slide show

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Can you see it????

For those of you that emailed me asking about the DNA testing we had done and Tess's results, here's a recent pic of Tess. (I had no idea her hair was getting so long until I looked at this picture! Amazing how I see things in print that I can't see with my eye. Maybe that's why I keep taking all these pictures!) Now that you know the results, see if you can see the evidence of her surprise ethnicity... it's a pretty good combination of Vietnamese and XXXX, hu? We're still floored by the results! If you have NO idea what I'm talking about, you may want to peruse my last post. Oh my good golly, I think she is just gorgeous! I know I can't really see her beauty through unbiased eyes, but I still think she's so stunning! "Exotic" is the word we get from most who see her.

Tess's most recent accomplishments? Well, she's eating more and more, and as a result, I'm less and less worried about her weight, even though my scale was off and she's still at 19+ lbs. I hope to have her off the Duocal (nutritional/weight supplement she's been on since we got her) in the fall sometime. Her speech is a whole 'nother concern. She hasn't a single word. She finally started making some sounds in the last couple months. Don't know if you remember how quiet she was, not even crying for the first several months we had her and barely making any noises till recently. We're proud to say she is finally speaking in "baby-ease" but no words yet. Eventually it will come and speech therapy will continue till she's on par. I guess I'm not too worried that she's not talking yet or doesn't even have a single word, but sometimes when I'm around others that comment on it, it's makes me a little uneasy in my shoes. I'd really LOVE to hear from any of you adoption mamas with little ones had some speech delays and know how it's going. Anyone???? She's also learning how to jump. It's just too cute as her feet get about 1/2 inch off the ground! She also walks up and down steps like a pro. All the physical therapy is paying off. Probably the biggest change in Tess in the last month has been with her connection to people. She's still "aloof" much of the time, but she's much more likely now to match our smile with a big cheesy grin that consumes her whole face! Ohhhhh, so good! If I only could have known this progress was eventually coming 10 months ago.

And Jujube? Well he's just cute as a bug! Although he speaks many words and puts 2 words together, he largely relies on sign. Watching him talk to the dog in baby sign is too cute! He just doesn't get why the dogs don't understand him! He's convinced that Tickle-me-Elmo and bath bubbles are Satin. No joking, that there is nothing more scary you can show him! I'm also trying to get him in the habit of wearing baseball hats, 'cause honestly it's just too darn cute, and he loves any sport that has some sort of bat or club and regularly practices swinging with any thing that could remotely resemble a bat. His sleeping habits have unfortunately taken a turn for the worse, and I'm just not sure what to do. He's now waking 1-2 times a night, and it seems to be getting worse. Getting him to sleep each night is getting progressively worse although nap times strangely are a breeze. Best way to describe it is to say he's absolutely scared to death of going to bed. We leave the light on now which helps some, and he still sleep an arm's length from us. But it's still just getting worse. This isn't my first rodeo, and I'm pretty confident about my skills in getting kiddos into good sleep habits. So I attribute much of Jujube's poor sleep patterns on being in an orphanage. Well, there are worse problems then a mama and her lack of sleep, and we'll keeping working through it.
Really am looking for your experiences with speech delays...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Nudey Pics, Wrestling, and Need Advice

It's about 105 degrees these days, so we spent Saturday outside playing in the water and Tess and Jujube underwent a right of passage... the slip-n-slide. They started with diapers, but ultimately the diapers came off, 'cause after all, what's cuter than naked babies running around in the water and sun?! The bigger kiddos played int he pool while T&J were fascinated with the sprinkler water squirting, trying to get a drink while keeping their balance. Livy, with the goggles, ultimately taught each baby to lay on his/her tummy while she pushed them down the slide. They had so much fun, both Livy and the babies!!! I spared you from the close-ups.

I showed my girlfriend the pics last night, and she was amazed that Tess has so little "junk in her trunk!" I think this is most typical of Asians and Tess's petite frame. And there are some pics where you can still spot her large birthmark across her butt. It's called a Mongolian Spot and pretty common in Asian populations. Looks like a big ol' bruise, and I've known mama's that carry a note in their diaper bag from their pediatrician that promise that they are NOT abusing their child. Jujube has one too, but it's smaller and less noticeable. They'll probably fade with time.

So how are the bigger kiddos doing with having the babies in the family? We get this question a lot! (It's always second after, "Are they twins?") We couldn't have hoped for more, and Papa and I often remark that this is one of the best things about our adoption, watching our older kiddos show different sides of their personality, like compassion, nurturing, giving, selflessness. Not that they didn't have these traits all along, but having T&J around has just brought it out to the surface. Sunny is still our linear first born who loves nothing more than to take charge and often encourages us to have date nights after the little ones are in bed... mostly so she has an excuse to exercise her authority. Livy, as she came out of the womb, is one of the most compassionate people I know. Through our adoption experience, she decided to start saving her money so that she can go in the summer time when she is in high school, and volunteer in orphanages in SE Asia or Africa. She wants to be a pediatric occupational therapist! She loves nothing more that to get on the floor with the babies and play, and dance, and coddle them when they are hurt. Often I have to remind her who is that mama! Surprisingly, Patch, who is 10 and a boy's boy, has shown the most change. He's become very selfless and motherly. He is so so proud of T&J and loves to carry them around and help me. Which came in handy at 6:00am this morning after a late night dinner party. Patch said, can I take Jujube and go play in his bed room? Lucky mama! Boo seems to have had the hardest transition. At 6 years old now, he's the only one that has never been around babies. He really wants to play with them, but doesn't really know how. At one moment he expects Jujube to play baseball in the back yard and in the next he's excitedly roaring in Jujube's face and can't understand why the baby is a little scared of him. It's getting better though.

And something now that I've now had wrestling around in my head for a week or so...
We actively pursue the Vietnamese community, restaurants, cultural events, grocery shopping. They are always curious about the babies and ask questions. And when we do this, we are still surprised that the Vietnamese community does not recognize Tess as Vietnamese. In fact the urge us that she is not Vietnamese, at least in part, reminding us that both the French and American occupied the area for a long while, and giving us other theories why Tess is not Vietnamese to them. In fact, we've always assumed that Tess was Cambodian in part. She has darker skin, a smaller frame, and huge dark eyes. But out of curiosity and a desire to help Tess know all she can about herself, we decided to have Tess genetically tested. It was pretty affordable and only a cheek swab. The results don't actually show where your from, but tell where in the world DNA like yours is found and at what probability. The results were nothing we had even even thought about much less guessed! It confirmed that Tess is most likely bi-racial, (Is that the proper term? Not sure what PC these days!) Very surprisingly, she doesn't have a drop of Cambodian blood in her! It most surely looks like her birth mother was Vietnamese. But some one else in her recent geneitc-past (father?) was a race that we never expected! We assume it was her birth father rather than a grandparent due to the very high probability of the test results, 98-70% of the first 11 of 20 genetic markers were all from this 1 specific race/culture/part of the world. Now, I must tell you that I've been wrestling with what is her private information, and what I can share. I feel comfortable sharing that she is bi-racial and even the specifics, but not so comfortable putting in print the details. With family that I've shared, no one has even come close to guessing what races she is a mixture of. Not even close. I've never even heard of another person with this mix. And now that I've started studying this new culture, things make more sense, Tess's dark gorgeous skin tone, her curls, her big eyes. If I teased you more than you think fair, drop me a note and I'll share specifics, but there's just something that stops me from writing it in a blog. But I'm sharing this with you adoption mamas wondering if any of you have considered or done genetic testing on your adopted child? Would you ever do it? We didn't even consider doing the test on Jujube. His physical attributes are so stereotypical Vietnamese/Asian, we had not doubt of his roots. But with Tess, and the Vietnamese community questioning her authenticity, we thought she'd want to know more about her identity. So needless to say, I have a whole 'nother culture I'm trying to learn about and don't really know where to start or what to do with this info. This is what my mind wrestles with these days. Any advice is appreciated.

We'll I'd better be off to my day... getting 8 people ready for church and out the door on time.

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