Monday, August 24, 2009

Thai picnic

We had a great time Sunday at the Thai-American Association annual picnic in Milwaukee. What a wonderful group of people...and they know how to do a picnic (including a (tangmo) watermelon eating contest)!

As you might expect, the food was fantastic. Everyone brought something and the grills were working all afternoon. The weather was perfect.

We made some great new friends, some of which we hope to see in between Thai-Am gatherings. If you're interested, the next one is a Thai night coming up at the end of September in New Berlin.

Who do we have to thank for making such an awesome connection to Thai culture?
Meet Phen. Robin and I took an awesome cooking class with her, and she got us included in the group. (You see her and T get along just fine). They're very welcoming to adoptive families. We even recruited two other adoptive families come with us to Sunday's picnic.

Robin and I discussed on the way home how lucky we are to have found this group. Thai culture is hard to find in Southern Wisconsin, but when you find it, it's just as wonderful as what you find in Thailand.

Someone at the picnic was startled that we drove over an hour to be there.

We would have driven much further, if we had to.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The final step

I'm sure many of you thought that there was nothing left to do for T's adoption. As of today, there isn't.

We traveled to Chicago today to visit the Thai consulate. We were needed there to finalize the adoption with the Thai government. We weren't sure what this meant, but we'd heard from others that it's very quick and very easy.

Consulate officials had requested scanned copies of our passports and a few other docs before we arrived, and amazingly, they didn't need a single document from us once we were there.  They looked us over in comparison to our passport photos, and then six signatures (3 from each of us) and a few photocopies later, we were free to go.  Although T practiced his "sawasdee krab" to infinity over the last few days and all the way to Chicago, once we were in the building he was predictably too shy to say it.

We felt lucky that we live close enough to make this a relatively easy day trip.  Some families have to travel across multiple states for this visit.

It was nice to visit the consulate and see all of the reminders of Thailand.  We can't wait to return.  For me, it also was a reminder of the culture T is now no longer a part of.  We're doing our best to bring Thai culture into his life, but there's no substitute for living there.

There was no sense in wasting the drive to Chicago, so we took a little extra time to eat a yummy Thai meal, find a quick geocache, and visit a nearby park where T terrorized the pigeons with another little boy.

We would like to return to Chicago to do more some day soon.  As simple as the consulate visit was, adding in T's nap schedule, there was little time to do much else before we hit the Big Crash.  Next time...more activities, and visits with friends (That means you, Hannah and co.!).

Now, on with number 2!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Attachment Dance

Two steps forward, one step back.

Our current attachment struggles are our fault as parents - we went on vacation as a family for a week. I feel bad about T's struggle with "reentry" to the real world, but I'm not sure I would have ultimately done anything differently.

Before camp: T was continuing to seem more and more comfortable with his world. He would play in a separate room for short time periods. He didn't seek out being held in the carrier as often. He was comfortably sleeping alone in his bed through the night. (The sleeping was the result of Kyle's diligent work with him over about 4 months of inching his sleeping bag further from T's bed at night.)

Family camp: Approximately 20 families /~95 people who ate meals together and did some organized activities together, with a healthy amount of free time to play however we liked. We shared a cabin with friends of the family. There was beach, water, singing, canoeing, ice cream sundaes eaten far passed bed time, nature hikes, and frog catching. Most of all, there were PEOPLE. Also at camp were my parents, grandma, and my sister and her husband. Between extended family and the other kiddos and great families, T had a non-stop Entourage. T is a very social guy so he ate it all up. A few slightly older kids took a shine to him and spent a lot of time playing with him. One little girl told him, "It's just like I'm your big sister." I was worried the whole camp experience could be really hard on him, but he seemed to thrive. He was a little more anxious than usual - he wanted to sit on my lap for some meals, and he wanted one of us to sleep with him at night. I had expected that and he seemed comforted by the extra snuggles at night. But he also enjoyed his little preschool class (without us present!). He was happy happy happy each day to explore his new world. He cried hard when we told him we were coming home.

After camp: He's back to riding in the Ergo for most of the day. He won't even walk into his play room alone to fetch a book or toy. Bed time is mostly normal (with a few pleas to sleep with mom and dad) but he wakes up around midnight and screams frantically to come to our room across the hall and cannot be calmed. Last night I ended up sleeping on the floor in his room. We really don't want to slip all the way back to him in our bed - it's not that we mind (he's so snuggly!) - it was *such* a long process to get him in his own room. Me sleeping on the floor last night seemed to satisfy him.

None of this was really unexpected. T has been home for 14 months - longer than he lived in Thailand. But a big change in routine would probably affect any kid - it just has the potential to affect kids with a background like T's more. I think the good he got out of camp will ultimately outweigh our current struggles. While this week is hard, he's still generally happy and freely doling out the kisses and hugs and "I love you Mama!"s. I get the feeling that where we are is a temporary adjustment. He's still asking to go back to "Moon Beach Kid's Camp!!" daily. I'm glad we were able to go together as a family for a week and show him that we will always come back home together.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thai Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all Thai Moms.

T's first mom is often on my mind, and especially so today. I think she's on T's mind as well. Today while he was hugging and kissing a teddy bear, I asked him what the bear's name was. He told me his Thai mom's name.

When we talked about Thai Mother's Day, T asked if she was going to come over for a visit. I wish this could be true for him. We're off to the garden now to pick a vase of flowers for her.


Thailand, forgive us

I try to show T pictures from Thailand often and do my best to discuss what life is like there. He saw this picture and was so proud that he knew who the person was - a "CHIPMUNK!"

Oops. Close, buddy. So close.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Open, domestic adoption

We got great value out of the classes we took ahead of T's adoption.  We learned a lot.

One of the things we learned a lot about is open, domestic adoption.

On This American Life this week, they focused on the complex human experience of (mis)judging others.  One of the people they talked to was a birth mother going through the process of choosing a family for her child.

As the producer of the piece says, the women was having to judge parents on very little information, while at the same time having to deal with a great volume of information from the families as a whole.

We're often told not to pre-judge people, but birth mothers in open, domestic adoption are often in a position where they have to judge on little information...the parents of her own child, no less.

It's an interesting segment.  You can listen to the full episode here.  The segment starts at the 28:50 mark and lasts six minutes.

Give it a listen.