Friday, April 25, 2014

So long, and thanks for all the love

I always get a little bummed (and very curious) with blogs that just sort of trail off mid-journey, so didn't want that to happen here.  However, I think it's time for this wonderful blogging journey to come to an end.

For many reasons, we have made the difficult and careful decision not to pursue foster-adoption at this time.  In fact, we are probably going to stay a one-child family for the foreseeable future, and that's just fine by us.
So, fellow adoptive families, thank you so much for being part of our life for the past 4 years.  We have enjoyed getting to know you and have loved having others give advice and encouragement in this ever-so-difficult-but-rewarding journey.  We appreciate you so much, and can't wait to follow your newest adoptions and other exciting journeys along the way!

Molly, Cory, and L

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Yup, we're back.

So, yeah, we are back in the adoption world.  We got our new Adoption Toolkit in the mail.

Oh, the paperwork.

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.

Didn't we just do this?  It sure feels like it.  And we're not just ordering documents, although there is plenty of that, but now we are answering questions like, "What tools will you need to assist a child in reunifying with a birth family, even if you disagree with the decision?".  Ummm, well, we won't be reunifying, right?  Isn't that the whole "adopt" in "foster-adopt"?  I know there's a risk, and a huge one in this particular process.  It's just difficult to see that end of things at this stage of the game.  I think I felt this way the first time--we are busy trying to get medical appointments, take 30 hours of training through the state (anyone want to babysit?), write detailed autobiographies, and on and on and on.  We need to think clearly about what we want and can handle.  And that's difficult while slogging through all of this paperwork.

Those questions, however, prompted me to dust off the old adoption books and print off some new articles on grief and loss.  We do need to have our wits about us and make concrete decisions about the type of child that would best fit our family.  This is such a totally different process than last time, so I don't really know the answer to that yet.

This Friday we attend a training at our agency (WA.CAP) and next month we begin PRIDE training, which is for foster parents (we must have a foster parent license to join the program).  I think the PRIDE training will give us far more insight into the program and we will be able to gain some footing into how to expand our family in the best way possible for everyone.  At least, I sure hope so--it's a lengthy and involved training, for sure.

So, for now, trainings, trainings, and more trainings.  Lots of paperwork.  Prepping for two more home visits. The list is huge, but we've done it before.

Welcome 2014! I couldn't predict the outcome of this year if I tried.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Back in the saddle, again

It's been awhile since I've visited this space.  I'm not really sure how this blog will continue but we have mucho news-o, so for the time being this blog is resurrected.

But first, news of L:

  • Official stats: He grew a touch over 5.75 inches and gained 10 lbs this year.  Seriously.  Went from 40th percentile for height and 90th for weight to 75th for height and 90th for weight.  From a fireplug to a beanpole.  Ok, not really, but I would be sad if he lost his big meaty cheeks so it's ok. 
  • He started preschool two mornings per week, which was pretty difficult at first.  We did a Mommy 'n Me version of the class last year, so I was a little surprised at how upset he was when I left, but after a few sessions he decided he likes it.  He still has little interest in the art, but is starting to write his name and can now draw pretty recognizable faces, so it's been good for him.  They work on social skills a lot--making friends, learning to sit at circle, sharing the train set--all of the normal, everyday preschool skills that are a lot of hard work for 4 year-old boys. 
  • He is talking up a storm, and is just starting to change his sentences to the proper tense: "I do see the crane truck. I mean, I did see it."  Color me impressed.
  • We had a play date at a new friend's house, and he gave her a haircut while the other mom and I were eating lunch downstairs.  Yup.  
  • He started soccer and spent most of his time on the field pointing out airplanes flying overhead and falling in love with one of the little girls.  Mark my words, someday he will marry a redhead.
  • I had his first Life Book made by our Family Day, and he usually loves it.  There are days where he does not want anything to do with it, and that's ok as well.  
  • I made a cheesy video of our first year.  
And our news:

We are officially starting the foster-adoption program!  We are pretty nervous about it as that's the program people love to share horror stories about (and boy, are some of them doozies) but we are working with the same agency and feel like they have a good reputation and a solid handle on the process.  The first step was actually mailing in the application, which I did today.  Selfie! I really should have made a duck face.

We want this adoption, which will likely be a very different journey from our China adoption, to be as honored and special.  So, as with the mailing of our very first adoption application, time for a celebratory glass of bubbly!

So, the blog.  I'm not really sure how much I can and should share about this adoption.  For now, it's a set process and just normal procedures (homestudies-2 of them--and lots of paperwork and classes). After a certain point, that changes considerably.  For the time being, I will update on our process, and if the time comes that shutting down is required or what's best, that will happen, too.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!!!  We have so very much to be grateful for this holiday season.  No doubt about that.

Dusty Crophopper for Halloween (from the movie Planes)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

At Summer's End

Our summer continued right along, with a train trip to California that ended up being really pretty fun considering it consisted of 31 hours on a train with a 3-year old (each way, mind you).  L loved it, there was plenty of room to move around, beautiful sights to see, and during the WA/OR portion of the journey they even had park rangers narrating the passing scenery.  Well done, Amtrak, well done.

All aboard!

Wearing a Thomas shirt, playing with a train set, eating Thomas cookies, on a train. 
The good life.

Family time was had by all in beautiful California, with lots of beach/exploration time as well. 

We rode on Thomas the Train:

And went on a boat ride with our cousins.

And on to autumn, which I am fighting tooth and nail, to be honest.  This summer was the warmest and sunniest since...forever?  It's been hard to see it winding down.  On the other hand, here come apples and pumpkins and costumes and schedules

L starts soccer tomorrow (does a practice, clinic and game a week sound like a little much to anyone else?  I mean, he's three).  He starts preschool this week, as well as gymnastics.  We are discussing our upcoming Family Day, his birthday, and Halloween costumes.  How are we here again? 

Tangled amid the daily life conversations we are circling the 2nd adoption discussion.  We want to take it on.  We really, really want another child. We feel comfortable with limb deficiency issues, and would be willing to take on something more complicated. L would benefit from a sibling in multiple ways, no doubt.  We're 40, and have other life plans that would have to be on hold to make an adoption happen.  And those plans are also important, and would benefit L in multiple ways.  Entering the adoption world again--the waiting, the invasive paperwork, the cost, feeling like other unknown persons get to decide our family structure--is just....hard.  But if we want another child, that's what we have to do. 

So maybe we will.  Or maybe not.  Too soon to tell.  So, onward to autumn!

Saturday, July 13, 2013


We've been enjoying the heck out of our summer, with the best yet to come. 

The most important thing that has happened?  L's hearing in his right hear (surgery ear) is normal. This was completely unexpected.  We thought it might get him close and hearing aids would do the rest, but no!  I asked our audiologist what had to happen next, and she said the most beautiful words I've heard in a long time:  "His hearing in that ear is normal.  And we don't treat normal."  So next year we will complete surgery on his left ear, and our hope is that he will be out of hearing aids by Kindergarten. 

In addition, he did not qualify for speech/language services at Children's.  He's behind his peers by a few months, which just amazes us--he didn't hear/speak English until 9 mos ago, and couldn't hear until less than 2 months ago.  Craziness.  We are having him evaluated by the school district (adding in OT as well for the limb deficiency) in September, so we'll see what they have to say.  Color me seriously shocked. 

Other than that, just enjoying the sun!

Fishing for the first time at Lake Curlew in eastern WA:

Loving hanging out on the dock

Happy Dada

Worn out.

Hanging out at Lake Roesigal:

Visit from the cousins:

On the monorail to the Space Needle

Fourth of July in Montana, fishing the Big Hole River:

Not a fan of fireworks.  At all.

Coming up?  Contain your jealousy...we are going to meet Thomas the Train tomorrow!  L is a huge Thomas fan, so it should be thrilling.  And next week, he and I brave a train ride to California.  30 hrs on a train with a 3 year old.  It will be really fun or really not.  We'll see.  It's all in the planning, right?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

8 Month Update

I'm not sure if anyone is still reading this--it's been a while.  How time flies, huh?

Things here have been interesting--good, but interesting.

  • L underwent surgery on his right ear to rebuild his eardrum.  Once he has healed we will retest his hearing--probably in August--to find out how successful the procedure was.  Surgery was about 2 hours long, and as they were messing with his inner ear he was pretty dizzy and nauseous when waking up.  His middle ear, or the teensy-eensy bones that clank around, showed scarring from infection, so it will remain to be seen if he will need permanent hearing aids.  We are realllllly hopeful that the surgery will do the trick, but realistically we are probably in for a much longer road.
  • His left ear was fitted for a hearing aid.  I read a million stories of huge, massive toddler battles about wearing hearing aids, but L decided almost immediately that he *loves* his. He wants to wear it at night, and asks for it each morning.  Something to be very thankful for.
  • He makes this face when he hears something new, which is about every 10 seconds:

The list of new things he can hear are kind of astounding--we honestly didn't realize how bad things were and kind of didn't believe the audiologists when they gave us results of his hearing tests. He can now hear the dog walking on the hardwoods, Cory sneezing (which is kind of like a bomb going off), the garbage truck outside, and the list goes on and on and on.  Nuts.  I can't tell yet if his language is improving--I think I'm around him a bit to much to really know.  He will have a formal evaluation in the fall by our school district and hopefully will qualify for speech and language services. 

The most interesting thing about the last few weeks in relation to adoption is the increase in...I don't know...pity stares.  I've had a stranger a day tell me I'm amazing for "taking on such challenges" --between the limb deficiency and his bright yellow hearing aid, we have now achieved sainthood.  Good to know.  We are also told how "inspirational" he is, and I just don't have a response to that.  I mean, what are his options?  He's missing one hand and is wearing a hearing aid.  People get along just fine with a lot worse than that.  Seriously, he is the goofiest kid around, with a laugh that rivals Eddie Murphy, who thinks it's hilarious to ask for eggs and poop for breakfast.  He's normal.  But with obvious and noticeable differences, I really need to work on appropriate, deflecting responses.   

Other than that, things are just plugging right along.  L is excelling at Little Gym, where he's making friends and is increasingly following directions.  We were out for a week when he was Mr. Snot Faucet, and when we returned he was met with lots of "Yay!  L is back!" from the other kiddos in the class, which made me happy.  He's a rough and tumble little guy, and I suspect can be overwhelming for other kids at times.  But apparently they appreciate his enthusiasm as well.  The other kids are also very interested in his arm and on more than one occasion a child has taken his arm and looked closely at it (he has several small finger buds).  He responds by picking up their hand and looking closely at it with a I don't really get what we're doing here, but I'm game look on his face.  Funny, and at least at this age the explanation that "he was born that way" suffices.  I know that won't last forever. 

We are continuing with preschool on Fridays in anticipation of him going on his own in the fall, plus have signed him up for soccer and are considering hockey (husband's childhood game).  We've been working L dressing by himself, and he's doing well--we are down from about 40 minutes to around 5 when he's focused.  Zipping and buttoning are still challenging, but he's getting there.  It was an exercise in teamwork--he and I figuring out each step together.  The limb deficiency does make a difference when pulling on jeans. 

And soooo, pictures!
First ride on a ferry! 

His preschool's playground space shuttle--perfection.
At the airshow--not really sure about this!

Changing the train line (on an old and unused track!) in Montana

All ready for surgery!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Faces of L




But usually photos of L turn out like this:
Or this:

I would have been in big trouble during the olden/film-canister days.  Digital cameras sure make it easier to get decent kid/pet shots. 

We are almost at our six months home milestone, and it has been more than six months since we became parents in China.  Hard to believe. 

Things continue to continue.  We are in a good rhythm and L seems generally pretty happy and easygoing.  He has significant hearing loss due to past infections, which was upsetting for sure;  however, it doesn't look like it's permanent loss so we may be able to find some solutions in the near future, which will include hearing aids and surgery.  I'm hoping this helps his speech--while he is picking up English quickly, he is darned difficult to understand.  And at the same time, having our little guy under general anasthesia is just terrifying.  So we'll see what happens. 

L is officially signed up for preschool in the fall!  I'm so excited, as I think he'll enjoy it, get a lot out of it and will love the social scene.  It's only 2 mornings a week so we will still have lots of time together.  We are currently attending a Mommy 'n Me version of the class one morning a week, which has been great.  Same classroom, same teachers, same general setup as what he'll experience in the fall, but he gets to figure it all out with me right there.  I think (hope) it will help with the transition in September.  His current obsessions are the space shuttle and trains and his classroom has pretty nice versions of both,so that's been a huge hit.  He has little to no interest in arts and crafts, but loves the sensory table, playing outside, trains, cars, books, and puzzles.  It's a little shocking to us, who have a theater, film and art degree between us.  But he's his own person for sure, and is blazing his own trail. 

Other than that, nothing much new round these parts.  L continues to be smart, silly, hilarious and engaging. We can't imagine our lives without him.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Four Month Update

First of all, Happy (Early) Chinese New Year!

We've been home with L for a little over four months, which is hard to believe. It seems like yesterday we just staring at his picture, and at the same time it's hard to imagine our lives without him in it.  So, how are things going?

L recently transitioned to sleeping in his own room--yay!!! Until now, he slept in a crib next to my side of the bed.  For roughly the first 2 months home he woke 4-5 times a night to use the bathroom or just hold my hand.  Since Christmas we've been able to take him to the bathroom right before we head to bed and he's made it through the night just fine.  His transition went pretty well overall, so he was ready (and so were we).   He took to waking at around 3:45am for a few days, but we started hooking up his light to a timer and the new rule is that he can't get up until the light turns on.  So far it's worked, so we'll see. 

Due to past ear infections which were likely untreated, he has permanent holes in his eardrums.  He will need surgery to repair these at some point but specialists like to wait until children are in the 5-6 year-old range as the surgery is far more effective.  We just had his hearing tested, and this did show some definite hearing loss. The tests were completed about halfway, so I'm not sure yet what this means (hearing aids, surgery sooner than expected), but have decided not to completely freak out until everything is done and verified.  Hopefully it's fixable at some point.  He's learning English at a pretty fast clip, so I know he can hear something.  We'll see.

 I think L is showing excellent attachment behaviors.  He is outgoing and social but wants one of us nearby at all times.  We've started a few classes, including soccer, Little Gym, and preschool at the library (one day per week, 1 hour), and he checks in with me constantly.  He's definitely not ready to be on his own yet but I'm hoping this fall he can start preschool 1-2 mornings per week.  However, I think he enjoys being around other kids and learning new things, so it's been fun.  I'm dying to start swimming lessons but the perforated eardrum issue needs to be resolved first.

General Development:
L's strengths lie in gross motor and social skills.  He gets along with other kids generally well and is proving to be pretty good at whole-body skills (skipping, jumping, climbing).  He is absolutely right-handed, but without a right hand, so that can complicate things a tad.  He will always try things with his right side first and then switch to his left.  His brain creates workarounds--this kid will have some amazing critical thinking skills some day.  His fine motor skills need some work in large part due to lack of experience with things like crayons and scissors, as well as the right-left hand issue.  For example, we were using a crayon to do a maze and I noticed he was ham-fisting the crayon, so I showed him how to properly hold it.  He watched me, then attempted to switch the crayon to his right arm.  His brain was saying "yup, I can do that with my right hand" and he had a much harder time with his left. With practice, however, he was able to transfer that skill to the left hand.  Skills we are working on include using chopsticks, putting pennies in a bank, ripping paper, cutting paper, and gluing.  It'll come in time. 


Pizza at the San Diego airport
Backward on the balance beam!

Proud of his big-boy room


Friday, January 11, 2013

The New Year

We had a wonderful holiday season in which traveled to California for an extended visit with my family. L had endless playtime with his older cousins, discovered that Santa does in fact bring what you ask for (a garbage truck with flashing lights--he was mighty specific about that), and that the Christmas season just pretty much rocks. 

He was a trooper on the flights although he has decided that flying is "scawwy".  Which puts me, a former Valium-flyer, into the awkward position of assuring him that flying is super duper fun!  We'll be juuuust fine! all the while biting my nails and trying not to bolt for the exits.  But all's well that ends well, and we are home in rainy Seattle. 

Our old doggie had a stroke last weekend, which put a scare in us, although she has recovered remarkably well.  She's around 14 years old, so we know this is probably the beginning of not-fun stuff but are happy that we seemingly dodged a bullet this time around.  We also caught the Alien Death Flu that is going around but are on the road to recovery. 

So onward to 2013!  We made a list of goals for the year and on it is to begin our next adoption.  The past five years impacted us a great deal financially which will play a large role in future family building.  We want to give our current family plenty of time to gel and at the same time I turn 40 in 2 months (what?), so if it's going to happen we'd like to formally start a new adoption this summer/fall. And there's plenty of prep to happen before that, so ..... we'll see.

Happy 2013!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

One Year Ago

One year ago today, we received pre-approval to adopt this little boy:

One look at his referral picture and we were smitten. Those eyes!  Those cheeks!  Technically, you are supposed to look at the file before the picture.  Has anyone ever done that? 

One year ago, our lives changed.  We still had mountains of anxiety and a long way to go.  But it was the beginning of a wonderful journey to our family. 

We have so much to be thankful for. 

The road to adoption is incredibly hard--at least, it was for us.  Yet in the end, we get to tuck this little boy into bed each night.

And introduce him to the wonders of the holidays.

Sleep can be hard.  Separation is tough, as are language barriers.  It's not perfect but it's perfect for us.  And it's worth it--oh, boy, is it worth it.

Happy holidays from our family to yours.