Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch - how to live... and die

I have listened more than once to Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture". His upbeat attitude, his forward thinking, and his courage to face his death with love, compassion, and gusto should be a lesson for us all. I often think if I were to be in his shoes, would I be able to embrace life as he has, living as an example of what life SHOULD be every day, rather than being bitter or depressed about what I won't have because my life (in my eyes) has been cut short. Do I even embrace life as well as I should now - even though I think I'll live another 20 years.

How would any of us really know how long our lives would have been? We assume that we're going to live into our 70's or 80's. But almost anything can cut our lives off shorter than what our expectations are. I could be killed by a car crash tomorrow - and if so, I have to ask myself: Would I have lived the life I wanted to - one that would have made a difference to others? Would I have lived a life that my daughter could remember me by with love and admiration, one where whe would think that I was a great mom, and would she remember how much I loved her from the little things I did with her and for her? Perhaps I better change some things now, so there will be no doubt in her mind.

I want to be like Randy's mom - in a go-cart racing down a track and living life to its fullest - or like his dad, having fun on the roller coasters and taking chances. Life is all about risk - we risk every day we get out of bed, and we should be facing that risk with a positive attitude. If we have nothing but fear in our lives, we cheat ourselves of the greatests gift God has given us - JOY, WONDER, LOVE, and FULFILLMENT. There are others, I am unable at this time to voice them all. But you know... you know. I know you do. You feel it, too.

My daughter gives every indication that she is a Tigger - and she loves the thrills of riding the rides at the fair and is excited every day over something - even if its going to the local park to play or going out to eat, or playing a game of Go Fish with me and her daddy - even just blowing bubbles or picking up trash in the yard. Yeah, she's a Tigger. And I want to make sure she keeps that sense of joy and wonder.

I have embedded from YouTube a video of his last lecture, given on Oprah. It is the only one I could find that was complete in one video. His lecture could teach all of us something about life and how to live it. May God watch over and take care of your family, Randy. God Bless you for the legacy you have left all of us.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just musing for a moment

OK, this isn't an earth shattering entry this time, unless you think pics from the weekend are a big deal.

Just wanted to share some pics of Kenzie and my mom. First, I thought the two pics of mom and Kenzie were about the two best pics I've taken of them together in a long time. Second, you can see the progression of the pics I've taken of her, and at some point she said, "That's enough!"

Unfortunately for her, it wasn't. I told her that I was going to take pics until I got what I wanted, so she better just suck it up and give me a genuine smile. I got it...

OH, I am such a mean mommy! LOL!

The last pic is of Kenzie at a good friend's house. Deb and her husband went on a trip to Italy for a vacation, and in Venice, they bought carnival masks. They actually found one for a child - and bought it for Kenzie. As Kenzie said, "Don't I look fetching?"

Monday, July 14, 2008

Domestic vs International Adoption: The debate rages on

There is a huge issue on Rumor Queen over which is better – waiting to adopt from China or adopting from the foster-to-adopt program in the U.S. There is the question out there - why do we have such a love affair with adopting from China as opposed to adopting from our own nation? Perhaps, because adoption from the U.S. foster program isn't as simple as people think it is.

I have some friends who, over 4 years ago, took in two children (same mom, different daddies) and are STILL trying to adopt them. They have done this 3 times prior, and each time they have done this, it has taken them about 3-4 years per child - the last two are difficult because, although the mother was forced by the courts to sign away her parental rights, she is not divulging who the fathers are. Now the parents have to go through a long, drawn out process to try and find them. Eventually, the courts will probably terminate the fathers' rights (because no one has stepped forward to claim paternity) and then they'll be able to proceed with the adoptions.

One thing that I think universally appeals to most parents with China adoption is that you know pretty much what to expect, and once you adopted, you wouldn't one year later have a bio parent or court demanding you return the child back to the parents in China. It sounds harsh, but that is very appealing to people who want to parent a child and don't want to have a disruption of that adoption by outside sources. (When I say "outside source", I am referring to other than the nuclear family established through the adoption process. I do NOT intend to imply that the bio parents of child(ren) in question are somehow not important.) I wish we could have access to the Chinese parents' information - I do believe that our Chinese daughters deserve that at the very least. And if things were different in China (no one child policy, better economic conditions) we wouldn't even be having this debate about IA adoption. There would be no need for international adoption from China.

Back to domestic adoption:

I have heard horror stories from social workers about how long the process takes, and then years later, the child is taken from the foster parents and given to the bio mom. Or the children are bounced back and forth from bio parents to foster parents because the bio parents can't keep their noses clean, so to speak.

Why is the foster-to-adopt system so much better than waiting for a referral from China? I know it works out once in a while - but from what I have heard firsthand and witnessed from others, the process is probably more stressful than people can envision. It's rare that parents' rights are terminated quickly so the foster parents can move on with the adoption process... The wait IS hard for a referral from China. And there are no guarantees in any adoption program. Anyone who thinks there are – well, I hate to break it to you, sweet cheeks, but you’re living in LaLa land.

If some social worker is telling you that it won’t take that long to adopt through the foster-to-adopt system – S/he is lying. Wait and see. Perhaps it’s because someone is willing believe anything they are told, or they are hopeful that that is the case, rather than take the time to do their homework and understand the reality of the situation.

I think America has their foster to adopt program all screwed up - just my observation from what I've seen. If we are truly concerned about what's best for the children in this country, then we wouldn't be bouncing kids in and out of foster care or "the system" and back to bio parents who are not capable of raising the children or of staying out of trouble. I think it’s safe to say that certain types of legal problems with parents would – no, SHOULD – exclude them automatically from ever getting their children back. That would put the kids in a safer, more loving environment from day one. And I would not have a foster program unless the people are in it to ADOPT the children. Fostering kids sometimes brings in people who are only in it for the monthly stipend – and damn the kids’ welfare.

I know we all have differing opinions about what type of adoption is best. But to be honest, none of them are perfect solutions to the problem of finding good parents for needy children. And when I read posts on Yahoo groups or on the Rumor Queen site, it sounds like many of us are feeling like WE are the needy ones. Think how much more needy the children are when they don't have parents, or they have bad parents.


For those who feel their agencies are misleading them... perhaps you may want to go back over what has been said, what was in your contract, and review their website. It could be the communication problem isn't with the agency, but in what you are thinking in your own head as to what the process will be. The agency may have said they are hopeful the process will speed up - which in my opinion is still in bad form - but you instead "heard" that it WILL speed up. I am glad we have our agency - they have never lied about anything - on their site, they said that they fully expect the time from LID to referral to continue to increase and ask that families be prepared for such.

During our wait, I pretty much stayed away from Rumor Queen because watching how many days that were referred was incredibly painful to see. Only when it appeared that we were getting close did I dare come back to Rumor Queen’s site. Otherwise, her site was depressing for me. I did what I had to in order to get through the wait.

Unfortunately, with China's new category of "SN but healthy" - they are going to have a problem selling that one to some people depending on the SN presented. Although some children may appear healthy, they may have a SN that wasn't listed on their medicals, or at their finding, or isn't known by the orphanage, and would present a major problem for parents not approved for SN. That's what we ran into... and if the CCAA had been able to give us two months to obtain and review reports, we would have been able to try and eliminate the one issue we could not accept because of the lifelong chronic health issues the one possible SN presented. Without more time - we had to turn her down.

I feel lousy, but that may have been a blessing for the child. I hope that she can be properly diagnosed and put up for adoption again. Two of the three possibilities would have been okay with us, the last one was going to put her in a category of needing major medical care that we would not be able to help with. We’re asking for another referral, but we’re not hopeful about it. I really don’t expect we’ll be getting another. We are good parents. But that doesn’t guarantee us anything.

NOTHING in IA is for sure. NOTHING. I read the bitterness in some posts (Rumor Queen) that China’s system is corrupt. I suppose that if the system in China is broken, then we shouldn't try to give these children homes. Let's just leave 'em where they are. That'll teach China to be corrupt. Yeah, we’ll show ‘em.

Honestly, how does that solve the problem? I consider it a hell for the children who have to stay in an orphanage.

I applaud the CCAA and China for increasing the number of domestic adoptions. These children are living in a nation where they represent the majority in their country. When adopted by Caucasians, and outside of their culture, we (whites) are the majority in this country, but our adopted children will be in the minority. And unless you have some training, we’re ill-prepared to help them fight the racism they will be facing. I would hope that it won’t happen – but racism is alive and well all over the globe – so America is no exception.

OH hell, we signed up for our second adoption when the wait time was 6 months. Then, by the time we were LID, it was 8-9 months. And month by month, we watched as it went longer and longer and longer - and we knew right then and there, that we were in for the wait of a lifetime.

If your agency is telling you there are increasing wait times, they are not lying to you. You signed up for the adoption process - no one held a gun to your head. YOU made the decision. And now you want to blame someone else for your lack of common sense that the term "increasing wait times" means you're not going to get the child in 1 year or less.

Give me a break.

Whatever path one chooses to go when it comes to adoption - I am 100% behind you. I believe that adoption is one of the best and most loving ways to create a family. I don't care so much about where or when one adopts - as long as it is legal and ethical. And it takes a great deal of maturity to handle it.

I am not behind anyone who chooses a path and then starts down this "poor little me I'm not getting what I want fast enough" road. That sounds like a spoiled brat - and IMO - that kind of person isn't going to be a very good parent, because everything is couched in terms of what they want and not what is right for the child. And the kvetching about how everything outside of yourself is causing you pain or how all these other issues are the reason you feel bitter is nothing more than a veiled temper tantrum - think of a five year old and how, when she gets mad and things don't go her way, she jumps up and down and cries and shouts to try to change the situation, when, if you're a good mommy, you don't back down when this starts... (I have experienced that.... yes, even Kenzie has her moments...)

Enough of the ramblings.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive. You have made this time less stressful...

I NEVER thought I'd ever turn down a referral. NEVER! I always believed that the child we were referred would be the one we were supposed to have. And then to have a twist thrown into the whole deal was a stunning turn of events.

Some have said perhaps we were brought into this child's life to get her properly designated as SN so she could be with the right family. That may be. But I would hope that the child would be re-matched quickly with a family who is approved for SN and can handle her issues. Perhaps its to bring to light the complexity of the "SN but healthy" designation and the problems it presents.

I think the CCAA has a huge problem with their new designation of "SN but Healthy". Either the interpretation is too vague, or the orphanages don't quite have enough understanding of the implications of certain physical symptoms to know that, just because it doesn't look like a child has 'XYZ' condition, that doesn't mean it isn't something else. And until the other stuff is ruled out, it's hard to say that the child is "healthy".

Well, that's my 2 jiao worth.

But thanks to all who have supported our decision. We are still feeling rather bad - it's hard to know that our decision will affect a little girl whom we don't know. I hope it will change her life for the better, and not for the worse.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A decision made

After talking with the IA doc and another doctor who is a friend, we all agree that this child is truly a special needs child. What her special need is, we are not quite sure. The orphanage did have an MRI of her done, but they sent us files that were illegible for the radiologist to read.

At first when I saw the videos of her, I was struck by how adorable she was, her laughter and impish sense of humor. But when I was able to settle down and really look at the videos, I saw a child with some kind of problem (I won't go into what I saw specifically, but it was obvious to a mother who knows how a 3.5 y/o is supposed to be at that age). And my very suspicions were confirmed by the IA doc and the other doctor who ran some of the info I sent him by his colleagues.

She is special needs. She has a family out there somewhere, it just isn't us. She needs to be represented properly by the CCAA, and the right family will take her file and be so happy they did. I pray that she'll be able to find her forever family - and I'm sure that whoever takes her will be happy with her... she's a very happy little girl. But for us, we couldn't accept her because there is a problem that would be obvious the minute we went into the medical exam.

We'll ask our agency what our options are. We think we should be able to ask for another child... and we'd be happy to take an older child of up to 4 years old.

At this point, I feel both relief and closure. There were too many questions, and the orphanage did some things for us, but then didn't follow through with executing some requests and giving us the kind of files that would give us complete information on the child. I could list all the things wrong with this referral, but I won't dwell on it anymore.

Forgive me if I sound a bit cold - I don't mean to. We've had this hanging over our heads for a month now, and I feel I can finally exhale and relax. I'm not sweating whether we get another referral, but at least this one is decided.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


We're a bit scared about this adoption. It appears that children in the north of China are almost always abandoned because of some SN - not like children in the south. We have found someone who worked for an organization that did some work for the orphanage where our daughter is "from" (I use parenthesis because she's actually in foster care in a different part of the municipality, separate from the city proper). He says that it is very likely that something was wrong with the child, or else she wouldn't have been abandoned. He said one of the diagnoses she was given is a basic catch-all diagnosis because, if there is nothing they can find physically wrong, then the doctor's general attitude is that it must be this one diagnosis, because "what else could it be?"

She's lost valuable time in helping her brain make the all-so-important neural connections she needed to have in order to give her a leg up on her learning abilities. We don’t know that this kind of neglect – no matter how minor – can be made up once the child is past 3 years old.

You know, this would be so different if we had a child that had a repaired physical SN referred to us - something you could see and verify physically. But with anything that has to do with the brain - it's something you can't repair or quantify. So we are left wondering what is going on...

I'm probably not going to blog any more about this referral. I know that people are going to think we are heartless if there is something that will prevent us from taking her. But we are not angels, saints, do-gooders or heroes. We are human and we have our limitations. We know it and are willing to admit to that. For those who don't understand it, or for those people who have taken on SN children and think that anyone who doesn't do so is somehow "less than", for anyone who buys into the “this is our child no matter what” frame of mind, I just don't understand it when they want to force those attitudes on others who realize they are not capable of taking on certain special needs.

I'm not a martyr. I would physically place myself between my daughter and harm - that is what a mother would/should do to protect her children. I’m sure that a lot of what I’m saying will place me in the “she’s so shallow” category of mothers. It’s a sure thing I’ll never get nominated for “Mother of the Year.”

I seem to remember that the CCAA once put up a down’s syndrome child as a trial to see if anyone would adopt him. If I remember right, I don’t think anyone did. That says volumes about the true nature of what people are willing to take on when it comes to special needs. Am I really so shallow after all?

OK, maybe she's not mentally impaired – perhaps there was no special need at all. Maybe she was misdiagnosed. Perhaps she was abandoned for reasons other than something about her birth was considered a problem for the baby. Perhaps the doctor in attendance during her birth misdiagnosed her as having an issue, when in truth, there was no problem at all.

I am hoping God strikes me with a lightening bolt and makes it plain as day that we are supposed to parent this child.

I talk big about trusting God - well... I need to put my actions where my mouth is. There is a part of me that is pulled to this child... but is that God working in my heart, or selfish desires that have me wanting so badly for this child to be “fine”.

I am torn and conflicted. And there are days when I think I must be the biggest, most selfish bitch in the world.