Sunday, April 30, 2006

I've found it hard all weekend to have conversations with anyone who doesn't know exactly what is going on in our lives.

Friday night, I dropped Gabe off at my sister's house, and ran, unexpectedly, into my cousin O~, who was in for a surprise visit from New York City, where he is a lighting and sound guy for various tv shows (I think this called a "gaffer"), and also a documentary film maker. I am very fond of O~, but, I haven't talked to him in months, so, when he met me with a big hug and a "Hey! I hear somebody's expecting a surprise package from Vietnam!" ~ I just didn't know how to respond. I had failed to call my sister and tell her that we had turned down Tung's referral. So, then I had to explain the whole thing - to my sister S~, to my brother J~, and and to O~, all of whom were sitting in my sister's living room. I felt pretty exhausted by the conversation. (I appreciate that my family is, generally speaking, as excited about this whole process as they generally are about any "new arrivals." I really do love that about my family.)

Anyway, I left my sister's house, and met my husband and some friends for dinner. Thank goodness my husband had filled them in on the events of the day, and we only talked about it once or twice.

Saturday morning, my sister was having one of those "premier jewelry" parties - like a tupperware party but for jewelry - and I hid in a corner leaning against my mother's shoulder and flipping through the catalogue. I just had no patience for the endlessly upbeat, overly genki sales person. I bought a necklace I didn't really want and drank way to much coffee.

My mother was supposed to be officiating yesterday afternoon, at one of the oddest funerals I think this town will ever see. By way of explaination, last year, some construction crews accidently unearthed 42 unmarked graves by the river. Well, the forty-two sets of bones have been sitting in the coroner's office since they were dug up (I think they were trying to determine the age of the bones, what era they came from. I'm not sure if they came up with any answers.) Anyway, the historical society asked clergy members to come and bless the "reinterment" of the bones at Riverside Cemetary. Only my mother, representing the United Methodists, a pastor from a non-denominational evangelical church, and a Native American medicine man volunteered. (My mother personally felt, that, all things considered, she was glad the medicine man was there. She was uncomfortable about disturbing the souls of the long dead, who she is pretty sure were native people.)

Anyway, the reinterment was happening at the same cemetary where my grandfather is buried, so, after the super-happy-jewelry party, I drove my mom to the cemetary and sat for a while on the carved stone bench that is my grandfather's grave marker.

My grandfather died in November of 2001, but, they told us he was lost to us on September 11, 2001. While we were all in shock and grieving from the horror of the morning, that afternoon brought a telephone call from a doctor with the news that "nothing else could be done expect to make him comfortable." He was not ready to go and we were not ready to say goodbye.

I sat on my grandfather's bench and traced the words engraved there with my finger over and over ("to the land where joy will never end, I'll fly away"), and I told him, all about C~H~Dung and Tung and the sorrow in my heart, and I cried for while - for my grandfather, for C~H~Dung, the child I wanted and couldn't have, and for Tung, the child I couldn't say yes to. And I cried a few tears for others who are lost to us, for the baby of one friend, for the husband of another.

Across the cemetary I heard the rich sound of my mother's voice singing Amazing Grace. I listened to her sing the last note. Her voice was strong and sure yesterday morning, not like the last time I heard her try to sing in that cemetary, when she tried to sing "We Shall Gather at the River" with her four sisters, as we buried the man whose bench I was sitting on. That morning, all their lovely voices cracked, broken in grief. Yesterday morning, singing for 42 long dead strangers, her voice was perfect.

I felt strangely peaceful. I wiped my face - I didn't want my mother to come back and see me crying on her father's grave. (Though she, of all people, would have understood. She's likely sat in this spot and cried herself.)

Anyway, I felt better, not great, but, better.

Hopeful, I guess, that the right child is still working their way into my arms.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Difficult conversations

After having a jumbo cry, well, I've now had conversations with the following people:

1. Husband
2. My mother
3. My father
4. My uncle-who-is-my-boss-who-is-like-a-second-father (who I had to bother on his cell phone while he is driving to his cottage up north, and who thought, by the tone in my voice, that I was calling to tell him something had gone horribly wrong with one of our cases...)
5. My grandma
6. My agency

All of these calls were difficult. First, talking to Husband about what to do, and then making the decision to decline. Then telling family members what the doctor said, and getting their feedback.

And then, the worst, calling my agency to tell them we just are not the family for this child.

I kind of thought they would be angry...

They weren't.

They were...incredibly understanding. They appreciated that we had spoken to three doctors, including one "expert". They said, "we will find a family for this child, and a child will find his or her way to your family."

My mom said, "Sam or Sophie is still out there. She'll find her way home." (Um, yeah, Freudian slip on my mom's part - mom's rallying for a girl, but, I'm sure she is going to be disappointed...but, that's okay. She'll love whoever we bring home.)

I feel, strangely, drained and schmuck-like for not being a better person, but almost relieved that the not knowing part is over, at least for now.

I'm taking Gabe to sleep at his cousins' house (my sister's) tonight. They have been planning a sleepover since last weekend. (Gabe is lucky to have ten cousins right here in town, and an eleventh one is due to be born in the next few days. My siblings are all a bunch of frequent baby-havers, what can I say...)

Husband says that, since we have a "babysitter", he is taking me out for wood-fired pizza and drinks with friends. I'm not sure I'll be much fun. I think he thinks it will help.

Oh he**, we might as well go see the Flight 93 movie, cause I think that's pretty much on the level of where my mood will be...



I just got off the phone with the Adoption doctor. Her assessment, was, well, not good. Bottom line, this is a special needs child.

I just don't think I am equipped to deal with that.

I am just not a big enough person.

I need to cry now.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Little Boy Bedroom Stuff

So, what does everybody think about this:

Yes, those of you who have actually been inside my house might be saying, but G~, it's almost identical to Gabe's bedroom stuff, only just very slightly different.

And, yes, that's true, although Gabe has a comforter and this is a quilt, so, you know, THAT makes all the difference.

This set goes well with the sage colored walls in that room, and the sage carpenting. I know this because those are the colors in Gabe bedroom, too, and this particular motif looks good with those colors.

Okay, yes, we haven't even formally accepted the referral of Tung, and we won't until we hear from the adoption doctor tomorrow. But, I do know, eventually, some little boy is coming to live with me.

And this is something fun to think about it.

So, do you think Gabe will be ticked if I get this and make the new child's room look ALOT like his room? Should I look for something totally different? Cars or something? (Problematically, I don't think anyone is really doing a car motif in sage green...)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Odds and Ends

Here is a piece of FREE legal advice. FREE. Absolutely, positively, no strings attached.

Here goes:

Never enter into a land contract agreement. Never. Especially don't enter into a land contract agreement and then refuse to record it. I mean it. Don' You can lose your shirt.

It's important. It's right up there with "never get involved in a land war in Asia."

That is all.


My mother came over last night to look at Tung's file. She has very positive feelings about it. (My mother was a social worker for 20 years before she became a clergy person. Admittedly, her specialties are death and dying, and caring for the aged, but, I tend to think she has a pretty good grasp of other issues as well.) She said, "I think he is everything you have hoped for. Who cares if he is small? You were small. You looked like a famine victim. People thought I never fed you." (DAMN! What happened to THAT metabolism, huh?? What kind of cruel joke is it that I looked like a famine victim as a child and now I look more like, well, a victim of chocolate chip cookie indulgence...)

We are just waiting to hear from the international adoption medecine specialist - who we should be getting a call from on Friday.

Dr. D. still hasn't called back with any further thoughts on the file. He sent an email yesterday that he had not yet had time to look at it, still. (Of course, he is not charging me, so, I can't blame him for not having a lot of time to spend on a child that I think he is going to be surprised to see is not in a vegetative state.)


One of my favorite authors, Kathy Reichs, is going to be testifying as an expert witness in the Toledo Trial of the Century - now playing on (it's the priest on trial for murdering the nun). I am trying to figure out how to finagle an autograph on one of my copies of her books.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Expectant Motherhood

I was reading an adoption blog the other day, of a woman who is adopting from China. She was talking about the fact that she was still feeling sad about the thought that she will never be pregnant. I think that's a totally legitimate feeling on her part, and, as someone who HAS been pregnant, I started to think about how this experience has been different from pregnancy. I think there are pros and cons to both:

So, here's my list.

Adoption v. Pregnancy

1. I can have margaritas. Lots of them. :-p
2. My hips don't ache. :-)
3. No one is kicking me in the rib cage repeatedly, for their own amusement (or so it seemed.) :-)
4. I am not starving 24/7. (Um...maybe I'll take that back. I am starving 24/7, but, I don't feel like I will rip the head off the next person who comes into my office unless they come bringing snacks.) :-l
5. No one asks me when my baby is due, or wants to chat about whether I know the baby's gender. :-(
6. I don't have any idea when my "baby" is due to come home. :-(
7. Strangers don't look at me with happy faces and ask me what I'm going to name the baby.
8. I do not have to wear maternity underpants. :-)
9. All of the really adorable tiny baby clothes are off limits at the store. My "baby" is going to be way to big for them. :-(
10. I don't get to wear those awesomely comfy maternity jeans with the stretchy panel in front. (Why can't they make regular jeans like that???) :-(
11. When I am grouchy at work or home, people do NOT do nice things for me because they "know how uncomfortable" I'm feeling. :-(
12. I obsess with equal fervor about what my child is going to be like. :-l
13. I am contemplating decorating the spare bedroom with the same care and attention, and this time I cannot claim to be unable to paint due to "fumes". :-l
14. I am not throwing up all day. :-)
15. There is a 36 hour plane ride to look forward to with a toddler, as opposed to 36 hours writhing in pain...hmmm - nobody wins on that one...
16. I can eat soft cheeses to my heart's content without the doctor scolding me. :-)


Some encouraging news from our agency

Well, my agency called me back with answers to me questions about Tung.

Evidently, he eats "all kinds of things that adults eat" - including pho, rice, meat, and fish, and fish sauce. He is given cheese at dinner time (I am surprised by this - I think cheese is hard to come by in Asia - Amy? Are you reading? Can you confirm this?)

Oh, one of his favorite dishes is "crab soup with crackers".

He reportedly sleeps all through the night and takes two naps during the day, unless he wakes up late, in which case he only takes one nap.

He is vomiting less often, but, he will vomit if he cries very hard, or if the foster mother tries to make him to eat food he doesn't like. (I might vomit too...).

He is very attached to the foster mother and cries if she does not meet his needs.

I am finding all of these things very positive. He really sounds like he is functioning very well, developmentally and socially and motor skills-wise, he's just small. The agency representative stressed that the diagnosis of malnourishment degree 1 does not imply that he has not been fed, only that he has a low weight. She does not believe that he has ever been denied food.

She said it will be six to eight months before we bring him home, if we accept the referral today...assuming 4 to 8 weeks to get the dossier documents together...

Actually, eight months from now would be PERFECT - Husband has two weeks off at the end of the year, since he is a teacher...

I'm starting to feel excited after feeling tied up in knots for so many days...


I don't think I mentioned...

the crying jag I had yesterday in the car.

I was pulling into the daycare/preschool/kindergarten where Gabriel attends school. It was about 5:15 in the afternoon, and two Asian boys, about age 2.5, were running around in the lawn, just playing like little boys do.

Their fathers (both graduate students at the University where the center is located) watched them playing as they chatted in Chinese or Korean (or something other than Japanese, which is the only Asian language I recognize.)

Anyway, I sat in my car and watched them and burst into tears. Because I imagined Tung playing with them, and then I imagined tiny 19.8 pound Tung being crushed by one of these big, healty boys. And I wondered if this is where Tung is supposed to be. And I just don't know.

Husband says we cannot make a decision until we hear back from the agency about our questions.

I just wish I KNEW. I wish I KNEW, the way I KNEW when I got the file on the waiting child, C~H~ Dung.

Yes, I know I am obsessing on this topic. But, it's totally true.

Husband says we will never feel like that again, it was a one time thing that was crushed by the weight of the grief of having him go to a different family.

In the meantime, Tung's tiny face stares at me from the corner of my desk where the file is sitting. I wish he could tell me if he thinks he is Samuel...

Conversation with Dr. B.

Well, Husband and I had a long discussion with Dr. B. last night.

These are the things that he said:

1. He seems to be doing well developmentally now. He was delayed in learning to walk by several months. (He says most babies learn to walk around 12 months, this child wasn't really walking on his own until 19 months). But, he said, "if you believe the reports" he is doing well motor-skills wise now, and is developing his language and social skills at a good rate.

2. He is surprised that the doesn't appear to have any "sequelae" from the meningitis - he said, "things would be apparent by now" - such as deafness or developmental delays/brain damage.

3. He wanted to know if he eats food others than the formula and rice soup. He felt this was key information that was missing from the file. "If the only things he can keep down are formula and rice soup, there are digestive issues" - but, it's not clear. So, this is one of the things I am waiting to hear back from my agency on.

4. Concerned about weight, and points out that he continued to gain weight, slowly, while in the orphanage, and that the records show that he has not gained any weight (although he's grown several centimeters) since joining the foster family. "You really need to know if he's gained any weight since February (the date of the last report) - if not, there's a problem. A child shouldn't not gain weight during a six month period (his weight in October was the same as February.)

So, from Dr. B's assessment, it's possible that this child will be okay, but, we need to know more about what he is eating, and if there has been weight gain since the beginning of February.


In other news, I want to throttle whatever kindergarten teacher thought that "dress like a letter person" day was a good idea. I spent much of last night pinning red and blue and green and gold ribbons all over my child's red cordoroy pants and white shirt, so that he could be "Mr. R" aka Mr. Rainbow Ribbons, today. He wanted to be Mr. G, aka Mr. Gooey Gum. NOT_A_CHANCE!

I'm just glad I bought that clearance ribbon roll last Christmas, that had green and red and blue and silver ribbon on it, marked, "Wrap all your Hannukah and Christmas Gifts with one convenient roll" - it was .89, and, really came in handy last night!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Another doctor...

I just got a call from another doctor (one of the ones that I am related to) - he has received the file, he is reading it now, and will call us between 7 and 9 PM this evening.

I wish I knew whether this child was going to be okay, health and development wise. I wish I knew whether he had bacterial or viral meningitis. I wish I had a sign, either a "this is Samuel" or "this isn't Samuel" kind of sign. I wish my agency would get back to me with the answers to the other questions. Yes, I know they have to communicate with Vietnam, and probably there are all kinds of translation issues, etc etc.

My head hurts.


Feeling Sad

Well, this is the first response I have gotten from a doctor. He has not yet looked over the file, only my email describing the issues. He is supposed to be getting back to me after he looks at the file.

This is what he says, though:

Most children who suffer bacterial meningitis have many sequelae. Adding malnutrition doesn’t bode well. You would likely end up adopting a very special needs child who would require life-long care and assistance.

This is from the same guy who told me that C~ H~ Dung would probably progress well and have few health related issues. I appreciate that he doesn't mince words. His words are just making me sad.

So, um, yeah, I find that pretty depressing. I'm waiting to hear from him again after he reads the file. And from others.

I have just eaten a giant frosted sugar cookie, which I know was a BAD thing to do.



Sunday, April 23, 2006

I hate technology...

I just found out that the .pdf version of Tung's file that I sent to one doctor and one nurse practitioner (both of whom I am related to, and felt entitled to bother on a Sunday afternoon) did not go through. Despite the fact that I sent them from my work email, they have not been received by the intended recipients. UGH. And of course the file is only scanned on my work computer, not my home computer, so, it's going to have to wait until tomorrow to be sent again. Double ugh.

Both have promised to look at the file tomorrow, as soon as they get it, and talk to me tomorrow night. The snail mail file I sent to the International Adoption specialist in Ann Arbor have just better have gotten there!!

Yesterday, Gabe went to one of those animated festive pizza places with his best friend from across the street, D~, and D~'s parents, R~ and A~. D~'s mom is pregnant right now and expecting a baby in October.

Gabe was had a conversation with D~'s dad that went like this:

Gabe: I'm getting a little brother.
R~ (D~'s dad): Really?!?
Gabe: Yep. But, he's not coming from the same place that D~'s little brother is coming from.
R~: (Reportedly trying to not snort Coke through his nose): Oh...where is your little brother coming from?
Gabe: (reportedly with an amazing matter-of-factness): Vietnam. Some little brothers come from mommy's tummies, but, sometimes they come from Vietnam instead.

After that Gabe went off to play a game with D~, and R~ went off to ask his wife, A~, if she knew what Gabe was talking about. Fortunately, she did.

I'm wondering if I should try to tell Gabe that there are other countries out there were children can be adopted from, or if that would just confuse him. :-)


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Clarification about my rant (below)

Lest anyone think I am a dairy-nazi or hate milk, that is not true. I am a big fan of all dairy products, and, honestly, I have a little cheese habit that I cannot kick. Also, my six year old is a milk-junkie, I have said this before.

So, I don't have a problem with milk, per se. I have a problem with idiocy.

Totally Appalled by People Magazine (RANT!)

I was reading People Magazine this morning.

Yes, because it had a story about Katie Holme's baby. (Hey, I'm FROM Toledo - I practically have an obligation to be interested in the bizarre goings on in the life of our hometown girl hero turned TomKat zombie.)

Anyhoo, I was reading the story about baby Suri, and in a blurb at the bottom of one of the pages, it talked about "Scientology" and raising children.

This about made my hair stand on end and I wanted to spit I was so mad at the sheer stupidity of one of the items. It said something like, "Brew Your Own: While breastfeeding is fine, Scientology suggests brewing a baby formula from barley water, milk, and corn syrup."


Um. HELLO!!! There are so many things wrong with that statement that I CANNOT EVEN BELIEVE that People Magazine printed it.

First, "while breastfeeding is fine" - while breastfeeding is FINE? FINE? Not, preferred? Not, recommended by pediatricians the world over??? Not, recommended by the American Medical Association and the World Health Association, but, FINE? FINE????

Pasta can be fine. Hair can be fine. The f**king weather can be FINE.

Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is simply not done justice by tossing it off casually, as "fine".

But, making this even worse, is the UBELIEVABLY STUPID SUGGESTION that a mixture of barley water, MILK, and CORN SYRUP is PREFERABLE to BREASTMILK or BABY FORMULA.

There is a REASON that babies who do not get breastmilk get baby formula.

I cannot even believe, that a national magazine would suggest that is OKAY to brew your own formula, from cow's milk and sugar and barley water (barley water???).

Babies cannot have milk. They cannot have milk until they are a year old. Now, I didn't formula feed Gabriel (he nursed for a year), so, I do not claim to be an expert on why this is - but, I do know, that the only appropriate foods for new born babies are breastmilk and baby formula. THAT'S IT.

Here's a group of Canadian doctor who DO know why.

I've also read that most young infants cannot digest the proteins in cow's milk, and that giving them cow's milk can cause all kinds of digestive distress.

I'm so ticked that People printed this, I think I am going to have to write a letter to the editor.

That's all for now,

Friday, April 21, 2006

"Big Doin"s in Little City

Well, I have no medical news to report. Not that I expected any yet... And I haven't had any answers from my agency regarding the extra questions I asked them to try to get answers to from the foster parents.

I did call my sister, S~, who is mom to 5 children, aged 11 to 3. Her first child, J~, was born at 29 weeks, less than 2 pounds. J~ has some medical issues, which she is responding well to treatment for - she has severe allergies, asthma, and she grew very slowly, and stopped growing at the age of 9. Now, at age 11, she is getting growth hormone treatment and is responding very well. (She is very tiny, but, her endocronologist is now quite hopeful he will get her to five feet tall, with 60 months of treatment. Yes, 60 months. Five years.) Cognitively, at age 11, J~ has the reading ability of at least a high school senior. It is very strange to see a child who weighs 38 pounds and who is only 4 feet tall reading To Kill a Mockingbird. She has a deep understanding of some very grown up concepts, which, again, can be very disconcerting.

I didn't actually mean to start talking about my niece J~...I wanted actually to talk about her sister, my other niece, M~. M~ is the reason I called my sister to talk about Tung. I knew M~ had been born a few weeks early, so, I called my sister and asked, when, exactly, M~ had been born. And M~ was born at 35 weeks of pregnancy - the same week that Tung was born. M~ weighed 4 lbs 15 oz, while Tung weighed 5 lbs 1 oz. S~ cannot remember how much M~ weighed when she was 2, but she thinks it was "around 20 pounds." (Can I blame her for not keeping this info in her head? She's got FIVE children. FIVE. She was pregnant or nursing for 8 straight years. Yikes!) M~ is now a very normal and happy 9 year old, albeit a little on the small side. So, Tung is weighing 19.5 pounds right now, at 2years, 4 months. (I know this is small, very small. Just not sure how small...)

So, I am telling myself this is good news - a 35 week pregnancy, birthweight of 5 lbs, can produce a child as normal as M~.

(Incidentally, M~ was born during the opening ceremony of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. I remember this, because, on that date, my husband and I were living in Japan, and we had gone to Kyoto because it was a Japanese holiday called "umi no hi" or "ocean day". We watched the Olympics from a real bed, in a Holiday Inn, the only time we slept in an actual bed the whole time we lived in Japan. My mother called me at the hotel and scared the bejeezus out of me when the phone rang, to tell me M~ had been born.) (I have no idea why I am sharing this.)

I've also been doing some research on the Internet on meningitis in infancy. From what I can tell, the biggest complications are death and deafness. Tung is neither dead nor deaf, so, that seems like a good sign. He does not appear to have been delayed in walking or speaking.

Maybe this is child who needs some extra nourishment and a good loving home and he will be okay - small, but okay.


If you go to this link:

And click on the stories underneath the priest, you will see why I say there are "big doins" in my little city. For the first time that anyone knows of, a priest in on trial for the murder of a nun. Our little courthouse is a COMPLETE ZOO. It is a very interesting story, if you are addicted to news about crimes and trials...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

More thoughts

I spent my lunch hour talking to my friend L~, who spent 20 years running a NAEYC daycare center before she retired to get married and pursue a baby girl from China.

I was discussing with her the good advice of Christina, aka Mrs. Broccoli Guy, on the below topic.

L~, who, over 20 years, spent a lot of time with infants and toddlers, wondered if Tung's vomiting wasn't caused by something as simple as acid reflux. I think this is an excellent question. Then she said, "you really have to have a specialist look at this file." So, we are going to do that.

Also, I emailed the Vietnam coordinator to ask for more information from the foster mother about Tung's vomiting, and if he eats anything other than formula and rice soup. Also, I inquired about his sleeping habits, because the file is silent on that matter, and, raising one son with a serious sleep issue, I'm not sure that I am up for raising two sleepless boys. (Obviously, I am expecting sleep problems for several weeks when we come home, but, it is important to me to know the child is capable of a regular sleep pattern.)

I said to my friend, "I want to feel about this child the way I felt about C~H~ Dung. But, I am so worried about these health issues." So she said, "With C~H~ Dung, there weren't any health issues - I think you only sent him to your doctor to confirm that there werent' any issues. You are never going to be comfortable with this decision until a specialist looks at this file, because you already know that there are issues."

That's all for now,


His name is Tung.

Here are the things to be concerned about: he is malnourished in the first degree. (First degree being mild, Third Degree being extremely serious). He had meningitis as an infant, but, his hearing does not seem to have been effected and his motor and language and cognitive skills are on target. He vomits easily. He has three bottles a day - anybody know if this is normal for a 2 year old? (Gabe had two bottles a day of cow's milk at this age, because he refused to drink milk from a cup. But, it sounds like he is still getting a special formula prescribed by the HoChiMihn Center for Nutrition, to help with his weight, which is low.) (He was born in the 35th week of pregnancy, which the document describes as 3 weeks early. (By my calculation, this is 5 weeks early, unless they don't count pregnancy weeks until an actual menstrual period has been missed.) He was 5.06 lbs at birth, and now weighs 19.8 lbs.

Here are the positive things: He is loving and affectionate with his foster parents and foster sisters. He often gives them kisses. He is learning to talk, and can say "ma" and "chicken" and "dog" and "rice" and other words. When his foster mother calls, "where is Tung?" he calls out "da". (I'm not sure if this means "here" or something in Vietnamese.)

He can run fast and is able to walk backwards. He can climb on a chair. When music is playing he walks with a "swing" in his step. He follows simple instructions well. If a guest comes to the home he goes to call his foster mother to let her know. He likes to keep his hands clean and asks his foster mother to clean them if they are dirty. He likes to listen to music and play with toy cars. He seems to be on target for motor skills, and development, and language.

I called my sister last night (who has a two year old) and asked how many words N~ (my nephew) is using right now - he seems to have about the same number of words as this little boy.

I need to speak to our doctor, because I am concerned about the meningitis and the malnutrition.

Oh, he is cute. He looks like an elf. :-)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

This day is going to take forever

I am not sure how I am going to get through this day!!

I have a 10:00 AM hearing, an 11:30 hearing, a 1:30 hearing, and a 3:00 hearing.

Would it be wrong of me to say I could give two hoots about most of what happens at any of these events????!!??

I just want that FedEx package!

They are sending it to my house, so, I won't even get to see it until I get home. (Although I am going to try to head home right after my 3:00. With my luck the FedEx truck won't come until 5:00 or something!!) (Or, more likely, my 3:00 won't start until 3:45 and end up going until some ridiculous hour!!!) (I think I might kill somebody if that happens...)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

His name starts with a T

Finally got a call back from the Vietnam program coordinator. She told me a little bit about this little boy. Sadly, I didn't catch what his name is exactly. It's possibly Tung or Thanh. He is 2.5 years old. He is in Ho Chi Minh City, in a foster home. They are sending his file via overnight mail, to us and to us alone. No one else will see the file, so, if we feel like he is ours, he will be ours. We won't have to fight another family for him.

More soon,

Flipping Right the Heck Out

Okay. Breathe. One. Two. Three.

I contacted the Waiting Child Coordinator with my questions and concerns about Tam.

I got back a cryptic message that the Vietnam program had a child they thought we would be interested in, who we would not have to go to committee on, since it would be a regular referral.

L~ (the Vietnam coordinator) left a message on my husband's voicemail and our voicemail at home.

Now we are playing phone tag.

I swear I cannot breathe.


Monday, April 17, 2006

We Just Don't Know What to Do

Some of you may be wondering about Tam. (Thang - um, Tam is just easier, and it doesn't make me think about my college theater troupe members accusing eachother of "acting like "Miss Thang" (rhymes with twang) when they were ticked at eachother.)

Okay. Tam. Tam appears to be a very sweet little boy. He will be five in a few months. He is exactly 18 months younger than Gabriel.

One other family is interested in Tam, but, they have not yet decided if they want to formally request him.

If Husband and I decide to formally ask for him, this will force the other family to make a decision - they will have to "fish or cut bait" as it were. However, our agency hasn't specified exactly how much time they will give the other family to make that decision. They've had the file for "several weeks" though. We have only had the file since Thursday.

When we got the previous file, on C~ H~ Dung, I really felt that, within a few days, I was in love with that little boy. I stared at his pictures. I carried his file with me everywhere - from church to work to family and friends homes. I was so certain he was meant to be my son.

And when he was given to the other family, my heart was broken. Crushed. Smushed.

So, now I am looking at the file of this little boy, who is about 18 months older than that other child, and 18 months younger than my little boy Gabe.

And I feel very clinical about the whole thing. He sounds like a sweet boy. He is a handsome child. He is EXTREMELY attached to his foster mother and to another child who is fostered with him.

He is smart, and he has admirable qualities. (For example, he defends his foster sister if other children pick on her. He makes friends with adults in his neighborhood and goes to visit them after school or on Sundays. He asks about his foster mother's health when she is ill and won't leave her side if she is really sick. He convinced his foster mother to buy him a bicycle and is training himself to ride it. TRAINING HIMSELF TO RIDE IT.) I think these would be admirable qualities in a ten year old, heck, in a 25 year old. I find them remarkable in a four year old child who was abandoned by his mother and raised in an orphanage and then in a foster home.

I suspect this little boy has a strong will and a fighting spirit.

He is not the toddler I have been thinking about. (But, really, when I started this process I thought I was going to end up a little girl from China, so, honestly, my expectations are all out the window anyway.)

He is not C~ H~ Dung. (But, that child is not ever going to be mine. As much as it hurt, that child is not ever going to be mine.)

I'm just not sure how to proceed. Is that fact that I didn't immediately fall in love with this child a product of the fact that I was so so so badly burned by being denied C~ H~ Dung, and I am not going to let that happen again until I am sure that I can bring him home? Or is it because he is just not meant to be mine?


Easter Angst

At one point in time, many many years ago, my husband's grandfather was Russian Orthodox. (My husband likes to tell people that his grandfather's people come from the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. (This is because my husband loves vampire stories.) Although, this may be true, his grandfather's last name was actually Ukranian, not Romanian, and it started with a W and had lots of consonants and only one vowel.) After he had anglicized his last name (so now we have a really boring name that is very easy to spell, and the only thing is shares with the previous name, is that it also starts with a W) and married Husband's grandmother, he continued to go to the Orthodox church sometimes, but, the rest of Husband's father's family went to the Roman Catholic Church. And, when the man died, he was buried in an Orthodox ceremony, and some of my husband's father's family returned to the Orthodox church, like my husband's uncle and cousins. But, not my husband's father. So, my husband's immediate family is Roman Catholic, but much of his extended family is Orthodox.

And the reason I bring this up is, IT WOULD MAKE MY LIFE SO MUCH EASIER IF MY IN-LAWS WERE ORTHODOX instead of Roman Catholic. Sure, they would have objected to my husband marrying a protestant, just as they did anyway. But, we wouldn't have this angst every year about where to spend holidays. Because, evidently, Orthodox Easter and Orthodox Christmas are not on the same day that western Christians celebrate them. (For example, this year, Orthodox Easter is April 23, and Christmas was on January 7.) Now, perhaps it is selfish of me to wish that my in-laws remained firmly entrenched in an ancient Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian one, but, REALLY. It would make my life so much easier. (And because I am obviously self-absorbed, this is the only thing that matters to me!)

Imagine not having to fight with one's husband about whose family to spend the holiday with. Imagine the ability to take advantage of after-Christmas sales to buy gifts for one entire half of the family!!

I bring this up because my husband and I had a rare fight last week. And it was a fight about where to spend Easter. And I am not going to say that anybody "won", because in truth, nobody wins when you fight about holidays, because everybody just ends up feeling guilty.

We spent Good Friday and Saturday with my in-laws in Detroit. And we spent Easter with my mom and step-dad and all my siblings. And we didn't even see my dad and step-mom. I will admit that it was nice to go to Easter service at my own church (Husband and I are Episcopalian, which is kind of a long story, which can be summed up with a pity t-shirt saying which says, "As Long As Catholics Marry Protestants, There Will Always Be Episcopalians). It was nice to spend an actual holiday with my mom, who gets the short end of the stick at Christmas and Thanksgiving, and has started celebrating those holidays on the Friday after Thanksgiving and on December 26. But, I know my mother-in-law was sad. And I know my husband felt guilty about it. So, I, in turn, feel bad that my husband feels bad. It's a vicious circle. That all could have been avoided if my late grandfather-in-law (may his kind soul rest in peace) had insisted on taking his family to the Orthodox church.

I hope everyone had a joyful and peaceful holiday, or, that they will have one next Sunday, if they follow the Orthodox calendar. :-)


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Celebrity Adoption, and why adopt?

I've been reading several stories about the fact that Jessica Simpson wants to adopt a child before having her "own". Here is some nice commentary about that:

I think what bothers me most about this is the idea of becoming an adoptive mother to "help".

I don't really think my primary motivation for wanting another child is to "help" that child.

I don't want this child to think that we are taking him in and loving him and making him our own out of some kind of charity. Or, even worse, pity.

I do not pity this child. My feelings towards this child are not, I don't think, charitable ones.

Dare I say that I am motivated by selfishness? Because I want to have another child. I want a child. I want a child.

I don't want to "save" this child - I admit that giving the child a better life than the one he would otherwise have is a probably outcome - but, it's not the motivating factor.

I don't think people should look at adoptive parents and think, 'that's so kind, what a selfless gesture, to adopt a child who is unwanted.'

Because that's not true. This child, this son or daughter, is very much wanted. For my own selfish reasons. Because I want to make my family complete. Not because I want to save him.

And I hate the idea that she wants to adopt before she has her "own". "Samuel" is my OWN. As much as Gabe is my own.

I would like to take a moment to whine

Per the instructions of our agency, now that we are homestudy approved, I am submitting my I600A form. This is a petition to adopt a foreign orphan.

Despite the fact that I live, literally, on the state line (I could throw a stone from my backyard, the stone would land in Michigan), and despite the fact that it is a one hour and 10 minute drive to Detroit from my homes, and despite the fact that my husband is from Detroit and we both have a clue how to get around downtown Detroit - will the immigration department allow us to be fingerprinted in Detroit?

No. No, of course not. Nor will they allow us to be fingerprinted in Columbus, a city that I least KNOW how to get around.

No, I have to go to Cleveland to get my fingerprints done. Cleveland is at least a 2.5 hour drive from my house. I've only been there twice in my life. (Okay, yes, it is ironic that I have been to Tokyo several more times than I have been to Cleveland.)

The one good thing about this is that my girlfriend J. from college lives in Cleveland, so, hopefully, I will be able to to catch up with her when we go to be fingerprinted.

Okay, I am done complaining now.



Tam is not Tam. He is Thang. Which, is pronounced, um, "Tam".

All Things Adoption

I found this article today, and I thought it was interesting. It's about U.S. born babies being adopted by Canadians. Kind of an interesting twist on international adoption:

I'm not sure what to think about the story. I'm trying to adopt a child in another country and bring them to the U.S., and a big reason I've chosen international adoption is the security in knowing that no birth parent is ever going to show up and tell me that they want to take my child away from me. That I won't be given a child for 30 days, only to be told that the birth mother changed her mind. That I won't, five years on, have a guy just released from prison show up at my door step and demand to see his child, and start squawking about how he didn't give his consent properly because he was coerced while in prison. (This actually happened to one of our firm's clients.)

So, I imagine, that for a Canadian couple, they might see more security in adopting from the US, where it might be more difficult for the birth parents to challenge the adoption in court.

I really don't think this article means that Americans don't love their African-American children. I have clients who are willing to adopt a child of any color - but, they can't afford the private agency fees, so, they are going through the foster system. And, well, I don't think I can even get started on the many many problems with that...


This morning I attended an adoption hearing. I don't usually get to attend these, because they are everyone's favorite hearings to attend, and since I am the "low man on the totem pole" in my office, it's rare that I am asked to take care of one of them. But, today, no one else was available for the adoption hearing, so, I got to go. Our probate judge loves adoptions hearings, and he tries very hard to make it feel important and meaningful for the adopting parents, and the child, if they are old enough to understand. I wish I could write about my client and the adoptee. But, that is a big no-no. Suffice it to say, I kind of got choked up. I couldn't help thinking about the day that Husband and I and Gabe and the new child will be in that same courtroom, re-adopting our new addition....

That's all for now,

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


First, I want to say to my readers, if you don't want to read about things that are sad and political and possibly controversial, that are not related to Vietnam adoptions, do not read the post below (the one called 9/11).

Anyway, that said, my agency is, as we speak, sending me the file of a 4.5 year old boy. His name is T~H~ Tam. I am not getting my heart set on this child. He is a waiting child and another family already has his file.

So, I am being calm, cool, and collected. I will not fall in love with this child.

They also wanted to send me the file on a 2.5 year old Chinese girl, who is deaf, has cleft lip and palate, missing an ear, and has a blood related syndrome. I felt overwhelmed by this description. We had told them we would accept a deaf child who was developmentally on target. We had told them we would accept a child with a correctable defect such as cleft lip. But, I said, quite honestly, I don't think I am ready to parent that child. She told me she appreciated my honesty, and that I should consistently be honest - not to accept a child I am not prepared for.

So, we will see what Tam's file says. He is at the outer limits of our age range. On the other hand, it was save us a bundle in pre-school tuition. ;-) (Trying to keep things light and not get my heart broken again!)



A couple of things have happened this week that have me thinking about September 11.

The first thing is that my aunt's divorce was finalized. Now, I know that sounds like a non sequitir, but, hear me out. This is my aunt who is only three years older than me, and more like a sister than an aunt. At any rate, my aunt was married, since 1997, to a man from Saudi Arabia. Their marriage had problems that all multi-cultural marriages face, but, after September 11, 2001, things really became difficult. Her husband was angry about things, and, I don't think he was angry about the same things that the rest of us were angry about. (My husband and I were discussing these anger issues yesterday, and I said, "you know, sometimes, I feel like I have been angry about things happening in the world for so long..." and he said, "Since 9/11. I've been angry since 9/11." Maybe it's because we still don't know where Osama Bin A**hole is, and I'm ticked off about it, and I'm terrified, really, that he and his minions are going to do something else, and I'm tired of being scared, so, I'm p*ssed.) Okay, back to the divorce. He was angry. We were angry. He became more militant about certain things - like, not wanting my aunt to attend a family baptism, or not wanting a Christmas tree. Things went downhill. And then, about a year ago, he told her, "I love you. But, I can't live here anymore." And he left, he got on a plane, he went back to Saudi, where he hadn't been in 15 years. And at first he called her and begged her to join him (and, she's not an idiot, she said no.) And then he called her and said, "I couldn't ask you to come here anymore. You could never be happy here. I can never be happy there. I love you. I don't know what to do." And so she filed for divorce. And it took a while, because he was out of the country, but, last week, it was over. He signed everything he had to sign, and she signed everything she had to sign, and the judge signed, and it ended. And he told her again that he loved her, but, he didn't know how to make it work, because he couldn't be in America without being angry, and she couldn't be in Saudi without being miserable.

And I feel like their marriage, is, in a weird way, another casualty of September 11. Probably not the last one, either. Probably their are other marriages that have ended this way. For Pete's sake, I'm a divorce attorney, I shouldn't be broken up about such things - this is what I do, right?

The other thing going on is the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussoui (sp?). I feel really conflicted about this matter. On the one hand, he is, without a doubt, a miserable excuse for a human being and given the opportunity he would certainly kill as many Americans as he could. I don't doubt that he WOULD, or that he COULD, I'm just not sure if I believe that he DID. I stood in front of the justices of the Supreme Court of Ohio and promised to uphold our system of justice, a system that does not punish people for what they could do, but for what they have already done.

And so I ask myself several questions - did Moussoui, who appears to be both insane and unstable, actually KNOW about 9/11? Would he have been trusted with this information by the other hijackers and planners? If he did know, would anyone have believed him if he had started talking? Would it have made a difference? Would 3,000 people be alive today if he had opened his damn crazy mouth? If he DID know, if he IS responsible, would it be worse for him to die? Or would it be worse for him if we were to force him to LIVE?

Now, I don't know the answer to most of these questions. I haven't been in the courtroom, I haven't seen what the jury has seen, and, frankly, there are things that jury has seen in the last few days that I don't ever WANT TO see. Pictures that are so horrible, I don't know that they will ever get those images out of their heads. (Even now, there are images from that morning that I cannot get out of my head - the picture of the man in the chef's uniform falling in a perfect arc from one of the towers, for example.) They have listened to the grief of the survivors, dozens of them. I don't know about those jurors, but, I know that, for me, the grief of others weighs so heavily on my heart and soul that sometimes I think I cannot bear their pain - their pain, not even my own. I think I might go crazy - totally, certifiably, bat-shit crazy - if I listened to their stories all at once, all at the same time.

But, I think I do know the answer to the last questions. I draw some of this answer from my faith, and some from my sense of what is right and just. I think that there are some things that are worse than death. I think that sometimes it is would be WORSE for some criminals to have to wake up every morning. To know you will never again take a walk outside in the sun, or in the rain, or in the snow. To never have the company of others. To wake up every morning, in the same place, for years and years and years, with nothing to look forward to, with nothing to DO. I think it is a greater punishment than death. I really do. Mousoui wants us to kill him - why should we give him that satisfaction?

I want someone to pay for that morning. I want JUSTICE. I want someone to have to PAY for everything we lost that day. I want someone to be held ACCOUNTABLE for that chef who dove off a building like a swan, knowing that there was only concrete to catch him, knowing that what was behind was a worse way to die. I want ANSWERS. I want to NOT BE AFRAID anymore. I want to rewind to that perfectly perfect fall morning, when the sky was that perfectly perfect blue, and I want those planes to NOT crash. I want to be able to look at the blue of the autumn sky again and NOT WANT TO CRY.

I'm just not sure that killing Zaccarias Moussoui is the way to achieve those things. I want the head of Osama Bin Laden. This man's head just doesn't feel like enough - not by a long shot.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Home Study Update Part 2

I am having a totally insane day (Gabe was up all night with stomach flu, I stayed home from work to be with him until 3:00 today when Husband got home from work, six million phone calls to return, etc.) But, I wanted to share this:

Our agency called last night and we are officially "homestudy ready" and on the waiting list!!! - a referral could come any day now...or six months from now...



Monday, April 10, 2006

Homestudy Update

Among the 12,000 emails in my inbox, there was an email from our social worker, with our proposed homestudy attached. She said she would send it to our agency as soon as I let her know that I had read it and it didn't contain any factual errors.

I read it (it was fine), I emailed her back, and I hope hope hope hope that she is sending it to L~ and D~ (Vietnam coordinators) at our agency RIGHT NOW. It approves us to adopt a 3 to 5 year old child. Hurray!


Home Again

Well, Husband and I are back from our week in Jamaica - which was FABULOUS. I can't imagine a more perfect week. The only thing that kind of sucked was actually getting to the resort. We were up at 3:20 AM last Saturday, drove to the Detroit airport, which was pretty insane for 4:30 in the morning, had to fly to Memphis, wait for 2 hours, and fly to Montego Bay. We arrived in Montego Bay at 2:00 PM, and it took an hour to get through immigration and customs. Then, we got on a bus for the resort.

This bus drove us straight through the middle of Jamaica - i.e. over the mountains, on a skinny mountain road, where we dodged goats and cows and a pickup truck with 86 people in the open bed of the truck, and chickens, and a funeral possession, and small children, and by the time we arrived at our "rest stop" I thought I was going to toss my cookies. I paid US$2.00 to buy a tiny bottle of ginger ale at the rest stop, and got back in the bus. All I can say is, thank god for the ginger ale, because I think that is all that kept me from throwing up all over everyone else in the bus. I was very very sick when we arrived at the resort, but, they greated me with a cold towel smelling of lemons, and they offered me a glass of champagne but quickly brought me a Coke when I said I was "really unbelievably car sick." So, from that moment on, everything was just magical.

The beach was almost one mile long, and completely secluded. On other trips to Jamaica, we were sometimes bothered by drug dealers on the beach, but, that did not even happen once at this place. (Probably because it is an hour and half drive up and down the mountain-trail-of-goats-and-death to get to??) The ocean was that perfect blue - every day I thought I was looking at a post card. The resort had four large pools, and mostly what we did was this: get up, eat too much, lie on the beach reading a book, swim in the sea, float in the pool, swim up to the pool bar, eat some more, swim in the sea, jump on the ocean trampoline (very very fun), float in the pool, swim up to the pool bar (repeat), eat some more, play cards, knock boots. Oh, except that on three days we went snorkeling in the morning, and sometimes we watched basketball after the knocking of the boots. We never even left the resort, (mainly because that would have involved driving somewhere on that mountain road.)

Saturday morning, we were sitting at a table along the beach, feeding a snowy egret pieces of a pastry (they had this AMAZING PASTRY CAFE at the resort), and we looked at eachother, and we said, "What a great week. Let's go home." We both missed Gabe and the cats and we were ready to come home. And it is nice to be ready to come home, after a week in paradise, I think.

On the way back to the airport, the bus driver humored me and let me sit in the front seat with him. I am pretty sure he thought I was a crazy person, and totally breaking all kinds of rules about where passengers are supposed to sit, but, he said, "alright mi-lady, if you want to sit up here, it's NO PROBLEM. You come to Jamaiaca, you have NO PROBLEMS." It was weird sitting in the front seat, because the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car from where it is here in the States, so, I was sitting, in what felt like, to me, the driver's seat. So, I turned to the driver and said, "I feel like I should be driving." The look on the man's face was priceless. (His first language was something other than English, and his English was rough. I think he thought I was actually asking if I could DRIVE THE BUS.) He said, "no, mi-lady, I'm afraid I can not be allowing you to drive the bus." I said, "no, I'm just kidding." And he said, 'oh, you are joking with me!" And he drove us to the airport, and by sitting up front I actually avoided getting sick, which was very good. Shockingly, our flight had been changed to a direct flight to Detroit, so, we didn't have to land in Memphis on the way home. We got through customs in what seemed like a flash - for the first time in my life, our luggage was actually THE FIRST LUGGAGE on the carrousel. (It has to be somebody, right? Somebody's luggage has to be first - it's just never been MINE before.) We flew through immigration and customs (although somebody getting off our plane got nosed out by a drug dog, in this particular case, a very un-menacing little guy that looked like a beagle, but, smaller. Is there such a thing as a toy beagle? But, I have to ask myself, why anyone would bring drugs back from a vacation trip to Jamaica. Don't these people KNOW that they have the drug dogs there EVERY TIME? Every time. I've never come back from the Caribbean without being smelled - usually by large, scary German shepherds, but, apparently the tiny beagles can sniff out the weed, too. Sometimes I just marvel at the idiocy of people.)

Well, a mountain of paperwork awaits my perusal, so, I suppose I should get back to the important business of ending marriages and foreclosing on homes...

Law Mommy

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