Monday, April 30, 2012

JK Rowling is a Pretty Smart Chick

"I DON'T CARE!" Harry yelled at them, snatching up a lunascope and throwing it into the fireplace. "I'VE HAD ENOUGH, I'VE SEEN ENOUGH, I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON'T CARE ANYMORE!"

"You do care," said Dumbledore. He had not flinched or made a single move to stop Harry demolishing his office. His expression was calm, almost detached. "You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it."

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I've reached this point with this adoption. I feel like throwing a tantrum. People, very kindheartedly, ask me how it's going and I roll my eyes and growl out an answer (and I DO want them to ask.) I'm so tired of it. I'm so tired of the wait and the "hard" and I just WANT IT OVER. Sometimes, I worry that I am beginning to sound like I don't care very much anymore but the truth is that I care so much that I feel overwrought by it.

(In fact, in each of my three pregnancies I reached the moment, at around 7 months, where I was overwhelmed and "done" with being pregnant. I called it the "Just GET IT OUT" phase. I am so there. I am so done with this process. I just want to go to China, pick up my daughter, come home, and get used to our new "normal.")

Several things have surprised me about this process. People's reactions for one - "Why?!" or "I wish I could do that" (um, then do it) or "Saint!" or "Villain!" 

People have such intense opinions about adoption.

(I was surprised to find that the terms "Gotcha Day" and "paper pregnancy" are offensive to some people, they're not to me, I find them accurate. For that matter, International Adoption is very controversial in some circles - in fact, I just read where someone had left another hateful post saying "International Adoption is nothing but brokering babies" on my agency's homepage.  Good grief!  Yeah, that'd be why there are so many of those babies -and older kids- in orphanages <sarcasm>. Do these people do ANY research, any at all? I just sorta roll my eyes and resist the urge to punch the computer.)

I think it's partly because, until recently, adoption was sort of a taboo subject and so we aren't really equipped with the quick "right" responses. Adoption forces us out of our comfort zones and not everyone is really good at dealing with that. It's also because we all have our own assumptions, there is a way that we view adoption primarily because of our own experiences in life. Adoption challenges us on some base levels -our preconceptions about childhood and parenthood, our belief structure about our rights as individuals, the sanctity of relationships, the grief and the joy surrounding giving birth or not being able to, the rights that we have to parent or not to parent, all are brought into focus. 

And, when your basic preconceptions are challenged, the real you - the romantic, the cynic, the lover, the self-imposed martyr, the healthy, the hurt- it all comes bubbling to the surface. Sometimes, it spews. I have been in the line of direct fire, a few times. (I probably will be again. We will be a "trans-racial family." People will look at us and struggle to "do the math" - I know that they will because I do it too, whenever I see a family that does not fit the norm. But, some people's mouths get away from them as their brains "do the math.") The truth is that every adoption, every motivation, every parent, every childhood, is different. You just can't put stereotypes on that.

One of the other things that I really wasn't prepared for was JUST how very much this has felt like a pregnancy. Obviously, I'm not physically pregnant but emotionally and mentally? Oh, man! 

I've been pregnant and given birth three times. They were all the same and all not the same, in so many ways. This is no different. I love Q-Boo with a fierce love, just like I loved all my babies before they were born. They'd move inside of me and I would just be overcome with emotion. The same is true with her, she "moves" inside of my heart and I am overcome with love and a real, almost tangible, need for her. She is only pictures and some information on my computer, right now, but she's mine just as much as if she were jutting out from my belly, turning my insides to mush, and I want her. Desperately.

(I do not discount her birth mother's place in the story. Q-Boo's birth mother made the choices that she made - she grieved, she decided, she did what she could do. I am not responsible for those choices. I can only make the choices that are before me to make. Her birth mother gave life to Q-Boo and, for that, I will always be grateful but I will be who makes it possible for Q-Boo to thrive in that life. We both are her mothers and it does a disservice to Q-Boo to try to distinguish between the two of us. Let us love her, let her love us. And, if you have a cranky opinion, please just keep it to yourself. You really haven't earned the right to have one, anyway.)

Every pregnancy is a promise...that could be broken. Not all pregnancies come to term, we've all heard the horror stories. Adoption is no different, there are horror stories there also. I am terrified of this "pregnancy" miscaring. I try to think of my life without Q-Boo and it scares me - she's changed who I am just like any child changes a parent.

(One lady actually asked me, "Are you sure it'll all work out?" Seriously, why didn't she just poke all my fleshy parts with a fork?)

Oh, yes. I have feared and worried and been excited and been stressed, been thrilled and terrified and fallen in deep love, been emotional and nested (and nested and nested and STILL nesting.) I have labored and worked and been sick. I have prepared and researched and decided. I have committed myself to the path that is before me. Yes, to me, it feels like a pregnancy in every way.

C'mon labor and delivery!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Oh, Good Googly Moogly!

Friday, last week:

So, I'm waiting on our agency to send us our update on Q-Boo.

Every two or three months, our agency lets us request an update - we can ask 5 questions ("Tell me everything!" isn't a question?) and hope for some pictures. We accepted her referral in July 2011 and almost immediately got a new picture, we got an update in November 2011, and one in January 2012.  We've just gotten LOA and it's been roughly three months since our last update - I am DESPERATE for some news- so, I called my agency which joyfully agreed to ask for information.

This,as you know, is the "Oh, yes!" picture from her referral.
We are guessing that it was taken in January 2011 when she was about 6 months old.

Here she is on July 8, 2011, the day that we accepted her referral - her first birthday!

...about 16 months.

November 2011...

January 2012, about 18 months old- my favorite "baby" age - oh, I am missing so much!

It's been well over two weeks and nada. Not that it's their fault, all they can do is send the request to her orphanage and hope for the best.  Then, someone has to actually leave the orphange and go to her foster family to make this request.  AND somehow, I seem to remember that there is a Tomb Sweeping Day (Qingming Festival)  in China sometime in early April and I am sure that that has slowed EVERYBODY down. Seriously, these people take their holidays...well, seriously.  Photos are here.

It's nearly 1 am my time. I am alternatly skipping back and forth between Facebook and my email (not that this is so really different from any other time but humor me here, okay?) hoping desperatly to see something, anything, with her little picture on it.  I don't know how this would happen, it is WAAAY past closing time for my agency so even if pictures of my GORGEOUS daughter are on someone's computer somewhere, they're not exactly gonna get up from bed and send them to me, now are they?  I just can't get myself to give it up and go to my own bed.

Sunday, last week:

Q-Boo is fostered through Grace and Hope for Children

The board of G & H is on its annual trip to visit its foster families in China which means one thing to me - PICTURES.  :) So, as well as waiting very impatiently for my agency to send an update, I am also hovering over G & H's Facebook page, hoping beyond hope that they just happen to snag a photo of Lyric/Q-Boo/Naomi (they know her as Naomi.)  This is excruciating.  FINALLY, they are begining to post photos.  They've just posted pics of the kids in Yulin and the adoptive mommas are joyfully posting as they find their kids in the pictures.  Yulin is in Guangxi, about 4 hours north of Hepu. Q-Boo is in Hepu. Hopefully, the G & H staff is on their way there next, with their cameras out and ready.

I'm just gonna have to wait, as this is not an option.                        

I'm pretty rotten at kayaking (#41 and #57) and jet skies really mess up my hair (#116,) not to mention the fact that I HATE the taste of salt water.  Although, if this takes much longer, I may begin to consider it - I may have to dig out my goggles, adjust my Swimmies, and just swim on over there. I hear the Pacific is relatively calm. :)

<crosses fingers!>  Pictures soon!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stepping Stones

I love rocks.

I have a red one from the parking lot in Arizona where we bought my engagement ring.
I have a boring old gravel one from the driveway of the first barn that Horse and I were at together.
I have pictures of nothing but rocks from a trip that I took with one of my closest friends, Bea, a few years ago.
I have rocks with fossils imprinted in them that my hubby found for me near the creek after a canoeing trip, eons ago.
In fact, I have a "rug" at my front door that is nothing but river rocks glued to a mat. I LOVE to walk barefoot over its smooth, cool, goodness on hot summer days.

I have a spot in the garden ( it is fun to say this and I am using the term VERY broadly,<makes high fluetin' rich woman face>  "in the gahhhhh-den"  ) where I toss any odd and unusual rocks that I find. (There's also a place where I toss old sea shells and I love to catch the boys thumbing through them, I like to imagine that our "garden" is a fairytale spot full of imagination for them.  In fact, there is also a place where I toss old fragments of terra cotta pots.  Eek! There may be an episode of "Hoarders" in my near future. :) )

I've been thinking about all the "rocks" that I've "collected" while we've been waiting to bring Lyric home -the  "little, smooth, stepping stones"  that have helped me feel closer to her.

There have been a bunch and it's been so much fun:

APRIL 2011 - I bought this Chinese tapestry through 
Love Without Boundaries' "Born in My Heart Art Auction." It says, 
"A red thread connects those destined to meet.
It may stretch or tangle but it never breaks."

I had it framed and hung it over the place in Georgia where I stood (for hours) to work on adoption papers. Now, it hangs near our kitchen -the "soul" of the house.

In JUNE 2011, I finished this quilt for our baby girl...

...and this stuffed owl.  I named her after Princess T.
Owls have become the unofficial mascot of this adoption 
and Q-Boo is amassing a nice collection of them.

The end of JULY 2011, we took the boys to Disney World. They'd never been and we figured that, after we added another small child to the mix, it might be a while before we'd get to go at all. Look what I found at the China Pavilion at Epcot! Chinese dolls! 

In AUGUST 2011, on our 8th anniversary, K-Man gave me these earrings
which are the Chinese character for "mother."

In SEPTEMBER 2011, K-Man found a random, arbitrary Chinese coin while he and the kids were playing with the coins in our piggy bank. I looked it up on the internet to be sure- yep, Chinese. We have no idea where it came from. 
K-Man decided that it was a good omen,
"Q(-Boo) is coming soon."
I had it made into a necklace.

Also, in SEPTEMBER 2011, came Wild Child's gifts to Lyric. He has a very favorite Puppy and Kitty and he was snuggling with them in the back of my truck when he said, "Q(-Boo) needs a Puppy and a Kitty." Later, that day, he came bringing these to me while we were in a store, "These are Q(-Boo's) Puppy and Kitty." He refused to play with them, at all. They rode with me in the front of the truck on the way home and then he took them straight to her crib and put them in. "They're Q(-Boo's.)"

And, Middle Child's gift to Lyric.  
The SAME DAY that Wild Child found Lyric's gifts, while we were shopping for school clothes, Middle Child found one of these shirts for himself and then promptly said, "And, we have to get one for Q(-Boo.) Let's see, what's her size?"
He didn't know about Wild Child's gifts.

Around that same time, I bought my "Waiting Necklace." 
We'd bought a "Waiting Ring" made out of turquoise, years ago, 
when we were waiting on my engagement ring to be made.
How awesome that the "Waiting Necklace" was made by Princess T's mom!

OCTOBER 2011-This is my old cedar chest repainted for Lyric,
the painting thingy on the wall I did for her with quotes that remind me of her (one of them says, "Owl love you forever") and the glass belonged to my paternal grandmother. When I first read that Q-Boo's name means "smooth, agreeable" in Chinese, a watercolor picture flashed through my mind of this glass filled with"smooth and agreeable" purple and green pebbles. ( I think in pictures sometimes.)
So, I am going to fill it with "smooth and agreeable" things
that I find while we are in China.

On NOVEMBER 20, 2011, we were eating at a Chinese restaurant with our extended family. We'd spent most of the meal talking about Lyric and when I'd cracked open up my fortune cookie, this is what it'd said.

K-Man's fortune cookie.
 A-Girl note: The only time that the adoption was ever in doubt was one weekend in FEBRUARY 2012.  It was a VERY VERY long weekend. 
On Monday, February 20, 2012 
we received the phone call that we'd been hoping for, 
"Chill out, we've got this covered."  
Yep, three months, to the day, from November 20, 2011.

And, because all things circle back around, 
I bid in LWB's APRIL 2012,   "Born in My Heart Art Auction" and won these Tiger Shoes. 
(Q-Boo was born in the Year of the Tiger.)

They match Lyric's Tiger Hat that I bought from Scarlet Threads.

(Yes, it has a tail. CUTE!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's More Like the Erratic Flight of Woodstock Than the Grace of Snoopy - But I'm Dancing!

This big stack of paperwork (and this ain't nearly all of it!)...  

...was GLADLY traded
for this teeny, tiny, insignificant-looking, piece of paper.


"Letter of Acceptance"

China says, "yes."

And now?  

We wait.

For Travel Approval.

Hoping to FINALLY go do this in mid-July.

Love recognizes no barriers.
It jumps hurdles, leaps fences,
penetrates walls
to arrive at its destination full of hope.
~ Maya Angelo

"...even great walls <giggle>" - (My very good friend,) Bea

Monday, April 2, 2012

Life is Messy

There is a saying in adoption that God's perfect Plan A was for the parents to keep the child and that adoption is Plan B. I don't like the idea that adoption is Plan B. I think that this opinion grows from well-meaning people trying to reconcile a belief in a loving God with a child who's been abandoned.

Ask any abused child - just because your parents decided to keep you does not mean that life will be cozy...or even, nice.

Ask any child who is being abused by their foster/adoptive parents or living in the unbelievable squalor of an orphanage
 (even a good one is still just an orphanage, nothing takes the place of a family who loves you) - just because your parents gave you up is no guarantee either.

Life is hard. Period.

Most people have hard stuff in their lives.

If there is a Plan B, it's this whole world that we live in.

Adoption is an answer to a crappy question. It can be a very very very good answer.

I love this quote:

"Life is not holding a good hand. Life is playing a poor hand well."
- Danish Proverb

Adoption can take a hand full of jokers and fill it with aces and wild cards. It doesn't necessarily replace the jokers...but we all have jokers in our hands.

That being said:

Every adoption grows out of heartache. It's a painful truth. No matter how good the adult reasons to give up a child (and there are some GOOD reasons) it still feels like what is, on some level, to the child -rejection. 

It would be very easy to feel very judgemental of Q-Boo's birth parents - who would abandon a child? But then, I am not them, I do not face the mornings that they face, I do not live their lives, in fact I know very little about what it really means to be Chinese in China, paraticularly in rural China.

I've read lots of very good books on adoption and attachment for LYRIC ( Attaching in Adoption, Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft) through this process but the best book that I've read, the one that has helped ME to get my head around this the most, has been, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother by Xinran.  It helped me to understand the possible heartbreaking scenarios that might lead a Chinese mother to desert her child. After reading it, I want to bring them BOTH home. I want to erradicate from the world all such horrible situations. No mother (or father) should EVER have to face those choices. It created compassion inside my heart for Q-Boo's birth mom and I think that that is necessary if I am going to do a very good job of raising OUR daughter.

(You just can't get around that, in every adoption there are two mothers, two dads, two sets of siblings -two families. I get to be a part of one set. Do I like it? No, not all the time. But, if I truly love my daughter, I embrace ALL that she is and what she is is part of two families. Special thanks to my friend, V, who taught me this. She has three adopted children in various stages of "open adoption" and she seeks out ways for her kids' biological families to be a part of her kids' lives because it's best for her kids.  It takes incredible strength and work but she LOVES her kids and she accepts them for what they are- kids who are part of two families.)

I love the photo on the cover. It is heartbreaking and accurate.
It also mirrors the cover of Xinran's first book, The Good Women of China.

I want Lyric to understand her birth mother from a spot of respect and love...when I am afraid that she'll only, really, feel unwanted. (And, I worry about how to help her deal with adoption as one aspect of the things that define her in life, without it becoming THE defining factor.)

(Actually, Q-Boo has been fostered for the better part of her life so that makes her a part of three families and she's had a sponsor who's paid for her to be in foster care and people in all sorts of places who've loved her and helped her not just to survive but to thrive. They all need to be respected. If for nothing else, because that's the right thing to do but also because it is good for Q-Boo's sake.)

Gotcha Day is the day that (THANK GOD!) you are united with your child - the official adoption, in China, usually takes place later that same day or the next morning. Gotcha Day is the birth after the LONG paper pregnancy. It will be one of the happiest days of my life...and her worst.

That day, probably in the morning, maybe right after Q-Boo eats her breakfast, someone that she barely knows will show up and take her from the only family that she's ever known, drive her a couple of hours in a car, and bring her to me, in a hotel, in an unknown city. They will hand her to me and she'll become, in that moment, "flesh of my flesh," (oh, I can NOT wait) but for her...

...she will be passed to people she does not know,
who do not look like her,
or smell like her,
who do not move like she's used to,
who do not know the routines and the rituals of everyday life,
who do not even speak her language.

These people probably can't even prounce her name correctly and, at some point, will probably start calling her something totally different.

Two sisters, a mom and a dad...gone...(it was a foster family, it wasn't permanent - they were doing a job, even if they were doing it very well- but to her, it was her family) ...replaced with two brothers, another mom and another dad.

Can you imagine? I can't.

She's being shown our photos, being told that we are her momma and her "baba," but she's not even old enough to understand the concepts. It would be world-class hard at 41...she'll be about TWO. IF she could ask the questions, we couldn't understand them. And, what answers could we give that would make it "okay," in her heart?

She'll get through it, we'll all get through it. There will be giggles on the other side and blury memories of a life before she belonged, heart and soul, to us. But first, there will be grief and confusion and terror. And that, I dread.

Q-Boo has been very lucky, she was put into a  good foster home almost as soon as she was found.  She will, most likely, grieve a great deal.  Other kids, who do not know "family" outside of an orphanage, face other complex issues.

This is a reality in international adoption.  See,

Hope for Healing
Mia Mia Mia
No Way Out But Through
and even,
Click Your Heels Three Times

and be sure to read the comments on these posts as other people chimed in about THEIR experiences.

Adoption (but really, all parenting) - it just ain't for the weak at heart...and it's messy.

Just really feel the need for more information?  Check these out:

LWB - Realistic Expectations   

LWB -  Realistic Expectations 2   
(Potty Training)

LWB - Realistic Expectations 3

LWB - Realistic Expectations 4
(Child Preparation)

LWB- Realistic Expectations 5
(Food Issues)

LWB - Realistic Expectations 6

LWB - Realistic Expectations 7