adoption

How Rude

I am always amazed at how rude some people can be.

First example happened at my local gym. There was a woman in the locker room who decided this was a good place to take a phone call. While she was on the phone, she walked back to the area where the toilet stalls are located. She continued her conversation back there, when someone, yes, flushed the toilet. When this person walked out, the first woman stopped her phone call and said to the person exiting said stall “can’t you see I’m on the phone?” Okay, there are so many things wrong with this, but I couldn’t believe she had the audacity to think this, much less say it out loud. First of all, the woman already in the stall had no idea that the other woman was on the phone (the doors are not see through for a reason). Second, why on earth would you take a call in a locker room and then walk around, especially back to the area where the toilets and showers are located.  And why would she think that a toilet is more mobile than a phone? Um, hello, but use your brain, say to the caller “excuse me for a moment, I’m in the locker room, let me go outside so we can talk unimpeded” if the call is that important that you must take it at that exact moment. The world does not revolve around you, nor should you expect it to.

The next example hits closer to home. As a parent of a girl adopted from China I have encountered many people who feel it’s okay to ask me the most personal of questions. Or make assumptions about my child bearing capabilities. The fact that I’m even writing that sentence is a sad commentary on peoples manners these days.

I would have people say, “oh, I’m so sorry you couldn’t have a child of your own.” Or “how much did she cost?” “You know, there are treatments that you or your husband could try.” And the kicker “how can you love her, she’s not really your own child.” And what made it that much worse was they would ask in front of my daughter, not taking in to account that she has ears, she can hear what they are saying. Now at the age of two maybe she couldn’t understand the question, but as she got older and we would still get asked these questions, she began to wonder and then ask me what these people meant.

Most of the time I would just look at them in bewilderment, astounded that they could even formulate these ideas, much less speak them into existence. On occasion I would think not nice words in my head and then politely responded with an “oh, okay” and walk away. Then there were a few times, when my daughter wasn’t around, my sarcastic side would take over and I would ask them about their financial situation or sex life or any other completely inappropriate question just to see how they would respond. That usually shut down the conversation pretty quickly.

I admit, there were those people that were asking because they genuinely wanted to know and understand the entire international adoption process. And you could tell that they weren’t meaning to be rude, they simply were trying to engage in a conversation. But that was a small percentage of the people. The rude ones, well it was like meeting a real life troll. Maybe it made them feel better about themselves to put others down. Maybe this is just what they were taught and they didn’t know any better. Maybe it was just their prejudice and ignorance showing. I don’t know. But it broke my heart, every time. The fact that someone could think that I didn’t love my daughter just as much as they loved their own child, just because I didn’t go through what they thought of as the normal the physical of having a baby, astounded me and still does to this day.

So on behalf of all adoptive families out there, please, if you want to ask us about it, think before you speak. Actually, that really should just be the rule that we all follow in any given situation. The world would be a much better place.

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Forever Family

10 years ago, life changed forever. We went from being a couple, married for 11 years (having celebrated our 11th anniversary in Beijing) to 2 days later becoming a family, a forever family. It was March 12, 2001, the day our lives changed forever. The first day we finally met in person and fell in love (all over again) with Li San Yue, in Tuanfeng, Hubei China.

The journey started with paperwork, then waiting, more paperwork, more waiting, official notarizations from the county, the state, the federal government and the Chinese government, then more waiting, and then the day the Fedex package arrived, waiting on that too. The long awaited package containing the most important paperwork of all ~ the picture seen at the left and all the biographical information about our soon to be daughter arrived on January 22, 2001.

Skip forward to March 12, 2001, anxiously arriving at the Civil Affairs Bureau, stepping off the elevator and hearing the distant cries of babies. Heart pounding, palms sweating, stomach in knots… knowing that in just a few moments we would finally get to hold our daughter in our arms for the very first time. I could go on and describe the entire day, the next two weeks, and the journey home, but that is for another post, at another time.

Now we are in the present, 10 years after our first meeting. The little baby we met so many years ago has grown, blossomed, and is developing into quite the  young lady. Bright, creative, and independent and still the most amazing gift I have ever been given. Happy “Gotcha Day” my Chinese firecracker.

Birth Parents

China dollIf you’ve been following this blog for any period of time, you know that I am the mother to a beautiful daughter, adopted from China. She will be 9 in less than a month, and she is starting to ask those “difficult” questions. No, not the birds & bees questions, but the birth parent questions. Being that she is from China, we have no idea of who her birth parents are or where they were even from. If you don’t know, China has a very restrictive one child policy and often times the mothers will travel to other provinces to give birth and abandon their babies in order to not get caught.

As her parents, we do know some information about where she was found and who found her. We know of her time spent in the orphanage, the fact that she had a “foster” family there, she was healthy, happy, and liked to be outside. We have medical information, although it’s in Chinese so unless someone can translate it, I can’t tell what it means.

She asked the other day, did anyone know my mom in China? No honey, no one knew her? Well how did I get to the orphanage? Someone, we don’t know if it was a man or woman, brought you there. Maybe it was my mom or dad? No sweetheart, it’s unlikely that it was either one of them. Someday I will tell you the entire story, but not today. Okay. Is it scary? No, it’s just right now isn’t the time to get into all the details. And she left it at that.

I will tell her the truth when it comes time to answer her questions. I have documentation and photos to show her. But I am also scared. Scared of how she will react to being “abandoned”. Left alone, outside, on a sidewalk, only 4 days old. I’m 42 and the thought of that breaks my heart every time. What would a child think?

So to all the adoptive parents out there – have you had to handle these questions? If so, at what age did you have to deal with them? How did you answer? How much did you answer?

Taxes, China and A Life Change

This is the story of how working for a tax software company made me a mom.

I used to work for a tax software company. We created an on-line personal tax preparation software program that turned out to be quite successful. For those of you not familiar with the behind the scenes of a software development company, I’ll give you the brief description. Long hours (any where from 8 to 20 hour days, depending on the season). Junk food (take out, pizza, fast food. You name it, we ate it). Good pay (thank God for stock options). No life outside of work and the friends we had there. That pretty much sums up the life that I (and my husband) were living.

Because of the success of the program we created, we were approached by a “bigger” software company, offered lots of money, and eventually bought out and dismantled. While it was sad to see people lose their jobs, see all our hard work just shut down, it turned out to be a turning point in my life.

Thanks to the stock options, I was immediately able to pay off all the debt that my husband and I had accumulated. And it was substantial to say the least. (That’s a story for another post another day).

I also realized that working for a software company was not what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was a great place to be for a season, but it wasn’t what I was passionate about.

One day my husband said to me “I think I hear my biological clock ticking.” I looked at him a bit puzzled and said “isn’t that supposed to be my line?” By this time we had been married almost 10 years and intentionally didn’t have children. But he reminded me of a program we had seen some years earlier about all the abandoned girls in China. He said “I think that’s something maybe we should consider now.”

Before you could say international adoption, we were contacting adoption agencies, figuring costs, looking at different countries, and were one step closer to changing our lives forever.

Well after much paperwork (you think buying a house is a lot of paperwork), several meetings with a social worker, trips to the INS, the jail to be fingerprinted (for the county, state and feds), biographies written and all documentation notarized by the local, state and Chinese governments, we were finally ready to wait. Yes I said wait. Once we had done all this work we had to wait. And wait. And wait some more. Referral times were running around 10 to 11 months. Longer than any pregnancy I had ever heard of.

And then the call came. Work ceased, and the wait for the FedEx guy started. Little did he know the package he was delivering would change not just one life, but three lives forever. After more paperwork, flying for 13+ hours (I called that my labor) one bad meal, one mystery meal, and an exhausting walk on the Great Wall of China we me the most beautiful, precious gift ever given to us and started a new chapter in our lives.

Fast forward 7 1/2 years – and here we are in 2008. Parents of an incredible 8 1/2 year old. Yes, that’s her in the picture above, a few years ago in Leavenworth, Washington. And I could go on, but I will save more of the story for another post.