Monthly Archives: November 2010


Like many I reflect on what it means to be thankful as we arrive at the American holiday and tradition of Thanksgiving. Weeks ago Mark traveled to China for business, his first trip back to the birth county of our daughters. I know my husband’s perspective was vastly different than those he traveled with, because his previous trips were with me and were profoundly emotional and sacred. His thoughts of how we became parents again, savoring the memories of meeting each of our girls (then infants), adopting them, spending concentrated time in their birth provinces, and arriving home, were ever present.

In the two-year span between the girls’ adoptions, China changed at a speed that stunned us. We knew it was likely we would have difficulty recognizing China when we would return in the future, with our entire crew.

Mark arrived home last week with conflicting feelings and few keepsakes because, as he said, “There is nothing you can’t get here (in the U.S.). China has become so westernized, that it has lost itself.”

I feel beyond sad. My daughters’ birth culture is changing or disappearing at an alarming rate. Their birth language (Mandarin) still remains—even as the trend to speak English picks up, as does the rich folklore and traditions. But westernization, “progress,” is everywhere.

There is so much to be thankful for—our health, our incredible family, friends…I could go on. But what I am also thankful for is travel. Parenting children of other races, ethnicities and culture takes some “doing.”  I am thankful we were able to travel when we did (it was required, although we would have gone even if it wasn’t). I am thankful we continue to travel with the kids instead of spending our vacations at amusement parks and U.S. resorts, enriching ourselves and our children with their birth cultures and other cultures too.

We have fought hard to keep those memoires—sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of China—for our girls, because we knew they would likely disappear before they again experienced the country of their births and because they are part of our daughters’ birth histories. While we watch the growth of China and her related aches and pains as she rapidly moves forward eclipsing her ancient history, we are excited at the prospect of doing more with her, but we also ache for what was, the visage hard to ignore.

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, China, Cultural Awareness, Identity, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, Racial Identity, The International Mom, Traditions, Travel

The Child Within

Today it is I who feel every bit like the child. I am picking one of my favorite sister-in-laws up at the airport, with my kids in tow, to cushion us both from the pain of taking the next step. Although I will be very happy to see her, I also feel otherwise. The purpose of her trip is not a happy one. She has come to be with our close family as we lean on one another for emotional support, as we put my father-in-law (her and Mark’s father), a man who has shown me what a father can and should be, into a nursing facility.

My father-in-law is in the end stages of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. Separating him from the woman he has been married to for close to sixty years is heart-breaking. But, it is time. His needs cannot be met any longer by those who love him the most.

My youngest kids never knew the healthy grandpa. He has been slipping away. There is no indication of the special, dedicated man he was. Holden has many memories and Josi a few years of them. I have memories too. Of:

~        his signature, “Be careful!” whenever I left his presence,

~        his twinkling blue eyes every time he greeted me,

~        him claiming me as another daughter,

~        his gentle offer to walk me down the aisle to marry his son,

~        years of shared vacations and meals,

~        walks on the beach,

~        decades of conversation and laughter,

~        him flirting with and teasing my mother-in-law

~        how close he was to his only son (my husband),

~        the quiet pride he had in his family,

~        the fine role model he was as a father and husband,

~        and being accepted and loved unconditionally. 

The kids have been patient, compassionate and loving. We adults, children ourselves in times of grief, will need to draw upon the strength and joy our children bring as we all take this next step in the journey of good-bye. We need to show our children how we care and support each other. And the child within me will need to be held as she holds others.


Filed under Claiming, Family, Rite of Passage, The International Mom

Advocating, Mommy Style

It’s been a while—since I posted and also since I had to fill out medical information on one of my children. The last time  was with Holden’s concussion in the spring. I had scribbled my way through forms late on a Sunday evening, concerned over the headache that he was having. He had taken a cleared ball to the side of his head during a hotly contested out-of-state soccer match, briefly knocked unconscious. (He recovered.)

Not thinking, I rambled through the sheath of paperwork for Greyson as we waited for his in-office surgery last week. Pen poised to continue on the next page, I stopped short. Mother’s Medical History. Hmmm. All I could think was, “Okay…” I drew a big “x’ through the page of questions to answer and check and then did the same for the next page—Father’s Medical History.

I walked up to the desk, intent on having a private conversation with the office manager/receptionist and not sure how I was going to be received. Of course Greyson, worried over the procedure, was glued to me. So, I asked him to go dig for something in my purse, which would take any human some time, knowing full-well that what he was looking for wasn’t there.

The significance was not lost on me. November, National Adoption Month, was one week old, and I again found myself in the role of advocating for awareness and sensitivity about adoption.

I leaned way in through the window on tiptoes into the inner sanctum of the office manager/receptionist’s territory. I was praying for a good exchange.

Smiling and whispering, I said, “Excuse me, I just wanted you to know that I’ve crossed out these two pages. I’m not trying to create issues, but they don’t apply. My son was adopted.”

She responded, “Oh! No problem. Adoption has a very special place in my heart; you see I was adopted!”

She began to tear up and her smile, well, it could have lit the room up all by itself. Of course, I returned her smile. Statistics state that about sixty percent of Americans have a personal connection to adoption. Sometimes I feel that the percentage is much higher…

Greyson’s surgery went well. He was a very brave dude. The stitches come out later in the week.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Advocacy, The International Mom