Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lucky Girl: Identity Crisis

Tuesday, May 26th - Sunday, June 7th this blog is hosting a book discussion surrounding Taiwanese-American adoptee Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir "Lucky Girl."

In Lucky Girl, Mei-Ling details the difficulties she experienced growing up as one of the few Asian-Americans in her Michigan community. She describes being the target of racism, her own feelings of incongruity, and her routine attempts to submerge indications of her Asian identity.

She writes, "I wanted to be anything but Asian. I used to curse being different in my journals and in my dreams at night. I overcompensated and went out of my way to prove how American I was, making sure people heard me speak my perfect English. I was Little Miss Everything in high school, class president for three years, captain of the pom-pom team, and a member of almost every club that existed. I excelled at a lot of things: school, socializing, public speaking, organizing. I had a healthy life and lots of friends. Yet I was a tormented hypocrite."

Mei-Ling's struggle is a common one among Asian-American youth. Is it idealistic to think this conflict is avoidable? What additional challenges might being adopted add to a child's potential struggle for "cultural comfort?" Finally, how can parents of children adopted from Asia help their kids navigate the difficulty of coming to terms with their cultural identity?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lucky Girl - NPR interview

Tuesday, May 26th - Sunday, June 7th this blog is hosting a book discussion surrounding Taiwanese-American adoptee Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir "Lucky Girl."

HERE IS A LINK to a KCUR Kansas City NPR interview that you can download and listen to where author Mei-Ling Hopgood talks about reuniting with her birth family in Taiwan. Great questions. Insightful answers.

5 months

Was it really only five months ago that we held our Hannah Claire for the first time? Tonight we looked at photos of our forever family day. She looks like such a little baby in them. I can't believe how much she's grown and changed in only five months.

We're busy this week with Kevin's parents visiting from Florida. No time for digital scrapbooking for a monthly post any more. GASP! The horror!

I'm going to start putting my photography posts on a separate blog titled My Little Lantern. I've been planning this for awhile as I want a wider format to show larger photos but will keep this blog for adoption related stuff and milestones. You can access the photography blog easily with the navigation bar link titled "Photography."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lucky Girl - Language

Tuesday, May 26th - Sunday, June 7th this blog is hosting a book discussion surrounding Taiwanese-American adoptee Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir "Lucky Girl."

The more Mei-Ling gets to know her Taiwanese family, the more she feels the constraints of her inability to communicate with them in Mandarin. As the years pass, she makes efforts to learn the language but is never fully able to bridge the gap.

If you are an adoptive parent of an internationally born child, what do you believe your role should be in helping your child learn the language of his/her birth culture?

Lucky Girl - Q&A with the author

Tuesday, May 26th - Sunday, June 7th this blog is hosting a book discussion surrounding Taiwanese-American adoptee Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir "Lucky Girl."

Author Mei-Ling Hopgood has volunteered to answer questions that you have. Please submit your questions as comments on this post before Sunday, June 7th. I'll collect your questions and submit them to her. I'm looking forward to reading your questions and hearing what she has to say. Feel free to leave comments with any messages that you'd like me to deliver to the author as well.


Tuesday was a beautiful day, and Kevin wanted to take Hannah to a pool. Kevin called me at work with a little funny story. He stripped Hannah down nekked to spray her with sunscreen. Apparently the spray-on sunscreen surprised our sweetheart. She got mad, cried, and then she SPRAYED Daddy's arm back with some peepee.

Kevin drove to two pools, and both were closed as the local kids are still in school. Determined to have a splashing good time, he drove to the zoo to play at the splash pad. Aw... what a good daddy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lucky Girl - secrets

Tuesday, May 26th - Sunday, June 7th this blog is hosting a book discussion surrounding Taiwanese-American adoptee Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir "Lucky Girl."

In "Lucky Girl," Mei-Ling thought that the reason that she was released for adoption was because of poverty. After meeting her birthfamily in Taiwan, she learns that she and another sister were released for adoption because of their female gender. Her parents continued to try to conceive a son after their adoptions AND adopted a boy in order to have a son.

When adopting a child, families are usually provided with a social history of the birthfamily in order to understand what circumstances led to the child being released for adoption. How did reading about the secrets surrounding Mei-Ling's adoption make you feel? If you are an adoptive parent, did it cause you to question the information you were given surrounding your child's adoption?

Please feel free to comment anonymously to protect your family's privacy.

Lucky Girl - extremist views

Tuesday, May 26th - Sunday, June 7th this blog is hosting a book discussion surrounding Taiwanese-American adoptee Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir "Lucky Girl."

In "Lucky Girl," Mei-Ling's father (Ba) has some extremist viewpoints on gender and children born with special needs. [Mei-ling's birthparents left their infant son born with a cleft lip alone in a room to die, released two daughters for adoption, adopted a son themselves.] How did you feel while reading these? Although viewed as extremist to us, do you think they are held by many modern day Taiwanese? Do you worry that people who casually read the book will think that many Taiwanese think the same way?

thank you, Amanda and Lawrence!

A little package arrived at our doorstep last week. It came all the way from Taiwan. We opened it up, and inside we found a little pink vest. Thank you, Amanda and Lawrence! It's so sweet!

thank you!

Lucky Girl - solo travel

Tuesday, May 26th - Sunday, June 7th this blog is hosting a book discussion surrounding Taiwanese-American adoptee Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir "Lucky Girl."

Mei-Ling didn’t want her parents to come to Taiwan when she was meeting and getting to know her birth family. Was this a good choice and why? As an adoptive parent, how do you think you would you feel about your college-aged child leaving to visit their birth country and choosing to go without you?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lucky Girl - discussion topic requests

Tuesday, May 26th - Sunday, June 7th this blog is hosting a book discussion surrounding Taiwanese-American adoptee Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir "Lucky Girl."

I've been looking forward to hosting this discussion for a whole month. Thanks so much to my Taiwanese adoption friends that messaged me that they've read the book and are interested in what others thought of the memoir. Because of the sensitive nature of some of the subjects, you have the option to post anonymously if you have something that you want to say but don't want it linked back to your blog. If you post anonymously, consider using a pseudonym so we can keep anonymous posters separate.

This post serves as a suggestion box. Feel free to leave suggestions here about what topics you'd like to discuss.

I Heart Faces - Silhouette

When we were at the playground this week, I was frustrated while looking through my lens watching Hannah climb through a tube. I was grouchy because it was so dark in the tube and so much light was behind her that there was no way I could get a shot of her goofy expressions as she climbed through. Then I had a light bulb go off in my head. "Duh! There's a silhouettes category at I ♥ Faces next week! This would work!" So I took several more shots, turned down the exposure, put it into black and white, and this is what I came up with. If you click on the photo you'll be able to view a larger size that allows you to see the details of the scratches in the hard plastic playground equipment.


This photo is my entry into this week's I ♥ Faces contest where the theme is "silhouette." Click here view the I ♥ Faces silhouette photography entries.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

vintage playground - part 2

I'm an extra proud mama this week. Hannah and Daddy are working a lot on standing unassisted. Hannah visited me at work this week and she stood on the counter for over a minute now without holding on to anything. I think the piece of yummy blueberry donut in her hand distracted her from thinking about how she wasn't holding on to anything. It's hard work, and I can tell that her little legs get really tired after awhile.

Hannah is picking up understanding of some phrases and hand gestures, so we're starting baby signs with her. We've been working on the sign for "more" at meal time. At a restaurant, she will want a sip out of our glass. I decided to use that to my advantage, and would only let her have a sip out of my glass if she used the sign for more. Tonight at dinner she started pointing at my glass and making her "ahh! ahh!" sounds. I let her have just a little bit. She started back up with the "ahh! ahh!" and pointing. I asked Hannah, "What do you want?" ON HER OWN she replied with the sign for more. I was so thrilled that I teared up. "YES, big girl. You can have MORE!"

We're working on repeating a few first words. They kind of sound like what we're staying. Hannah says "jesh" for yes and "burrr" for bird, in addition to the "da" for dog that she's been saying for some time. Thank goodness she hasn't shown interest in repeating the word "no."

Oh, yeah. This post was supposed to be more playground photos. Here ya go!

"You. Swing me more."

watching the big kids play

"Hi, big kids! I'm one of you now. Right?"

Where'd the big kids go?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

like Tea?

Psst! I'm a big fan of Tea, as the line of clothing for kiddos. I like the daily tea casual wear because they often have Asian inspired prints and necklines, the items are made REALLY well from soft stretchy cotton, they wash well, and their pants just fits my slim crawler really well. There's a Memorial Day sale this weekend with come great sales with promo code SUNFUN until May 27th. Hannah got some bootcut leggings for $7.88, blossom mandarin tunic $9.38, and a wrap tunic for $7.88. Each would be $23 full price. Lora, the Brazilia dress you love isn't on sale yet... but I'll keep watching. If you had your eye on Tea, help yourself to some this weekend while the sale is on.

Friday, May 22, 2009

vintage playground - part 1

Tonight we packed up Hannah Claire and her sippy cup, grabbed some sandwiches, and headed to a park to take pictures to play and experience some quality family time with our daughter. We filled up a 2GB card and had a great time. Hannah wasn't as excited about the swings as she was the last time we went to a park, but she liked crawling through tubes and peeking out at us. Slides continued to be a big hit with lots of laughs.

It's going to take me awhile to work on post processing because there are so many nice shots to choose from today. I'm working on a little bit of a vintage feel with these, and processed them differently on purpose. I'm always learning by trial and error with this new hobby.

Hope everyone has a nice holiday weekend! I'll be working, but hopefully Daddy and Hannah will get some pool time in the backyard.


Uhh... it's going too high now.

Thank you. Not quite so high, please.

What's that on the ground? Can I put it in my mouth?

playground silhouette

my little monkey, Curious Hannah

booty bye-bye

Thursday, May 21, 2009


One year ago today was a very special day. On Wednesday, May 21st at 3:30am, we opened an e-mail titled "hallelujah!!!!" complete with FOUR exclamation points that changed our lives forever. Our hearts are full now, and we are very blessed.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

three very blessed families

We were very fortunate to have dinner tonight with two other families that have adopted from Taiwan. They blog at Awaiting Avery and The Fleck Flick. We enjoyed a yummy dinner at Applebee's and then went to a city garden to let the children explore and for the mamarazzi to take some photos.

Avery's mama posted her photos already HERE. I'm so glad that she got a photo of all of the girls rolling around on the floor at the restaurant. They were so funny!

I took a zillion photos of the girls together on these stone steps. The sisters in the middle were so funny and had different expressions on their faces in every shot. I'll share three of the best ones below. Miss Hannah was not interested in smiling tonight. She got a little teary and her hair was messed up after Mama told her that she could not climb up a cement curb and into the muck filled pond. What a big mean horrible mama I am! Luckily, none of the girls in their pretty dresses ended up in the pond tonight. Wow... look at them. We're certainly three very blessed families.

group 1

group 2

group 3

sisters on the bridge
original color

sisters on the bridge - little color and soft
little color and softer

This is my favorite photograph of the evening, but I can't decide
which version I like better. What do you think?

beautiful Avery
original color

beautiful Avery - sunshine

beautiful Avery - vintage

sleepy Hannah
night night

Monday, May 18, 2009


Daddy's voice: "See this photo, Hannah. This is from the day that we first met you. This was the best day ever. See this other photo, Hannah. This picture is of the hands of all of the people that love you so much."

Mama cried. Daddy is so right.

I Heart Faces - Blurb Book Contest

bye bye, Taiwan

This photo is my amateur entry into this week's I ♥ Faces contest where the theme is "favorite photo." This photo was taken in front of the National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, a few days after we met our daughter Hannah Claire.

She looks like such a baby here. Oh how much she's changed in four and a half months!

I get very emotional when I look at our photo set from this day. They feel like "bye bye, Taiwan" photos to me. Of course we'll go back to visit, hopefully many times, but to me this photograph symbolizes the end of one chapter of my daughter's life and the beginning of another.

I edited the photo first in Adobe Lightroom and used the preset "aged photo" that comes with the software. I turned the exposure way down, leaving pink in Hannah Claire's hat and on her kissable lips. Then I opened the photo into Adobe Photoshop, rotating it to make the ground level, cropping it square, then used the "sharpen this" action from Pioneer Woman's free actions to sharpen her eyes up.

Click here view the I ♥ Faces amateur/beginner category entries and click here to view the professionals category entries.

I am submitting this photo into the Blurb Book photo contest. I am granting I ♥ Faces permission to use my photo in a printed version of a book for commercial use and possibly advertising of a photo book on both the Blurb and I ♥ Faces web sites.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

we picture {this} - hats

This month's theme at we picture {this} is hats. I attempted four sessions with Hannah Claire to try to get a shot of her wearing this beautiful crocheted beanie. All four sessions didn't go quite as planned.

hat off!

Here's a link to my we picture {this} photograph submission where Hannah is looking me in the eye getting ready to rip off her hat.

Her smile turns back on like a lightbulb once the hat has been discarded. Stinker!


Saturday, May 16, 2009

good times

Tonight we visited with Allie's family. Allie lived at the same orphanage that Hannah lived at, and her mother Lora saw our precious daughter long before we did, when Hannah Claire was "no bigger than a ruler." Good food. Good friends. Good conversation. Great fun! Thanks so much for inviting our family over for dinner.

Miss Allie wasn't very happy to have a big scary man with facial hair come into her home. "No no no no no no no no! No, Mommy!" There was a fair amount of tears, but she warmed up to Kevin towards the end of the night.

Hannah and Allie played with Allie's little kitchen together. Hannah screamed with glee every time the family cat came into the room. She would crawl around chasing after the cat, but the cat was too fast for her and kept it's distance. Hannah played with Allie's pink robot vehicle (Ramona, it's so cute!) but we had to grab Hannah off of it because she was using the controls to spin in circles and started to look dazed and dizzy. Kevin and Chris did the guy talk thing about computers and gaming while Lora and I got teary eyed about how our girls were just right for our families. Sniff sniff. The girls played and played until WAY TOO LATE. I put Hannah in her pajamas before taking some photos because I thought she's start to slow down and get sleepy, but I was way wrong. Lots of stimulus and several slurps of Allie's chicken and stars soup kept them both going, and going, and going, and going....

My favorite photo is the first one here with the girls playing with the little kitchen. Sooooo cute!

kitchen help



Allie girl

Allie girl


Lora, we'll have to do this again soon. We all had so much fun, and I think this has to be good for our girls to have little friends with similar beginnings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

checkup for the not so big girl

weight - 16 pounds 4 ounces
length - 28 3/4 inches
head circumference - 44.6cm

Hannah had a well child visit this morning at the peds clinic and got some shots. Ears and lungs clear, just a boogery cold. I was excited to get Hannah weighed as I thought that she might have gained a lot of weight as she's been eating so well this past month. Unfortunately, the scale doesn't show the huge improvement. We'll keep doing a Pediasure a day. I had hoped to be able to take a bloggable photo today with Hannah's arms raised up over her head titled "big girl" documenting significant weight gain. Instead I have a post-vaccination fussy baby down for a nap. I try not to worry, but can't help charting out her growth and obsessing a little. Sigh. The mama in me wants what's best for her, but the adoptive mother worries about living up to expectations of everyone else (social workers, adoption agency reps, orphanage workers, and birthfamily) that has had a hand in her life before us. And I worried about lack of weight gain while in orphanage care?

For Grandma in FL who asked this morning about what size Hannah's wearing: Mostly 9 months. She's getting too long for 6 month jammies and long pants. I forsee a future with only adjustable waist pants. We have some 9 month elastic waist (not adjustable) jean and khaki shorts from Target that are still too big in the waist and slide down.

I just hope she'll outgrow the rear facing car seat by the time she gets her driving permit. Ha ha.

Here's the scrap pages for our next adoption post placement report that is in the works. I'm really thankful for the opportunity to take all of those photos in mirror last week as they just let her little personality shine through.


6 months scrap

Monday, May 11, 2009


I call Hannah "Squirmy" because she doesn't like to lay still on the changing table. I think I'm going to start calling her "Germy" instead. We're sickly, AGAIN. Body aches, sinus pressure and pain. Since Germy has come into our home, we've had more colds, stomach flu, and bacterial infections in a short period of time than ever before. Hannah starts snotting and 12 hours later I'm full of goo as well.

Maybe I should stop kissing her.

No way!

Kevin called me at work at 1:30pm today and asked when I was coming home. I know he doesn't feel well or he's having a rough day when he calls to ask me that. I left at 3pm. Nana came to the rescue and gave us a night off. We got some decongestants and Tylenol in us and started feeling a little better. We looked at each other and said, "What are we going to do, now?" "Do you want to go see a movie?" "Na, let's clean the kitchen." I must be ill if I'd rather clean the inside of my microwave than go see a movie.

While we were cleaning the kitchen... the conversation went something like this. "Doesn't it feel strange to not have to worry about what Hannah's into?" "It feels freeing." "I keep thinking that it is way too quiet."

Speaking of snot, Kevin bought this nasal aspirator online called Nosfrida that is wonderful. We could never find a bulb that had enough suck to get out Hannah's boogers to our satisfaction after trying three different models. You don't have to put anything inside a nostril, and you use the power of your own lung power to control the sucking action. Because your mouth is doing the sucking, you've got both hands available to hold the child still and hold the tip near the nostril. Great product that really sucks!

I Heart Faces Entry - Laughter

This photo is my kids entry into this week's I ♥ Faces contest where the theme is "laughter."


I'd do all sorts of crazy things in public just to draw out a giggle and see Hannah's bottom two teeth for a photo. She thinks it's funny to watch me dance. She's most likely right. I look down right ridiculous when I try to get my daughter to smile for the camera.

Click here view the I ♥ Faces adults category entries and click here to view the kids category entries.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mirror, Mirror photofest

I often wonder what Hannah will be like as a grown woman. I think about her self-confidence growing up as a child that looks different than many of the children around her. I worry. I think about multi-cultural books, videos, foods, celebrations. Is once a week Chinese school enough? Should we find someone to give her private Mandarin lessons when she's school aged? It's hard enough to feel good about yourself as a teenage girl as your body changes, you break out with pimples, and you worry about being liked enough by your friends 24-7. Throw international adoptee into the mix and it could be a big deal... or it could very much not be one.

Remember to find yourself a copy of Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir "Lucky Girl" and have it read by the end of Memorial Day weekend. My bloggy friend Judy and I will moderate the book discussion. I've been e-mailing a few other Taiwan adoptive mamas about some topics in the book already, and know that several of you are really looking forward to a discussion. CLICK HERE to read the original post about the book discussion challenge for more information.

These photos were taken in a bathroom at the Hyatt in Indianapolis Tuesday night. I had Hannah sitting on the counter top while I was brushing her hair getting ready to go out for dinner. She likes to look at herself in the mirror, so I just let her go at it. She was being so funny just laughing, pointing, and talking to herself that I grabbed the camera, asked Kevin to spot her to make sure she didn't fall over, and started clicking away. The self-love got kinda crazy at the end... you'll see.

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, Who is the silliest baby of them all?
It's Hannah baby!

mirror mirror 5

mirror mirror 3

mirror mirror 7

mirror mirror 1

mirror mirror 8

mirror mirror 2
Licking the mirror?!?!
Doesn't this shot make you wonder what in the world she's thinking?
Yes, baby. You're sweet. Mama thinks so too.

mirror mirror 6

mirror mirror 4

Happy Mother's Day to all of the first time mamas out there! Whoop whoop!

To those still waiting for a positive test, struggling to get through a first trimester, or for adoption referrals, I've felt your hurt and know your pain. I know there's no words I could give to comfort you... but keep going. It feels like you keep jumping through hoops and you don't get anywhere a lot of the time, but eventually you could jump though that hoop that makes you a mother, a foster mother, or a mentor that changes the life of a child forever. At the end of the road, you'll most likely discover that you're stronger than you ever knew.