Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Most awesome news: I found a foster for the puppy!!!!!!!

As I was leaving work a colleague called... she had read this very blog here. She offered to foster the pup!

So... the update is: pup is getting neutered tomorrow. I'm picking him up on Thursday and bringing him to the foster home!


Elizabeth, you rock! (BTW, I already knew she rocked and had great friend potential...)

Ok, to show Elizabeth how much she rocks, everyone leave a comment for her, ok? The most comments I ever got on this blog is around 13. Can we beat that record for Elizabeth stepping up to the plate and not letting me or the puppy down? Yes we can! I want Elizabeth to know that people all over the world think she is awesome!

Oh and we need a name..... thoughts?

ETA: American Idol predictions. Going home this week:
Anoop-Dawg or Megan Joy CROAKEY (yuk yuk)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Not looking good for the puppy :-(

I'm vey sad.

I cannot find anyone to foster the puppy for 2 weeks. I have found a rescue that would take him when they have room, which is usually about 2 weeks.

I cannot foster the puppy for 2 weeks, because my parents are arriving next week to work on the nursery, and I already have 3 dogs, etc. It's just too much. I have fostered before and having 4 dogs in the house is a lot. It's a real handful. Especially if one of them is not house broken/leash trained/jumps all over the furniture/destroys the house, etc.

The shelter told me again that they cannot "hold" the puppy for two weeks. I know what that means.

But then I wonder why God/fate/the universe had me drive by at that specific moment? I thought it meant something. I thought I was supposed to save this dog.

PS No picture today, it would be too dark.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Addis Redux

(10 points to the first person to get the literary allusion in the title)

Mom called!

Baby girl is crawling already!

OK, time needs to sloooow down in Addis, and SPEED up over here!

Does anyone think this is amazing? I mean, she is 6 months old and already she is crawling, sitting up (falling over and not able to sit back up,but still, able to sit up on her own for a little while), grasping toys in her fists and not letting them drop, having extended eye contact, laughing, and smiling.

My nephew is the same age and I don't think he is anywhere near crawling yet.

Also, Baby Girl is in the 95% on the U.S. growth charts for her age!

I got her actual birth date. Could there have been a mistake somewhere along the line? Or is my daughter some kind of freakishly advanced wonder child Olympic medalist in the making?

Momma's, what thinkist thou?

Other details include that she is a very happy baby. Yay!
Mom will go back to the care center one last time tomorrow and then return to the States. With my VIDEO. *big grin*

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dog Day Afternoon

(5 points for first person to tell me who starred in the title movie)

What a day, what a day.

1) End of week, exhausted.

2) On my way to a meeting, but luckily was taking lunch on the way and was 45 minutes early.

3) Saw chow-chow puppy running on the side of the highway

4) Pulled over.

5) In the driving rain. It was raining so hard the car roof sounded like pennies were dropping on it.

6) Used lunch meat to lure dog close. Spent 45 minutes in the rain trying to catch willy (yet friendly) pup.

7) Could NOT catch pup. Resigned myself to having tried and had to get to meeting. Called Animal Control. They said "We'll send someone AFTER THE WEATHER CLEARS." Umm.... my tax dollars are for rainy days too, mister.

8) Put key in ignition.

9) Car wouldn't start.

10) Tried about 10 times.

11) Still wouldn't start.

12) Called colleague who saved me with jumper cables and happened to know a lot about cars.

13) Drive to meeting, look in rear view, puppy is running after my car. Stop, try to catch pup again. Nope, no deal, he can't trust me enough although I can see he wants to. He'll come up to 2 inches from my hand, but he won't let me any closer. At times, he oh-so-gently takes ham from my finger tips... so tenderly and shyly. If I could read his mind, it would probably be saying something along the lines of:" This woman SEEMS pretty nice... but it's been tough out here and I've been fooled before. I'm cold and lonely though... but I just can't chance it, she may be trying to trick me."

14) But at this point I'm already 5 minutes late, soaked to the core, and I have to go. Sight in rear view of puppy following the car is enough to slay me. I can't concentrate in meeting.

15) After the meeting, car-expert colleague tells me to get me to a Auto Zone and buy a new battery and not switch off my car between now and then.

16) On the way to Auto Zone, decide to take SLIGHT detour to see if puppy is still there. He isn't. Heart sinks. He must be terrified, wet, alone.

14) Make U-turn, look in rear view one last time. THERE HE IS!

15) Execute perfect 180 a la James Bond.

16) (Don't worry mom and dad, it's a pretty deserted area.)

17) Drive right up to him, call him, he comes right up. He is ready to be caught. He has surrendered. It's too wet, too cold, and he's too hungry. He's ready to trust me. I caught him EASILY. Animal Control pulls up right then. I debate taking him with me or sending him to the shelter.

18) In the end, I let him go to the shelter. He has 3 days. 3 short days, and over the weekend no less, before he is euthanized.

19) So much for trusting me. I feel awful. I have duped him. He will not understand why. He will not understand the cold bars and cacophony of the animal shelter. He will smell the euthanize area, and he will know this is not a good place. This will be the last time he trusts a "nice lady" on the side of a road.

20) Soooo.....

21) Can anyone adopt or foster this puppy? Does anyone know of a Chow Rescue that has room?
He is in Western NC, and transport can most likely be arranged.

Disclaimer: the puppy picture above is from google images, though the puppy I caught looks very similar, complete with black tongue. I did not have my camera with me the day I caught him. I will soon post a real picture of him.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Springtime waiting... and American Idol

There's nothing new to report on the adoption front. My mom was concerned about Baby Girl's heat rash on her neck. I asked the agency to send a doctor. They did, right away. I was quite impressed with the speed with which they reacted. Baby Girl's on the mend.

My mother should be returning from the Ethiopian bush to Addis in the next couple of days and hopefully there will be more news then.

I'm walking the dogs after work, taking care of #6. Well, it's not quite hiking as I'm trying to find flat roads, but it's better than nothing.

Although I'm tired mentally after work usually, I'm finding I have about 30 minutes of additional energy lately. Either because it's spring and I alway feel renewed in spring, or because I've lost a little weight recently and it's easier to walk around all day without carrying the extra load.

How does spring affect you?

Now, is anyone watching American Idol this season? I can't help it, I love the show. It gives me a reason to stay awake on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I figured out the new "Judge's Save" rule and why they came up with that, by the way. At first I thought it was for the reason they said... to save someone who deserved a second chance. But the more I thought about it, I think I've got their number. It's all about the money, of course! They were upset Chris Daughtry was eliminated and went on to make MILLIONS. They couldn't partake of that because only the winner is under contract to record with their label. So it all makes sense now. So last week when they were deciding whether to "save" the blond screamer, they probably thought to themselves: "Would she make millions?" and the answer is, no, she would not make more than some of the others up there. They need to hold back their "save" in case Lil (who sound awful last night: yell, yell, yell!) gets unexpectedly eliminated, or Gokey. Or Adam. Now he is intriguing.

At this point, only Adam is original enough to get my vote. If I voted.
My prediction for tonight?

Goodbye Megan or Michael Sarver. Not sure which one.

Who do you think is gonzo? Who would you like to see win?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ok, that's it, I give up.

I was bringing in the flat of seeds I just planted today so they wouldn't freeze overnight, and I dropped the flat.

This is equivalent to baking a cake and frosting it, then dropping it on the way to the party.

I know it's not the hugest deal, people all over the world are sick, dying, and in this country losing jobs and not able to feed children. But boy did that irk me. Boy. Did. That. Irk. Me.

Chopping Broccol-ay....

Today I worked on the #2 item on My Waiting List, the garden.

Kind of.

Or should I say, my handyman worked on the garden while I supervised?

Here is a before shot of the terrace I've dedicated to this year's crop:

As one can see, I laid down old carpeting as a way of recycling and avoiding weeds. It worked like a charm but only in the 2 by 6 areas of carpeting. The rest was a bear of a job and I'm glad I didn't have to do it.

My handyman broke up the earth and took out as many grass and weed roots as he could, while not breaking my bank:

Third step was to collect compost from the 4 year old compost heap and work it into the clay. This compost heap has been collecting layer upon layer of organic trash for 4 years, and it never gets higher than a foot. It must be the densest material on earth. Seriously, it's probably denser than a black hole. Here is that luscious black gold spread all over the clay:

After that, he made rows for me:

...while I planted seeds of carrots, cantaloupe, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini:

These seeds will be transplanted after the danger of the last frost is over.

I then planted summer squash and broccoli into the rows outside. This year I am taking it easy on the numbers of plants I'm planting. I learned a big lesson my first year in this house. I was so excited to even have a garden, that I planted about 100 tomato plants from seed. I figured half of them wouldn't make it o the transplanting stage and half wouldn't make it to the ground. Well, 99% of them made it to huge plants!

I had so many tomatoes! I had tomato sandwiches, tomato soup, tomato sauce, tomato salsa, I gave my friends tomato plants, I made tomato gaspacho, I froze jars of tomato products, I made fresh tomato and mozzerella salads, tomato basil and onion bruschetta... you get the picture. So I've learned that a few plants of each veggie is enough for one person to manage, and still give me a few extra to trade with neighbors.
All of that labor cost $60.00. I'm much happier with that price than I was with the nursery painting job.

And, just to show my dad, here is a picture of the pansies he planted around my mailbox LAST YEAR, which have COME BACK and are acting like PERENNIALS!!! In fact, they have spread and are denser this year than last! So thanks again, Dad, for a gift that has lasted for 2 years!

It was great to spend some time outside. I even walked all three dogs for about 15 minutes and it wasn't unbearable. Now I'm off to take care of the #1 item on my Waiting List!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

You know Your Life Is Going To Change, Right?

When I've delivered the news that I'm adopting to friends and acquaintances, so far not one person has asked me the ridiculous question: "You know your life is going to change completely, right?" and for that I'm grateful.

Maybe this is something people only say to YOUNG parents? I'm wondering if I've been spared because it's obvious, at my ripe old age, being single and yet purposefully making this parent thing happen, that I KNOW that already, and actually I WANT my life to change!

However, I have had a few people tell me that now is the time to go and see all the movies I want to see. Because, apparently, it's all "Bolt" and "Horton Hears a Who" from here on out.

So I've been thinking along those lines.... If I pass court the first time, life as I know it will end in 3 months.

Here's a list of what I'm going to be focusing on for the next 3 months then:

1) Naps. There's nothing more decadent than a nap in the sunshine on a beautiful spring day. It's almost a sinful WASTE of an afternoon, which is why it's decadent. Since I'm planning on being sleep deprived for the next 5 years, I'm taking naps every weekend while I can.

2) Gardening. The itch has started! On a sunny day like today, with the flowering trees in bloom, I'm dying to get in the garden. Unfortunately, I'm still nursing my wounds from the surgery and so I've hired my handy man to come tomorrow and prepare the earth. I bought some lettuces and broccoli and seeds I can start indoors which won't need me to do any bending yet.

3) Movies (see above). Unfortunately, I checked what's playing and there doesn't seem to be much right now. We went from feast (right before Oscars) to famine (now... "The Last House on the Left", anybody? Ugh.) So I guess I'll catch up Netflix-like.

4) Cooking. I love cooking, but I've never really been one to spend a lot of time on a meal for one. There are some recipes out there I'd like to try, before I have a 20 pound appendage hanging on to my leg. I can always freeze whatever I don't eat.

5) Reading. I've always been a voracious reader, but lately? Lately my attention span is ROCKING! I usually give out ratings to books I especially like, the ones I can't seem to put down. It seems that is every single one since February. Usually that is not the case, I'm pretty picky. Maybe I've just been lucky. Maybe it's because of BookCrossing (remind me to tell you about BookCrossing later) and all the readers I'm in touch with giving me excellent recommendations... In any case, I plan on continuing to read as much as I possibly can in the next few months. So far this year alone, I've read 33 books and 17 of them I gave "stars".

6) Hiking. I have to wait a week or two more for this, but I'd like to give my dogs one last burst of attention and energy before they become second class citizens.... (and I'm really going to try and not let that happen, but I've seen what happens to my friends' dogs when they have kids...)

7) Adult friends. Id like to see them, have conversations, talk about... oh politics, art, whatever, adult type things. In 3 months it's going to be "gaa gaa goo goo" 24/7. I might become the poster child for the American Psychiatric Association.

It's a totally selfish list. There's no "I want to rescue as many dogs as I can" or "I want to help as many homeless people as I can" on there. But I figure... this is my last chance. For a long time. Soon, it will no longer be all about me, it will be all about her. So I'm getting ready.

What would YOU do if you had 3 months left before a permanent 20 pound attachment to your hip was about to arrive? Have I left anything off my list?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Holding the first mama in one's heart...

It's a see-saw of emotions, this adoption journey. One the one hand, there is the joy of seeing pictures of one's soon-to-be child, hugging one's mother. On the other hand, there is the sadness of knowing a biological mother is most likely in grievous pain. Knowing my joy is at the expense of another woman's pain, is... well, it's hard to fully allow myself the joy part.

Adoption would not exist without loss. And with loss there is grief. On everyone's side, but especially the biological mothers' and childs'.

When I try to explain this to my friends and acquaintances, they then try to "make it better" for me. One response was along the lines of "that's fate, that's how the world works". Another was along the lines of "maybe you will raise her to be the one who goes back to Ethiopia and really changes things." And that's all well and good. And I appreciate my friends trying to make things better. BUT. It doesn't erase the fact that there is a mother somewhere in Addis, who made the decision, for whatever reason she had, to give her daughter up and has to deal with those feelings now.

I wish I could meet this woman and make her some promises. I imagine the not knowing is very difficult.... Obviously, I cannot speak for the birth mothers. I cannot imagine their emotions or maintain more than a seconds worth of empathy... that kind of pain isn't imaginable or sustainable unless you are going through it yourself. Not knowing if your daughter was one of the 'lucky ones" who ended up in a care center rather than a orphanage, who ended up being adopted by a 'rich foreigner' and will have all of life's luxuries including food, clean water and an education. Or worrying that she ended up in one of the over crowded orphanages with substandard care, got an illness, didn't survive... As a first mom, she is handing over her child, presenting her to the Gods, the world, the fates, and saying (in a way) : "I trust, I hope, please take good care of her..." and not knowing if anyone is listening or going to act on that prayer.

If I was a biological mother, I think knowing that someone was caring for her as her own mother, loving her as a mother should, not abusing her, and putting her first in all aspects... that might ease my heart just a little. Not totally, but it would be better than thinking she was in a horrible situation and that I relinquished her to that horrible situation. I would be looking to blame myself for anything bad that happened to her. As an adoptive mom, I am not judgemnental of the first moms at all.... but as a first mom, I know I would be judgemental of myself. We are always harder on ourselves than others, aren't we?

So I wish I could meet her mother, and thank her in whatever inadequate way I could think of. I wish I could assure her that we would be sending pictures frequently, visiting as often as finances allowed, and sending home made cards and remembrances on mother's Day or whatever the Ethiopian equivalent is...

My agency doesn't allow contact with the birth family at all. Some agencies do, once, in a very formal meeting. But mine doesn't. Apparently it is not something that is encouraged by the U.S. or Ethiopian governments. That makes me really sad. Also, for my daughter. I think as she gets older she will want to know about her first mother, and I will not be able to tell her much of anything.

Another blogger has put it in a much more eloquent way. I recommend her piece.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oh no...Mrs. Haregewoin Teferra has died.

My mom is in the middle of reading "There is No Me Without You" the book written by Melissa Fay Greene about this amazing woman, Mrs. Haregewoin Teferra. She's reading it because I'm "making" her. Because it's such an amazing book, an eye-opening, life-changing book. About this woman, Mrs. Haregewoin Teferra.

Mrs. Teferra lost her own daughter to illness, and in her time of grieving started taking in Ethiopia's orphans. Soon her small one room tin metal house was overwhelmed by dozens of children, all needing her love and attention. Then there were 40 orphans. Then 50! The book is about Mrs. Teferra, the orphans, HIV/AIDS and Ethiopia. It was a splendid book which gave me goose bumps (especially it's last chapter).
I also admired how Ms. Greene did not sugar coat the situation and there were times in the book when Mr. Teferra came off as more human than saint.

The world has lost a very special person today.

She inspired in me day dreams of opening my own care center in Ethiopia. I had day dreams of meeting her during my trip there this summer. Perhaps one day, my dreams will come true... but sadly, not of meeting her in person.

You can click on the link to be taken to Melissa Fay Greene's website and announcement.

Update from Addis!

This morning as I was leaving the house I got a very strong psychic sense that my mom and daughter were together. Of course, knowing approximately the planned time of their meeting, one could argue that there was nothing "psychic" about my feeling. But it was strong anyway ;-)

My mom called me later this morning to report on their 2 hour meeting. Here are the details in no particular order:

1) Baby girl has lots of hair. The care workers put it in a teeny pony tail which is very cute.

2) Baby girl has little to no neck. She has a heat rash where her neck should be, mom asked the care workers to start putting powder on it.

3) Baby girl is cute and smiles a lot.

4) Baby girl weighs 17 lbs and is 25 centimeters long (exactly the same weight as my nephew who is American and born - possibly- the same day). She's smaller than her pictures look and wouldn't fit into the 9 month outfit my mom brought.

5) She can sit up on her own, but sometimes falls over and then tries to push herself back up but can't on her own yet.

6) She didn't cry at all and wasn't scared of my mom, although another little baby started shrieking when he saw my mom!

7) She's very calm and had no problem being handled by my mom or anyone else.

8) She's easy going.

9) She loved the toys my mom brought her and was able to play with them.

10) She played with my mom's top and took her glasses off.

11) All the care workers seemed attached to her and were invested in getting her to smile.

12) My mom was able to get video and pictures, although I'll have to wait 2 weeks to see them! Agh!

13) Baby girl just started on solid food. Something called 'Mother's -------' a porridge like substance (anyone know the name?)

14) I got a smidgen of information about her history, with promises to get more.

15) My mom said she felt a connection with Baby girl as soon as Baby girl was willing to be held by her and didn't cry ;-)

16) She looks exactly like her most recent pictures.

17) She's alert and curious.

18) No tears.

Yay! Doesn't she sound wonderful? I have a psychic feeling that we are going to be a great match for each other.

Adopting siblings

Here is an article my dad sent me this morning on adopting siblings. I don't think I could handle two kids, being a single mom, or at least not right out of the gate. Maybe later on, once my (soon to be) daughter has grown up a bit and I'm more used to the "mom" role.

Of course, there's nothing like a brood to make one hit the ground running, I suppose!

As the article points out, the benefits are many for the children. They have a built in support system that way. There are thousands of sibling groups waiting to be adopted, getting older and spending too much of their lives in orphanages. I think if I had a husband, I would definitely have wanted to adopt a group. I just am scared it would be too much, being single and working full time... how would I be able to spend enough quality time with each child? How would I afford day care for two? One is expensive enough! Do you all know daycare around here is $900.00 per month?!?!?!
So, for me, pre-requisites to adopting a sibling group would be either 1) a husband to help or 2) unlimited funding so I could quit my job.
Unfortunately, neither of those prospects seem to be on the horizon. One can always hope though, and continue to buy lotto tickets and computer dating. SIGH.

Would you ever consider adopting siblings?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Biggest, bestest, most exciting news YET!!!!!

I remember special ordering a sweatshirt for my mom years ago for Christmas, that had a picture of my dog Hannah on it. This was when I first adopted Hannah, in 2001. The shirt had a caption that said: "You mean to tell me I'm the proud grandmother of a.... dog??!!??" My mom loved that sweatshirt and wore it with pride until the picture faded.... Well, it's time to get a NEW sweatshirt people because......

My mom landed in Addis 2 hours ago!!!

Tomorrow, she will be going to the care center to meet my (soon to be) daughter, her (soon to be) first granddaughter of the human species!!!

She is bringing a video camera!!!

The reason my mom gets to do this is because, way before I even mentioned the word "adoption", she had accepted a job in Ethiopia. She is an "educational tour guide" and takes people to really neat places on tours for the Smithsonian Museum, where they hear lectures and visit ruins and so forth. She usually goes to Thailand, Egypt, Oxford and such. This is her first trip to Ethiopia.

Originally, we had discussed my going along with her, as the airfare on Ethiopian Airways was two-for one during the month of March. Unfortunately, because of my surgery, it worked out that I couldn't go. Both because I'm still healing (and in pain) and also because I can't take so much time off of work. My team already covered for me while I was out on sick leave, and they will be covering for me during my maternity leave also. I just couldn't ask them, nor do I have that much time accrued, to cover for me for yet another week.

But my mother getting to go is the next best thing.

I have sent her with a list of questions to ask about my daughter, as well as strict instructions not to be the "pushy American". I read somewhere that the Ethiopians are a quieter type inter personally and sometimes see Americans as loud and obnoxious (they wouldn't be the only culture to view us as such, frankly...). My mom (who for her job has learned to get things done and be assertive) is going to have to be the utmost of diplomatic and charming - traits she is also blessed to have.

She will be calling me tomorrow morning after having met her granddaughter for the first time! This will be my first information of what her little personality is like. I wonder.... is she a happy baby? A scared or anxious baby? From the pictures she looks alert and curious, yet almost zen-like in her expression. How accurate is my reading on her from just some pictures?

I can't wait for the video!!!!!

So mom will be all over Ethiopia for 2 weeks. She gets to spend time tomorrow at the care center, and then the next day takes her group of participants to various different locations and tribes. After about 14 days, she will return to Addis for 2 more days, and hopefully get to be with my daughter some more. She is bringing one suitcase for herself, and one suitcase full of donations for various orphanages. Thanks to all those who donated!

I' ll be posting as soon as I can on what her little personality is like..... tomorrow morning, tune in.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Instant attachment.....

I found this interesting article at the Rainbow Kids website, and it reminded me of my query weeks ago about whether one could truly attach to a picture, if that was reasonable and REAL, and whether I was deficient in some way for not attaching to a piece of paper. I still wonder whether PAPs who attach immediately to a photo are perhaps setting themselves up for disappointment or problems later on by attaching to a fantasy or an idea of what the child will be like, since a photo really can't tell you much about personality as it's just one moment in time. My feelings since that post have changed, as this adoption progresses forward, and I do feel more love for this child than at the point of writing that post. However, I still don't think I'll feel much like a mother until I have her with me, and even then it might take a few days ;-) . Certainly I'm more attached to the idea of a child than to a picture. Anyway, back to the article:

"Insta-Attachment and Other Adoption Myths

Why the dreams we hold on to while waiting for our child can sometimes prevent us from seeing our child's reality clearly.

I let out a long, deep sigh as I re-read the words in my inbox again and again. It’s not that it was the first time I had heard those very same words. It’s not that I judged the family who spoke them, knowing I would have written the same a few short years ago. But the pang I felt in the back of my heart and the lump in my throat was for the little girl they were describing. Despite the words of bliss, despite their descriptions of a perfect adjustment, my heart sank as I could envision her face before me. I knew what her eyes would look like if only I could see them. I knew what expression she would have on her face. I knew because I have seen it before. And now I know what it means.

I had received the glowing report in my inbox from a friend of a relative who had just come home with their beautiful new daughter only 7 weeks prior. “She is bonding with everyone! Family, friends, neighbors, people at church! She is just adjusting so quickly and bonding to everyone she meets!” This particular report was really quite similar to many I hear early on. She was doing “so well”, “adjusting great”, and was “better than they could have ever expected”. It is the report our families, friends, co-workers, and even agencies hope and expect to hear from us. Everyone is waiting for the “he/she is all we ever dreamed of” and “it is as if he/she has always been with us”. These are the words everyone waiting to bring a child home reads on the blogs of families who have gone before and prays they will be able to write.

Insta-Attachment. Psychologists and anthropologists have noted for decades that our society is especially vulnerable to the temptations of insta-everything. We are used to it, after all. Everything is fast, easy, convenient. We hate waiting in lines, despise slow drivers, and adore our internet as long as it comes in high speed. We think we are immune to that constant drive for speed and convenience in the adoption world because we wait so long through endless paperwork to bring our children home. We herald the “lesson we have learned in patience” as we agonize through the trials of the paper pregnancy. But that is where so many draw the line. Once our child is home, that is the end of the waiting, right? They are going to be placed in our arms and our waiting is over! Hurray!! The end of our trials and tribulations and now our joy can begin!

The problem is that for your child, they are not in the joyous epilogue of a long novel finally reaching the glorious conclusion as you think you are. They are still in the introduction of a brand new book, one that includes chapters they have never heard of called “Living with a Family”, “Welcome to a Mom and Dad that Look Nothing Like You!”, “A Few Strangers in Your Life Would Now Like to Kiss and Hold You Endlessly” and “So This is America??”. In the midst of all of this is the greatest myth of all. Insta-attachment.

Children do not bond in a week. People do not learn to trust in a day, a week, or even a month. A child who is living in a strange land with strange looking people who speak an even stranger language cannot possibly learn in a short period of time what it means to be loved by a family, what a mom and a dad even are there for, what it means to be a sister or brother, and that all of these strange people can be trusted to never leave them again, never harm them, and navigate them through the twists and turns of life. We want so much to believe in Insta-Attachment because, truthfully, it makes us feel better. The wait has already been so long for us, we sacrificed so much to get here, and the last thing we want to face is the possibility that our work is not done once we reach what we thought was the end of the road, the fulfillment of the goal. Sometimes we are willing to accept a few hours of grief, a few days of the child’s emotional walls, a few weeks of sleepless nights. But we certainly don’t want to face the chance that perhaps those few tears, a night terror or two, and the struggles with sibling relationships might last longer than a week or two. Or, even harder to face, is the possibility that even though our child seems to be doing well, their actions may be masking the true grief and trauma that so many adopted children hide deep in their hearts.

And this is where the temptation to ignore the unspoken signs of trauma and grief in our children steps in. We want so much to believe they are adjusting quickly that we interpret signs that actually are warning signs something is not right as signs that our child is doing really well. When our daughter reaches her hands out and lets anyone hold her, we beam with pride that she is so social. When our son falls apart on the floor because we asked him to do a simple task, we say he must be really opinionated. When our kids run around at an event, wandering in and out of strangers without concern for the location of a parent, we say they must really like parties. When our child plays alone on the floor for long periods of time without a need to be entertained, we are grateful we got one of the “easy kids”.

Attachment is not instant. Bonding takes time…a long time. And even if your child is pleasant and calm with you from day one, plays with you and hugs you, lets you hold her and seems to get along with everyone, it is simply a matter of common sense that what the child is experiencing in those early months is not and cannot possibly be attachment to you. Even if the child has the opposite reaction and cries every time you leave the room, it is still not defined as true attachment. When we were in China picking up our second daughter, she cried the first time I tried to hold her but by the next day she screamed if I was not in her sight. This was not because she somehow miraculously attached to me overnight (though that would have been nice to believe!). She simply had figured out a major change was about to happen in her life and that I somehow was the next person in line to provide her some tiny amount of security so she was going to latch on and not let go! This does not mean she suddenly loved me, trusted me, or even liked me for that matter. It was a matter of survival. Her instincts kicked in and she knew that her safety and future depended on clinging to me.

We are now weeks away from bringing home our 5th child, our 3rd adopted child. We have had the privilege of visiting him twice. Though by week’s end on both visits he was clinging to me and watching my every move, I am not fooled. My heart would love to believe this baby has decided I am his mother, thrown himself in my arms and shunned all others to choose me. But I have seen his eyes. I know what his eyes say that his actions sometimes belie. He does not trust me yet. He does not love me yet. How could he possibly? Though my heart wants to believe I can spend the months and years to bring a child home that will run into my arms and realize I am their family forever now, I am now a little more cognizant of the impossibility of that expectation on a child.

So how do you create attachment in a child if it is not instant? You build it, one brick at a time. Sometimes you even have to break down the faulty foundation that was created before you ever received your child, and then build a new foundation one brick at a time. If your child seems content, seems “okay”, seems social, seems to “fit right in”, look past the surface behaviors and do not let the survival instincts of children fool you into thinking their past has not affected them and that they are rubber balls who can be bounced around yet simply bounce right back. Do not just move on with your life as if your work is done. Stay with your child. Give some things up. Spend time playing, holding and talking to your child. Do not let your child push you away, manipulate you with shallow behaviors or place any other friend, relative or caregiver above you. You have the right as the parent to ask questions, challenge your child emotionally, and insist on being the first love of their life.

You are not a failure as a parent to admit your child home for even a year still does not show preference for you. Your child is not “less than” other adopted children because he does not appear as adjusted as other adopted children whose parents glowed, “This was a perfect adoption!” Do not believe in Insta-Attachment. It is a fairytale that ultimately prevents you from really seeking out the deepest part of your child’s heart and searching for true healing instead of proper behaviors. It is worth the search. It may take much longer than you had hoped for, your emails to family and friends may be lacking in the instant gratification. But the long, slow simmer of true attachment in the end is stronger, more deeply satisfying, and more healing. Do not look for the easy path. Look for the road less traveled. Be willing to take another journey of patience even after the paperwork is done and your child is home. Do not close the book. Begin a new one. It is worth the effort. It is worth the wait. Your child is waiting for someone who is willing to take the time and energy to write it for them. Insta-Attachment is one fairytale your child can do without.

Dawn Greer Choate and her husband are the parents of 5 children, including 2 daughters born in China and one son born in Guatemala. In 2005, the Choates launched Healing Hannah, a resource to educate parents on issues related to attachment and emotional healing in the adopted child. Dawn is an ordained minister, author, speaker, and a co-owner with her husband of a computer/software business. For more information, please visit www.healinghannah.com and www.fishersofwomen.com"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Attachment X dreams

I had my first dream about my (soon to be) daughter this morning right before awaking.

Now, I realize that no one wants to hear about another person's dreams. It's the ultimate conversation killer really: "You've got to hear about the STRANGEST dream I had last night!" I mean, no one cares to hear about this except the dreamer...

So I won't go into details and bore everyone, except to say that I got to hold my daughter "for the first time" and woke up almost immediately afterwards with a warm feeling.

I'm wondering.... other parents out there... any dreams before adoption? Before birth? Did they leave you feeling closer to your child?

Eat Pray Love

I have a book recommendation.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Here is the synopsis from Publisher's Weekly: "Plagued with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s, divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence. First, pleasure: savoring Italy's buffet of delights--the world's best pizza, free-flowing wine and dashing conversation partners--Gilbert consumes la dolce vita as spiritual succor. "I came to Italy pinched and thin," she writes, but soon fills out in waist and soul. Then, prayer and ascetic rigor: seeking communion with the divine at a sacred ashram in India, Gilbert emulates the ways of yogis in grueling hours of meditation, struggling to still her churning mind. Finally, a balancing act in Bali, where Gilbert tries for equipoise "betwixt and between" realms, studies with a merry medicine man and plunges into a charged love affair. Sustaining a chatty, conspiratorial tone, Gilbert fully engages readers in the year's cultural and emotional tapestry--conveying rapture with infectious brio, recalling anguish with touching candor--as she details her exotic tableau with history, anecdote and impression."

But that doesn't do it justice. The book is separated into 3 equal "acts", each "act" being 36 chapters long. This brings the total book to 108 chapters, a mystical number which the author explains along the way.

I loved all three acts. In the first act, she indulges in Italian food while living in Rome, healing from her divorce. She is so depressed and negative, and needs to feed her soul. She gains friends, peace, 20 pounds, and learns to speak Italian (just because it sounds beautiful and she needs SOMETHING of beauty in her life - what a great reason to learn a language!) She then moves on to India, where she spends months meditating on the meaning of life at an Ashram. This is a soul changing period. Finally, she ends up in Bali, where she falls in love.

What makes this book so special though, apart from the unique structure, is the journey the reader goes along with the author. She is so insightful, honest, funny, and TRUE. It's a testament to self-empowerment. Yes, she falls in love at the end. No, he is NOT her saviour like in some romance novel... she saved herself.

Some reviews on Amazon call the book "self-indulgent" as though that is a bad thing. This is a book about one person's spiritual journey. Of COURSE it's going to be self-indulgent in parts. There would be no story if not for the initial depression and pain, followed by the journey to self-discovery and contentment. Part of my (non-clinical) definition of depression is a whiny self-indulgence that precludes one from noticing others. I did find that throughout the book, as Ms. Gilbert gets better, she does pay attention to others' plights and even become a fundraiser for a poor family to the point of being able to buy them land and build a house for them, etc. So let's be fair! I think this could be a life changing book, if I let it "stick" with me and don't forget it so soon by jumping in to the next book.

I also loved her other book, a biography titled 'The Last American Man". I highly recommend both.

PS The picture is the author with her "yoda-like" Indonesian medicine man.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Moms I need your help and advice!

Ok, I broke down and started the registry process. You can go to Babies R' Us.com, enter my registry number 85292713 and please tell me if you see something egregiously missing! I don't want tons of STUFF! I want to do this as simply as possible... but if you see something that I have completely overlooked, please let me know.

As a little aside, I try to live by the "Simple Living" philosophy and often fail miserably... but what that means is I am trying to keep chaos to a minimum by not having a lot of extra STUFF cluttering my peaceful abode. I also try and make environmentally and financially sound choices. I'm thinking about doing the cloth diapers (such as at bumgenius.com) for example (but not for traveling of course!) I don't want to fill a landfill with toys and diapers over the next years. I also don't want a child who has so many toys she can't see the floor of her room.

Back on topic! I need advice on bottles and nipples as well. If my daughter is going to be 9 months when I pick her up, would I get a "medium" or a "fast" nipple? It's been suggested I get the Playtex bottles with liners for easy sterilization while traveling.... yes? Which bottle size the 8 oz. or the 4 oz.?

Also, does anyone know of a good co-sleeping system?

Also, just a heads up for anyone else doing the registry on Babies R' Us... if you pick any option other than "customize your own registry one item at a time", watch out! They will add all sorts of things on there you might not be interested in.. HIGH TICKET ITEMS such as cribs! As well as medium ticket items such as strollers and also decorative items which may not go with your style at all! I initially chose "natural mom" and found about 20 items I had no interest in had been added to my registry without my express consent. I'm so glad I checked! So then it took 2 hours to painstakingly remove each item one at a time (no mass removal possible). Just a warning....

For those of you who would like to support me in this adoption (I mean family here) please do not purchase anything except the low ticket items as I'm not sure about the big ones yet. I will let you know when the registry is final. And THANK YOU!!!!!!

This is overwhelming, but also exciting. I've been putting it off under the guise of "waiting for the court passing" but I realized I can't leave EVERY purchase until I pass court, because once I pass court, I'll be super busy getting ready to travel, getting immunizations, airline tickets, getting a visa, packing for myself plus a little one, getting donations organized, etc. So the shopping must start. Woe! Woe is me!

PS Moms! How do you know what size diapers to bring to Ethiopia???? Does size "6" mean 6 months???.... HELP!

PPSS Major huge thanks to my neighbors, Jason and Sally, for not only lending me Sally's old crib, but bringing it over tonight and installing it! Mad props to them! Also, in very exciting news, Sally is due in June with a daughter. Isn't that perfect? Playmates next door to each other. "It doesn't get much better than that", as my Tante Laurie would say....

Monday, March 9, 2009

COURT DATE!!!!!!!!!!!

I got my court date!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MAY 20th!!!!!!!!!!!

Start praying everybody, I'd like a first time pass!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New pictures!

My agency director just sent me a slew of new pictures of my (soon to be) daughter.... she has learned how to smile!!!!

OMG, I want to go over there RIGHT NOW and pick her up before we miss too many more developmental milestones. She looks perky and alert, chubby, and is sitting up in a stroller.

This waiting is starting to get to me. Up until now, I have have plenty of distractions (like surgery). But they are in the past now and I'm full steam ahead Project Bring Home Baby.

I will post the pictures once I pass court. IF I pass court. God willing.

Back to work AND daylight savings! Agh.

Tomorrow I go back to work, after 2 weeks off for surgery recuperation. It's been quite awhile and I'm so grateful I have an awesome team that took over my duties while I was gone, and reassured me I could take off as long as I needed to get better.

I find it ironic though, that on the day I have to get back in the work groove, we all set our clocks back! I never understood the logic of daylight savings. I have gotten in arguments with people about the reason for daylight savings, then went home to research it, and it seems there is no clear cut reason for it. First I heard it was so school kids wouldn't have to wait for the school bus in the dark (and I wondered... why not just make school start later rather than force an entire country to adjust their body clocks?) Then I heard it was for farmers, to extend the daylight hours for planting and sowing (again, why wouldn't the farmers just get up earlier, rather than make business men and the rest of us that weren't involved in farming get up earlier? ESPECIALLY now that farming is mostly mechanized.) Then someone told me it was to save electricity and for environmental reasons (that I could get behind).

Can you tell I'm not a morning person?

Personally, I wish they would just get rid of it. It seems backwards to me anyway: it makes the summer days longer and the winter days shorter. Why would we do that??? Wouldn't it make more sense, if we were to change clocks around at all, to even out the daylight hours in summer and winter?

So, tomorrow morning I will be setting my alarm for what feels like 6 AM, rubbing my bleary eyes while slamming coffee, and getting back into the routine. I can't say I'm looking forward to it much (if I could retire today, I would! There's so much interesting stuff to do in life rather than working 40 hours a week!) but I do miss my co-workers so it will be nice to see them again.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ten things you absolutely need to know about my dogs

This is a gratuitous post so I can show off more pictures of my beautiful dogs.

1) If I were blind I could still tell who is drinking out of the toilet because they all have different rhythms of lapping.

Beulah: lap.....lap......lap....

Hannah: lappity, lap, lappity, lap....

Boo: laplapswallow, laplapswallow....

2) Same for barking!

Beulah: A-woo-woo-woo-woo-wooooo!

Hanah: Rarf! Rarf! Rarf!

Boo: Doesn't bark.

3) Boo is the best side sleeper in the world. She is like a body pillow. She makes tighter and tighter circles until she can't get any closer, and then plops herself down on my side, slides down to the bed, and there is no space between us.

4) Boo is a "paw-er". She is very needy and paws at you for attention. It's highly annoying.

5) Hannah will rip to shreds any dog she sees outside the home, but allows fosters to stay inside the home without a problem. WTH?

6) I can tell which dog's poo is in the yard. I won't describe how though. You are spared.

7) Boo can escape from a yard that has both a real 6 foot fence AND an invisible fence. A double barriered high security type fortress. She can also escape from any type of crate known to man, including the kind used to hold lions. She will also paw her way out of a closed room, so she cannot be held in a bathroom or bedroom. Therefore, she gets the run of the house.

8) When I first got Boo, and for the year after that, she would put all 80 lbs of herself on top of the dining room table. My table is now ruined. One behaviorist and $500.00 later, she would still do it so I keep the shades drawn to minimize the temptation (she would get on the table to look out the window)

9) Hannah was the only non-Pitt, non-Rottweiler at the Newark animal shelter and was so terrified the day I adopted her that she would not eat a McDonald's hamburger I bought her on the way home. I think she thought it was "her time". Poor baby.

10) Beulah has been in the newspaper and all over the Internet. She is/was a pretty famous dog at one point, and all her post-Katrina care was payed for out of generous donations from her "fan base".

So there you go. 10 essential facts to clutter your brain a bit more on this beautiful Saturday!

PS, What is with all the circular orbs in my pictures? I have them all over the place, especially pictures in my house. Some of my friends say it's a spirit.... What do you think?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Evan Almighty

I have a movie recommendation, a funny family type film called "Evan Almighty". Now, I'm not the most religious of people, but I know a lot of my readers are, and I thought this film was great. I know it got panned by the critics, and the ending is a bit "much", but boy did I laugh hard (hurt the stitches!) throughout the movie. For those of you who ARE religious, or want to teach your kids about the stories in the bible, this movie could be a learning tool.

The brief synopsis is Steve Carrell, as Evan, is a new congressman and is approached by God on his first day of work and told to build an ark. God has a sense of humor and makes Evan grow a long beard that grows back too fast to shave, and makes him wear robes, etc. Evan finds it incredibly stressful to both try and hide his new mission (and growth and robes) while also trying to start his new job as congressman. In one particularly funny scene, Evan explains to his fellow congressman that the beard is for his wife's pleasure as she has a "Loggins and Messina crush going on!" I haven't heard or thought of Loggins and Messina since college when they were the favorite band of my roommate Bryan, at the time! The picture below is Loggins and Messina. I definitely see a resemblance! I bet that joke went over many people's heads, unfortunately.

Ahh... good memories....

Anyway, I also liked the various messages in the film: environmentalism, kindness to all creatures, lots of animal footage, and the last message was that ARK stands for Acts of Random Kindness - a bit forced - but still sweet. I would recommend this movie for kids, as well as adults. I love Steve Carrell and think he's a great actor and funny man. "40-Year-Old Virgin" was a comedic masterpiece, and "The Office" is my favorite T.V. show. This movie is not as good as either of those two, but it's sweet.

This is not the usual type of movie I would recommend, as I normally like the indie films, the quirky characters and dark humor. This was more slapstick in parts than what I normally go for. But I really liked it.

Chris Brown to counsel couples!

Now I've really heard it all.

"Chris Browns 'team' is apparently working on overdrive to salvage his sinking career.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Brown and his 'victim', Rihanna, are set to co-author a book about abuse and go on a talk show tour to speak directly to their fans and the general public.
Other things on the ”Project Mea Culpa” do do list includes Brown's telling of his increasingly abusive behavior toward Rihanna, and partnering with clinical experts in the field to add credibility to their couples counseling efforts.
A source close to the Beat Her Down camp said, ”Obviously this is a public relations campaign, but it only will work if there's genuine healing, contrition and a path to preventing future problems. … It's another example of trying to turn a bad situation into something good … where people can learn to change habits.”

Umm.... how is this any different from someone getting a DUI and then running addiction counseling groups?



What will they think of next!

Am I sure I want to raise a daughter in a world like this??? (yes, I still do, but really, come ON)



Thursday, March 5, 2009

Washing elephants in Thailand

For lack of any adoption news, I thought I'd blog on another love of mine, animals.

Last year in October, I was supremely lucky enough to go to Thailand on vacation for a few weeks. It was an amazing trip. I went with my parents, and my mom happens to be an Educational Travel Tour Guide who goes to Thailand frequently. So she knows all the good restaurants, hotels, shopping spots, massage areas, elephant sanctuaries, etc.

For two days while in country, I got to stay at an elephant sanctuary called Elephant Nature Park. While there I got to feed rescued elephants, and walk them down to the river and wash them. What an exhilarating feeling!

The Asian Elephant is in dire straights, abused horribly (I'll leave out the details, but the scene in Slumdog Millionaire with the eyeball? It happens to MOST of the ellies as part of the "breaking" process, along with extreme torture for days, many ellies not surviving the ordeal). The founder of ENP, Lek, is this tiny (physically) woman, but so huge in my esteem. She is teaching the Thai people (though they are resistant and have poisoned some of here favorite ellies to teach her a lesson about going against the Thai culture) about positive reinforcement. She is training the ellies to do what the locals need them to do, and giving them treats as rewards. Just like dogs, it works much better than punishment. Ellies are very smart. Here she is showing us how positive reinforcement works. Sigh. I love this woman, and wish there were more like her.

Here are some things NOT to do, when visiting Thailand. For example, I had no idea is was harmful to buy bananas and feed street ellies. I learned at the Nature Park that eating bananas all day causes diabetes and they really should be foraging and eating grasses all day. Also, do NOT ride the ellies! They have saddles that are not placed correctly and hurt their backs. They are made to ride tourists around for 18 hours per day. It hurts them. The mahout (trainer) is the only one who should be riding them, and he rides on the head or upper neck.

I got to sleep overnight in one of these huts.In the morning, I opened up the bamboo windows to see the sun rise over the mountains, and the ellies in the green valley trumpting their "Good Mornings" to each other! It was fantastic! I highly recommend you visit, and donate some of your hard labor or money.

So go to their website and donate! Help them teach the Thai people a new way of handling their beautiful elephants. The Thai seem to be such a gentle people, so friendly with tourists and worshipping Buddha on every corner.... but for some reason this kindness doesn't extend to elephants, who have been used as beasts of burden and warfare for centuries. Be careful WHICH "sanctuary" you go to. Any so-called "sanctuary" that has "shows" is not doing the best thing for the ellie.

And off topic, here is a picture of a boy who was begging on the river. My dad took this picture, I think it's heart breaking. He is in a little tin bowl, and paddling with a stick. We only had a few hundredths of a Baht to give him (less than a cent), but he was still happy with that.

Ooo... found a great blog!

I found a wonderful blog! Obviously, seeing as to how many followers this blog has, I'm late in the game. It's called Any Mommy Out There.

I loved this entry for the writing and honesty. Can't wait to read the rest. Also, this explains about the indiscriminate attachment that some adopted children go through when they first come home. I didn't understand at first, but it makes sense, after being cared for by multiple adults. Go here now: http://www.anymommyoutthere.com/2008/06/invisible-bonds.html

and this post too, her writing is transcendent... it takes you elsewhere....

And omg, this one is HYSTERICALLY funny. I hope my baby never eats poo, but if she does... I'll try not to panic. http://www.anymommyoutthere.com/2008/08/lets-play-new-game-poop-or-bread.html


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Celebrity baby wars! First round!

Ok, Mother to an Ethiopian Princess believes Halle Berry's daughter, Nahla, to be the most beautiful Hollywood baby.

I'm throwing down the gauntlet!

Zahara Jolie-Pitt, followed closely by Shiloh!

If you agree, or disagree, comment here, then link a picture of YOUR fist choice Hollywood-wise to the comments or on your own blog so we can see :-)
P.S. I cannot link to MTAEPrincess because her blog is private.

Great Parenting Examples

I just wanted to publicly acknowledge my mom and dad, and the great job they do as parents. Hopefully, having had such great parenting, I will now be able to turn around and be a good parent to my daughter as well.

What brings on a post like this? Well, 7 days of being nursed by mom and having supportive details taken care of by dad while recuperating! And I thought I could do this surgery thing alone...
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming....