Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Becoming sisters

If I ever write a book, I think it will be about adopting the older child. or starting motherhood with older children.

Lately when we go shopping my girls are in a constant chase/catch/find/Mom is base mode.

I'm sure the shoppers around us don't like this, but to me it brings a lot of joy and comfort.

For the first time my girls are exhibiting signs of what other kids do at this age or maybe younger, but it is still a first.

For one thing, they are bonding as sisters.

Growing up with two sisters, I can tell you that you either LOVED or HATED them at all times. Rarely is there that in between WHILE they are interacting. Now you can live side by side, but when you are actively involved in each other's lives, you have VERY strong opinions about your relationship to them.

To bring two girls together, at different points in their lives, with completely, yet in some ways similar backgrounds and expect them to "become" sisters is asking a lot. There is not the shared genetics, the sibling rivalry of one being the baby to be uprooted by the next baby. There was not the progression of helping your younger sibling or looking to the older for guidance.

These sisters are only 8 months apart in age, have had only 18 months as sister, and easily as different as night and day, yet they are beginning that bonding that provides the environment to have a lot of conversations start with, "Mom, she's ......" and you can fill in the blank. She is messing with my pony tail, she is kidding me about some boy, she won't let me borrow her shampoo, she looked at me funny.

If you have kids or if you have siblings, you know what I am talking about.

It is all normal and it is all good and develops the basis for dealing with the bigger issues as you age.

Of course on the flip side, there are now those secret conversations that occur just between them, those shared secrets, glances that the other can read, the advice and help that is extended, but most of all the true sisterly love beginning to develop.

I don't want you to think they have been strangers passing in the night. Far from it. But it has taken the right circumstances, the right difficulties, the right triumphs, the right shared experiences to strengthen this bridge, this relationship that is known as sisters.

For me it is now that I am base when shopping, or one comes running from out of nowhere and suddenly wants to walk with me while I can see the other sneaking up out of the corner of my eye.

Yesterday it was even a competition as to who was the best daughter based on who gave the best back massages while tromping through Sam's. It took a lot of demonstrations and poundings before I could come to the clear answer that it was a tie! Very unsatisfactory to them though but great for my back!

When I adopted Grace, she had spent most of her first six years with a foster mother who loved to baby her. When she was returned to the orphanage before the adoption, she experienced more than I have in my lifetime of less than stellar care. She had been in kindergarten and started first grade and while I know those schools were strict, I don't think they can compare to the school atmosphere that Annabel had experienced by being in 6th grade at the time of her adoption.

Annabel still thanks me if I let her put butter on her bread. Or if I don't make her eat something when she is too full or really doesn't like it. She thanks me if I pour her milk or fold her clothes.

Now these things are great, but they are also how you would act if you were a guest in someone's home, not like it was your home.

So it leaves it somewhat confusing, as I am glad she appreciates the smaller things, yet don't want her to feel she HAS to acknowledge them or risk some adverse behavior. I just want her to feel at home.

I'm glad I have always known my girls would behave no matter where I took them, but it is so much healthier for them to want to misbehave and not fear the consequences.

So being a first time mom and starting with older children has been a learning experience. I want to let the line out a little to allow those freedoms, but not too much where I can't pull it back in. I want them to feel safe and secure and at home, but don't want to end up with smart mouth, back talking lazy guts either.

Hey wait a minute! Maybe that is what all parents go through!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fairy godmother found!

For those just joining the story, back in 1997, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thanks to a routine mammogram, it was found early enough that it really only seemed to be a nuisance, rather than a death sentence like I expected.

Flash forward a few years and I am working doing health and educational seminars for older adults. Even though the research was showing that age increases your risks of having breast cancer, we were finding that older women were not getting mammograms and some never had! So I tried to think of a way to help educate women on the need for early detection and treatment of breast cancer and came up with the idea of a Pink Ribbon Tea Party.

The first year I had 75 people show up but was pleased enough to try it the next year again. The 2nd year, 150 came and the numbers continued to grow until we have now had to rent smaller chairs to fit more women around each table with the attendance generally over 400!

One of the highlights of the event is a fashion show.

Last year I did kids showing cute summer outfits. One year I did early 20's with the latest in denim fashion. Other years we have used Chico's, JC Penney's, and a "Sunday Best" show.

This year we decided to use our "newly singles" group and even go so far as to name Oak Cliff's Top Mature Model.

The last time I wrote about this group I was looking for a fairy godmother to help address those who should have been using Nair (or whatever you can use on your face), supportive foundation garments, and an adjustment on their wigs.

Well I found a fairy godmother right under my nose in my co-worker, Audrey.

Audrey is a more mature employee and contacted each one, in the way only she can, and talked about the problems she had noticed and made some suggestions on how to fix them.

They showed up Monday in their Sunday best, ready to be fitted with whatever fashion statement we decided they should make.

We had inventoried everyone's size and took note of their usual attire, then matched them up with a variety of clothiers down in the Bishop Arts District, none of which sell to the more mature crowd.

Before we could even get in the front door of the first place, the employee told us they were closed and shut the door.

OK, that did not set well with my 12 models and 4 assistants. We had appointments with all these places and had told them how many, got their cell phones, and watched as each put it in the iphones. Yet somehow NONE of them were prepared to assist us in finding fashion show styles to help promote their business, as well as provide the "fashion" part of the "fashion show"!

Somehow my fairy godmother must have granted me another wish and suddenly all the stores opened their doors and their arms and greeted us ready to provide whatever was needed. It really seemed like it changed with the wave of a wand!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Bishop Arts District, a lot of up and coming stylists feature their work there. One big problem is that a size zero is one of their larger sizes! I had several who needed a much more mature size than even a 16!

We split up the group according to the store we thought most appropriate and then began the hunt of finding that one special outfit that will help them look their best, and will fit, and that everyone could agree on.

I have to say shopping with two 12 years can be difficult, but shopping with 12 75 year olds is even harder, especially since I think 75 was a fairly young one in the group.

For some we literally ran them through each store until they could find something they liked. For others, they stood like soldiers going off to war and being put through that one last training exercise but at least agreed with all they were told to do, not necessarily happy, but obedient!

After what seemed an incredibly long 3 and a half hours, almost everyone was taken care of, fashions and accessories were selected.

I just hope that fairy godmother has one more wish for me to use on Saturday to ensure success of this adventure!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Community gardening

While growing up, we went to visit my grandparents in Paris, Texas almost every other weekend, or at least it felt like it.

Paris is in the northeast corner of Texas and has extremely sandy soil, the kind that requires being washed off if your shoe of choice is no shoes, which in Paris just seems right, and because it feels so good to squish between your toes.

My Grandmother Locke always made great use of this and had a wonderful garden each year. She had a garden long before it was cool to have a garden and mainly because it was a necessity to provide food for the year.

I did not know that it was unusual to be able to step into the garden, pick your peas, shell them on the front porch, in the swing, then dig your potatoes to go in the peas, cut some okra to be fried up in the big old skillet, and then pull some onions and tomatoes as the final touch. It makes my mouth water still to think about those meals.

At the time we would complain because we couldn't go to Dairy Queen for fast food or even better Sonic for onion rings! We were stuck with eating food freshly picked!

When my grandmother passed away, my parents bought her house and continued the tradition of the garden. I loved going there and helping out, but by then I had a life (or thought I did) and did not make it very often.

One year Dad planted watermelons and we had so many that we could not even give them all away!

When grandkids started coming along, Mom and Dad were torn between trips to Paris and time with the grandkids and soon enough they sold their place in Paris.

Two years ago when I bought the house next door to my parents, I found Dad trying to grow tomatoes in a tiny sliver of sunlight since the rest of the yard is shaded.

I started hearing about community gardens and tracked down the meetings hoping to find a place where my Dad could garden. I did not know they still did not have a place and were really trying to locate a place to build a community garden. People would cruise the neighborhoods in search of vacant lots, then try to track down the owner in an effort to find an ageeable person that would let us garden there.

My employer has lots of land and I started from the bottom and tried to work up to the top administration on getting permission to develop a garden on our land. A year later and we were all still trying to find that first lot and my emails were left with empty promises of being worked up the line.

When the second year started I decided to go to the top and work my way down, as I had read that a hobby of our CEO was gardening.

Quickly I got a response from him pointing me to and opening the doors to the right people to pursue the concept.

I had no idea that would be just the beginning of developing a community garden.

When we originally looked at the land they were providing, it dawned on me that our share of the plot would be way too small to plant and grow how much I wanted to and followed through with my threat to turn my front yard into a vegetable garden.

And that is what I have started. I'll have to take pictures to show how I have converted my yard. Our vegetables are coming up in the community garden as well.

I can't wait for any or all of this to get rip and ready to eat!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In need of a fairy godmother

My job involves working with older adults. I consistently try to find new and exciting programs that will keep them educated, active, and ultimately, more healthy.

I've done this job for over 11 years now, the longest I have stayed at any job.

The numbers that I work with have dramatically increased during that time, but the hardest part is it a constantly changing group as we experience the losses of those who have become friends.

While doing this job, there have been some programs that have needed just the "right" time, "right" staff, and "right" members to get the project going.

We've started several new programs this year, but my "pet" project was for those who were newly single.

My best example of how quickly and radically life can change for the older adults is when a dear lady was trying to get to the airport, to catch a flight to visit her children after her husband of 50+ years died.

It was our one day of ice and snow in Dallas and she hit something that blew out both tires.

The city was still asleep, save for this woman trying to uphold her end of the commitment of the reservation for a flight out of town. She had absolutely no idea what to do and drove her car for miles until she could get to within walking distance of my parents' home, where she knew she would be taken care of.

This woman did not even know how to adjust the seat in her car.

Realizing she is an example of so many others, whom I have no personal experiences with, I pressed forward with my plans to do a program specifically for the newly single, with the goal being to help them re-establish an identity as an individual.

Most of the age group we work with have been married 50+ years and many to their high school sweethearts, so to start over again, for some, is too overwhelming.

I thought we would have a day of looking inwardly, with a counselor on hand, to help clear the way to establish an identity.

Well that one session has now turned into eight, at last count, and they are asking for more.

In the meantime, I wanted us to press forward and begin working on our outward appearance, with the ultimate goal of them participating in our fashion show as models for our upcoming BIG event.

As we age, our eyesight sometimes is not as good as it has been and many times people will turn up with spills on their clothes, a need for a shave, a real need for a good moisturizer, and just an overall pepping up and helping them with this process.

We are down to the wire with our group in trying to achieve this transformation and today they were to learn how to walk across the stage as models.

This group has presented challenges that I have not experienced in all of this years in working with older adults.

There are some who are extremely outspoken, some who are painfully shy, some who are just very nice people, but none who are looking like models yet. In fact, I'm not sure we have made any progress at all!

The class did not start off on the best foot and soon there was a very animated conversation as to whether Barbra Streisand was pretty or not, which went on to whether it is better not to say anything, if you do not have something nice to say, to a lengthy discussion on the type of music they want as they are modeling, to how to even walk across the stage.

I looked at our line up.

Those who should have not had facial hair did, those who wore hose needed some lycra in them, the wigs were not quite where they should be, and support garments were missing!

I need a fairy godmother. If you have one, please send her to me!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A picture of Annabel just before adoption

Tonight I was looking on the internet for other pictures of the Nanchang SWI (Social Welfare Institute) where both of my daughters are from. I found this picture that was used by Holt International and came out while we were in China, I think.

You will probably have to cut and paste the weblink below.

[PDF] china Adoptions go onFile Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML

with Nanchang SWI. Six children live in six homes with six mar- .... her, she will return to institutional life at the Nanchang SWI. ...

Friday, April 16, 2010

An ahhh moment

A lot has been discussed this week about foreign adoptions and because someone did an unthinkable act, it put adoptions for others in jeopardy.

One thing I did not notice discussed much was adopting an older child.

Even for most adopting parents, an older child is not an option.

Both of my daughters were older.

Annabel was 11.

I've written more about her this week than Grace, but it is partly because she is coming to a great point in our relationship where more trust has been established and we have more to talk about and with the tutoring, talking is even easier. But there is still plenty to learn.

Today she jumped into the car, on our way for her band's spring concert, and she announced she had a major case of stage fraid. It's good to have a little sister like Grace to set you straight that it is stage fright, not stage fraid.

We made a quick stop at Chik Fil A for a "snack" and so she could change clothes for the performance. While there we ran into her first friend that is a boy, but not her boyfriend, but someone she would not mind having for a boyfriend, but now is he is her best friend's boyfriend, and now they are just friend.

Life and love at 12 is complicated, isn't it?

I suggested she ask him to sit with us which put her in an odd place of glee but also fear and gave me my first opportunity to embarass her in front of a boy. I have LOTS of experience doing this for my nieces and now glad to spread it to my daughters.

She could not believe I would ask him about his new girlfriend. Shoot, I had barely gotten started with my questions when it was time to go!

The concert was a combination of several choirs, orchestras, and bands, with the group Annabel was in lastng about 5 minutes, but considerably better than it was at the Christmas concert!

The evening ended as it always does with our good night prayers.

Get ready for an ahhh moment.

For those who would not even consider adopting an older child, I wish they could meet Annabel.

Her part of the prayer is usually the longest, as she makes sure to pray for all of us, our minister, his wife, their teacher who has been sick, and now includes my niece Marcie, her husband Drew, and their little baby who is still only 6 weeks into development, but remembered nightly by Annabel.

Then she ended it with "Thank you God for walking with me through the concert tonight."

Enough said!

Income taxes

Last night it was 3:30 before I finally gave up on completing my income taxes.

Today I was trying to explain to the girls about what had kept me up so late.

Have you ever tried to explain income taxes to a child? Especially when it is a completely new topic for them?

The more I explained, the more it sounded like we live in a communist country, the need to report all that we make and how we spend it.

That's pretty much what your income tax does, isn't it?

I was also the bad mommy and jumped to conclusions today when I got an email from the science teacher telling me that Annabel had failed her science test.

I was so angry. I'm not sure who or what I was mad at but I could not stand for Annabel to deal with failing this test after we had worked so hard on it.

When she got in the car I asked how her day went and she told me Good! She said she did good on her test.

Oh really???

I told her what her teacher had emailed and she was crushed.

I pulled back up the email and read it to her.

You could feel the relief immediately.

The teacher had emailed me about the last test, not today's test, and she was offering for Annabel to corect the test for an improved grade.

We were both so relieved and can't wait to see what she did on the current test with all the extra work!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Learning more English

This afternoon after school, Annabel got in the car with the story of how her whole class got in trouble because a boy was spreading roommates.


She has recently learned the word "cooties" and thought he had been spreading them, but no she said it a couple more times that he was spreading roommates.

Grace finally interrupted her and corrected the word to rumors.

From there she moved onto discussing her tutoring session, which we were heading to.

She said she feels sorry for her tutor because sometimes she thinks the tutor wants to say, "Grrrrrrrr" and then bop her on the head because she can't remember a simple word!

I laughed so hard! I thought at first she meant the tutor had growled at her, but of course, she had not, but the very idea that Annabel had been thinking about it and decided that she was frustrating the tutor took more discussion!

She explained that if she did not know the word "no", which she says she does know, but if she did not, and then while she is reading and comes to that word, then tutor would say, "sound it out, nnnn, oooooo, now put it together, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooo." And then she would make her say it several more times to help her remember.

But she is sure that the teacher wants to bop her on the head, which immediately brought up the image of Little Bunny Foo Foo, hopping through the forest, scooping up the field mice and bopping them on the head.

No need to worry, the tutor has not and will not be bopping her on the head. She has had such a fantastic impact on Annabel and reminds her regularly of her skills and abilities, and reminds her of how much she has achieved! The session is only supposed to last 45 minutes, but she usually keeps her at least an hour.

Tonight I asked if she could help her with learning some of her science lesson, which she did, and gave me the idea of cutting up her study worksheet and put the words and definitions on index cards for her to match up in prepping for the test.

So here I am with a bachelors degree in elementary education, and two masters degrees, and I am pretty sure I learned more about biology from helping her study than I ever learned. So Annabel and I are about on the same level on learning and knowing the information, but Grace blew me away!

She began explaining the phyllum (?) of the different species and why they were each of the phyllums, characteristics of each, and then used Sponge Bob to explain arthropod, cnidaria, and chordata, among others.

By 6th grade she already knows more than I have forgotten!

Annabel's test is Thursday.

Please say a little prayer for her. This test is very important!

Soap operas

Our drive to school each morning is at least 30 minutes.

We used to listen exclusively to Taylor Swift or Jonas Brothers, but usually only Taylor Swift.

At some point we, really me, got tired of Taylor Swift (we only have 1 CD) and suggested we listen to the radio sometimes.

When did morning radio become R rated?

Grace is my back seat moral compass and as soon as a song comes on that she does not think I will approve of, she tells me it is a bad song and change the channel.

Rarely do I understand what they are saying, so I am glad she is watching out for us!

Yesterday morning the DJs were discussing soap operas and what they said hit me as funny.

The girls wanted me to explain what they were talking about.

Uh oh, how do you explain soap operas to two kids that have never seen one and whose TV viewing is monitored and rarely strays from Disney or Nick?

I explained about all the dramas involved, how they each got married lots of times, and had lots of kids, and everyone had lots of problems all while wearing a strand of pearls.

Grace asked why they were called "soap operas".

Here is where I mess up regularly and start explaining the idea of soap in the title and they were sponsored by detergent companies, and about how her grandmother watched one religiously.

After the long discussion, Grace said, "So they sing all the words?"

They sing????

Oh, she wanted to know about the word "opera" not soap!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday madness

Sunday nights can be a difficult time to fall asleep if you have too much on your mind.

Last night I did and finally sometime after 3:30 I fell asleep.

When this happens the alarm going off at 6:00 is really hard to believe is set for the correct time, but quickly enough, Annabel comes in with a whisper telling me she cannot find her white shirt she needs for school.

I urge her to look through the mountain of clean and folded clothes on the dining room table.

She insists she did but still cannot find it.

I drag in and begin to dig through the clothes and even if there was a white shirt in there, I could not find it.

I knew I had caught up on the laundry but the last load was still in the washer. With my eyelids barely open I move onto the back porch digging into the washing machine, which hopefully has the needed white shirt and throw it into the dryer.

In between I am running back to my room trying to get ready for work.

Then I realize that even without the needed top Annabel seemed paralyzed in place as she could not get her routine going if it was happening out of order.

We have done really well with breakfast lately with either homemade sausage and biscuits or burritos. This week they have their VERY spicy jalapeno laced sausages cooked and ready to go, but not a good way to eat them. I quickly start a pan of rice, throw in some of the sausages, find my shoes, come back and turn the water for the rice off and hope for the best.

I ran back to get my lipstick and in that instant heard a loud crash.

Annabel had spilled her entire glass of high dollar organic milk I splurged on and Grace is standing there munching on her breakfast and nonplussed about anything. Annabel is running around trying to decide what can actually hold a glass of milk and makes a beeline to the paper towels. I am yelling to grab a towel instead and ask Grace to chip in by getting another towel.

Grace shows up with a luncheon size napkin, Annabel pulls the corner off a paper towel, and I am grabbing the mop off the back porch.

When I realized they were only tracking milk through the whole house, I urged them to go toward the front door so I can finish cleaning and we can hit the road.

At this point the morning came to a complete stop.

Sometimes I think the door knobs on this old house have a personality of their own and the door between the dining room and living room continues to get stuck. Stuck so much that you stand there for a few minutes trying to turn it this way and that and then just hoping that the door will pop open.

So while I finish up the mopping the girls are standing there trying to get the door open.

We actually got out of the house only to be slowed down by all the rubberneckers looking at where Texas Stadium stood. Forty minutes for drive time just wasn't enough! I briefly glanced at the open field that had held Texas Stadium and felt nothing but pining for all the great dirty and equipment to do container gardening with!

Believe it or not, the girls got to school on time.

Parenting and responsibilities

Before I go ahead, I want to make sure that everyone understands that I am not trying to place blame on anyone when an adoption is disrupted. Obviously the feelings from the heart of heart of those involved is where the only true explanation lays.

BUT I don't think it is even that easy.

Raising children is not easy and I keep asking for the book, but there isn't one.

Throw in the many problems that adopted children can bring to the family, PLUS the existing family dynamics they are going into, and then add a very inquisitive public asking questions that should never be asked, and that is a formula for disaster!

But I will not back down that I think more parents need to accept responsibility for their children and their behavior and pursue the means necessary to provide their children with the best resources available to help them overcome whatever deficiencies still exist in their lives.

I want parents, whether adoptive or biological, to be the parents, to be the adults, and not hope they children grown out of it.

Last week I had lunch with an OLD friend, emphasis on the OLD just for him!

He mentioned that people tell him that he is almost through raising his kids and can soon "get a life". I liked his answer. He says that he is not raising his children as a temporary point in his life. He has accepted the job as Dad forever. He likes the job and it will always be a part of his life.

I like that! My Dad will tell you that you never get away from being the dad either!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why is the system failing?

Within the world of adoptive parents, there has been a lot of discussion happening recently.

The topic is disrupting, as in terminating your adoption of your child.

It is an extremely sensitive topic and one that most have a strong opinion on.

The process to adopt is much longer than a pregnancy. You might think about it for years before ever pursuing adopting a child.

For many couples, the idea of adopting only comes after years of attempts of "having" a child. These couples have usually spent thousands of dollars, hours, and tears hoping to see a positive result on a pregnancy test.

I cannot address the issues that surround their decision to adopt, as I have not been there. I know for my sister Jana, she spent years going through all sorts of "treatments" in hopes of getting pregnant and only after she stopped all of this, did she become pregnant. But I don't remember why she decided to adopt my niece Darcey. She knew the chance of getting pregnant again was very slim but my memory of why she wanted Gillian to have a sister escapes me.

I will always be thankful she did, because without Darcey, I would be without Grace and Annabel.

Your first meeting with an adoption agency is like being called to the Principal's office and you begin the first of many times of being grilled to help determine if you are "fit" to be a parent. From there you begin paperwork. Adoptive parents call it the "paper chase" but it is more like a paper marathon. As soon as you think you have all the paperwork completed, there is another set of papers that are required by our government, the government of your child, and then preparing all paperwork to be swapped and shared by the two governments.

With each step is a fee. Some are fairly small, but most are quite large.

The fees not only are sent to the different governments, but before they can even leave your hands, they have to be notarized, certified, and then authenticated. This means finding a kind notary who will cut you a bargain on the stack of documents, before you send them to the state of Texas to prove that the notary truly is a notary.

When the state of Texas decides that the notary really is a notary, then you can send them to the Chinese government, or at least their embassy, to let them say they believe the state of Texas is correct, that the notary really is a notary, so obviously these documents are legitimate.

Somewhere in there you fill out paperwork on every aspect of your life, find friends and family members who will agree/approve of you as a parent, have your employer confirm you do work there and how much you make, have a complete check up with your doctor, and finally get visited by a social worker.

The costs continue to mount and this is before you have even bought anything for your new child. Many families do an assortment of fund raising. To raise money for my two trips to China, I closed out retirement accounts, mutual funds, and even sold my house for a cheaper one.

To adopt is much more complicated and considerably more expensive than what has been accomplished for some through a one night's stand.

The reason I bring all this up, is trying to understand how someone an decide to disrupt their adoption.

For one thing, I cannot imagine thinking of my daughters as anything but my daughters. I don't think of them as optional.

When I decided to adopt, I don't remember anyone saying that if it doesn't work, bring them back. These are humans, not shoes!

Just before we left for China to adopt Annabel, we "adopted" two dogs from the SPCA. These dogs should have come with a warranty that if you did not like them, you could return them, but even dogs do not.

Besides, when you have adopted your child, I decided I could not "adopt" a dog and then take the dog back because she and he did not fit in or meet our needs or misbehaved, all of which our dogs did.

I was so afraid it would affect Grace that I decided these dogs just would not work and that she would think the same thing was possible for her, that we continue to grin and bear our lives with these certifiably crazy dogs.

Both girls had been switched around to so many homes and each time were told this was your "mother" the one thing I want to provide for them is consistency and continuity.

Just before we left to adopt Annabel I was contacted by a woman who insisted she had been to the orphanage when Annabel was only 2 and insisted proper care be given to all of the children, even Annabel.

This woman, whom I only met through emails, had finally adopted a daughter herself, after almost 9 years of involvement with orphanages in China.

This daughter was either 13 or 14.

The woman had decided that it was not working and was in the process of putting her in foster care in the UK, as she could not return her "daughter" to China.

A mother from Tennessee has been in the news for putting her adopted son on a plane to Russia, by himself, with a note explaining it just wasn't working.

One mother, after almost 9 years of having her daughter, suddenly decided she could no longer raise this child.

Others have killed their children.

There is outcry on all sides about these situations.

I cannot imagine how horrible your life is to make such profound decisions that impact a child's life, a lie already filled with more than the average person can imagine bearing.

Why do they go to so much trouble only to "change" their minds? Or even worse, decide they cannot do it, and kill their child?

My children have problems.

Shoot, I had problems.

Did Mom and Dad wish they could have "do overs" with us? If they could have returned us, would they?

That could never have even been a consideration. There was no place to take us back to.

So far I have not found the perfect child, although if you ask my mother, my daughters are pretty close.

Can you imagine the fragile state of mind these children must feel when threatened that they will be taken back if they don't..... fill in the blank, whatever it is these parents demand their children do?

When do adoptive parents quit blaming their children's backgrounds on the problems the family is having? When do the parents take responsibility for being the parent? When do they lay the ground rules and set expectations and make sure everyone understands? Why do they let their adoptive children "torment" them? This worries me a lot. I see parents regularly with their children on a variety of drugs, therapies, and finally trying to put as much time and distance between them and their children so they will not have to deal with their children's behaviors.

When I look at some of the quirky behaviors of my girls, I don't spend a lot of time trying to decide if it was genetic, poor healthcare while pregnant, drinking, drugs done by their birth mothers, environmental, the water, the diet, the whatever else you can blame things on. Instead I try to focus on the here and now and try to find the best way to make us have a good life as a family. I'm not perfect and neither are my daughters, but I do not expect to put them away either.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

An out of sync Easter

Today I decided that I have no chance at Mother of the Year!

It has brought a tremendous sense of relief to me in some ways and does not seem to bother my daughters, so I guess it is OK.

Everyone on Facebook is posting their pictures of their new Easter outfits, the Easter egg hunts, dying eggs, etc, while my daughters went to church in one of their usual outfits, dyed eggs at 5:00 today, and then hid the eggs for each other!

So you see, I can no longer be a contestant for Mother of the Year!

Instead of getting our eggs dyed yesterday, I dragged the girls car shopping!

The last new car I bought was probably in 1986. It was my dream car, a Volkswagen convertible. Not the bug as that was the strange time they were not making them, but a bright red convertible nonetheless. I even had matching RayBan Wayfarer sunglasses!

When I decided I needed a job that could make me feel good at the end of the day and quit working for SWBT, Southwestern Bell Telephone for those too young to remember, I went back to school for 2 1/2 years and got my masters in rehab counseling. Now that job can make you feel good at the end of the day, but it does not pay the bills.

My first job was in Fort Worth and I lived in Denton at the time, about a 30 miles trip each way. By then my VW was not making the trip too well so I went looking for a new car. The first time I ever looked for a car by myself and I took the first one I drove, a brand new Accord, that was a standard, so I could get more power! Since the highest paying job I had in the 2 1/2 years prior was as an usher at the Morton Meyerson Symphony Hall, I had no money for a car that nice, but I was determined to get one with air bags. I was working with people who had brain injuries and I saw how important protecting your brain in a car wreck could be! Especially since they were clients of mine because they did not have air bags.

So to get this nice car I leased it. It's pretty funny now thinking about me going to the first dealership and taking the first car I drove. I'm sure they saw me coming!

When the lease was up I was sure that was the way to go so I could keep getting a new car without all the expense. I had also grown tired of having my VW in the repair shop all the time and felt like I should not still be relying on Mom and Dad to rescue me everytime my car broke down. So since 1994, I have leased cars. My lease is almost up and I have decided I have to be an adult now and BUY my car. PLUS, it will most likely be the car the girls learn to drive in. The station wagon or mini van just aren't as appealing for that. BUT it must have a great safety rating.

When I traded last time, I made the big step to a true Momma Mobile and moved into a mini van. This wasn't too long after I adopted Grace and Jana and her girls and I went everywhere together. We had planned our first family vacation that summer. I was insistent on getting a car big enough to hold everyone, which it easily did. There is one big problem with a mini van and that is that they are HUGE! I have no depth perception because I can only see out of one eye, so this car has plenty of dings in it where I misjudged the distance several times. I"m not so sure they are going to be pleased when I turn this one back in!

When I got the mini van, I took Grace car shopping with me. We started the day at McDonalds for breakfast and finally came home that night at 10:00 with our new car. That is a really long day for an eight year old!

I took both girls with me yesterday to just look at one car, but we ended up at three different dealerships. Two 12 year olds is even crazier to shop with, but they were troopers and kept themselves entertained, until the last dealership. By then we had all gotten punchy and even though they were offering a good deal, I walked away for everyone's sanity.

Dying eggs today seemed like a better idea than starting them at 9:00 last night. Annabel has to have her sleep because she is gets up early regardless of what time she goes to bed, so we put it off.

So the girls got up expecting that the Easter bunny had arrived over night, but not saying a word. OK, the Easter bunny did not even show up until everyone was eating breakfast! I don't know where the girls' Easter baskets are and so I kept putting it off last night, and probably would have tried to convince them they are too old for such things, but I realized it was just Annabel's second Easter ever, so we needed one more visit from the bunny.

Last year's Easter candy ended up in the trash, as they neither girl eats much candy, so this year I had to find something different than candy to fill their baskets. While they looked on the other side of the Hobby Lobby, I filled my basket with lots of their favorite craft items and a small Whitman's sampler for each. OK, I can't help but sit here and laugh knowing that sounds like an older person's gift, but my kids love their Poppa's boxes of candy, so they got miniatures. They weren't sure of what they had gotten!

So the Easter bunny got here late and brought his treats in regular baskets that definitely do not look Eastery, brought Whitman's Samplers, rather than chocolate bunnies, but thankfully, my girls thought their new things were great!

By the time Grace finally finished her homework today and all the other things that seem to steal your Sunday afternoon away, they finally started dying eggs at 5:00 today. Then Annabel announced that she was going to hide the eggs for Grace! I was in the process of transplanting things in my garden, so was glad they decided to do it for each other. I think they would have done more of the hiding and finding but the cute tween boy across the street was out playing, so you can't appear too immature!

They seemed to survive, but I have no pictures of our festivities and they did not have new outfits to take pictures in, since they got new clothes for Chinese New Year's and since they wear uniforms 5 days a week, I decided there was no need. So our year will be remembered in our hearts only. Hope you had a great Easter!