Thursday, May 29, 2008

Time for the Mama

One of the things about being a mom is that you tend to be a mom All Of The Time. Which is completely fabulous and you get to learn all of the cartoon theme songs by heart and play at the park and buy Pop Tarts at the store without getting funny looks at the checkout counter. But sometimes, a mama has to be Not a Mama.

Before Miss P came home, N was 8 and A was 3 and I had more time to be Not a Mama. I was back to my quilting and had time for my book club and I had started running and I was feeling pretty good about where I was in life - as a mama and as me. Once P came home, obviously the focus shifted. Not only did I have to be there constantly for P while she figured out her new family, but I also had to spend more time with A and N to make up for the months of neglect while I was obsessing about the adoption (me? obsess? nooooooooo). And to praise them for being the best big sisters in the world, of course.

But it's been six months now and I have been starting to yearn for those Not a Mama moments. At some point, you have to separate a little from your kiddos and do the things that you enjoy doing for YOU. Otherwise they all head off to college and you're left staring at your husband thinking, 'Hmmm.... now what?'

The nifty thing about this upcoming surgery (scheduled for June 30th by the way) is that I will be forced to focus on me. In order to recover the right way, I'm going to have to sleep and take short walks and rest on the couch. I'll have time to read new books and catch up on a few movies I've been wanting to see. I've already been figuring out which of my quilting projects will be in shape to work on while sitting in the chair with my feet up on the ottoman. And I'm hopeful that my recovery will go smoothly so I can slowly work my way into running again. Because the pounds have been sneaking up on me. Must be all of those Pop Tarts.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Child's Right

This is the email we sent to JCICS to advocate on behalf of the A Child's Right campaign. These emails of support need to be sent by May 30th, so get crackin! And be prepared to write, email, and call your Senators and Congressmen/women next week. If you don't know what I'm talking about, crawl out from under the rock and go here.

We are writing in support of A Child's Right Campaign.

Our beautiful daughter, P, was born in Vinh Long, Vietnam in January of 2007 and joined our family in November of 2007. I have watched the situation in Vietnam very carefully for more than two years and am convinced that there are adoption agencies doing 'the right thing' in Vietnam by providing much-needed humanitarian aid and refusing to contribute to unethical practices. There are also adoption agencies who are the main contributors to this mess we find ourselves in. The JCICS recommendations do a service by providing means to continue ethical adoptions (and the humanitarian aid that stems from international adoption fees paid by prospective adoptive parents), while stopping the tide of abuses to the system.

The adoption agency we used, Dillon International, has supported five orphanages in the southern provinces of Vietnam for more than a decade. Since the reopening of U.S./Vietnam adoptions, new baby beds and mattresses have been provided where once infants slept on wooden slats. Medical care has been consistently available. Schooling has been provided for older children. New, safer, larger buildings have been purchased. And playgrounds are being installed thanks to a fundraising campaign by adoptive parents. Without the additional money provided by international adoption fees, many of these projects will slow or stop altogether, in order to ensure the basic care of food and shelter continues even if adoptions cease.

We are writing in support of A Child's Right campaign on behalf of not only the children who are available for adoption, in order that they might find homes with families who will provide more than the basic needs, but also on behalf of the children who are not available for adoption. There are children who live in orphanages due to the extreme poverty of their birth families, but who have not been relinquished - whose parents still visit them when possible. None of Vietnam's children living in orphanages should suffer through another shutdown, when an ethical solution is possible.

our family

Saturday, May 24, 2008

And the Winner Is...

Leigh and Rachel have been competing for the Worst Mom Ever Award but I think I've got one that will beat both of their wimpy entries.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on the phone with our adoption agency program director. I called because I'm obsessed... ummm... highly interested in the possibility that we'll adopt again and I wanted to chit chat about our options.

N was at school but A and P were bee-bopping around the living room while I was having the typical 60 minute conversation with Jynger on topics ranging from the mess in Vietnam to the upcoming Vietnam Family Reunion to whether I should buy oak or cherry flooring for my living room (we tend to get off topic). As you might imagine, keeping two active kiddos busy while I'm on the phone for an hour is practically impossible, which is why I uttered the statement that should win me the Worst Mom Ever trophy hands-down.

"A! Leave P alone and let her play in the dog food."

Uh huh. WHILE I was on the phone with our agency director. BEFORE we've even had our final post placement visit.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Survey Says...

Still high grade bad cells! Whoo! (Odd thing to be celebrating, don't ya' think?)

So either today or Tuesday, the doctor's office will call to schedule the hysterectomy, hopefully in early July. In the meantime, my sister and her family are here and we're off to do fun kid-related stuff now that the last day of school has finally arrived.

Have a great weekend everyone! I know I will.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Waiting and Waiting Some More

So I'm hanging out, literally attached to my cell phone, waiting for the doctor's office to call. Could be today. Or tomorrow. Or Friday. But by Friday at noon I'm calling them to avoid a possible nervous breakdown over the long holiday weekend. The results of my 2nd pap/biopsy should be back soon and I really really really want them to tell me (again) that it's still the Stage 4 bad cells and not Stage 1 (or worse) cancer. Logically, it should still be Stage 4 bad cells because I had a clear pap one year ago and technically the cells shouldn't have had time to develop from 'perfectly wonderful and normal' to 'eeks! cancer!'. Then again, the stinkin' bad cells weren't supposed to come back after the Leep so technically my life is cursed so I'd like to have the second set of results back thankyouverymuch.

I've decided I'm truly okay with the hysterectomy. Honest Abe, I am. I can deal with the surgery and the recovery as long as it means I don't have to worry about cervical cancer ever again. But if the stinkin' bad cells are cancerous, I'm could lose my biological fertility and my chances of adopting again all at the same time. And that I am not okay with. Seriously not okay with.

Ring phone, ring!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Well, THAT'S A Surprise

Sooooooooo... I'm not exactly shy on the ol' blog but this may be more than any male readers (do I have male readers???) want to know. It may be more than any of you want to know. But this blog makes lovely therapy so here ya' go.

Short version of my obstetrical history: Miscarriage, pregnancy with N, two medically-documented miscarriages (two others suspected) with one D&C, pregnancy with A. Successful pregnancies = three months of throwing up, Zofran, and a 20 pound weight loss before hitting the second trimester. Pretty much five minutes after having A, my doctor patted me on the hand and said, "Let's not do this again." Hence... P :)

I'm of the mind that one more family member would be nifty. My husband isn't quite on board but isn't saying no. Adoption would be the most likely method of family adding, but we wanted to have the bio method available *just in case*. In the meantime, I needed to figure out a new plan for birth control because I'd been on Depo Provera for too long and was risking bone loss, blah blah blah (insert scary medical jargon here). After much debating and discussing and getting opinions, we decided to go with the Mirena IUD. I was scheduled to have it done yesterday.

Instead, I found out that I had an abnormal pap. Again. With the highest grade of abnormal cells. Again. Two years ago, I had this occur and ended up with a LEEP procedure (NOT fun). Supposedly, there's less than 10 percent chance of recurence but guess who got lucky? Within a few minutes of breaking the news, my doctor handed me a brochure on hysterectomies. Definitely not what I'd planned on hearing. We went from 'let's do an IUD juuuust in case I want another biological baby' to 'no more babies for you' in about 15 minutes. Oh, and let's throw in 1-2 days in the hospital and 2-4 weeks of recovery before I can drive, pick up my children, etc etc etc

I'm doing better today. Numero Uno Most Importantly, it's not cancer yet. So if we do the hysterectomy, the problem is gone and I can kiss the possibility of cervical cancer bye-bye. Who needs a uterus anyway, right? So I'm going to look at the bright side and thank goodness that I've been following my annual exam schedule and that we caught it. I still have to wait for the second pap and biopsy to come back (sometime next week) before we schedule the surgery, but we're trying to figure out when to fit in 2-4 weeks of inactivity and no driving during our busy summer. Being the practical sort, my mind also went immediately to the truly critical problem - what am I going to read during my 2-4 weeks of recovery?

Which is where you come in. Begin suggestions.... now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

15 1/2 Months Old

We had P's 15 month wellness appointment yesterday. I've been anxiously waiting for an official weight because I'm sure the peanut would like to be able to face forward in her carseat sometime before she hits junior high. The scales at the pediatrician's office gave us 19 pounds 5 ounces (5th percentile) and we have permission to change car seats on June 1st! P is 31 1/2 inches long, which puts her in the 75th percentile and the doctor was really pleased with her growth. She had been below the 3rd percentile for weight and we've kept her on infant formula for a few extra months in order to load up the calories. Now that she's got a little meat to her bones, we're going to switch to whole milk on June 1st as well, although the doctor gave me a handout with suggestions for high calorie snacks. I wish ice cream, pudding, and cheese were on my recommended dietary list!

The doctor was also very happy with P's developmental progress. She's walking like a champ, can stack blocks, and does all those other essential toddler things like picking up cheerios with a pincher grasp. In fact, she's ahead of the age markers in a few categories so, of course, I think she's brilliant :)

Speech, however, is another story. We've heard P say cracker, book, doggie, mama, and dada. However, she won't repeat them unless she's in the mood. She babbles constantly and uses all of the appropriate sounds, but she hasn't gotten around to using true words on a consistent basis. The doctor isn't concerned yet and we're not concerned yet. The plan is to give her another couple of months and then, if she's not talking up a storm, we'll enroll in early childhood speech sessions. Anna was actually the same way - she didn't speak at all until 16 months. Now she's never quiet! So we'll keep an eye on Miss P and go from there.

As of Friday, P will have been home with us for six months. I don't know where the time has gone. The last two months, especially, have seen tremendous progress. No more night terrors, reduced stranger anxiety, strong attachment to everyone in our immediate household, sleeping through the night... it's amazing. And Ohhhhhhhhhh Lordy, the spunk. Her little smile lets us know when she's about to get into something she shouldn't, right about the same time her tiny feet start carrying her off on a new adventure.

Happy 6 months home, P! We love you to pieces.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Birthday Continues

The ONLY thing A wanted for her birthday was a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. Trust me, we tried to interest her in other options but in the end... off to the Big Cheese Palace we went. Miss P discovered The Slide. I was letting her crawl around in the toddler play area when she made a break for the slide and LAUNCHED herself down it. Once I got over my minor heart attack, I realized that P absolutely loved it. She would throw herself down the slide, laughing hysterically, and then immediately turn around and try to climb back up. What a daredevil!

All in all, I think it's good that the Great 4th Birthday of 2008 is over. Because I'm tired!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Other Stuff

See how upset I am? I titled the previous blog post 'And other stuff' and didn't even give you any other stuff! There *is* other stuff and we'll get to that in a day or so. But I have been thinking more about WHY I'm so upset about the Vietnam adoption situation. Obviously, as I've already mentioned, this completely and totally sucks for the legitimate orphans who will now sit in orphanages for possibly years with loving nannies who are, nonetheless, not a supplement for a permanent family.

But I'm also incredibly sad because over the last 2 years, I've fallen in love with the country and people of Vietnam. When you adopt a child internationally, you also adopt that country's culture and traditions. You choose to be a steward of the things that your child will lose by living in the good ol' U.S. of A. You read history books and contemporary novels and search out films where subtitles are necessary to understand the plot.

And then you go to the country. And you spend 15 days absorbing the sights and smells and tastes that are YOUR CHILD'S BIRTH COUNTRY. And you know that 15 days is not enough to be able to provide a sense to them of the country where their birth parents and birth grandparents still live.
Before we adopted P, all I knew about Vietnam was the war, a Robin Williams movie, and that there was a French influence somewhere along the way... and that much I knew because I read a book. Now, Vietnam is so much more. Vietnam has given our family a beautiful gift. Not just a daughter, but an appreciation for her country and her culture. An appreciation for another side of the world we live in - different, not better and not worse.
So I'm sad. I'm incredibly sad that there will be many familes who won't have the opportunity to know Vietnam the way that we do. The beauty, the history, the people... all of which have given us a treasure in our sweet little P.

Vietnam Part 2. And Other Stuff.

What I really want to do is wail and scream and point fingers in regards to this entire US/Vietnam adoption mess. But that's already been done. By me. By countless others - some educated, some not. Will it do any good? Nope. Might make me feel better... but I'm going to refrain.

Mostly, I'm just so sad.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Vietnam Part 1

So we made a marathon trip to my folks' new home this weekend. We left before 6 a.m. on Saturday morning and got home tonight at 6 p.m. Considering it's a 6 hour trip to their place... mostly because with four girls in the car, we stop at least four times before arriving at our destination... it was a long trip. Poor husband :)

Anywho, one of the first things my Dad said was 'Did you hear Vietnam is closing adoptions?' Since the majority of our relatives were at the house at some point or other, I also heard it from my Aunt June and my Aunt Barb. And I'm probably going to be hearing it a lot more, because now the questions that have arisen about ethicality and legality and bribery are going to affect our children for the rest of their lives.

Like every parent who has adopted from Vietnam, I want to think that we adopted P through 'one of the good agencies'. Because of the amount of time and energy I've invested in advocating for ethical adoptions and watching the unethical practices, I'm confident that by using Dillon International we can look our child in the eye and tell her that the circumstances of her adoption are as 'up and up' as we can possibly hope for.

The problem is this. Every parent who has adopted from Vietnam is hoping the same thing. And many, many of those parents won't be able to back it up with a long record of humanitarian support in Vietnam, an agency that has far more relinquishments than abandonments, and an agonizing wait for families hoping to adopt infant girls. In fact, in the Spring of 2007, Dillon stopped accepting gender requests. At that time, I think there were around 15 families on the waiting list for a little girl. Five or six of those families are still waiting. And may be waiting as of September 1st when adoptions shut down.

I hurt for the families who are still waiting. I hurt for the families (including ours) who hoped to adopt again from Vietnam. But mostly I hurt for the children who have already come home (including ours) who will forever have questions about their adoption circumstances. And for the children who are still waiting in the orphanages and who may not have a chance to find their family - biological or adoptive - because of this mess.

Coming soon: My rant on responsibility. Because let's face it - a lot of people are to blame for this disaster.

Until then: Go here and write some letters. Let's try to come to a solution to keep ETHICAL adoptions an option between Vietnam and the U.S. It's way easier than your dossier paperwork - I promise.