Moon Festival Links

The Mid-Autumn Festival will occur this coming Wednesday, September 22. Check out these links for some ideas as to how to incorporate this Chinese holiday into your family’s traditions.

Autumn Moon Festival is coming! … Malinda also compiled a list of links; I don’t want to repeat too many, so be sure to check out her list as well (lots of great sites for recipes, crafts and such)

Great Children’s Books for the Moon Festival … a list of children’s picture books compiled by Tonggu Momma (oh, wait! that’s me!) about the Mid-Autumn Festival

MooncakesAunt Lolo assures me that this mooncake recipe is the most authentic one she’s found on the web (she should know: her mother-in-law would be sure to tell her if it wasn’t!); if you’re feeling intimidated about cooking this delicacy, you can either check out this tutorial (video!) or try this recipe that Sandra used with her girls, which – while not authentic – is quick, easy and tasty

Celebrating the Moon Festival … I love Kristi’s ideas about how to share the Moon Festival celebration with a kindergarten class, especially the mooncake made from modeling clay craft

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival … why one China-adoptive family chooses to celebrate this holiday, and it’s tie in with adoption

Bubble Tea … bubble tea with tapioca pearls is fast becoming a popular sweet treat during the Moon Festival; this fruit smoothie version is a popular hit with our Tongginator and her gaggle of friends

Also be sure to check out this podcast about the Moon Festival created by Chinese Pod.

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Latest of Li’l Dude’s Heartadoptive momma (China) Wife of the Prez. at Room For At Least One More… on her son’s latest report from the cardiologist

How do you know it’s your child?adoptive momma (China) Jean at There’s No Place Like Home… on “meeting” your child for the first time, before he or she is your child

“Wo Ai Ni (I Love You), Mommy” – My Takeadoptive momma (China) Marla at Life With the 4 J’s… on the documentary, the response from her two girls and the blogosphere at large, and truths about older child adoption

Before and After
foster mom in China Carrie at the Love Grows Here: The New Day Foster Home Blog… a before and after shot of little Caleb, who recently received heart surgery

A Birthday of Her Very Ownadoptive momma (Ethiopia) Lisa at A Bushel and a Peck… on her (adopted at an older age) daughter’s eleventh birthday, for the second year in a row

Go SPOONadoptive momma (the Democratic Republic of Congo) Megan at Millions of Miles… on the SPOON Foundation’s adoption nutrition website

Breathemom Rachel at The Benjamin Bunch…. describing her recent ride to the emergency room with her daughter who had a severe asthma attack

Solidified

I know this is not rocket science, but this morning a thought crossed my mind about the way an adopted child becomes FAMILY.

It seems like one day you wake up and realize how far your child has come. I realize how much more a part of the family he/she is than the day, week, month or year before.

Each adopted child has their own time frame and experiences in this process. But there is one common factor I see in them all.

T.I.M.E.


Time solidifies relationships.

Books on attachment are extremely resourceful. Advice from other B.T.D.T. adoptive parents can be like fresh water in a desert land.

But in many cases, time is a vital player in the game. And it’s the one thing that requires a lot of patience, because there’s no sure fire way to say how much time will pass before a real bond occurs.

I’m not saying one should just sit around and wait, doing nothing to help the attachment process. Not at all!

I guess I’m just realizing how time (and lots of prayer) has strengthened our cords.

Time keeps marching. Our relationships keep changing and growing closer.


Much like in our Christian faith, we are ever growing in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. It’s how it is with our children.

Not rocket science, right? Not by a long shot. But maybe it might encourage someone out there who is in the thick of it.

report on "experiment" in China re: one-child policy

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Adoption: Our Older Girls (Part 3)adoptive momma (Korea and Ethiopia) Mary at Owlhaven… in sharing one of their adoption stories, Mary shares transition ideas when it comes to older child adoption

Advising New Parents
adoptive momma (domestic) Deborah at 5 Minutes for Special Needs… advice to parents during this flurry of back-to-school activities

We’re Home!!!
adoptive momma (China) Wife of the Prez. at Room For At Least One More… an update on their first day home after heart surgery

MRI Update
adoptive momma (China) Jennifer at My Three Sons and My Little China Girl… the results of her daughter’s MRI, tethered cords and spina bifida

On Hanging On adoptive momma (China) Robin at Dreaming of Tea for Three… on recurring sinus infections and CT scans, sedated and otherwise

If you build it, they will come

My husband and I are not impulsive people.  We tend to research ad-nauseum.   Then we make lists.   Then we weigh pros and cons.  Then we go in the direction that seems most logical.  If the direction we’re drawn to doesn’t seem logical, we go back to step one and start all over again.  Notwithstanding that bizarre day when I went to the pet store to buy dog food and came home with a miniature dachshund puppy, it’s how we roll.  We spent four years in Iowa, so excuse the Field of Dreams allusions, but I think I can say with a fair degree of certainty that we would not mow down a cornfield to build a baseball diamond.

After adopting our daughter, we’d always said we’d love to adopt again.  If the timing felt right.  If our finances were secure.  If we’d remodeled our already too-small kitchen.  If…..

Then one little picture completely rattled my brain.   I literally gasped when I saw this boy’s face.  Joy just seemed to radiate from him.  But thinking logically, our finances weren’t exactly prepared for an adoption. Our kitchen was too small for a family of six, let alone seven.  And I could think of 20 reasons just off the top of my head why now was not ideal.  I breathed deeply, did that nervous foot shake thing that I do, and then wrote what I’m sure is the most wishy-washy e-mail I’ve ever composed.   It went something like this:

Dear So and So,


We are an adoptive family of six and up until this morning hadn’t really been considering starting another adoption, but then I saw the face of the little boy labeled B-22X and now I’m considering what just a few hours ago I wasn’t.  If there are lots of people already seriously looking at his file, which I’m sure there are since B-22X is the most adorable boy I’ve ever seen, then that’s great and I’m so happy he’ll have a family.   BUT, in the off chance that no one is reviewing his file, could you please consider sending it to us?  


P.S. We’ve done no paperwork whatsoever, and if that’s an insurmountable problem, I completely understand.

I heard nothing.  I figured that meant he was already spoken for, which was probably for the best considering our postage stamp kitchen.  A week later,  I e-mailed again.  Maybe the first e-mail was lost in cyberspace, you never know.  Once again, nothing.  I let another week pass and then e-mailed a third time. When no reply appeared in my in-box, I dialed their number. A woman answered and apologized profusely.  Apparently their person who deals with special needs adoptions had been in China.   Regarding B-22X…..No, there was no one looking at his file. “But,” she said, “It’s unlikely that we’d allow you to lock any file considering that you haven’t done any paperwork……” At the end of the conversation, she mentioned that his file was on a shared list, something new to me.

My husband and I fasted and prayed.  For us, this felt incredibly impulsive and if we were going to mow down a cornfield so to speak, we needed two things: confirmation and information.  As we prayed, we felt strongly that we should pursue this adoption and that if we stepped out in faith, people would come into our lives with the information we needed.  If we built it, they would come.  And they did.   One friend knew the ins and outs of the shared list and told me I could use any agency and not just the agency who had listed his picture, a revelation to me.  Another friend, just ahead of us in the paper chase, confirmed my decision to call the agency we’d used with our daughter’s adoption.  That agency locked his file almost instantly and said, “Let’s do this warp speed.”  Then I moved into panic mode.  This was too impulsive, too quick.  After all, he’s an older child.  He speaks Mandarin, I don’t.  We don’t have the money ready and waiting.

The day after we locked our son’s file,  I met a man at my kid’s swim lesson who introduced me to his four children.  All of them were from China, all had been older child, special needs adoptions. One charming eight year-old boy was adopted from foster care in Kunming at age four.   Our little guy would be nearly four at the time of adoption and was in foster care in Kunming.

A few days later, I got an e-mail from our agency’s china representative.  She said that when she heard we were adopting again, she called her friend who just happens to be over foster care in Kunming.  She asked about our little guy and her friend said, “Oh, he’s such a great boy.”  Such simple words that meant so much.  I haven’t panicked since.

The next week, I happened to run into a Mandarin-speaking friend at Costco.  I hadn’t seen her in months.  When she heard about our newest adoption, she immediately offered to tutor me in Mandarin, free of charge.

That same week, my husband’s business partner discovered that there were several expenses we’d been paying for through our personal accounts, when we should have been paying through the corporation.  With the reimbursement, we now had enough to cover all of the initial fees.

If you build it, they will come.  I know that for a fact.  Now I’m just waiting for a general contractor who specializes in free kitchens to knock on our door.  It could happen.

A Way With Da Ladies

 Today’s guest post is by our first contributor who isn’t a mama… he is a baba. Adrian is father to four children, his youngest daughter adopted from China, and blogs at Forever Family.
____________________________________________________________________

I know there are some stories of adoption out there, where the bonding between child and parent(s) is instant and wonderful! Yes, the heavens open up, doves fly down, and the whole world slows to a crawl as your new wonderful, beautiful child runs to your arms – clearly un-inhibited by the past – and falls softly into your chest as tears of joy roll down your cheeks!

This… was not… our adoption. At least, not for me and our daughter. Our scene was more like, the heavens opened up, doves flew down, the sounds of angels singing could barely be heard over the joyous sounds of laughter and our precious daughter looking up at me and my wife softly sighing the words Ma ma and Ba ba – and then quickly realising that although her new Ma ma was a true beauty to behold, her new Ba ba happened to be the Yeti incarnate! She quickly tried to find a wooden stake to drive though my heart, garlic, and a silver bullet to try to rid herself of me…

But that was OK (well actually, it hurt worse than anything else I’ve experienced, but that is for another post). I was prepared for this type of reaction… and I should thank my wife for that.

*begin wavy flash back to our wasted youths*

Friend: So, who do you like? Anyone right now?
Younger Version of Me: I kind am digg’n R right now.
Friend: For real! That is so cool! Hey, HEY R! Adrian LIKES you!

(younger future wife – R)

My Future Wife: What?! Adrian!? Ewwwww! I would never date Adrian!
Younger Version of Me: I’m right here! I can hear you, you know.
My Future Wife: I want a man who is manly – and strong!
Younger Version of Me: I have a very deep inner strength. Don’t take my lack of arguing and getting mad as a weakness. It takes much more strength to deal with things properly than it dose to explode and get mad! And hey, you know what, I’m from Flin Flon! I wrestle Bears Wrapped In Bacon!
My Future Wife: I want someone, who is macho – who will make my decisions.
Younger Version of Me: Well, I think that is kind of silly.
My Future Wife: I want someone who will order my food for me!
Younger Version of Me: But you haven’t told me what you like yet.
My Future Wife: I would NEVER date Adrian.
Younger Version of Me: I’m still right here!

(younger me)

My Future Wife: You are so not the man I want.
Younger Version of Me: But I might just be the man you need.

* end wavy flashback*

To say that my wife and I did not hit it off that great, would be an understatement. We met at a young age in Sunday School – but were only “friends”. But, I do have a way with da ladies! I wear ‘em down!

When we were young, and we were out with our friends, I would go to the other guys who had cars and ask them “not to give R a ride home” – because I liked her, and I wanted to give her a ride home. Then, after she was safely confined in my car, (after not being able to find anyone to give her a ride home), with no possible chance of escape, I would drive her home as slow as possible just to spend as much time as possible with her.

Now I know that might sound a little creepy... but hey, it worked! She fell in love with my rugged good looks, charming personality and my humor (some would add obvious denial of reality). Had it not worked out between us, I would have just been some creepy guy who kept threatening people not to give R a ride home, and stalking R all hours of the day… but never-the-less, it all worked out in the end.

(still wearing her down)

Now, what has that to do with our little Ping and our adoption?

Well, true to form, I did not hit it off so great with this new girl either. I was confident though that I would woo her and win her over! I would wear her down

(Ping showing her playful side as she tries to stab me with a fork)

I’m sure Ping was sitting there, looking at me going, I want a Dad who is:

  • less hairy
  • less smelly
  • more Chinese
  • less hairy
  • less loud
  • less scary
  • less tall
  • less cuddly
  • more further away

She was not impressed by me at all! It was only this last week (after being home with us for 8 months) where she crawled up into our bed, and without me saying anything, just wrapped her little arms around my neck and said “Daddy, I lub you!”

(still not impressed by me)

What a difference a few months can make. Just a little while ago, when she entered the bed room, she stood at the side of the bed and just stared at me. She would not come close. She would not climb up on the bed if I was there. And if I was there, and she really wanted her mother, she would walk a wide berth around the bed (keeping her eyes fixed on me, lest I try to reach out and touch her) and crawl in next to her Mother. If I tried to touch her, or hug her, or pick her up, or even talk to her… oh boy! Did I get a mouth full of Mandarin (I know a little Mandarin and I’m pretty sure nothing she said was covered in my “Introduction to Mandarin” classes – had I taken the “Swearing Like a Truck Driver” course, I’m sure I could have understood a little of what she was saying).

(just trying to get away)

But each day, I just loved her. I let her cry, yell at me, run away… what ever. She would say “Daddy, I NO love you!”, and I would say “That is OK, because I love you. Maybe tomorrow you will love Daddy?”, (“Maybe” she would reply, on a good day, normally it was “mmmmm, I tink abot it, an No!”).

I would hold her, talk to her, take her out one on one and have cake. I let her cry, listened to her babble. Held her when she was scared (even when she thought she was brave) and prayed for her every night. I tucked her into bed, and carried her when ever I could. I never demanded she love me, held it against her when she rejected me, or got angry when she pushed me away. And slowly, ever so slowly, I could see the chinks forming in her armour – and slowly, I knew I was winning her over… and I knew I would. Because, I have a way with da ladies.

(still wearing her down)

Current Wife: You know what, you were right all those years ago (like you are right about everything, ever, in all of ever-ness!)* – you really are the man I needed.
Current Me: Yup, I know. And don’t look now, but I’m also the man you wanted. I am able to order your favorite food when we go to a restaurant – because I have watched you, listened to you, and learned what you like and don’t like (instead acting out in a macho manly way). I am able to help make decisions – because I have the needs of our family deeply routed in my heart (instead of making decision because “I’m the man!”). I am the type of man who dose the right thing, even though it is hard and requires great strength (instead of being the quick tempered man).

So maybe I wasn’t the man that my wife wanted…
… but I am the man she needed.


And maybe I wasn’t the Father that Ping wanted…
… but I know I’m the Father she needs.

(totally wearing her down!)

So to all the Dads out there (or Moms) out there struggling with attachment issues – it’s all good. Love will come around. You just have to have a way with da Ladies**!

* = Edited by me, but it was SO implied in the statement though.
** = Or, boys… if you adopted a son.

_________________________________________________________________________________

About Forever Family…
We are a Christian family of 6 – pretty typical in that we are not typical at all. My wife and I have been married for over 13 years now, and have 4 children (so far). Our oldest child is our son K, who is 12 going on 30. Next in the line to the throne is our son D, who is 10, going on… well… 10.
Thankfully, after two boys, we had our first daughter, G who is 6 going on 16. 




And then came our beloved Ping, who is 4, and who thankfully has stopped yelling at me in Mandarin. Ping was adopted from the Waiting Child’s Program from China. She was 4 years old when we brought her home, and yes, she has a “special need” (though you would be hard pressed to figure out what it is). So I guess *technically* that makes us an “Adoptive Family of an Older Child from the China Waiting Child Program with Special Needs”.


But more importantly, what it *really* makes us, is a Family. 

Read more about our family at our blog here.

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

I could get used to this healing stuff
adoptive momma (domestically adopted a sibling group who experienced a disruption after being adopted from Haiti) Christine at welcome to my brain… her daughter, diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, has a break-through day

She’s got skillz: Part 2adoptive momma (China) the Gang’s Momma at The Gang’s All Here!… on preschool and her daughter’s unilateral hearing

Li’l Dude’s Heart (and Larry’s Heart PTL)adoptive momma (China) Wife of the Prez at Room For At Least One More… good news and bad news during their August 3 cardiology appointment

Overjoyed!!!adoptive momma (China) Jean at There’s No Place Like Home!… hearing the results from her daughter’s MRI and assessing her development

The Octopusadoptive momma (China) Nicole at The Baker’s Sweets… on waiting for the other shoe to drop when it comes to medical diagnosis

make mine a double
adoptive momma (China) Stefanie at Ni Hao Y’all… on the joys of collecting a stool sample

Just hanging at Hershey Medadoptive momma (China) rachelle at with one step… a post-op update after her twin boys both received surgeries on their palates

A looooong awaited update on Cassandra
adoptive momma (China) Karen at Always in My Heart… on an infection her daughter caught after having surgery

Vision Therapy… What We Learned Over the Past 4 Months
adoptive momma (domestic) Dorothy at (Sub)Urban Servant… on vision therapy – what it is and how it worked

it changes everything, it changes nothingadoptive momma (China) Mama D at the life that is waiting… a mom ponders a new diagnosis for her son

Medical Journey Continuesadoptive momma (China) Paulette at Love You Forever… on her daughter’s urology appointments, medical progress and continued challenges

The trenches. The sacred place. adoptive momma (China) Rachelle at with one step… a mom writes a devotional several days after tonsil surgery

First day of school.adoptive momma (China) Julie at Journey to Malia Jo… a wrong-colored van brings disappointment on the first day of school

Adoption Reality #2: Special Needs Do NOT Define Children

This post is a bit of a detour for me from my original plan for my #2 Adoption Reality. I feel the need to share this though, and to add a disclaimer that these Adoption Realities I’m sharing are MY realities. They may not be the same for all of us, but for me this is how I see it and have experienced it as we’ve stepped out and been blessed through the miracle of adoption.

I read on our agency’s blog that there are so many children available on the shared list with heart disease. There are also girls and boys available with cleft lip and palate. Just waiting. And then there are those children waiting … who have both needs. Those are the ones for whom my heart truly aches.

You see, two of my children were born with heart defects and cleft lip and palate, and another of our five children was born with heart disease. He had another marker that made him hard to place … he is 10 years old.

I know many of the children who wait with heart disease have complex conditions and/or have secondary conditions listed as well. I also know many of them are older with repaired heart conditions and perhaps unrepaired as well.

Our 10-year-old son was born with a PDA and had open-heart surgery in China a few months before we traveled to bring him home. We brought him home in June and in August our ped. cardiologist pronounced him healthy and to be treated as such with no restrictions. PTL!

Our 5-year-old son, who also came home in June, was born with TOF (tetralogy of fallot) and cleft lip and palate. He was seen in August as well. It appears his heart has some other issues going on, which is not totally a shock but we were definitely disappointed for his sake. And still, we will move forward one day at a time. We will be taking him this Wednesday for an exploratory and possibly invasive cath. After that, we’ll know if he will need another open-heart surgery. We are praying he does not. If he does, we’ll face it when the time comes.

Our 4-year-old daughter, who came home in Sept. 2008, was born with transposition of the great arteries along with several other defects and cleft lip and palate as well. She received open-heart surgery on Sept. 30, 2008, and has had 4 other surgeries since she came home, 1 on her heart and three for her cleft repairs (lip and palate).

But what is all of this really like?

I hear people say so often: we couldn’t do that; you are special; you must be superwoman, etc.

The answer to all of that is we are not special and I am definitely not superwoman though some days I wish I had her superpowers! In all seriousness, we couldn’t do it either without the Lord’s help.

Most days though are really not that different for our three children born with heart disease, ranging from minor to complex. They run, play, skip, swim, dance, etc. Some of them take daily meds, some have to face unbelievably huge surgeries and they do it so bravely. I admire their courage every day.

We do spend more time at doctor’s offices than we used to, we do have to schedule around our children’s surgeries and we have to endure those alongside them, we do have to make sacrifices in order to care for our children’s needs financially, but we are blessed immeasurably more by their love and the joy they bring to our family. We know that our family is different now and that many people do not understand why we would choose to adopt children with known medical conditions. We really do not have any grand answer other than to say the Lord led us to each one of them.

We like all other parents wish for a long and fulfilling future for all of our children. We however do not dwell on the what ifs as we’ve learned that each day truly is precious and that nothing in life is guaranteed. As we heard the news earlier this month that our 5-year-old son would most likely have to face open-heart surgery this fall we were heartbroken and saddened, but we also know we serve a mighty God who has shown His great love for our children and our family.

I really do pray every day for all of the children who wait, especially those born with heart disease and cleft lip and palate. I know they don’t have a huge chance of being chosen when they have those two needs listed by their name. And that breaks my heart when I watch our two youngest sleeping soundly in their beds or riding their bicycles down our driveway or working a puzzle together.

I know that many doctors and specialists say they are too risky or there must be something serious going on inside their bodies like a syndrome. And often that is true, they do have a syndrome.

Yet having a syndrome does not mean a child is not worthy of love or finding their own forever family to love and cherish them, to choose them.

As of the other day according to our agency’s blog, there is a smiling little 9-month-old boy who is waiting for his family. He was born with a cleft lip and palate and a heart condition, but I believe he was born to also know the love of a Mommy and Daddy and maybe brothers and sisters too.

I believe he was born not to remain an orphan, but to be chosen as someone’s son, as someone’s somebody.

I know there are other children just like him waiting, whose needs seem like too much to handle. I also know the BLESSING of being Mommy to children just like them too, and I can’t imagine our life without all of our children in it.

PLEASE if anyone has read this far and has any specific questions about heart disease, I would be happy to answer any I can from a parent’s perspective. I do not mean to make it sound rosy because many days are very difficult. But many more days are just normal, fun, carefree, crazy, and love-filled!

a blessed surprise

Since entering the adoption realm in 2004, admittedly painfully unaware, I’ve done my share of reading.

My share of gleaning.

My share of asking.

Since then I have also been asked many questions about adoption by potential adoptive parents. And one question in particular has always stood out to me. Maybe because it was one of the first questions I asked myself at the very beginning of our own journey into adoption….

“How will our biological child(ren) feel about an adopted sibling?”

And the answer, at least in our experience, has been one of the biggest surprises in this journey.

And one of the biggest blessings.

Not to imply that adding a new child to any family isn’t without challenges. But worrying about our biological children not ‘accepting’ an adopted child just wasn’t necessary.

No bitterness.

No jealousy.

Okay, occasional jealousy over who got a few more M&Ms.

But really, just love.

Real love.

My kids surprised me… their hearts were exponentially more open and accepting than I ever anticipated. In fact, they’ve completely embraced their new siblings as just that.

Brothers.

Sisters.

I bet your kids surprised you, too.