Our FOUR Little Ducks (formerly Our Three Little Ducks :)~

I'm a mom to FOUR amazing kids, one of which was adopted from South Korea. Our family is wild and crazy, and REALLY LOUD but lots of fun. Oh, and my new favorite quote is: "HAVING KIDS IS LIKE BEING PECKED TO DEATH BY A DUCK." So so so true.

My Photo
Location: United States

I am currently a SAHM, but prior to leaving my job I was a labor and delivery nurse. I really miss work, but I enjoy being home with my kids (most of the time anyway!).

Saturday, October 28, 2006

An Adoptee's Advice to Prospective Adoptive Parents

I found this and thought it was great. It's very thought provoking, and I think it really helps understand how our adopted children will eventually feel. Please read it and let me know what you think. (The credit's are at the bottom.)

Hi mom, Hi dad! That's right, there but for time and space you could be my parents -- adoptive parents -- or birthparents. Birthparents and adoptive parents. B-Parents and A-Parents. Before parents and after parents. Before has no meaning without after, after has no meaning without before. Time and space. You cannot exist without each other. I couldn't find the words as a child. Now I have the words to advise you, tell you what it's like, tell you why I need to search, to help us resolve these issues before they become problems.

So imagine, I arrived in your home helpless; in need of your nurturing. Lets get the tough stuff over with first: you are the parent. I am not here to heal the pain of your infertility. You must resolve the emotional baggage of infertility before you decide to parent. Unresolved infertility may be a problem when adoptees become fruitful at puberty. Unresolved infertility, leaves the whole family grieving for the unrealized biological child; leaving me to feel second best. Unresolved infertility puts adoptees in the difficult situation of trying to be the "perfect" answer to your infertility, while dealing with the "imperfect" reality of being given away.

Tell me I'm adopted, or you risk a terrible breach of trust. I've seen men in their fifties destroyed when, at a parent's funeral, some relative spilled the beans. Talking about adoption will defuse its effect. I will ask more than once, reflecting different needs at different ages. So get information, meet my birthparents. Be honest but not critical, remember, I will incorporate your interpretation of my birthparents into my interpretation of myself.

People will say I'm lucky to have been adopted by such wonderful people; who knows what my fate may have been if you hadn't taken me into your home! Note how this sets me up to be eternally grateful to you. It's easy to fall into parental martyr syndrome but you are not just parents -- you are adoptive parents. There but for time and space who knows, maybe another family would have suited me better. Asking for my gratitude puts us in opposition. Remind those who would have our relationship based on guilt that you too, are lucky to have found me.

Adoptees constantly wonder what could have been. My life is the luck of the draw. I spent my childhood thinking: these people could have been -- or could be -- my parents; this could have been my home; those could have been my toys; I could have had to wear that outfit!? One thing is not arbitrary I was born to someone.

Adoptees believe in things we've never seen: birthparents in the guise of guardian angels, fairy changelings, and storks who deliver babies - how else did we get here? We've never heard the story of our quickening, our labor, our birth.
Adoptive parents compare themselves to birthparents, but adoptees compare themselves to the unrealized biological child. My parents told me they lost a child. I thought they went out and actually lost the child somewhere. I felt guilty because I thought if they found him, they might take me back, I didn't want that -- they were my family.

We adoptees refer to ourselves as "adaptees." My natural laugh is a barking sound but I tried to imitate my adoptive father's dry hissing laugh my whole life. I was thirty-seven when I learned the origin of my barking laugh. I was at a birthfamily reunion. My birthmother had not arrived yet. I laughed, the barking laugh, and the relatives gathered. They thought I was her.

Adoptees procrastinate, are pack rats, and aren't good decision makers. We don't have the facts about our lives, we don't know the significance of anything, so we put off until we get the facts.

Excuse me if I'm a little paranoid and indignant about secrecy, I am the product of sealed records. A commodity passed from one party to another with no say in the contract. The physician, and his staff; the attorneys, and their staffs, the hospital staff, the agencies, the staff at the court house where my adoption was filed, and, of course, the staffs guarding my sealed original birth certificate and records all know more about me than I know about myself.

Excuse me for being angry. The non adopted can get their original birth certificates. Mine is sealed from me. I must be satisfied with the falsified document registering who I was after my adoption: but I existed before that. The system makes me angry, but you mom and dad will bear the brunt of my anger, because you are the closest authority figures. What makes me angry is being treated differently because I'm adopted and the lack of control over these circumstances.

I promise you, about the time I reach puberty, I will say the dreaded words,"You are not my real parents." This is not anger. It is insecurity. With puberty comes the challenge of individuation. I must start rehearsing my independence. I'll hurt and insult you to see how much I can count on you to be there when the going gets rough. Convoluted? This is normal for teenagers, but intensified by the adoption experience. Remember, the ultimate achievement of parenting is obsolescence. Do you want me living at home at thirty?

Moses, Oedipus, King Arthur, the Ugly Duckling, Superman and Luke Skywalker all have something in common: they were all adopted. They are also some of our culture's major self realization archetypes: without the search there would have been no story. Society sends adoptees the message to search. There is no society on earth without religion. All of mankind is searching for the creator, isn't it natural adoptees would too?

I always wondered. Search is the adoptee's active part in the process of adoption. Usually it's the child bearing years, late twenties early thirties, when adoptees actively search. I may have an intense desire to know just before puberty. College years, late teens and early twenties I didn't want to search I was too busy separating from my adoptive parents, but if contacted let me make the decision. Please don't search for my birthparents unless I ask you to, or unless there are real problems you feel may have stemmed from my genetic history or an experience I had before I joined our family.

The search isn't about you; the search is not a search for parents. It has as much to do with you as my choice of spouse or career. It is a search for my life -- for my self. I want to know my story, who I look like, ethnic background, and medical history. To meet the creator. and say, "Look at me, I'm ok, I turned out all right, you made the right decision. "

The adoptive parents role in an adoptee's reunion? It is not to voice your insecurities over your ability to parent, your job is to be there for me. To give me the gift of trust. At one of the most intense moments of my life, it is unfair and selfish to play the wronged parent. What does it say about our relationship if I search after you die? The most consistent outcome of adoption reunion is the strengthening of the search supportive adoptive family.

Why be an adoptive parent? Because it makes a difference. Children need homes and parents need children to create a family. Mothers teach how to fold towels, grandma's recipes, to play fair, and introduce us to literary classics; Dads, teach how to drive, to handle conflict, favorite ball teams, and the best political party. I'll sleep in your arms, play peek-a-boo, bring "I love you"drawings to put on the refrigerator, alarm you with my adolescent fashion sense, and ask for the car keys. Families never stop growing and learning from each other.

Understanding teaches courage; courage teaches stability; stability teaches trust; trust teaches acceptance; acceptance teaches love; and love makes the human heart elastic enough to make adoption less of a commodity transaction and more of an extension of family, and that is an adoptee's advice about good adoptive parenting.

Excerpts from the Philadelphia Area Resolve Conference, Sunday April 26th 1998. Abigail is President of Adoption Forum, Vice President of the American Adoption Congress, member of the Pennsylvania Joint State Advisory Committee on Adoption. What doesn't kill us,Makes us stronger.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

My Take on Celebrity Adoption

I've had several people ask me what my opinion is on Madonna's status as an adoptive mother (a.k.a. "a-mother"). I really have no problem with "celebrity adoption". I think Angelina Jolie, from what I can tell on t.v., is a good mother. She always has her children with her, and she seems to really put them first. I have heard the term "baby collecting" in reference to her, and I think that's crap. I, myself, have thought about adoption from Ethiopia in addition to our Korean adoption. Why? Because I (might) want another child one day, and Korea may be shutting their doors to international adoption. Ethiopia has a good program, and for some reason I am drawn to that country. Does that mean I'm a "baby collector"? No. It simply means that if we want to adopt another child, we may choose to adopt from Ethiopia based on their adoption program.

Here's something else I hear a lot... "international adoption is becoming a trend". GIVE ME A BREAK! Are you telling me, that because a handfull of famous people (out of thousands of celebrities, I might add) have adopted internationally, that international adoption is "trendy"? I just can't figure out how that makes any sense. And let me tell you, the process of adoption is enough to weed out those people who aren't serious about it. It's not like buying puppies... you don't just hop on over to some third world country and hand-pick a child. It takes months and months, and sometimes years. There is so much work involved. But, lets just say, for arguments sake, that international adoption is becoming a "trend". Well, if the families who apply are good families, good parents, and honest people (regardless of their celebrity status) than what's wrong with having an adoption "trend"? Personally I think it would provide homes for children that need them. I guess the word "trend" implies that eventually it will go out-of-style. Do you honestly think that the new a-parents would just toss their children aside once adoption is less "trendy"? I don't, and I think it's ridiculous to assume so. While I don't believe that the word "trend" is the best word choice (or even a remotly good word choice), I don't see anything wrong with celebrities adopting children and trying to shine a bright light on international adoption so that other families might do the same thing. AS LONG AS those celebrities will provide those children with love and good care, and help them keep thier roots grounded in the culture they came from. While I say it's a positive thing, there are problems with this. Living as in internationally adopted child in a "white" America (this is assuming that most of the international adopted children are adopted by wealthy/white couples) will be difficult for these children. The problems they will encounter during their lifetime are endless. There is still LOTS of racism in America, and being an internationally adopted child means that child may not ever feel like he/she truely "fits in" in the American culture, or the culture of their own race. I hope Madonna, and the other celebrities that adopt are prepard for that, and are prepared for the possible negative feelings that child may feel toward their a-parents as they grow. Obviously the best choice would be for these children to be raised in their own country, by people of their own race and culture... but if that's impossible (as it appears to be), then having them adopted by U.S. families is better then watching them spend their childhood in orphanages.

Here's another argument I hear... "Why aren't they (the celebrities) adopting children within the U.S.?" Why? Well, first of all, a child is a child. Whether they are in New York City or Africa, they need a home and a loving family. Aside from that, the U.S. foster system/adoption system has many flaws. We never even considered adopting within the U.S. And I did receive scrutiny because of that. I'm not going to list all of the problems with the U.S. system, in fact I don't even know all of the problems. But I do know that in Africa, China, Russia, etc. the children don't receive the care they would receive in the U.S. In the U.S. the children aren't dying in the hundreds because they are stricken with A.I.D.S. They aren't dying in the hundreds in the U.S. because they are starving to death. I think attention needs to be drawn to the countries that are overwhelmed with orphans so that some of those children can be placed in loving homes where they can be given a chance at LIVING. I also think that by Madonna adopting from Malawi (I country I've never even heard of), she has drawn attention to that country and the problems they are faced with. Hopefully, they will get the resources they desperately need from some of the more fortunate people of the world.

Over all I support Madonna and her a-mother status. I think it's great. I do have a couple small issues with it. #1) I am worried for her son and the attachment issues he may develop. Although Madonna is his mom, he has nanny's and other care takers. I pray that Madonna spends the time with him that he needs so that he will learn how to "attach" and bond with people. I think that is probably the most important issues in adoption. I hope Madonna has done her homework and is doing most of the care for him. #2) I don't like the whole "hero" thing associated with the adoption. Saying someone is a "hero" or a "saint" implies that the action they took was a huge feat of courage, or "God like". It implies that no ordinary person would be able to /want to do such a thing. It implies that there is something wrong with adopting a child from another country, and that it takes a "special" person to adopt. Why? I've had people say this to me to.... that I'm a "special person", or that I'm a "Saint". First of all, I am no Saint! Just ask my husband. But why can't I just be a mom who wanted to have another child without making one? I knew there were children without homes, I wanted a child, so why make one when I can provide a home to one already waiting? Do you see my point? Adopting a child doesn't make me a saint, it makes me a mom to a baby who didn't have a home. Period.

I hope the press calms down a bit, and leaves Madonna alone so she can bond with her son. I also hope they quit using terms like "trend" and "baby collecting". If they put a positive spin on international adoption, for once, perhaps they would help more of these children find their way into loving families... or better yet, perhaps more people would send aid to those countries so that the children wouldn't have to be adopted by richer countries in the first place.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Pictures

A few random pictures. Some are from the pumpkin patch (pretty obvious which ones). There are also a few from one of my best friend's wedding... I was a bridesmaid, and it's not often that I get dressed up, so I wanted to show off the pictures. Oh, and there is also one of my boys at bed time. Just thought I would share!

From the Perspective of an Adult Korean Adoptee

HERE is a link to a story about twin girls that were adopted by a U.S family at the age of 3. They grew up, and set out to find their first-mother. They eventually meet her, and the rest of their first-family including their brothers. It's a long story full of thought and emotion. Very amazing to read. The page that this link takes you to is the abstract of the whole story... to read the whole story click on the blue headers.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Zzzzz Zzzzz Zzzzz

I need like a week long nap. Is that even considered a nap? Or is that considered hibernating? I want to hibernate. Sometimes I wonder what kind of crack I was smoking when I decided to start the adoption while Micah was so young. (Ok, I didn't really smoke crack, so don't call CPS or anything). Arie and Micah are 1 year and 2 weeks apart in age. I honestly think having twins would be easier. Micah gets so jealous of Arie, and now he's starting to get jealous of Elaine too. I can't seem to make him happy, so he screaches, cries, kicks, head-butts, and pulls my hair all day long. It doesn't help that he cut his molars last week, and Arie cut two teeth this week. Oh, and Elaine has strep-throat. Between the three of 'em we are keeping Tylenol in business. I can't wait to see how many times I get woken up tonight. You know how people ask, "if you could be any animal, what would you be?" Well, right now I would pick to be a bear. I don't think I have EVER been this exhausted...ever. Believe it or not though, we still talk about having a 4th child. I swear I must be insane.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Just for fun, I thought I would do this "obituary" thing. A lot of other bloggers tried it, and theirs wasn't this twisted. Mine is TOTALLY freaky! Oh well, here it is: MY OBITUARY:

'What will your obituary say?' at QuizGalaxy.com

One Month Update

Arie has been home 1 month already, can you believe it? He is doing so well. He knows that we are his family now, and he LOVES his big sister!!! He has been so much fun, and it has been so amazing to watch his personality change over the course of the month. He is really beginning to open up. He's smiling a TON and even laughs out loud now. He is doing much better with "strangers" too. His fear of them seems to be dissipating, which is great. We've even let two other people hold him in the past couple of days and he didn't cry, in fact he smiled at both of them. He still wont touch baby food or rice cereal. Oh well,we'll try again after Halloween. I'm not looking forward to that again. His sleeping issues are a little better. He is on a schedule with two naps a day included, although sometimes he decides to wake up like 10 times during those naps. Ugh. He really isn't a very good sleeper, but my other two children are, so 2 out of 3 ain't bad, right? He is rolling over both ways now, and he can push his chest off the floor now, so sitting up and crawling are right around the corner. We are so proud of him, and we feel so blessed to have him with us!

Although Arie is home, he still isn't legally our child. We have 6 months of supervision where we are visited by our social worker, and our progress as a family is closely monitored. We also have post-placement reports that we have to turn in every couple of months along with pictures. Once we finish the 6 month period, we are allowed to finalize the adoption in the U.S. courts. I think that process takes a couple more months. I hope it's not that difficult! Although I was a paralegal once in my life, I'm not very good at understanding legal jargon. I might have to enlist the help of my attorney friend (you know who you are!) Anyway, after we are finalized we can apply for a U.S. birth certificate, passport, and SSN. The "passport" that Arie came home with was actually a "travel certificate". It's basically a one-way/one time use passport that expired after he entered the U.S. One day we will be finished with all this paperwork, but we still have a ways to go. OH! Forgot to mention, Arie is going to be a chicken for Halloween. He looks SUPER cute in his little costume. Elaine has started calling him "Boo Boo Chicken". "Boo Boo Chicken" is the name of Donald Duck's pet chicken (in case you were wondering... and I'm sure you were). Of course, she calls him "Arie-Punchkins" too. I can't explain that one.

Monday, October 16, 2006

On The Road Again

So I was up late last night during the 12, 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8 O'clock hours. Elaine had leg cramps (she gets these a lot) and Arie just doesn't sleep. I have a cold so I took NyQuil before I went to bed. Big mistake. I could hardly tell which way was up. I need sleep like nobody's business.

We went to the pumpkin patch yesterday. It was me and the kids (Ben was with his Army unit), my sister and her three kids, and some of her neighbors. Part of my exhaustion today is from that. The most relaxing part of the day was driving in the car because #1)all the kids are strapped down, and #2)I get to sit. Normally the only time I get to sit down during the day is when I'm on the toilet. Does that really count as "resting"? I don't know... but in my book it does.

Although I like our car rides, getting into the car is a different story. I can't remember the days where I could just hop in the car and go somewhere. Now there is SO MUCH thought and effort put into any car trip... even if it's just to the grocery store. First I get the kids ready by changing the boys diapers and making Elaine go potty (which is an argument every time because she never thinks she has to go, but the minute her bottom touches the seat she pees like a race horse), then I start getting them into the car. Arie goes in first because if I try to put the other two in first, then Arie gets a "bath" by my bulldog Gertie. Yuck. So I get Arie strapped in, stick his paci in his mouth, cover him up, and give him a toy which ends up on the floor (along with the paci) before I can even get the door shut. Next is Micah who kicks and screams the whole time because he wants to play outside instead. Basically I repeat the same steps... strap him in (using my full body weight to hold him down because he's strong as an ox and uses every bit of strenght he can muster to fight me), give him a paci, and a toy. Moving on to Elaine. She's fairly easy in comparison. She can at least walk to her own seat and get in... the hardest part with her is convincing her to get in because she, too, wants to play outside.

So, now all three kids are in the car. This means I can get in too, right? WRONG! I have to make Micah a bottle, make Arie two bottles to take with us, pack snacks, and refill the "daipers" section of the diaper bag. Whew... now I'm in the car. But wait... where the hell are my car keys? So I get out, search the diaper bag, search the kitchen/family room, search my bedroom and finally find them in Micah's crib. Hmmm, thanks Micah. Ok, back to the car. As soon as I open the door I get a big whiff of a very foul odor. After sniffing bottom #1 (Arie) I look over and discover that bottom #2 has decided to basically explode. Well, when you're a bottom, and your strapped down tight to a car seat, the only way to explode is up and out. So there is poop all up Micah's back, and down his legs. Great. I leave Micah in his spot while I get Elaine and Arie out of the car. I get them inside, and then move onto Micah. 20 minutes later, after changing both Micah's outfit and mine (because once again he fought me like the ox that he is and managed to get poop all over both of us) we start the process over. Eventually we all get in the car and drive away... only to discover 10 minutes down the road that the freshly packed diaper bag is still sitting on the counter. F_ck.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

*Explicit* conversations with my 4 year old.

Every morning in my house is a nightmare. I have yet to figure out a way to get everyone up, dressed and fed by 9am, but I'm sure it will come with time. So this morning, after getting 2/3 kids ready for the day, we were in the home stretch when it happened. Me and the kids were in Micah's room getting him ready when the conversation I have avoided like the plague takes place. I was changing Micah's diaper (who is 1 by the way), and he kept poking his boy-parts saying "what's this?". Ever so quietly, I whispered to him "a penis". Of course my 4 year old daughter Elaine heard, and very brightly said "Arie has one too". I said "Yep, he does". Then she said, "Mine is on the inside". As you know I'm a labor and delivery nurse. My daughter knows WWAAYYY more than most children about childbirth, but knows NOTHING about what happens prior to the delivery. I have kept her in the dark about that. Not because I'm scared/embarrassed to talk about it, but because #1) She has a BIG mouth and will tell every other kid in the world every detail she knows, and #2) because answering one question naturally leads to more oh-my-God-my-daughter-is-growing-up-too-fast questions. I don't think I'm quite ready to explain HOW babies get in their mommy's bellies in the first place.

Hoping that further questioning isn't brought on, I decided to honestly answer her question. After 4 years of calling everything below the waist and above the knees a "bottom", apparently now is the time to tell her that word... the word that, to me, sounds like it came from a sci-fi movie. "Bottom" was so much easier. And if I needed to get specific I could just say "the front of your bottom" or "the back of your bottom". With the word "bottom" I've also been able to avoid further questioning about the difference between boys and girls.

So anyway, I took a deep breath and answered her question. I said to her, "No Elaine, you have a vagina". Without a pause she said "I like that word, it rhymes with China.". And that, my friends, was the end of the conversation.

Of course, I had to inform her that we don't say the words "penis" and "vagina" at pre-school. Knowing her though, I'm sure that the other 9 girls in her pre-school class went home today and shouted as they walked through the door "Mommy, I have a VAGINA!!!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rice Cereal = Tears

Since Arie still wakes up hungry so often during the night, we though we might try to start him on rice cereal. Apparently he thought differently. It was a no-go in the biggest sense of the two part word. I had the video camera and digital camera fired up and ready to go... we were so excited... and then.... tears. BIG HUGE croccodile tears. Here are the pictures, in oreder, of Arie during his *torture* by way of rice cereal:



...WAIT! STOP!!! What is this CRAP you just put in my mouth??...


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Picture Parade

Yesterday I got my camera back! Yeah!!! I'm so happy that I can FINALLY share the rest of our pictures from Seoul, South Korea. There are a LOT, so get ready! When I took these pictures, I really tried to capture what Seoul was REALLY like. There are some "touristy" pictures of a royal palace and Seoul Tower... but there are also pictures of people, pictures of the "street art" near where we were staying (one of my favorite things), and some pictures a lower income section of Seoul. Of course there are a few of me, Ben and Arie too! I love taking pictures, it's one of my passions, so I really hope you enjoys these and you get a sense of how amazing Seoul is. By the way, here and here are links to previous posts where I have more pictures from our trip to Korea (in case you missed them).