Yell down

This morning, Daniel woke up yelling my name. Sweet as that sounds, I don’t like it so much. He’s a professional yeller. He learned that long before we met him. And if you don’t answer to his yells, which I usually don’t, he just gets louder. And louder. And louder.

And I’m a professional ignorer and can disregard like you’ve never seen.  But sooner or later, I get loud. And then the house is loud. And then someone’s crying, and it usually ain’t me.

So we had a rough morning. And now I’m tapped.

I’d like to send him away to an island. Well, that’d be cruel. So let me restate – I’d like to go to an island. By myself. Right now.

But the funny thing is… after all the crying of the morning, all the antics and tricks to get my attention, now he’s fine. All I did was give him food and left him alone without telling him I’m leaving him alone.  (Is that the trick?)  And he’s playing by himself, all silly. He says he needs to play some music. Wants to get married. His computer needs to be fixed. This is my hammer, but it’s not working. Oh, wait. Now he’s singing Jingle Bells. And he doesn’t want music anymore.  All nonsense. But, hey, I don’t care. Because for some reason, he sensed that I need some space right now.  So he’s letting me sit here in peace.  And I’m giving him some space and letting him play with… Wait – is that a power cord?!?

Just glad to have a little space and a little less yelling.     Now somebody bring me some more coffee, please.

My Soapbox

A friend of mine just posted a link on her FB page to an article.  It’s about the “I” word.   In case you’re not in the biz, that’s “I” for “infertility.”   (If you care to read, click here.) I don’t have strong feelings about most of what she said.  But it’s that word, infertility, that I want to talk about for a sec.  Read on, or not, but this has been in my head for years.   And I don’t often get so bold on the blog, but here we go.

The author of this article is talking about how people make assumptions about those of us who have not had biological children, especially those of us who have been married for 10 years or longer.  (Add married and over 35, and that’s a whole other layer of pity heaped upon us.)  The author struggles from infertility and talks about all the invasive questions that people, sometimes even perfect strangers, ask.

For me, personally… I stopped getting offended by the questions long ago.  Frankly, I welcome the questions, mainly because they allow me the opportunity to speak what is true, instead of having you make up your own ideas about me and my “situation.”   (I suppose said “situation” would be that which is different than the norm.)   What offends me, really, are the assumptions.

First off, just because someone doesn’t have biological children doesn’t mean they are infertile.  It means that they don’t have biological children.   And there may be many reasons why they don’t have biological children.    But at the end of the day, one has children not because of what one does, but because of what God wills.  The same is true for the opposite.  If you do not have children, God has ordained that.   Maybe that’s for now.  Maybe forever.  And His reason is His reason, which He most certainly does not have to share with us.

And also, it’s really okay not to want to have children or want to be a mother.  Please don’t assume that’s every female’s deepest desire.

Nicole Kidman, in an article I once read about her, said that a woman’s purpose in life is to have children and be a mom.   That irritates me, because, um, no it’s not.    Said she was finally “fulfilled” since she became a mom.  What a crock of a sad life if that is your purpose.

Back to the “I” word.  I hate this word!  Please do not label me with that (or label me at all). Please do not assume that there must be something wrong with me for never having given birth.  Don’t assume that we must have been “trying” for years, unsuccessfully.   Maybe we have.  Maybe we haven’t.  Maybe we don’t care.   Maybe it’s nunya.

But now that I’m a mom — and I truly love being Daniel’s mother, but No, I haven’t been waiting all my life to hear those words — what really, REALLY bugs me is the assumption about why we have adopted a child.   The “I” word goes along with this, where folks think that we couldn’t have our own child and so we decided to adopt.

As if our child is some kind of compromise.

I’ve had several well-meaning people blatantly ask or say this to me.   One woman in particular recently asked in that statement-question kind of way, “You couldn’t have children, so you decided to adopt.”   NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.     We decided to adopt because there are millions of kids who have no families and who are just sitting in orphanages around the world waiting for it to be their turn for the caregiver to pick them up or turn them over or feed them or even notice them.     Why would we not go to bat for at least one of those?!

Is it inconceivable to think that adoption would be an eagerly-anticipated first choice and not just a compromise?

Adopting a child (or 2 or 20) has always been my dream; and I do not understand the fascination with having a child “who looks like me.”    After all my oral surgery mess, my biological child wouldn’t look like me anyway.  And let’s put the Arendell nose to rest already. I don’t get the fascination with a child sharing the same gene pool.

Now, I have friends who struggled with infertility and then decided to adopt.   And that is GREAT!!!!!   I don’t care why you decide to adopt.  It’s just great that you did (or are in process, or whatever).    To have adoption as a backup plan is fine.     But don’t assume that just because someone has adopted children, that they are “I” and “couldn’t have one of their own.”   Assumptions are a dangerous thing.

(BTW, your 50-year old friend who’s always been single.  There’s probably nothing “wrong” with her, either.)

I pray our child will never feel that he was our last resort.    He is a child and he is a choice. He’s our first choice.

Words

After being in America for a month, Daniel and I are glad to be back home!  Edgar came back two weeks before we did; so we are especially glad to be reunited with him.   

Time in America was GREAT.    We needed that time.  Daniel needed that time.   Our families (especially) and friends who’ve supported this adoption and have loved Daniel from afar really needed that time.  It was wonderful! 

But we’re back, and this week has been a trying week.  We know what’s going on, what happened and why, and what’s to come. Poor little guy is just along for the ride being displayed and loved on and transported around, really without the full knowledge of who, how, or why.  So Edgar and I just try to remain the constants who are always there, trying to help him calm and settle into life here.  He barely started life here before being taken away.  Now he’s back.  No wonder he can’t tell which way is up.   I’m thanking God for the next two weeks of a holiday here, where Edgar will be home with us.  That’ll be good for Daniel, for sure.  Or will it?   Is this a permanent change?  Will baba be going back to work?   Ahhh… so many changes. I don’t mind ’em.  This kid does.  Such is life.

Mother collected some “words of encouragement” from friends and family and gave them to us while we were there.  I didn’t read them while we were there.   I  knew they were there. I needed to read them on my own time.  And at the right time, I’ll tell Edgar where they are so he can read them. 

Sentimentality is not my thing.  

And so you know how far that expands, we don’t have any photos of anybody displayed in our home.  Nor do I keep a journal.  Or scrapbook. Or anything like that.   Never have.    Probably never will. 

I have a pile of cards given to us for Daniel.   Love them.  And I just read the “box” of “words of encouragement.”   And, oh.  My heart is full.  

The words were so kind and encouraging.  I appreciate them all and am so glad I got to read these!!!   A few, though, really struck me personally right now.  

First off, Amy quoted Seuss, as in Dr. Seuss.  And she talked about toddler laughter.  Having a toddler who loves to laugh, I can’t remember hearing his laughter much this week.   Like I said, it’s been a tough week.  He’s been HYPER sensitive since being back .   I am not sensitive and not really given to going along with that.  Oh, but I have to.  I’m his mom, right?  What to do?!…   How many times did this child cry yesterday?   Hmmmm… many.   And none of them involved discipline.  They were just over nothing.  Sheesh.  Help me.    

Lisa’s note talked about giving him time and making him priority number three (1st being relationship to God, second being relationship to Edgar).    I get the priority part.   That’s not so much the problem.  But the time.  How do you give him your time all (most of) the time and still have a happy husband and run a household? 

It’s the big conundrum.  The big challenge.   And it’s been quite a challenge this week!    But as I hear him in his room banging his head (this is normal – don’t be alarmed), and chattering before he gets awakened from his nap, I’m reminded that I have certainly not given him enough time this week, nor have I heard his laughter as much as needed.  After all, we’ve been out of town for a month.  There is MUCH to do here; right?   I’m pretty self-centered still.   It’s tough to transition from having a life to all of a sudden sharing a life.  

But Daniel and I are sharing life, as we’re giving him new life.  And I want to hear his laughter again.   It’s only been a few days since it’s been gone, but as I read in all those notes, time flies.   And there’s not much time.

So it’s time to get him up now and start making up for what may have been lost.   I love that kids this age are like dogs.  Short memories and always trying to please.   Oh, to be more like a child.Image

Progress

Daniel and I, we just had a moment.    It’s been almost two weeks since we have been home, almost four weeks since we first met, and I am truly amazed at how he has changed and how well he has adjusted.

Here are the highlights:

We used to have to be in his sight all the time, otherwise he’d cry inconsolably.    Now he roams this big apartment, and so do we, out of sight and several rooms over for minutes at a time.  He may call out “mama” to see where I am, but he doesn’t always come even when he knows.   Our home is safe to him, and so are we.    When we are out walking in a safe place without a ton of people around, he’ll let me walk 10 feet or so in front of or behind him.    That’s a big deal.

As far as being around others, he used to freak out a lot and cling on to us when others were around.  He still does cling some, but he is getting so much more comfortable being around others, especially in our own home.  Not only have we taken him out a lot, but we’ve also had lots of folks over – I’ve counted almost 15 people, Chinese and foreigners, who’ve been to our home to see him in the past two weeks.  I think he’s starting to realize his parents are social people and he’s got to be, too.  He’s getting there.

Meal time used to be the worst times for us.   Now we accept what he does and does not like, and he accepts that he can’t pick and choose what he wants to eat all the time. He must try it first.  And he feeds himself now, on his own schedule.  And that has made things so much sweeter.  (And more free time for us!)

He used to sleep in a crib in our room and wake up in a disoriented state, often crying and scared.  Now he sleeps in a crib in his own room, and we don’t even have to stay with him any more to put him to sleep. We say goodnight and leave the room, and he is fine.  (This is a new development this week, where we don’t have to be in there until he is asleep.)     And when he wakes, he is smiley and goofy and ready to go.

Speaking of goofy, we had no idea the silliness that hid behind that sad little face we first met.  It took many days to get a smile, and it was a half-smile at that.  We thought he was a somber, quiet, thoughtful kid.   Wrong!  This child is a few screws short of all out loco. He is goofy beyond what I ever dreamed and really quite funny.  I mean really funny.  He works hard at making us laugh, and it doesn’t take us much.     We have a class clown in the works here. While we’ll work on channeling that so that it stays out of the classroom, we DanielSmiling120613are so thrilled that there is so much joy inside him.    He sometimes almost gags from laughing so hard.    And if you look at pics now versus when we first got him, there is little resemblance. His whole countenance has changed.  Happy? The kid is happy!

I’ve toned down my Chinese learning and switched over to mostly English, just because I figure he needs direction and training, and I can’t do that in a language that’s not my own.  (Edgar has always stuck with English.)    So we speak some broken Chinese to him, but mostly English, and he’s kept up.   While his speech is not great, he does say one or two English words but can understand our general meaning in what we say.  The kid is bright!   He’s smart and a real thinker, a logical and organized thinker.  He puts things together in his head so they make sense, and then he does them.    That, or he works them out in front you.   He’s just smart.  We got a real smartie on our hands!     Oh, and he’s clean.  We like clean!

I suppose I could go on and on, but let me tell you about our “moment.”    We’ve only been home two weeks, so it’s in that time that we’ve tried to establish some patterns and habits.   One of them is that we read to him before he goes to bed.  I sing a song to him.   And then we pray.

I think all of that was foreign to him — singing, reading, prayer.    Especially the prayer.   At first, when we’d pray (at night or before meals), he would literally try to pry our hands apart and stop it from happening.   We do the simple, kid-friendly and very short prayers, but he did not go along with it.   Over the past week or so, he’s been doing what we do, folding our hands together, and he repeats “amen” at the end.

Well, tonight I was putting him to sleep. We read the book.  Then I sang to him and picked him up to kind of rock him while I sang to him.    And so I decided we would just pray like that so that I could put him down in his crib right away.    But as I started praying, he really started squirming with his arms and such.   So I looked at him and he said “pray” and I realized he was trying to get his arms free so that he could fold them in prayer position, which he did.

Is that not the sweetest thing?!  This boy.  He has made such progress.    We are growing together here, all of us.

Last-minute nerves

We are in zhengzhou, and we leave in an hour to go get our son.   This is our “Gotcha Day.”  I have no idea what to write or what emotions I am feeling.

Edgar is napping.  He is the picture of even-temperament, as usual.

oh, wait. He just woke up. And he says that we will be close to 60 by the time Daniel graduates from high school.  Yes.  Yes, I have thought of that. Thank you.

As for me, after almost a week of being sick, I am most grateful now that I can breathe somewhat freely and speak, even if barely above a whisper.   This sickness is the only thing I have been focusing on…or rather, getting over this thing, so as not to freak out the child that will already be freaked out so much already.   

And that is about all I have to report right now.  I will say, though, that over the past two days, especially, I have never felt so prayed over.  We feel just a blanket of prayers following us around.  So please keep them coming, for our health and for this initial transition period. Image

This empty crib is about to have a life in it.  And the crib at his orphanage where he has lived for the past 28 months is about to be lifeless.  And I am sure his friends will mourn his loss, and he will mourn theirs.  And he may mourn when he sees our faces for the first time, as we take him away.   

Okay. Well.  Here we go.