Monday, August 31, 2009

17 year old reunites with his Chinese birth family.

Watch the emotional video here:

The timing of this story is rather interesting for us. Just yesterday we were asked if we are going to adopt again. That question is not an easy one to answer. When we began this journey, the wait for the China program was 6-9 months. Just today I read in an adoption forum than an agency sent their waiting parents some horrific projections. According to their e-mail, parents with a log in date of late 2006 (our LID was January 16, 2006) could wait until 2014 for a referral. While there is quite an age gap (Grand Canyon type) between JJ and SS, we do not want a big age difference between SS and a prospective younger brother.

When we turned in our dossier three years ago, we discussed how long to wait for Baby D. We decided to begin the process one year after SS arrived home. Then our life took some serious twists and turns and we are nowhere where we were then. By now I should have been back at work, and I should have been knee deep into the paper chase (I'm better at document gathering and planning). The reality is that the China program is not an option for us. The problem is that I can't think of another program that would be acceptable. It is important to us that SS's younger sibling be also Asian. JJ and I will always share our cultural heritage, P has the entire White population, and we want SS to grow up with a sibling from a similar background. Vietnam's program is closed, so that leaves us with Taiwan.

That is where this story got me thinking. One thing about adopting from China is the near impossibility of a birth parent or family seeking a child. This has always been on our minds, from the moment we discussed adoption. While our hearts were set on China, this was a major bonus for us. Shall SS ever request our help in finding her birth parents/family, we will do whatever we can to make it happen. What we are not willing to endure is someone else making that decision for OUR child. We are the only ones equipped with the knowledge to determine SS's emotional maturity for such an encounter. Getting blindsided by someone else is unacceptable.

The Taiwan program is different than the China program. OK, all programs are different. The problem is that difference plays right into one of our greatest fears. In Taiwan children are placed for adoption by their parents, and sometimes the legal system terminates parental rights. I am not sure about the rate of abandonment at this time. The government and the parents can ask for whatever amount of post placement information they deem reasonable. With SS we completed 6 month and 12 month post placement reports. They are just a formality, since our adoption was finalized on July 7 2008. We provided a lot of information and pictures with both reports. Those reports were sent to the Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA). The probability of SS's birth family accessing that information is negligible.

Here is where it gets ugly, but this is a letter to SS (OK more like an encyclopedia by now), so I want to be as honest as possible. The thought of our child's birth parents knowing where OUR child lives, goes to school, know her name, etc. creeps the daylights out of us. However, my P is a pragmatic guy, and I think he is about ready to cave in on this point. I am not sure I am there, it's too scary for me. I am really protective of my children, some may think overprotective. It's true, no sense in denying the obvious. Recently, SS's Nana requested pictures to post to her Facebook account. Our initial reaction was that we did not want SS's face out there. Then we quickly realized that was rather hypocritical since SS's face is already out there. We also considered that her Nana asked. She could have easily posted pictures once she returned home, and we would have never known. We compromised by requesting that she not use SS's name. Wish all quandaries were that easy to solve. That was just SS's picture and name. Imagine knowing that her day to day information must be provided to her birth family.

While I make myself sick thinking about all this, that video keeps playing on my mind. BTW, I do realize that the young man's circumstances (he was not abandoned) and that of 99% of China adoptees are different. The thing about that video that stays with me is Christian's lack of emotion about that very emotional moment. While his relatives are hardly unable to remain upright, besieged with a mixture of grief and relief, he seems relatively aloof. Mind you, if that was me, I know I would have that same deer caught between headlights look. Not only do you no longer speak the language, are still probably trying to absorb what has happened, but that very private moment (to me) is being broadcast world wide. Yikes.

Christian's demeanor is perhaps the result of him being at peace with his lot in life. He had questions that have now been answered. I can only imagine what that knowledge that he was not abandoned has done for him psychologically. But I think there is more than that, that his mother's love, care and support are responsible for that restraint. What a selfless act on her part to go to such lengths to help her son find his birth family. Ah, the things we do for love.

I was rather surprised to read that Christian's family hoped he would stay in China. Just can't wrap my mind around that one. While the circumstances that led to Christian's adoption were tragic, he has a home. He has a home with his mother (no mention of a father or siblings in the story). A quote attributed to Christian's birth father has been on my thoughts. He stated, "He has grown taller, he has grown bigger, but inside Chinese blood is still flowing in his veins." True, SS will forever have Chinese blood flowing through her delicate veins, and we are very proud of that fact. It is also true that SS is OUR child.

Time to get back to my smart a$$ self, as I have a cold hearted reputation to protect. We saw the video below during lunch, and immediately thought that it is something SS would do. Funny stuff, if you are sick like us.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday drive and unexpected water fun.

We went for a two hour drive, and had a nice,leisurely brunch. Once fed, on a whim we drove to a nearby college town. We walked around for a while, and found a few eateries to try in the future. When we return, SS will have her first taste of Mediterranean food. We lived very close (10 miles) to a college town for ten years, but it was total crap when it came to diversity, cleanliness and good food. As we walked up to a window to check a menu, a young man standing nearby gave us a rundown on the place, which sadly, had closed recently. We were distracted by the very powerful smell from the joint he was nonchalantly smoking in public. We thanked him for the info, and quickly moved on, as we did not want SS to get high for the first time at such a young age.

We ended our walk at the town plaza and, oh boy, guess what we found? A nice fountain, the type where you can play, cool off, get drenched and not get arrested. Well, as long as you are clothed and sober. As anyone who has been here knows, SS is a water freak, and we turned her loose. She had a blast and ran around for quite a while. We are noticing a lot of improvement in her leg strength, only tripping once. SS is also running less awkwardly, almost like other children her age, except for that cute butt wiggle she does. We had a really nice day, even though when our adaptor died, it was accompanied by smoke from the cigarette lighter. That gave us quite a scare, fearing we had fried SS's DVD player AKA our sanity during long drives.

And no, I can't imagine my parents being worried about the battery status of my DVD player as a child (or myself worried about JJ's). Then again, Mami was 67 and Papi was 79 when I was born. ;) That makes it even funnier...

SS calmly waiting for her Baba to check the GPS for directions. Cool feature of the new iPhone. It's how we got around P.R. sans map.

One day SS will stop using a sippy cup, and we will miss her football hold.

Mama put me down! The water is calling out my name.

Later at the Mall. Good thing that I keep at least one towel, clothes and shoes in the car.

This is how tired our water loving SS was upon arriving home:

Fountain Fun

Things are getting out of hand...

...when you have a power strip with an USB port in your car.

Our single outlet adaptor died on us, as we began a two hour drive. SS's DVD player's battery was low, so P stopped for a replacement. He returned with a double outlet + USB port adaptor. We used one outlet for the DVD player, and the USB port for the cell phone.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

SS can certainly hold a grudge.

Today, SS and P spent much needed one on one time. I had a commitment that was not kid friendly, so it worked out really well. We met for lunch, I opened SS's door to give her a kiss, and the girl turned her face away. Her future significant other will certainly have quite a handful. We parted after lunch and SS gave me the saddest puppy face look I have ever seen. She definitely paid attention during manipulation training. By this afternoon all was forgiven, and SS gave me a huge smile, kisses and hung on tight to me. She is draped on me, fast asleep.

I am surprised at how much I missed her, it's like I was missing a vital part of my anatomy. We have not been apart longer than two hours since we met. Seriously, how can someone as self-absorbed as me become so whipped? I actually asked P to send me pictures and he happily obliged. Since that was not enough, I called SS, something P does almost daily. But for me, it was the first time listening to my daughter's angelic voice over the phone. It is now clear to me how much he appreciates the pictures and video I send to him and the blog updates.

So what did P and SS do? See below.

SS took a three hour nap after exhausting herself asking for Mama. It also helped that she was up at 3:30 a.m. ready to partay.

P and SS went hunting for Halloween paraphernalia.


Second lunch at Co$tco.

From yesterday, because I can't resist the cuteness.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

25 lbs. 7 oz. of love.

At her March two-year old check up appointment, SS was two ounces shy of 21 lbs. P was very upset because at her medical appointment in China her weight was allegedly 17 lbs. We seriously doubt that was SS's actual weight, just by looking at her pictures then and now, one can see the difference. Still, officially SS had only gained almost 4 pounds in eight months. Tonight we decided to find out if my claim that she is 25 pounds of love is accurate. Our little girl managed to gain four pounds in five months Not bad. The best part is that P is finally over his concern about SS's weight. :)

After dinner we went to the Mall for a nice walk. We stopped at the playground to allow SS to burn some energy. SS was joined by a 30 month old boy, and we were pretty surprised by how even they were developmentally. SS managed to climb on the slide on her own, a first. I was able to capture another first, last week SS began to jump with both feet off the ground. Yeah SS!

We love how SS still needs that "ready" reassurance before sliding.

They grow up too fast. :(

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Two-fisted driver.

Align Center

SS had a really rough day, and we are still trying to figure out why. She woke up rather disoriented, and it took forty minutes before she was ready to come downstairs. By the time P came home for lunch, SS was very upset and it escalated after he left. SS has never been so vocal and aggressive about missing her Baba. She trashed, kicked and cried for so long that she fell asleep. Waking up to Baba did not help either. P was pretty shocked about her kicking and crying. It must be the lack of sleep from Sunday. At times like this we truly realize how good she is most of the time (despite our griping).

We needed to pick up a few things from the market, and SS got to have a treat. As you can see below, all was forgotten by SS. P took the opportunity to model safe driving practices for SS. I do not know who had more fun.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

V*cod*n is a wonderful thing.

P started his Saturday with an 8:00 a.m. dental appointment that resulted in a root canal. He did not get home until 12:30 and was greeted by a very anxious SS. He took a nap this afternoon, but the pain cut his sleep short. Now that the V pill is coursing through his system, he is cracking me up. He has raised his inappropriate language and observations bar to new heights.

SS tackled the kitchen gate, accomplished her goal, and fell flat on her face. She likes to do that sort of brute thing frequently. P is usually there to offer comfort and to make it look like it was the gate's fault. Not when he is high on V. He picked up SS then proceeded to explain that she got what she deserved and not to mess with the %$#@@$^& gate in the future. SS was stunned, too stunned to cry or get upset. Too bad that the stuff is addictive, because I would not mind him in that mood more often. Sadly, this is the only example I can write about, because the other stuff coming out of P's mouth is not suitable for public consumption.

The root canal has not affected P's appetite, so I am going to make him chicken Marsala for dinner. Maybe mixing V and wine is not a good idea, but I wonder if it'll make him even funnier. I know, that is not OK, but I am evil that way.

*P said to be "liberal with the wine," in the frying pan and in his glass* ;)

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's 105 degrees.

So naturally SS had an uncontrollable urge to sit outside. She also spent some time on her trampoline. The past few days have been rough around here since SS has not slept at night, and very little during the day. Last night was just terrible because SS was awake and obviously anxious. When P said goodbye this morning, SS clung to him and cried. Real tears, not her fake cry. I'm cutting her a lot of slack. That is why I agreed to outside play in this heat. SS requested her sunglasses, a girl after my own heart.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Baby H is here.

Baby H arrived yesterday, a few weeks early,weighed a little over eight pounds and is 21 inches long. His arrival made SS a big cousin for the second time in her life. Cousin Bell is now a big sister. Congratulations Court and Matthew.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Woodstock forty years later

Almost done.

Our post on our last full day in Puerto Rico is here.

Our baby showing off (her lack of) Spanish speaking prowess for the Abus:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My gift.

Of course I am referring to the tiny girl with the big heart, impressive brain power, and beautiful face. P's dining choice turned out to be very convenient. SS was really hungry and when we saw the salmon (cooked), we grabbed it and our girl ate the whole thing. The boats kept SS entertained.

Nana, thanks for the phone call, very much appreciated. SS is really into Daisy and can say her name clearly.

Almost done catching up.

Posts are up on El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristóbal, and El Viejo San Juan.

I am glad that I only have two more days to post, because this reminiscing stuff is getting old. But I promised that I would record as much as possible of SS's life with us, since her first fifteen months of life are a mystery to us. This is the second birthday I get to spend with my daughter. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SS is all of a sudden not very fond of cold water.

What a difference a few dips in warm water makes. After a two week absence, SS has returned to her chlorinated water routine. She is sticking it out, but does let us know that she is not pleased with the water temperature. She'll have to wait until we visit her Grandpa in Maui to be comfortable again.

On Wednesdays, the water park hosts Family Night, and today was the last one of the season. Apparently when the rugrats return to school, we all stop having fun. Tonight's theme was Character Night,with the staff dressed as the expected D*sney characters, plus B@tman, Sc00by D00 and others. It was interesting to see how unaffected SS is by Uncle W@lt's creations. SS recognizes Nem0 and Ar*el (who ironically was not there), but that is only because the roam her world, the water world. SS is a very observant little creature, and the characters were hanging out around the lazy lagoon, but she was not interested at all. Little girls her age were all over T*nkerbell, asking to be held and having their picture taken. Our daughter would point to the snack bar and state, "I keem, Fench Fies." We want to keep it that way.

Now we backtrack again. For our return to El Yunque click here, and for SS's first dip in the Atlantic Ocean click here.

It's not Boqueron or Luquillo, but it'll do.

SS is really digging some parts of the attachment work. We can keep feeding her for as long as we want.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Catching up.

For the August 1st post on lunch with the Abus click here.

For the August 2nd post on downtown Ponce click here, and for our daytime visit to La Guancha click here.

Or you can make sure to scroll down because I am in full catching up mode.

Recording these memories for SS is time consuming. Wish I had learned to scrapbook like regular mommies do.

We are going to take SS to her last weekday swim at the Aquatic Center. I can't believe they are only going to open on weekends (and until Labor Day). We still have 100+ degree days for at least six weeks.

SS tonight before bed:

Friday, August 07, 2009

It was fun,but it is time for us to go home.

To avoid a repeat performance of our mad dash to SAC, we left ridiculously early yesterday. The Abus thought we were being overly cautious, but we learned our lesson and do not care to run through airports a la 0.J.

We stopped at Plaza Las Americas for breakfast. We also allowed SS to walk around and burn off energy. She received a purple balloon bunny from a sample giver. SS was very taken with her new toy and little did we know that it would be a source of amusement later on.

We made it to the rental office and to the airport with plenty of time to spare. As we were waiting to board, SS caught the attention of a brother and sister (6& 5), who were playing with sticker books similar to SS's. They shared their stickers, and when I looked in her backpack for her book (to return the favor), it was not there. Talk about panic time,because while you find booze and cigarettes in almost every shop at the airport, stickers are not as popular. For the first time since China,my annoying habit of over packing paid off. I had a set of cheap, rather boring dollar store stickers, and boy did they come in handy.

SS is a fast learner because as soon as P was done installing the CARES, she leaned towards him, to be placed and buckled in her seat. The M@atchbox airplane (a whole $1.97 investment) I purchased on a whim also paid off. We mimicked take offs and landings (when she was awake) and SS really enjoyed it.

Our layover in NC was uneventful, except for the looks SS's purple bunny got. Since she was jonesing for her W0nder Pet stickers and we were saving the DVD treat for the flight to SAC, we sucked it up and ignored the looks we received. Besides, P got a kick out of the whole things, so a win win situation.

SS did very well during the last flight home. We are not sure if she grasped the concept of home, but she was very happy to park her tiny hiney in her seat and kept repeating "Ready Mama, ready." SS slept after thirty minutes of Y0 G@bba G@bba and was an easy going angel upon our arrival to SAC. P slept, as usual, while I wondered what the heck is wrong with me. P had to drive halfway home, because I was tired and weaving all oer the freeway, not a very safe thing to do.

We had fun during our time away, and we saw a lot of new things. While I thought El Yunque would be the highlight of our trip, I was mistaken. SS's unexpected enthusiasm for the Parque de Bombas, while a tad creepy, was the highlight for both P and I. There is something magical about seeing life through the eyes of a child, and we were fortunate to have that opportunity.


Two rental cars later, P is a whiz at carseat installation.

Tethering our three suitcases together was a big help. The carseat is in the red bag, which we had to order and have it mailed to Puerto Rico, because it is only available Online. Otherwise, SS's carseat would have wiped the luggage compartment. Gross.

SS develops an acute case of sticker pox. Sorry about the blurry picture, but blogger won't upload the good, in focus picture.

Remember the balloon bunny SS received at the mall? It did undergo some changes, but to SS it was still her purple bunny and she happily waved it around, and played with it. We got so many looks, not all of them were benign looks. Oh well.

Dirty rice, pinto beans and coleslaw at the NC airport. We are all tired of eating out.

The much anticipated DVD treat. SS lasted half an hour before dozing off.

Just like her Baba, SS can sleep almost anywhere.

Safe at home and practicing extreme sleeping.