Friday, March 20, 2009

Adoption, Defined ...

Not long ago my daughter bought a Webkinz (yet another in a long line). No sooner did she get home than she logged into the Webkinz website so she could "adopt" her glassy-eyed critter. Perhaps I'm hyper-sensitive, but it seems I hear the word 'adoption' thrown around quite a bit these days. I even heard someone I know mention his two "adopted" kids. Turns out he sends money to an organization that helps feed hungry children overseas. Hmmmm. That one made me stop and think.

What's that you say? You want to know what I think the word 'adoption' means? Alright, alright, I'll tell you. But first let me tell you what I think it's NOT:

*sprucing up a section of highway
*providing funding to help save a whale
*buying a pet
*sponsoring a child overseas
*creating a Build-a-Bear

These are all wonderful ways to open our hearts and our wallets (and in the case of pets, our homes). However, I have to say when I hear that someone has "adopted" a highway, or even a child in a sponsorship program, my hackles are raised, and I'm not even sure what a hackle is precisely. I guess this is because adopting a child, really adopting a child, is such an undertaking that anything else by the name of adoption pales in comparison. It is a huge commitment of our hearts, our time, and even our wallets to take a child into our homes and families, love them, nurture them, educate them, play and laugh with them, wring our hands over them, cry with them.
You must know of course, when I use the words commitment, and undertaking, they are not synonymous with "effort" or "difficulty". Just as a parent helping a child learn to ride a bike would find it a commitment rather than a time-sucking chore, so too adoptive parents jump through all the hoops set before us to complete the adoption process. It is work, but it is a labor of love.
Once we adopt a child, we bring them into the fold and make them our own. Any boundaries that would separate an adopted child from a child born into a family biologically are erased.
And I suppose that's the main difference. For most of the things we speak of adopting, we simply keep up an on-going sponsorship. But with a child, adoption refers to the paperwork process of making them all legal-like. After that it simply becomes raising a child.

I guess I'll probably remain overly sensitive. Knowing what my kids have been through to get to the point where they could join our family, it has become an emotionally charged word. But don't worry. If I hear you mention you're adopting a bog turtle, I'll do my best to behave myself. Down, hackles, down.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Eleven Friends

Our dinnertime grace starts out,
"For health and food,
For love and friends ...."

The other night, I heard Julie a little more clearly than usual. Her version was slightly different:
"For health and food,
Eleven friends ...."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It Was A Good Day

James had a wonderful birthday yesterday. His first in America, his first with his family. We took him to dinner at Bugaboo Creek. He loved the food and watching the various animals flop and move around up on the walls. He seemed surprised and embarassed when the wait staff all came over clapping and singing a goofy birthday song and attempted to get him to "kiss the moose" (he wouldn't have any part of it).

At home we opened presents and he loved each and every little thing. He really seemed floored when he opened his gift from Fred and me, which was a Zune. He had borrowed Patricka's a lot to listen to music, so he was thrilled to have his own.

After presents we had cake and ice cream, and it was just as I had dreamed. When it came time to make a wish and blow out his candles, he closed his eyes and folded his hands in prayer for a moment.

Happy Birthday, James. We love you. son.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Make a Wish .....

About this time one year ago I wrote the post below. At that time our adoption future was very uncertain. Our dossier was being prepared and we were hoping we would be given the greenlight to travel to Kazakhstan to begin the adoption proceedings, but we really had no sense of certainty about it. We prayed and hoped a lot. We lost a lot of sleep tossing and turning with the angst of it all. We just knew that no matter how slim the chances seemed, we had to at least do our part and keep trying.

Borya celebrated his 13th birthday yesterday (3/11)! I'm hoping and praying that his next birthday will be celebrated in his home, surrounded by his family all singing to him, with a sloppy, homemade cake and flickering candles on the table in front of him.

Now here I sit today, one year later, and my head is reeling with the reality that wishes come true. Today the little 8 year old boy I met so many years ago turned 14. As I write this, he sits in his school, with his new-found friends wishing him Happy Birthday and clapping him on the back. Tonight after dinner her will sit with a sloppy homemade cake and flickering candles on the table in front of him. He will sit and listen, grinning face glowing in the candlelight, as his sisters and brothers, his mother and father, sing Happy Birthday shouting and out of tune. He will open the gifts we've gotten for him, and I know he will appreciate the little things the kids picked out and bought for him with their money. He will celebrate his birthday this year in his home. With his family. I don't know what he will wish for when he blows out his birthday candles, but I know I'll be sending a prayer of thanks. Thanks for granting this wish.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shopping ad nauseum

3 beautiful dresses ............................check
3 prs tights ...................................2 down, 1 to go
3 pairs of pretty girly shoes ..................check
3 handsome black jackets........................check
3 pairs kakhi dress pants.......................check
3 all-grown-up ties..............................check
3 pairs dress socks .............................2 down, 1 to go
3 white button-down dress shirts.................2 down, 1 to go
3 belts..........................................2 down, 1 to go
3 pairs boys dress shoes.........................check

While shopping for the above:
playing hide-n-seek in the clothing racks........check
whining "are we done yet?" ......................check
trekking to bthrms at opposite end of stores.....check
complaining that something is itchy..............check
finding perfect thing but not in needed size.....check
grey hair rapidly outpacing natural color .......check
honing math skills by doing head counts .........check
honing math skills by calculating sales price....check
emptying wallet..........................................check
children dying of starvation and dehydration.....check
giving the starving-children-in-Africa speech....check

6 beautiful/handsome children ...................check

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tooth Fairy -- Friend or Foe?

Julie lost a baby tooth yesterday. Well, more accurately, she ripped it from her bleeding gums. We explained to her the concept of putting her tooth under her pillow when she went to bed, so the Tooth Fairy could come in the night and make the exchange. Her eyes widened as we talked and she finally blurted out, "Fairy, my room? Me sleeping? Noooooo!" Eventually we convinced her it would be OK and she was able to put the tooth in our little tooth box, put it under her pillow and drift off to sleep. When she woke, she found the tooth box still under her pillow and thought she'd been ripped off. But then she shook it and didn't hear any sound. Again with the eyes widening. She opened up the box to find a dollar in there in place of her tooth and that was all she wrote. Now she and the Tooth Fairy are best of friends. Perhaps I should pack away all the wrenches and pliers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Adoptive Mother of the Year Award

As you may have heard, our area got hit with a pretty big snow storm Sun night. The kids of course had the day off of school, and we had steps to shovel, so I figured out whose turn it was and sent them packin'. Fred came down a bit later and asked if he should call the social worker. I was clueless for a moment or two till it dawned on me. All three of my adopted kids were out shoveling snow while my bio kids were inside toasty and warm by the fire. It honestly just worked out that way based on chores and turns, but I have to admit, it didn't look too good.
Still, I don't think Fred will be reporting me. Then he'd have to take care of this crew all by himself ....
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