slide show

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Computer

Boo is 14 years old now. We joke that he's a man of few words, like he doesn't talk a lot. He's easy going and doesn't like to cause a stir. 

He just recently completed building his own computer... mother board, graphics card, overclocked CPU, auxiliary CPU cooler and all. I know nothing of these things. Lots of flashy pretty sparkly lights and colors is all I know. Amazingly he didn't need much help but Papa was there to give it when he did. It was money I'd rather not spend, but we figured when your 14 year old shows not only an interest but also an aptitude in doing something, the least we could do was help him in that way. When his teacher calls you out of the blue to tell you she thinks he's doing wonderfully...  He's really a great kid. 

He assembled the whole thing with no assistance. He's wanted to be an engineer since 5th grade. Recently he's thinking computer engineer. We think he's got an amazing future no matter what he decides to do! 

And ya, we still call him Boo. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The reality of what adopting looks like

It feels like we can't catch a break in this adoption journey. We're hitting every hurdle and slowing down at every opportunity. ***If a step in the process normally takes 30-45 days we'd better plan on it taking 60+ for us.
What once looked like February travel to go pick up Ru, turned into March, turned into mid or late March, and is now looking like it'll more likely be early April. As I've said many times throughout this process, if we were talking about handbags or even puppies, accepting the delays in the process would be easier to accept. But we're talking about children. Children with special needs that need medical attention. Like Ru. And that makes it particularly hard to accept the seemingly ridiculous delays and lack of efficiency in the process. Don't even get me started on the money.

Case in point for those of you not immersed in all things adoption, did you know that almost the entire international adoption process is still on paper? No electronic filing of anything. No scans. All applications, affidavits, supplements, are printed on paper on a forest of paper, signed, and depending on the document often notarized, state certified, federally certified, and internationally authenticated, and delivered to their proper recipients. The US government relies on USPS to deliver the most important notifications. It's costly, a waste of our resources and time consuming. And not for purses or even puppies, but for children that have already waited too long, like Ru that has already waited nearly 7 years.

Currently we are in the part of the adoption process where we are trying to confirm Ru's U.S. visa know as the I-800 application. He needs it before we can go get him so he can come home. Even after getting "pre-authorization" from the USCIS back in October, which took a little over a month, this part of the process is currently taking about 2 additional weeks. On week 5 of the wait (***see mention above where every step in our journey takes 2-3 times longer than it takes most) the USCIS, (who is run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) was requesting that we provide additional documentation, in addition to the literal almost 1 pound of paperwork that I had already forwarded to the USCIS the month prior. The documentation the federal government was asking for was state legislation to prove that specific requirements for AZ adoption certification did not exist. (You analytical, left-brain types are already scratching your heads at that last statement, right?) Or any ol' official state documentation because evidently there was some ambiguity as to what they were looking for. Basically they wanted proof that something didn't exist... which makes it especially challenging to find something that 1-doesn't exist (Insert hair pulling here! I took logic as a college Freshman so I would know that one cannot prove the negative!) and 2-specifically define what it is they wanted. If this documentation cannot be found then they'd also accept a 3+ month state re-certification via court ruling, a process that doesn't even exist in the great state of AZ. If all of this is as clear as mud and you're only half following along at this point, you're not alone. Enter conference calls with 2 adoption agency directors, federal officials and Papa and me to figure this mess out. Meanwhile Ru waits.

I walked into my hair appointment with a good 1 1/2" of grey at my roots wearing sunglasses and asking for tissues... cell phone in hand on one of the many aforementioned conference calls. Note to self-crying on the phone with Federal officials is never a good idea. Susan has been doing my hair for 15 years now, through all the 4 adoptions. I figured she could see me at my worst. And she did. Maybe you need a visual at this point in the story. I'm in the stylist chair with the ever-flattering black cape, hair dye at my roots and black-painted eyebrow because I'm old enough that even my eye brown need to be dyed. I look like Gracho Marks minus the mustache. Susan is being as quiet as a mouse as she's doing me up and the cell phone is on speaker because I can't put the phone to my ear. Together we listen to officials and agency directors make their case, explain that one cannot prove the negative and the only alternative avenue doesn't exist.
Hair dye.
Gracho Marks.
Cell phone on speaker.
It was all quite the scene.
This is the reality of what adopting looks like in all it's literal and figurative ugliness.

In the end, 6 weeks into the normally 2 week process, yesterday we got word that USCIS is most likely going to approve our I-800 application next week, giving the official U.S. government's okie dokie that Ru can come home with us and will be a U.S. citizen as soon as he touches U.S. soil, which unceremoniously will be in LAX air port. The newest immigrant. Our son. I've had my share of melt down moments in this adoption so far, and I'm sure I'm not done with them yet. Adoption is beautiful, but it's born of loss and is full of hard stuff to which I'm far from being immune.
Thank you, God, for something that is trying to be like patience in my heart. Thank you for loving me so much that you've given me that strength.
Thank you, Susan, for making my hair purdey in the midst of the hard stuff.
Thank you, Diana, for walking us through the crazy.
Thank you, Tess, who looked me dead in the eye and said, But didn't we already get permission to bring him home? which confirmed the lunacy.
Thank you, Mary, for being my adoption buddy through it all.
Thank you, Melissa and Kate, for being my besties with shoulder's I can cry on at any moment.
Thanks to Bob our mail carrier and the FedEx guy that handle the ridiculously crazy amount of papers and haven't lost or damaged any of them.
Thank you to my photography peeps, that provide me with wonderful distractions when my reality gets too hard.
Thank you, Papa, for being my rock and craving our new son as much as I am.
And last and most importantly, Ru, my soon-to-be son, thank you. Thank you for waiting. I promise you my sweet brave boy, that were doing everything in our power to come get you as quickly as we can. I'd move mountains, jump from burning buildings or step in front of a moving car for you, son.
I'm your mama after all, and it's what us mama's do.
I cannot wait to show you all about it.

Friday, January 20, 2017

"I am a good boy"

translation: Hi Mama and Baba. I am a good boy. 

I cannot wait to hold his hand. Watch him sleep. Help him tie his shoes. Help him do anything. 
Show him, good good boy or not, he is ours. And we are his. 

First Snow

Well, truth be told it wasn't their first snow ever, but it was their first snow this year, so that kinda counts, right? 
And truth be told, I'm not sure we can count the light dusting of white stuff actual snow, but whatever. We told the kids it was snow,  and not only did they buy it, but they had a good time running around in their jammies and light weight in it. 
Thank you, again Little Cabin in the Woods, for providing our our happy place. Our place to see God in the ordinary. 
Well be back soon. 
Hopefully when there's real snow. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Not twins - part II

Mimi has something she wants to tell you! 
But let's start here. You see, we have a problem... well it's one of many problems 'cause keeping it real we've got lots of issues!

Papa and I are getting old(er), and we both have concluded that our baby rearing days are behind us. I loved loved loved having babies and being a mom to a baby, and chubby little thighs! I wondered for the majority of my 30's and into my early 40's if I'd ever get past that baby fever that I felt every time I saw a baby. But eventually, (Thank you, Lord!) I finally did get that feeling that we were done having babies, and the next babies would surly be grand babies only. (But not too soon, Sunny, okay? You hear me? NOT ANYTIME SOON!) Surprisingly though we didn't feel like we were done having children.

Enter older child adoption.
Maybe not surprisingly, older-child adoption is something Papa and I've always felt drawn to, but our family just hasn't been in a place to consider it till recently. Thanks to Tess and Jude, we'd done the not-twin thing already, and felt pretty confident that we had the skills to do it again, although virtual twinning wasn't something we were necessarily looking to do. When we started to really be intentional about what type of child would work in our family this time around, we already knew we wanted a boy, and after a lot of thought and prayer, we decided a child around Mimi's age up to a year younger would be what would work best for all of us.

And then Ru showed up...
and there was lots of research...
and discussions...
and prayer...
and we just could not get him out of our heads.
And then there comes a moment when you just know. You know he's the one, regardless of age, or gender or special need. You just know he's your son, and there's no looking back.

So Mimi wants to tell you that she's excited that just like Tess and Jude, she's gonna be a not-twin too! Ru & Mimi's birthdays are separated by only 18 days. Ru is 6 years old, but will turn 7 just before we travel to get him. Mimi's eager to tell everyone about her new brother, her very own not-twin is joining our family! We know that she doesn't really comprehend the challenges that come with having a not-twin, and we're doing our best to prepare her for those challenges. And really it's a privilege to get to do that for them both!

The paperwork is crawling along, and currently we're waiting on approval for our Ru's U.S. visa approval (I800) so when he comes home, he'll be a U.S. citizen as soon as he steps foot on American soil. We don't specifically know when we'll travel to get him, but right now it's looking like we'll leave mid-March. Which is only 2 months away! EEEEEEKKKKK!

Monday, January 9, 2017

"Not twins" - Part I

These are our not-twins.
Tess and Jude, birthdays separated by only 28 days. Born in the same hospital, transferred to the same orphanage on the same day, and often crib mates until we were untied with them a year later.

Adopting a child (or children) that is biologically unrelated and very close in age, to a sibling (closer than 9 months) has been coined artificial twinning. Sometimes this is done by adopting a child that is close in age to the child a family already has, and sometimes it's done by adopting 2 children that are close in age, at the same time. The controversy about whether or not artificial twinning (also known as virtual twins, pseudo twins, like-twins) is ongoing. Many countries and adoptions agencies don't even allow it, and many folks "in the know" discourage it. I totally understand why, and keeping it real I do not recommend that families adopt 2 children at the same time unless they are biologically related.

Every child needs the room to find themselves an their place in the family. That's hard to do for an adopted child to do, but add in another child that is the same age (and possibly gender) and it's even more challenging. And adopting a child that has been institutionalized just compounds the potential problems. Parents need time and resources to learn about their new child, help them adjust, and this is most easily done one at a time. Inevitable comparisons and all the pitfalls of it, are inherent with raising artificial twins. And attachment, the end all be all of adoption parenting, is more than twice as hard when trying to attach with and teach attachment from 2 children rather than just one. I get it. Really I do. Virtual twins are more than twice as hard a children that are nice and spaced out and each have their own place in the family rather than needed to share it with a sibling.

Now this is the part where I'm going to come off as a hypocrite, but you see, we didn't know any better. We purposefully adopted 2 not-biologically related children who were close in age, our not-twins. And not only did it work out okay for us, but it's kinda the best case scenario. Tess and Jude, 28 days apart, were adopted at the same time, long before we were educated about all the warnings and difficulties of raising artificial twins. There were and are so many hurdles to overcome to have two children the same age. But there are so many wonderful things about it too. Where Jude fell short in his physical development, Tess took the lead, and he was pushed to physically develop faster by trying to keep up with her. And where Tess fell behind, he was her role model. Tess and Jude have known each other longer than they've known us, and as they've grown, they've really developed into best friends even if they know know it. They much prefer each other's company, and I cannot image a day that they aren't together. Don't get me wrong. Adopting a child for the purpose of creating a playmate with your child is never a good idea. We just happened to get lucky that Tess and Jude are this close. Another coincidence is that even though Tess and Jude are not biologically related, they are and always have been very similar in size, (There has never been more than 2" and 2 lb difference between them.) and that often leads to the question Are they twins? Which we get asked very often. And our reply, Not, they're not twins. has now been uttered so many times that we now refer to Tess and Jude as our not-twins.

These days Tess and Jude are in the same school and the same 3rd-grade classroom. At school they are friends but don't necessarily hang out with each other. They are comfortable being in the same space but don't need to be together to feel secure. They have their own likes and their own friends. Contrastingly, at home, they are usually side-by-side, rushing through homework so that they can play together. Mimi is the third musketeer of their trio, but there is something about Tess and Jude's bond that goes beyond being siblings and special friends. This is due in part to good luck and in part to years of working on attachment and teaching each of our children that they are unique and special in their own way, yet a part of family unit that treasures their individuality... well at least that's what we're trying to do.

t.b.c. more about our not-twins tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

More shopping and a long walk

Unfortunately, we had to return home from our dream vacation. So we threw a collective temper tantrum that we couldn't stay in paradise forever and boarded the plane for home. Currently I'm knee deep laundry, menu planning and in shooing away the dust bunnies that prolifically breed while we are away. But in the evening after all the little ones have gone to bed, I'm reminiscing on our time in Mexico as I finish up editing the photos from our trip.

The following are from our stroll along the malec√≥n. Some of us may or may not have been playing Pokemon Go, but I'm not naming names. Some of us may or may not have done more shopping for more stuff we don't need invaluable treasures. 
Happy 2017, all!
And may it be filled with joy and abundant ordinary miracles!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Introducing Ru

We're starting off this new year with a brand new forever for this little one! 

We are over the moon excited to show off our new son, who is half way across the world in Guangzhou, China. 
Today our LOA is finally coming, (after 59 days, not that I was counting or anything!) and we will have the honor of signing the Chinese document that says, Yes, we absolutely positively accept this child, our son, claim him as ours, to be part of our forever and ever. 
If you're doing a double take thinking he looks a lot like Jude, you're not alone. That's just what we thought too! Right now he's going by the nickname Ru, which is part of his Chinese name. There're lots of name discussions going on in this house right now and nobody is without an opinion! 
More to come including lots of details, but for now, I couldn't wait one more minute to show him off!
We love you already, Ru, and can't wait to show you what forever family love looks like!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Somos turistas

We spent the day in town. We took a ponga (water taxi) across to the city and then enjoyed the day being tourists. For Christmas, their grandparent, gave each of the kids a little purse with $500 pesos, spending money to shop for whatever they wanted. And they had a great time doing searching for just the right souveneers.

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