Friday, December 28, 2007

Surprising the Grandparents

We sneakily video-taped our families opening Christmas presents with T's picture. The video tells it better than we can. It's safe to say T is already one very loved little baby.


Glen "rocking" T


Champagne toast

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Waiting for T

Our Christmas Miracle

We are so proud to introduce our son T, born 6 lbs 12 oz. on May 16, 2007 in Bangkok, Thailand. He's now living near Ayutthaya with his foster family. His 60-year-old foster parents have 7 grown children and T is their 5th foster baby. We feel so blessed to have such an experienced family to care for our little one until we can bring him home! The family farms a rice paddy and they live in a traditional home. We can't wait to visit! We should get the call for travel in approximately 7 - 9 months.

We hope our family will forgive us for not calling them immediately. We received word that we were matched with T on Wednesday, December 12 at 7:01pm. Marissa called and spoke to Kyle for only a minute (he had laryngitis) and with me for quite awhile. We were hanging on her every word, but excited to get off the phone to check email for pictures, too! We were excited to accept the referral and by Thursday morning we were announcing the news to all our co-workers. We also told a few friends in the Thai adoption community because I was going to explode with the happy news!

We quickly put together little photo albums and frames for everyone in our families to wrap for a special Christmas surprise. We'll post later about their reactions.
This is our favorite picture of him.


This is the extra-drool shot

Check out the cute silver anklets with bells!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Election day

The elections in Thailand are scheduled for this Sunday.

I'll be watching the story closely. Much like elections in the U.S., the media is crammed full of information in the days leading up to the election.

I mostly read the Bangkok Post, but I've found that many U.S. newspapers are also covering the event, given it's magnitude.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A very Thai Christmas

We feel lucky that our families have been so welcoming of Thai culture. This Christmas we received a great Thai cookbook from Kyle's mom, and a nifty (and difficult!) Thai puzzle (Khun Phaen) from his dad. His mom recently hung a huge world map in her sewing room so she can easily visualize just how far away and where her future grand-kiddo may be. When we have Christmas with my family, we'll be cooking a big Thai feast (perhaps as daring as with multiple courses?) on Christmas day - my mom's idea. Since Thailand is something Kyle and I are thinking about every day, it's so nice that our families are embracing Thai culture as well.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Moving a boulder

I was thinking, as I looked at pictures from our trip to Alaska, that stressing while waiting for our referral and travel approval is a lot like Kyle and I goofily trying to push this ginormous boulder. It's wasted energy that isn't going to accomplish anything. Forces beyond our control will eventually move everything into place, but there's not a lot we can do right now but wait. (But sometimes, I just can't resist the urge to push on the stupid rock! =) )

-Robin

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Birthday to the King of Thailand!

For the King's 80th birthday today, I packed Kyle a goodie bag of Thai treats, along with a news article about his birthday. He'll put them out at work today. Most of my co-workers probably wouldn't appreciate the gesture - even the biscotti I took in was too exotic for that crew ("Did you know these cookies are dry and hard?!").

I had planned to finally introduce myself as I bought these snacks at our local Asian market. I'm almost positive the family running the place is Thai - Thai products outnumber others 2 to one, there's a picture of the King on the wall, and there's always Thai music shows on the TV. So, as I checked out, I told the man I was buying all of the goodies "to celebrate the King's birthday tomorrow". He didn't react, just nodded and commented apologetically that he didn't have very many snacks, and then seemed very perplexed by my purchase of brown glutinous rice (I have a recipe for a dessert I'd like to try). So instead of being confused by my knowledge of the King's birthday, he was confused I bought brown sticky rice. Go figure. So I didn't introduce myself afterall. It'll be easier when we can go in with our kiddo. Darn my shyness!

I'm also wearing pink for the occasion. Apparently, pink shirts are now all the rage in Thailand since the King was spotted wearing one. See the article here.

Oh yeah, and squidgies rock! I don't know if that's their proper name, but that's what my brother-in-law calls them. Yummy fruity jello-ishness! I almost kept all the lychee ones for myself!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Thai Ornament

While decorating our Christmas tree, I found an ornament that my Grandma brought back from her trip to Thailand for me when I was little. It's nice to have a little piece of Thailand on our tree.

-Robin

Sunday, November 25, 2007

First purchase

While we've done plenty of shopping related to the adoption, last night, I think, was the first time we think we actually broke down and bought something for our child.

We've been resisting it, figuring the earlier we start, the more stuff we'll get. We're trying to keep the "stuff" to a minimum.

We'd been looking for a small photo album to send to Thailand as soon as we get the referral. We found this one last night at a department store.

We plan to take pictures to put in it (including in the front cover you see here).

So, now we have to decide what pictures to include in it...we we're certainly not going to wait until the referral to get that done.

We're told we can be excused for making this purchase because once we get a referral, we're going to want to ship things like this immediately. Good advice from people who've been there.

-Kyle

Thai music

Robin and I recently got some birthday CD's from Robin's sister, Meredith. One of them is The Rough Guide to the Music of Thailand.

It's hard to fit the music of an entire culture on one CD, but this is a fun CD to listen to.

As with any diverse sampling of music (including American), there are some tracks I like more than others.

Robin and I truly want to think of ourselves as becoming a Thai-American family, and gifts like this are a wonderful way to get us on our way. Of course, bringing a new culture into the home means more than just adding a few CD's to your collection, but we love listening to music, so it's a good place to get started.

-Kyle

Monday, November 19, 2007

Smiles


It appears the famous Thailand smiles are a little wider these days :)

Here's an article from the Bangkok Post:

Country happier than ever in October

The Gross Domestic Happiness Index (GDHI) for October hit the highest point of the year, thanks to the positive report on His Majesty the King’s health, according to a survey conducted recently by Assumption University’s Abac Poll.

Despite political uncertainty and economic slowdown, Thai DGHI rose from 5.94 in September to 6.90 in October, which was the highest since the beginning of the year.

Noppadol Kannikar, director of Abac Poll, said the survey was conducted between October 29 and November 17 among 4,860 people in 21 provinces nationwide found that people’s happiness arisen from the improvement of King’s health topped the list, scoring 9.34 out of 10 full marks.

Happiness towards family atmosphere came second with 7.47 points followed by Thai culture which earned 7.44 points.

Three issues including the images of the present government and politicians, and the situation in the three troubled southern provinces ranked bottom on the list, said Mr. Noppadol.

The image of the current government scored 5.19, up from 4.88 in September, while the image of politicians and the bloody violence in the three restive provinces scored an identical 2.62, he added.

-Kyle

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Polish adoption

I came across this article this weekend about a family who adopted four children, at once, from Poland.

It's an interesting story you may want to check out for yourself.

-Kyle

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Current Thailand Adoption News

I don't know how common adoption is within Thailand, but an article in yesterday's "The Nation National" included the following sentence:

"The Cabinet also approved draft child-adoption legislation in line with the ministry's aim to encourage more Thai people, instead of foreigners, to adopt orphans and protect children's rights."

I agree that kids are better off being adopted within their own country and culture. I also selfishly hope there's one kiddo left for me. I'm not proud of feeling that way, but it's true. It's hard to hope for a referral while at the same time realizing that a referral means that a child is not being welcomed into a family in his/her home country. Adoption is so bittersweet. I think Kyle and I are a great team of 2...I can't wait for the adventure of a family of 3. I'm excited and sad at the same time. It's an odd feeling.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

National Adoption Month


I don't pay attention to most "official" months or days to recognize this or that.

But today I had a co-worker tell me November is National Adoption Month. I didn't know there was such a thing, but I wasn't surprised, and was rather pleased. A lot of causes deserve attention, and despite my apparent bias, I'm not afraid to tell you adoption is one of them.

I am, however, a little torn about National Adoption Month. While the mission to raise awareness of the issue has plenty of value, bringing this kind of attention to adoption also seems to contradict the idea that adoption is just another way to form a family, and should not be considered abnormal.

I don't pretend to have a solution to this apparent contradiction, but I just thought it was worth noting. I suppose we can stop having National Adoption Month when all the stereotypes about adoption are done away with.

On another note, when National Adoption Month was brought to my attention, it prompted me to look back on the past year to see how far in the adoption process we've come. A lot has happened in the last year.

With life-changing things like this, time can move slow, and fast at the same time. I know that doesn't make sense reading it, but I think it will make sense for a lot of people.

-Kyle

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Meeting Friends

Hannah and Sam adopted Jesse from Thailand this year, and we've enjoyed following their journey through their blog and some emails (they were the first family we found online). This weekend we had the opportunity to actually meet them and their 2 adorable kids! It was so great to be able to see pictures from their trip to Thailand, and to pick Hannah's brain about the whole experience. She gave us lots of excellent advice (and even gave me a tour of her diaper bag =) ). Seeing their happy family made me pretty excited for our future -it was like proof that our own journey is really happening. It was also just great to meet them - they're as awesome as I'd pictured in my head, and I hope we will cross paths again. =)

-Robin

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Library Overload

I have been taking a short break from reading adoption books and have started reading books on parenting in general. I assume that once we're home with Critter, we won't have time or energy for reading much of anything, so my chance is now. I leave the library with armloads of books and spend nights flipping through pages, looking for books that are either informational (but not too basic), creative (but realistic) or thought provoking (but not wacko). There are a lot of terrible books out there. My goal is not to read every one, but to identify some keepers. I might save my back if I just spent a day at the library instead of lugging them all home with me in batches. But then I wouldn't be able to drink tea while I peruse...

I have found a few books that I like. (My favorite is the Mother's Almanac that my mom gave me, which she used while raising my sister and I. Thanks, Mom.) Additionally, the more I read, the more I realize that I already have formed my own ideas on how I want to parent, through my own upbringing and the adoption information I've been absorbing. So maybe I don't really need all of these books after all. (All our plans go out the window once we get home anyway, right?) The things I find myself worrying about most are the very simple, nuts and bolts questions like "What exactly do I need to pack in a diaper backpack?" - I've seen moms toting those bulging bags around, so the list must be long. The answer to that is not in any of my books. The ultimate mystery.

-Robin

Monday, October 8, 2007

Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting

Holly Whitcomb is a family friend, and is also a United Church of Christ minister and author of several great books. Her Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting has been a wonderful companion to the waiting that Kyle and I have been getting pretty good at lately. It's a quick read, and had a great calming effect on me the first time I read it. When I start to feel frustrated and low on patience, I can pick it up again and read a chapter that helps me feel more at peace. The "Seven Spiritual Gifts" examined in the book are:
  • Patience
  • Loss of Control
  • Living in the Present
  • Compassion
  • Gratitude
  • Humility
  • Trust in God
Perhaps partly because our culture focuses on the "I can do anything I set my mind to" sort of philosophy, when I'm presented with situations out of my control that require me to wait, it can be difficult to accept. I have a feeling that once we get matched to our Critter, Kyle's going to have to remind me to read this book weekly. Thank goodness it's short! =)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Red Scarf Project

I just heard about the Red Scarf Project that provides donated, handknit red scarves to "send warmth and encouragement to college-bound foster youth" through the Orphan Foundation of America. I didn't know if I should post this here or on my personal blog (where I talk more about knitting), but I thought perhaps my friends in the adoption world may be interested. The website has several nice free pattern suggestions for unisex red scarves. Donated scarves will be delivered in care packages on Valentine's Day, 2008. Knit fast if you're interested - the deadline for sending completed scarves is October 15th.

-Robin

September Referrals

Our agency's September referrals (matching families with kiddos) have begun. Net friends Hirally and Tracy both received referrals this week, for two of the cutest kids you'll ever see. We're very excited for them. I hope their wait for TA (travel approval) goes quickly! Now we're waiting to hear back from our agency about where on the list this moves us to. I'm more curious than anxious. This part of the wait isn't as difficult as I imagined it'd be, because we don't know who we're missing yet. It's the wait for TA I'm more worried about.

-Robin

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nepal update

Instead of giving you an update on the political situation in Nepal, I'll show you where you can read all about it.

It's probably not clear yet, what, if anything, this means for the families waiting for their adoptions from Nepal. Some of them have been waiting for a long time.

You are in our thoughts. We hope for a speedy resolution.

-Kyle

Thai everywhere

There is an international studies office in the same building I teach in on campus...and the flags outside seem to periodically change.

Since I'm always looking for signs of Thai culture everywhere I go, I was quick to notice the new flags hanging outside the door this week.

It's great to see Thailand represented on campus!

-Kyle

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Lists

Just when I thought we were getting caught up on a lot of the projects we need to complete before the adoption, I now find myself adding a lot more jobs...enough to make a list.

Clean out the basement (this is a big one)
Fix or get a new back door
Fix a window with water damage
Adjust some rain gutters that are tipped the wrong way
**Clean and decorate the new room**

Since Robin and I are both excited about the last item, I'm making sure it stays last for now. Hopefully it will mean that we get the earlier, less desirable, items done sooner.

I'm sure there will be more items to add as we go.

-Kyle

Friday, September 7, 2007

Big Brother Binky

We read in Adoptive Families magazine this week that the cartoon "Arthur" on PBS was featuring an episode that dealt with an international adoption. We recorded the episode and watched it tonight.

Arthur's friend Binky finds out that he's getting a little sister from China. Much of the episode revolves around Binky getting used to the idea of being a big brother, but the details of the adoption are the closest to reality I've ever seen on television.

Binky and his family get to travel to China, and Binky is inevitably frustrated by all the waiting. Once his little sister comes home, be becomes concerned with wanting to become the center of his sister's universe.

It's nice to see a television show make such an effort to do an accurate portrayal of adoption, but it's only one out of millions of impressions made by the media each day. It would be interesting to see a television drama tackle this issue, but as numerous as adoptions are, pregnancy will always be easier for the audience to relate to...and goodness knows the media wouldn't want to muddle up a television plot with something as complicated as adoption :)

-Kyle

Hinduism in Thailand

When we first started on our journey to have children, we thought to adopt from Nepal. Hoping to learn more about the predominant religion there, I picked up an excellent book, The Little Book of Hindu Deities, to give me a crash course on Hindu gods. I feared this would be a very complicated and confusing subject for me to grasp, so I opted for this amazingly simple, adorably illustrated book, written and illustrated by an animator for Pixar of Indian ancestry. He takes a very lighthearted approach to presenting the symbolism of each god and goddess, and the book also covers the ten avatars of Vishnu, Hindu epics, the nine planets, animals gods, etc. The illustrations of even the more destructive gods are actually "cute". I've tried to educate myself about Hinduism before, and always struggled to understand followers' devotion to the more frightening gods and goddesses (Kali, especially), but the author's explanation of Kali finally makes sense to me, and, while she wouldn't be my first choice, I feel I've come to a greater understanding of her.

90-95% of Thais are Buddhist (the highest per capita Buddhist country in the world), but many aspects of Thai religious culture seem to be tied not only to Buddhism but also to folk beliefs and aspects of Hinduism. This article was very interesting in discussing the role Hinduism plays in Thailand. I had thought that when we switched countries to Thailand, this book would be of little use to me, but I have already used it as a reference several times when reading Thai folk stories. I highly recommend this book -I've enjoyed it's illustrations, and learned something about another major world religion as well.

-Robin

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Adoption Benefits

Lucky news today. After a stressful and uncertain summer, our division of my company was finally divested this week. The HR rep for our new company met with us today to not only give us offer letters (I still have a job!) but also go over benefits. I learned that they actually offer some adoption benefits to their employees. It's nothing major, and definitely wouldn't crack the "100 Best Adoption Friendly Workplaces" (Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption), but it's a lot more than I would have gotten at my last company (as in, zero). I'm thankful. If you're interested in finding out how you can encourage your employer to be supportive of employees who adopt, check out the website through the Dave Thomas Foundation. They offer a whole toolkit you can send to your HR department and a "convincing your employer" brochure.

-Robin

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Two families in Thailand

Just a quick note: Two families working with Holt (our adoption agency) are in Thailand this week meeting their kids. I'm so excited for them, and think of them often and what an amazing time it must be. Jess and Jen are keeping a great blog of their trip - be sure to check it out.

-Robin

Arts and Crafts of Thailand

I found a really interesting book at the library that I enjoyed reading. "Arts and Crafts of Thailand" (by William Warren, no longer in print) not only had wonderful photographs of traditional arts, but also very in-depth information about the history and cultural significance of many of Thailand's crafts and the symbolism they are imbued with. There's a Thai history book I keep borrowing from the library and returning unread because it's a little daunting (I will finish if before we bring home our little one!), but in this book the history kind of sneaks up on you in interesting bits.

The chapter I found the most interesting was the final one, which examined "Theater and Other Diversions". This chapter had info on games the Thai have played for centuries (including a kite-flying competition that pits a very large and powerful "male" kite against a smaller but more maneuverable "female" one) , and some of the unusual musical instruments that have been used in Thai music. I also was interested to learn a lot about khon, the rituals and dancing performed by actors in elaborate masks and costumes. The storyline of the performance is based on the Hindu stories of Ramakian. Ramakian is such an interesting story, I think I'll save it for another post, perhaps when the snow is flying and we have nothing new to report.

-Robin

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Where's Thailand?

It's very easy for Robin and I to assume that everyone we know knows as much as we now do about Thailand. Truth is, most people don't know much about Thailand. One of the most common questions is "where is it?"
View Larger Map

Well, it's about as far away from Wisconsin you can get without getting on a rocket...8459 miles as the crow flies (it will be more than that on a plane).

The easiest way to describe where it is, without a map, is south of China and west of Vietnam (two points of reference many people may be familiar with).

Which leads me to think that it might be a good idea to have a cheat sheet in my pocket when I leave the house so I can easily show people where it is.

I don't think it's odd or inconsiderate for people to not know this kind of thing. I've read other adoption stories where I had to bring out a map to find out where some couples are adopting from.

I consider it part of the adventure of adoption to make the world a little smaller for everyone.

I'm particularly happy when people ask me a lot of questions about adoption and Thailand. Inevitably they'll say, "I"m sorry, do you mind me asking all of these questions?", to which I reply, "Are you kidding??...keep 'em coming!"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sriwittayapaknam School

There's a private school in Thailand with a wonderful website. Their site includes tons of information on their school's curriculum and daily/weekly activities. There is also lots of information about Thai culture, from dress and food to holidays and etiquette. From what I can tell, some parts of the website are designed by students, with their own words and photographs.

-Robin

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Adoption Journal

I ordered an adoption baby book several weeks ago. I did some research online to find one I liked. I found surprisingly few options, but I think the one I got will be very nice. I like the graphics, and it's very open-ended. It would be appropriate for almost any adoption scenario I can think of. Domestic or international, infant or older child. Pages have lots of space to let parents write in the child's story. Pages include:
  • The Story of Your Adoption (Why we chose to adopt, How we found you, and Our hopes and dreams for you)
  • People who helped us find you
  • Waiting (Plans and preparations we made)
  • The Match! (How we found out, and How we celebrated)
  • Our Journey to You
  • Our Very First Meeting
The second half of the book is "Your First Year With Us", and has a page for each month of "memorable Moments and Milestones". There's pages to record the celebration of the first Adoption Day and the first Birthday.There's a nice family tree that is very adaptable to any family situation, and a second tree to for birth family information, or to decorate in honor of the child's birth family/country.

The only pages in the book that will not apply to us are in the "Firsts and Favorites" section, where there's space to record first word and the date of the first step. We'll adapt it to our situation. We'll keep a more extensive scrap book with all of the adoption information for our child, but this should be a nice little summary.

-Robin

Seeking Thailand

Robin and I find ourselves seeking out anything we can find related to Thailand. Recently, we discovered an Asian grocery where there are a lot of Thai products. It's exciting for us. We embrace the notion of being a Thai-American family.

At the Wisconsin State Fair this weekend, we found a whole booth dedicated to Thai products. We were excited to find it and explore. We're not sure how authentic it was, but it was fun to look around.

We're thinking a lot about coming to Thailand early before the adoption or staying longer after the adoption. I hope we can work that out. It would be a great experience.

-Kyle

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Parenting practice

If you've been wondering where we've been the last several weeks, we have a good excuse. We just sent home an exchange student from China. Kelly spent three weeks with us. There is a lot to say about her visit, but you can read more of the details here.

Going from zero to teenager overnight was a good experience for us. The whole experience showed us what we might expect in the future in terms of the amount of time children require from you. Sure, it took a lot of our time...but we LOVED it.

Hosting an exchange student is certainly a far cry from raising your own children, but it's closer than what we had experienced before.

Kelly is a wonderful young lady and was a great fit for our family. She was adventurous. We fed her many different types of food. She didn't like it all, but she always tried...which is everything. She was apprehensive when we put her in a kayak on Lake Michigan, but she did it anyway. Her openness to new experiences was inspiring.

Robin and I hoped she was enjoying herself and our company. Our efforts were validated in many ways, but the easiest way to demonstrate for you is in the picture she drew for us (shown above). It shows her "Happy Family". She drew it herself at night while we were sleeping, with an amazing attention to detail. It melted our hearts.

It was sad to see her go, but we will continue to communicate with her and we feel confident we will see her again someday.

So, our attention now returns to preparing the house for our new family member from Thailand. There's little new to report on the adoption since our last post. The waiting game continues.

You can expect to start hearing from us more often on the blog.

-Kyle

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ling Bouvier

I saw a rerun of a Simpsons episode this week dealing with adoption. You can read the synopsis here.

Of course, the Simpsons is not a reputable source of accurate adoption information, so it was no surprise to see that there were a lot of misconceptions about adoption, in general.

I don't expect comedy writers to be responsible for being fair and even-handed on every issue. That's not their job.

So, while it's tempting to blame insensitive writers for perpetuating negative adoption stereotypes, I think its better to consider this a lesson in media literacy.

Whenever I watch a show about any particular issue, I'll assume the aim of the writers was not to inform me...rather, the goal was to entertain me.

Of course, I already muddled through all that media literacy stuff in grad school, but it's always fun to see it applied in real life.

-Kyle

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dad

This is my dad with one of the newest additions to the family, Benjamin. He's the son of my cousin Jennifer and her husband Jason.

My dad loves kids...a lot. He's always the first uncle in line to hold the newborns, infants, and toddlers.

He's excited about the adoption, as is much of my extended family. At an anniversary celebration this past weekend, Robin and I got a lot of questions and a lot of support. We were happy to get both.

Robin and I have commented over and over again about lucky we are to have a supportive family.

-Kyle

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Flag

Robin and I like flying flags in front of our house. Currently, we have the Flemish flag displayed, but in anticipation of the adoption, I bought a Thai flag. We plan on flying it when we have our referral.

It will remain packaged until then.

-Kyle

Friday, July 13, 2007

Love in the Driest Season

On our trip to Alaska (which you can hear more about on Kyle and my personal blogs), I brought along Neely Tucker's family memoir Love in the Driest Season. I really liked this book. Tucker, a journalist, tells the story of their attempts to adopt their daughter from Zimbabwe while he was posted there. He also writes about some of his experiences traveling around Africa to report on conflicts across the continent. While this book is heartbreaking both in its discussion of the lack of resources orphanages to have to care for, or simply just keep children alive, it is also a sad commentary on the political situations in many parts of Africa. It was a book neither Kyle nor I could put down.

The Tucker family had to fight against so much governmental opposition to adopt their daughter, it made us feel very lucky. Read this book if you feel overwhelmed by putting together your dossier, and you'll never complain again!

-Robin

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I-171H Granted

We got approval of our I-600A (petition to care for an orphan) from US Citizenship & Immigration Services yesterday. This is called form I-171H. As our fingerprinting is only valid for 15 months, and the I-171H is only valid for 18 months, we'll probably have to refile for both of them before our adoption from Thailand is completed. But at least it's one more piece of paper that has fallen into place.
-Robin

Monday, July 9, 2007

Parenting Class

I never posted anything about my reaction to the adoptive parenting class that we attended in May. I meant to, but never quite got around to it.

I found the class to be very interesting. It's amazing the amount of material they covered in 2 days. Really, it could have been much longer.

The class was small, with only 3 other couples attending. Two were adopting domestically, and one was adopting from Russia. The most interesting parts of the classes were the guest speakers. A birth mom spoke for over an hour and the experience was profoundly moving. She was an amazing speaker and I hope that everyone considering adoption has an opportunity to meet someone like her. She made it clear that while she never had any intention of parenting her daughter, the adoption has been extremely more difficult for her emotionally than she anticipated. Her adoption is an open one, and she sees her daughter on occasion, but only out of a sense of duty to her daughter despite the pain it causes her, "because you should always do what's best for the child, no matter how hard."

The other highlight of the class was much happier. Many families with completed adoptions brought their kiddos and answered questions. The families were of all ages and had adopted kids domestically and from Korea, Russia, and the Philippines. Our favorite couple had adopted a little boy from Korea and arrived home maybe 6 to 9 months ago. They were the only other couple who we felt really similar to. (The 3 other couples in our class were all much older than us and already had bio children, and the visiting families with completed adoptions were also all much older.) They looked to be our age and don't have any other children. It was nice to talk to someone we could really relate to. While the other couples in our class were worried about the adoption side of things, we have the additional worries of how to handle a ~2 year old kid with no parenting experience! We asked them if it was scary to be instant parents of a toddler, and they agreed that it was, but that it passed quickly. They looked very comfortable as a family and I wished we lived closer.
-Robin

Monday, July 2, 2007

Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother

I caved and read another unhappy adoption book. I had gotten an armful at the library, and this one just seemed like a quick read. Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother is not a book I would recommend. Jana Wolff is, to her credit, painfully honest about her feelings, but I think she has a lot of unresolved issues and anger about adoption in general. I hope her son doesn't read this book when he grows up. Her son was adopted through an open adoption and the author's thoughts about his birth mother are insulting and hurtful. While some of the other chapters were thought provoking, I couldn't get past the "Dear Birth Mother" letter she "wanted to write" which began "Screw you. Do you think I want to beg a complete stranger for a kid whose own mother doesn't want him?" and ended with "I don't want my kid to be your mistake." (The middle part didn't improve it any.)
Yikes. I cringed big time at this. A child's birth mom will always be a part of them, and such a lack of respect not only reflects the adoptive parent's feelings toward the birth mom, but the child as well, in my opinion. I thought it was very sad to see she felt this way.
-Robin

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What do all of these people have in common?


Alexander the Great - King of Macedonia, 356-323 B.C.
Aristotle - philosopher

Art Linkletter - comedian

Bo Diddley - musician, performer
Charles Dickens - writer

Crazy Horse - Lakota war chief

Dave Thomas - entrepreneur: founder of Wendy's
Edgar Allen Poe - poet, writer

Edward Albee - playwright

Eleanor Roosevelt - First Lady

Faith Hill - country singer

George Washington Carver - inventor
Greg Louganis - diver

Halle Berry - actres
Ingrid Bergman - actress
Jesse Jackson - minister

John J. Audubon - naturalist

John Lennon - musician

Langston Hughes - poet and writer
Leo Tolstoy - writer

Louisa May Alcott - writer

Malcolm X - civil rights leader

Marilyn Monroe - actress

Mark Twain - writer

Nancy Reagan - First Lady
Nat King Cole - singer
Nelson Mandela - politician
President Gerald Ford - politician
President William Clinton - politician
Ray Liotta - actor
Rep. Jim Lightfoot - politician
Sarah McLachlan - singer
Scott Hamilton - figure skater

They were all adopted.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Older Child Adoption

A lot of my reading lately has been adoption related. So many of the books I've read have been really general and I've skimmed a lot without learning things I haven't heard elsewhere. Older Child Adoption, by Grace Robinson, was a huge eye-opener. It had stunning accounts of the issues some families have had in adopting kids aged two and older. While the stories are (hopefully) on the far extreme end of the spectrum, it's good to at least know what to pay attention for. I don't think anyone can ever be prepared for the terrible situations families in this book had to handle. The author states that even a child as young as two, who has lived in a single foster home can have severe attachment problems. The majority of the cases in the book, however, seemed to involve older children, especially those who had multiple foster placements. I'm not sorry I read this book, but I'm definitely ready to read something more positive about adoption now.

-Robin

Friday, June 22, 2007

Connections

A few weeks ago, I came across a forum hosted by our (wonderful) agency, Holt Int'l. There's a forum specific to Thailand that is really nice. I found a lot of the people whose blogs I was already reading post there. Anyone is welcome to join. There are adoptive parents who are adopting through other agencies than just Holt. There's also a mom who keeps a database:
"to promote better communication and cultural resources for our families...with children adopted from Thailand. The group is limited to those who already have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, Thai children, as well as adult adoptees from Thailand."
If you're a current or future Thailand AP who wants to connect with others, send an email to Julia Higgenbotham at urghiggi@sbcglobal.net to get more information. When I got the database today, I found there's a family who lives only miles away with a daughter from Thailand. (start humming "it's a small world" here...)

I feel lucky that we've found such a supportive and helpful group of people not just through the forum, but also the Yahoo Thailand listserv, and other great people out in blog-land. It's awesome to not go through any of this alone. It's made this journey seem normal and totally do-able. Thanks to all of you...you know who you are!

Robin

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mail

It may be awhile before the mail brings us all the papers we need to travel to Thailand to adopt our child, so in the meantime, it's nice to get an occasional adoption related present in the mail. We've purchased Adoptive Families before, but today we got our first one in the mail.

It's amazing how the selection of articles always seems to coincide with things we're talking about. I'm sure it's just coincidence since there are about a million things we're thinking and talking about all the time, so just about any adoption-related article they would write about would be relevant.

-Kyle

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Babies

While Robin and I are very excited about adopting our child from Thailand, I have to admit it's still a little hard to see someone come home with their biological baby.

We've got our heart set on adoption, so it's not that I'm jealous. I just hope those couples are grateful that they are able find an easier way to form a family.

At these times, I remember the poem about a boat ride.

Robin and I sleep well knowing that we will someday have a family, and we're patient knowing the day will come.

-Kyle

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Talking fingers

Although it was a rather uneventful step in the adoption process, we took another one today by getting out fingerprints taken by USCIS. The only thing remarkable about it is that we had to go to Milwaukee to get it done, which meant time off from work.

So, now we can only hope that our fingerprints represent us well to the U.S. government.

No, we didn't get chance to boo Barry Bonds at Miller Park. This trip to Milwaukee was strictly business (a man only gets so many chances in life to ridicule a living legend, in person).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Around the world

The red dots on this map represent all of the visitors our adoption blog has had in the last month. I know who some of the hits are in Alaska, Montana, the US Midwest, Belgium, Australia, and New Zealand. But most of the rest have me amazed. How crazy to be visited by people in Russia, China, and South America, for instance, when we don't know a soul who lives there. According to our web stats, 70% of you return for more than one visit, so don't be shy - leave a comment and tell us about yourself! Thanks for stopping by, and come again.

(If you're wondering, this image is from Google Analytics, which is a very sweet and easy way to see what traffic your site is getting.)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Fingerprints

We got our appointment information in the mail for USCIS on Friday, so we'll have to take some time off work to go to Milwaukee to get our fingerprints taken in the coming weeks. Just another step in this long journey.

Robin and I are excited to be following another family who is actually in Thailand right now. It's an amazing gift to be following their adventures and see their pictures while they're still there. It helps to see that after all the waiting, adoptions actually happen.

The couple that lives next door is due to have their first baby any day now. It's interesting to watch them go through the preparations we will likely go through as our time arrives. It's also interesting to think that their child may actually be about the same age as our own.

Oh, I should mention that I had nothing to do with the previous post titled "IT'S A GIRL". That was a cruel tease formulated by Robin. We are both excited about Kelly's arrival. It's sure to shake up what would have otherwise been a rather status quo summer.

-Kyle