Friday, December 12, 2008
Wow! I can't believe I haven't blogged in almost a month! Time certainly does slip away. Well, the last month has brought significant progress. After our appointment with the two specialists, we went to the drawing board (and by this I mean the internet) to find our new son. We had to identify (choose) a child that we wished to adopt and then fill out the application for him. With literally hundreds of thousands of children in orphanages waiting to be adopted, this was a daunting task. It was up to us to search the thousands of children listed, and find the right "match." We knew that we wanted a boy between the ages of 18months and 14years, which narrowed it down somewhat because there are more girls available to adopt than boys. We chose to adopt from China, rather than Ethiopia or Taiwan, only because China has an established (and rule-based) program. Other countries seem to make up the procedures as they go along. Yes, Ethiopian children probably are in more desperate need than Chinese children, but we just weren't up for years of waiting, rules changing, and then torment. We had a friend who adopted from Africa, and at the airport on the way out of the country they were detained for three days. They finally had to bribe a flight attendant to be allowed to board the plane. In China, the program is a well-oiled machine. Anyway, we did finally select a boy from Beijing, named Bing Hui. In his photo, he is leaning up against a tree, almost hugging it. He has round, rosy cheeks, and he's 5 years old. Now, we are just waiting for the Chinese government to approve our application. The Dr. we consulted with approved BingHui's medical records. She went over his lab reports, and all his medical information carefully. He will need medical care for a few minor issues, but nothing we can't handle. He also needs lots of dental work, which is not uncommon for children in orphanages. BingHui lives in a foster home in Beijing, which is good because that means his nutrition is probably better, and he has bonded with his foster parents most likely. The ability to bond is established at a young age, and sometimes children living in institutions have trouble with attachment issues, according to our doctor. So, that's what's new on the Peters' adoption front. We now know our future son, and his name is BingHui!!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
We met with the two specialists Friday about our adoption plans and to discuss which child we should adopt. They strongly suggested that we choose to adopt from the Beijing area. The children in Beijing have better nutrition, education, and care overall. Yes, we want to help a needy child, but the specialists told us to choose a child who has the best chance to succeed. It's tough to "pick" our new child, and we were very happy for the guidance of the social worker and the adoption pediatrician. They have years and years of experience with adoptive parents, and we were very fortunate to get an appointment with them. If David was not partners with an attorney who knows the Dr., we would never have been able to get an appointment with these specialists. Also,we know that there are literally thousands of children waiting adoption, many who are healthy. On the CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs) shared list of children waiting for families is 6,778 pages long!!! Americans have adopted over 100,000 children from China in the last ten years. Wow! We'll just keep waiting for the right one for us,as we look more closely at children from Beijing area.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Ok--I know I'm early, but I just received an official letter from the Department of Social Services to submit our foster child's gift list prior to Thanksgiving so that the gifts could be purchased in a timely manner. WE don't currently have a foster child; I just thought it was interesting that children in foster care automatically receive a Christmas gift financed by the Department of Social Services (our taxes). Don't get me wrong--it's wonderful, sweet and generous, and I don't mean to sound like Scrooge, but I can't help thinking about the song, "Do they know it's Christmas?" that was released in the 80s about Ethiopia's famine and the children who really live in poverty. With the economic down-turn, I would like to see Christmas gifts this year focus more on giving to others who are hungry, and less on receiving toys and other trivial gifts.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Everyone in my family has blogged a lot, and I mean a lot, especially Connor.Therefore, I am not very good at it, so I'll try my best and you let me know how I did (lol). So anyway, as you all have probably heard a billion times. We are trying to adopt a Chinese boy. My parents are constantly discussing what we should name him. I think that we should just keep his Chinese name. It will make everything easier so that we don't have to go through the process of "Do you like this name? What about this name? How about naming him this?" Besides, everyone in our family enjoys saying names in Chinese! I think it's just the fact of how it rolls over your tongue and whistles through your teeth. I just love saying Xiao, our exchange student's name. I am really looking forward to getting another brother. Adopting another brother will really change the trajectory of our futures (in a positive way). I know, I know, you are probably thinking that there must be another side of the story. Well, there is.Well, don't get me wrong, I like the whole adoption idea and everything, it's just that I'm afraid that if we get another child that he will be another Connor. You can only have so much of Connor. You can only put up with Connor in small doses, so living with him can sometimes be a pain. I am afraid that mom will treat our new little brother like she treats Connor; you know, with the whole "Oh, he's so brilliant, and articulate." That gets me so annoyed! Well anyway the chances of my new brother being another Connor is pretty slim. Well I have to go now Xiao (our exchange student) wants me to go break dance with him.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Most of the feedback we've gotten from friends and family has been very positive, but a few have been a little "cautious" in their encouragement. I, more than most, can relate to being "hesitant" to embrace new ideas. I have always been quick to see the negative side of everything first. This works well in that one makes few mistakes...but also does very little. I have learned over the years that being quick to say no to everything (especially when the idea takes you by surprise) can make saying no become a habit and easily foster a negative attitude toward life. I tend to find that after I toss the ideas around for a while I start to have a better sense of how to react to them...and how my reaction will be received by others.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
So last night the social worker who is in charge of our home-study came for her first home visit. Yes, we got home from NYC (and running the 26 mile marathon) an hour before we had to have our home inspection and interview. Overall,it wasn't too bad. I limped around a bit, and our suitcases weren't yet unpacked, but we know that isn't what constitutes good parents. We also know that our social worker would understand that we just drove 6 hours and had a long weekend. Connor, as usual, was articulate and funny. He showed the house as if it was for sale, pointing out the plethora of windows and large closets. Too funny. But what really struck me was Connor's understanding of our motivation to adopt. When the social worker asked Connor why he thinks we want to adopt, he explained in great detail his mother's desire to have a house full of children. Then he went on to say something like, "Life is short. We can't always do what we want or solve world problems. But I believe that if we can change the life of one child, then we can make a difference while we are here." Honestly, we didn't rehearse that or anything. I wish I could really quote him accurately because he was so right on the money, but I can't remember what he said verbatim. Anyway, we feel as if we are all on the same page, and we are all committed to doing what we can for a child.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
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I find it interesting that we've had such varying reactions to our decision to adopt. On the one hand, I have the group of friends and family who think we're absolutely crazy. Or they are simply cannot understand why we would make, what is in their mind, such a bad decision. I've received emails that try to nicely remind me that this will not be an exchange student that I can send home, or a dog that I can give away if it doesn't work out. Hmmm. We think we realize the difference in the level of commitment, but we know you are just concerned and such. We've been researching and preparing for adoption for over four years; it's not the same as the cute puppy I got talked into getting Kate for Christmas while shopping at the mall. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, we've received a few very enthusiastic emails. One friend said, "That is wonderful. No, you are not crazy. Yes it makes sense if one watches how many other kids you've surrounded yourself with over these years. ...So, go for it. You have so much love t o give, and what's one more...." And another friend pledged to be our support and rock through what promises to be a bumpy ride. Then there's David's mom, who quite literally brought me to tears. She told us that she thinks adopting a child together makes perfect sense, and she will be thrilled to have another grandchild. What's more, Dave's mom is already researching articles on transitioning adopted children! Boy, did I luck out with mother-in-laws or what? So, I guess I'm just blogging to express my appreciation for all the support, and to reassure those who are concerned for our sanity. This is a long and complicated process, in a long and complicated world.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I know, I know you are all probably thinking "Oh a teenager, he'll probably be negative just to disagree with everyone else." However, I am special. I know how important it is to my mom that I write about my perspective to help reinforce the decision to adopt. Personally, I think that we are a perfectly suited family for another boy. Like my dad said, we live in a boy paradise!!! Everyone in our family is what most people would consider, ADHD. I guess most young boys are. Our family is on the move 24/7. People are constantly asking how do you find time for everything. I bet if we wanted to, we could set a world record for "least amount of rest/relaxation." Although, when the rare moment of relaxation comes, I am so bored, I don't know what to do with myself. If all boys are like I am, we are the perfect family for young boys. Anyway, as everyone else has mentioned we have an exchange student named Xiao, which helped us decide we liked having a big family. Xiao (our exchange student) is the perfect one for us. He is always going and never stops. My opinion about the whole adopting idea is that I think it would be good for our family, especially for Connor. Connor is always fighting to be the center of attention all the time, and I think that it would be good for Connor to have a little brother that wants to be the center of attention. I think the whole "center of attention" idea comes from being the youngest in the family, which would be good for Connor not to be the youngest any more. I also think that it would be good for Connor because I am always picking on him (he deserves it) and it will teach Connor that I beat him up for a reason, when he gets annoyed with his little brother. About the fact that he won't know English. Well, surprisingly, I think it's cool. We would all get to learn a new language. To tell you the truth, after living with Connor for nine years, I am pretty excited to adopt. I think that adopting a boy would be an excellent experience for all of us.
This is not my first journal. I wrote a lot when we went to Europe, so I have a little experience. These are my thoughts about adopting a child. This boy will be ( I think) a nice boy and quite bright too. I am the littlest in the family, so it will be good for me to be the middle aged one.I have always wanted a younger brother that I get to name, and I will be able to pick on him too (my brother always picked on me). If we successfully adopt a little boy, my little cousin named Eric will have someone to play with (Eric is 5). We have an Chinese exchange student named Xiao living with us now! He is fun and cool. He is 17 and very kind. Our Chinese exchange student's full name is Jiyuxiao but, we just call him Xiao. I am very excited about adopting a child, and I cannot wait any longer! But I know we might not be able to get a boy, but anyway I am still excited!
Sandy asked me to put some thoughts down on paper about our adoption experience, or how I feel about it. I have never written a journal before, so I am a little skeptical about this. Will my writing about this help me get I better handle on why I want to adopt? Sandy says that this is a very good way to organize my thoughts. If she thinks it's a good idea, I'll try it. We've been spending much time filling out paperwork, getting health certification forms done by the doctor...by the way, overall I was pretty impressed as to how quickly my doctor's office was able to do this and get all the blood work done and results back...he's a good doctor but in the past it has not been unusual to wait for 45 minutes before getting past the waiting room. My blood pressure was 115 over 75..I was very impressed with myself:). Given the fact that we have three boys at home right now- Xiao, our exchange student from China who recently turned 17, Austin who is 12, and Connor who is 9, I consider such a healthy blood pressure pressure a minor miracle! I think I'll thank God for good health in church this weekend. Speaking of kids at home...I guess this is one of the things that got me thinking about adopting...Xiao is a joy, but he will be going back to China in June (that's seems soon, but it's eight months away)...I like having the kids around, it gives everything such a feeling of vitality, there's always something going on, something to fix because little hands have broken it...our house seems to be set up well for boys. we have a pool table, workout room, a separate area for the kids to watch movies, use the computer, then there is the acres of fields, woods, a creek - what a boy's paradise!...I can't imagine a boy who wouldn't love to grow up here. Boys. There is something different about bring up boys...I often wonder whether Sandy feels a little ostracized with the three boys and myself. At least one of our two dogs is a female! I don't think that helps Sandy much, but she doesn't show any signs of wanting to have more girls around, and I don't think we even considered adopting a girl...I don't know why, I guess we just thought that our boys would like a younger brother...I guess we are kind of in "boy-mode" now as well. I'm not convinced that this is a helpful exercise for me yet, but I guess this writing things down isn't as bad as I thought it would be...
A few people have asked us why we don't adopt a needy child from the USA. Here's why. First of all, we tried the whole foster-child-thing. We were foster parents, and "in the system" for over two years. First of all, the children in foster care are not legally free for adoption until they have been in foster care for many, many years, and every relative has had a chance to parent the child and failed. We would have adopted our foster children in a heartbeat, but our legal system makes it almost impossible. I know one foster parent who has fostered 22 children over the years (with the hope of adopting) and her dream was never fulfilled. Also, we found that, in general, foster children have EVERYTHING they need. Yes, life is not perfect for foster children in the USA. All foster children suffer from the loss of their parents, but, as a general rule, foster children in the US all have loving homes (such as ours). They have good food, warm clothes, excellent medical care, dental care, and lots and lots of financial support. Children from foster care in the US receive tuition assistance for college, for instance. Our country, sometimes to its detriment, provides foster children much more than the basic necessities. Children in foster care in the US can even attend one week of summer camp for free!! When I was a child I had to mow lawns and sell candy bars to earn a week at camp. Many children in orphanages in other countries lack the basic necessities. These children do not have enough food, they were often surrendered to the orphanage because of poverty, and they definitely need medical care. That is why we have chosen to adopt from China. We want to truly make a difference.
I can't believe it finally hit me. I should write about this. Write about what, you are probably asking. Our decision to adopt. Yes, I suppose this may be the best way to announce our decision to adopt. IF everything goes well. So I guess I should start at the beginning. It probably began with the Tsunami in the Philippines in 2004. Watching all the suffering and homeless children on TV really struck a chord with me. I looked at David and declared, "We should adopt one of those children. We can save one. And we are great parents." As usual, David encouraged me to look into it, knowing that only a few of my great and wonderful ideas come to fruition. A year later, we decided to get a foreign exchange student instead. So the year of 2005-2006 was the year of Camila. That same year a (sort of) relative of David's adopted a baby girl from China. We had a fulfilling experience with Camila, and we decided to become foster parents. Kate graduated from high school, and we became foster parents to a teen girl for the summer. Still, all along, I was researching, investigating, interviewing and weighing adoption procedures. Every so often, I would report my progress, and Dave and I would discuss whether we should adopt. However, we kept thinking we might be able to adopt one of our foster children. I would check waiting children photo listings daily online, and we subscribed to the Waiting Child book. In June of 2008, we met with an attorney who specializes in adoption. He provided us with several contacts, and we discovered World Association for Children and Parents online. In the meantime, we welcomed another foreign exchange student from China, a 16 year old boy named Xiao. What a joy he is!! Still, surfing postings, still talking, still thinking, still waiting to decide if we should pursue adoption. We talked about adopting for so many years, that every once in awhile Austin would tell us to hurry up because we were getting too old. I even started to network among my inner-city students. I'd ask my students each semester, "Anyone know someone with a child they are considering putting up for adoption?" But then it happened. Dave and I were all alone for an entire evening. We had to go watch Austin race in a cross-country meet, and Dave and I had 24 hours completely alone. I started the conversation with, "It's time for us to make a decision. I'm going to be 43 this year, and the cut-off for many adoptions is 45. Do we want to adopt, or is this one of those things we should just let go?" Surprisingly, David voted yes, we should adopt. We can provide superior love and care to a child who needs a family, and we should definitely adopt. The very next day, I received an email with a note from WACAP that here is a child you might consider. I showed it to David, and he said, yes, get the paperwork done. Less than a month later, we have completed more forms than I can count, have had our fingerprints done a multitude of times, completed blood work, eye tests, physicals, etc. etc. and we know that our journey is just beginning. Next week is our home-study visit from the agency. We're exhausted already, and we hear this process will take over 18 months. Bring it on!