Friday, April 24, 2009

Co-sleeping no more

I think the person who is having the hardest time adjusting to T sleeping in his own bed is me. And that, I suppose, means that co-sleeping has served him well and he's ready to learn to sleep on his own.

I work 2nd shift. For the last week I've arrived home to find T dreaming away in his toddler bed, Kyle passed out in a sleeping bag on the floor beside him, and Punkin curled up at Kyle's feet. My whole little family, snuggled in a space with no room for me. So I kiss them lightly, trudge across the hall, and have an entire bed to myself. This should be a treat after 10 months of the 4 of us battling for real estate all night. Instead, it's just lonely.

I truly expected a
lot more resistance from T with this transition. He falls asleep with no fuss. Kyle has even left him alone the few times that he (Kyle) wakes up enough to move back to our room. T sometimes wakes to cry, but only once a night. Then one of us goes to lay next to his bed, and he settles back down fairly fast.
In the morning he cries for me, but is starting to learn to call "Down, Mama?" and be invited to pitter patter across the hall to join me for snuggles. Thank goodness I don't have to give those up yet! I know that parenting is one long, drawn-out letting go, but I didn't think it would start so soon! Where did our little baby go?

-Robin

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Transracial parenting

In an exercise with our social worker before we brought T home, we used colored beads to represent people of different races. We each filled a cup with beads to create a visual picture of the diversity of people we interact with on a regular basis. My cup absolutely stinks. I knew my world "wasn't very" diverse. Looking at my cup was a huge wake-up for me that my world is not diverse at all.

My embarrassingly pathetic cup:
  • White beads for my family
  • White beads for my co-workers
  • White beads for my friends (at least the ones who live close enough to hang out with)
  • White beads for my doctor and dentist
  • White beads for our neighbors
  • White beads for the kids at library story time
  • White beads for most of the teachers in our schools
  • White beads for the people at the churches we visit as we try to find the right fit for us
  • A few beads of different colors for people we see while out running errands, but really, mostly white ones
  • A few green beads for adopted kids of friends of ours
  • A green bead for T
This makes me so sad for T. Our school district is 1.8% Asian, so he would be the token Asian kid in his grade.

I've been reading a lot of adoptee blogs and In Their Own Voices, a book of interviews with transracial adoptees. It makes complete sense to me that the adoptees that seem to have the best self esteem and sense of identity are the ones who grew up in diverse communities so they could learn what it means to be African American/Asian/Latino from peers and mentors when they reach adolescence and start wondering about their identity and how they fit in.

What I'm doing about it: not enough. T will have the benefit or burden of growing up with the opportunities (or lack thereof) that we provide for him. I'm hoping that stating that publically will help me hold myself accountable for more action, because Thai art on our walls, kids books about diversity on T's shelf, and international music playing on our stero is not a substitute for T knowing people who look like him.
I have tried to find a non-white doctor and dentist for myself and T. I haven't had success in my area yet. (Nearby friends - help me out if you know anyone.)
We connected with a wonderful Thai woman who said she can introduce us to some Thai families with kiddos. We can't wait!
We're seriously discussing moving to a more diverse city when T is older.
It's a responsibility that feels daunting but it's absolutely our responsibility. And if we can overcome our shyness (Kyle and I would not exactly rate at the top of the Outgoing scale) and make some connections with Thai families, the rewards for all of us would be great.

Here's an excellent Transracial Parenting Resource Manual from the Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents Association.

-Robin

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

sa-wa DEE Krab

T taking a shot at saying "hello" in Thai. Forgive the noise from the ice cream maker in the background.
video

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wisconsinite

T uttered his first full sentence today...and at the same time met the final requirement for Wisconsin citizenship.

He said, "I want cheese".

We're not even football fans.

Now he looks at this photo and says "cheese-head!"

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Extraordinary days

It's been an interesting day....a day that takes me back over all that's happened over the last year.

I spent part of the day looking through the book we published with all of our blogs and your comments from our trip to Thailand.  It's on our bookshelf, but I don't look at it often.  The trip wasn't all that long ago, but then, it seems like T has always been with us.

The blogs took me back to some magical days in an magical country.

The experience of going back reminds me of something I learned about in college in a course I took about remembering tragedy (just follow me for a moment...)

When extraordinary things happen in your life, time changes.  It moves differently.  It doesn't have to be a tragedy...it can be something positive.  It just has to be something extraordinary.  I believe this change in the motion of time helps preserve your memories and emotions.  Reading that book today prompted a return of all of those vivid feelings and images.

I didn't realize it at the time, but those extraordinary days made time move differently for me.

Since then, I've been busy being a father.  A large part of life is now a routine...masking the extraordinary events that made it all possible.  How do you keep the extraordinary part of the everyday?  By definition, you can't...you can only do your best to remember...as much and as often as you can.

On a lighter note, there was another connection between today and the events of last year.  Shortly before we departed for Thailand, our friends and family threw a party marking T's first birthday.  Of course, he wasn't here to enjoy it, but there was cake leftover...living in a freezer...until today.


It was remarkably tasty, considering how long it was in the freezer.


T liked it.

 
It's fun to remember extraordinary days...
...and there are more extraordinary days to come.
-Kyle

**Oops...I've been told that this blog would make it seem that T just celebrated a birthday.  Sorry for the confusion...it's next month :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Adoption on talk radio

NPR's Talk of the Nation discussed international adoption today. Listen here.

An official from Holt International was one of the guests.

Some of the highlights:

--I was grateful one of the guests made a point of distinguishing between philanthropy and wanting to create a family.

--One important point made was adoptive families should look for countries that have an established and ethical program.

--There was also great emphasis on how international adoption means you become an interracial family, meaning families have to be willing (or, in many cases, excited) to adopt a culture. With that, there was discussion of how much loss these children go through. It's something that's not talked a lot about outside of adoption circles, so I'm glad to hear it aired.

--There was inevitable discussion about domestic v. international adoption.

--They talked about the benefits of open adoption (or, in the case of international adoption, reunification). Yay!

In many ways, this show validated much of what we believe about international adoption. I'm just glad to hear a responsible and in-depth discussion about international adoption in a national forum.

-Kyle

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pictures of Thailand can make him sad

We have framed pics of T's mother and foster family were he sees them every day.  He can identify them, and acts excited to point to the people in the pictures.  We discuss his adoption with him often although at his age (2 in May), I don't think he really gets much of it at all.

What is sad is when we show him additional pictures (the ones he doesn't see every day) he can get visibly upset.  I was giving a talk about our trip to Thailand and I practiced the presentation at dinner one night for Kyle.  T was there and saw the power point slides, which included many pictures of his foster family's home / yard, and additional pictures of his foster family.  He started to get sad, and we told him it was OK if he missed them.  He also started to focus on Mo (our Thai social worker - one of the sweetest women on the planet!).  He kept saying "Mo cry!  Mo cry!".  Mo is, indeed, an emotional person.  We saw her with watery eyes more than once, so, although she isn't crying in the photographs, I am not totally surprised he remembers her sadness during the bittersweet time he spent with her.

The night after seeing these pictures, his sleeping was abnormally fitful.  He woke with really agitated crying more than once, and required me to hold him to fall back asleep.  (Abnormal for him.)  The next several days, he kept telling us "Mo cry," which made him really unhappy (bless his empathetic little heart).

I am not surprised at his reaction or behavior, just unsure of how to help him.  I wonder - does seeing pictures help him process his grief?  Does it do more harm than good at this point?  Should we try to show him pictures less often?  Or more often so it's not as much of a shock to him?  Would showing them more often be more traumatizing?  Would showing them less until he's a bit older and can understand be helpful?

Oh yes, and a Lifebook for T is half-completed.  My goal is to have it finished for his birthday.  That'll have a lot of pics of his foster family also.  Perhaps it will help to hear us tell his story while he see's the pictures?

Do any adoptive parents out there have a similar experience?  Thoughts?

-Robin