Sunday, December 28, 2008

Are You Still My Mommy?

This is what Prim asked me a few days ago. It was night time. The bedtime routines were done, teeth brushed, books read. I was tucking her in after saying our prayers and she asked me "Mommy, are you still my Mommy?". What a big question for such a little girl. I replied that yes, of course, I was her Mommy forever and ever. And then she said "Daddy my Daddy?". Yes, honey. Daddy will always be your Daddy.
This was a poignant moment for me and I realize that her question comes at an emotional time for our family. With H one week away from deploying to Iraq we are all reaffirming our position in the family and Prim is no exception. She can feel the change coming. The past few weeks have been busy and stressful. I admit as only a mother can, that I feel guilty for the amount of time I have had to leave her or ask her to play on her own. Her anxiety, as always, comes out at night. Bedtime becomes a battle ground, we go back to basics and start all over again. She tests, she pushes, she demands and yet some how in all of this she matures, she learns and our love for her grows stronger.
I am convinced my little girl is an old soul. She has wisdom beyond her years and the changes that we often take in stride leave her wandering and aimless. We know now to grab hold of her and keep her tight. That to get her over these hurdles we stand firm and do not let the circumstances of the beginning of her life sway our choices in raising her.
I know that this question will be the first of many to come and it makes me smile. My daughter is not one to take life lightly and I know that she will want to know it all. It is indicative of her spirit and I love that about her.
I hope one day, when she is an adult and begins a family of her own, that she has never doubted that I was a mother to her in every way. That there are moments when I feel suddenly jarred by the realization that she did not come from me.
These next six months will be difficult for her and G. She will wonder why Daddy isn't home yet and will ask every day where he is. G will be sad and when the weeks start to tick by I think it is then that he will finally understand the length of his absence. Someone told me once that every trial and challenge is an opportunity for growth. I hold that close to my heart and know that although this is difficult for us all, we will grow in faith and love. To my husband I say I am proud of you. We sacrifice together but in very different ways-all for the sake of a country we love. It may not be easy but what ever is? Like I always tell G, just because it's difficult doesn't mean it's not worth fighting for.
To all of my girlfriends whose husbands are deployed, may God bless you and keep you and may they come home safe. We are all still Mommies and Daddies are still Daddies, no matter where we are in the world...

Friday, December 05, 2008

How Do You Say Goodbye After Just Saying Hello?



Dearest Prim,
How do I explain to you that daddy is leaving soon? What do I say to help you understand that it won't be forever but at times it may seem like it. In just a few weeks daddy will leave for Iraq. After only saying our first hello seventeen months ago we will have to say goodbye. You've had so many goodbyes-too many for such a little girl. How will you handle another disruption....someone else who leaves your life unexpectedly. My heart aches for you and your brother. It took such a long time to finally give your heart to this man who replaced one that you had already loved as your own. Now he leaves and every morning when you ask me where daddy is-just like you always do-I will have to explain all over again that daddy is at work and won't be coming home for a while.
My precious babies I hope you will understand that our sacrifice allows daddy to serve our country. That we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves and that our strength will come from God and our love for each other. We love you so very much. We know that this will be difficult but we also know that God will not give us what we can't handle. One day I hope you see that distance can never separate love and that joy can be found in sadness. We are a family forever.

Romans 8:38-9 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRIM!!





prim's third birthday at Disneyland! A princess in the making!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I VOTED TODAY!!

Go McCain/Palin!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Interesting Article

If you click on this blog entries title you should find a link to a recent Newsweek article (http://www.newsweek.com/id/162326). A few things struck me and got me thinking. Now that our adoption is over, sometimes I don't even think about the process anymore until it comes up with friends or I read something that reminds me that we went through that very thing. It's funny how short term my memory is!
First off, I was disappointed how abbreviated the article was. There were no references to solutions the US gov't is coming up with to solve the bureaucratic and political craziness (are there any?). There was no comparison of international vs domestic adoptions and if there is a connection of prospective parents now turning to domestic adoption to avoid such red tape (i.e. China etc) and cost.
I couldn't believe that cost wasn't the number one reason for a decline in international adoptions. We can all agree that the economy hasn't been stellar in the past few years (no, I do not blame George Bush) and that our dollars need to stretch further than ever. Most of us are dumbstruck by the cost of raising a child, much less forking over in excess of $20,000 to adopt. Everyone I meet who has expressed an interest in our adoption story and makes the comment that "yes, we've thought about it" (who hasn't when they see the beautiful Brangelina crew?) quickly changes (after picking their jaw off the ground) the subject once they hear about the cost. Trust me, I don't bring it up, but it is asked often and I am honest. It's a huge decision emotionally and once money comes into play it only compounds the stress (both good and not-so-great) that can plague such a long and detailed process. To me it still seems absolutely crazy that there are loving homes all over the U.S. and the only thing that is standing in their way of adopting from anywhere in the world is money. Not everyone is called to adopt domestically. We weren't. We weren't opposed but our heart was overseas. Not everyone is called to adopt internationally. I appreciate the tax rebate that is given. Yes, it's a great help. AFTER THE FACT. I don't think it covers the cost of interest that you may pay on a loan (I could be wrong, the whole tax thing still confuses me) which can be up to 8-10% on an unsecured personal loan. Sure you could take out of retirement accounts but then you've lost possibly tens of thousands of dollars of future earnings. Now don't get me wrong. Everyone I know who has adopted has willingly done what they have to do to get it done. We wanted our babies and we wanted them yesterday. But should it be that hard? I don't think so. Why isn't Washington fighting to make international adoption more affordable? Is there a reason why it costs $25,000 to adopt from a third world country? How is a $10-$15,000 country fee justified for parents who adopt an infant who has only been in state care for a matter of months? Did it really cost their government that much money to take care of the child? Not that I've seen considering most come home with barely any clothing, toys or personal affects and donations for orphanages are not only appreciated but expected from adoptive parents. If these countries are making a profit do the caregivers get incentives or bonuses for the excellent care that they may provide for these children? I would hope so but I doubt it. Prim's foster family lived in shack. Literally. Why couldn't our $10,000 go to Holt Sahathai to hire more social workers or to pay the foster families more (for the record I have no idea how much the foster family was compensated but it will never be enough in my opinion).
International adoption should cost money but at the expense of children not getting into good homes quickly is not acceptable to me. I understand that the foreign gov't needs to cover expenses payed to care for the child but if that country is actually MAKING money off of children that is just wrong. Children are not for profit. They are not a commodity and they are definitely not a way for the upper echelon of local and federal government to get rich. From the corruption that we have seen in Vietnam to the charges against some Guatemalan officials it is evident that babies are big business.
Let's make adoption affordable for every family willing to bring a child into their home (oh my I sound like a Democrat *shutter*) both domestic and internationally. Somehow foreign countries that wish to participate in adopting their children to couples abroad NEED to be held accountable. Let's make adoption about the business of bringing families together, not making foreign countries money.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Much Needed Break






Last week we spent five days in San Diego attending the wedding of a very good friend and then catching up on family time. We visited the San Diego Zoo (my personal favorite) which was exciting because it was Prim's first zoo visit EVER!! She really liked and cried when we left the panda bears! Needless to say we left the Zoo with a few stuffed animals to remember our time there!!
We got a chance to visit the Stucky's, spend time on the beach and pet the Navy's dolphins. The kids were awesome! They endured waiting around for wedding pictures, at least three late nights (past 10pm) and funky nap times. They remained happy, excited and just plain wonderful. Thank goodness for wonderful travelers! It's one thing we never take for granted with the kids. G was always an amazing traveler. His first flight was at 7 months and since then has endured many moves and visits to more different countries than most adults. Prim, for all of her issues with change (who can blame her) is great at a hotel. It takes a day or so to adjust but she loves all of us sleeping in the same room. She actually cried when it was time to come home. Poor little thing. If she had it her way we'd all go to bed at the same time and sleep in the same room.
I've definitely realized that Prim is not a homebody. She very much prefers to be out of the house-even if it's only running errands. When we're in the car and she finds out we're on our way home she starts saying "no home!". She knows that it usually means nap time is soon to follow.

Thanks to everyone who has responded to my last post. What a blessing to hear your stories and words of encouragement.

PS-We stopped at the Thai Embassy in LA on the way down to register the adoption. Done. Finally.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Update




Hi everyone, it's been so long since I've blogged-I'm kinda addicted to Facebook these days...
So many people recently have been asking about our adoption and I wanted to take the time to update you all on what's been going on with us. Prim's adoption was finalized in June!!! Praise God that it's finally over-well-almost. Next week when we head to San Diego for a wedding we'll be stopping at the Thai Embassy in LA to register the adoption and then. we. are. done. Really. Finished. Three years and finally we'll be completely finished. She's ours forever and ever. Amen to that, right?
There's a reason why I blogged less frequently so here is my big confession. Parenting this little girl has not been easy and because of that I hesitated to blog because of a fear of discouraging others who have taken an interest in our story. I felt that I couldn't write it and fake it and I couldn't really say what I was feeling because let's be honest-who wants to hear it? First, let me confess that this idea alone is just terribly self centered of me. I placed too much importance on myself and my experience and should have given everyone who has supported our family throughout the past few years much more credit. I really and truly thought that my struggles with Prim would discourage someone from wanting to adopt-especially a toddler-and figured that just not talking about it at all was easier. So...here I go. An update on our life:
The past year has been one of the most difficult of my life in so many ways. My decision to become a mother was never one that I took lightly. From the time I was a little girl I felt like I didn't know much about life but what I DID know was that God created me to be a mother. It was instinctive. It was natural and it was motivated by something inherently primal. When Hung and I married we (and by that I mean me) decided after a year or so to give it the old college try and see what happens...one year turned into three and at that point I began to get those first twinges of fear that something was wrong. After tests, invasive procedures and finally fertility treatments we conceived G into our fourth year of marriage. I'm not one to barter with God but in all honesty I begged for the experience of pregnancy if just one time. It happened and for that I will forever be grateful. G was and continues to be a sensitive, caring and loving little boy.
When we decided to grow our family we were overseas and the options for fertility were not available to us. Adoption was our only option, an option in which I had longed for but H resisted. One day in October of 2005 H came to me and said "let's do it!" and never looked back. I couldn't have been more surprised but his conviction was a clear indication to me that we were ready for another child and allowed God to be in the driver's seat once more. We knew that there was a child in the world that we could parent and who was meant to be ours. We were already parents to a three/almost four year old and already had the basic tools-how hard could it be?
Fast forward to before traveling to get Prim and I can tell you that the anticipation was nothing like that of having a child biologically. I was nervous and excited and could only hope for a miracle when we met our little girl. I knew that the transition would be so very difficult for her but I couldn't have been prepared for the grief and anguish she has experienced over the past year.
Coming home for us was to be able to breathe again. Thailand was great but it was emotional and exhausting and we needed to be on sure footing again to be able to start concentrating on piecing our family together. H was impatient with Prim and her tantrums, G was frustrated that he had to share mom and dad with a one-girl-wrecking-machine and I was left feeling empty from lack of sleep. I felt like I was holding our family together by a very thin invisible thread. On the outside we looked so happy and Prim looked so content. Everyone commented on how happy she seemed and how beautiful she is and how she seemed to thrive on our attention and all I could do was smile because what I really wanted to do was hide beneath my covers and cry. All I could think was that I had failed my daughter. I took her away from the only family she knew and in doing so caused her so much pain and heartache. The nights were endless. She resisted sleeping and would scream for hours. She temper tantrummed without ceasing and hit, slapped and defied all of our rules. Sure, we were consistent. But what had worked for G was not working for her and we were at a standstill. We saw a family therapist often to make sure we were using all of the necessary tools to help her adjust and still it seemed to go on. I doubted myself as a mother, H doubted himself as a father and in the beginning G resented his sister just for being there.
As the months went by and many things became easier as she began to see where she fit into our family, yet other aspects of our relationship became more difficult. Everything finally came to a head in May after having gone on a trip to Arizona for my cousin's wedding. It was our fist time staying in a hotel since being in Bangkok and on top of that she met my parents and many other relatives for the first time. I will NEVER forget the look of fear on Prim's face when we were in my parent's hotel room. It was time to leave and go to our own room and Prim instinctively thought that we were going to leave her with my parents. It brought back all of the fear and anxiety she had experienced after separating from her foster family and she cried and cried until finally falling asleep in my arms. She had been home for eight months and these feelings of insecurity and fear still lay below the surface for her. By the time my parents went home in the beginning of May, her nights were as bad if not worse as they had been when she first came home. She began slapping me across the face when I sent her to time out and lashing out physically when she didn't get her way. I felt like we had taken ten steps backwards. Prim is a very strong willed little girl and these complicated emotional issues only added to a personality that is demanding on a good day.
After some much needed counsel from friends that share our faith and values and humble prayer we decided to take a discipline route that did not come naturally to me. After witnessing the tantrums and the night time rages it became clear to H and I that this little girl needed clearer boundaries than what we had been giving her. At every turn she began to test us. Where we going to leave her? Would we go away? But most importantly-Would we still love her after the storm passed? She pushed and pushed and pushed and our job was to discipline her in love and hold her even longer after. It has taken some time but immediately I noticed a subtle change. She seemed more peaceful. She smiled easier, she laughed harder. She still pushed, but there was no longer anger behind it. Now I see that she is almost three and acting like it.
Today I told H on our way home from lunch that she finally seems happy to me. She has a peace in her eyes that gives me such joy and contentment. She takes one look at me and says "I love you, Mommy!" and is enthusiastic about her whole world. Every morning she asks about Daddy and wants to know where her brother is. We are finally her entire world and I finally feel like we've earned it.
I look into the face of my daughter and I see resilience that I do not have. She left everything she knew; language, country, food and family. She fought and grieved for a loss that could not be explained to her and somehow, someway she has learned to overcome. She has allowed us to love her and in doing so has made us better people and better parents. My daughter has a fire in her that I can not take credit for and after one year I finally know that that is okay. One day, when she is old enough, I hope that she will understand that the beginning of her life did shape her but will not define her. I pray that she grows to be a woman after God's own heart and an example to those who have experienced heartache.
I know for H and myself that as more time passes and we reflect on this first year we will realize the blessing that came with the storm. We will begin to understand that holding her tight through these times was our gift to her when we very easily could have let her go. It would have been so easy to emotionally walk away but we stayed the course and for that I am grateful. This past year I feel like we have fought the fight for our daughters heart and our reward is so generously reflected in her eyes and smile.
What a gift she is, this beautiful Thai girl. Adopting may not be for everyone but it was for us. It doesn't matter how our children came to us, they are ours and we are theirs. We are a forever family.

This blog post is dedicated to all of our friends and family who have supported and prayed for us throughout the past year.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Update






Just a quick update-it's been forever! We are awaiting our final paperwork from Thaialnd so we can go to family court here and make the adoption final! We will very excited to have this process finished. The past month has been a whirlwind. My parents flew to AZ where we met up for my cousin's wedding. It was so good to see them and have them meet Prim for the first time. She also got to meet alot of extended family as well. My parents drove home with us and spent another week and a half with us. My kids had a blast with their grandparents. I'm including some pictures of our trip together!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Six Months in Love









I can't believe that six months have passed since Prim has been home. It's been an extraordinary journey so far with a little girl who has come to claim my heart with her beautiful smiles and strong spirit. We have gone from no sleep and frustration to sleeping through most of the night in her own bed while sharing a room with G. She is still a huge mamma's girl and you can often find her in the throws of temper tantrums when daddy takes her up for bath time and mommy stays downstairs. She LOVES life. Her laugh is infectious and she has the manners of a 10 year old. Every night when we've sat down for dinner and started eating she says "thank you mommy" for her food. It's so great and so very sweet. G has blossomed into a big brother that anyone would love to have. Don't get me wrong-they argue and whine and tattle but G is the first to take Prim's hand and guide her. They play crazy made-up games that involve the pillows and covers from my bed and lots of stuffed animals. They jump on their new trampoline for hours and have learned to make each other "pop" up high by one sitting down and the other jumping as high as they can and landing on their bottom.
I can't believe how the time has flown, especially because it felt like we would never get here. I remember how apprehensive I was to be bringing a toddler home and now I am so thankful how close G & Prim are in age. God's hand was on every part of this chapter in our lives and I know He will continue to guide us as we go forward.

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