Monday, June 30, 2008

Sugar, hygiene, and partial nudity

T's doing great...this blog post is about how we're doing. I can't speak 100% for Robin, but here's my assessment.

Not only am I eating a ton, a large portion of it is sugar. Note the chocolate chip cookie dough above. A lot didn't even make it to the oven. I'm also eating: ice cream, slushes of various varieties, chocolate in any form, peanuts (it's baseball season) and fruit (not as much as everything else).

I am used to showering once a it's every other, if I'm lucky. What's remarkable is that I never even notice. Before, I would complain all day about how I didn't get a shower or shave.

Along with that comes a disregard for what I'm wearing. Many days I don't get around to properly dressing myself until we decide to go in public, and even then, it's a matter of throwing on anything I can find...I don't put much thought into it.

What I'm getting at with all this is the following: Life with a child is chaotic and I'm going with the flow, and not fighting it, as I had feared.

That said, we go back to work next week, which means I have to find time for a shower everyday and take the time to put a tie on again. I never thought I would be dreading that.

We are so lucky to have T. He's a wonderful, bubbly boy...whose teaching me about life.


Friday, June 27, 2008


I knew it - T can dance!

I've been experimenting with all kinds of music, from Prince to Barenaked Ladies to the Beatles, trying to get T to shake his diaper around. I strap him in the Ergo and we dance around the living room. I seem to get a lot more out of it than he does. He tolerates it pretty well, but only cracks a smile if we're in front of the mirror and he can see himself, or if I'm so outrageously, embarrassingly silly, he has no other alternative. (We have photos of this that I swear will never be allowed on the internet.) Until now, he hasn't felt the urge to bop along.

Tonight, however, while we were letting him amuse himself with all the buttons of the television (with the power off-he still doesn't know it works and we hope to keep it that way), I decided to try some Paul Simon. I had a feeling he'd love it, and sure enough, without any prompting at all, his back to us as he worked the TV buttons, he started bobbing up and down and rocking a bit from side to side on his chubby little legs. Paul Simon it is! Kyle and I started laughing and this made him perform a little more...until he decided enough was enough and melted down for the evening. Ah well. He's had a very moody couple of days and we're cherishing the smiles when we can get them.

No video of dancing T, however, as we agreed to post no diaper shots online. We don't want to give him too much ammunition to hate us as a teenager! =)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Elephants and Herman's Hermits

What do elephants and Herman's Hermits have in common? Until today, I didn't think there was anything they had in common, but it turns out that the combination of the two seems to put T at ease during diaper changing time.

Robin recently changed the decoration around his diaper changing area to include elephants, and I started singing "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" during diaper changing. Since then, he's been tear-free. It's only worked a few times, so I'm not optimistic this will keep working, but we'll use it while we can.

Bath time also worked out better last night. We made the fun of the bath look irresistible (bubble noses, bath drums, dinosaurs, splashing...who could resist?) and he couldn't help but want to get in.

T is getting ever so close to walking. By the time some of you read this, he may actually be on his feet (as a matter of fact, he's walking as I type this). In the meantime, here's some video of some close calls from yesterday. You should also know that T now knows that Punkin will chase her little red Kong toy if it's thrown. Sometimes he's confused and likes to just throw it at her.

Here's some more pictures from play time. Can you figure out which is his favorite book? (We have it memorized.)

Big Bird and Cookie Monster hand puppets are also a hit. He likes to chew on Big Bird's beak and watch Big Bird squeal in pain. Yeah yeah, I know...we shouldn't encourage hilarious violence. I promise we'll break him of that (my own health depends on it).

T also loves playing with the phone (when we're using it, of course) so lucky for him, and us, we have an old portable phone in the basement. Take out the batteries and you have an instant toy.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008


My mind as been swimming with all the topics I could cover from what's been happening this week. As you can tell from our sparse blogging, we've been busy.

Instead of writing a lot about a few topics, I thought I'd write a little about a lot. Here come the bullets:

--T's been sleeping well at night...he occasionally wakes up to scream for 5-10 seconds, but immediately goes back to sleep. It's just enough to wake us up, but then we go back to sleep too.

--Meal time has improved drastically. This is partly because T is eating better, and partly because we're finding better ways to feed him. We've learned not to bring out individual dishes until we're ready to feed them to him - only one food can be in sight at a time. Among the things he's now eating: chicken soup, waffles, eggs, various fruits and vegetables, ham, rice, potato salad, baked beans, baked oatmeal...and on and on.

--The other night Robin made a nice and spicy green curry. We didn't expect to feed it to T, but we gave him a spoonful...and he asked for more. This was SPICY was making our noses water. He kept asking for more, with no signs that the spice was affecting him. Now that's native Thai! We're thrilled, but we won't mention it to his doctor.

--Diaper time is getting better, but can still be a challenge. It's hit or miss. Most of the time he hates it, but this morning, for instance, he seemed fine...just let me do my business without much fuss.

--Cloth diapers are going great. They aren't that much work and the weather has been so great, we've been hanging them to dry outside. We've improved our we have very few leaks.

--We have a good routine going...with a nap in the mid-morning and again in the early afternoon. We feel pathetic going to bed at 8:00, but then, we're up at 5:00. Personally, I love this schedule. The morning is the best time to be awake.

--My brother was over yesterday to fortify our home baby defenses. I'm now feeling a little better about T staying safe in the house (by brother is much handier and faster with the tools than I am).

--Playtime is what I dread the most...I'm not terribly creative, so I feel like I've not very entertaining for him. But, I've found that all that's needed is his creativity. I gave him a pot and spoon to play with yesterday. He made some toy soup, and then decided to put himself in the soup. Very entertaining. The mosquitoes are limiting our outdoor time. Typically we would avoid going out in the midday sun, but we've decided it's better than fighting the mosquitoes.

--We now have a "forbidden toy" stack in the "forbidden room" (the room he's simply not allowed into). The "forbidden toys" are mostly toys that too easily double as weapons.

--T is VERY close to walking. In fact, he's gotten up off the floor and taken a few steps on a couple occasions. But, whenever this happens, there is such a noise of excitement from everyone around him, that he freezes and falls, and might be frightened to try it again :)

--Bath time has been going fine, until yesterday. He just decided that he hated it. So, today we are off to get some bubble bath and some more exciting bath toys. We also have a game plan going into the next bath time.

--Robin and I are SORE. We know that T's ability to walk will create it's own unique challenges, but not having to carry him will be a welcome change. By the way, have we mentioned that we love the ergo? We can walk around all day with him in the ergo, no problems.

--Our friends Jim and Courtney, in a nearby city, are in Bangkok and nearly ready to come home with Piyamon. We're so excited for them and can't wait for our first play date after they've settled in.

--Skype has been a nice tool to introduce T to family member who live further away. We have it hooked up to the living room TV, which makes for easy video chatting.

--Punkin is doing well. Her biggest complaint is when she gets left on one floor while we're on the other (the baby gates limit her movement). At least once she's jumped the gate to get downstairs. Oh, and since we have the chairs pulled from the table all the time now, she likes to go table surfing for leftovers after meals. Very bad when the meal is chocolate pudding. (Inducing vomiting was not fun for anyone involved!)

--We still haven't turned on the TV. It's great. There isn't time for it anyway. T seems to be enjoying his board books (over and over and over again). Yesterday was his first trip to the library - while T isn't bored with his books yet, Mom wanted a change.

--There is continued discussion over T's name. "T" will be his first name, but it's the middle and last name that are tricky. We have until finalization to make a decision, so it means six more months of indecision. (Robin thinks she's made a decision and is just waiting for Kyle to come to the same inevitable choice.)

-This is a whole other blog post, but I've marveled at how much of this is really going as expected. So many people told me, going into this, that "it will change your entire life". I heard this so often, I pretty much expected it. For me, there really wasn't a "holy crap, what have we done" moment. That's not to say it's been's just that I didn't expect it to be easy.

--At this point, Robin and I feel like we're mostly dealing with the issues any parent of a one-year-old would be dealing with....and we're feeling pretty good about it. We have some attachment issues to work through yet, but he still smiles, and it continues to melt our hearts.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beautiful Saturday

It was a beautiful Saturday, so we went to a local farmers' market and gave T some time in his new pool.

Turns out he likes sugar snap peas.

He's getting some practice on his feet.
...and also likes to point.

Take note of what it says on his shirt. We put it on him, inspired by diaper-changing time.
T got a pool and swimming gear from uncle Clint and aunt Brienne. It's been a hit.
He loves to play with the little toy the pool came with that sprays water into the air.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Lions and Tigers and Bears

This morning we visited the local park and T entertained us with his antics. Video for the grandparents (or anyone else who is bored) is included.

Then we took T to the zoo and Auntie M. met us there. He seemed very serious through most of the trip, but did get into pointing at some of the animals - the giraffes, especially.

Kyle had The Worst Diaper Experience Ever in the zoo restroom, which I could only hear from outside and cringe at, wishing I could rush in and assist.

The carousel was a nice cap to the outing - T enthusiastically waved hello and goodbye to all the spectators on every pass. He thought everyone was there to see him in particular and loved every second.

And T got half my ice cream bar (all over his face).

Nap time arrived with less screaming today. His current tactic is to change the subject by trying to get me to laugh. It was amazingly difficult to be stoic during his funny babbles and faces. Now that he's napping, I can indulge in a guilty pleasure - fruit loops and a brandy slush.

- Robin

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Full Disclosure

I never thought I'd see the day that Kyle is the optimist and I'm the pessimist. But it's here!

Let me first say that T is a joy and I LOVE LOVE LOVE him so much. Forget global warming - it's his giggles melting the ice caps.

But if you only read this blog and aren't a fly on the wall in our home, you might not guess the craziness in between the giggles. We've had quite a few trying hours, with lots of inconsolable screaming, often between the hours of 2am and 4am. Every diaper change and most meals are performed to a soundtrack of terrible shrieks. We use only diapers lined with spikes and the oil of hot peppers. Foods he liked the meal before are suddenly disgusting and must be spit and thrown. Nap-time arrives peacefully only if he plays himself into unconsciousness. If, God forbid, we see he's exhausted and try to lay him down, he screams for an hour before passing out.

He's very Jekyll and Hyde. One minute he's all smiles and then suddenly he's crying with huge tears rolling down his pretty cheeks. I can hardly blame him. He's been here less than a week, is stuck with a bunch of giants who don't understand his language, might be feeling sick after his chicken pox vaccine, and is cutting a new tooth. All things told, it could be much worse.

Kyle, understandably, wants to share the positives, of which there are many. I just don't want to give the impression that this experience is breezy (and if we decide to do this again, I want to remember what we're in for!). Thank goodness we have each other, because when one of us is ready to start crying along with him, the other usually has a clear head and can step in and offer a break. I have a new-found huge, amazing respect for single parents. I have no idea how they do it.

On a more positive note, yesterday we discovered T loves ice cream. Or perhaps that's not a positive, as he gobbled almost my entire sundae!


T at home

It's been a busy couple of days adjusting to life at home with T, but Robin and I both feel it's going well. And I think T would agree. He's even helping me around the kitchen.

Our social worker paid a visit on Tuesday and we had a nice visit. She validated much of what we thought about the situation. T is attaching well. His separation anxiety isn't what we thought it would be. He sits in the back seat of the car by himself without any problems, and I even left the house for a few hours without complaints.

Feeding time is hit or miss. Last night he ate wonderfully. The chicken soup was a hit. But some of the meals don't go so well. He will eat a full spoonfuls of something, and then treat it like it's some vile poison (even though he was just eating it). It's a little frustrating for us, but since he'll eat several things, and he's still on formula, we don't sweat it.

This week's doctor visit also went well. We're pretty much over the jet lag, but T still likes to get up a couple of times a night, only to turn over and go straight back to sleep.

We've done a lot around the house, but also, the weather has been spectacular, so we've been going on walks. His favorite stop is the nearby park where he can go on the swings and ride the dinosaur with mom or dad.

Cloth diapers are going well. We've sprung a few leaks, but are improving our technique. Our mothers assure us they will never stop leaks 100% of the time, but they also gave us double diapering at night. So far, we're very happy we went that route.

We picked up our new car today...a Honda Fit. It's a cute little car, and we're so glad we got it. It will give us great fuel economy, and a little more space than the Civic. Between the Fit and Civic, we won't be spending all that much at the gas station. I'll be installing the car seat today so T can go for a spin.

As time progresses, you may find that more and more of our stories will be appearing on Punkin's blog. Her blog is really meant to follow our life as a household. The adoption blog is about...well, adoption. So, we will continue to post here with adoption-related stories and issues (this is NOT a goodbye), but if you want to keep up with our family, you may also want to add Punkin's blog to your RSS reader.

Here's hoping there's a lot more to write about on the adoption blog in the future :)


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What the hell is this?

This is a post written by our dog, Punkin, on her blog this week. We thought it would be of interest to our adoption blog readers. -Kyle

So, a couple weeks ago, I was taken to Jack's house and lead to believe I would be there a short time while Kyle and Robin were out having fun.

What I didn't realize is that, while I knew something fishy was up, I didn't know it involved an adoption. I also didn't know I would be left without a laptop, and therefore, unable to blog about my grievances. And, I didn't know they'd be gone over two weeks.

Well, I got home yesterday, and this is what I came home to:

T seems like a nice enough kid, but he likes to poke at me and pull my ears, instead of petting me.

This must be why Robin was poking at me and pulling my ears before their trip.

Also, there are baby gates keeping me from critical areas of the house...I have to beg for someone to lift me, helplessly, over the gate.

And to top it off, I practically have to speak English to get their attention now. T is their constant center of attention.

There is at least one benefit to having this kid around the house. He loves to throw food to the ground. While they think I'm sitting at the foot of his chair adoring him, I'm secretly waiting to pounce on any food that comes my way. I've gotten all kinds of great scraps.

This was a pretty dramatic change for them to drop on me so suddenly. They claim they've been telling me about it for awhile, but I don't believe it.

The results are mixed, but dramatic. To be sure, I'll have a lot to write about in the coming months and years.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

First full day in Wisconsin

These 2 pictures are clearly related. We had fun today, but really struggled to stay awake during daylight hours. We are so jet-lagged, and each nap T took had to be ended with gongs and marching bands or he would have slept until Friday. We desperately want him to sleep tonight so we did everything we could to wear him out, and steered him clear of the bed every time he yawned and pointed. He was finally falling asleep at the park on the baby swing and while riding the bucking dinosaur with Dad when we decided enough was enough and making it to 7pm was pretty good for day one.

Oh - and we started cloth diapers today with mixed results. We hope to improve our folding technique, but he either likes them a tiny fraction better than disposables or he's resigning himself to the fact that he's not going to be allowed the luxury of running around with a naked bottom anymore.

In roughly 17 seconds, I'm going to be as unconscious as he is in the second photo.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

We're home

It was probably one of the toughest 42 hours I've experienced, but T is home with us.

My days are still muddled bear with me.

We left our hotel, yeah, Friday. We had to be out by 4:00, but our plane didn't leave until 1:30, as Robin wrote about earlier. This was a tough way to start out.

You've already read about the first flight, but the second was far worse. The flight, itself, was of the least turbulent flights I've ever been on. We also had a great tail wind, so we got in very early. But T was inconsolable, mostly through the first half of the flight.

It should be known that it's not the flying that bothers him. He seems quite indifferent to the magic of flight. The problem is just with being trapped in the same area for such a long time. Frankly, me and many others feel the same way, we just choose not to express ourselves with shrieks of terror, suggesting that we're being tortured by our companions. He was completely hysterical for hours and Robin was in tears from frustration and exhaustion. Feeling defeated and like terrible parents, we finally caved in, in fear of being murdered by our fellow travelers and of killing too many of T's brain cells - we gave him a little dose of Benadryl (at the recommendation of our pediatrician, but we still felt horrible about it). After awhile, this slowly seemed to take the edge off his hysterics and he fell asleep within an hour. This would have coincided with a scheduled nap, and the drugs seemed to extend the nap to 4 hours.

This was both good and bad. The good reasons are obvious...the less obvious reason is that he was on my lap...and I was getting uncomfortable. Given how T had done on the flight up to that point, I didn't want to move a muscle. I wanted him to stay asleep so much, I tried to match my breathing to his. All of this was very painful.

Thankfully, I got to take my mind off of it by watching "27 Dresses" for the third time on this trip...without audio. So, while I've watched the whole movie three times, I have yet to hear any of the dialog. I've come up with my own dialog based on what I see on screen and what I think Korean subtitle characters must mean. I'm certain my version is better than the original.

Eventually, T woke up and the nap helped his spirits. He was still pretty edgy, but it was much better and Robin and I realized we may actually survive the flight. We entertained him and us by putting on a concert of 70s and 80s songs, sung by squirrel puppets with choreography. His favorites were "Celebration" by Cool and the Gang, and the Village People's YMCA. All those weekends at WRST producing The 80s Rewind radio show in college really paid off. I hope our neighbors were all sleeping at the time.

While I cannot complain about the overall service of the Korean Airlines staff (we would definitely fly with them again) at the points where T was at his worst, they would come hover over us and ask us if they could hold him for awhile. First off, I figured these people deal with this all the time, and I was hoping for a better suggestion. But second, there was no way T was going to be happier with them holding him. We had no doubt about this. So, after the second time they asked, I secretly hoped they would ask a third time so I could let them take T just so they could see how right we were. If this was their best idea, I wish they would have suggested it and then just made sure we knew they were there if we needed help. What else can they do? Hovering just made us feel more awkward than we already felt.

We bought a seat for T on these flights. When we got on the first flight, we were wondering if this was foolish since he would never sit by himself. It turns out to have been a good move. It gave us much needed space to work with and I also consider the ticket purchase a donation to John Q. Traveler who would have otherwise had to sit next to us.

One bonus from this whole experience is that I think I changed like 6-7 diapers on these flights. If you can change a diaper on an airplane, you can do it anywhere (or so I would think).

We arrived in Chicago ahead of schedule. Nice. We left Korea at noon on Saturday and landed in Chicago around 10:30 am Saturday. I've tried to explain to Robin how this works, but haven't managed to find the right words yet. I need a globe. Robin thinks that since we went back in time, the terrible flight just never happened.

Getting through immigration was a breeze. The agent, as expected, asked us for the paperwork from the embassy, which we presented on the spot...we were led to a secondary office where we thought "oh great, here goes the next 3 a waiting room". Less than one minute later, a woman stamped T's passport, said "have a nice day", and we left. We dare not complain, but Robin and I couldn't help but wonder 1) "Weren't you gonna read some of those documents before you stamp his passport", and 2) "How about a 'congratulations' or 'welcome to America'...'have a nice day' was the best you could do?

Again...NOT COMPLAINING!! We're grateful nearly all the government workers we've encountered in this process have been courteous and professional.

Robin's parents picked us up with our car and drove us home (THANK YOU!). We considered driving by ourselves, but we did the math and decided our lack of sleep would have been the equivalent of blowing a .18 BAC level. I was asleep before we got very far.

T took to his car seat nicely:

I would's super comfy. We stopped on the way home for his first American food - Culvers hamburgers and french fries. He nibbled a smidgen of beef and mostly just squished some french fries. He was more tired than hungry at that point, but we were famished and it tasted amazing.

Being in the U.S. with T was surreal. It was like two worlds colliding. We couldn't believe he was here...still don't.

We showed him around the house and he quickly found his toy room. We also showed him his bedroom, although he won't be sleeping there, at least for a little while.

We made him some food for dinner (thanks for getting us groceries, Meredith!), which was SO MUCH EASIER at home. Hot water I can drink from the tap? Plentiful knives? No more cutting up banana with a dull plastic spoon?! A fridge! I don't know how we managed to keep him fed without these tools we take for granted.

After napping through part of the afternoon, I laid awake thinking "we HAVE to get up...otherwise we'll all be wide awake at 9:00". It was tough to get up, but a dirty diaper helped get us out of bed.

We took the stroller for a test walk since it was so nice outside. We also visited a park, where as we predicted, he LOVED the swings.

We're looking forward to getting Punkin back. T spotted dogs at the airports in Bangkok and Chicago, and on our walk...and seems excited. I hope they get along.

I don't know what to do next. There is so much on my list. I'm grateful I decided to stay home for a few weeks to get everything settled.

For know, I think the stack of stuff will have to wait until tomorrow. It's very late, and T and Robin have already been to bed for awhile now. I couldn't help myself...I stayed up to steal a taste of my home brewed beer.

It's great to be home...with T.

...and tomorrow's Father's Day...what a treat :)


Friday, June 13, 2008


Our late flight out of Bangkok was tough. It left at 1am and we were ALL very tired. Once we boarded the plane, T was enchanted with looking out the window. He thankfully slept most of the flight.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to the family that shared their airplane horror story (Leah?) - I headed your warning and packed a change of clothes for myself (that would nevver have occurred to me otherwise). Sure enough, T's diaper overflowed all over my lap - thank GOODNESS I had an extra pair of pants to change into!!! I still have the longer flight to go - I think I'm going to make Kyle hold him. He's so active, it's hard to keep him entertained on the flight, and he hated the food. He's living on pretzels, cheerios, and formula right now. I can't find a banana in the Seoul airport to save my life.

Gotta run. He's getting unhappy. Think sleepy thoughts for us!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Almost packed

We're getting ready to leave last tonight. We're packing, making one last trip to FoodLand, and planning on an outing at the pool for one last giggle session before we have to check out of the hotel at 4pm.

Contrary to what this photo might suggest, T is becoming more and more agitated and difficult to keep happy. We think he's finally starting to realize he's not returning to his foster family. It might have taken longer to sink in because his family was so large he was used to going to many different people all the time. But now, he's been with us for 3 days and he's starting to wonder where everyone else is. Why is he stuck with us? He's crying more and we can't calm him as easily with food, a bottle, or toys. He doesn't like being in one place (especially the hotel room) for more than 45 minutes at the most. We are pretty nervous about the plane trip.

We're a little unsure about how to handle his crying. If he's missing his family, he may just need to cry for awhile. But if he's simply sick of being stuck here with no routine, we want to keep changing the scenery to keep him calm. I cannot wait to be back home.

Right now he's napping and alternating between crying and snoring. He must be missing home.

Wish us luck on the flight!


Biding our time

We had a successful trip to the embassy today. We leave in the next hour to pick up T's visa. We will be able to leave Thailand as scheduled.

We were amused by one of the signs on the skywalk near the embassy. It's amazing how many ways you could accidentally kill yourself in this city. Dangers no one would ever chance in the states are everyday hazards here. Still, everyone survives....mostly.
  • This photo was taken on "Wireless Road", no kidding.

It's kind of like the highways. Sure they're dangerous, but they somehow work. We're over being stressed about the traffic. It's interesting because while the traffic is crazy here, there is little stress about it. Very little road rage. It's amazing the difference it makes. Traffic here is like a chaotic symphony.

We're now left with time to kill, which we're finding very difficult in a hotel room. T has a tolerance for about 45 minutes in the room before melting down. We walk him around the hallway for five minutes and coax him back in with some toys, and he's fine again. I can't say that I blame him...even with the toys we brought, the room just isn't very interesting.

But we found some pretzel sticks at the store he seems to enjoy.
So, now we look for ways to kill some more time. We walk wherever we can because he likes it, and it takes more time. It's also a good way to get him napping (even in the heat and noise of Bangkok streets). We plan on going swimming a few more times. We went last night, and it was a hit, except for changing the always. He was giggling the whole time.

Tonight we dine with Robin's friend Fone. We've been trying to meet up with her since we got here and it hasn't worked out until today.

We don't depart until late fact, it's after midnight Friday night, which would actually mean we're technically leaving on Saturday. We have to check out by 4:00, so we'll have plenty of time at the airport...let's hope he REALLY enjoys watching planes.

We expect a tough flight home...T really doesn't like staying in one place for too long. For sure, we'll be wearing out the carpet in the plane's aisles. Our only hope is that we exhaust him to the point of a full 24 hours of unconsciousness.

That's more like to happen to us, than to him.

By the way, T likes to point at cars. We've decided to teach him the word for "car" is "Honda".


Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Robin and T are taking a nap right I thought I'd take this break in the action to blog. Apologies to all of our readers. As many of you know, parenthood is a lot of work, so you can image the learning curve we've been thrown in the last 24 hours.

All is still pretty good.

We got custody of T Tuesday at 11:00, and we had the rest of the day to ourselves. Here you can see him saying goodbye to his social worker.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur...we spent it trying to keep T happy, fed, rested, and in a routine close to what he was used to. We got some good notes from the foster family, but keeping a routine in a hotel room is tough.

We packed up his stuff and decided the best strategy for getting through the first day away from home was to tucker him out. So, we spent some time at the shopping center.

T does great in these conditions...he's attracted to all the people and the things to see. He tends to get a little crabby when he's in one place for too long (another reason to get out of the hotel room...on our terms). He also did excellent on the sky train and the metro. He took a short nap in the ergo (did I mention that thing is awesome?!)

Naturally, T attracted a lot of attention, with some people coming up to him to make faces and give him a little pinch. We were pleased to see that in most cases, he would turn away and bury his face in our chest. Good means he knows we're the ones he can turn to.

As I mentioned, we attracted a lot of attention. We got plenty of stares, but few of them negative (most of them confused). One woman on the metro even struck up a conversation with us to learn more about the adoption. She thought it was great.

We took the metro to see fellow Wisconsinites Jim and Courtney at the train station. They were waiting for the train to Chiang Mai to meet their daughter, and it was our only chance to chat with them. We were there during one of the twice daily playing of the national anthem...very interesting...everything just stops and everyone stands up. T seemed to know what was going on and pointed right at a huge picture of the King.

We headed back to the hotel, but were far too exhausted to deal with taking T to a restaurant, so we went to the store and got some food for the room. This included hot dogs for T. After explaining to his foster family about how we love to cook Thai food, they told us his favorite food is hot dogs...great.

We were quite concerned about his first night in the hotel, but our strategy paid off...he was beat. He fell asleep with a bottle (which is also how we got him to take the nap he's taking right now). He slept all night. I woke up every hour or so, astounded that he was still sleeping...especially since we heard he asked for a bottle every night at midnight. That didn't happen for us.

We got up quite early because we had to be ready by 8:30 to go to the board meeting where we meet with the Thai officials. T ate a little breakfast...not much...we had to resort to some of the leftover hot dogs.

We were also concerned about his first bath. We had heard he didn't like these. For us, he LOVED it. I got in the tub and without prompting, he wanted in too. He was attracted by the splashing water and a bath toy Robin was smart in bringing along. He looked and smelled great afterwards. There was a lot o f fun splashing and T didn't want it to end.

We were picked up to be taken to the board meeting. Mo was waiting for us, but there wasn't much to brief us on. It's a pretty simple process. You go into a room where a board asks you questions. You answer them...all done.

That's pretty much how it went. The board was far from scary. It was five smiley women who asked us about how we came to adoption and about T's life when we get home. A few questions and signatures, and we were out of there. We were grateful to be 2nd on the list of families for today...there were 16 on the list. We were home before lunch.

Here we are with Mo after the meeting.Tomorrow is embassy day. Let's hope all goes well so we don't have to extend our stay.

T appears to be doing well. He's still a very happy and bubbly boy. He thinks it's especially funny to witness us in pain. (Is this a bad sign? =) ) He loves to pinch our faces and we had to learn to stop reacting, because he LOVES it. We're learning to react to things we WANT him to do instead. He's a total ham and does lots for a laugh. We think he'll be the class clown.

He hates having his diaper changed and it takes 2 of us to hold him down and do it, probably because diapers were only introduced to him just recently. He eats a LOT. It seems like the only time he cries is when he has a need to be fulfilled. It's hard to read his mind, but it doesn't seem like he's mourned the loss of his foster family. Perhaps this is still coming.

Also, T is an Ewok baby. He likes to babble under his breath...and it sounds exactly like an Ewok. It's not everything he says, it's just an occasional sound he makes.

T will be a handful at home. The hotel is tough to baby-proof...lots of low surfaces. We've taken to putting everything dangerous in the bathroom and closing the door. The drawers are a problem. He likes to pull on them and put everything in them on the floor. he can't walk, but he can "furniture walk". He pushes every button he can find, and can crawl FAST across a room.

"I'm going to dismantle this DVD player!"
Assuming all goes well at the embassy, don't be surprised if the blogging is a little sparse from here on out. We'll be busy packing once we know we're going. Hopefully we'll have some indication of what's in store by noon on Thursday.

We knew taking care of T would be a full time job, so we're still working out how to fit the parts of our former lives into our new life (knowing full well they won't all fit). Right now, T bursts into tears if we aren't both in the room with him at all times. We take group bathroom trips and we're happy we'll have 3 weeks at home before anyone has to head back to work.


Monday, June 9, 2008

A special family

Today was "mall" day, so Robin and I were hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. It was also the day we went to visit T's foster family, which I'll get to in a moment.

But first...the inevitable trip to the mall. We had heard many a horror story about this part of adoption week. You meet your child at the mall and get time to hang out there and catch lunch. From others' experience, we had very little optimism for a good outcome.

We met T at the 1st floor entrance, and the tears began...just as we had planned for. Those tears were short lived after Robin took hold...and he was a happy camper most of the rest of the day, not counting a few short bursts.

He was even calm enough for us to try out the Ergo...Robin and I loved was much easier than carrying him. The best part is that he didn't seem to mind it.

So, we got through the shopping part fine. We found that he likes to pick up merchandise and throw it around. It works fine for stuffed animals, but otherwise, we had to keep him from the shelves. We also fond he likes pushing buttons...or perhaps he just likes pushing.

Then it was time for lunch.

Here too, he exceeded our expectations. We fed him some noodle and pork soup ordered up by the social workers. He happily let us feed him some, although he didn't care for the pork, so he mostly ate broth and noodles. Unlike yesterday, we were prepared with wet napkins to keep the sticky at bay, and keep ourselves relatively clean. He also tried out a bib provided by fellow adoptive family Jim and Courtney. It worked great...really catches those rejected pieces of pork.
After lunch, we did a little more shopping before heading to the van back to the hotel. We took the opportunity while waiting to snap a photo of T and Kyle and Supattra, with her daddy, Jared.
We left the mall in time to give us a little better than an hour alone with T in our hotel room, which was something we were hoping for. T was nothing short of magical. Check out the video.

We managed to change a wet diaper and get him to try on the outfit he'll be wearing to the board meeting on Wednesday (as featured in the video). He giggled and laughed...pounded his toys together. He had a few minor when I left the room. What's remarkable about his meltdowns is how abruptly they begin and end. We saw this a couple times today where he would be at five alarm meltdown mode, and if you present him with the right toy or person, it's like flipping a light switch. He goes from bawling to grinning.

We expected him to nap, but it didn't happen. It seemed like he didn't want to go to sleep.

This continued when we returned to the van to visit his foster family. While in the city, he couldn't tear himself away from the window to look out to see the cars and people. He was talking up a storm, making all kinds of baby noises. It wasn't until we hit the freeway that, while sitting on Robin's lap, he abruptly threw himself across her lap and onto mine, and fell asleep on top of both of us.

T's foster family lives in rural Bang Sai, north of Bangkok. It took nearly two hours to get there (the first half hour was spent in traffic within a half mile of our hotel...crazy). The area is lush and beautiful. Their property is surrounded by rice fields and wats on the horizon. We could spot his home right away from the pictures we've received in the past. And we immediately picked out the foster mother.

We were invited right away into their home, where we sat down to talk about T. The foster mother's first question was how we planned to care for him...who would stay home, etc. We had a whole list of questions for her and her family...and got some great answers. It was an invaluable session. I managed to video tape nearly all of it, for T to watch in the future.

The meeting started with us, the foster mother, and Mo. It gradually expanded to include the entire extended family. T jumped from person to person, eating up as much of the attention he could get. We marveled because we had expected to see a different side of T, as so many families do at this point...he was the same happy T we knew, he just had more people to share it with.

T's foster father arrived, and didn't say very much. Mo (who was acting as a translator at this point) explained that he was told he could say whatever he wanted, but he was clearly a man of few words and cared very much for T. You can see him holding T in the picture.
The family was very hopeful that we return someday with T. They even relayed a story about another child they cared for who was adopted by a couple from Europe. They found out the couple came back to Thailand, but didn't stop in to visit. They were clearly disappointed by this. We made clear our intentions to return with T someday, and to keep in contact by sending pictures and updates. Hopefully the huge photo album we gave them, with tons of open slots is a good promise of our sincere intentions.

Before leaving, the family also indicated they would plan to foster another child in the future. What a lucky kid.

Before leaving, Robin asked if she could hug the foster mother. I wasn't sure, culturally, what the family would allow us to do, so I offered my thanks and goodbye with a I walked away, the foster father came up behind me and put his arm around me...coming from him, this was quite special. I returned the arm around the shoulder and thanked him once again.

Robin and I really lived the moment of this visit with the foster family. It was emotional for us to see this family hand over a child they very clearly love. They are a very special family. They have fostered many children before, but certainly this doesn't make the separation any easier.

I spent the ride home trying to reconcile feelings of guilt (for taking T from his foster family), sadness (for the family), wonder (for the family's ability to love to such a capacity), and joy (that T was lucky enough to be cared for by such a great family).

Robin and I also talked about how T is doing SO well in adjusting to us. We're just waiting for the shoe to drop. Like with anything in life, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Just as a child who is incapable of trusting anyone can be a problem, we can't help but think that a child who trusts anyone could also be a problem. We're not panicked, because it's clear he won't go to anyone for support...he didn't take to us immediately. But we're paying close attention.

The next big test will be tomorrow, when we get custody. It'll be his first night staying with us. We'll see if he still likes us at bedtime.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

We got smiles and giggles

After a morning full of patient waiting, we got to meet T today. It was difficult waiting in the room this morning to go downstairs to meet our son. I was very nervous, and Robin was very calm. Don't worry...I was cool as a cucumber when the big moment arrived.

We started by going to the lobby to meet Mo, from the agency, who is coordinating the whole week. She got us up to speed on how the week will go and I asked her what T's nickname is. We found out it's Ohm.

Once the other couple arrived, we were led to a meeting room where we first watched a video about the agency's work in Thailand, and then walked through the week's schedule. Then, Mo provided us with the most recent reports on the children from the social workers and the doctors. We marveled at what T is eating...we may not have to adjust our diet much. He's eating a great variety of food. A few other highlights included his daily schedule, sleeping habits, and some suggestions for us. We then waited with the other couple (Jared and Sarah) while Mo went through our children's documents. We received pictures of T's birth mom, which is a really special gift we are so glad that T will have. We had about 15 minutes of waiting before the children would arrive.

Sarah and Jared had the great idea for all of us to sit on the floor to put ourselves at eye level with the kids...and finally, we could hear them outside. T came in the room quietly, but it didn't last long. He's got a great set of lungs on him...he can REALLY cry. Our hearts broke, but we knew this is how he would react. The social worker tried to entertain him with some toys and the view of the sky train going by, but he wasn't having it. She showed him our picture in the album we had sent him, and pointed to us, hoping he would make the connection. I can't be certain what he was thinking, but I think he made the connection between us and the pictures. The only evidence I have is that the look on his face seemed to indicate that he got it...and during a few occasions today, we heard a "da da", which is what his foster family would have been calling me. I'm not getting excited...he could have been referring to any number of objects that start with "da".

Finally, when it seemed T was not going to stop crying with gentle play and misdirection, the social worker surprised Robin by abruptly shoving T into her arms. She held on tight to him and walked around the room. This didn't really improve his assessment of the situation. The good news is that while he was crying, he wasn't really rejecting fact, he was holding on tight. Robin could finally see, feel and smell him. His huge dark inky pools of eyes, his beautiful eyelashes soaked with tears, his smooth cool skin. She buried her nose in his wispy hair and kissed the top of his head as he cried. A few minutes later, Mo suggested we leave the room and walk around the hotel. This seemed to work. He calmed down. I pulled out some toys and we splashed some water in a fountain. He was content, and for awhile, very focused on some stacking cups. He proved to be excellent at knocking them over and placing the top cup on the stack. He also enjoyed throwing the top cup across the floor for me to fetch. Robin enjoyed this too.

We were suppose to have lunch with the social workers and the kids, but they decided that, based on the situation, it would be best for us to take the kids to lunch on our own. It seemed both kiddos would most likely start crying again if they could see the social workers.

So, we sat down at the hotel restaurant, ordered some sweet and sour veggies, and waited to see if T would melt down again.

As you can see from the pictures and video, he didn't:

(I've added videos from the rest of the trip below. I've had trouble with You Tube videos playing in my version of Firefox...if you run into trouble using Firefox, try using Internet Explorer.)

T took down a bottle and also ate some rice from our fingers...and some from his own. I found out that his teeth work great...he liked using them to chew on my finger. He seemed to enjoy my reaction. He didn't like the sweet and sour so much, but no matter, the rice and bottle seemed to satisfy him. The waitress played peek-a-boo with him and he really enjoyed that.

We were so happy to see that he still had his little bells on:

He also still has the holy string on his wrist and a chain around his neck. I didn't spot it, but Robin later told me the chain has a Buddha amulet on it. He was also wearing one of the shirts Robin had made for him.

Although we didn't use it today, Robin was pleased we have an Ergo...he was quite heavy and we couldn't put him down the entire day.

After lunch, the social worker rejoined us to visit our room. She talked to T while we showed him around the room. He enjoyed some of the toys, the view out the window, Robin's wallet, and seemed to enjoy getting attention from us. He really liked a board book with animals hiding behind flaps - he's determined to rip the flaps off just as soon as he can figure out how. Robin's very pleased that T hated the little squeaky squirrel toys we brought - he must be her son, as she hates squirrels too!

He had a few meltdowns...once when we were having diaper issues. His diaper needed changing at one point (Robin figures she's officially a mother since she's now been peed on) and later we needed a new diaper because the one we had were clearly too small and making him very uncomfortable. During that meltdown, out of the blue, he leaned out of Robin's arms reaching for mine for the first time. I walked him around the room bouncing all the while, and eventually he calmed down again. We kept telling him to go ahead and cry...he had good reason to. We also told him how brave he was and that we loved him very much.

We were having a lovely time on the bed...he was crawling around, shooting smiles and giggles all over the place...but we could tell he was getting tired. Sure enough, he finally started crying again, and this time, he cried himself to sleep as I carried him around the room. Mo helped me into the chair, where he got to take a nap on my chest for about a half hour.
Robin and I knew the next part would be tough...and it was. We had to take him back downstairs to go back to his foster family for the evening. He made it to the elevators before the crying started, and he was crying on and off through the process, until the moment came where I handed him to the social worker in the van...the screaming took on a whole new level, and the look on his face was so hard to watch. That's when Robin finally cried and I almost did. He looked like he was in such anguish.

The good news is, both Robin and I feel like we've made a connection with him.

After they left, we were feeling pretty good about the day. We hadn't actually eaten much of our lunch, so we headed out in search of spring rolls. We got four little plates of food and a beer from a Dim Sum restaurant and talked about the day.

Now, Robin is napping, and we're waiting for Jared and Sarah to return from their trip to see their daughter's foster family. We plan to go to dinner together tonight. We visit T's foster family tomorrow, after our trip to the mall in the morning.

It was a tough day, but Robin and I are very happy with how it went. T was very upset, but he has the right. We're grateful that in his time of mourning, he was able to come to our arms.

And, we already know he's capable of smiling for us.