Wednesday, May 23, 2012

common adoption misconceptions - part 1

"She's still young...she won't remember
anything from before you adopted her."

While this may be true to an extent when a child is older, what this statement fails to take into account is how influential a child's first days, months and years are to their development.

This brings me to the topic of grief…

When we bring Zoey home, she will be grieving the loss of the foster family she has known for more than a year – the majority of her life. To Zoey, we are strangers taking her away from everything familiar and the people she loves. This will not be easy and it makes me sad to think about causing her grief…

I'm glad I came across this descriptive scenario for the "grief" that adopted children naturally experience during the adoption transition. It's an eye opener and really made me understand better what children deal with during their transitions from birth mother to various foster families or institutions and finally to their forever families. Its long but worth reading…

Imagine for a moment you have met the person you've dreamed about all your life. He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your fiancée. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by soul mate, for this person understands you in a way that no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow. 

The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day's events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the world the person who will be with you for the rest of your life. The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner's arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face. But it's not him! You are in the arms of another man. You recoil in horror. Who is this man?

Where is your beloved? You ask questions of the new man, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't understand you. You search every room in the house, calling and calling for your husband. The new guy follows you around, trying to hug you, pat you on the back…even trying to stroke your arm, acting like everything is okay. But you know that nothing is okay. Your beloved is gone. Where is he? Will he return? When? What has happened to him? Weeks pass. You cry and cry over the loss of your beloved. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over what has happened. The new guy tries to comfort you. You appreciate his attempts, but he doesn't speak your language - either verbally or emotionally. He doesn't seem to realize the terrible thing that has happened…that your sweetheart is gone.

You find it difficult to sleep. The new guy tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid him, preferring to sleep alone, away from him and any intimate words or contact. Months later, you still ache for your beloved, but gradually you are learning to trust this new guy. He's finally learned that you like your coffee black, not doctored up with cream and sugar. Although you still don't understand his bedtime songs, you like the lilt of his voice and take some comfort in it. More time passes. One morning, you wake up to find a full suitcase sitting next to the front door. You try to ask him about it, but he just takes you by the hand and leads you to the car. You drive and drive and drive. Nothing is familiar. Where are you? Where is he taking you? 

You pull up to a large building. He leads you to an elevator and up to a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried. The man leads you over to the corner. Another man opens his arms and sweeps you up in an embrace. He rubs your back and kisses your cheeks, obviously thrilled to see you. You are anything but thrilled to see him. Who in the world is he? Where is your beloved? You reach for the man who brought you, but he just smiles (although he seems to be tearing up, which concerns you), pats you on the back, and puts your hand in the hands of the new guy. The new guy picks up your suitcase and leads you to the door. The familiar face starts openly crying, waving and waving as the elevator doors close on you and the new guy. The new guy drives you to an airport and you follow him, not knowing what else to do. Sometimes you cry, but then the new guy tries to make you smile, so you grin back, wanting to get along. You board a plane. The flight is long. You sleep a lot, wanting to mentally escape from the situation. 

Hours later, the plane touches down. The new guy is very excited and leads you into the airport where dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new guy takes you to another guy who hugs you. Who is this one? You smile at him. Then you are taken to another man who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair. Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you've ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks and croons to you in some language you've never heard before.

He leads you to a car and drives you to another location. Everything here looks different. The climate is not what you're used to. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the black coffee. You wonder if someone told him that you like your coffee black. You find it nearly impossible to sleep. Sometimes you lie in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your husband for leaving you, yet aching from the loss. The new guy checks on you. He seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a mug of warm milk. You turn away, pretending to go to asleep.

People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new guy's hand. He pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you've fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness. Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Just in case, you keep your suitcase packed and ready. Although the man at this house is nice and you're hanging on for dear life, you've learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along.

Each morning, the new guy hands you a cup of coffee and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your husband is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new guy to yelp in pain. He just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly take the cup. You give him a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

donations for Holt

As we wait to travel to Korea, we would love to begin accepting donations for Holt Children’s Services. If anyone feels led to donate items for us to deliver, the following is a list of their current needs based on priority.



1. Finger food snacks such as Gerber puffs (sweet potato is a good flavor) or Gerber Lil’ Crunchies (mild cheddar is a popular flavor)….Note: It does not specifically have to be Gerber brand. – This request is from the Holt clinic (WBC). 

2. Baby & toddler Clothing – They need preemie (new born) until 2T, 3T. There is a greater need for boys clothes than girls clothing. As children are staying in care longer, the need for older baby and toddler clothing has grown. Please send new clothes. “We would love to receive these as a donation.”

3. Moisturizing Baby Lotion or Cream for dry skin is a high priority. This is particularly important in the winter. Examples include:
* Aveeno baby lotion – Many of the babies get very dry skin (dermatitis), especially in the winter and this lotion is extremely expensive in Korea.
* Cetaphil moisturizing lotion
* Johnson & Johnson baby lotion
* Vaseline will be also good. 

* Gerber Rice Cereal (single grain) – Single gain rice cereal is an urgent, important and ongoing need for Holt Korea. There are a lot of premature babies in care as well as children with other medical concerns. Single gain rice cereal is a critical part of meeting the nutritional needs of these kids as many cannot tolerate the multigrain cereal that is available in Korea, and single grain rice cereal that is available is less easily digestible than that which is made in the U.S. Supplies of the Gerber rice cereal routinely run low, so families who would like to donate items either when they travel or via mail are encouraged to bring/give rice cereal.

* Diaper rash cream as like Desitin and aloe gel. This need is particularly high in the summer months.
Note re diaper cream: …diaper cream in Korea is $33.00 a tube, thus it is asked for in donations. It is still a relatively new imported item (within the last two years I am assuming based on my fruitless efforts to find it in past trips to Korea) within Korea. No Korean brand is available – French brand is available only. In March, my Korean SIL showed me her tube of diaper cream that she uses on my niece in Korea (they live there with my BIL), and I was SHOCKED to see how expensive it was. 

* Sometimes they have older children over 3 or 4. Coloring books, crayons, toys, etc are very helpful.


* Stretch mark lotion/cocoa butter - used for relieving the itchy skin of expecting mothers due to their skin stretching to accommodate the baby. This is the top priority for the birth mothers. “Recently one adoptive family brought this but they were only able to give it to one maternity shelter in Seoul though they have 5 maternity shelters. Young teenager moms need these.”

* Maternity clothes - Assume XS, S, or M size. (maternity clothes are expensive in Korea). New maternity clothing only please (i.e. no hand-me-downs).

* Aloe Vera


SPECIAL NEED – Ergo (or similar) Baby Carriers

"If you are considering gifts or donations to your agency that would help out the foster mothers, when we were in the Holt Korea office meeting with the Seoul foster families in May 2012, they asked me to pass along that they would really appreciate new or gently-used Ergos (or similar baby carriers) that work well for older babies and young toddler."

* Multi-vitamin with iron – polyvisol (for babies)
* Baby toys (rattles and teething toys)
* Preemie baby clothes (unavailable in Korea)
* Hand sanitizer – This is needed in the Reception Center as they go through a lot of it with the visitors. During the cold/flu season, it is also used by the foster families, etc.

Monday, May 21, 2012

thoughts while waiting…

it has been 1 year and counting for Zoey Bin to come home which has given us A LOT of time to research adoption issues and learn from others experiences.

what have we learned in this time? mostly how to prepare for the worst. yes, I'm a realist/pessimist…prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

over the last year, I've encountered various comments from well-meaning friends (and strangers). what I've learned from these interactions? issues faced by adoptive families are mostly lost on those who haven't been through it. this was frustrating until I realized - how can we expect others to understand these issues when WE ourselves were so naive at the start of this process?

one past encounter involved a "curious george" who wanted to know details about Zoey's birth parents. why should people feel it is their business to know personal details about a child's life? this type of curiosity will not be rewarded. personal information is…well, personal…to anyone but especially to an adopted child which is why we are choosing to respect Zoey's privacy and allow her to share information about her background if and when SHE decides she is ready.

in an effort to "gently educate" friends and family (and anyone else for that matter) I have decided to write a series of posts highlighting some of the issues that we will be working through when we bring our darling Zoey home.
stay tuned for more educational and hopefully thought-provoking posts NOT intended to offend…

we are asking for lots of prayer because we realize we can't successfully parent without God's help. we are convinced He specifically chose us to be Zoey's forever family and this knowledge alone will help us through any difficult times to come.

Friday, May 11, 2012

one year later…

I can't believe it has been ONE YEAR since I first saw this precious little face staring at me from an email.

And soon after, finding out we were pregnant…overcoming one of the biggest adoption obstacles ever…buying and selling a house…moving…giving birth to Max…right, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined all that. And it's hard to believe after all of this we are still waiting to bring Zoey home. But, God's timing is perfect. Looking at the bright side, it has given us more time to research adoption issues and learn what is best for her when she comes home. I just hope we can celebrate her second birthday together as a family!