Showing posts with label Adoption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adoption. Show all posts

Monday, November 24, 2014

"Gotcha" Day - Why We Celebrate

If you are not part of the international adoption community, specifically, the Chinese adoption community, you may not have ever heard of "Gotcha Day".  Or, maybe you've heard of it but didn't understand it.  It could even be that you are an adoptive parent and celebrate it but never really stopped to think about why.  I am, in fact, parent to a child adopted from China and each year for the last 5 years we have celebrated our "Gotcha Day".  Okay, we actually do not call it that.  For us, it is a "Family Anniversary" that is precious to each of us and yesterday we celebrated over dim sum at our favorite local Chinese restaurant.

  (First ever photo as a family of four)

The moon woke up yesterday morning knowing that it was a special day which she reminded me of prior to dressing for church.  She asked if she could wear her Chinese dress and I, of course, said yes.  I could see that she was really thinking about what the day meant and as I also went to get dressed I began to consider it as well.  It is true that it is a special day and an anniversary worth celebrating.  But, I had to wonder, do we celebrate simply because it is what Chinese adoptive families do?  Do we celebrate just for her?  What is the meaning behind it and will we always celebrate?  As I pondered these questions I had what I considered to be a revelation about our adoption experience.  For me to share it with you I need to tell you a little bit about my birthing experience.

Any way that a child comes to you is a blessing.  One does not trump or become more meaningful than another.  Almost 13 years ago I gave birth to our son.  It is a story I love to tell.  In fact, I don't know ANY  mother who has given birth that does not like to tell their birth story.  It is a magical, personal experience that will live with any woman her entire life.  I can still feel the emotions I felt as they told me they were taking me for the Cesarean after 38 hours of labor.  I can feel the excitement and fear.  I can smell the hospital.  But, most importantly, I can remember that moment when time stopped when they brought that tiny bundle around to show me before whisking him off to the NICU.  I still cannot walk into the hospital without getting emotional when I smell the soaps and hand sanitizers.  (Two weeks with a child in the NICU will do that to you.)

The same is true for our adoption.  My pregnancy lasted for 8 months.  Though our adoption journey was over 3 YEARS it was the last 4 months that was like a pregnancy.  We received our referral in late July and traveled in late November to China.  Just like when Noah was brought around for me to see, I can remember the moment when time stopped when a little girl walked into the Civil Affairs office with a smile on her face - ready for her next adventure.  I remember in that moment thinking, "where have you been? I've been waiting for you."  I remember the emotions and the smells and everything about that morning and many other mornings while in China.  And, just like in telling birth stories, I know very few adoptive moms who do not LOVE telling their story.  The paperchase, the trip over, that moment when they were given that precious child, the most often nightmarish trip home.

This brings me back to why we celebrate this anniversary.  We were there when our son came into the world.  It is his birthday.  It is my BIRTHING day.  It is the moment my husband became a father for the first time.  We also celebrate our daughter's birthday.  However, we were not there when she was birthed.  We missed that precious moment in time.  You see, we were all rebirthed when she was brought into that office.  It was that moment when time stopped, even for just a moment, and we were given a gift to be cherished and celebrated.

"I'd rather have a moment of wonderful 
than a lifetime of nothing special."
-Steel Magnolias

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Whose Life Is It Anyway?

In 2010 we celebrated our one year anniversary as a family.  Each of the children received their own Shutterfly book chronicling our magical time in China.  I customized the book for each child.  Noah's had images of our two-day whirlwind tour of Beijing which Arwyn's featured images of herself in the orphanage.  I had every intention of making an actual "life-book" for Arwyn that tells her story, really I did.  But here we are....nearly five years later....and still no life-book.

In the spring of this year I encouraged our FCC board to host a life-book class on our "Moms on Monday" nights. As president of the group, I had an "in" and could make these types of suggestions.   I'll be honest.  I suggested this topic for selfish reasons.  I thought maybe it would prompt me to begin this important task of writing Arwyn's story.  It didn't.  And, did.  Now, I am halfway (okay, 1/3) of the way into this project.

You see, the Shutterfly book I made in 2010 was really a book about OUR time together.  It was not HER story.  It was OUR story.  In the back of my mind I knew this wasn't enough.  I have no excuses really, but now I have something else.  Time.  Not because I have more time.  Okay, I guess I technically do as I have shaved two hours of commuting off my schedule each day.  But I have made time.

How do you begin?  What is important?  How do you tell their story without making it about you?  Where does their story begin?  How do you fill in the blanks?  I had so many questions and like anything I have questions about I do two things.

  1. Do the research (talking to BTDT moms, read books, do Google searches and spend ridiculous amounts of time on Pinterest)

  2. Jump in with both feet

My research began with the FCC meeting.  BTDT moms brought in completed lifebooks and those of us who (red-faced) admitted we have not worked on this gift to our children.  At the meeting, one mom brought a stack of lifebook guides that she gifted to those of us not in the BTDT category but in the SLACKER mom section.  Armed with examples and my handy book, I promptly came home and began Googling lifebooks and made the above Pinboard for my favorite examples. 

A quick survey of my on-hand supplies and a fun trip to Michael's and I was soon on my way.  I don't mind telling you that pulling out the pictures and the journal pages, playing with the stickers and embellishments and finding other mementos of our journey TO her gave me the desire to carve out the story ABOUT her.    What did I know?  What did the medical reports say?  What were the reports from the ayis?  Is there anything these notes can tell me about who she was before she was mine?  If there is one thing I know about my daughter before she came to us, it is this:

I was told that by Brenda Barker.  Brenda is sort of a legend in these parts.  Mom to 9 internationally adopted children and facilitator of many adoptions in our community, she told Nathan and I this at an adoption workshop.  She knew this from experience.  And, I know it to be true.  Right now I am halfway (1/3) of the way through the book.  It is my work of art, though I suspect there are lifebooks that are much more beautiful and creative.  But those books are for other children.  This is the book for my child.  If you need a little inspiration to start you on your way, check out my images below, make a Pinboard, head to Michaels and get started. 

The first page in this 12x12 book is quite simple.  A map of China (duh) and from Project Life (love this stuff) an index card on which I wrote her given name, birthdate and birthplace.

This page contains photos of her province and region.  It has a very detailed description of where she is from that I pulled from a travel site.  Note the index cards again.  My mother passed away in 2010.  I love ANYTHING with her handwriting.  I wanted to use my own hand in most of the narrative.  The page from the travel site is printed from a document.  Other thoughts about the region were written by me.

Now things get interesting.  You can see our daughter's finding ad on the top left, photos of the orphanage, images of her during that time and a written account of some of what I know about how she came to be there.

More images of life in the social welfare institute and more narrative from me of what I was told about that time in her life.

This is her story.  Her story includes the time when she leaves the SWI and becomes part of our family.  Again, in my script, I actually talk about this, about the challenge of when her story becomes our story.  Also included here is the announcement from our agency that we have been "matched".

Finally, the page with our official acceptance from the Chinese government giving us permission to adopt our daughter.  I say "finally" though this is meant only for this post.  This story goes on and I have several pages remaining to be made.  I have been consistently doing one per day for the last week and it has moved along quite quickly.  She is anxious to see it and I am anxious to sit down with her and with my hubby and son to tell the story. 

I'll write more on this and chronicle my quilt journey as well.  (I guess I forgot to mention I'm making her a quilt.) 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What is the Beginning of Her Story?

Many nights before bed, my girl asks to hear the story of Mama Bear and Papa Bear and how they traveled to China to get their daughter. After a year I would have thought Arwyn would have grown tired of it. But, no, she still loves it as often as I'll tell it.

In a week and a half, our family will celebrate the one year anniversary of becoming a family of four. In celebration, I am creating photo books for the kids (one each) and one for Nathan and I which chronicles our 17 day trip through China.  I'll hand them out at dinner at a local Chinese restaurants where all of the Chinese nationals eat.

Noah's book was so simple to put together. I told the story and added pictures and cannot wait to see it come in the mail. Hmmm....

Then I began Arwyn's book. I guess the question is not so much where does her story begin. The answer to that is it began at the same place that everyone's story begins. Two people meet, join together and make a baby. Then what? Fill in the blank. Then they decide they cannot keep their daughter because she is a girl? Then they decide they cannot keep her because they have other children? Do they decide they cannot keep her because of the poverty level the live in? What about because of her special need and their knowledge that medical help is all but impossible in their city?

I believe they wanted to keep her. Call me optimistic, but our beloved was not abandoned right away. She was not a newborn when she was found which gives me hope that her parents struggled before letting her go. I don't know that to be true of course and would not put that in her anniversary book. But, as a mom, having given birth and having traveled to China and seen the women there, I cannot believe that her Mother gave her away without her own heart breaking.

My heart hurts now for her and for Arwyn. But, that still leaves me with the question of where to begin the story of her life with us. I'm sure I'll sort it out as I put the book together, skipping parts here and there until I have a clear picture of what this looks like.

We all want to know our own story. We yearn to find out about ourselves. We take self help classes and meditate and pray and ask for guidance. But, most of us have at least firm footing of our roots and our ancestry to begin. For those that do not, where do you go?

I am sure this will not be the first time that we are faced with such dilemmas as we help our little one navigate life. I just hope that we are wise enough to face these challenges and help her come through the other side.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Arwyn, Arwyn, She's Our Girl!

I know, you want more about our girl. Part of me wishes I could hold on to her forever right here and not share her with anyone, but she is larger than we are and is ready for the world.

To be delivered to parents from an orphanage is a blessing for all involved. Great joy is given to us as parents, to the children (hopefully) in being with a forever family and to the orphanage staff as they often find joy in seeing their young charges find a home. Those who work with the children know the possibilities of what awaits them later in life and it is sometimes not very pretty, but I will not write of that here.

First, she is a very healthy little girl. She has rolls of fat that hopefully will melt away as she runs and plays with Noah and all of our friend's children. She was still on formula when she was brought to us, though we have taken her off since. She is a fairly good eater but still leans toward rice, which I gladly give her. Luckily, she loves fruit and I think over the next few weeks her palate will broaden and she will embrace more of what we eat at home.

She is one of the funniest children Nathan or I have ever seen. The facial expressions that come from this kid and the antics she presents us with have us in stitches. At first we just did not know what to do with her! We laughed some, but some of her expressions were so serious, we thought she was being serious. Upon flying to Guangzhou, she was in the sling and we were waiting for Noah and Nathan to pick up the luggage. She was making this very serious face at me and I mirrored it to her. She laughed and laughed! She had been trying this for a week and we did not realize it was part of a game. She and I did this for probably 10 minutes and were both laughing hysterically with people standing around watching and laughing with us. It was such an incredible bonding moment.

I know more of those moments will come. Most of the time, I feel that bonding is on fast forward and she is doing so well and then there are times when I realize what a long way we have to go and how patient we all have to be to get her where she needs to be.

She is so precious to us and we are so lucky to have her. Our nighttime issues are getting better and tonight I am awake watching her sleep. I am glad of this as when she begins to stir I can settle her down preventing what I am sure are night terrors. Some nights her sleep is sound but we have some nights when the terrors are strong. I know that as we attach they will get better.

Also, once we get back into a schedule with her life will flow more smoothly.

I'm uploading more photos of the girl as she is cuter than...well anyone but Noah of course!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Getting Close

Well, I thought I would update where we are!!!

First, we are waiting for the US Consolate to grant us an appointment prior to leaving China. So, a few prayers in that direction would be great!!!!

I am busily getting us ready to go. Today, I am cleaning the den and putting it back together after the plumbing work we had a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday, Nathan did some deep cleaning on that front as well.

Tomorrow...committee work for school and on to Yankee Candle.

Wednesday and Friday will be spent painting Arwyn's room. Yes, I know we leave in a week.

Saturday we'll just be cleaning and doing laundry and getting ready to go.

Sunday Nathan's family is coming over to see us.

And Monday will be serious packing mode getting us ready to leave Tuesday or Wednesday, not sure which! is all good and we will be ready.

We'll post in China, so stay tuned for more updates. As you can see, right now I can do more than create simple sentences!!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

17 Days

Happy Day of the Dead. Or, Happy New Year in the Pagan World! I'll post later on Halloween, but right now my focus guessed it.....our journey of a million miles. Okay, 11,402 miles according to Google to be exact.

We are slated to leave on November 17 and are anxiously, and I mean anxiously, awaiting a final document allowing us to travel. It's our I-171. It had to be updated with new fingerprints. Along with the fingerprints, our social worker had to send and updated homestudy detailing our new home and our updated financial information. So, that's where we are.

The next two weeks for me will be so wonderful and intense. I am not working much, thankfully. I will be putting the house back together from the major plumbing overhaul we had last week, deep cleaning, finishing Arwyn's room and prepacking.

We are all getting really excited. Last week Nathan shared with me that he is "ready" to get Arwyn. We are so ready to be parents again. So ready to bring this little bundle of joy into our lives.

And, can I tell you how supportive folks have been? It has been wonderful.

Now, if I could just get my little girl shower Thank You's mailed out, life will be good!

Monday, October 19, 2009

4 Weeks and Counting

Well, the countdown has begun. I cannot even begin to explain the excitement and anxiety that is running rampant through our home right now!!!!!! We have lists of things that need to be completed and I am attempting to stay very organized about the entire thing!

I'm going to be blogging lots more as it is sort of like releasing the lid to let some of the steam out as we move quickly through the next few weeks. Today I began looking at packing lists and started making my own lists of what we will be taking.

I also did a little more shopping for Arwyn's room as we try to get that wrapped up! If you are up for a little painting, give me a buzz!

I've posted a map with this blog posting so friends and family can see where we are going to be going.

We will begin in Beijing where we will visit for two or three days - just the three of us and the 6 other families we are traveling with. Then, it is off to Guizhou where we will be given this precious gift. The four of us will stay there for 5 or so days and then it is off to Guangdong for more siteseeing along with official appointments to get the important visas, medical appointments (all for Arwyn), etc.

Keep checking back as we progress toward our (tentative) travel date of 11-19-09.

Peace Out.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another Photo

Hi All. I have not posted pics other than our referral on the blog. You may have assumed we did not have more. But, we do. I think I have been holding on to them for myself. I look at her every morning and tell her good night every night. I realized today that I just want her photos for us so that we can get comfortable with her. It all seems so unreal.

I started unpacking all of our girl clothing. Most too big for her. We have updated stats for her and she is tiny if they are correct. But, the good news? I now know what sized to start buying. Let the fun begin!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

She's Ours ! (On Paper!)

Words cannot express how happy I am to introduce Dang Yu Qian, at 3 1/3 from the Tongren Region of China.

Today Nathan and I received our Seeking Confirmation Letter, our official paper from the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs letting us know they have formally approved our petition to adopt Yu Qian.

We now are awaiting our Travel Approval.

Miracles happen in our lives each and every day and today's miracle came in the form of a little piece of paper!

As soon as I can find the cord to the camera, I'll post our referral page with a photo of her!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

No News + A Few Good Books

For those following along, we are still waiting for our SCL (Seeking Confirmation Letter) Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs). As soon as we know, you will know. I suppose it is not entirely a bad thing we are still waiting. Our social worker came by last week to see the new digs (a formality) and we realized our homestudy is not written to allow us to adopt a 3 year old with special needs. So, that is having to be rewritten (or will be as soon as we get our new police reports showing we have committed no crimes). When I have told people that adoption is not for the feint of heart, I've been serious. So, for now, we update and wait lots of good books.

One of the pluses of living in Nashville is access to the great library system they have here. Noah and I frequent 3 of the libraries, including the downtown library and it is so much fun. We have gotten lots of great books and one of our favorites lately has been Thea's Tree by Alison Jackson. This is a clever take on the Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale and is great for older kids.

We are huge fans of the Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and we found some of the books on CD, so our car rides have been filled with listening to the story of a 9 year old detective who loves pancakes solving neighborhood mysteries. Big fun!

And, of course, we are listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone again...and again...and again. Noah really gets it now and says he is ready to move on to The Chamber of Secrets. We are going to try it. It is a little scarier and the kids are a little older, so I'm not sure. Maybe when he turns 8. We'll see.

See keep checking back here for more book recommendations and updates on our journey to Arwyn.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Well. You can imagine what is often on my mind. We first saw her face 3 weeks ago. We were in the middle of a SERIOUS crisis involving the sell of our home and the purchase of our new digs. I had told Nathan the day before that we would have our referral that week and it came within 10 minutes of my calling Nathan to tell him our house was not going to close.

Though we reviewed the file and consulted with the international adoption ped and we both knew we would accept the referral, neither of us had the emotional or mental awareness to click in. We sort of put the entire thing on a back burner for a few days. One we got through the move, in fact, our first day in the new house, we received an update and it all began to sink in that she was going to be ours.

Now, here we are, three weeks after seeing our little girl's face for the first time. Actually, let's go back to last night. Nathan's BFF Mark came over for dinner and I quickly got him downstairs to see her photos on the laptop. As I zoomed the photo, it hit little girl is living in an orphanage on the other side of the world. The photos up close did not paint a pretty picture. I am telling myself that she is being taken care of as well as possible, but to see the state of the part of the orphanage in the photo was not encouraging.

I didn't cry last night. The Universe knows how many tears I have shed these last few years waiting for this adoption. But, it was there, nonetheless. We have received our pre approval and now I we are waiting for our Letter of Acceptance. We hope it comes soon.

Please keep all of the orphans of the world in your thoughts as you lay down tonight. And, keep of their caregivers in your thoughts as well.

Peace Out

Special Needs Adoption


Hi All,

We received our PA (Pre Approval) from the CCAA to adopt our little one. It came yesterday. Now, I have to put together a care package (with joy!) to send to her.

It will have a little stuffed gift from us as well as a photo album with photos of us. The nannies in the orphanage will show the pics to her and hopefully she will have some idea of what is transpiring.

I have more thoughts to share but that is all for now.


Monday, August 3, 2009

It's A Girl!

That's what I've been telling folks. It's a girl! We have received (and accepted) the referral of a beautiful 3 year old from China. I cannot share much about our little one right now as she is not officially ours, but we will soon be parents again.

I have so much I want to post about her and will as soon as we get the official word from the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs, but as far as we know, she ours.

Now....what the heck do we do with a 3 year old?

Just kidding. It's going to be interesting bringing a really small one into the house again. We have so little to do and so much time! Wait. Reverse that.

Truly, though, we are so excited. Nathan has been quiet and is digesting it all. We are just coming through getting moved into our new digs and are still trying to get settled. So, I don't think it has really sunk in. But, I can tell you that we all look at her photo many times a day and I'm really connecting in such a heartfelt way.

I spend a large part of my day imagining meeting her and introducing her to Noah for the first time. So, it's finally here and we are finally going to be parents again and we are truly grateful.

Peace Out.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Adoption Update and House News

Well, there's not much to tell, but here's the scoop. We are fairly certain that we are "next" in the queue for the special needs we have requested. What that means could be almost anything. It could mean a referral tomorrow or in a month. There are so many variables out of control.

The upside to this is we have sold our home and have purchased a new one. We close on June 26th and we are so excited. We purchased a 70's split level that flows great. It has beautiful hardwoods and the pink and red bathrooms have tile that looks like new. The only things we really want to change are the front door, the kitchen floor and the kitchen countertop. And even those things are in excellent condition and we can live with them for a while. I've added some photos of the new place, though the front of house photo is really just part of the house. The backyard is fabulous and we anticipate many happy times there.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa Came Early

Santa came a little early this year. What I wanted almost more than anything was for our adoption agency to get their Hague Accreditation so that could once again move toward our referral. Our Christmas wish was granted and it came today. The number one item on my list is the actual referral. If any of you have Santa's ear, we would appreciate a mention! Happy Holidays to you all.