Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friends and Family- Please read this. What to Expect When You're Expecting (from China)
…….A MUST Read for Adopting Parents
Below is a letter from Amy Eldridge, from Love Without Boundaries, addressing the recent adoption disruptions and parental preparedness. If you are reading this, think about posting it on your site - a waiting parent who reads your blog may benefit from it.*****I have been so saddened by this situation. I most definitely wish there was a way to educate ALL adoptive parents about the truths of institutional care, however I have come to realize in my daily work that there are just as many parents who are not online reading everything they can find on adoption as are.There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of parents out there who have no idea what life is like for a child in an orphanage, and who head overseas to pick up their perfect child only to be handed a baby who is unresponsive, thin, unable to eat….. and on and on and on.While adopting my son last month, I walked several times over to the White Swan to talk to parents, and over and over I spoke with moms and dads who had no clue whatsoever about the issues their kids were having. I heard so many times things like, "she won't eat solid foods" (oral aversion), "she has no muscle tone" (muscle atrophy from lying in a crib all day), "she won't smile" (pure grieving from being taken from her foster mom). I guess since I live China 24/7, I assume everyone adopting does, too, which is not the case.I talked to at least a dozen parents who didn't even know their child's orphanage name, and while I gently said "you might want to memorize that for your child's sake", at the same time I was trying to process how many parents get all the way to China without ever reading about post-institutional issues. It was sobering to me.Babies in the NSN (non special needs) as well as the SN (special needs) path can have issues with attachment, motor skills, emotional issues and more. I think all of us on the WCC (Waiting Children China) list acknowledge that, while also acknowledging that all children (whether bio or not) can have these same issues. Living in an orphanage of course increases the odds.I think the easy out is to say that agencies have to do more, as well as social workers, but I do think that most of them do try to give information to the parents but often parents don't want to hear it or else think it won't happen to them. Again, I am often surprised to talk to parents leaving soon and to realize they are not prepared. One family was adopting from our foster care program, and when I told them that the child was DEEPLY attached to the mom, the father said, "guess she might cry for an hour or so then?" An hour or so? She had been in foster care for over a year! I tried to explain that this little girl was about ready to lose everything she had ever known, and that they should not expect her to be sunny, happy, and full of personality after an hour. I told them to please remember the 72-hour rule.......that after 72 hours they would probably see her spark, but that she would probably grieve for a long time after that as well.I think for many adoptive parents, they just don't want to read the "bad stuff", and so I do think that ultimately it is the parents who are at fault for not doing more to educate themselves. There certainly are books galore out there about post-institutional issues. I equate this to when I was pregnant with my kids and I would read "What to Expect When Expecting", and I would get to the C-section part and always skip it. Each and every time I would jump to the next chapter as "that wasn't going to happen to me". Well, on my fifth baby, when they were rushing me in for an emergency C-section, I sure was wishing I had read that section earlier! But at that point in the OR, while they were strapping my hands down to the table, it was too late, and so I felt complete panic when I could have been prepared. I think adoption from China is very similar to giving birth...it is much more rosy to only read the happy stories on APC, but I now encourage every family I meet to read the harder ones as well, because if you are the family who is handed a child that is limp and listless and who looks autistic, what you have learned in the past will help you make the right decision for your family during those very emotional first few days.I have been called many times in the last few years by parents in China worried about their children. I agree that having a support network to help you through the initial time is essential. Everyone should go to China with at least one phone number of someone they can call if they are panicked upon meeting their new child. I remember feeling so alone when I was handed my daughter and she was so tiny and limp. Because our foundation often helps with the kids who have been disrupted, I am aware that sometimes there are children who have much more serious issues than originally reported…. and that is such a hard thing for a parent to get to China and then discover their child is truly autistic or has serious mental delays. I think everyone on both the China and international side would agree that it is absolutely wrong of an orphanage to not be honest in their reports, and no one would excuse that, but I also know without a doubt that the majority of kids who are disrupted are just suffering from institutional issues and would catch up quickly in a loving home. It is always a very sad day for the orphanage and everyone involved when a child that they know is absolutely fine, but perhaps thin and grieving, is returned by their new parents for being "delayed".I think far too many people believe their child's life is going to begin the moment they meet them. The truth is, and everyone must realize it….. a child's life is going on RIGHT NOW in China, and all of their experiences are shaping who they are. The vast majority of aunties that I have met in China are such kind and caring people, but it absolutely is not the same as having a mom and dad at your beck and call. I have had new parents call and say "we didn't think living in an orphanage would affect her at all", and those statements truly puzzle me. How could they not contemplate life in an orphanage?Walk through Babies R Us and you will see every gadget known to man to make our children's lives here as ideal as possible. Now Americans have two way video monitors, so that when baby awakens not only can mommy see when to immediately rush in and comfort him, but she can talk to baby so that he doesn't even have one single second where he feels alone. How many new parents would have a newborn and then put that baby in a crib 22 hours a day on their own? How many would only feed their baby, even if they were really crying hard, every 8 hours? Or prop the bottle in her crib and then not watch to see if she ever really ate?Of course no one would do that…... we feed newborns on demand, comfort on demand, love continuously…. and whether people want to recognize it or not, that is NOT the life of an orphan in an institution. .….. even when the aunties are as good as gold. I remember one night when I took some volunteers in for the night shift in an orphanage, when normally just a few aunties are working. One mom looked at me with tears in her eyes as she slowly realized that it was absolutely impossible with just two hands to feed every child, to comfort every child, to soothe every baby who was crying. She said her heart was aching to realize that her own daughter most likely had many, many times where she cried without someone to comfort her..... and she told me that for the first time she finally understood why her daughter had such a deep seated fear of being out of her mom's sight.The aunties are trying their absolute best, but that doesn't equal mother/child care. I remember being in an orphanage in the north this past winter and the aunties were so proud of how they had 6-8 layers of clothes and blankets on every baby to keep them warm. They were swaddled so tight that they couldn't move, but it was freezing in the orphanage and so the aunties wanted the babies to stay as warm as possible. What alternative did they have? It really was freezing there…... I was cold in my wool coat, so the babies couldn't be up and about with just 1-2 layers on, with the ability to move their arms and legs. To stay warm they had to be immobile, and so of course all of those kids have weak muscle tone. But the aunties were truly trying their best, and when a parent is given one of those beautiful children on adoption day, I am sure they will go back to their room with concern and say "she can't sit up by herself…. she can't put weight on her legs". That is absolutely the truth, but she also survived 10 degree weather in a very cold province and she will catch up soon enough with parents to encourage her.To not acknowledge that living in orphanage circumstances can cause lower body weights, low muscle tone, inability to make good eye contact is very sad to me. Can it be overcome? Most definitely! The one thing I have learned over and over again about the kids in China is that they are fighters and survivors. But for some reason, people seem to want to ignore these issues in public forums.Recently, one of our medical babies that we had met several times in person was adopted, and we all knew that this child was a "spitfire". When the family arrived and spent a few days with her, they decided she was too much of a handful for them and they wanted to disrupt. She absolutely was not what they expected. When they called their agency, they were told they had two choices: adopt the child, bring her to the US, and change their expectations of what they were hoping for, or adopt the child, bring her to the US and the agency would have a family waiting at the airport to adopt her locally. Option three of leaving the child in China was never once given. I admire that agency so much, as they were thinking of the child and the child alone. The family followed through with the adoption and handed the little girl to a new family upon her arrival in the US. As horrible and tragic and emotional as it was for everyone involved...I still feel this was the right decision for the agency to make. It was done in the absolute best interest of the child, who had waited a long, long time for a family. I wish more agencies would advocate for the rights of the child, instead of always seeming to give in to the parents, especially in those cases when they know with absolute certainty that nothing is permanently wrong with the child. Recently with another disruption, the agency I spoke with told me that it was "easier" to just get the family a new baby.Sometimes easier does not equal right. The first baby who was rejected has now been labeled "mentally challenged" even though the agency knew the child was really going to be okay.I think all of us, who do realize that delays occur and that babies can usually overcome them, should be these children's advocates by continually trying to educate new parents on what to expect in China. By helping them be better prepared, we just might help stop a disruption in the future. I love Chinese adoption with my whole heart, and it is my life's work…. but I also want every family who goes to get their baby to go with their eyes open and to be as emotionally prepared as possible, for the child's sake.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Not the best picture of the top of the quilt. The center eight are special family squares. Since they were personalize, I felt they should have a special place on the quilt. I think I ended up with over 100+ quilt squares.
I had planned once all is quilted, bound and DONE.... I will explain some of the significance of the fabric and placement.
I am off to the scrapbook store to buy an album for all the wishes. My goal is to get this all done by the end of February. At least my part of the quilt..... I am not sure how long the quilter will take.
Because she is nothing but a fur fest right now, the collar gets buried under the layers of warm soft snuggle fur.
Even with this covering, Mesa's momma makes sure to point it out to others and will chat about this problem. We would like to thank Pug.m*mm* for sending way out West such a thought provoking gift.
As much as I tried to take a decent picture of Mesa sitting and wearing this collar, Mesa was too busy taking her nap and would not cooperate in the photo shoot.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Oh ye blog world, let me share ONE of the many funny times had.
My second day out on the sub scene found me teaching Industrial Technologies (shop class) at my old ala mater Clayton Middle School. Back in my day we called it a Jr. High. Kind of like an appetizer for the kids into the real world of HIGH school. My day consisted of 8 classes of about 22 to 40 students. Each and every class had to watch the most boring video EVER…. Something on Mars exploration. These sweet angels were to do a worksheet which handed in at the end of the each class. Although each class was “unique”, but the one that was the most fun was my 5th period class. In that class only 22 kids…. 8th graders. Each school has its “cool kids” quickly identified by the clothes, size and hair. In the back of the class sat 5 of these lads. Work sheets handed out and video going. Out of the back someone discretely yells out the “Pen*s” word…. Too funny! I gave the offender the look over my glasses eye, like I’m watching you, look. End of the nasty words…. Seconds later, one lad starts singing and another one joins in. Now I am a sucker for a good serenade, so I place the video on hold and asked the boys to come up at sing. Five boys came up to the front. One introduced the song as a Bob Marley song and all five proceeded singing. I’m like, “What??? Doesn’t Bob Marley deserve some dancing with this singing?” In the front of the room, to the delight of all the other students as well as myself, these five boys sang and danced for a minute or so. We were all in hysterics. The guys sat down, behaved and all had a fun time. At the end of each of the classes, as I asked the angels to hand in the worksheets, panic broke out. Not all were able to gleam the answers from the video. Like a master of the room, I hushed down the up rise and proceeded to tell them “No worries, I’ll give you the answers”.
When it was all said and done, FUN TIMES for me in the world of subbing……
Monday, February 11, 2008
This picture is just because I like it......
- So I did IT....I took a deep breath and faced my fear of substitute teaching. Yap- I did it the other day! In the best way ever to have a first time. I was a rover..... And probably the best way to break in a new substitute. The school district was meeting with each teacher for an hour. I got to experience every single grade. I started my day with the kindergarteners. Oh man, I had a hard time not snuggling on some of these doe eyed sweeties. I ended the day with the 6th graders. Loved the 6th graders, but realize how little I know about "6th grade stuff". Both the kindergarten and 6th grade teachers asked my full name at the end. I have vowed that if I get called from the 6th grade teacher, I will ask for a study guide ahead of time just so I do not look like such a fool. The only unpleasant thing I experienced was the B. O. from the kids. I guess this is something I can get used to and will help with my travels to China in the (near) future.
- Subbing has not been short lived for one day. I actually subbed in the Industrial Technology (Shop) class for a middle school…. That experience deserves it’s very own posting. SOON.
- S'up with the 100 wish quilt you might ask? Well, I am almost done piecing the 108 quilt squares. Just this momentous feat requires it very own posting with picture. However, I am short of a final 6 inch x 56 inch strip of no where to be found fabric to complete before I can send it out to machine quilted. Yikes..... I love the fabric and if I cannot find another small piece, I just might be unpicking the final layer and finding something else that would look totally amazing. I will just rack it up to bad math skills.
- I just joined in on the blog lines reading wagon…. I am having mixed feelings about doing this. Somehow it seems so impersonal. I mean, it is convenient to read what everyone is up to, but I find that when I normally would comment, well, it’s just not happening. I find that instead of heading to blog lines, I will go to my blog and click on my blog list. If you do not see a comment from me, please know I am reading and just busy?!
- As expected, I thought I would be celebration this Halloween, Christmas, Chinese New Year with Tate. When I realized that this was happening, I had vowed to myself to MAKE each of these holidays amazing anyway. So far I have been successful with this goal. CNY has been for me a three weekend celebration. It amazes me the number of Chinese (or Asian) influences we have in this city I live in. My little mind has been racing to next year and all the ways I will add these celebrations into my life with Tate.
Bullets of life.... For me, I LOVE IT!!!
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Saturday, February 02, 2008
RQ has posted this link to Half the Sky. It is information concerning the winter storms and the affects of these storms on the orphanages. I cannot stop thinking that one of these babies huddled in the cold might be Tate. I pray that she and all these sweet children get the warmth, water and food that is needed. When I finally hold my gal in my arms and gaze at her sweet face, I will wonder what she has had to endure in her short life. I will never know the circumstances she is experiencing right now as I am waiting for Tate.
I encourage, if you are able, to donate funds to this organization. If you are not able to send funds, at least send up your prayers, good vibes or thoughts that there will be comfort.