Wednesday, February 25, 2009

TM's Lifebook

I finally did it. I completed TM's lifebook after saying I was going to do it for the past 1 1/2 years. It was a surprisingly difficult thing to do. Not the putting together part...putting pictures and text on a page isn't that difficult...but the emotional part. I knew everything that went in it; there was no new information about TM's early life that was surprising to me. But I also hadn't visited all this information in a conscious way for quite a while. There were two things that struck me. First, TM is now more my son than he was the last time I really thought about his background in more than a cursory way. All those early events didn't just happen to some child, they happened to my son. Looking at his (very cute) baby pictures, I'm overwhelmed with the desire to go back in time and scoop him up and save him from so much. But I can't. It's his history and I can't go back and change it no matter how much I want to.

Second, I am struck once again with how hard those first few weeks were with him. In order to get dates and events right I have been reading old blog posts as well as combing through pictures to add to the book. Seeing the pictures and reading the posts brought back, in a very visceral way, the emotions I had at the time. Sometimes I wonder how on earth we all survived. (I know how we survived...only by God's grace and support. It's nothing I could have done on my own.) In the pictures, I see expressions on TM's face that I'm very familiar with. Expressions which mean trouble is brewing, and indicate TM is feeling life is out of control and very unfair. One glance at the pictures of him at our first meeting and from what I know of him now, I see our future weeks very clearly. All written on his face. But then... he was a stranger to us. I had no way to 'read' him. With a baby, parents and child all learn together, and while the first weeks can be hard, there is only so much a new baby can do... pretty much cry. But this suddenly having to parent a three year old is parenting blindly. It's all trial and error, and with our case it felt as if it were mostly error. The selective amnesia of memory had begun to dull the difficulties we had faced those first weeks, but doing the lifebook plunged me right back into the midst of all those emotions. Take heart, those of you still waiting to bring your child home. Though it was hard, J. and I both came to the conclusion that we would do it all again if it meant TM would be our son.

TM loves his book and thinks it's great that I made a special book all about him and for him. I'm relieved to have it done and to be able to check something off my list. Now I'm down to three things to complete before May.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bad mom moment

I suppose my streak of never having to call poison control in over 15 years of parenting had to come to an end someday. At least when I did have to call it didn't result in a trip to the ER. It was one of those moments when everyone thought someone else was keeping an eye on K. When we realized it and located him, he was covered in some smelly purple-type stuff, with most of it being around his mouth. By smell alone I knew what it was...the antacids I had been keeping next to my bed. (It seemed better to keep them there so I didn't have make more trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night than I already was.) Since the bottle was half empty and had been nearly full the last time I paid attention, I decided I should call poison control, but really hoped that I wouldn't be making another ER visit. At 2 visits to the ER in less than a year, I feel K has fulfilled his quota. The very nice woman at poison control said that K should be fine, he may have a stomach ache and probably needed some water to help wash it all down, but it essentially wouldn't hurt him.

I am thankful that it wasn't something more serious that he got into. Parenting is not for the faint of heart, and without God's grace and provision, I'm not sure I could do it at all.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Paperwork fantasies

I just came back from the Social Security office where I applied for K's social security number and changed TM's name on his social security card from his Vietnamese name to his US name. With this, I have officially finished the paperwork associated with TM's adoption. Hallelujah! (I'm afraid we're not even close with K's paperwork. When we can scrape the money together we will do the re-adoption so he has a US generated birth certificate with his US name, then we can apply for his US passport, then I can go back and change his social security card.)

Doing all this paperwork and being pregnant has me pondering the differences between birth and adoption with regard to the hassles of government and documentation. I have to say, for my first five children, I didn't fully appreciate how easy it was. Essentially, I gave birth, filled-out a few forms which were brought to me in my hospital room, and several weeks later a birth certificate and social security card arrived in the mail. I didn't have to collect a stack of documents, I didn't have to go anywhere, I didn't have to hire a lawyer, and I didn't have to pay any money. Bliss.

So here's my fantasy: If our children who come home on IR3 visas are truly considered our legal children AND citizens of the United States (and they are), why can't we streamline the paperwork process? In order to get to the point of actually adopting our child we have been investigated, fingerprinted (more than once), and had more than one visit from a licensed social worker to approve our home, income, health, and stability. Why do we have to continue to be approved after the fact? Instead, a few more pieces of paper filled out during the visa interview and we could be done. If a hospital can give me forms and have paperwork arrive in the mail, why not the embassy? It's at least a government office. We could fill out a form notifying the government what the child's name should be and the government would then send us in the mail, along with the Certificate of Citizenship (in the correct name!), a US generated birth certificate and a social security card. Simple and easy. The government could do this easily if they wanted to...they are all about paperwork after all. And it would go a long way to show parity to adoptive parents instead of making us prove over and over that we are the real parents to our child.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fabulous

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According to Ann at Crazy for Kids, I'm fabulous. (Thanks, Ann!) This is particularly nice right now since 'fabulous' is certainly not how I would describe myself at this particular moment. Here are the rules for this award:1. Pass it on to 5 fabulous blogs, and include the one that gave it to you (and link them) 2. List 5 of your fabulous addictions.

First, to fulfill rule #1...here are five blogs which I read everyday, some I think everyone must read judging from the double and triple digit number of comments which appear on them and some are less widely known. In no particular order:

1. His Hands, His Feet
2. One Thing
3. Pleasant View Schoolhouse
4. A Baker's Dozen: Daily Life in a Large Family
5. Making Home

Now to fulfill rule #2...five of my addictions. I will have to do a pregnant/non-pregnant list since some things that I love when I'm not pregnant, I really don't care for while pregnant.

Non-pregnant addictions:
1. Books and other reading matter. I am a compulsive reader and will plow through between 3-5 books a week depending on length and type. Keeping myself in reading material can prove to be tricky. It's a good thing we have a library nearby.
2. Coffee. First thing in the morning, usually followed by another two cups. Usually J., my next-to-perfect husband brings me my first cup while I'm still in bed.
3. Tea. A very large mug of good, black Irish tea about 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
4. Other people's blogs. I've decided that following other people's lives via their blogs...many of whom I've never met in real life...is the modern-day version of the soap opera.
5. Organization. I am a much happier person and a much better mother when I feel on top of things. Plus it's always easier to maintain systems than to have to keep digging out of chaos (which is what is happening right now).

Now to the pregnant addictions:
1. Books. This one will probably never change.
2. Blogs. I think it's because I can read them...the blogs that are mainly pictures don't hold my interest in the same way.
3. Beef. More than anything else, I've been craving beef this pregnancy. I just can't eat enough of it.
4 & 5. Sleep. I can't help myself; I sit down and I doze off. I realize my body is working very hard even when I'm just sitting down, but it's hard to shake the "I'm a slug" feeling I have these days.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Well, it looks as though we will be having two more.....

GIRLS!

I had my (first, of probably many) level II ultrasound today. Both babies look good...four chambers in the hearts, complete spinal columns, all the right blotches (at least that's what it looked like to me) in the brain, complete lips, and the correct number of limbs. And both the tech and the fetal specialist MD thought they were both girls. (Although we'll refrain from using gallons of pink paint anywhere. We have a nephew whom the tech was 100% sure was a girl. We were all a bit surprised when she was a he.)

But, of course, because it seems doctors as a whole are always on the lookout for pathology, I will need to go back for another level II in a month and a half or so. Both babies' kidneys had fluid in them, though still within acceptable parameters. But even so, we were told in serious tones, that it can sometimes lead to surgery after birth (although rare) and that it is a soft marker for Downs (though there were no other markers present, other than my age, of course). It seemed to me that the amniocentesis that was being suggested was far riskier, odds wise, than what was going on with the little one's kidneys. I refuse to let the medical establishment take away my joy about these two babies. We will of course pray for their continued health and development, but they are our beloved children no matter what the future holds.
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