Friday, November 25, 2011

Fundraiser: Taiwan Christmas Ornaments


Our friends Jeff and Abbey are working on adopting their fourth little boy from Taiwan. This Christmas season they are having a fundraiser selling handmade pottery ornaments in the shape of the island of Taiwan. A friend of theirs blessed them with one hundred of these beautiful ornaments. You can order one for $10 by e-mailing them at jeffandab AT yahoo DOT com or commenting on their blog post HERE. The price includes shipping and the ornament will arrived wrapped and ready to be given as a gift.


Our family put up our tree this evening. I've ordered some from the Lands already for our tree. I think they're gorgeous! Hannah's been asking all day, "How many sleeps until Christmas?"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

reading Chinese, pretty mommies, and babies

Daddy told me some interesting stories about this day with Hannah tonight. He's been scanning documents of Hannah's and scrapbooks handwritten in Chinese so that we have copies of them for safekeeping. Here's the story as it was told to me.
Hannah, "Daddy, what are you doing?"
Kevin, "I'm making copies of your papers that are in Chinese."
Hannah, "Why you do that?"
Kevin, "Because these are special, and Mommy and I can't read Chinese."
Hannah, "But I can read Chinese!"
Kevin, "Oh, really!"
Hannah, "Yi, er, san!" [One, two, three in Mandarin.]

Hannah has seen photos of us together with her birth family before, but not this particular photo of her birth mother.
Hannah, "Who's that?"
Kevin, "That's your Taiwan mommy."
Hannah, "But not my Sarah mommy."
Kevin, "No. She's your Taiwan mommy [insert name]."
Hannah, "She's pretty."
Kevin, "Yes, she's very pretty. And we think she looks a lot like you."

My sister had a baby yesterday and we visited her family at the hospital last night. We've been talking a lot about babies in the house lately, who's tummy they come out of, and who's tummy each of our family members came out of. I was taking a shower before leaving for work this afternoon. Hannah came into the bathroom with a blanket all wrapped up. "Look, Mommy! I had a baby, too!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011

When I signed up for Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011 [November is Adoption Awareness Month] I was relatively new to the Production, Not Reproduction blog. I scanned through the list of bloggers that had already signed up, and realized that I've only read a few of their blogs before. Sounds like a good way to meet some new adoption bloggers, right?

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011

Little did I know I'd be actually meeting another adoption blogger IN PERSON!
Adoption Interview Prjoect 2011
It took me completely by surprise when I read an email that matched me with Abby at Our Little Hope. I came across her blog earlier this year and realized that we must live in the same metropolitan area. We have several things in common, including beautiful daughters named Hannah who are just about a year apart in age. I had messaged her to say hi, we exchanged a few e-mails, and commented that we should meet up sometime, but never made the commitment. Abby and I could have been matched with anyone in the WORLD... and we were matched to interview each other. This must mean that we are destined to MEET IN PERSON, right? We decided to plan a lunch date with our girls in tow at Click-fil-A, but answer some interview questions before our meet up knowing that there's no way that we could do real interviews while keeping three children ages three, two, and one happy, well fed, and safe in the play area.

Here goes! My questions are in black and Abby's answers are in blue. My comments back are in red. If you are new to our blogs and choose to leave a comment, please be kind. I think Abby and I both felt like our answers were very candid, and perhaps much more open with our lives than we usually are with our blogs. You can read Abby's post here at Our Little Hope where I answer her interview questions.

Sarah: When starting a family with changes, lots of things change. Sometimes when children are young, we struggle to find what traditions we would like to have as a family. Some things we borrow from our childhoods, some from friends’ families that we admire, and others from things we’ve read. What traditions are you establishing for your family? Why are they important to you? What was the inspiration for these traditions?

Abby: Great question. I am somewhat obsessed with having traditions in this house, simply because I want our family to be very tightly knit together. A completely bio family is all connected by the same eyes, ears, nose, basketball skills, etc. Since we don't have that, I want our family to have traditions and family time that bond us together. That kind of oversimplifies it, but I hope you get my point.

Having said that, we haven't established too many because my kids are so young, I still sometimes feel overwhelmed with parenting so things like the Advent calendar I would like to do might just get pushed aside this year. We have our regular "boring" traditions such as family devotions during breakfast, church every Sunday, Friday night movie night (when I do the girls' hair).

I do envision lots of holiday traditions (baking, decorating, seeing lights) and ministry traditions (going to nursing homes, baking cookies for neighbors, helping at a food bank) but those just seem to be in our future at this point, not right now. So while I feel like the time isn't right for some traditions, I do feel like we should have more. But then sometimes I feel like I'm putting too much pressure on myself when the girls are so young.

Sarah: For me, age three feels like a good age for establishing the traditions that you want as they understand and remember the special activities that you do with them. With the holidays rapidly approaching, this is something that I'm thinking about a lot. What will our children think these holidays MEAN by what actions that we DO?

Sarah: Do you participate in a formal or informal adoption support group? If not, who do you lean on for adoption related support? Do you participate in an adoption playgroup? What adoption support resources do you wish you had that you currently do not?

Abby: We used to belong to an adoption playgroup. Unfortunately they meet on Tuesdays and I now work on Tuesdays. I hope someday to be able to reconnect with them. I am also attempting to start an adoption playgroup at our church. We will see how that goes.

We have a couple friends who have adopted, which is nice, but I do wish I had more. I wish I knew more people who were my age who were adopted. I would love to have that resource.

And let me be candid and tell you one of my prayer requests (this might sound odd), I have been praying for a black friend. Let me explain. I typically don't let race be a factor when choosing friends. But right now, I would love a friend (who would like me too, I really want a friend here, not just a person) who my daughters could know and love. Being completely honest right now, the only women my girls have as Godly role models are me, my mom, Matt's mom, my friends and the women in BSF. All white. My girls need to see someone who looks like them, who is also Godly. Who does their hair like my girls, and who loves Jesus. No offense Oprah, but you're just not it.

Sarah: I totally understand the search for adult friends of the same ethnicity as your children, and I think this is a wonderful thing. I look for the same, but it's especially hard to find Asian Americans our area. I capitalize what I can on a friendship with a Chinese American family as well as getting together with China adoptive families in our area. I once wished that if Hannah ever had a chronic health problem, I hoped it would be something with asthma and allergies because I could take her to an Asian American specialist that could be a good adult role model! Sad... I know. Now that we're going to weekly Chinese School classes, Hannah has a wonderful Chinese American teacher to look up to.

Sarah: Now that you’ve been a mother of two adoptees for some time, how are you currently handling the question, “Are they sisters?” Has your answer changed over the last year? If so, why?

Abby: My answer has not changed. I still say "they are now." I might be changing my answer soon to simply "yes". Because while the question is completely understandable, and I am completely NOT offended by it, I still don't want to qualify their relationship.

Sarah: If we're blessed with a second child, my answer will usually be simply "yes." In some situations I see myself answering "they are now." I usually find myself revealing a lot more to other adoptive families and Asian Americans because it is more likely that we could have a relationship that continues.

Sarah: Did you have any surprising responses to your family, friends, and coworkers when telling them that you were adopting transracially, positive or negative? Questions and comments from strangers are always interesting when you have a conspicuous family. Tell me about some of your experiences around and about town, positive and negative.

Abby: We got all positive responses (to our faces, who knows what people say behind our backs). You are so right about being conspicuous. I've joked before that as the middle child I'm an attention seeker and there is no better personality fit for a transracial adoption than that. If you don't love attention, then don't adopt transracially! I'm mostly joking but we get tons and tons of comments. Mostly asking where the girls are from. We also get so many smiles. Which is awesome. Of course, I've never had white babies so maybe white babies get just as many smiles. But I'd like to think my girls are especially endearing:)

We have actually never had negative comments, but I'm sure there have been negative thoughts. I'm glad negative thoughts or questions have not been shared with us because while I've prayed that I would respond in a holy manner, what I'd want to do is claw their eyes out!

Some funny comments (while looking at me and then at Hannah) "What's she mixed with?" And again, while looking at me and then Hannah "Her daddy must have been dark." Once a man asked me if I ran a babysitting service while watching me corral my kids at the library. One guy (a black guy in case that's important) completely gave me the once over (and the creeps) when he saw me with the kids. Luckily I was wearing my wedding ring.

Matt says he gets a ton of attention when he is by himself with the girls. I believe it. He's good looking, the girls are cute. I don't think he'd have any trouble finding a wife if the Lord decided to take me home:)

Sarah: Hannah gets a lot of attention. I think more of it is because she's so stinkin' cute and less because we're a multiracial family. I worry a lot about her hearing over and over "Oh she's so cute!" because I want her to think about making herself beautiful on the inside rather than thinking about what she looks like on the outside.

I have had some comments from strangers where they just blurt out, "She must be adopted!" or "Is the adopted?" That really bothers me. First, it's none of your business, Mrs. Stranger Lady. I don't ask strangers about what they were doing when they conceived their biological children. Secondly, adoption is something that happened in the past and is not something that one IS. Thirdly, did you even think about how this sounds to the ears of my three year old... calling her out because she looks differently than her parents do? Grrrr. Interestingly, when first generation Asian Americans ask me, I'm way less likely to get upset. I'm much more accustomed and accepting when first generation Asian Americans ask these questions, as there's a cultural difference that excuses some of that bluntness.

Today when we met for lunch, I brought Hannah's beloved "lady stickers" [aka Melissa and Doug Make-A-Face Sticker Pad which I LOVE because it's lots of fun and the faces represent a wide range of ethnicities!] because I know it would keep my Hannah occupied, and hopefully Abby's oldest daughter Hannah would like them as well. Olivia was so sweet and offered to share a strawberry with me when her mom was gone for a minute to pick up some more food. I graciously declined, but it was so sweet! The girls got to run and play a bit. Unfortunately, we had to interrupt their play to take a picture right before it was time to go. There was a little whining that they needed to come down from the play area now to be wrangled for a photo. Parenting lesson learned: Take photo BEFORE the kids play and tell them that they have to smile nice for the camera if they want to go down the slide!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Redirect: Taiwan Lawmakers Overhaul Adoption Rules

I've been watching for info in English online for the past year regarding the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act in Taiwan that passed last week. I'm still trying to figure out how this will affect international adoptions currently facilitated by government licensed organizations that are already promoting and facilitating domestic adoptions. I'm specifically looking for details about how the act places priority on domestic adoptions first. If you have links or info, please share. Thanks!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Redirect: NY Times op-ed calls on US to throw Taiwan under the bus in exchange for China debt forgiveness

Interesting opinion in the NY Times: Save Our Economy, Ditch Taiwan! I know. I know! I had visions of throwing people under buses as I read it. Let's throw out everything that the US stands for... freedom... democracy... and let's make a deal with China by stabbing Taiwan [a great example of a Asian democracy in action] in the back to settle our debts as we can't control our spending.

I especially like this response by the Taiwanese media, and think that the imagery of Uncle Sam handing the panda [China] a green leaf like the island of Taiwan to eat... and the American going back to sitting on the couch and gorging on hamburgers is especially fitting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

scissor skills

When we've had supervised use with scissors for craft projects, Hannah's scissor skills need improvement as she tries to use both hands to make them work. As use of scissors is a skill that is on kindergarten checklist, I decided to get her a nice pair of school scissors to work with. She's loved cutting up little bits of coloring book pages and construction paper this week, and Hannah's scissor skills have really improved with two days of practice.

Kevin called me at work last night to let me know that Hannah hit another milestone last night. She managed to cut off a chunk of hair with scissors. Sigh. The chunk was cut from the crown of her head about four inches from the scalp. Thankfully, it still fits into pony tails and you can't really tell unless you are brushing her hair.