Required ESL Screening: Mom Really Might Know Best

July 7, 2013 Eileen, HepB+ 2 Comments

My youngest just graduated from kindergarten. Come September, he’ll ride a bus, he’ll carry a lunchbox, he’ll have a pencil case. And so in preparation for all of that, we took him to the “big kid” school to register. I was given the usual forms–proof of immunization, emergency contact list, permission to access the internet, …Read More

What I Thought I Knew about Hep B

May 7, 2013 Eileen, HepB+ 3 Comments

If you’d asked me seven years ago, right before we adopted our beautiful daughter, if I knew anything about Hep B, I’d have said sure. It’s a virus. It has something to do with the liver. What else do you need to know? As it turned out, our daughter’s case taught us that there was …Read More

I Was Almost on NPR

March 7, 2013 Eileen, HepB+ 5 Comments

It was 2 weeks ago and I’d just dropped my son off for afternoon kindergarten. On the radio, a woman with some title that I fail to remember was saying how important it is for children adopted from other countries to have ties to that culture, how crucial it is that their parents make every …Read More

Hepatitis B: It’s an Easy Special Need…Except When It’s Not

February 7, 2013 Eileen, HepB+ 8 Comments

If you ever check out special needs adoption forums, one of the most commonly asked questions, certainly in the top 5, goes something like this: Which special needs are EASY? It’s an honest question and one that parents who’ve experienced raising children with different special needs have tried to answer. I’ve jumped in many times …Read More

Family Medical History: How Much Do You Want to Know?

December 7, 2012 Eileen, HepB+ 1 Comments

I have a great-grandmother, Verna, who lived to 103 years old. She tended her garden and lived in her own home until the very end, passing peacefully in her sleep. Verna is a shining star on my family medical history. My own father had debilitating arthritis as a child, as did a great uncle. Autoimmune …Read More

Language: Could he have kept the Mandarin?

November 7, 2012 Eileen, HepB+ 16 Comments

We met our son just a few month’s shy of his fourth birthday. He spoke clearly (clearly enough for us to understand many of his basic phrases), he had no speech impediments and was a good communicator. Our guide in his province said, “He speaks well and knows very much.” At home in the United …Read More

Out of the Sketch Pads of Babes

October 8, 2012 Eileen, HepB+ 1 Comments

This is the night we’ve waited for! KICK! Always a treat we have in store KICK! We love each other more and more… KICK With every family night…. I’ll spare you the rest. My teenagers would turn 10 shades of red if you happened to look into our windows on a Sunday night and see …Read More

The sincerest form of flattery……Or will the real XiXi please step forward?

August 7, 2012 Eileen, HepB+ 9 Comments

When we adopted our nearly 4-year-old son, it felt completely natural and right for him to copy the sibling closest to him in age, his 6 year-old sister. He needed a tour guide to escort him through his new life and she was mostly happy to fill that role. What I didn’t realize was that …Read More

A Mother is Only as Happy as……

July 7, 2012 Eileen, HepB+ 1 Comments

Her saddest child. I don’t know who said it, but dang it if it isn’t true. When all 5 of my children are happy (not necessarily ecstatic about life, but you know, content and satisfied), it’s fairly easy for me to follow suit. Life is good. But when one of those 5 precious souls is …Read More

Big Sister: Family Within the Orphanage

May 7, 2012 Eileen 11 Comments

While we waited to travel for our almost-four-year-old son, XiXi, I worried. He had not spent most of his life in foster care, as we’d been told, but was in the orphanage, an orphanage with a reputation for secrecy, deception, and at times even outright cruelty. At night, I wondered how damaged this child might …Read More

Ellis Island, Genealogy, and Adoption

April 7, 2012 Eileen 2 Comments

I returned home yesterday from New York City, a quick cross-country jaunt with just one of my children, to see my brother and explore the sights. Of course, we went to Ellis Island, not just because we were tourists, but because ever since a college course in genealogy, I’ve been somewhat addicted to tracing my …Read More

Hep B Parents: 10 Reasons You Should Get Yourself to Philly

March 28, 2012 Eileen, HepB+ 5 Comments

Hepatitis B Foundation 2012 “B” Informed Parent Conference An Outreach Program for Parents of Children Chronically Infected with HBV Saturday, May 19th 9:00-4:30 Holiday Inn Express Midtown 1305 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 1. The “B Informed” Conference for parents of children with Hepatitis B happens just once a year. You do not want to miss …Read More

Hepatitis B: Debunking the Myths

March 8, 2012 Eileen, HepB+ 4 Comments

ADOPTING A CHILD WITH HEP B WILL PUT MY FAMILY AT RISK: A few years ago, a woman looking to adopt a special needs child sent me several emails, asking questions about Hepatitis B. After a fairly long, friendly exchange, her last email included the following line, “I guess I’m just not comfortable bringing in …Read More

Learning to Cry

February 7, 2012 Eileen 0 Comments

“It’s normal,” said our international adoption doctor.  “Normal, at least, for where she’s come from….” Our daughter was 11 months old when she came home from China, young for a special needs adoption.  She had spent 10 months in the orphanage and one month in foster care.  Overall, she was doing very well and was …Read More

An Anniversary, a Hope, and a Video

January 7, 2012 Eileen, HepB+ 0 Comments

It’s been nearly two years since our youngest daughter had her last shot of PEG Interferon.  Two years since we happily bid farewell to the sharps container and the alcohol wipes.  Two years since we left behind the marathon naps and achy tummy and bloody noses.  And two years since we learned that our daughter …Read More

Only a Mama

December 7, 2011 Eileen 0 Comments

Last week, our 4 year-old son, XiXi had just had his bath, was in his favorite pair of monster jammies, and smelled of that wonderful combination of shampoo and toothpaste.  I was tucking his blanket around him when he brought up China.  He’s only been home eight months, but very rarely mentions anything at all …Read More

Half a Year Ago in Kunming

October 7, 2011 Eileen, first year home 0 Comments

We met one sad, scared little boy. This passport photo was taken maybe thirty minutes after that traumatic first meeting. I sat him on the stool in front of the white curtain, my arm on his back to make sure he didn’t fall. “Smile!” I said in a cheery sing-song voice.  Although an appropriate thing …Read More

Language Lessons, Life Lessons, and One Unfortunate Pig

September 7, 2011 Chinese Language, Eileen, first year home 0 Comments

I knew, based on research, that XiXi would lose his ability to speak Mandarin. I knew that on a logical, cognitive level, but on a deeper level, I had a hard time really believing it. Or at least believing that it would happen as quickly as researchers said it would, 12 weeks. Twelve weeks to …Read More


July 7, 2011 Eileen, first year home 0 Comments

We met our son XiXi in China three months ago. It’s a trite expression but truly, I can’t remember what it was like before he came. He’s blended so seamlessly into our family and community. There are many things I can attribute this to, but one of the biggest is that he observes and then …Read More

Boy, Oh Boy

June 6, 2011 Eileen 0 Comments

When we toured our son’s orphanage, I asked the assistant director so many questions that Helen, our poor translator, needed to stop for a water break.  The assistant director, on the other hand, asked only one question of me, a question that left me stammering: “Why are people not adopting boys?” They have many boys, …Read More

Pack Rat or Hoarder… When to Worry

May 23, 2011 Eileen, hoarding, orphanage behaviors 0 Comments

We have a small, antique table that sits next to our front door in our entry foyer. Except for displaying a canister of eucalyptus branches and being a dropping off point for mail, it’s largely unused. For the past couple of weeks, the stool that normally lives in the downstairs powder room has instead been …Read More

What are you afraid of?

May 5, 2011 Eileen 0 Comments

I’ll never forget the first time I saw my son’s face. The magnetic smile, the cocky pose, the peace sign. Something about him spoke to us; spoke to us so strongly that despite not planning for this adoption at all, we suddenly found ourselves adopting. His paperwork said that he was smart and outgoing, well-adjusted …Read More

a family of seven.

March 29, 2011 Eileen 0 Comments

Eileen is a regular contributor here and has shared her thoughts and feelings over the last year as she and her family have anticipated meeting their newest family member, Xi Xi. Today was the day they finally were able to hold their long-awaited son. And Eileen was happy to share their story here… We are …Read More

Bye Bye, Baby

March 7, 2011 Eileen 0 Comments

I’ve done this with each new addition to our family — be it through pregnancy or adoption — I go through a mourning phase. I hate to admit it, but in the midst of the excitement and joy, I also feel loss. As my husband and I left our apartment to be induced with our …Read More

From Paperwork to Person

February 7, 2011 Eileen 0 Comments

My daughter was carried into a room at The Lottery Hotel in Nanning by the orphanage accountant.  In all honesty, I learned that later.  In that moment, I didn’t notice anyone was holding her at all–she could have floated into the room on a magic carpet for all I knew.  I couldn’t tear my eyes …Read More

Full Disclosure–Is it wishful thinking?

January 7, 2011 Eileen 0 Comments

Disruptions happen.  I don’t know if they’re happening more than they used to or if I’m just hearing about them more, but it’s always heartbreaking.  And it’s always an emotional topic, often eliciting angry and judgmental comments directed at the adoptive parents—they hadn’t adequately prepared, they didn’t do their homework, they didn’t fully understand the …Read More

From Mother to Child

December 8, 2010 Eileen 0 Comments

I look at our amazing little girl and try to imagine her birth mother.  I know that some, if not many, of Cholita’s traits must have come from her.  I feel certain that she’s a smart and charming woman, with a beautiful face and determined will.  She probably has great dexterity, a propensity toward impatience, …Read More

Confessions of a Paranoid Parent

October 29, 2010 Eileen 0 Comments

When we adopted our daughter in the summer of 2006, I’d only stared at her picture for 2 months and one day before I was able to hold her in my arms.  We saw her picture on May 23rd and met her in Nanning on July 24th.  During that time, we were so busy buying …Read More

Names: Fitting In vs. Standing Out

October 7, 2010 Eileen 0 Comments

Lately I’ve been obsessed with baby name books.  One book that I personally own is called, “Beyond Jennifer and Jason”.  I bought it years ago and when the book is set down, it naturally flops open to one well-consulted, dog-eared page.  At the top of the page are the words “Fitting In vs. Standing Out”, …Read More

If you build it, they will come

September 7, 2010 adopting again, Eileen 0 Comments

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.   …Read More

Back to School–Here and in China

August 7, 2010 Eileen, HepB+ 1 Comments

My littlest one, my almost five year-old Cholita, is ecstatic about a certain date circled in red on our calendar.  It’s not her birthday, it’s not Christmas, it’s the day she’ll head back to school.  She adores all things scholastic–sharpened pencils, little chairs, worksheets, story time, sharing time, recess, and don’t even get me started …Read More

My Baby Tells Her Story

July 7, 2010 Eileen, HepB+, video 23 Comments

It’s been less than six months since my daughter finished her year-long treatment with interferon.  The needles, the sharps container, the smell of the alcohol wipes, that whole experience has quickly become a distant memory.  At age four, it’s doubtful that my daughter will remember anything about it into adulthood.  That’s wonderful, but at the …Read More

Perfect Timing

June 7, 2010 Eileen 4 Comments

When my husband and I were engaged  (and ridiculously young), we talked about our plans for the future and for the family we someday hoped to raise. We mentioned adoption and sure, we agreed,  adoption was great, but to be honest, we viewed it as Option B.  You know, just in case Option A didn’t …Read More

The Best Stuff's Never Planned

May 6, 2010 Eileen 1 Comments

The family photo shoot was certainly planned. The outfits, the hairstyles, the location, the photographer, all planned. The head bonk, however, was not. And I love it. The day before we left for China, five year-old Rose flew by herself to Idaho to stay with her grandparents. I snapped this picture at the airport, blinking …Read More


April 7, 2010 Eileen, referral 11 Comments

When I was pregnant with our third child, our second daughter, I made a mistake not uncommon to mothers who encourage free thinking in their children, free thinking in principle at least. I asked the kids what they’d like to name their sister. At ages 8 and 5, they were short in stature, short in …Read More

Parties, Cell Phones, and Mercenaries: A Hep B Primer

March 6, 2010 Eileen, HepB+ 1 Comments

Have you read many medical journals? Have you perused through any articles in the Journal of Gastroenterology? Let me tell you, I’m not completely convinced they’re written in English. So when my big kids started asking questions about their sister’s hepatitis, I had to get creative. If you happen to be a pediatric gastroenterologist/hepatologist, just …Read More

Celebrating Miracles

February 7, 2010 Eileen 10 Comments

January 22nd had been circled in red on our calendar. It was a Friday, and like all Fridays before it during the past year, that meant an interferon shot for Cholita. Wednesdays meant blood work, Thursdays meant lab results, Fridays meant interferon; it was the rhythm of our weeks during 2009. But this Friday was …Read More

Xie Xie

January 22, 2010 Eileen, foster care 7 Comments

Thank you. Thank you for passing the milk. Thank you for helping me with the dishes. Thank you for the Christmas present. In most situations, thank you works. It’s appropriate and conveys the intended message. But sometimes, words just aren’t adequate. On July 27, 2006, I stood in a sweltering reception room in the Guiping …Read More

A Small Mercy at Children's Hospital

January 7, 2010 Eileen 7 Comments

My four year-old, Cholita is a darling, wonderful girl. She can also be loud and blunt–sometimes bordering on obnoxious. Sometimes she’s way past the border, with her feet firmly planted in Obnoxious Land. Last year we were in a waiting room that serves several different clinics at a large children’s hospital. It’s the type of …Read More

Passport Pictures–Then and Now

December 18, 2009 Eileen 5 Comments

I could have also titled this post, Where did my baby go? Cholita (yes, I’ve changed her name–not legally, just on-line!) needs a U.S. passport, that was made abundantly clear to us at the Canadian border, but I’ll admit that I’ve been reluctant to get it done, reluctant to file away the last tangible reminder …Read More

One of Millions

December 7, 2009 Eileen, HepB+ 4 Comments

When my oldest was in kindergarten, each child in his class was assigned a number and asked to show that amount. If they had the number 50, they could bring in 50 M&M’s or 50 marshmallows, or 50 whatever. Somehow we landed the big kahuna–one thousand. My son hopped with excitement, waving his paper in …Read More

Joy in the Journey

October 26, 2009 Eileen 9 Comments

The alder trees along the coastline were just beginning to show a hint of autumn color when I took my daughter on her first ferry boat ride across Puget Sound. She held the railing, her sparse baby hair blowing in the salty breeze. We were traveling from our home on the peninsula to the big …Read More

You Belong

October 5, 2009 Eileen, referral 8 Comments

Several years ago I visited an elderly great uncle in California. Uncle Frank was one of my Grandpa Kelley’s 4 brothers. I’m sure I’d met Uncle Frank when I was a young girl, but it had been many, many years. When he opened the door to the adult woman who’d come to visit, he stood …Read More

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