Adopting Devils

I’m HERE! HERE HERE HERE HERE HERE!

Monday, September 19th, 2011 | Adopting Devils | 7 Comments

Rory is loud.

I have written about this before, but I feel that I cannot possibly have really conveyed what I meant by loud. When I say Rory is loud, I mean LOUD. I mean loud at every single thing she does in nearly every moment of the day. Loud and vigorous. When Rory says “I love you,” she shouts it and then barrels into you at full speed, and at that moment, she’s irresistible. And the she stomps loudly off to do something else with such vim and vigor that I’m afraid the poor dog is going to get hurt.

She’s loud when she walks. When she’s upstairs, the ceiling shakes and the lights flicker. She’s loud when she eats. She’s loud when she breathes. She’s loud when she sniffles. If she’s doing something that can’t possibly be done loudly, she narrates it: loudly. Look Mommy I’m drawing! Is I drawing Mommy? I’m drawing! Look at me drawing! If she gets caught up in the drawing, she’s nearly always snorting, or humming, or kicking her feet rhythmically against her chair.

She sleeps loudly.

Loud, as I said, and vigorous. If it can’t be done loudly, it can surely be done with vigor. Ideally, both. She plays chess, for example, loudly and with vigor. Her knights do not just move across the board, they gallop. Her pawns clack clack clack forward even one space. (Don’t be too impressed, “playing with the chess pieces” would generally be a more accurate description of what she’s doing than “playing chess.) When she watches Rob and Wyatt play, she puts both hands on the coffee table and her feet on an ottoman and bounces. Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!

And I, who really, truly am not someone who assumes everything is adoption, think that the overwhelming volume of every move of every moment of Rory’s every day—-possibly the last thing you’d think could adoption related—-I think that adoption is exactly what at least some of this volume and vigor is.

It’s not that I think that if Rory were Rory in her birth family somewhere in China she would flutter delicately through every situation on butterfly wings. It takes more than intent to stomp your way through life as she does. It takes breeding. Rory surely comes from a long line of stompers.

But the rest of it—I’ve said before that I think that Rory is afraid that if we can’t hear her, we’ll forget she’s there. That if she can’t hear herself, she doesn’t exist. I was mostly joking. What I really think is that Rory wants to hear herself stomping and humming and breathing and drawing and bouncing because Rory does not want to hear herself think.

And I don’t know what to think about that.

From the very first moment Rory walked into our lives, she’s been busy. Busy exploring. Busy cutting up every shred of paper in our hotel room with her new little safety scissors. Busy climbing. You’ve heard the phrase “climbing the walls,” right? With anxiety, maybe, or cabin fever? The first days in our hotel, Rory was literally climbing the walls. She’d figure out how to get handholds on the headboard over our bed, and if we turned our backs, we’d find her dangling, five feet above the mattress. She’s calmer now, certainly, but in some sense she is always climbing the walls. She’s playing the piano or rolling marbles on a track or pushing a truck around the house. She’s moving. She’s playing, but nearly always in a way that’s already been predefined for her, and she’s doing it loudly, so that she, and I, both know at all times exactly what she’s doing.

I try to let it go. I try to let her race the racetrack around the couches and through the kitchen a hundred times in an afternoon without comment. I try to only ask for “quiet feet” when Sam is doing his homework, say, or when I have already exceeded the number of ibuprofin the bottle allows you to take in a day. I agree that she is drawing, I admire the piano practice and I try to make good use of the energy that’s always ready to clear the table. I try to protect the dog, who has taken to hiding under the bed and is dismayed to find that Rory (who wants him to run with her) can follow him there.

But is it enough to let it go? I let it go, and she keeps running and running and running until we pour her into her bed at night. I’d like to help her learn to give herself a break. But so far, I just don’t know how.

Tags:

Well, We Totally Look Alike In Our Bike Helmets

Friday, September 16th, 2011 | Adopting Devils | 1 Comment

This past weekend, we rode in the always fantastic local “Tour de Taste) (pictured a few posts down). 6 miles, 6 stops for food. Who couldn’t appreciate a ride like that?

One stop had some very tasty grilled cheese sandwiches and an amazing tabboleh salad (and that is so not something I would usually eat, seeing as how it had neither bacon nor chocolate in it, and I can’t even spell it). They were also promoting their own farm products just a bit, by which I mean they were all over the place, and why not? One was a yogurt drink, and I was eying it for Rory.

When we were in China, they had little yogurt drinks in a bucket of ice on the breakfast buffet next to a pile of straws, and every morning, Rory would suck one or two down. Me, I put them with fruit and honey (and I would have added chocolate and bacon, if they’d had any..well, chocolate anyway. Bacon on the side). But Rory slurped then straight. I’ve never found any yogurt here that she had any interest in, though, and I’d like to (although after two years, it probably doesn’t exactly mean that much to her any more).

The friend we were riding with stepped up, and the lovely lady behind the table gave her a small cup for her toddler son. “See if he likes it,” she said, and when he did, “Did you eat a lot of yogurt when you were pregnant? I have a theory that they like what you ate when you were pregnant with them.”

My friend agreed that she had, in fact, eaten a lot of yogurt, and I, holding Rory by the hand, asked for a cup for her, saying, in passing, that she had always liked yogurt. I thought maybe we would make a little joke about it, but the poor dairy lady wasn’t paying close attention. She saw a mother and daughter in their bike helmets, and she said, quite cheerfully, “well, did you eat a lot of yogurt when YOU were pregnant?”

I really should have just said yes, yes I did. Because I did, and if that was unlikely to have much effect on Rory, well, so be it, and I’m not sure there’s much scientific evidence behind that theory anyway. Probably what I drank while I was pregnant was just as likely to affect her as any of the others.

But no, I had to be just that little bit snide. I laughed. I said, you know, I think if you’d looked at her, you probably wouldn’t have asked that, and the poor woman was flustered. “Well,” she said awkwardly, “you never know, you could be a little Oriental..”

I don’t know if she was joking or flailing. I do know we were having one of those moments when suddenly things that might have been funny are just really not because no one knows what any one else meant even though no one meant any harm, and it was all very Curb Your Enthusiasm painful, and I laughed, and she laughed, and I kind of backed away, and Rory did not, in fact, like the yogurt.

Probably because it was maple yogurt, and I don’t think I drank any maple syrup when I was pregnant.

Tags:

I Do What I Do Because I Know What You Do, That You Do That You Do So Well

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 | Adopting Devils | 6 Comments

Something has changed.

To hear me blog for the past couple of days, you would think we were right back where we were two years ago ( well, maybe not THAT bad). There’s an excellent reason for that. In my head, I have been reliving that awful, wonderful summer. I’m working on a book about how Rory and adoption and China among themselves kicked my sorry control-freak ass and left me the better for it. I have a fantastic agent; she asked if I thought I could have a draft by 8/1.

And for the past two weeks I have been hacking away at the very hardest part to write so far: the first few weeks after we came home.

It’s hard to write for a million different reasons. I was hateful. Rory was miserable. I was miserable. It was so much harder and demanded so much more of me than I’d believed possible, and I so failed to live up to it, and underneath it all is the fact that as “hard” as it was for me, it was a thousand times harder for Rory. It was a whole different kind of hard, it was the kind of hard that makes my hard look like Marie Antoinette worrying about her manicure. But her hard is her story, and my hard is mine, and I have to tell my story while respecting hers, but keeping it whole.

And it’s hard to write because it puts me right back IN it. And believe me, as bad as my blog entries were at the time (archived in June, July and August of 2009), what was in my head was a whole lot worse. I’d just as soon never open that up again…but I did. Fortunately it’s more my writing self, and not my parenting self, that’s caught up in it–which means you feel it, but the kids don’t. It’s about my mental narration, not my actions.

But in the process, I reread all my old blog entries, and I found one that connected with something that happened today and made me appreciate even more how much things have really changed.

At one of our first doctor appointments, the nurse we see (we see a nurse practitioner instead of a doctor) said something that really rang true for me. She’s a very tactful person who never questions a parent’s decisions, but she has a way of saying things that give advice indirectly. She was talking about a friend of hers who was an adoptive parent, with kids from more difficult circumstances than Rory. I’d said that I felt like I was always, constantly correcting Rory, saying no, no, no, don’t, don’t, don’t. And she said that her friend had once said she felt like she HAD to correct the newly adoptive kids for even things that she might let slide in her bio kids, not because she was favoring the bios, but because she didn’t know what might come next.

A snuck cookie today might, left uncommented on, become a whole hoard of food tomorrow. A permitted push of another child might become a serious shove next time. An ignored request that had to be repeated twice might just be the tip of a massive iceberg of complete disobedience. She never knew–were they making mistakes or pushing boundaries? With the bio kids she knew which areas were really trouble, and which were just one-offs, just from parenting them longer.

And I instantly recognized this as true. While I still feared I was just plain harder on Rory, I knew that much of the time, I just didn’t really know what lay behind her actions, either.

I STILL feel like I spend more time saying no, no, no, don’t don’t don’t to Rory than to any one else. But things are different. For one thing, everyone who interacts with Rory on an intimate personal level says no to her more often. For one thing, she asks for more. She asks daily if I will buy her candy even though she knows the answer. She likes to hear us say, in effect, that everything today is just the same as yesterday.

For another, she still holds many of her old control issues. She wants to do what we ask–her way. Sometimes there is a reason I want her to do it MY way. For example, sometimes I say “Get out of the car on Lily’s side” because there is a car parked too close on the other side, and I don’t want her to bang the door into it. That, and stuff like it happens more than you would believe. Every direct command, if you will, she will execute in some way other than asked. (I do still find that annoying, but if it doesn’t matter, I let it go–or give her only open-ended commands so that she can’t do it).

And Rory has habits that are dangerous that we can’t break–specifically, she cannot, will not walk behind or with us if it is possible to walk ahead. That means that every crosswalk, every parking lot, involves an automatic correction. Again–empty parking lot? I let it go if I can. But that one you very rarely can.

But those things are different.

Today, at the pool–and the pool was the scene of so many battles during the summer of ’09 that it’s a miracle we can go there without flashbacks–I wanted her and Lily to get out to go home. Wyatt was out and dressed, and at the same moment I decided to call Rory and Lily, Rory appeared beside me to drop off her goggles.

“Wait,” I called after her as she headed back to the water. “Wait wait don’t don’t you … Get back in that pool.”

She heard me. But halfway through that sentence she was back in the water.

Rory loves the pool. I was in no particular hurry. Asked, I would have granted five more minutes easily. But she didn’t ask.

And so I went over, and had her get out of the pool, and asked if she had, in fact, just jumped on the pool while I told her to wait.

She stared at the ground, and I told her to go stand by the fence.

Now, once, I would have seen this as very bad. All those old thoughts ran through my head. She can’t run away from me when I tell her to wait. And this is a pool–pool safety! She can’t jump in when I tell her not to! And the did exactly what I was telling her not to do–always a VERY bad thing.

But we are at the pool. And things are usually pretty mellow at the pool. And she does NOT jump in when told not to. She never has. Jumping back in while I’m in mid-sentence shouldn’t really count. She doesn’t run away from me. She almost never really doesn’t do what she’s told, even though she does want to do it her way.

In other words, I know her–and this didn’t mean a thing. I didn’t need to be a hard-ass, or just to be a firm parent who means what she says, to make a point. There was no new point to be made. I told her that I would have given her five more minutes if she’d waited, she nodded, I laughed and shrugged and helped her change out of her suit. And that was absolutely it.

Because I know her now. I really know her. Things are different.

And we’re BOTH happy about that!

I Do What I Do Because I Know What You Do, That You Do That You Do So Well

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 | Adopting Devils | 1 Comment

Something has changed.

To hear me blog for the past couple of days, you would think we were right back where we were two years ago ( well, maybe not THAT bad). There’s an excellent reason for that. In my head, I have been reliving that awful, wonderful summer. I’m working on a book about how Rory and adoption and China among themselves kicked my sorry control-freak ass and left me the better for it. I have a fantastic agent; she asked if I thought I could have a draft by 8/1.

And for the past two weeks I have been hacking away at the very hardest part to write so far: the first few weeks after we came home.

It’s hard to write for a million different reasons. I was hateful. Rory was miserable. I was miserable. It was so much harder and demanded so much more of me than I’d believed possible, and I so failed to live up to it, and underneath it all is the fact that as “hard” as it was for me, it was a thousand times harder for Rory. It was a whole different kind of hard, it was the kind of hard that makes my hard look like Marie Antoinette worrying about her manicure. But her hard is her story, and my hard is mine, and I have to tell my story while respecting hers, but keeping it whole.

And it’s hard to write because it puts me right back IN it. And believe me, as bad as my blog entries were at the time (archived in June, July and August of 2009), what was in my head was a whole lot worse. I’d just as soon never open that up again…but I did.

And in the process, I reread all my old blog entries, and I found one that connected with something that happened today and made me realize how much things have really changed.

At one of our first doctor appointments, the nurse we see (we see a nurse practitioner instead of a doctor) said something that really rang true for me. She’s a very tactful person who never questions a parent’s decisions, but she has a way of saying things that give advice indirectly. She was talking about a friend of hers who was an adoptive parent, with kids from more difficult circumstances than Rory. I’d said that I felt like I was always, constantly correcting Rory, saying no, no, no, don’t, don’t, don’t. And she said that her friend had once said she felt like she HAD to correct the newly adoptive kids for even things that she might let slide in her bio kids, not because she was favoring the bios, but because she didn’t know what might come next.

A snuck cookie today might, left uncommented on, become a whole hoard of food tomorrow. A permitted push of another child might become a serious shove next time. An ignored request that had to be repeated twice might just be the tip of a massive iceberg of complete disobedience. She never knew–were they making mistakes or pushing boundaries? With the bio kids she knew which areas were really trouble, and which were just one-offs, just from parenting them longer.

And I instantly recognized this as true. While I still feared I was just plain harder on Rory, I knew that much of the time, I just didn’t really know what lay behind her actions, either.

I STILL feel like I spend more time saying no, no, no, don’t don’t don’t to Rory than to any one else. But things are different. For one thing, everyone who interacts with Rory on an intimate personal level says no to her more often. For one thing, she asks for more. She asks daily if I will buy her candy even though she knows the answer. She likes to hear us say, in effect, that everything today is just the same as yesterday.

For another, she still holds many of her old control issues. She wants to do what we ask–her way. Sometimes there is a reason I want her to do it MY way. For example, sometimes I say “Get out of the car on Lily’s side” because there is a car parked too close on the other side, and I don’t want her to bang the door into it. That, and stuff like it happens more than you would believe. Every direct command, if you will, she will execute in some way other than asked. (I do still find that annoying, but if it doesn’t matter, I let it go–or give her only open-ended commands so that she can’t do it).

And Rory has habits that are dangerous that we can’t break–specifically, she cannot, will not walk behind or with us if it is possible to walk ahead. That means that every crosswalk, every parking lot, involves an automatic correction. Again–empty parking lot? I let it go if I can. But that one you very rarely can.

But those things are different.

Today, at the pool–and the pool was the scene of so many battles during the summer of ’09 that it’s a miracle we can go there without flashbacks–I wanted her and Lily to get out to go home. Wyatt was out and dressed, and at the same moment I decided to call Rory and Lily, Rory appeared beside me to drop off her goggles.

“Wait,” I called after her as she headed back to the water. “Wait wait don’t don’t you … Get back in that pool.”

She heard me. But halfway through that sentence she was back in the water.

Rory loves the pool. I was in no particular hurry. Asked, I would have granted five more minutes easily. But she didn’t ask.

And so I went over, and had her get out of the pool, and asked if she had, in fact, just jumped on the pool while I told her to wait.

She stared at the ground, and I told her to go stand by the fence.

Now, once, I would have seen this as very bad. All those old thoughts ran through my head. She can’t run away from me when I tell her to wait. And this is a pool–pool safety! She can’t jump in when I tell her not to! And the did exactly what I was telling her not to do–always a VERY bad thing.

But we are at the pool. And things are usually pretty mellow at the pool. And she does NOT jump in when told not to. She never has. Jumping back in while I’m in mid-sentence shouldn’t really count. She doesn’t run away from me. She almost never really doesn’t do what she’s told, even though she does want to do it her way.

In other words, I know her–and this didn’t mean a thing. I didn’t need to be a hard-ass, or just to be a firm parent who means what she says, to make a point. There was no new point to be made. I told her that I would have given her five more minutes if she’d waited, she nodded, I laughed and shrugged and helped her change out of her suit. And that was absolutely it.

Because I know her now. I really know her. Things are different.

And we’re BOTH happy about that!

AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! (The GIrl Who Cried Wolf. Convincingly.)

Thursday, July 14th, 2011 | Adopting Devils | 3 Comments

Startled? Me too.

This afternoon, I was working in the garden. Rory and Wyatt were playing in the playhouse, a couple hundred feet away or so. I heard a slam. I heard Rory yell angrily at Wyatt. And then I heard her take a deep breath and start to scream. AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!! AAAGGGHH! AAAGGGHH! AAAGGGHH!

And I thought, oh, gosh, that’s it. This is the one time that she’s really hurt. She sounds different, doesn’t she? She’s hurt. What happened?

I thought all this as I ran out of the garden like I’d been shot out of a cannon. I arrived in about three shrieks. Maybe less.

WYATT HURT ME! WYATT SLAM DOOR ON MY FINGER!!!!

I look. I don’t see anything. She’s still shrieking. I hold her tight while I look at my hand and she shrieks I WANT MAMA!

Huh?

“I’m right here.”

AGGGHH! AGGGHHH! AAAAGGGHHH!

Hmmm. I look at the fingers again. Nothing.

Wyatt (who has said Sorry Sorry Sorry) suddenly points to the door they were opening in the playhouse, a small, hidden door at the bottom that no one has opened in a while.

“We can’t get this open.”

Rory instantly stops screaming—-and I mean instantly, it’s like a switch has been turned off–and agrees. They can’t get this open.

I figure out how to get the door open and go back to the garden.

I’m sure her finger got caught in the door. I’m sure it hurt momentarily. But I cannot tell you (although I think I’ve tried before) how often we go through this. Not just for Wyatt-inflicted injuries, either. For everything.

This is not my first Rory rodeo. I get that there’s an excellent reason why she’s wired to sound the alarm at the slightest hint of injury and see if there’s anybody there to respond.

But I don’t know what to DO about it.

For one thing, it’s almost like she’s just playing a preprogrammed script. I’m not even sure she means to do it. It’s like, bump, and GO: AAAAGGGGHHH. AAAGGGHHH. AAAGGGGHHHH. I WANT MAMA. AAAAGGGGHHH. It’s like a bad habit.

And for another, I cannot possibly respond every time. And I really, really can’t tell. There have been times when she was really hurt, of course. Bleeding. Scraped. Wicked splinters. And there is just absolutely no difference in her screams. None. Once in a while, like today, there’s something that makes me thing–aha! this is it!–but no. Never. There is no correlation at all between the times I think maybe she really is hurt and the times she actually is hurt. I’m right most of the time, because I mostly assume that she is not hurt, and mostly, she is not hurt. But sometimes she fools me. Or sometimes I brush her off completely, and then an hour later, find the horrible bruise or gash.

When I say she screams for everything, I mean it, too. Later tonight, Rob swatted her on the behind as she ran by getting ready for bed. In a cheerful friendly go on, get out of here kind of way, not with anything in it–just the kind of pat you’d give any kid. Seriously, I almost hesitate to write it out of fear that it will sound like it was something other than a teasing pat. There was no rush, no one was late for bed, no one was out of patience. It was just….nothing.

And she lost it again. I’m just going to cut and paste, because here we go: AGGGHH! AGGGHHH! AAAAGGGHHH! I WANT MAMA! YOU HURT ME! AAAGGGHHH!

I don’t think she does it if I’m not around, so she’s got that going for her. No one’s mentioned it, and I feel sure this qualifies as the kind of thing teachers would bring up. It’s just for me. In fact, if she doesn’t think I am around, or is really in the middle of something, she just goes and gets herself a band-aid. So maybe, to prove, two years in, that I love her passionately, which I do and which she knows with her head and heart, if not yet with her instincts, I should run and swoop in at the drop of every shriek?

I’m not gonna lie to you. I just can’t.

I need a plan B.

The Birthday that’s Family Day

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 | Adopting Devils | 2 Comments

It’s Sam’s tenth birthday! It was a spectacular one…about which, more, with photos, anon.

It’s also Rory’s “family day,” and that’s what I want to talk about.

For “family day,” we did nothing.

Not that Sam would mind. He wouldn’t, not at all. But I am not, and never have been, sure how to mark the day when Rory both lost and gained her family. I did say something–to her, and to everyone, about it (just to point it out, really), but that’s it.

But there were other signs that it was on minds. I said something to Lily today about her “finding it hard to share and being stuck with a family that shares a lot,” and Rory piped up: “And then you add me your family!” I assured her that it was her family too, and she agreed. At some other point she mentioned me coming to China to get her, too.

And Lily–Lily demanded, at some point today when Rory didn’t come get in a picture quickly, that it be “just the original Seelig family!”

I don’t think Rory heard her. Usually I would jump down her throat for something like that, but… I didn’t want to make a big deal.

I think Lily still holds mixed feeling about “family day,” too…Rory hides hers, but I know they’re there. I think I need to do something more to acknowledge the whole thing (maybe and move it to the day we arrived home, to get it away from Sam’s birthday). Work in Progress…

Tags:

My Little Praise Junkie

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 | Adopting Devils, Parenting on Track | 7 Comments

“Was I so nice to get Wyatt his lunch box?”
“Did I throw that ball just great?”
“Is this paper airplane so awesome?”

Rory wants approval. Specifically, she wants my approval, and I’m torn.

On the one hand, I buy my Parenting on Track guru’s take on praise: kids should learn to value what they think of their accomplishments, not just what we think. She suggests we turn questions like that back on the asker: “Do you think you were so nice? Did you like the way you threw it? Do you think the plane is awesome?”

But that doesn’t satisfy Rory. Sometimes she buys it–yes, she does in fact think the plane is awesome–but mostly, questions like that make her look sad and disappointed even now, months after I first noticed her quest for my rousing endorsement of every last drawing, letter or creation and began to temper my enthusiasm with encouraging her to consider how she herself felt about her accomplishment.

Praising Rory is dangerous. If i show myself to be impressed by the way she caught that firefly, we will need a Costco sized jar. Admire her printing on a sheet of paper, and by the time I’m done making dinner, I will have a full book of identically printed pages. She doesn’t just ask for my praise. She courts it. She craves it. I think she needs it.

But I’m struggling with those two downsides. I don’t want a giant jar of fireflies or a book of words that could have been Xeroxed from the first one, and I don’t want to have to cough out a repeat note of praise while she does either. Taking it even farther, I don’t want her to carry my farmer’s market basket. I don’t want her to stand in the kitchen to open the trash can for me when I need to throw something away, and I especially don’t want her to do those things, then ask me–isn’t she so good/so nice to do that? Don’t I “preciate” her?

Oof.

Would she do this, I wonder, if I had been easier to live with during our first months together? If it hadn’t been so clear so often that I did not ‘preciate her? Is this still a side effect of my behavior, that she’s so glad she gets a big ole’ share of my love now but she feels like she has to do this stuff to be sure to keep it?

Or is it just adoption? Is this not about me (no!) but about Rory and only Rory and her need to be reassured? I’m really leaping here, but I’ve noticed that she’s really anxious lately–lots of hugging the dog and thumb-sucking, which I hadn’t seen in a while–and there’s nothing of note going on. School will end soon but hasn’t yet. We’ve had no guests, no trips, no big switches–oh, wait, we did move the beds around in her room, including her bed. But the biggest thing I can think of is that we are coming up on our two year anniversary. Is it possible that she feels it? I’d say the change in season and shift in school would cue it, but of course the seasons and schedules in China were not ours. I think it’s unlikely.

But still, I’ve got an anxious, needy praise junkie on my hands in a way that feels suddenly escalated from where we were before, and I’m not sure what to do. I want to give her the loving reassurance she needs, but I’m reluctant to do it on those terms. Instead, I’m fluctuating between pushing her requests back on her and falling right into them—because yes, it was so nice that she carried Wyatt’s lunch box. Even though I don’t want her to do that.

If only I knew what I want ME to do!

Tags:

Is That How You Do It?

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011 | Adopting Devils | 4 Comments

Lily, after a massive tantrum episode, chose to sleep last night on the small loveseat on the landing outside the kids’ room. (Long story short, she refused to make her lunch for school during the time Rob allotted for that duty, and then lost it when bedtime arrived and lunch was not made. And then some.)

Rory couldn’t take it. We kept hearing the “bang” of the door to their room (which slams when the windows are open) and the thump thump thump of dainty footfalls, until finally I passed the bottom of the stairs and heard Rory yelling to Sam. “Sam! Sam!”

I ran up. “What, Rory?”

“Why Lily not sleepin’ in here?”

“Lily couldn’t stay quiet enough, and so she can’t sleep with you all.”

“But I want her sleep in here.”

“She’s already asleep, honey. She’s right outside. She’ll sleep here tomorrow night.”

“Then I wan’ sleep in Lily bed.”

‘No.” No way–that would push Lily right over the edge.

“Then I wan’ sleep with you.”

Not happening, either. “Sam is here, and Wyatt is here, and Lily is right outside. Go to sleep.”

Rory finally did, and as far as I know, remained so. (I still consider it a minor miracle that neither she nor Lily came into our room last night, and just need to figure out what saint to light a candle to. Morpheus? No, I think for him I have to sacrifice a goat.)

This afternoon, though, something similar happened. I sat down with a book (a real, good example setting bound-on-paper book). Sam sprawled with a comic book on the couch next to me. Wyatt was inspired to find a book of his own (a Scooby Doo picture clue book) and there we sat ( do, please, picture me enjoying an inner smugness about my boys! Reading!). Rory appeared. Surveyed us. Was disturbed. “Wyatt, will you play chess with me?” (Don’t picture any smugness here, their method of playing chess is perhaps not the classical version.) Nope. Nor will anyone read to her, throw a ball or anything else. Eventually she resorted to a sort of spinning on one foot that is hard to describe, and almost indescribably annoying, and makes me want to tell her to just GO to the potty already.

These two things may seem unrelated, but they’re not. What it boils down to is that a Rory who doesn’t know what is expected of her–a Rory who isn’t given a task, who doesn’t have someone set up to interact with her, a Rory faced with people doing unexpected things–is not a comfortable Rory.

Last night was surely partly that despite the preceding tantrum and misery, Rory was unsure if Lily was somehow getting a privilege. Was sleeping out on the loveseat perhaps desirable? Or might our guilt regarding some unfair treatment of Lily lead to a privilege for her? This afternoon, though, Rory was just uncertain. She can and will sit and look at a book, but would that be the right thing to do? Lily wasn’t doing it. And it’s generally not her favorite activity. It’s just too inactive. Rory usually sits and looks at a book when the alternative is just sitting and LISTENING to a book. Or if I TELL her to sit and read a book. Then she does it happily. But to choose it, at an unusual time of day, clearly threw her off.

Later, when the space on the sofa next to me opened up, she tried it out. Sat down next to me, with Wyatt’s book, and looked at the pictures and sang the ABCs (Wyatt had been reading out loud, although to himself, not to me). Then she turned to me. “Is that how you do it, Mommy?”

I don’t think she meant, is that how you read these words. She could see that those were pictures of Scooby and Shaggy, not the ABCs. I think she meant, “is that how you sit and read? Is that how I should be, if I sit next to you with a book? Am I doing this right?”

And those, in some way shape or form, are things Rory seems to ask herself constantly. She thrives in school, and always has, in part because it’s so clear how to “do it right.” Family life is so much harder to get a grasp on. I picture life in her foster family as having been somewhat regimented (in the nicest possible way). There were at least 8 kids her age from the time she was aware of others at all, all lining up, I think, to wash their hands and eat and color. I am sure there was plenty of free play time. But when it came to doing something else, I am also sure that someone told her what to do and made sure she did it. I can’t see how else it would have worked.

And so, even two years later: “Is that how you do it, Mommy?”

Is that how you snuggle? Is that how you sit for reading? Is that how you sleep when the bed next to you is unexpectedly empty? How you greet Mommy after school? How you ride in a car? How you are one of few beloved, permanent kids in a family instead of one of many loved but rushed kids making your way through a home with 28 kids and ten assorted changing adults?

Yes, my love. Yes it is. However you do it is how you do it, but I am still happy to show you how.

The Preface: I Love My [Kid/Mom/Family] But …

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011 | Adopting Devils | 6 Comments

Do you do the preface?

As in, “I love my kids, but?” Or, maybe more relevantly, “I love [my adopted child], but?”

Dawn at Create a Family and the bloggers of The Adopted Ones were talking, recently, about that twinge of disloyalty that comes when we decide to really dish about our families. It works both ways: “I love my mom, but” is coming, and it’s probably come out of your own mouth, too. The question is, do adoptive parents—and adoptive kids—do it more?

For months after Rory was adopted, I struggled. No, I flailed. It was ugly. I did blog about it (far less than I could have) but I almost never talked about it, and I never managed to get the help or counseling I probably could have used, and my reluctance came in part from the same impulse. Adoption, for the parents, is seen as more of a “choice” than biological parenting. I thought any potential listeners (other than fellow APS) were probably secretly thinking something along the lines of “you made your bed, now lie in it” and “I told you so” besides.

Adoptees have a different problem. They’re supposed to be grateful. (I believe it was Harriet Wimsey, nee Vane, who said “Gratitude makes me want to bite people.”) As ShadowtheAdoptee posted, “society keeps telling us we have a lot more reason to feel obligated and loyal to our adopted families than bios are made to  feel, after all our first family didn’t want us, weren’t capable of keeping us, so aren’t we lucky, grateful that someone else did?”

So, here we are: two sets of people, APs and As, who feel in some sense like we can’t complain. Of course, we DO: but not without giving at least lip service to the good things that underlie our complaints, even when the complaints come from real, discussion-worthy roots (as in, “I love my adoptive mother, but I wonder about my birth mother,” or “I love my daughter, but I’m worried that she’ll never feel as secure in our family as my bio kids).  Or maybe that we can’t even explore (as in “I wonder if it would be better if more Chinese families adopted China’s waiting children.”) I know I think a lot about how the adoption process should be different, and how much I wish international adoptive parents were encouraged to explore the possibilities of domestic foster adoption more than we did—but that does not mean, and never would mean, that I want to change my own adoption. And yes, I feel like I have to say that—every time. I imagine that someday, Rory—who might, in the abstract and as an adult, want to explore those questions—will feel the same.

And the question is, is that a good thing?

In one sense, it’s not. If I say “We meant to wait a little longer between kids—I should have known you could get pregnant while nursing,” no one assumes I mean I don’t want Wyatt. I might preface it. I might not. I don’t worry that he’ll come across that statement in ten years and use it to hate me, either. Both society AND I give me unspoken permission to express those things without really fearing that anyone, from outsiders to Wyatt to me, will question our bond.

But with Rory I obviously worry. I worry that outsiders will question my commitment to her. I worry that she will someday question it. I worry, still, that I am on some level questioning it—that I am saying or feeling something I wouldn’t say or feel of a biological child in the same position, even though to have a biological child in the same position is impossible. If those fears triumph, I’m silenced. And if I’m silenced, then that’s one less voice talking about adoption, and that societal doubt will never go away.

But on the other hand—how bad is it, really, to preface every worry or complaint or even discussion of change with an out-and-out disclaimer that notes how lucky I am? Because I am lucky. I have the luxury of dealing with problems or contemplating issues from a place of passionately loving my daughter, herself a gift of some combination of fate, the universe and our family’s willingness to take a different kind of leap into the unknown. I think I have nothing to complain about, there.

And Rory? If she wants to preface her complaints (and I’m sure she’ll have them) or her advocacy for change (and I’d love it if she someday has that) with some sort of disclaimer, I hope she does it, not out of “gratitude” but out of a deep sense that she is indeed lucky. NOT lucky that her adoptive family “did this great thing for her.” But lucky in the same way that every member of our family is lucky: we have each other to love. And if she has so much faith in that that it doesn’t even occur to her to mention it? Ok, maybe that would be the luckiest thing of all.

Tags:

Blowing Off Birth Order: Great Result, Bad Plan

Monday, May 16th, 2011 | Adopting Devils, Virtual Twinning | 4 Comments

When we adopted Rory, almost two years ago now, she was 3 1/2, 6 months older than our youngest, Wyatt. All of our other kids were biological kids (Sam was 7 and Lily 5), and Rory was our first (and only) foray into adoption. We “adopted out of birth order,” and as I remember it, the decision process went something like this: our social worker, Kathleen, a big, comfortable woman with shorn white hair and a confident, rolling walk, had begun to do what we were paying her to do, which was to pry enthusiastically into our personal lives and backgrounds to ensure that we were fit parents. She asked how old a child we planned to adopt. Wyatt was two then, so adopting a younger girl, as you no doubt know, was likely to be a slow process. We’d rejected it, pretty much for that reason, before we talked to any adoption professional. Although our adoption agency, always happy to be able to place even a slightly older child, sure didn’t discourage us.

My husband was just a little hostile about Kathleen’s intrusion, and by “little” you can infer that he resented the entire process of having a stranger—a less educated stranger, and someone who’d chosen a mighty fuzzy and not at all lucrative profession at that—come in and ask him questions about his childhood and judge his parenting skills. He was more than willing to contradict anything Kathleen thought she might know what he did not, and so he explained our position on adopting “out of birth order” very clearly. Lily, then three, would clearly care if her position as a “big kid” was usurped, but Wyatt was the baby. If we adopted someone in between Lily and Wyatt in age, he would still be the baby. Thus, birth order preserved.

Kathleen (a lovely woman who should consider a career in poker, so impassive was her face at this moment) surveyed Wyatt, who was beautiful and blond and capable of saying “Lily put bow my hair,” but not yet “I no want ‘nother sister.” He sat on my lap. He looked at Kathleen, and she looked back at him. Wyatt chose this moment to slide a hand up under my shirt to grasp at my belly button, his favorite source of comfort. He jabbed a thumb in and began to knead, and I pulled my shirt down over his arm and smiled nervously. I was not yet as confident as Rob that he who signed the checks called the shots, and I thought she might press. But Kathleen just nodded and wrote something down on her pad before asking her next question.

And that was it. Had there been much debate before that? Nope. Much after? Not really. Our social worker is a pro, so I suspect she tried subtly to at least give us a heads up that there was more to this than we thought. But she didn’t break through.

The fabulous Dawn Davenport, who, in a different world where I am doing my whole adoption over again (but, of course, getting the same fantastic kid), has posted a set of rules on her website, Creating a Family, for Success in Adopting Out of Birth Order. They can be summed up as “Please, people, think about what you’re doing and how you’re going to do it” and that’s exactly what I wish we’d done.

Of course I’m glad we adopted out of birth order. Of course I’d do it again. Adopting out of birth order is the only way we could add this: to that ornery image above and get this: We had to adopt out of birth order. Call it fate, call it God, call it the universe ebbing and flowing behind the scenes, but our clueless assumption that we could handle anything led us to exactly where we want to be.

But.

It was hard. To begin with, that “baby?” By the time we were heading to China, he was no baby any longer, and he’d seen enough friends get new members of their families to know that what you get is a LITTLE sister. He knew he wasn’t getting a baby—they’d seen pictures—and that was fine with him. He didn’t need a baby. But a “little” sister was just what he had in mind, and all of our assurances that he would be physically bigger didn’t help one bit. For months after Rory came home, he still got angry every time fate conspired to point out her advanced age, and he wanted us to fix it (so badly that I had mad thoughts of messing around with her birth certificate). But there was nothing to be done. Rory is six months older than he is, so for half the year, they’re twins, and for half the year, she’s older, and he’s relegated to “almost” whatever age comes next. He cared, indeed. It’s rare for the “baby” of the family to see the benefits of being the “baby.”

But harder still was the fact that having a child who was six months younger than Rory meant that I expected her to act her age, or at least his age. Every regressive behavior she seized on stood out in harsh contrast to the kid standing right next to her, not sucking his thumb, not having a tantrum, not begging to be carried, not asking to be fed or seeking out sippy cups and baby bottles. I knew, on some level, that those were natural things for a little girl in the middle of a harsh and sudden transition to turn to. I knew that she needed to be babied. But Wyatt made it hard for me to give her what she needed. I didn’t want him to roll back to babyhood, but if either of them was going to—he was the baby! What’s more, he was my baby. Rory was my almost-four-year-old. She’d never been my baby. I’m more than ashamed to admit how hard it was to let her take on that role, and if she’d really been the baby (always remembering that I would not change a thing about our adoption, because our family is perfect and she is perfect for our family) I think it would have been easier.

If Rory had really been the baby, I think it would have come more naturally for me to let her drop into that role. Now, almost two years later, I’ve changed my thinking. She’s the baby in family years, and in family years, and family things, I let her remind me of a toddler, because in some ways she is a toddler. She gets to be more clingy when there are guests and more needy when other things seize my attention. She doesn’t get the privileges of being the “youngest” when, say, a game’s instructions call for the youngest to go first, but otherwise, she does the baby thing she she needs to, and I don’t push her to act Wyatt’s age, or, for that matter, her age.

But I know, in my heart, that we blew off birth order not because, as Dawn suggests, we really thought through what was right for our family, or who Wyatt was and what he could handle. What we thought about was little more than how long it was going to take to adopt. We didn’t want to limit ourselves, in the eyes of China, to that small range of “ayap” girls who we knew were tops on many parents’ list in the waiting child program. Partly that was selfish—as I said, we didn’t want to wait. To the extent we did think about what was best for our family, we thought a child who fit right into the pack, rather than being three or four years younger, would fit right in. And less selfishly, we saw first-time parents, parents who a few years ago would have adopted babies, in line for those “ayap” girls, and wanted to be there for a child who maybe wasn’t at the top of everyone’s list. We did have our reasons for ignoring the birth order trope. But they weren’t great ones. Worse, because I didn’t think it mattered, I didn’t give any thought to how birth order might affect us when Rory came home. If I had, I’d have eased her transition (and, less importantly, mine) in a big way.

So: just because I’d adopt out of birth order again in a heartbeat (because I’d cut off my own arm in heartbeat to make sure Rory was the child who joined our family) doesn’t necessarily mean I think anyone else should do it. Anyone else in our situation—young parents with young children—I’d encourage to think harder, think twice, and at the very least to be ready. Because even if you DO adopt out of birth order, that’s still your newest baby who’s coming home.


Cross-posted to No Hands But Ours.

Tags: ,

Mother’s Day Cards and Chores

Monday, May 2nd, 2011 | Adopting Devils | 2 Comments

Guess who is the only child to just come in every day and empty her lunchbox out without direction? Rory. Guess who remembers to do her morning chore without being asked? Rory. Guess who jumped up and got the crayons when I reminded them that Mother’s Day boxes were being mailed tomorrow? Rory.

She is so alert to any opportunity to please. Not just me, either. Wasn’t I so nice, Wyatt, she asks if she gets him a cup for his milk. Am I so cute, Lily, she asks if Lily declares Wyatt a cutie (usually after dressing him in her clothes). I can always count on combing her hair without hearing a complaint. If I need help carryi g the groceries in, there she is.

Now, she also wants this to be fair. I asked her, Sam and Wyatt to empty the dishwasher this weekend, and only Rory asked why Lily didn’t have to do it. (Because Lily was going to help sort laundry.) But generally, she is so, so ready to help and get praise. And I have some mixed feelings about this.

Who wouldn’t love that she does her chores without being asked? (Not always without complaining.) But who wouldn’t worry that she’s afraid I am not loving her if I’m not telling her what a good job she’s done?

Rory gets to need a little extra love. I try to be on hand to give it. She gets the extra help with her clothes, the tiniest bit more patience in the morning when she pretends she can’t find the things she needs to put in her backpack, the extra time searching fornher favorite stuffy. But then, given those things, she seizes on them. Extra help every time, a lost stuffy every night, missing boots every single morning. She just wants everything she can soak up. I don’t want to reinforce her idea that if she doesn’t please me, there’s no love. I don’t want her to always feel that those who love her need to prove their love. But hey, I want to prove my love. It’s a hard balance to strike. I’m

Explanations, Nouns and Stages

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 | Adopting Devils | 2 Comments

Did someone say all growth is painful? Rory is gaining nouns and verbs in leaps and bounds. She’s still hard to understand, but she can say so many more things and she wants to say so many more things. Her favorite teacher told me she was a little disturbed, because she’s actually having more trouble understanding Rory lately–but I’ve already figured that out. For a long time, I think Rory would have some complex thought (for a four- or five-year-old) and just think, hell, I’m not even going to bother–they are NEVER going to get this. So she’s say, you know, one of her usual things just to make sure we still knew she was in the room (“Member, Mommy? Member you come get me China?”) and I would know she was processing something, or maybe I wouldn’t think about it at all.

Now she tries. If she wants to explain in detail how she scored a goal in hockey, and then someone came up behind her and she fell but the puck still went in, she goes for it–tenses, complex verbs, unknown nouns and all. And sometimes we get it, and sometimes we don’t. If we’re ready to listen, she’ll keep going until we get it. If we’re not, she’ll keep repeating it until we are. But if we assume we know what she’s trying to say, and either try to complete it for her or feed it back to her wrong–well, that makes her mad. And, hey, I can understand that. I try really hard to take the time to let her get it out.

And this works pretty well, although she’s been known to try to manipulate me with it (as in, she’s yelling incoherently and having a hissy fit over some slight or another, and I refuse to listen, and then she turns on the waterworks–”But I just tryin’ to tell you somethin! And you not listen! I no like when you not listen!” And I say, no, you’re not trying to tell me something, you’re trying to cry over something that happened weeks ago because you think it will make me listen to you and not Wyatt right now, and it won’t.

(Remind me to post on “but I just” sometime. I can remember MY parents telling me they didn’t want to hear any sentence with the word “just” again, every. Apparently lawyers breed lawyers whether we actually spawn them or not.)

But what’s painful about this for me (me! me! me!) is that Rory just wants to know a whole lot of things right now. Like what road we’re driving on, and why we’re driving on it, and why we are going so fast or so slow or turning right here or not turning right there or stopping now or going now or….how great is it that she’s so curious about all these things? How great?

After a long, long day of hauling kids from one place to another, not really so great at all.

A better mother would just welcome and celebrate all this growth, even in the middle of a really interesting piece on All Things Considered, wouldn’t she?

Tags: , , ,

Travel Approval, New Job, Great Day

Thursday, May 28th, 2009 | Adopting Devils, Travel to China! | 1 Comment

We just got our travel approval from China–and I just became the kids’ media reviewer for Double X (part of Slate). A double good news whammy.

FAQS:
When do you travel?
We won’t know until Monday, because of the Dragon Boat festival. I would be more resentful, but I happen to love dragon boats! I’d guess we’ll be gone the second half of June.

What’s this job thing?
I’ll be doing all the kids’ media reviews for doubleX. It’s a spinoff of Slate that just launched two weeks ago, from their double X blog, and I’m proud to be a part of it. It’s good stuff–look for it to someday dominate when you’re getting all your news on your iPaper.

Did you bring me any chocolate from Theo in Seatlle?
Probably! It took two bags to carry away our haul. Of course I ate a fair amount yesterday…

What happened to the NHPR gig?
Oh, I still do that. I just don’t always get the link up. I’m working on it.

How can I get everything I was hoping would happen one day and didn’t to go right ahead and happen the next?
Go do something nice for somebody else. I put some time in yesterday to Project Caleb–and while I won’t say it helped, it definitely made me feel better. Not that you could probably tell from my grumpy blog–but the third issue yesterday–which is now all fixed–was that the blog was broken, and I could only post by phone. Which no doubt saved us all from a whiny, self-pitying pile of babbling crap, into which I would hopefully have injected a reminder that 1) my problems don’t amount to a hill of dung in this crazy world and 2) the only thing I can control is what I do, so I might as well make it count.

What’s Project Caleb?
You’ll find out! We’re going to do something good, and I’m going to need lots of help.

BTW, comments are fixed. Plugin issue. 99% of wordpress problems come down to just that!

Tags: , , ,

Things I CAN Do

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 | Adopting Devils | Comments Off

Here is a list of the things I CAN do today:

  • Keep drafting my next freelance pitch.
    Pack the kids’ carry-on bags for our flight to Seattle (6 hours!)
    Pack clothes for the Seattle trip.
    Buy suitcases for ditto, plus China trip. (We have three suitcases, two of the small black rolly kind (one with a hole in it) and one of the giant purple nearly impossible to keep under weight kind. I plan to acquire a pair of medium sized ones.)
    Pack any additions to kids’ carry-ons for China trip into individual bags to be loaded into their backpacks when we come back (I like to put lots of surprises in for a long plane ride, and this is going to be a doozy.)
    Pack Rory’s backpack for trip.
    Get out and stack up Rory’s CLOTHES for trip.
    Download new kids’ tv to ipod.
    Plan Lily’s birthday party.
    Order Lily a birthday gift. Locate gift to persuade Sam to choose for Lily. Ditto for Wyatt.
  • Ok, that’s a good list. Got a couple of things I can’t do, too, but I’m trying to just be zen about those. Rather unsuccessfully, I might add.

    Tags: , ,

    When it is hot, be hot.

    Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 | Adopting Devils | 1 Comment

    To decide to have a child is to decide to allow your heart to go walking around outside your body.

    Wyatt’s TMO teachers presented us with that sentiment on Mother’s day, as their idea of a festive mother’s day apparently involves making one cry (they also offer handprints, and that poem about how the handprint won’t be this small for long—oh, and checkbook covers, which I quite appreciate.)

    Let me just say that the decision to adopt a child—now that, that is popping a chunk of your heart out and sending it tossing around in the Pacific in a Pepsi bottle.

    I posted a few days ago about control, and not having it, and oh, that’s ok, I’m all right with that, I said, merrily. It’s fine.

    Right. Just dandy. I am perfectly ok with not being in control, which is probably why I dream, alternatively, about the two most obvious things that are out of my control, at the moment—a job I’ve applied for, and going to China. Or about leaving kids somewhere, or failing to meet a deadline…everything short of naked arrival in math class the day of the final, really. Apparently I am anxious.

    There are many, many things in life I cannot control. Other drivers. Airplane pilots. Acts of nature. Whether or not, say, Julia Glass has also applied for the writing gig I want. (My favorite friend said today, in response to that, that I am much funnier than Julia Glass, to which I say, why, thank you, my ego swelleth, but the job still goes to the Pulitzer winner) China. Interest rates, the price of eggs, virus mutations.

    Buddhist principles suggest that the problem with those things is neither the things, nor my inability to control the things—it’s my attachment to the things, or their outcomes. If I can release that attachment to outcomes, I will also release my anxiety. Christian philosophy places the “things one cannot change” in the hands of God, politely capitalized. Jews, I believe, put things one cannot change in the category of things one does not yet understand, with the idea that one should have faith that in time, all things will become clear. It strikes me now, as it has before, that these are mostly matters of semantics, of applying different words and possibly different mental techniques to what is essentially the same question: How can I not feel so bad when I am afraid?

    There is a reason, I think, that we say that we “practice” religion. We also “practice” meditation, and yoga. I propose that one thing these things have in common is that we will never get them right. If you aspire to behave like a historical figure who’s acquired the status of myth for his legendary kindness—oh, plus miracles—it’s not like one day you’ll be able to say oh, well, ok then, now I can move on to mastering chess. We never achieve enlightenment, and all things never become clear. We just….practice.

    I would like to say that today I could use less practice. Which is just another way of saying that we may or may not be able to go get Rory in June, or July, or August…

    And so I turn to my garden, which I note is another common suggestion in many religious practices. Cultivate your garden. The idea being, I suppose, that here you can impose some measure of control, just to lighten up after all that practice. The Parent Association at Sam’s school (apparently NOT the Parent-Teacher Association, now that I come to think of it) has a deal with the farm where we get our plants anyway—the ones you can’t grow from seed here, like tomatoes and peppers—and one must fill out the form, to request one’s plants, which one then goes and chooses—just as I would have chosen them last year, only with, I suppose, the addition of the form. A level of bureaucracy has been imposed on the process to permit the transference of some of the funds to Sam’s school. An advantage, for me, is the introduction of a requirement that I actually consider how many plants I want, as opposed to last year’s plan, which featured a wagon and three children who really, really like tomatoes. I think that, provided I also subtract the children from this part of the process, this will be a good thing and result in fewer tomatoes at the end of the season, which will mean I will not feel obligated to dry them, and then not use them, because I cannot figure out 1)whether I dried them safely or 2) how to use them. They are still in my cabinet, though, do I get points for that?

    Tomorrow I plan to lay the mulch, add the compost and get ready. Sam and Lily—and maybe even Wyatt—can put in at least some seeds this weekend. It’s a little early, but I’m feeling good about frost.

    That’s a piece of Buddhist advice, btw. A koan, even, because in its entirety, it’s a mysterious response to a question about dealing with discomfort, but one of those things I think we understand better the less we think about it. Hmmm…The less we think about it. I think I’m onto something, there.

    Anyway–I’m ready to take that particular advice. When it is hot, I will be hot.

    Tags: , , , , , , ,

    Sometimes there’s nothing to control

    Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 | Adopting Devils | 2 Comments

    It looks like things are still moving in China-adoption land, flu or no flu. And so it looks like we will likely be trotting along on our planned schedule. One advantage to not being able to do something at the first possible minute is that it’s more likely to fall in with your schedule. Not that it has, yet, and aliens could always invade at the last minute, causing the whole thing to go up in smoke in an Independence Day-like fashion (now, there’s a fun way to watch movies. We all live in a dream world? But how would that affect my adoption? Aliens live among us as immigrant citizens? What if some of them are in charge of my adoption? Didn’t work so well with “I Am Legend” last night–in fact, I couldn’t watch.)
    I had, actually a productive day by my newly reduced standards, and lessened my obsessing on the internet level by at least three-quarters. All that has to happen now is our travel approval. If it happens anytime this month, we’re good. It’s time to stop with the thinking–and get back to the doing.
    And do I ever have things to do! Before we can travel, there’s the little matter of my sister-in-law getting married. In Seattle. And getting the garden in. And spring cleaning (it’s May, that’s spring here). And getting enough pitches and otherwise out there that I can be gone for three weeks without witnessing the collapse of my career.

    But in case you’re doing what I like to do, and just noodling around looking to see who’s out there doing what, I thought I’d take a minute to post a little nothing. And now I’m off to unpack Rory’s new comforter!

    Tags: , , ,

    A Wee Bit of Trouble Concentrating

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 | Adopting Devils, Travel to China! | 1 Comment

    I am having just a wee bit of trouble getting anything done. Anything, that is, besides dicking around on the internet preparing to go to China.

    Much lies in between us and China, as it happens. Including Seattle and my sister-in-law’s wedding, Lily’s birthday, a photo shoot for Family Fun magazine, and some pretty substantial housework. Among the things I could have accomplished today, it’s worth including: ordering bow ties, arranging a larger propane tank, packing up assorted outgrown clothing, completing a variety of writing-related tasks and emails such, figuring out why my “mobile me” calendar never syncs, learning additional Mandarin….

    I could go on. But instead, I’ll: draft the first part of something, send my editor at NHPR my next post, go home and pick up Sam’s ballet stuff, order the bow ties and call my doctor about travel shots. That’s a good, achievable list for the afternoon. Oh, and drop books at the library.

    Oh, sorry, am I boring you?

    A Solid Guess on Travel Dates

    Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 | Adopting Devils | Comments Off

    Here’s what I think:
    I think we’ll head out around 6/11. Here’s the tentative schedule I’ve planned for us:
    Day 1: leave
    Day 2: Arrive Beijing
    Days 3-4: Sightsee in Beijing. Lily tries to throw Wyatt off Great Wall. International incident narrowly averted.
    Day 5: Fly to Fuzhou City
    Days 6-9 Get used to Rory, one way or another.
    Day 10 Fly to Guangzhou
    Days 11-13 Various appointments
    Day 14 Fly home. I may have the whole date line mixed up, but I think we arrive home pretty much at the exact same time we left.

    I’ve been told to be flexible. I think we can handle that, since flexible tends to be pretty much the definition of our travel plans. We’re looking for a little luxury and good tours for those days in Beijing, and planning on letting whatever happens in Fuzhou City happen. (‘Cause what happens in Fuzhou City stays in Fuzhou City. I’m pretty sure that’s their slogan.)

    We had plenty of conflicting advice about her name. I popped it up as a question on a board, and the thinking was divided equally into “she’ll adjust and be happy that you gave her a family name” and “you’re a racist, overly-Westernized white devil to even think about changing her name, and btw you used the phrase ‘going off the reservation’ in another post and that’s grossly insensitive too.”

    Let’s just say not everyone on the “boards” is fully literate. (For those of you just joining us, our daughter’s name, as given to her in China, not by us, when she was 2 months old, is…Rebecca.)

    And the irony of all of this was only highlighted by a piece in today’s Slate: What’s Up with Chinese People Having English Names? An american writer with a chinese name is mocked by his chinese peers for being so out of it as to still be using his original moniker.

    In the United States, people tend to view names and identities as absolute things—which explains why I agonized over deciding on an English name—but in China, identities are more amorphous. My friend Sophie flits amongst her Chinese name, English name, MSN screen name, nicknames she uses with her friends, and diminutives that her parents call her. “They’re all me,” she says. “A name is just a dai hao.” Dai hao, or code name, can also refer to a stock’s ticker symbol.

    Our decision–well, our partial decision? We’re calling her Rory. As for her formal name, we’re still working that out. I’m a big fan of nicknames, but Rob thinks her official first name ought to be: Rory. So: Rory Claire adjusted-and-yet-not-quite-finalized-chinese-name, or Lorelei Rebecca chinese-name, or possibly Rebecca Rose chinese-name or Rebecca Claire chinese-name who is just called Rory. Or maybe something else. But called Rory. It’s already on her shoe cubby.

    Now we just have to get Lily some speech therapy before Wowy comes home.

    Tags: , , , , , ,

    I Should Be Happy. Should I Be Happy?

    Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 | Adopting Devils | 3 Comments

    One of the perils of visiting my folks is that the radio station they favor plays a lot of Carpenters. That has obvious issues, of course, but one of the biggest is that even the very happiest Carpenter song, what with the whole sad story of Karen Carpenter, the nostalgia factor, my lost youth–makes me feel sad. And since it’s not a specific kind of sadness, I just apply it to whatever I’ve got going on that I could possibly be sad about.

    And right now I am sad about Rebecca.

    When I think about what lies ahead for her, I grieve for her. I can’t believe I’m going to be part of it. I look at Wyatt, and I imagine someone telling him that something wonderful is going to happen to him–that he should be happy, that he should be excited. I imagine them using word he doesn’t fully understand, and I imagine him trusting the person, and feeling that excitement.

    And then I imagine him being taken away.

    It’s hard to even write that without crying. In fact, I have to turn it around now–to apply it to Rebecca, to say yes, but she’s always been told this would happen, she can’t feel about her foster family the way Wyatt feels about us, that because she’s being prepared, that because in the end it’s “for the best”, it somehow isn’t the same thing.

    But I suspect that it is. And even knowing the obvious–that she cannot stay with her foster family, that her future will be better here, that she will grow to love us–I am not happy. I want her. I am thrilled to have her, along with nervous and all the rest–but I cannot truly want this for her. What I want for her, she can’t have.

    Wyatt wants a cookie. Rebecca is sleeping right now. I know she loves cookies, too.

    Tags: , , ,

    Big Stuff Afoot!

    Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 | Adopting Devils, Travel to China! | 5 Comments

    Wow.

    So, none of what I planned to get done this afternoon got done, although, oddly, I cleaned part of the vegetable garden. Because, what with packing for Texas, finishing Rebecca’s dvd and package, finishing a pitch for my conference next week, doing a new post for the NHPR site I just started writing for, finishing the article for Parenting I wanted to have done before we left Friday…well, clearly what I really needed to do was work in the garden. Because we have LOA. (What the hell is that? See the previous post, please!)

    But I digress (an excellent alternative title for this blog, btw).

    Now we can plan. Now we can count. Here’s my secret plan: We’re in Seattle for Aliza’s wedding until May 27. I want to fly from there. It’s easier. It shaves 4 hours off our trip. It combines the craziness, and why not do that? It’s really reasonable, date-wise. Our agency won’t want to go for it. It’s going to make them nervous–too much planning too far ahead. I plan to spring it on them later. Rob I’m going to spring it on later tonight. He took all my mad sudden planning today very well (possibly because he was on his way out to play a last round of paddle tennis before the weather gets too warm to play, and don’t ask me to explain how that can be, because I can’t.) I do think it’s a good idea.

    But–on to the most important subject tonight: Rebecca’s name. Now, Rebecca. A very good name, in fact. Solid. American. I like it. We’ll keep it. But we didn’t give it to her. And we do like naming. So we have some strong contenders for a middle or first name, and then we’ll see how it shakes out. I never, ever tell names beforehand, because the minute you do, someone says “Oh, I had a dog called that!” or “That was the name of the kid in third grade that everyone picked on!”.

    But I’m going to do it now anyway. Here are the leading contenders:

  • Rebecca Rose, called “Rory”
  • Rebecca Claire
  • Audrey Rebecca
  • Rebecca Jade
  • Rebecca Elizabeth
  • Margaret Rebecca
  • Rebecca Skye (I suspect Rob’s just humoring me by leaving this one on)
  • Lucy Rebecca (much as I like this one, I think it’s out. Too many Lucy’s around already, plus it sounds like Lily. Ok, out.
  • We’re also adding a character to her Chinese name, but since I can’t type the characters and you can’t read them (neither can I) I will just leave them out, because that one has to both sound good and have the right meaning. I’ll get back to you.

    Really, I have to go do something else. Seriously.

    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Twitter

    Subscribe

    Get Very Very Occasional Updates from Me

    * required

    *







    Email Services thanks to VerticalResponse

    GoodReads

    KJ's bookshelf: currently-reading



    More of KJ's books »
    KJ Dellantonia's currently-reading book recommendations, reviews, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

    Coming Gradually: Fresh, Updated Links

    Previous Posts: Distant and Not-So