to a caregiver to become a nurturing nanny, preschool teacher, foster mom or youth mentor in Half the Sky’s innovative approach to orphan care. With your vote, we can win the prize and hold 24 large-scale (500 trainees each) regional trainings across China for 12,000 orphanage workers – a first round of training for every single caregiver in the country. The impact will be huge and immediate.
Only Half the Sky has won the trust to make such a massive project happen.
Half the Sky exists only in order to ensure that every orphaned child will have a caring adult in her life and a chance at a bright future. After years of effort, we now have the opportunity to dramatically improve the child welfare system in China. It’s an extraordinary opportunity, but it will take time. Many children must wait. Some will not survive.
But if we win – By the summer of 2010, we will hold the first of 24 regional caregiver trainings – then again every other month for 4 years. We already know that the training is a revelation to caregivers. It will forever change the way they look at the children in their care. And while there will be follow-up costs over the years to help maintain program quality, $1 million can provide a first round of training for all.
If we win the prize, we will jumpstart this groundbreaking effort. Your vote will impact thousands of children’s lives.
A vote for Half the Sky is a vote for every forgotten child.
Only takes a minute and it’s a way to help a wonderful charity without giving any of your own money.
Four years ago today,Will and I were promoted from being a couple to being parents. China had chosen US to be the parents of Yu Si Jia…soon to be Olivia. We loved her little face the first time we saw it and our love continues to grow.
Here is the first picture we saw of our new daughter:
Here is Olivia last night as an angel for her school’s Christmas program.
For non-adoptive parents, the day you get your referral is like finding out you’re pregnant.
Referral day always comes with many emotions for me. For us, from very start to our referral day, referral was 14 months (we expedited homestudies, etc. for fear of a deployment and are glad we did, because he was indeed recalled to active duty). Our actual wait for referral was 8 months after our dossier was submitted, which we know we are incredibly lucky to have only waited that short amount of time. I have many e-pals and bloggy buddies who are in their 3rd year of waiting and I can only imagine their angst over the wait to become parents.
Believe it or not, there are some who have followed our journey since I left Will in Gulfport, MS for his deployment to Iraq. For those who have been with us all along the way, thank you. Your kind words, encouragement and new-found friendships are amazing. For those who stumbled here by accident and have hung around, I’m grateful for you, too. We still get questions about how and why we chose China. Quite some time back, I posted about it and you can read it here. For those who know us in real life, thank you for loving my child. Friends are the family we get to choose and I think I made some pretty dang good decisions. It’s not always blue skies and sunshine around Chateau L and we are overcoming some challenges, but one thing remains the same. We are a family. We are the family that I wasn’t sure I would ever have. Being a parent is important to me. I don’t know if it’s because we shoveled through mounds of paperwork with notaries, apostles, writing check after check, asking for letters of reference and having to prove ourselves worthy of being a parent or if it’s just in our nature or both, but we love being parents. At the end of every day, no matter the struggles that faced us during the day, I always kiss my little girl good night, hug her tight and tell her I look forward to tomorrow. Even though there are many times where I welcome some “me” time without hearing “mommy” a bajillion times and I love being able to go to the bathroom without an audience, I miss her when she’s not with me.
I made a vow a long time ago and I still stick to it…as frustrated as I may get or irritated or whatever phase we’re crossing into that is less than pleasant, I will never take being a parent for granted. Ever. I will never regret our decision to become parents and you will certainly never hear me complain about having her. The good outweighs the bad and, honestly, the bad isn’t that bad and we are extremely blessed to have a child who is as good as Olivia. She will always know she’s loved and never will I make her feel like she’s an inconvenience for me. And for those who try to tell me I’m not a “real” parent because our family tree was formed in a different fashion, you’re wrong. For those who tell Olivia we’re not her parents because we’re white. They are wrong. We are raising our child the healthiest way we know how and she already knows that she may not have our eyes, but she certainly has our heart. And she has before I saw her picture for the first time and even more so since then.
Catherine finally got the call she’s been waiting over three years for. She’s the mama of a baby girl. Go give her some love, would ya?
Tonight I purgeed all the stuff I’ve been hanging on to “just in case” that playmate Fabul-O wants somehow materialized.
Know what fell out of the bag? The first pair of jammies we put Fabul-O in while we were in China. (Ya’ll thought I was gonna say something about there was another kid gonna take up residence at Chateau L, didn’t you? Silly folks) No, I didn’t keep them, but I couldn’t help but feel a little teary-eyed over it.
Almost 3-1/2 years ago the gorgeous little brown-eyed girl who refuses to spell Bingo right when singing about Farmer Brown and his dog and blames her farts on the nearest creature, including stuffed animals, joined our family. Where does time go?
Well, the first thing that happened is some snot nosed kid pointed out the obvious to Olivia that she’s not white, to which she retorted, “Duh, I’m Chinese.” Good for her. He followed up by telling her she had to eat the bug on the slide because she was Chinese. She came home and told me and it was during one of my bad health weeks so I didn’t address it immediately with the school. When I asked her who said it, she told me it was some new kid, he was older than her and she didn’t know his name. I told her – in age appropriate conversation – that she didn’t have to take crap off this kid and to tell him people from XYZ county eat bugs do. Wanna share? Then I told her not to eat bugs. Eating bugs was gross and the only time she should eat bugs was if she was ever lost in the woods and had nothing else to eat, but she should never find herself lost in the woods because she’s supposed to be holding my hand. Then the conversation took a HUGE right turn when she started talking about packing snacks, having maps and compasses and going to the magenta forest. I knew I had reached maximum capacity for that conversation, but she’s not stupid. She got the point.
This past weekend the mother of all conversations came up. We’ve been having some problems with Olivia being sassy and her manners are waning a bit. She’s also been overly clingy with Will, wanting to sleep with the light on, not wanting to go into a room if the lights are off and not wanting to be left alone. I think I found our reason. Over the weekend, she chimed in with, “you’re not my real mommy so it doesn’t matter.” I swear had I been tackled by an entire NFL team I could not have had the wind knocked out of me any harder. Now, when I hear something of this nature, I always try not to overreact to it initially because, if I do, Olivia shuts down and I won’t be able to find out where it came from because she thinks she’s getting in trouble. I wasn’t as successful as I had hoped and got all sorts of different answers from her. I told her just because she was from China didn’t mean I wasn’t her mommy and families were formed all different ways.* After all, who made her legs feel better when they hurt the night before? Of course the answer was me, so that helped to seal it a little bit more. I followed up with every single reassuring thing I could come up with. At some point over the past couple of weeks, this same almost 3rd grader decided it was his place to tell Olivia that I wasn’t her real mommy.
I’m gonna tell you flat out…my feelings were hurt. Very hurt. No one expects their four year old to tell you they don’t have to listen to you because you aren’t their mommy. Especially a four year old who knows no other family dynamic other than the one in which she currently lives. While it explains a lot of her behaviors, it certainly doesn’t excuse it. We strive so hard to lay a good foundation of a family for her. Heck no we’re not perfect. Not even freaking close. Who is?! We have rules. We’re not afraid to punish when it’s needed, we praise when necessary and I’m certainly not above ye olde bribery. One of the “rules” we have around here is when there’s trouble that has been gotten into and the punishment’s been doled out, we talk about it. It is important to me that Olivia understand the consequences of her actions and the choices that she makes. It has always worked like a charm. People used to look at me like I was crazy, but it was something I started early on, have stuck to it and it works.
I talked to the teachers at Olivia’s school and am proud to say they took it as seriously as I did. They were able to find out which little boy said it and he admitted it. The administrator had him apologize to Olivia, his parents were called in and they will punish him appropriately. The hardest part is trying to erase that little seed of doubt that’s been planted in Olivia’s mind. We haven’t made a big deal out of it and we won’t. What has been discussed about it has been discussed and that’s that. Life moves on and so will we.
I knew it was coming, but I guess this just proves that my baby really is growing up. The harsh reality of what is to come started on the playground just two short weeks ago. 4K starts in a couple of weeks and I’m afraid my ears will start bleeding if I hear one more reminder to buy her backpack.
*We’ve tried the whole “China mommy” conversation and Olivia has had ZERO interest in it. We’ve read the age-apropriate books, she knows the province she’s from in China, blah, blah, blah. So, we throw tid bits out there and if she’s interested she asks questions otherwise she just blows it off. In her own time. Even though it’s not my first, second or third choice, I guess if it takes some kid making fun of her on the playground to do it, I guess that’s what it takes. Can’t make her want to digest it.
Three years ago today.
This was my blog post from February 15, 2006
Well, today’s the day we’ve been waiting for. We’re leaving for China. As I type this, Will is in bed trying to get some z’s before we have to get up at 3 a.m. to leave for the airport at 4. It’s going to be a loooonnnng day. Of course adrenaline has me up. I tried to go to sleep at midnight and that lasted for about a whopping 20 minutes and here I am. As I was laying there I kept hearing my heartbeat in my ears and I swear it sounded like it was beating a million times a minute. If I can’t sleep, I might as well be productive. I have two hours and forty-five minutes before the alarm goes off.
I have one bag under the weight limit at 32.5 lbs. and it is the one with ALL of Olivia’s clothes, blankets, clothes for the orphanage, etc. How? Well, we went to the Army-Navy store and bought a military duffle bag. It has no weight to start with and it was cheap $16.xx. We have one but it is military green and has US Navy stamped on it and we felt kind of odd going into China with military insignia so we bought a black one. It’s loaded to the gills – and under weight. The other one…well, not quite so lucky on it. It was at 55 lbs and we decided if it was going to be over, then over it was. We’ll pay. I stopped tonite on my way home from work and bought a new light weight suitcase that is 1″ bigger and expands 2″…our other was just a 29″ not expandable. Holy smokes…this rocked. I repacked and realized that I still had room left! So I gather more goodies and rearrange the carry ons and am stoked with all the room I have left. I zip it up, put it on the scales and weigh it. It’s up 10 lbs. Sheesh. So then I turn around and behind me is all of our socks and undergoodies that I didn’t repack in the new suitcase. That’s where all my free space came from. I’m thinking now I wished I would have bought 2 of the duffle bags and been done with it. So, I took out the new loot, put in the necessities and strapped her all up. DONE. Loaded and ready to go.
This will be my last post until Beijing. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We can always use them and can never have too many. I can’t believe I am five days away from meeting Olivia face to face. How cool is this….
I can’t believe three years ago we left on a trip that would change our lives forever and I don’t just mean being parents. From the people we met, the food we ate and the sights we saw. It was hands down the trip of a lifetime. By the way, it was really hard trying to tell someone who spoke no English that I forgot my hairbrush. Collectively, we had 40 pairs of underwear, but no hairbrush.
Time flies when you’re having fun.
Will and I were promoted from a couple to a family.
At 2:42 p.m. on December 8, 2005, we received this picture in our email:
Yu Si Jia had been chosen to be our daughter and was waiting for us in Chongqing.
I never knew I could love one person so stinking much!
Donna and Joe got the call they’ve been waiting over for three years for!! Go on over and show ’em some love. That is one cute kid!
Deployment brings with it all sorts of questions ranging from how to adjust my schedule, work, worry, cooking for just Olivia and me, and the oh-so-dreaded question of: “What about another baby?” First of all, deployment, for us, does not mean expand family. The first words out of some mouths of wives in Will’s unit after the deployment was announced was, “I’m gittin’ pregnant.” I’m not making fun. It’s exactly how they sounded when they said it. We are totally in love with Olivia and are thoroughly enjoying her. Different strokes for different folks, but I’ve always wanted some space in between kids and, yes, this deployment will bring with it a wee bit more space than we originally planned for, but, hey, I had a luxurious Disney trip planned that crumbled right before my eyes, too. The best laid plans…
Honestly, I don’t know what our future holds for our family. I think we both would love to have another child. I have had one girl and now I’d take 100 boys. Will, on the other hand, wants more girls. I admit, sometimes I would love to find out I’m pregnant, but other times it doesn’t phase me. I don’t get bitter when I see pregnant people and I hold no secret hard feelings for friends and family who have babies. For the record, I so enjoyed celebrating my wonderful baby shower my friend J hosted for me with a cold beer. Anyway, to date, it’s not been in our cards and, for the most part, I’m okay with that. Fertility issues are a bitter pill to swallow and miscarriages cause a lot of heartache. Adoption costs are expensive, domestic or international, and the wait to bring a sibling home from China is wicked crazy long right now. We’ve talked about our options and are thinking them through carefully. When family planning involves paperwork that expires, fingerprints, homestudy with updates and a husband who will be thousands of miles away, it takes a bit more planning.
I usually don’t mind people asking me questions and most people mean no harm in the stuff they ask, but I do feel the need to answer this one out loud: No, we will not be freezing sperm.
I’m absolutely disgusted over this.
I reentered the link above, but here’s the address if the link doesn’t work: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/columnists/seate/s_573477.html
If his wife didn’t already have his balls hanging from her rear-view mirror, I’d go for them. Obviously she has them, why else would he have “… sat through not one, but two, chick flicks with my wife in as many weekends”?
I don’t even know what my rational response is right now because the response I started to him went a little something like this:
I dare anyone to tell me face to face my child is less deserving of a home than any other child in the world, especially some classless, nadless asshole who doesn’t have a f-ing clue. I. Dare. You.
And as far as him being a journalist? You can put kittens in the oven, but it doesn’t make them biscuits.
I googled this columnist’s name last night and it appears this is his style. His bigotry and racism spreads far and wide, which he pawns off as “jokes.”
Last night I also thought about my initial reaction to what he wrote and I was somewhat ashamed of myself. I thought about deleting my post, but then I decided not to. It was my initial reaction and, while I’m not proud of it, it is still my reaction. Some things chap me and this is one of them. Maybe I’m being thin-skinned, maybe I’m not.
So, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that he’s found a new since of self in being proactive with children who need forever families. I’ll be looking for his follow up article talking about fostering and adopting some of these children he is so concerned about. Oh, yeah. What about the white kids who are in the foster care system? I guess only black, biracial and Latino children are the ones special enough to make his list of domestic “must haves.” What? Surely you don’t think he would cast stones if he wasn’t already working on becoming an adoptive parent himself.
By now, I’m sure you have all heard/read about the earthquake in China. The death toll is climbing. I’ve gotten a couple of emails and I checked Half the Sky’s website and the orphanages they sponsor in the area, including Olivia’s, were not affected, but they will be working on checking on those in the other cities.
Regardless of where the tragedy occured, it is a terrible one and these folks need our prayers.
Well we are finally able to access our email. Last nite we weren’t able to so there were no picures. We met Olivia yesterday afternoon about 3:30. We were the third family of four to be called. She was not happy, to say the least, but we were expecting that and were as prepared as we could be. She has a set of lungs that must be the size of Texas and they sure do work. She cried for about an hour and then settled down some. Last night we were able to get her to smile and giggle a little bit. She has a cold and is congested and tugging on her ears so that’s not helping any. We gave her some Cheerios and she has held two of them, one in each hand, for about an hour. She won’t eat them and she won’t let them go, either. When the nanny handed her to us, she had a small piece of wrapped candy in one hand a pack of cookies in the other. She never tried to put either in her mouth. She loves her daddy and has gotten picking his nose down to a science. She loves to open her book and turn the pages. She’s still not sure of everything and we are letting her set the rules. She went down last nite about 8:30 and slept until almost 7 this morning.To sum up, we love her. We love her more than we ever thought we would. Being a mom feels good. However, I have quickly experienced the angst of not being able to make my baby feel better.Here are some pictures and we’ll send more as we get them off the camera.Lots of love to everyone.
Will, Susan and Olivia
Three years ago, someone made a choice that, unbeknownst to us, would change our lives in a way we never dreamed possible. February 20, 2005 a tiny baby, we now call Olivia, was taken to the Chongqing Children’s Welfare Institute (also known as Chongqing Children’s Home) in Chongqing China. While we’ll never know the circumstances surrounding the choices of her birthmother/parents, we are blessed and honored to have this child as a part of our family tree. Exactly one year from that date, she had her forever family.
It’s amazing how our lives have evolved over the past two years. I think Olivia has probably taught us more than we could ever dream of teaching her. We have our moments, but if we didn’t we wouldn’t be a normal family. However, what we also have is love; a lot of love. Not to mention THE coolest kid on the planet.
Here are some pictures from the day we were promoted from a couple to parents…
My girl today:
I love her. I love her. I love her. If another blessing is never bestowed upon me, I will have known the greatest blessing of all: the love of my daughter.
I’ve hesitated blogging about this, but it’s interesting in a not so ordinary way, at least to us it is.
A couple of months ago, Will shouted for me to come to the living room. When I got there, he told Olivia, “Tell your mommy what you just told me.” This is how it went:
Olivia: My father is very, very sick.
Me: Really? Where is your father?
Olivia: He lives far, far away.
Me: Where does he live?
Olivia: Far away.
Me: Olivia, what is your daddy’s name?
Me: What is your father’s name?
Olivia: I don’t know his name. He’s sick, mommy.
Me: What’s your mommy’s name?
Me: What’s your mother’s name?
Olivia: Oh, mommy. Stop being silly.
Here’s the skinny on the “being adopted” gig at our house. Olivia knows she was born in China. Baby Jia-Jia’s picture (her referral picture) is on her nightstand and she sometimes asks to see her baby picture and we’ll look at it and talk about it. You ask her and she’ll tell you she was born in China and came to North Carolina on an airplane. She knows her address and phone number so she’s well aware of where she is. There are strict instructions at her school that they are NOT to approach the issue of adoption with her at any point for any reason without first talking to me should it ever come up. I am her mommy. Will is her daddy. End of their discussion with the rest being handled by me and I’ll let them know when it comes time to do differently. Not bitchy, just my thing. So, after speaking with the teachers and administrators, everyone told me it’s never come up at school and, if it should, they know how I wish to have it approached and handled. I’m happy with that.
Now, back to that night…I explained to Olivia that I am her mommy and Will is her daddy and that while she was born in China, we will always be her mommy and daddy and there is nobody who will ever make it any different. We haven’t taken the plunge into the birthmother thing yet…it’s coming, we just don’t think it’s time. Her reply? “I love you so much. Don’t be silly and help me with Mike’s blanket, please.” Mike is her doll…he was cold.
From time to time things like this pop up and it just floors me. She still calls herself Jia-Jia and answers to it and Olivia and all the pet names I throw out to her. She and my mom were playing restaurant the other day and, of course, O was “the lady” (a.k.a. the waitress. Yes, we eat out waaay too much) Anyway, she told my mom her name was Si Jia, which is her Chinese name. We NEVER call her Si Jia and I have no idea where it came from. Mom enjoyed her imaginary soup and Si Jia was the best little waitress in the joint.
I’m sure a lot of it is kid imagination, but it makes me wonder. This kid is amazing.
Pop on over and give a big ‘ol shout out of congrats to Shannon on her referral for Emily. Shannon we love you and can’t wait for the fabulous Miss O to teach her CQ sister the ropes.
Oh, yeah…Tony we’re giddy for you, too!!
Hectic doesn’t begin to describe how life has been for the past several weeks. The L’s have tons of things going on and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get all done. Here’s recap of the past several weeks:
- February 20 was the one year anniversary of meeting Olivia for the first time and welcoming her into our hearts and lives forever. The pictures we took to mark our day are hideous.
- March 1 was our one year anniversary home.
- Olivia is officially in a big-girl-bed! We converted the crib into the toddler bed and she slept in it all of three nights. In order to convert it to a full size bed, we would have to order the rails from the manufacturer for $100. Let me back up just a wee bit…O’s crib is a spinoff of another crib by the same manufacturer. For the most part it’s the same but there was slight tweaking so we bought it because the other wasn’t being manufactured at the time and no one knew when it would be. I bought the spinoff and it’s a beautiful crib and I love the styling of it. When I called to order the rails, the not quite so courteous rep said they didn’t have them. When I asked when they were going to get them her reply was this, “You bought the crib when it first came out (I ordered it in May 2005) and we figured it would be at least three to four years before people would need them so we didn’t make them.” Hmmm. Okay, that’s great but I still want to know when you’ll have them. Maybe March, could be April or AUGUST. Not sure what happend to May, June and July. Then came the part of me who has a hole phobia. With this crib, unlike it’s twin, the sides of the crib screw into what would be the headboard leaving these two holes that might as well be 100′ in diameter. Can’t order wooden plugs that are already stained and it seemed like tons of work to try and match the stain, find the right size, blah, blah, blah to do it on my own. So, I decided to just spend a little extra money and buy a new bed for Miss O and store the crib for Baby L2. No, we aren’t paperchasing and don’t know when we will. It’s in the talks due to some other things going on in our lives but we won’t know for sure until probably the summer as to when we will start. So, for now, the crib is stowed. There’s a little neato tid bit I want to share about operation big girl bed but will wait until I post the pics so I can show you.
- I’ve muddled my way through six boxes of Girl Scout cookies and my waist line is feeling the pain. Actually, it’s my jeans who are refusing to give. But, I also understand there are some of my bloggy sisters who have indulged in the cookie madness. I’ll start Weight Watchers again in two more boxes of Tagalongs. And on the subject of GS cookies, why the sudden name changes? Tagalongs are now simply peanut butter patties? What’s that all about? I guess maybe they want simplicity and I ate 3 boxes to convince myself they taste the same. They do.
- The fabulous Miss Olivia has a new obsession: School buses. She can spot a school bus with one eye closed, two side streets away and behind a mountain. I don’t know where the obsession came from and what is so fascinating. The older kids where she goes to school don’t ride a traditional yellow bus, they have, what I call, a tourist bus…you know the little one the grammies and grampies ride in for tours of waterfalls and such? I guess I need to learn all the words to “Wheels on the Bus.”
- I’m trying to finish up a cookbook I’ve been writing. It started off as a fundraising effort for BL2 but has a new purpose added to it. That post will follow, too.
We are alive. Thank you for the emails and hopefully I’ll be able to get back in the groove of blogging soon as I sure do miss it and not to mention I have 200+ blog updates to read!
Until next time…
I know most of you in the adoption community have read the following article in one place or another this past week:
BIG BABY GIRL SALE – ONLY $17,000! – Jim Dossett
The Chinese have given us many things; gunpowder, spaghetti, woks,
Jackie Chan. Oh yes, they’ve also been delighted to give us their
discarded children. Actually, they’re delighted to sell us their
kids. And government officials have laid down new ground rules for
foreigners who want to adopt children from China’s overflowing
Prospective adoptive parents must not be obese; no more than 50
years old; must not take antidepressants; must not have severe
facial deformities. So the bottom line is, if you take up two seats
on a plane, are a member of AARP, take Prozac, or resemble the
Elephant Man – No Chinese kids for you!
Mind you, these edicts are issued by a culture where parents
traditionally leave female babies at orphanages or by the roadside
because they wanted a son, or because the government allows them
only one child. Ninety-five percent of the children available for
adoption are girls. I’m amazed that one of the world’s oldest
civilizations, dating back to more than six millennnia, still
doesn’t realize that women are the best of us all.
I doubt whether many Campbell Countians would be eligible to adopt a
Chinese baby – not because we’re fat, old, or grotesquely deformed –
but because it costs more to buy a child in China than many of us
make in a year.
According to Chinese baby brokers, the estimated total cost of a no-
frills adoption, not including travel, is about $12,000. The
estimated total cost plus travel for two is $17,120.00 – such a deal.
“End of Year Sale! Get your certified, pre-owned girl child for the
amazing price of $17,120! She’s a beauty despite a few minor
scratches and dents, but comes with a manufacturer’s warranty – no
surprises under the hood or the diaper!”
Once the bucks are shelled out for the kiddie commodity, who knows
where the money ends up. Maybe some of the cash trickles into the
new charity created by the China Center for Adoption Affairs. This
burgeoning group of capitalists is hopeful the charity will improve
conditions in orphanages and “keep infants and young children alive
and well enough to be adopted.” It makes you wonder about the fate
of toddlers who are not well.
Despite the high costs and stringent rules issued by the baby
dealers, childless couples from the U.S. and around the world still
flock to China in hopes of bringing baby home. God bless you decent
souls. Stick religiously to your pretrip diets of carrot sticks and
cottage cheese and look forward to the fat and happy times you’ll
have raising your baby girl!
When Paula Zahn did her crappy show, I didn’t send an email although it was sickening to hear such crap spewed forth. This time I did send one and I, like others, got a response back but I think those of us this late in the week got a different canned response than the rest of you:
I am sure you have received numerous emails regarding Mr. Dossett’s article about adopting children from China. We, like thousands of other parents, have the joy and pleasure of being parents to a daughter from the Chongqing province in China who was adopted one year ago yesterday. We put no specifications ( i.e. specifically requesting a daughter) in our petition to adopt, simply requesting to be parents of a child. We were referred the most beautiful little girl who has a personality that is a perfect match with our family. Had there been any issues with our child, we would have gladly have approached and treated them appropriately, just as we would a biological child. Our daughter was 11 months old at referral and we have friends who have adopted special needs and non-special needs of all ages up to age 12.
Adoption, or to “buy a child” as Mr. Dossett refers to it, is quite expensive, domestic or international. If he would have researched more thoroughly, he would have found that the majority of the monies paid are here within the United States to our government and adoption agencies. Only about $4, 500.00 is paid in country and includes the orphanage donation, medical exam, visa and passport. To adopt a child is an emotionally taxing decision and is not one to be entered lightly, which we did not. After rallying friends for letters of recommendation, two sets of fingerprints, background checks, home study and mountains of documents to be authenticated, we were approved to be parents. Adoptive parents are scrutinized from income and tax information to our homes and the type of environment our children will be raised in. We are far from wealthy, in terms of money, but we work hard to make sure we have created the best possible environment for our daughter to learn and grow in.
Our daughter spent the first 13 months of her life in an orphanage that is sponsored by an American foundation. This foundation raises money for orphanages throughout China to help maintain an environment in which the children can learn and thrive while there. There are special programs created for infants to allow caregivers to hold and nurture children, something that is critical in the early months of their lives. There are classes set up for school aged children. Orphanages are being renovated and built. As sad as it is, for many of these children, it is the closest to a family they will ever have. I invite you to read about their programs on their website http://www.halfthesky.org.
The restrictions China has placed on who is eligible to adopt is their right and you should note other countries have similar restrictions. Where are your articles on those countries? How about Russian children who are abandoned and who are turned out as prostitutes at the age of 14 or so if they aren’t adopted? Guatemalan children who are placed for adoption and the corruption that goes along with those adoptions. Dear sirs, no adoption program is flawless, including ones in the United States. While we will never know the circumstances surrounding our daughter being abandoned, we are only thankful she is part of our family. We choose not to romanticize something we simply do not know but not one time will you ever hear us, or other adoptive parents, criticize her birth parents for their decision.
It is appalling to read such a bigoted article and that editors would allow such dribble to be printed, regardless of any sarcastic undertone or tongue in cheek intended. In the perfect world I should not have to explain my family dynamic to anyone but, since I do, articles such as this one have made a mockery of family dynamics world wide (as Chinese children are adopted by other countries and not just the U.S.) and will be the reason we are put in the position of answering asinine questions that are raised by readers whose only information is what they read in such articles.
I respect your freedom of speech but I must say it is disappointing to know a “journalist” wrote an article with such a bigoted and racist view.
I also invite you to look at the attached photos of our daughter. The daughter you say is “a beauty despite a few minor scratches and dents, but comes with a manufacturer’s warranty – no surprises under the hood or the diaper!” There are a lot of surprises that come along with a child, adopted or not, but for you to refer to our children using verbiage that one would find printed in used car ads is pathetic.
What’s next? Bashing our military and the tour my husband served in Iraq? Or have I missed it already? I can certainly dispel many of your myths and untruths regarding that and will be glad to direct you to others who are more passionate about it than I should you need further clarification.
And the response I got:
Susan,Thank you for sharing your photos and this information.
Please allow me to share with you the apology that ran in the next issue following the publication of Jim Dossett’s opinion piece.
An apology from
Publisher Linn Hudson
Printed in the Feb. 22, 2007 issue
In the past week, the LaFollette Press has received numerous emails regarding Jim Dossett’s opinion piece that appeared last week on the editorial page of our newspaper. I have offered my personal apology to those who have contacted us, and I now extend that apology to our full readership. I have spoken with Jim and he also apologizes.
Jim’s comments were aimed at the Chinese government and its policies for adoptions. He did not intend to disparage adoptive children and their adoptive parents.
We have learned through this experience we must look at opinion pieces through the eyes of those being discussed. In this instance, we could and should have done a better job in that regard.
Jim himself was adopted as a child. Due to this experience, Jim respects and admires those who adopt on a local, national or international level.
The feedback we received is appreciated and will help us deal with sensitive topics in the future.
I have spoken with a local family who adopted a daughter from China. They are allowing us to feature their positive and uplifting story in an upcoming issue.
Either myself or the editor has read each email that we received and we will continue to do so. Please know we take this matter seriously.
And lastly, my reply:
While I appreciate your reply, it boggles me as to why Jim hasn’t written the apology himself? Maybe it’s just the way it’s done where you are but where I come from people own up to mistakes and blunders such as this. Maybe the power of the pen gives one immunity but I certainly know I would hate to be the one who has to eat all his crow and plow through the muck.
The adoption community is one that is tight knit and spans the globe. Maybe you all should be glad more of us don’t live in your town or I’m sure your readership would grossly drop.
I hope you are sincere when you write this matter is being taken very seriously. I don’t live near you, nor do probably ninety-five percent of the people who emailed you, if not more, but it only took one of your readers to show the rest of us the poor taste of a journalist on your staff.