Friday, August 31, 2007

The Joys of Being a Mother

-Watching your child take her first step
-Singing together
-Baking Christmas cookies
-Putting Dora puzzles together
-Playing Candyland, Chutes and Ladders and the Memory Game
-Taking your daughter to her first movie
-Reading stories together
-Watching your little girl progress from non-verbal to speaking
-Trick or Treating on Halloween
-Seeing their excitement on Christmas morning
-Simply hearing a little voice say, "Mama"
-Being told by your 4-year-old that she wants to be "just like Mama"
-The pride your child has when you praise her abilities
-An endless supply of artwork made just for Mom
-Every day excitement that comes from exploring the world together

*My children are truly the best thing that ever happened to me. I often wonder how I ever got along without them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Foster Care: Good or Bad?

Here in the United States, we have all read stories about evil foster parents who take children into their homes for the sole purpose of supplementing thier income. Over the years, the media has uncovered shocking details of foster children living in squalor with little or nothing to eat. In some cases, even chained or tied to a cold basement floor. While I agree that these stories are terrifying and the public does have a right to know what is happening in their community, I fear that the general public (a.k.a. the non-adoption community) may tend to perceive all foster parents as deviants. This is not always the case. In fact, if a child is lucky enough to be placed with a caring foster family, they will be provided with a healthy foundation in which to grow.

In our country, many families opt to become foster parents for various reasons. They may be childless couples seeking to give refuge to 'homeless' children stuck in the foster care system. In some instances, these same foster parents may hope to adopt one or more of the children they will care for. I have also known married couples with children of their own who have a strong desire to take in foster children with no other thought than making a difference in someone's life even for a short while.

As my reader's know, I have two (adopted)daughters from China. One lived in the orphanage from age 2-13 months and the other lived with a foster family from the age of 2-15 months. In my experience, I can tell you that there was definitely a difference in the adoption process and transitioning of each child into my home. My older daughter, Big Sister (BS) lived with a lovely foster family in their home. When I first met my daughter, she grieved heavily for four days, crying for "Mamma." There was a strong attachment that formed between the two. I know firsthand that this is true because BS's foster mother arrived at my hotel late one night to meet me and find out exactly who BS was going home with. She told me that she cried for days over leaving her and felt bad because she knew BS would experience pain over the loss. BS bounced back quickly and with a few days, I became "Mamma." It was as though a magic wand had been waved over her head. One day, she just looked up at me and lovingly declared that I was her mother. She was and continues to be a happy, joyful child with a good sense of herself. Today, I still send letters and photos to BS's foster mother allowing her to see how loved her foster child has become.

Little Sister has a different story. I know so little about her early life in the orphanage. Only that she lived in an institution that was reportedly understaffed. Rumor has it that only six full-time nannies were there to care for 120 infants and toddlers. Although I wasn't there to experience it, I believe it as I have seen LS's fear of not having enough to eat or drink and fear of having to wait while another child (BS) is taken care of. She has also expressed on many occasions, fear of her primary caretaker (me) abandoning her. She has been home for 3 months now and with each day, her fears are slowly melting away.

Fosters are homes are neither all good nor all bad. They are simply a temporary solution for 'homeless' children seeking families.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Are Americans Becoming Lazy?

A few weeks ago, I took my two kids to our local supermarket to pick up a few groceries. Now that Little Sister (LS) has joined my family, I need to find carts suitable for two or more children. Not a problem! What is a problem is finding clean shopping carts. Although most of them don't appear dirty, I often wonder how often they are cleaned. After this recent visit, I think I now know.

Upon approaching Grocery Store X, I scan the supply of available carts. Just as I spot the kid-friendly ones, I see an older gentlemen wiping them down. He doesn't look happy. Since I don't know him, I turn my focus back to my children and begin placing LS in an available cart. All of a sudden, the man turns to me and begins his ramblings, "Can you believe what they had the nerve to ask of me this morning?" I just glanced at him and smiled thinking that would be the end of it, but he proceeded with, "This is the most rotten job. I shouldn't have to do it." With that, I responded by telling him that he may not enjoy it, but as a mother, I certainly appreciate my children sitting in clean carts while I shop. His attitude made me ponder the question, 'Are Americans Becoming Lazy?' Whose job should it be to clean the carts? Mothers, what do you think?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Last week, in an attempt to visit my sister and meet her brand new daughter, I flew out to Chicago with both daughters and no other adult companion. It was nerve-wracking to say the least. I love to travel, but will confess that I have never been relaxed about it. Once I'm on the plane, I am usually fine, but getting to the airport, waiting in line for security and going through security have always been stressful. Add one 4 1/2 year-old drama queen and one teething 16 month-old to the mix, and suddenly, we have created a truly frazzled mama!

Going wasn't too bad. Everything was fine except when Big Sister (BS) had a meltdown while waiting in the security line because she dropped and lost her Aquadoodle pen. Yes! People were looking and wondering what she was so upset about. Even the security person came up to us and asked to see my driver's license. Then proceeded to ask BS if she knew who the lady in the license was. Thank God, she whispered, "It's my mommy." If she didn't recognize me, who knows what would have happened next.

A few days later, on the return trip home, BS was well-behaved, but Little Sister (LS) decided to throw a few full-blown temper tantrums. She was overly-exhausted and the day of travel cut-into her nap time. After screaming non-stop for about 10-15 minutes on the airplane, she finally collapsed in my arms and fell asleep. In fact, both kids slept for 30 minutes.

I learned a few valuable lessons this week. Never travel without another adult companion, never travel until both kids are at least 3-years-old and make sure your (adopted) children see your driver's license before you leave home because you never know if some idiot will think you are kidnapping your own children.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stop offering my kids sugar!

As a parent, you desperately want to raise your children in a healthy fashion keeping the food pyramid of good eating in the back of your mind. You know the one I'm referring to, right? It's the one we learned about in fifth grade health class. We've all learned about it so we have a pretty good idea of how to feed our kids and how to eat healthy ourselves so why is it that everywhere I go, 'people' are trying to give my kids sugary crap to eat?

Last month, I took my two children to a birthday party with pizza and cake. I don't mind my older daughter having cake because by age 4 1/2, she is already completely addicted to sugar, but Little Sister (LS) is still new to the game of eating. While her big sister is going through her picky food phase, LS is still eating everything that I put in front of her and savouring it! Doesn't everyone want a child who relishes squash, broccoli and sweet potatoes?

At the birthday party, several people not only asked if I wanted to feed LS cake, but practically took my hand and forced me to give it to her, implying that everyone needs to eat cake. Okay, I admit, I caved in from the pressure and took a piece of cake for LS, but when everyone turned their back, I scooped off the icing and only gave her the cake. Ha, ha! I won that round!

Birthday parties aren't the only place where sugar is given. What about the grocery store with their free bakery cookies or the bank that loves to stock lollipops on their front counter?

Is there any escape from sugar?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Declinging Advice, Part II: The Velcro Baby

Let's start with a definiton of the velcro baby?

According to Pinky McKay, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Parenting Editor, Author, Infant Massage Instructor and mother of five children, "A velcro baby is clingy, fussy, high need – she doesn’t give a damn about the labels. Unless she’s attached to you (constantly), she yells!"

Thanks Pinky, you have summed up Little Sister (LS)nicely! All she wants is Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! And, while that is all very sweet and quite wonderful to be so loved by my newly adopted daughter, it's not so good for me personally as it is nearly impossible to do anything with a little one clinging so tightly all day especially squeezing the life out of my fingers.

This week, I finally decided to take the advice of my pediatrician and a few friends and start letting LS cry it out a bit. We have been home for nearly three months now and it's time that she begin to let Mommy have a little freedom.

Let me back up by stating that before this week, I would literally spend my entire day either carrying LS around or having her grab onto me (sometimes in inappropriate places) as I was forced to follow her from room to room or up and down the stairs until her little feet tired.

So, this week, I started by telling LS that her mommy needed a break. I started with five minutes. For those precious five minutes, I sat down and did not move. LS wasn't thrilled and moaned a bit about it before playing on her own. The next day, I took a ten minute break and today, I was bold enough to take thirty full minutes. Twenty five of them were spent witnessing LS have a full-blown temperature tantrum.

Am I a terrible mother for putting my sweet baby through twenty five minutes of torment? Well, let's see the outcome:

Tonight, for the first time ever, one hour before bedtime, LS played with her big sister (BS) without tugging on Mommy. Every once in a while, she would come over and hug me, but she did not tug or pull. It was wonderful!

The icing on the cake happened minutes before bedtime when I picked her up to carry her off to bed and she suddenly kissed me on my lips as if to say, "I love you Mom."

What more can I say? Progress has been made today. Let's hope it continues tomorrow.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Declinging Advice Anyone?

Our second daughter was adopted this past May. She is now sixteen months old, cute as a button, sleeping 12-13 hours a night? A parent's dream, right? Many mother's would be thrilled to have a baby who slept even 8 hours a night, but what about the clinginess? I'm not talking about a few minutes a day, I'm dealing with extreme clinginess from morning to bedtime. Little Sister (LS)recently started walking on her own and does a phenomenal job, but refuses to let go of Mommy for more than 1-2 minutes at a time. I can't get anything done while she is awake. This includes preparing meals unless she is sitting in her high chair with toys, a drink or food. When speaking to other parents about the situation, they tell me this behavior is normal in many children, yet I rarely see it when we go out. What I observe is other 16 month old babies playing happily near their Mommies, not clinging. Am I a bad parent for feeling this way? Am I terrible for saying that I feel like a prisoner some days?

While surfing the web and looking for 'professional' advice, I came across Dr. Greene's website. Here's what he has to say:

"Don't try to get too much done during the periods you are alone with your daughter. Use this time to build an even stronger relationship between the two of you."

"Adjust the family dinner time so that you don't start cooking until after Dad has come home and had a chance to unwind."

"Have Dad or another responsible adult take your daughter out of the house for an hour or so each day so that you can have a little time to do the things you need and want to do (like prepare dinner), without her crying to be picked up."

"Decline invitations to events that don't fit your family's current needs. If you really want or need to go to the event, consider hiring a babysitter for the evening. As long as you are spending focused time with your daughter each day, it's okay to get a sitter occasionally in the evening, even if your daughter is in childcare during the day. "

"It's okay to let her cry some. Trust your maternal instincts. If you would rather adjust what you are doing and pick her up, do so. At those other moments when your deep desire is to get something accomplished, do what it takes to proceed. If you listen to your deepest desires and act accordingly she will learn both that you love her intensely, and that other people have needs too. "

"When she starts to cry, breathe deeply, remind yourself that this is only a phase, and think about the parts of being a mother that you enjoy the most!"

For more on Dr. Greene's parenting advice, visit

As Dr. Greene's states, "it's just a phase." His words are comforting and I look forward to the day when "LS" feels safe and secure enough to let me go and know that I will still be there for her.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Are you her mother?

Last week, my daughters and I were invited to a local beach by my friend. My older daughter, the big sister (BS) was thrilled. She loves playing in the sun, sand and water. The little sister (LS) was also excited. She has just begun walking on her own and the beach is a great haven to practice taking those tiny footsteps. It was late afternoon and the beach was relatively packed. BS was busy playing with her best friend on the see saw when I decided to take LS on the swings. Since there was only one baby swing and it was occupied, I sat LS down on my lap in a regular child-sized swing. She was delighted! Suddenly, to my right, I heard tiny voices belonging to a pair of twins asking me, "Are you her mother?"

I smiled and retorted, "Why wouldn't I be her mother?"

One of the twins answered, "Because she's Chinese." Then she proceeded to ask me if I was also Chinese.

I said, "No, but both of my daughters are Chinese. I flew over to China twice to adopt each one of them."

"Why didn't her real mother keep her?" asked one of the girls.

I took a deep breath and continued, "I am her real mother now. Her biological mother couldn't keep her because she was very poor and because China has a one-child policy. "

My answer seemed to satisfy the twins who then proudly announced that they were partly Chinese and Vietnamese.

Kids are both curious and bold enough to ask sensitive, private questions. Since adopting my second daughter, I have found that more kids are coming forward to ask me questions. While I don't really mind the questions, I try to be careful about the answers I give because I know that my daughters are listening. I want them to feel comfortable and confident with their lives - past, present and future! Soon enough, they will be the ones getting the questions. Will they be prepared to respond and will they be tough enough to handle them?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Why I started this blog?

As a mother of two young children adopted from China, I often find myself in moments of solitary reflection, pondering life. I look at my children and just see my kids, the little people who fill up my days with love, laughter and sticky fingers. When we are inside our own protective bubble known as 'home,' the world is safe and lovely, but sometimes when we are out in public, the bubble is shattered and invaders ask rude questions or simply stare at my children and I as though we are spectacles to observe under a microscope. I wanted a safe place to vent my feelings, pose questions and gather input from other adoptive and non-adoptive families. This is my realm. Welcome!