Saturday, December 31, 2011

5 minutes- PLEASE HELP with your time

To everyone who ever held their adopted child and knew that you couldn't love a biological child more,
to everyone who believes in what is best for kids,
to everyone who thinks our government can go too far from common sense,
to everyone with a soul:

50 minutes ago, a 2 year-old child in my city was given to her biological father whom she had never met.

The reason: even though he did not want anything to do with her from her birth and signed away his rights, even though her parents raised her from birth, he is 1% Cherokee (making the girl less than 1% Cherokee) and he used a 1978 law designed to keep Native American families together. He has no relationship with his other two children (by other mothers) but suddenly after 2 years, he wants this girl back.

I am afraid for this child and heartbroken for her family.

Read the full story by clicking here:

You can help by signing a petition and writing your senator.
This must be a form of child abuse.

Monday, December 26, 2011

1 Year Ago, The Day After Christmas

Yesterday was our first Christmas with Abigail.
Because one year ago today (American time), we met Abigail for the first time.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Abigail Decides: Cribs Are SO Last Week

This week, for seemingly no reason at all apparent to us, Abigail has decided that she is too grown up for her crib. Abigail loves to play hard and loves to go to sleep for nap and at the end of the day. Sometimes even asks to go to sleep.

But no longer in her crib.

She informed me of this decision Sunday night. After reading together for a while, I tried to lift her and put her into her crib but she slid out of my lap, laid on the floor and said "Abigail no crib. Abigail sleep down floor." I asked her if she was sure and she nodded vigorously and said "yes" and curled up with her beloved Blankie on the floor as if to show me she was serious. I asked her if she wanted her other blankets on the floor, and she did. When I leaned over her and kissed her, she got a huge smile, obviously very proud that she was allowed to sleep on the floor.

From downstairs, I heard Abigail kick the floor a few times, an old habit of hers to put herself to sleep when she is excited. Then she slept all night on the floor. She hardly moved a muscle. (I know this because I checked on her nearly every hour all night to make sure she was okay!)

At 5:30, we heard a happy "bunny awake" yell from her room. When I went to greet her, she was grinning like the cat that caught the canary, obviously pleased with herself for sleeping on the floor all night.

We ordered a toddler bed for her, which will arrive in a few days. I told Abigail today that she was going to get her own bed and she could be all done with her crib. She was super excited at this news and said "bye bye" to her crib, although I explained again that she wouldn't get her own bed for 3 days and she helped me count to 3 for good measure.

When Larry got home tonight, he went into Abigail's room and saw her asleep on her mattress on the floor. He asked what was going on and I told him that she won't go in her crib, and after a half-hearted bid for sleeping in our "big bed", Abigail wanted her mattress on the floor.

Larry said "It is amazing that she makes decisions all on her own."
I replied "I suppose we better get used to that!"

(I only wish her desire to use the potty all the time for all purposes would happen as quickly and suddenly as this recent bid for grown up things!!)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Growing Up In One Day

We just enjoyed a 4 day visit from Abigail's Grandma Kathleen, who spent Thanksgiving with us. I am certainly lucky to have a wonderful mother-in-law and Abigail is fortunate to have her as a Grandma.

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, was a big one for Abigail.

Even though she woke up at 5 o'clock, she checked her "sleeping bunny" alarm clock and realized it was not time to get up yet. So for 25 minutes she sang and told stories to herself. It was sweet to listen to from our bedroom across the hall. After 25 minutes, she got frustrated (no wonder- 25 minutes must be an eternity to a 24 month old!) so Larry waited with her until the bunny "woke up". She excitedly yelled "bunny awake!" and knew she could begin her day. This was the most successful she has been at getting up at the "right" time. (I cannot believe that 5:30 is now an acceptable and regular wake up time for us!)

She also used the potty in the morning and got to wear Elmo underpants until almost lunch time and didn't have any accidents.

She also ate cereal and milk, from a bowl, with a spoon, all by herself and learned to drink the milk out of the bowl without spilling it.
Abigail rounded out the afternoon with another trip to the potty and more time in underpants!

We are so proud of our girl!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Snapshot: The Long Weekend

With an extra hour on the clock and a 2 year old who can't tell time, we had extra time together this weekend!

This included tricycle riding at 5 AM, finally carving that pumpkin, drawing with chalk when our tummies told us it was supposed to be lunch time, and passing out in Baba's arms.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Letter To An Unknown Birth Mother

I once read that a child's birthday really celebrates the mother, more than the child, or so it should. I want you to know that I thought about you today, in the middle of the excitement of aunts and uncles and grandparents and cake and too many gifts. I wish there was a way to let you know that she is doing well, better than that, really.
She is thriving.

I know you must be beautiful, because she is gorgeous. You must be intelligent, because she is quick to learn and very very clever. I know you have a big heart because you loved her enough to give her a chance at life when you couldn't give her that chance yourself, and you should know, she has your huge heart. Experts might say that a just-turned-2 year old is not capable of empathy, but when someone she loves is feeling sad or sick, she readily shares her toys or hugs, trying to elicit a smile. In fact, she is full of smiles, songs, hugs and kisses, giggles, teases and creativity. She is athletic and coordinated, a good dancer. She loves learning and reading and is fiercely independent but sweetly vulnerable.

Thank you a million times over for the gift of your daughter. Our daughter.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Henan Kids Calendar

To All of My Readers:
Abigail was from Henan Province.
We are part of a network of families with kids from Henan.
There 14 orphanages in Henan, all with 50-200+ kids in them.
A new Lily Orphan Care Center (a really good American established orphanage) is being built.
Henan Kids International, a non-profit that sends all money to the orphans in Henan is selling these calendars for a fundraiser. Last year $4000 were raised. This year the goal is $6000.

I know you are going to get a calendar anyhow, and yes, these are about twice as much as a Wal Mart calendar, but beautiful Henan kids are on every page. (Abigail is on 3 pages!) Please consider buying one to support kids just like Abigail, but who haven't been as lucky as her to find a home.

Click Here for Calendars

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - A Day Late and 3 Weeks Behind

(I know these are words and Wednesdays should just be pictures, but I just want to explain that Larry moonlighted in an orchestra pit for the musical Chicago for the past month so as the acting single parent of the household, pictures, blogging, email, leg-shaving, exercise, and all other activities were pretty much on hold!)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The More You Know: Joy & Sorrow in the Eyes of a Toddler

This past weekend, Abigail had a wonderful visit with her Uncle Dean (my brother) and Aunt Kim (his wife). Kim happens to be Korean, which in Abigail's eyes means the two of them are the same. Though I thought toddlers are color-blind, Abigail is drawn to women with olive complexions and black hair.

Also, Abigail seems to have a 6th sense about family too: without knowing what "family" is or having words for it, she is drawn to members of her family, even though they all live in different states. It probably doesn't hurt that my family spoils her rotten, with not only gifts, but also bucket-fulls of attention, devotion, and playtime.

So, we had a wonderful weekend with Dean and Kim. Abigail played hookie from day care on Friday so they could play with her. She came down with a cough and ear infection that evening and went to the doc on Saturday morning, so Saturday was a day of indoor play, rest, antibiotics, and a sick little kid. Even though she was more sick than we have ever seen her, Abigail still WANTED to be happy, to play, to have fun. She is such a good kid. When she began feeling a bit better, we took Abigail downtown to see our favorite part of the city, and we took her putt-putt golfing.

Anyhow, the point of this entry is to talk about how amazing it is to watch Abigail learn and soak up truth about the big world around her, but that at the same time, as she learns about some things, it brings her sadness and heart-break and it is difficult to watch. For example, she knows she loves her family. She loves when they visit her, dote on her, make her laugh.

But since my parents' visit this past summer, she has figured out what "bye" really means. When we say "bye" to her at day care, she grins and waves madly, yelling "bye" and blowing kisses; we'll be back before she knows it. But somehow, when Grandma and Yinski or Dean and Kim get in a car and back out of the driveway, she knows this "bye" is different. It is a more permanent "bye" and she cries and adamantly shakes her head no, trying to throw herself out of my arms, tears streaking her face and striking her shirt. Every fiber of her being is trying to not be left behind.

Powerful emotions run deep in this kid. For the past 2 days, she has been sucking on her hand, crying silently, and telling people that she feels "sad" (a new word for her). I wish I could protect her from all of the "sad" so she could just be the happy little kid she loves to be.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The End of Summer

The daytime weather will probably remain hot for another month (fine with me) but the mornings are a cool 70-something now. Summer is also over in the sense that we are all back at school/work again until the end of May 2012.

Lar and I had a lot of fun with Abigail this summer. She learns things incredibly fast, she emulates us in almost everything we do and she has enough energy that if we could harness it, we could go off the grid!

I am posting 2 pictures from the past week. One was taken when Abigail was playing with her chalk (the pieces that Larry did not run over with the car). Somehow, she decorated her lids with blue chalk and it gave her the look of some of Larry's Milton FL friends. Pretty awful, but very funny on a 1-year-old.

The other pic shows the tan lines in the creases of her ankles from running bare-foot most of the summer. She has gorgeous skin for sure! My mom loves these tan lines.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The daughter I always pictured in my mind

People who have known me for a long time are aware that I have always wanted to adopt children ever since I was old enough to form an educated opinion on the subject of having children. Adoption was always my first choice for having a family and I was fortunate enough to marry a man who also thought it was a great idea. I was told by others it was a “phase” and I would want biological children eventually.

But I don’t. I do not wish I was Abigail’s birth mother because if I was, then she wouldn’t be who she is and she is perfect in our family. The only reason I wish- even a little bit- that I was Abigail’s birth mother is for her: so she would never in her life have to realize that someone else gave her up.

As I was watching my daughter with wonder the other day, I took her in with my eyes and realized that she is exactly who I pictured she would be. When my younger self pictured my future daughter, she always looked exactly like this:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


This is what it looks like when Abigail plays her version of "hide and seek" (you hide, she seeks, you chase)!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Reunion with fellow Adoptee!!

We were privileged to have the opportunity to spend part of today with a family we met when we were waiting for our flight from Seattle to Beijing last December. K and S, a wonderful couple, were actually from our same city and we were elated at the thought of being able to get to know them, and for our girls, of the same adoption group, to get to see each other periodically as they grew up. Unfortunately for us, K and S were quite literally in the process of moving over a thousand miles away, having the stressful job of closing on a house while in China adopting and getting to know their daughter!

With their old friends still in our home city, K and S brought their children for a vacation to visit and we got to see them for the afternoon. It was fun and interesting to watch Abigail and their daughter, E interact with each other. When E crawled comfortably in my lap (a very loving and affectionate child), Abigail went crazy with jealousy. Abigail, who just last week really started picking up on the concept of “mine,” was not interested in sharing her people, toys or house with such a close rival!

I really enjoyed talking to S, as though we were old friends; it was so easy, I suppose, because we sort of share one very intimate part of each other's lives, however brief the experience was. What I probably enjoyed the most, though, was seeing how much E has grown and changed since we last saw her in January. Seven months ago she was very withdrawn. Now she is a curious preschooler, almost 2 years older than Abigail, and her command of the English language is amazing. (I could understand her when she spoke. No one but family can yet understand Abigail!) E really seems thoughtful, introspective, patient and observant about her world. She was the kind of kid who always seems to be thinking something and you just want to know what is going through that head!

At the end of the day, S and I agreed that we are the two luckiest families with two of the most amazing girls ever! (We do know we are a slight bit biased!) We tried to get the girls to pose for a picture together to commemorate the reunion, but they had other ideas. Abigail scowled for about 40 of the 47 pics we tried and E was busy examining other neat things in our yard. Kids really are a blessing!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Our Little Bookworm

Lately the only "toys" Abigail (age 20 months) is interested in (besides Elmo and Grover) are books. She reads them for the half hour after she wakes up in the morning. She devours them at the Children's Museum. When we tell her we are going for a car ride around town, she runs to one of her piles of books and grabs one to read in the car and she spends the whole trip reading it. She gets so immersed in her books that she walks backwards until she bumps into something to sit on; she is probably usually hoping for one of us, but she'll use a chair, fireplace, or even stranger's lap (again at the Children's Museum) if it is a place she can read her book. She reads to us. We read to her. She reads to/with Grover and Elmo. We read after bath and before bedtime and she can't get enough. Of course, Larry and I are delighted beyond belief that we have a little nerd on our hands!!! It really makes the whole nature/nurture angle interesting.

Anyhow, this is how we found her this evening after she fell asleep:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Happy Match Day!!!

One year ago, my brother Jim and his awesome wife Steph, my dad, my husband and I were on a bike trip from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. The trail was very rough. It was hot. But we were having an experience to remember together. Then the trip became the trip to remember for a lifetime!

The last night of the trip, we gathered in one hotel room drinking ice coffee and eating pizza delivery when our agency called my cell phone to ask why we never accepted the "little girl with the cleft" whose file had been sent to us. The file was going to be returned or given to another family if we didn't want her.

Wait wait wait! Back up. We never received any file! We did receive one phone call a week earlier saying "Hey, this is (name of a women who doesn't work there anymore). Give me a call." That was it. And we returned the call. Twice. But never received a file. Or a return call. We never knew our girl was waiting.

Anyhow, all water under the bridge at this point, but her file was sent to us right away and we all gathered around an ipod to look at the first photos we would ever see of Abigail, our daughter, niece, granddaughter. Jim and Steph said that they can't wait to tell Abigail someday how her normally intelligent parents became stumbling and stupid in a matter of minutes, staring at her pictures, reading and rereading all of her medical records and information.

Here is a picture of Abigail today, holding one of her referral pictures.
Happy match day, Kiddo!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bleeding Heart, for Grover

In the past 2 weeks, Abigail has discovered Elmo. Er, "Melmo." She now thinks the purpose of the TV is to play Elmo's World videos and the purpose of the computer is to play YouTube clips of Elmo and his guests singing songs. She has noticed for the first time since January that she has an Elmo doll in her toy box, an Elmo in her bathtub, an Elmo book, an Elmo cell-phone and Elmo on all of her diapers. She swings in her red swing with Elmo. She holds him while watching his videos and dancing along. She says "Bye bye Melmo" when she has to leave him to do something. Her favorite new game she made up is to hide him, pretend she doesn't know where he is, walk around calling his name, and then "discover" him, shrieking and yelling "there he is!" while going crazy with delight.

Then she discovered his companion, Grover. He has quickly joined in the fun. She loves them both.

Tonight, after we read 4 books and I laid her in her crib with kisses and "night night" 's and her blanket and her Elmo, I crept out of her room. It was her first night to sleep that she was put to sleep with anything in her crib besides her blanket. A few minutes later, I heard her crying. That is very unusual because she either falls asleep, or entertains herself with giggling and singing until she falls asleep. So I went back into her room and scooped her up into my arms and she was crying and saying something. I rocked her and tried to figure it out. I realized she was saying "Bye bye Grover Grover" over and over while crying and whimpering. I quickly grabbed her Grover doll off of a nearby chair and handed him to her and she squealed with delight at having her friend back, at being understood. I laid her back in her crib where she nestled her two best friends to her chest and fell asleep.

Larry and I are SO in love with this child. How perfectly precious and amazing and clever is she?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Baba's Day

Happy Baba's Day. Today we celebrate what makes fathers be dads.
I grew up with pretty much the best dad ever. As an adult, I am even closer to my dad and love him to pieces and hope that Abigail and Larry have the same kind of close relationship someday.
For now, Larry is the best Baba that Abigail could ask for.

shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifHe is almost always the person to hear her calls in the morning and get her out of her crib.
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifHe starts her day with a dry diaper, a hot cup of milk, and some cuddling/reading/playtime.
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifHe makes her a hot breakfast every morning.
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifHe took 3 months off of work to take care of her.
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifHe allows her to use his ipod to watch her favorite farm animals video.
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifHe teaches her to sing and encourages her to explore playing the piano (with her hands, feet, butt...)
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifHe pushes her in her swing when it is 95 degrees outside just because she said "please"
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifHe pushes her in the jogging stroller so that she can enjoy being outside when he runs.
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifWhen we are eating a meal, he will give her his food if she already ate all of hers and wants more.
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifHe makes her laugh a hundred times per day.
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifHe isn't afraid to get on the floor and play with her.
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifBefore he goes to bed at night, he sneaks into her room to watch her sleep.
shape heart bullets 009=2783.gifShe has him wrapped around her little fingers and he adores her completely!

Larry is an amazing father and I can't imagine not having him on my team for this run as parents!