Thursday, January 31, 2008

Found in China: A Documentary Worth Seeing!

Occassionally when meeting someone new, I am asked if I had to travel to China to adopt my daughters as though the idea of traveling abroad would be one great scary chore. Little do they know how wonderful it was traveling to China, how rich the experience was for me to live, eat and breathe in the culture of my daughters homeland, albeit for only a few short weeks. Now that I have my two daughters and China has it's newly enforced rules, I won't be adopting another child, yet, in my heart I still would love to return again one day with daughters, to experience it all over again through their eyes.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to view a lovely documentary entitled, Found in China, directed by adoptive mom, Carolyn Stanek. The DVD is receiving recognition throughout the country and can be purchased at It shows a small group of parents with their preteen daughters, ages 9-12, returning to China for a heritage tour which includes sightseeing, an orphanage tour, and taking each girl back to their finding spot. Found in China is a moving documentary connecting adoptive families and strengthening bonds. The magical aspect of this video is the fact that the nannies and foster mothers remembered the girls with so much warmth and adoration. One even biked over an hour and a half, for a chance to once again see the girl she cared for as a baby. Another bit of magic happens when one of the orphanage workers is able to locate the man who actually found one of the girls. He meets her at her finding place and is able to describe first-hand his memories of that fateful day. To learn more about this exciting documentary, visit: You can also read an article from the Chicago Tribune about it here:,0,1516775.story
When the time is right, I will also take my daughters back to their homeland so they may climb the steps of the Great Wall, visit the giant pandas, and see the country where they were born. Who knows what else we will discover or what the future will bring? The next time someone asks me if I had to go to China, I will say, "Yes, and I can't wait to go back!"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dear Birthmother Poem

This lovely poem comes from Love's Journey II. It is written by Karen Ellard.

Dear Birthmother (or I'll Always Wonder)

For 10 days you held her.
For 10 days you kept her safe and warm.
I wonder what you did during your time together. Who knew?
Did you make a choice or bend to forces beyond your control?

Did you wonder what would become of her?
Wonder because she is a girl? An orphan?
Wonder because of a medical condition?
I will always wonder what you thought and know that I'll never know.

Did you worry about what her future held?
A waiting child in a sea of children
Did you kiss her 12 toes, loving her?
Worrying that she would spend her days alone

Did you hope against hope that she would find a home?
Someone to accept and love your daughter
Know that I kissed those 12 Little toes
And sobbed when we "fixed" them.

Would it ease your pain to know that I hold her every night?
Your baby, my baby, our baby
Know that she is happy, safe and loved.
Above all she is cherished.

Nothing can erase your sorrow, but...
Would it ease your pain to know that she is loved?

That baby that you had to leave with such uncertainty is

Sunday, January 27, 2008

China's Growing Wait Time

Even though I adopted my second daughter last May, I admit to still reading the Rumor Queen's blog found here I am still intriqued with what's happening in the adoption community. I can't tell you how thoroughly surprised I am by the wait times. The wait for my first daughter wasn't bad at all. From start to finish, it was about a year and a half. The wait for her Little Sister was excruciating because we were initially told it would only be 6-8 months. It actually took 24 months from start to finish. Now, families are told to expect a wait of 2-3 years. I feel so bad for them. I never thought the wait time would get to this point. Adoptive father and researcher, Brian Stuy believes that China still has many babies who need to be adopted, but the majority of them are labeled, special needs. Brian states, "Many of these special needs present unsurmountable financial problems to domestic families, but are of little consequence to families with medical care opportunities in the West. Thus, I believe the CCAA should expedite SN referrals, allow prospective adoptive families greater access to special needs children, and do everything possible to migrate the 14,000 annual international adoptions into the Special Needs program." As an adoptive parent of two Non-SN babies, I can tell you that no child is perfect. My oldest daughter has moderate to severe eczema and the little one has behavioral problems. In addition, I have friends and family members with biological children who have medical or behavioral problems as well. That's life! Why not consider adopting a SN child? If I were in a position to do it, I would definitely submit paperwork for a third child, one this time classified as "SN," however, that is not in the cards for me. Living as a single parent with two children is all I can handle at this time.

Friday, January 25, 2008

My Little Treasures


I finally figured out how to create a collage of photos! I never knew how to do it before. This is my first attempt! One day, I will learn more about digital scrapbooking. A friend sent me a link for one of the programs, but it seemed so complicated. Anyway, happy Friday to all! Here are my little treasures enjoying childhood.
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Thursday, January 24, 2008

E.I. Services Finally Begin!

After leaving a nasty phone message last week, the coordinator for Early Intervention finally initiated services this week. While leaving nasty messages is not my usual forte, it did produce results. Yesterday, an occupational therapist came out to evaluate Little Sister. Through question and answer mode, she formulated the opinion that LS didn't really have any major issues. The only things that concerned her were the preference she has for baby pureed foods and fear of swings! I'm supposed to gradually remove the baby food and replace it with pureed chunky food until she gives it up. She also wants to me get LS used to the swinging motion.

Today, E.I. sent over Caryn, our social worker. She is not the same SW who evaluated LS, but seems capable and friendly as well. She was surprised at how well Little Sister is doing now in comparison to her evaluation only two and half months ago. Kudos were directed my way for getting the tantrums to subside to a minimum. Caryn was quite disturbed to learn that I had to wait 2 months for services to begin and felt that LS really could benefit from a speech pathologist. She is going to contact the director and see if that service can begin soon too! At 21 months, LS is only starting to say a few words and all of them are words she repeats. At this point, she isn't using them in context or saying them spontaneously.

At least I got the ball rolling here. LS can finally get some professional help as Mommy can only do so much.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday's Reflection - Time

“We don't have an eternity to realize our dreams, only the time we are here.”

- Susan Taylor

In a blink of the eye, time moves forward. Have you accomplished all that you wish for? Have all your dreams come true? If not, think of 2008 as a new beginning, a time to move forward and start fresh. One of my biggest joys in life is my children. This year, I vow to live more in the moment and simply enjoy their existence, valuing what they have come to mean to me. My house will continue to be messy long after we are all gone, but my daughters won't always be small. One day soon, they will be women themselves living on their own, making their way in the world. At age 60, I want to be know in my heart that I cherished them and spent previous TIME with them. What better gift can we give our children than our time?


Another quote from Jamie Lee Curtis

"As a mom, you have to look at how much time you're spending with your kids. There is nothing you will regret more in your life - nothing - than not being present for your children. "

Friday, January 18, 2008

Spend Your Sunday Nights With Jane Austin

Jane Austin is without question one of my all-time favorite authors. Her flowery writing and vivid character descriptions captivate my heart. Who could forget the broody Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice or the enchanting Captain Wentworth from Persuasion? A romantic at heart, I am completed hooked! Beginning this month, PBS will air "The Complete Jane Austin" through Masterpiece Theatre, bringing us those classic movies we love to watch over and over. Tune in on Sunday night at 9 p.m. for these delicious movies:

- Emma

- Mansfield Park

- Northanger Abbey

- Persuasion

- Pride and Prejudice

- Sense and Sensibility

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Google Fun

A friend of mine, Natalie, had this posted on her blog. I thought it looked like fun so added it to mine. Basically, you are given a series of questions and then must find Google images to reflect the answers. See if you can guess what my images are revealing about me!

What is your favorite food?

Answer: Mexican, especially Nachos!

Where did you grow up?

Answer: New York

Where do you live now?

Answer: Chicago

What was your first job?

Answer: I worked the drive-through window at Burger King. Oh how, I loved the greasy smell of french fries on my clothes - NOT!

What is your favorite color?

Answer: Burnt orange

What is your grandmother's name?

Answer: Eugenia

Where would you most like to visit?

Answer: Japan, especially during the spring to enjoy their lovely cherry blossoms!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wednesday's Reflection: Intro to Madeline

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
In two straight lines they broke their bread

and brushed their teeth

and went to bed.

They smiled at the good

and frowned at the bad
and sometimes
they were very sad.

They left the house
at half past nine
in two straight lines
in rain

or shine-

the smallest one
was Madeline.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Madeline is our hero!

"We love our bread.
We love our butter,
but most of all,
we love each other!"

- Madeline and friends

For Christmas, Santa surprised my girls with a DVD collection from the Madeline Series. This children's show is based on the books by Ludwig Bemelmans. The first Madeline book came out in 1939. After much success, Bemelmans wrote several more, creating a series of Madeline adventures. In 1989, DiC Enterprises adapted the first Madeline book into an animated television special for HBO and in the 90's, Madeline appeared as a regular Saturday morning cartoon on ABC. In 1995, the show was renamed, "The New Adventures of Madeline." It won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program. The New Adventures of Madeline was shown on KOL's Secret Slumber Party between Fall 2006 and 2007.

In our house, Madeline is especially near and dear to our hearts. Big Sister feels a special kindred with the perky redhead who is a peanut in size, but big on the inside, always striving to help others in need and do her very best. Our DVD collection includes 7 CD's with two episodes on each. We've been watching one every night since Christmas and no one has gotten tired of them yet! Madeline is an inspiration and good role model for all little girls from New York to Paris, Beijing to LA. She teaches young girls that they can be strong and assertive while still being feminine and pretty.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Happy Half Birthday to ME!

I decided this year to find ways to add a little extra happiness to our lives by celebrating half birthdays. With a July 1st birthday, my half birthday would actually be New Year's Day, January 1st which is kind of neat if you think about it! We didn't celebrate on 1/1 though because I came up with the idea afterward and decided that my half birthday celebration doesn't necessarily have to be on the exact halfway mark, but somewhere during that month. Tonight, after dinner, I surprised my daughters with some treats from our local bakery, an Elmo cookie for Little Sister (LS) and a Hannah Montana cookie for Big Sister (BS). Yes, I was shocked too by the Hannah Montana cookie that was completely edible! For my choice in celebrating my year 38 1/2, as I now look forward to "39" forever, I indulged in a delicious Napoleon.

The party was small and very intimate with just my daughters and I, singing, "Happy Half Birthday Mommy." I blew out a candle, made a wish, and had Big Sister dictate a letter to me that I plan to keep for eternity. It says:

Dear Mommy,

I love you! I love you!
You are fun. You give me great hugs and kisses.

Big Sister

Little Sister has given me a few wonderful gifts herself lately, finally saying, "Mama" in her sweet, adorable voice, but the icing on the cake came in the form of little kisses bestowed upon me tonight from both of my girls. Life is sweet!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wednesday's Reflection - Sister


Two seeds, blown on different winds.
We landed in the same soil, and grow together.
Not my blood, but my heart.
Not my genes, but my friend.
Blossoming side by side.
Entwined with the red thread that binds us.

By Helen Edmonds
(From Love's Journey 2)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Love's Journey

A few days ago, I finally received my copy of Love's Journey 2: The Red Thread, a lovely book chock full of stories, poems, letters, photos and drawings from adoptive parents. The book which can be purchased at is expensive, $60, but well worth the money as a large portion of the proceeds will go directly toward helping the children who remain in Chinese orphanages. I am proud to say that I contributed to this book with a written memoir of my adoption first adoption experience as well as the last book with a photograph near the song my friend wrote for Big Sister. I'd love to tell you the exact page, but for the sake of protecting the privacy of my children, I cannot post it here. However, if you have the book, please email me and I will tell you the exact page to look on.

Once again, I am so deeply touched by this second edition that I plan to post a few snippets from the book on my blog every now and then, hoping to inspire readers to purchase the book themselves. What better way to make a donation to the orphans remaining in China? How often do you receive something in return for a donation? It's the perfect choice!

Here is a letter written by one of the foster mothers which appears in the book:

"You are an especially good girl, my precious one. Ayi's heart is so warmed by the fact that you have found a home and parents. Wishing you happiness as you grow up. Your Ayi who will always miss you."

Monday, January 7, 2008

We made it out of the nursery . . .

Since moving to IL, I have been taking my daughters to a really nice Lutheran church. The congregation is small, yet warm and friendly. Since we joined in October, I have made few attempts to sit with the rest of the congregation, usually spending all my time with my daughters in the nursery. Up until now, I didn't feel that Little Sister was ready to leave the confines of the nursery and sit in public. This past Sunday, I went to church equipped with a collection of quiet toys, a sippy cup full of water and a few snacks. The result was a complete success! We made it through the entire service and even participated in the weekly communion.

It's amazing how a small box of crayons can satisfy the curiosity of a toddler. Little Sister must have emptied and refilled the tiny crayon box a dozen times. Big Sister also enjoyed the opportunity to sit with the adults and did a fine job of showing her sister how to behave in a public setting. I did cautiously sit between them though, just in case. You never know what could develop with two young sisters sitting side by side each competing for the same box of crayons.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Goodbye 2007, Hello 2008!

There is something invigorating about ringing in the New Year. It's almost like receiving a gift, a second chance for personal and professional renewal, a chance to get things right! This past year was a mixture of happiness and difficulty for me. It was the year that I watched my oldest child blossom from toddler to preschooler, the first stage of growing up. After a grueling two year wait, I finally brought home my second daughter, discovering that she had suffered trauma in the orphanage and has some attachment issues. In 2007, I also had to put my beloved feline to sleep. He was 15 years-old and suffered from kidney disease. Although he was extremely sick and rapidly losing weight, it was a difficult task saying goodbye to my first 'baby' and such a beautiful, loving soul. The worst part of the year came this fall when 'DH' accounced that he found something more interesting than his family in California.

What can I say, it was a tough year, but as a wise person once told me to move forward, we must learn something. Here are the lessons I learned in 2007:

1) It is impossible to say goodbye to someone we love when they die.

2) Raising two children is harder than one.

3) Motivation can move mountains.

4) Never leave the house without snacks, a sippy cup, diapers and wipes.

5) No two children are the same.

6) Loving our children makes us stronger.

7) A good babysitter is worth her weight in gold.

8) We live by God's timing. He decides WHEN!

9) Spending time with a good friend is priceless!

10) Life is about the journey, not the destination!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Hannah Montana Fever Hits Home

The Hannah Montana craze is sweeping across the country. Even my five year-old daughter is hooked! Disney's Hannah Montana is an American Emmy Award-nominated children's show featuring young Miley Cyrus, the 15 year-old daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. The show first aired on March 24, 2006. In the sitcom, Miley is caught between two worlds, one as an ordinary teenager trying to fit into high school, get good grades and appease her dad, played by Billy Ray himself, and then segue into her rock star persona (Hannah Montana). Beautiful and talented Hannah Montana is selling out stadiums across the country attracting thousands of teens, tweens and preschoolers. Some newspapers report that parents who are unable to purchase tickets are willing to pay thousands of dollars just to get their hands on them. We aren't quite ready to head off in that direction yet. For now, my daughter and I occasionally watch the show and listen to her music.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wednesday's Reflection: Happiness

"The Supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved."

- Victor Hugo