Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November Already ....

So much has been happening around here that I haven't had time to update our blog ! Where should I begin? I guess I'll start with the NICU reunion. We did go and had a wonderful time. Several of Hailey's nurses were there and were floored with how much she has grown. It was so nice to see so many healthy, happy children and their families. How rewarding it must be for all of the medical professionals to see that all of their efforts paid off :) .

We also spent the latter part of October preparing for Halloween. This was our first Halloween that we actually got to go trick-or-treating with our daughter. Our dog and child both dressed up for the occasion (ladybug and duck respectively) and got a chance to see the neighbors together. Our daughter loved it ! She came home with a sizable amount of candy-YUM ! Her favorites were the suckers.

Since November has started,I have been very busy as tutoring for the school year has kicked in. I'm busy each and every day ( in addition to being a Mom) and I love it. I think I have finally found the balance between being a working and Stay-at-Home Mom. My job is flexible enough that I still have my afternoons (most days) free to spend with our daughter.

Our daughter is growing so quickly. She is a full-blown toddler now which is hard to believe. She is very close to walking and is climbing on everything that she can find. We have been so blessed to have the ability to parent this child.

We are getting ready for a Thanksgiving celebration with our Virginia family. It will be exciting to celebrate the holidays with our baby girl this year. At least she will understand more of what's happening this year :) .

That's the quick update...when I have time I will write more about my adventures with balancing work and being a Mom. Happy Thanksgiving to all !

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A NICU reunion....

We have just found out that the NICU (where our daughter spent the first two months of her life) is having a reunion ! We are so excited that we will finally be able to properly thank all of the nurses and doctors for the excellent care that they gave our daughter. The reunion is being held for all babies that were born in the hospital and were NICU patients between the years of 1999-2009. It will be interesting to see if any of the parents/babies that we met during our daughter's stay will be there or not. It will also be interesting to see how all of the more mature "preemies" look at nine or ten years old. Sometimes, this feels like a glimpse into our child's future and it is very exciting!

We have not been back to visit since our daughter came home in October of 2008. When we left the NICU, our daughter weighed 5 pounds and 5 ounces and had an apnea monitor attached to her. There were so many emotions that we had leaving that ranged from sadness to sheer terror (how will we ever do this without nurses to help?) to utter joy. The doctors and the nurses became a second family to us. They taught us how to take care of our baby. No question we ever asked was dismissed as a "dumb" one. We learned more about the NICU in two months than we ever imagined we would. The nurses on staff were not only our guardian angels but a our daughter's as well !

The social worker, our adoption agency representative, the child specialist (who first told us about Early Intervention Services...praise be to God) and the case manager for the NICU all played a special role in helping our family deal with what our life may or may not be like as new parents to a "preemie" with some delays. We honestly do not know what we would have done without these fantastic people. I don't even want to think about what it would have been like to coordinate all of our baby's special care on our own !

When we return from the reunion, I am sure that we will have a story or two to share. We hope that you check our blog regularly for the latest updates.

We wish you peace and joy !

Monday, September 21, 2009

To work or to be a SAHM? That is the question...

So as I was looking at "The Stay-At-Home Mom's Survival Guide" website, I came across an article that caught my attention. I think the article says it all and more. Enjoy !

It’s okay to not always love being a Stay-at-Home mom

Surely, for some women, being a stay-at-home mother is an entirely magnificent, totally blissful, always fulfilling, happily-ever-after dream come true.

I’m not one of those women—and that’s okay.

I know I’m not alone in having mixed feelings about having left the traditional, paid workforce to be a 24/7 at-home parent to my children. From time to time, most all women doing the job (and stay-at-home motherhood is a job) struggle with the challenges of this kind of in-the-trenches motherhood.

Round-the-clock parenting often has as many downs as ups. The constant demands that come from being the sole adult charged with the care of little minds and bodies (and the surroundings in which they exist) involves a daily routine that many stay-at-home moms need both skill and fortitude to survive. As with any job, we have moments of feeling overwhelmed, overworked, unappreciated, and under-compensated. And all that’s before the 9 am start of the traditional workday.

For a woman who, before motherhood, had a job she enjoyed, experienced career success, lived independently, and had an active social life, setting all that aside for stay-at-home motherhood can be a mixed blessing. It’s wonderful for a mother to be able to devote herself to the full-time care of her family—without the distractions, stresses, and demands of an office or workplace. It’s wonderful for a child to be raised under the constant care of a parent instead of a nanny, sitter, au pair, daycare staff, or afterschool program—or any of the other childcare solutions that parents need to piece together in order to earn an income. In a nation where two incomes are often essential to a family’s well-being, and where single parents need a job in order to pay and keep up with the bills, stay-at-home mothers are often told how lucky they are “not to work.”

I know I’m lucky that my family has been able to live securely for several years with only one steady income, but being a stay-at-home mother is nothing but work! The surprise for many women who spend their days caring for children without end is that they work as many, if not more, hours than they did at a “real” job. The initial relief from the pressures of paid employment are often replaced by the demands of our stay-at-home reality.

But putting aside professional skills and independence to fill sippy cups and push swings can be tough on a woman’s sense of self. And although a stay-at-home mother is never without something to do, the day can drag, and entire weeks can feel empty of adult company or personal fulfillment. Then, in the rare instance you get to mingle among grown-ups without kids clinging to you, someone asks you what you do, and you struggle between saying, “I’m a stay-at-home mom . . .” or “Well, I used to be . . .” or some tortured combination thereof. It can make you want to cry.

My advice. Don’t sugarcoat, sentimentalize, or reduce to slapstick the realities of stay-at-home motherhood.

For those of us who have good days and bad, who sometimes absolutely adore and appreciate being home with our kids and sometimes can’t stand it, parenting books and magazine articles in which the author and interviewees gush about their love of being a mom and surrendering to motherhood just don’t jibe with all the realities. Ditto those who joke about the sleepless nights and messy minivans and days without showering—but, alas, each quip or complaint is couched by an “I wouldn’t change it for the world” sentiment. For the woman whose every mothering moment isn’t a greeting card moment, such rosy pictures can actually be demoralizing: “I don’t like playing peek-a-boo and going to the park every day. I don’t like being at the beck and call of someone else’s moods and needs. Sometimes I don’t want to be around my kids. I must be a terrible mom.”

You’re not a terrible mom. You’re a typical mom.

So hang in there! Even though you may be alone in your house right now with [fill in the applicable number] child(ren) crying, hanging on you, and demanding your immediate attention, you are not alone. Even though you may feel you’re flying a solo mission, you aren’t, especially when it comes to your conflicted feelings:

10 am: “I’m so happy I’m home!”
11 am: “What was I thinking?
Noon: “Being a stay-at-home mother is [fill in an adjective here]!”

It’s okay to not always love being a stay-at-home mom. Women often fear that admitting as much is tantamount to saying to the world and themselves that we regret not being part of the paid workforce.

The reality is, sometimes, some of us do regret leaving careers, or wish for something more. That’s normal. That’s healthy. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our children. It doesn’t mean we’d make a different choice if we had a do-over. It definitely doesn’t mean we’re bad mothers, or that we’re not doing a good job. Some days at work are wonderful. Some days are nightmares. Few people love their job every minute of the day. The same goes for the job of being a stay-at-home mom.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In the blink of an eye....

In what seems like a blink of an eye, our precious child turned one year on the 10th of August. On her birthday, I fought back tears of joy as I looked at the incredible and miraculous child that not only can crawl but can stand before me.

Why is she so incredible and a miracle you ask? Our answer would be simply because the odds at her birth were not in her favor. She had a Grade IV brain bleed 4 days after she was born. This bleed was serious and affected her quality of life. The first two months of her life were spent hooked up to monitors of all sorts, having oxygen supplied, having a blood transfusion and being on a ventilator with 24 hour a day nursing care. She was so tiny (3 pounds and 11 ounces). You could hold her in one hand and as her grandparents have said many times "she was as light as a feather". Despite all of these issues, she was a beautiful newborn.

The instant we met her, we fell in love with her. There was no turning back ,for this child was our gift from God. I remember not even being able to touch her the 1st time I saw her. I was scared I would hurt her but God gave Jason the strength that I didn't have and he asked the nurse how he could best touch her without putting her in pain. What was amazing was how she responded to his touch instantly and without hesitation. From that moment, we knew that she was definitely meant to be our child. The fact that another woman gave birth to her made no difference to us because she had grown in our hearts for exactly 3 years and 8 months.

I'm not going to say that this last year has been easy because it hasn't. We have had to guard our baby against illness, have her evaluated by specialists, have enrolled her in Physical Therapy and have probably filed more paper than most people will ever see in their lifetimes. On top of all this, we had to adjust to being parents after 12 years of life with just the two of us and our precious pup. All of this was not easy, but in hindsight, we can see how rewarding it has been. I don't regret being home with our daughter for the 1st year of her life at all. I have seen her grow from a teeny, tiny baby to a determined and brilliant crawler/toddler. It has been an exciting year and we can't wait to see what her 2nd year of life will bring.Many people say that she has thrived because of the excellent care that we've given her. That may be part of why but I beg to differ. I think that God gave her a fighting spirit that has enabled her to overcome the odds.

How would I describe our child to someone who doesn't know and love her like we do? I guess I would say that she is just like her Mommy and Daddy. She is stubborn, caring, determined, has the best smile and laugh and is a lot of fun ! Oddly enough, she even resembles us. Some days I look at her and I completely see my husband and other days I see a mini-me. She has the biggest, bluest eyes that I have ever seen ! We couldn't have made a better child for us if we could have done it ourselves.

As we prepare for another meeting with our daughter's birth family, the realization that this child is truly ours has hit home with even more intensity than before. Maybe it's because she is a year old and we feel that she may be more aware that these "strangers" are a part of her family too? I'm not really sure why the intensity is there but it is. We have told our daughter her story many times. At this point,however, she has no understanding of what it means to be "adopted". It is our hope that we have begun to sow the seeds of her personal garden of life. We know that the real challenges of our open adoption arrangement are yet to come.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Of outlet covers and baby gates...

Well, let me catch you up with what's been happening around here. Our precious daughter is now on the verge of crawling and walking ! Despite how exciting this is, it is also a bit scary for us. You see, having been married 13 years without any children (except a fur baby), we are completely clueless about baby proofing our home.

As it stands right now, we have a play yard to confine our precious bundle and have covered outlets, shortened cords,locked cabinets, disassembled the DVD bookcase and moved anything that could possibly tumble when pulled by a curious 10 (almost 11 ) month old. Yet, we are still not completely "proofed". How can this be?

I guess it's because we do not truly have an idea of exactly what little Miss will get into while she is venturing across the floor. We know that she is attracted to the fireplace. So, that means a barrier will go up around it. We also have a huge entryway to our Great Room that we will need to gate as well. What we are trying to figure out is whether or not she will attempt to touch things that we haven't thought of yet. My guess is: more than likely.

We are thrilled that she is so curious about the world around her. I just hope we survive this stage of her development ! Wish us luck :-).

Until we meet again....hugs !

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Walking the tight rope....

Lately, I have the great desire to be working outside of the home again. I miss my career as a Teacher but know if I went back to work full-time I would miss my precious daughter even more. So, I think what I want to do is find a part-time job in the Fall. This would enable me to be here for her firsts--crawling, walking, talking and whatever else comes our way. So, this is where the dilemma comes in.... how do I balance being on the tight rope? How can I be a great part-time working Mom and be a great Mom to my baby too?

I've never had to balance this much responsibility before and don't have a clue what I will do for my baby's care while I am at work. We have a wonderful babysitter right now that I would love to have her here while I work. The problem is that I am not sure that she will be able to do this because she will more than likely have a full load of classes in the Fall. If she can't, I am considering putting the kiddo in a day care program at our church. I am not thrilled at the prospect of putting my precious bundle in a daycare center. Maybe it's because I worked in one and know that more than likely, my child would spend most of her time being sick??? All of this is, of course, pure speculation at this point in time. I may end up being home for another year if some income we are hoping to have coming in actually does.

I admit that there is a part of me that feels guilty that I have the desire to be working again after we have waited for this beautiful child for so long. There's also this part of me that also knows that I need the brain stimulation that work provides me with. I love teaching but am not sure what type of teaching job would have the type of schedule that I want/need right now. Tutoring would be something I would still love to do. I just wish I could do more of it during the earlier part of the day! What's most important to me, is the flexibility to still have quality time with our daughter. So, again I ask: How do I do this without driving myself crazy?

Even though being a parent is the most amazing and rewarding experience I have ever had, I do want to have another identity separate from "Mom". When we found out we were going to be parents, we were elated beyond belief (and still are) but I also found that I became depressed because I felt like I was losing a part of myself. I have ALWAYS worked outside of our home. It's what I have been accustomed to. What's a gal with so much energy to do?

I'd love to hear what others think about this dilemma. Meanwhile, I will continue to perform my current day job with pride. It is one of the most important and difficult jobs that I will ever have !

Friday, May 1, 2009

Of May and Mother's Day/All Wonen's Day.

You may wonder why I gave this post the above title. It's not just because I have a birthday and anniversary in May. This year it is primarily because I will finally be able to celebrate Mother's Day without tears in my eyes, without avoiding places with children and without staying away from anything that remotely resembles anything having to do with celebrating this "members" only holiday.

The past 8 years or so I have loathed Mother's Day. Before that time frame, I was fine with celebrating it with my own Mother, Grandmother and Sister-In-Law. Each time that we went to church on Mother's Day, the pastor would have all of the Mother's and Grandmother's stand to be recognized with a flower. With every woman that stood, I become increasingly emotional and angry. I wasn't angry at those who had children, I was angry that we didn't. I would ask myself over and over again. Why was it that we were not blessed with a child who would call me "Mom"?

I have many friends who will be asking this same question again this year. I can honestly say that any type of "parenting" holidays were the worst ones for us as we were going through our adoption journey. They are reminders of how long it's been since you became active, how long it might be before you are a parent and also of loss. It's hard to describe to someone that hasn't been there what this experience is like. I can only compare it to being in a vacuum while the rest of the world continues on as it normally would.

My husband's Aunt had a great idea many years ago. She was aggravated by the flower ceremony at her church and decided to talk with the pastor about the practice. Her idea was brilliant and pure genius. That idea was to celebrate "All Women's Day". . Although this day falls on the same day as Mother's Day, it is not just about the Moms and Grandmothers. I love this concept--just because it is Mother's Day, it does not mean that "All Women" shouldn't be celebrated. All of us are "Mothers" (whether we have children or not). The Teacher is a "Mom" to many children each and every day, the Nurse is a Mother to all of their patients and so on and so forth. I plan on continuing this celebration this year as I have done for the past 8--honoring all the important women in my life. I hope that you do the same :-) .

Thursday, April 9, 2009

More pearls of wisdom from the web...

The title of the article below immediately caught my attention. As I read, I thought about how true much of what the author had to say was. Today's world is different than the one I grew up in. I knew my neighbors and watched most of their kids at least once a week. I learned that it was (and now have confirmed) an awesome responsibility to care for children. I also worked in a daycare setting for a few years and I still don't feel like I was prepared for parenting our daughter!

I had high hopes that the pediatrician could address my concerns about nutrition, sleep and development. Alas, I have been very disappointed in her approach to all of the above. Even though she is a trained professional, I feel as though she sometimes knows less than my husband and I do about parenting (and she has several children). I know that our daughter will develop at her own pace and is slightly delayed due to her early arrival into the world. I feel that it is unfair to compare her to a child that is the same age but born full-term, especially when it comes to her nutritional needs. During our last visit to the pediatrician, we were told that our toothless daughter could "handle" eating teething biscuits! How would that work? Last time I checked, neither Jason or I had the ability to chew for her!

I am very aware that parenting is a "hands-on" learning process. There is no manual but there is a test each and every day whether you are prepared for it or not. I invite you to be my guest and read the article below. How much of this do you agree with? How much don't you agree with? I find it very interesting that this article was written by an anthropoligist for "LiveScience". She has finally given me the "pearls of wisdom" about parenting that I have been looking for since our daughter came home in October.

Why We Fear Parenting

By Meredith F. Small, LiveScience's Human Nature Columnist

Meredith F. Small is an anthropologist at Cornell University and is also the author of "Our Babies, Ourselves; How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent" and "The Culture of Our Discontent; Beyond the Medical Model of Mental Illness." Her Human Nature column appears each Friday on LiveScience. [Human Nature Column Archive]
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Meredith F. Small.
Meredith F. Small is an anthropologist at Cornell University and is also the author of "Our Babies, Ourselves; How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent" and "The Culture of Our Discontent; Beyond the Medical Model of Mental Illness." Her Human Nature column appears each Friday on LiveScience. [Human Nature Column Archive]

Several years go during a "well child visit," a pediatric nurse asked me a question about my then 18-month-old daughter:

“How many words does she have?”

“I have no idea,” I responded, baffled by the question.

“We like them to have 15 words at this age,” she snipped, clearly disapproving of my failure to keep track of my daughter’s vocabulary.

“You should talk to her in more complex sentences,” she advised, assuming I would take her advice and initiate some decent conversations about black holes or the meaning of life with my toddler.

Instead, I burst out laughing.

As an anthropologist who has studied childhood across the globe, I know that some kids take their own sweet time to talk and that all kids eventually catch up.

I was also amused because the nurse had easily slipped into the role of expert in the arena of child behavior, and she expected me to listen and learn.

And no wonder.

Although the parent-child relationship has been working smoothly for millions of years, today’s parents are quivering masses of indecision and self-doubt. Why are we so afraid of parenting?

Part of the self-doubt comes from a simple change in demographics.

Since the turn of the century, the birth rate in the United States has been steadily falling and in the 1960s, with the introduction of the birth control pill, it dropped dramatically. Most families now have two children, many couples don’t want children at all, and neighborhoods are no longer teeming with kids.

As a result, few grown-ups have had experience with little brothers or sisters. Teens used to learn about kids by babysitting, but these days adolescents are too busy with scheduled events or school work, or they want a job with better pay and less hassle. And so they grow up with no child care experience at all.

Today's parents pigheadedly refuse to look for advice from people in the know — their own parents. No, no, we want to be “better” parents than the previous generation, so why ask them?

And so we turn to “experts,” that is, parenting advice books and pediatricians.

Those books are bestsellers written by doctors, nurses, child development researchers and parents. They all purport to know the “right” way to bring up children and they all exude confidence. But most of what comes between the covers is, well, folklore; these books are simply cultural documents that echo currently accepted ideas about bringing up children.

What we get from pediatricians is also suspect.

Parents go to the pediatrician begging for advice about sleep, feeding, toilet training and discipline, and they want the baby doctor to tell them how to bring up the baby. But a three-year pediatric residency is hospital-based and residents are trained to treat sick children, not normal kids who refuse to eat their peas. No pediatrician learns how to get a healthy baby to sleep, or what to do when a child cries, or what makes little kids smile.

They don’t even learn how to diaper a baby.

Where, then, can we turn when faced with the challenge of being a parent?

We might simply look inward. If parents stay close to their kids, listen and pay attention, use common sense and stay flexible, chances are they’ll know what to do, even if they make a few mistakes along the way.

Being a good parent isn’t that easy, but it’s also not that hard.

As Dr. Spock wrote 60 years ago, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

Meredith F. Small is an anthropologist at Cornell University. She is also the author of "Our Babies, Ourselves; How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent" (link) and "The Culture of Our Discontent; Beyond the Medical Model of Mental Illness" (link).

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A day like no other....

Originally published in October of 2008:

The title of my blog used to be "My Adventures in Adopotive Parenting" which was deceiving because it implied that only "adoptive parents" have new adventures when they begin to parent. As you and I both know, this isn't the case. However, as an an adoptive parent in an open adoption relationship, the challenges and adventures are slightly different than those faced by those that have biological children. How many biological parents have to wait 6-9 months before they can legally say what a child's legal name will be? How many biological parents have to have a home study done before they become parents and after as well?

Our adventures in parenting began well before Friday but Friday was the official hospital release day for our daughter. I have to say that Friday was the most unique day in my life. Friday was the day that our lives changed forever because after 3 + years of waiting and praying we are finally parents to a beautiful baby girl !

Although this is a very exciting a new adventure for us, it is also frightening too. There is no manual to tell us how to parent a child. We really thought about asking a nurse to come home with us! What is so scary is that the only guide that we have is our intuition. Our only other guide is our deep faith that we will do a great job raising this precious child who is a gift to us.

Our daughter (still a very strange term to use!) was born a preemie and has been in the NICU for a few months. She is a beautiful little girl who we knew was meant to be our daughter from the first time we saw her tiny face covered with ventilator tubes, oxygen feeds and her chest with apnea monitor feeds. It's strange how our love for this child has grown in our hearts. I often marvel at how much in love with this child we are. We would do anything for her. I have found that my motherly instincts have kicked in and I feel even more protective of her, my husband and our dog.

Before we became parents, we never dreamed that being sleep deprived would be so awesome ! After 12 years of marriage, a 7 year old dog with liver disease and various other life circumstances, we're still able to navigate the waters of "new parenthood". God truly is amazing. I truly believe that you reap what you sow.
Posted by New Mom at 5:55 PM 2 comments
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Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm still following the Madonna adoption saga....

I leave you to decide what you think about this ruling. Here's the latest from :

Madonna's adoption rejected by Malawian judge

* Story Highlights
* Official: The decision came down to residency requirement
* Critics say pop star is taking advantage of "archaic adoption laws"
* Most Malawians, however, back Madonna and want her to have the baby
* Madonna has three children already, include a boy she adopted from Malawi in

(CNN) -- Madonna's petition to adopt a second Malawian child was rejected by a local judge Friday, an official said.
Madonna is pictured leaving a court in Malawi late last month.

Madonna is pictured leaving a court in Malawi late last month.

"The decision came down to residency requirement and the fact that the judge believes she was being well taken care of in the orphanage," said Zione Ntaba, a spokeswoman for the Malawi Justice Department.

"For the Malawians, the fact that the child is at an orphanage, is being taken care of and is going through the school education system, that does qualify as the best interests of a child," Ntaba added.

The 50-year-old pop star had filed a petition to adopt a girl, Chifundo James, 4, whose first name translates to mercy in Chichewa, the country's national language. She has three other children, including a son she adopted from the southern African nation in 2006. Video Watch more about the court's refusal »

The rejection follows weeks of criticism by human rights activists, who said Madonna was using her fame to circumvent a residency requirement for foreigners adopting in the country. Do you agree with the decision?

A coalition of local nonprofits from across the country accused Madonna on Thursday of taking advantage of a weakness in the country's child protection system. Days earlier, the charity Save the Children UK had urged the American singer to rethink the adoption and let the child be raised by her relatives.

Local media have reported that the child's teenage mother died days after she gave birth to her.
Don't Miss

* Malawians support Madonna's adoption

"This is a triumph for the children of Malawi," said Mavuto Bamusi, the national coordinator of Malawi Human Rights Consultative Committee.

"Inter-country adoption is not the best way of providing protection to children ... they should grow up in familiar cultural and religious surroundings," Bamusi said, adding that "supporting children from outside our country only helps five of the 1.5 million orphans we have."

Despite the controversies, a majority of Malawians were rooting for the adoption.

Marilyn Segula, a presenter at Capital FM, which broadcasts in at least five cities, including the capital, Lilongwe said Thursday that 99 percent of callers wanted the adoption to be approved.

"People are saying: 'Why are these [non-governmental organizations] pretending to care now? If anyone wanted to amend the law, they should have done it with other adoptions.' "

The recently divorced singer was married to British filmmaker Guy Ritchie. She has been involved with Malawi for several years and made a documentary, "I Am Because We Are," to highlight poverty, AIDS and other diseases devastating children in that country. She also co-founded a nonprofit group, Raising Malawi, which provides programs to help the needy.
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Madonna and a Malawi Adoption again....

My latest question: Is Madonna using her celebrity to adopt more quickly? I do not know what the laws are in Malawi regarding international adoption but I can tell you that if Madonna is truly following the process, I would be ecstatic! I do not think it is fair for anyone to use their celebrity to speed a process that everyone else has to wait through. I appreciate the fact that Madonna wants to keep in touch with her son, David's biological family but the birth father hasn't seen him in two years! Is this a semi-open adoption? I wonder if her new baby girl will follow the same type of visiting schedule?

From the Associated Press via Yahoo! :

MCHINJI, Malawi – Madonna said Tuesday that she was following standard procedures in her adoption of a Malawian girl, her first response to accusations that she is using her fame to speed the process.

The pop superstar also took her 3-year-old adopted son, David, to visit the orphanage in Mchinji, a village near the Zambian border, where he once lived.

The orphanage's director Lucy Chipeta said she brought David, Madonna, her 12-year-old daughter Lourdes and 8-year-old son Rocco to see the room and crib that David had used.

"It was an emotional moment," Chipeta told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I am happy she brought her other children to see his roots."

Madonna took the children to the orphanage with a security detail including uniformed Malawian police officers and plain-clothed guards from a private security firm. The entourage used two Toyota Land Cruisers to block a horde of journalists and more than 200 curious children.

There were scuffles with the journalists, including cameramen and TV crews, as they tried to enter the brick-walled orphanage.

Madonna brought David on Monday to meet his biological father for the first time since he left Malawi in 2006.

"Madonna is committed to maintaining an ongoing relationship with David's Malawian roots," said Liz Rosenberg in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Where would we be without a birth mom?

I was just reading a friend's blog entry that dealt with one of her favorite adoption conversations. That conversation topic is that of the birth mother. I can't say that talking about our daughter's birth mother is easy, because it's not. Most people have little understanding about our relationship with our daughter's biological mother. That being said, we do not judge the actions of our daughter's birth mother. Her life is her business. Of course, no one else should judge her either but as you and I know, it happens all of the time.

I truly believe that many people believe that if a woman decides not to parent her child it means that she doesn't love that child. I can attest that this is far from the truth. The truth is that our daughter's birth mother cared so much about her baby that she wanted her to have the best life possible and because she was not ready (emotionally or financially), she made an adoption plan. She did not "give the baby away" ( I hate when people say that...our baby is not a puppy that someone didn't want to clean up after). She made an informed, selfless, mature decision to let us parent a child that we would not have otherwise. This is the hardest action to explain to anyone who hasn't been there. She has made a sacrifice that I'm not sure I could have made if I was in her position.

I often think about where we would be without our daughter's birth mom. I'm guessing it wouldn't have been quite the same to not be parenting at this point or parenting a completely different child. If anything, birth mothers should be celebrated not criticized. Here's to our daughter's birth mom. She is the bravest person that I have ever known. Thanks for the beautiful gift that you have given us!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One down, two to go......

On Saturday, we had our first visit with our daughter's birth family (on her mother's side only..her birth father did not choose to be a part of the visit). Other than some logistical errors, everything went pretty well. well as can be expected in such an awkward situation. We did feel uncomfortable being with the family that gave us the best gift of our lives. How do you ever show someone your appreciation for this selfless act? We are still blown away by the fact that this has finally happened for us. It still seems like a dream in some ways.

Jason and I thought that we would be asked tons of questions about our daughter. We were wrong. In fact, very few questions were asked. We also thought that there would be tons of comparisons made between her and her biological family. That didn't happen either. They just really wanted to see that she was doing well (which she is), that we were taking good care of her and ourselves and wanted to hold her.

What is fascinating to us is that our daughter is truly "clueless" about this other family of hers (at this point at least). We're not sure when she will understand the other branches on her family tree but when she does, we will be able to have the answers to her questions readily available. We have already started the dialogue about how she joined our family. We never want her adoption to be a secret that she finds out about 20 years later. That just would not fair to her, us or her birth family.

Our daughter's birth mother seems to be doing well. I can only imagine what must have been going through her mind when she held her biological baby girl for the first time since October. We thought she would get emotional but she didn't. She is very laid back and quiet. She continues to be busy raising her son (who is our daughter's half brother). Our daughter was able to see him for the first time this weekend. They had a ball interacting with each other. He really wanted to hold her but unfortunately, he is too little to handle our squirmy baby! Our hope is that our daughter and her brother will continue to have a close relationship throughout their lives.

We have two more visits with the biological family this year. We think the next visit will take place in July. We know that the next visits will be easier now that the 1st one is over. Our hope is that the birth mother will come to the next visit with just her son (not her mother or sister) because we really want to have a chance for Hailey to interact with just her and her brother. Only time will tell what happens next.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Biting off more than I can chew....

A funny thing happened the other day...our daughter began to mouth every thing in sight and has become the ultimate drool factory. I looked at our precious daughter and realized that she is now "truly" teething. The pediatrician didn't believe me when we were there for her 6 month check-up that our daughter was indeed exhibiting the beginnings of this phase in her development. Because she was a preemie, the doctor assumed that she would go through phases at a different rate than other kids might. I am not finding this theory to be reliable or true of our precious bundle of joy at all. If anything, she is more advanced than she is given credit for (and no I'm not just saying this because she is our daughter).

As we await that 1st tooth to magically appear, I am trying to keep in perspective how painful this experience must be for our daughter. This is her 1st experience with pain and learning how to deal with it when it occurs. I already know how painful it is for Jason and I as we feel useless in soothing our own child. As a parent, you want to take your child's pain away and when you can't do that it becomes an endless cycle of frustration. We have tried teething rings, infant Tylenol drops, frozen wash cloths, etc. My latest attempt at helping to soothe the pain is to rub clove oil on her gums which seems to work. Last night, I also tried vanilla extract on those baby gums and found that if nothing else, she became more relaxed. All of these attempts has lead to what I am dealing with this week--sheer and utter FRUSTRATION...not with our daughter but with myself and my parenting.

Yesterday, I was at the end of my rope. I was feeling like I had bitten off more than I could chew. Between the teething, a new phone system, a birth family meeting on Saturday, lesson planning for the student that I tutor, trying to find the "perfect" birthday gift for my nephew and a dog that is ALWAYS getting into something, I thought I was going to go insane! Fortunately, relief came in the form of my ever so patient husband who walked in the door last night, took one look at me and said that he would cook dinner and take care of the baby.

I am such a perfectionist that it is hard for me to relax. So, naturally when the baby got up at 2:30 am because she was hungry, I joined my husband in the oasis that is her nursery. Why do I feel compelled to do this? I know that Jason can take care of her on his own without me. I guess it just comes with the territory of being a new Mom. Everyone tells me that I am a great Mom but I think it is harder for me to see what others do. I feel guilty when I leave the house for "me" time or to work. I also feel guilty when I feel frustrated by the new situations that I have been thrust into without any advanced training. What does this all mean in the grand scheme of things? More than likely, not much. Since this is our 1st child, I tend to be overly concerned with everything that happens with her. Some day, I will say that this time in her life went way too fast and I would do anything to have it back (okay maybe not the teething part.

Right now, I think I will break open that bottle of wine that my husband and MIL gave me which is "aptly" named "Mommy's Little Helper" and toast all that our daughter will be discovering once that 1st tooth comes in. It has to get easier, right?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I've been thinking --a dangerous past time I know..

I am asked more often than not why the wait for our daughter was SO long. In all honesty, I do not have the ideal answer. I believe so much of the waiting was a preparation period for Jason and I. Then there's a little thing I call "God's timing". I truly believe that God's timing is perfect. Unfortunately, our time and his don't always coincide with each other which is partly why it is so frustrating when you are in the waiting period.

Some people are of the opinion that the International Adoption process is a much easier and quicker process. I have not been involved with this process but can attest that even if the wait (in some cases) is shorter, the process itself is pretty much the same (other than tons of paperwork and lengthy travel). The wait time for a baby from another country is very dependent on that country's laws (which are always subject to change)and from my understanding, the availability of children that need good homes as well.

Just because we decided to adopt domestically does not mean that we thought our wait would be any shorter. We were told that for the age child that we wanted to adopt we were looking at a wait of anywhere from 1-5 years. 3 years and 8 months later, Hailey came into our lives. Life has never been the same since !

Lately, we have been asked if we would take this journey again. The answer to that question remains to be seen. We would love Hailey to have a sibling but are certainly not ready (emotionally or financially) to go on the roller coaster ride again. At the same time,if we want to do this again, we would need to start the whole process again soon. So, there are definitely decisions that need to be made. For now, we are happy to be the parents of our beautiful daughter !

Thursday, March 12, 2009

From God's Mouth to Our Ears

I found this to be very profound...I have had the feeling that having a child in our lives was never going to happen. This is one of my favorite bible passages. Sometimes, God delivers messages to us (whether we know it or not). Our job is to be quiet and listen. The accompanying passage and prayer are inspirational to me in so many ways. Enjoy !

From Joel Osteen Ministries:

There's Nothing too Hard for Him

Today's Scripture

"Is any thing too hard for the LORD?..." (Genesis 18:14, KJV).

Today's Word from Joel and Victoria

In Genesis, God promised Sarah that she was going to have a child. At first she didn’t believe it. She thought she was too old. She thought her time had passed. But do you know what God said to her? He simply asked, “Sarah, is there anything too hard for the Lord?” I believe God is saying the same thing to us today. “Is there anything too hard for Me?”

Do you think your dreams are too big for God to bring to pass? Do you think that a relationship is too far gone for God to restore it? Do you think you have to just live with sickness the rest of your life? Get a new vision today because there is nothing too hard for God! God is saying today, “I am all-powerful. I can turn any situation around.” It doesn’t matter what things look like in the natural, we serve a supernatural God. The Amplified version puts it this way, “Is there anything too wonderful for the Lord?” The next time you think, “That’s just too good to be true,” remember, God wants to bless you beyond your wildest dreams. Take the limits off and dare to believe that He has wonderful things in store for you!

A Prayer for Today

Heavenly Father, I choose to trust You with my whole heart. I know there is nothing too hard for You. Help me to stand strong in faith and keep me close to You all the days of my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our 1st visit with the birth family...

Today, I can't stop thinking about our 1st visit with our daughter's biological family which is the 21st of this month. They have not seen her since the week before she came home with us (which was in October). Jason and I wonder what they will want to know about our daughter (beyond the usual developmental milestones). The other question is what will we want to know from them?? Usually, when we have gotten together in the past, we just follow the natural flow of conversation. Maybe this is the best approach in this case as well??

We are nervous simply because it is such an "awkward" situation to be in. We know that once the first visit is over each subsequent visit will be easier but that still doesn't make us feel any better. We wonder what they will think of our parenting. Will they see the happy-go-lucky baby she is? Will they see how much we love this child? Will they see how much she has changed ( developmentally and physically) since August 10th?

We know that there will be the obvious comparison phrases..."she looks exactly like" or "she has ____'s eyes, hair or nose". We fully expect this but know it will be harder on her birth family to see those attributes than it is for us.

The emotional piece is also something we have been thinking about. We know that we will not leave this meeting without tears being shed. We just hope that we can handle the emotional piece of this. Usually, when someone else starts to cry, I do too.

Please pray for us as we make this giant leap in our relationship with our daughter's birth parents.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Awesome Mom

One of the women in my MOMS Club sent this to me after our play group today. I like it so much that I thought I would share it with all of you. I do not know who the author is but I found it very meaningful to my life as a Mom. Since my daughter is napping, I thought now would be the perfect time to share this with all of you. Enjoy!

Awesome Mom

Before I was a Mom,
I never tripped over toys
or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not
my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom,

I had never been puked on.
Pooped on.
Chewed on.
Peed on.
I had complete control of my mind
and my thoughts.
I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held down a screaming child
so doctors could do tests.
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night
watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held a sleeping baby just because
I didn't want to put him down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces
when I couldn't stop the hurt.!
I never knew that something so small
could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom,
I didn't know the feeling of
having my heart outside my body..
I didn't know how special it could feel
to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond
between a mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small
could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom,
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night
every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth,
the joy,
the love,
the heartache,
the wonderment
or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much,
before I was a Mom .

Send this to someone who you think is an awesome Mom.

May you always be overwhelmed by the Grace of God rather than by

the cares of life

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cabin Fever

I have what some would describe as "cabin fever". If you have ever lived in a cold climate, you know the symptoms--feeling tired and depressed when you look outside and also having the desire to just go somewhere warm. This winter has seemed to drag on much longer than last winter. Maybe it's because I have a newborn and can't do In January last year, I can remember the temperature topping 50 degrees and spending my afternoons outside with the kids at school. It was truly amazing!

My daughter and I went to a playgroup for the first time this week. I thought that this would be a good outing for both my daughter and myself and it was. It was nice to be with other new Moms and their babies. However, the highlight of my day was just getting outside in the fresh air. It didn't matter to me that the temperature was 20 degrees as I've become accustomed to the cold,cold weather this year.

When I was a kid, I loved the winter. I hardly ever suffered from said cabin fever. I loved to build snowmen, igloos (with my block they even have those anymore?), go sledding with my family and friends and throw snowballs. I also liked to cross country ski and snowmobile. So, why do I not like it anymore? Is it age related or environmentally induced? Or is it that I am waiting for my daughter to be able to enjoy these things with me? It's a mystery to me.

I am counting the weeks until Spring arrives. I can't wait to be able to take our daughter for stroller walks, go to the park and just be outside to play ! I also can't wait for the grass to be green again (black snow covered lawns are so UNATTRACTIVE) and to be able to share my love of all things gardening with our daughter. But for now, I'll need to be content to dream about the next season that is upon us.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Some random thoughts on Open Adoption

As I was checking out various adoption sites, I came to one that was full of quotes that touched my heart. Some of the quotes dealt with "open adoption". Although we are still in the midst of really discovering what this will mean for our daughter, we are confident that no matter what happens, we will be able to answer many of our daughter's questions when they arise.

It's interesting to me that so many people have such a narrow perspective of how "open" an adoption should be. I can attest that the elderly members of my family do not comprehend why we would do this. They truly think that since most adoptions in the past have been closed, our daughter's should be too. It's not just family that questions our decision. Many people have asked us how we could possibly have an "open adoption". Some of the other questions people have asked us include but are not limited to: Aren't we afraid that our baby would be taken back by her birth family? and why would we want contact with the birth family?

There are many answers to why we chose open adoption. I can be honest and tell you that my husband and I were very unsure of what an "open adoption" even was when we began our journey. I was afraid of the concept but when I learned more about what it entailed, I was convinced that "open adoption" was the only choice to make. In order to get used to the concept, I attempted to put myself in the shoes of our prospective child. I asked myself what I want to know about myself if I had been adopted. I came up with several non-negotiable items that would be a must: 1) I would want to know my family health history, 2) I'd want to know who I looked like and what my heritage was. 3) I'd want to know why my birth family made an adoption plan for me. 4) I'd want to know that I could have the opportunity to meet my birth family and 5)I'd want to know why the family that raised me was chosen to do so.

Here are some other thoughts from my web browsing today that might explain why we chose the open option. I couldn't have said it any better than these parents have !

Quotes from Adoptive Parents

Five Reasons Why We Chose Open Adoption

* When she looks in the mirror, we want our daughter to know herself. It's hard to face the world when you don't know where your face came from.

* We didn't want our daughter to have the cabbage patch mentality. The truth is, her life didn't start the day we adopted her. Like us, her history and ours began a thousand lifetimes ago.

* We believe in a birthmother's right to choose, if she has the courage to place, she has the wisdom and right to choose her childs parents. Our daughters birthmother is her first Mother.

* We wanted to do a domestic open adoption so our daughter could know her birthfamily. Our daughters birthmother chose not to abort her, how could we abort our daughters birthmother from our lives.

* We both have family members and friends who are products of closed adoption. These people are still suffering the adverse effects that their denied birthright has caused them. We didn't want this for our daughter.

Monica and Debbie
adoptive parents

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Things that people say...

Since we have become a family with an infant, people seem to think that they can say whatever they want to us when we are out and about. Recently, I had the displeasure of a woman coming up to me in the hair salon and asking me if my daughter "looked like E.T. when she was born". Mind you, this was not a little child saying this to me but a full-grown adult! I was taken aback by this question. So, I replied that I didn't think that she looked like E.T. at all when she was born. She just looked like a baby--a small baby but a baby!

Our daughter's size is always a big deal to people that do not know her. You would think that no one has ever seen a small baby before. I've had people ask me how many weeks old she is (instead of months) and also my personal favorite "how much did she weigh when she was born?" My question is: Why does anyone care or is it just a conversation starter? We also receive tons of comments on her height. Our daughter is very long and skinny. She will probably be taller than both of us and this is a fascination as well. She's tall--enough said!

I find it incredible how many people come over and talk to us now that we have a child. Sometimes, it is a pleasant encounter and sometimes...well, it just is. We have learned to take what people say in stride and not take it personally. My favorite conversations center around the fact that"no one knew that I was pregnant". I get such a kick out of this comment. Sometimes, I just ride it out and other times I respond with "I wasn't". Most people get the hint when I say I wasn't but some look at me as if I have 4 heads and one eye. I also love when people try to figure out who our daughter resembles. So far, the consensus is that she mostly resembles her Dad except for the eyes which are DEFINITELY mine (or so I've been told). Actually, our daughter looks like who she is supposed to--herself and we are fine with that. We don't expect her to look like us and never will :-).

Do I feel that I have to explain how she came to us to everyone that I meet? Absolutely not! As wonderful as adoption is, it is also imperative to remember that our daughter's story is not ours to tell. Sometimes, I have to reveal the truth for
medical purposes. Which does not thrill me simply because HOW she came to us is irrelevant in the big scheme of things. She is our child whether she was born to us in the traditional sense or was born in our hearts.

The other conversation that I get a thrill out of having is the one dealing with the length of my labor. My response is always "Yes. It was a very long labor if you call 3 years and 8 months a long time". Most people have to think twice when I come out with this response. They are usually speechless and drop the conversation.

What else is fun is when we go to any doctor's appointment for our daughter. Because her birth name is different from the ours and from the name that we call her, it becomes confusing when she is called in for her appointments and when talking to any medical professional on the phone about her health. We also find it annoying that despite us telling so called professionals what we call her at home they still call her by her birth name! We are so glad that she isn't old enough to know the difference right now.

Overall, we find that most people are very genuine and are complimentary and that most conversations center more around how beautiful our baby is. For those people who are so genuine, we say "thank you".

6 months already...

It's so hard to believe that our daughter is now officially 6 months old ! Where has the time gone? This is definitely not the same baby that we brought home in October. She is expressive, curious about the world around her, laughing out loud, eating solids and expressing an interest in crawling (heaven help us). Our daughter is a very happy baby who has a million dollar smile that makes you wonder what she is up to. I have a feeling that she will be a highly spirited child because of the situation upon which she entered this world.

I can still remember seeing her for the first time and thinking how beautiful she was. Although she was very small, we knew that she would grow and flourish. Isn't it funny how intuition works? We still can't believe that this 11 pound human being is our child. It still seems like a dream that we haven't woke up from. Now, that she is sleeping through the night, I feel like I can actually sleep through the night too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mom--I can do it myself !

One of the hardest parts of being a new parent is knowing when your child can do something on their own. My strong willed daughter has started to let me know that SHE will hold her spoon and bottle when she eats. When she wants to assert this independence (which seems to happen on a more frequent basis now), she pushes my hands out of her way.

I don't know why it is so easy to let my child experiment with her feeding techniques and so hard for me to let her roll over or perform other physical acts without my assistance. I want my child to be able to accomplish all of these developmental milestones on her own but also want to be her security blanket. Strange concept, huh?

On Sunday, my angelic daughter decided that it would be a good idea to perform a somersault off of the arm of the couch. Fortunately, she was not hurt as I caught her in the nick of time. Is she trying to give me a heart attack or what? This kid is something else..there's never a dull moment in our house now.

Don't get me wrong, I think it is wonderful that my daughter is so interested in the world around her. It's just that I might not survive her curiosity! It will only intensify from this point on so I better get prepared and soon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Goodbye 2008-Hello 2009!

As we start a new year, I can't help but to reflect on the incredible year that was 2008! I like to think of 2008 as our "Legend of the Trees". I just heard this legend today and was extremely moved by it. If you are not familiar with this legend,the basic concept is that God's plans are always far greater than plans you could ever imagine for yourself. It was reaffirmed to me time and time again this past year that every fork in the road eventually leads you in the direction that God wants you to take. The biggest realization I made this year was that God's timing is always right even though our society wants "instant gratification". I am guilty of wanting this too...who doesn't? Through instant gratification, however, one does not learn the lessons necessary to navigate the path of life.

There are always reasons for the events that happen in our lives. The journey that my husband have taken over the course of the last three years has prepared us to be patient with a newborn. I'm not saying patience is easy but it is essential in so many ways. I have found that when my patience is wearing thin that there are ways that I can cope and not become overwhelmed. My daughter has taught me this concept through her sheer will and determination to press through any obstacles that may be in her way. She is an amazing little girl. Each day is never like the one before. You never really appreciate all you have been given until you see the world through a child's eyes.

We are hoping that 2009 will bring us more new adventures and experiences. We wish the same for all of you as well. May this be the year that all of your dreams come true!