Monday, 5 November 2012

The 30 hour mark...

Anticipation is growing, as is the anxiety we both feel.  But we are determined to make this an amazing trip!

We've stumbled upon a few glitches, but I'm truly thankful to the people who are assisting us in China for what they have done to resolve said glitches.

The first was around the train tickets.  First, let's set the scene...  In 2009-2010, we hosted an exchange student from Hong Kong.  I consider her to be my second daughter.  All grown up now, she's the one who is there for me!  She and her mom have gone above and beyond to help us out.  Her mom booked the train tickets for us, taking her own time to go to the travel agent and negotiate the best tickets for us.  One of my concerns was that I really wanted us to be able to have the soft sleeper seats (the trip is 10 hours) and I wanted our tickets together (our exchange student is coming with us, as is my BFF).  If you buy 4 tickets, you can get them all together in the same room, provided there is room, and that's exactly what I wanted.  And that's what she got us.  Then she had to take more time, to go and book the return ticket (you can only book tickets 10 days ahead or later).  Our plan had been to travel during the day so that we could appreciate the scenery.  Unfortunately, the daytime train only has "hard seats", which would have been very uncomfortable for a 10 hour trip.  so we decided to take an earlier overnight train instead.  It's not exactly what we wanted, but in the end, I think it will be the most comfortable ride :-)

The other glitch is surrounding our visit with the orphanage staff.  We had originally planned to take the orphanage staff out for lunch, along with the family who acted as our daughter's foster family.  We had planned to retain a guide to help us navigate through all of this, but in our delay in retaining her services, someone else beat us to it and she will be elsewhere at the relevant time.  Disappointed, we resolved ourselves to the fact that we would be fine because we had our exchange student with us.  But then another friend also spoke up to help us, and we thought we'd be ok.  I wrote a letter to the orphanage and had it translated into Chinese.  Then I paid $70 to send it to the orphanage in China by courier so that I could track it.  This was a few months ago.  I did not hear from the orphanage, but was not overly worried as I knew that our friend would be checking in with them before our arrival, and I knew they had received our correspondence.

So our friend checked in with them...  And they advised him, less than a week before our intended arrival, that we would not be able to meet with them without formal permission form the government who completed the adoption.  My first reaction was to be upset.  We had already abandoned any expectation of visiting the orphanage as we had been told that this orphanage no longer allowed it.  So we were content to take the staff and foster family off site for a nice meal, so that we could chat and give them gifts.  I was upset at having to jump through hoops just to be nice to them.

But then I reminded myself that China does things differently than Canada does.  It is not up to me to judge how or why the Chinese Government does what it does.  It is, however, up to me to respect the laws and regulations they have put in to place.  And so I do.

We hope to be able to meet with the staff and foster family.  But if we cannot, we will be thankful to be in our daughter's birth city, even if only for a couple of days.  We will do the things her birthparents do, see the things they see, hear the things they hear and feel the things they feel.  We may ride a bus they've ridden before.  We may walk on the same stretch of road.  We may see the same signs, or shop in the same stores as them.  We'll never know.  But one thing is for sure, we will truly appreciate the moments we get to spend there, take ridiculous amounts of photos, and make this a trip to remember.

We are so thankful to the people who are gathering together to help us on this trip.  Maybe what goes around really does come around.  It's days like this, I'm glad I emit the most positive Karma I can.

We leave in 30 hours.  Hang on tight-it's gonna be a hell of a ride!!!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

11 Days-How this differs from last time...

We leave for China in 11 days…

I remember last time we were 11 days from leaving for China, in 2008 when we traveled to adopt J.  We were excited but also anxious.  Just saying “we’re going to China” was so exciting.  We had packed and repacked, changed our minds a million times about bringing this, that or the other thing.  While the excitement continued to mount, the pressure did too.  Imagine the anxious days just before you became a parent-those days when you wonder if your child will be born healthy or not, how you’ll know what to do, how your life will change, who you’ll be able to call on for help, how you will learn aaaaaaaaaall the things you need to know how to do-change a diaper, feed your child, even how to hold him or her- and all the other questions new parents ask themselves.  Now combine that with the stress of having to be in a foreign country as you try to answer all of these questions.  Imagine if you’d had to leave for the hospital knowing that you have to have to have everything you “might” need in a suitcase that weighs less than 40 lbs.  And add to that the fact that your child could very well have eczema, diarrhea, lice, fever, be teething, not like to eat, not like to drink with the bottle(s) you've presented to him or her, be constipated, or a whole ton of other issues that you’ll have to resolve from the items you've brought.  Now up the ante-Imagine if everything you had to bring for you, your spouse and your new unknown child for 2 ½ weeks had to fit in 2 suitcases not exceeding 40 lbs each…

So THAT was stressful.

Now- how do I feel about our trip this time around?  Let’s see.  Firstly, I already know the awesome, amazing, thoughtful, kind, reasonable, sweet kid I’ll be traveling with (fully recognizing that my descriptions of her are likely to change a bit-or a lot-during this trip), and I also know her current excellent (knock on wood) health status.  I know how to deal with her basic needs, and I know what makes her tick (and ticked off! Ha!) and I can talk to her to prepare her for what is about to come.  So in terms of uncertainty, I can focus on the real uncertainties a trip of this kind exposes us to.  We know this will be a sensorial experience and a half!  The sounds, smells, images and physical sensations we will experience will be so very different than they are at home.  And isn’t that what makes a great trip?  

So all that to say that I’m excited about being 11 days away from our trip.  And while I recognize that it is likely to come with some pretty impressive challenges, this will definitely be a very different experience than last time.  I expect I’ll have to “think on my feet” a lot more in this trip, and address issues that are much more emotional in nature.  But in the grand scheme of things, that’s progress, isn't it?  The way I see it, it means that J’s basic needs are fully met.  Once you can stop worrying about basic needs and can move on to emotional fulfillment, you’re in good shape.    

I know there will likely be tired and hungry tantrums, emotionally overwhelmed meltdowns, and feelings of loss of control.  But there will also be, I hope, feeling of overwhelming joy, amazement and elation, as well as , if we’re lucky, one or two moments of feeling that we are exactly where we should be.  I still have the butterflies when I get to say “We’re going to China”.  So there are definitely some things that will be exactly like last time….  J

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Japan Airlines is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

I found our flight in April, through the Kayak website, which directed us to book directly through Japan Airlines.  The price we got was amazing, about half what we would have paid on a good deal on another airline.  Our itinerary takes us through Chicago and Narita, on the way to Guangzhou, with lengthy layovers 19 and 15 hours) in Narita, which we are considering as an important part of the overall experience.

A month or two after I booked, I decided that we would be better off traveling later in the year, for a few reasons, including the weather in China, and working in a statutory holiday to extend our trip by a day.  I contacted Japan Airlines by email, and was assisted by a lady named "Barbara", who was amazingly helpful and efficient.  I was so pleased with the service I received at the time and right away, I felt that this was going to be a great trip.

I have been doing a lot of research on the Japan part of this trip, and had booked hotels in Narita for our layovers (traveling with a 5 year old for 40 hours, I can see us REALLY looking forward to being horizontal).  One of the websites I stumbled on in my research said that if you have a layover in Narita, you should check if your airline offers complimentary accommodations.  So I did a bit more research and saw that in rare circumstances, Japan Airlines provides complimentary hotel accommodations if you have an overnight layover, but it was not a common occurrence.  So I thought-let's see what happens if I email them and ask.  So I did.

Within 24 hours, I had an email back from them, this time, from a lady named "Samalyna", confirming that she had booked us into their private airport hotel, including a free shuttle between the hotel and the airport!  All for FREE!!!!  See?  Sometimes all you need to do is ask!!!  This was not in the fine print anywhere, nor was it indicated on my ticket or their website.  Which is smart, really.  But I want to shout it out on the roof tops, because I seriously am amazed with how awesome Japan Airlines has been to deal with!

I must admit, I am a bit worried about the flight.  Being a bit on the chunky side, and knowing the seats on JAL are a bit narrower than what I am used to, I am concerned that I may be VERY uncomfortable during this long flight. I am also worried as I have heard that they maintain their planes at a very warm temperature (and I am always hot on a good day!). I wish we could afford to upgrade to Premium Economy (or even 1st class!  Wouldn't THAT be a dream come true!) but I can honestly say that the goodwill they've shown so far is putting me in a very positive receptive mood going into this.  I have also heard their flight attendants are some of the greatest in the world and that their in-flight customer service is incredible.  We are pretty easy travelers to accommodate (we are always polite, respectful, kind and appreciative) so we hope that we will be able to make them as happy to serve us as they will  make (and have made) us.

Thankfully, J is a really great traveler.  She is a really easy going kid, and as long as she eats (but limited sugar) and sleeps, she is perfect to deal with.  Thankfully, she sleeps anywhere and eats easily if I plan her snacks well.

I had also sent some other questions to JAL at the same time as the hotel enquiry, with regards to where to check in (our 1st leg is on a partner airline) and whether our luggage can be checked right through to Guangzhou or if we had to collect them in Narita.  She answered everything fully and clearly.  I can't imagine interacting the way I have with JAL with any other airline.  But maybe I'm just used to the service we get with Air Canada (I never complain, as that's not my style, but when you have something to compare to, you appreciate amazing service so much more).

So thank you Japan Airlines.  I hope our flight will be as impressive as your service has been so far.  I really expect it will be, because you have shown yourself to be an airline which prides itself in delivering outstanding customer service.  Bravo, well done!

I will blog about the flight as soon as I can, to let the internet world know if Japan Airlines are as amazing in flight as they are online.

So seriously-if you are looking to travel anywhere in Asia, check out Japan Airlines.  They DESERVE your business.  How often can you say that?

Three weeks from tomorrow.....  :-)

UPDATE: In case you'd like to know how it felt to actually travel with Japan Airlines, see this post.  Here is the excerpt from it relating to JAL:

"So all in all, the trip was an amazing success.  I reiterate that Japan Airlines is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!  Their staff was the most wonderful staff I have ever met.  Prior to the flight, they all gathered around the attendant's desk, welcoming passengers on board with a collective bow prior to them boarding the aircraft and starting our boarding.  I was over my carry-on allowance, but instead of telling me I had to check some of it, THEY HELPED ME CARRY AND STORE IT!  They were so attentive.  During the entire flights (even the 12 hour one), we were never more than 5 minutes without seeing an attendant as there was always one pacing in the aisles.  They refilled my water bottle with ice water too many times for me to count.   And on our flight back, when I was looking for something new for J to play with in the middle of the night with my bag near the emergency exit, one of the approached me (I thought she would tell me to move away from there, and in a way she did, but so delightfully) and she asked if I would like to come to the kitchen area where there was more light.  She closed the curtain so as not to disturb anyone with the light and then entertained J until I found what I was looking for.   Finally, they gave J a gift on every flight (a metal plane that she could assemble herself, sticker games, etc).  Oh wait-there's more!  The Food!  OMG, the food was incredible.  Smartly, I had ordered children's meals for J, so that we had more variety to choose from if there was something we didn't like.  Instead we liked EVERYTHING!  Especially the delicious Haagen-Dazs ice cream they provided on every flight!!!"

I should also mention that although I couldn't check my bags all the way (as a result of the Narita-Guangzhou portion being more than 24 hours from my check-in time), when I got to Narita, a JALemployee helped me get my bags, went to get the appropriate tags and retagged them before I left he airport for Tokyo, so that I wouldn't have to carry them around during my 19 hours in Tokyo.  She was so nice and friendly.  And on the way back, in Chicago, another JAL employee helped me with my bags again, even helping me go through the items I had bought at the airport in Tokyo as I needed to go though security again.  He helped me put my liquids and utensils in my luggage before taking my luggage over to the luggage cart so that I didn't have to walk all the way over with J and all of our carry-ons and he helped me figure out where I needed to go. They were absolutely incredible.  JAL rocks!!!!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Four weeks and counting...

We leave for China 4 weeks from today.

A combination of excitement and nervousness/anxiety has set in.

As far as our planning goes, I have worked an awful lot on our budget, as it is extremely tight.  I have now added the Chinese and Japanese exchange rates, and sectioned out what I will need, and where.

At this point, our trip into Tokyo (from Narita) is likely to be cut.  It is sad but true.  This is disappointing, but I'm more ok with it than I thought I'd be.

Now that we have our passports and travel visas, the only "official" document left to prepare is Hubby's permission for us to travel abroad without him.  Then, all the official stuff will be done and I can stop having nightmares about leaving and having forgotten to prepare these all too important documents!

We've also started to pack.  We have a bin where we put anything and everything that we want or need to bring with us, so that we don't forget them.

It's coming so quickly...  but at the same time, still feels so far away...

Sunday, 30 September 2012

38 days and counting...

We leave for China 38 days from today.

I am at the point now where I have to temper my emotions when I think of the trip.  If I let myself get carried away, I quickly realize that one of my most amazing dreams is about to come true and I get overly excited. My heart starts racing and I get butterflies in my stomach.  I then start thinking about how it will feel to be there, and I get overwhelmed.  I have to tear myself away from my thoughts or else I just might start crying tears of joy (the ones that will inevitably come once I am jetlagged, tired and finally in China)...

And then, I start thinking about the after-trip.  I freak a little when I think of how I will feel when the trip is over and it's time to come home.  Can you say devastated?  Wow...  I expect that leaving China will be one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Last time we were there we had a really difficult time leaving China, but we looked forward to getting home to the comforts of home with our new baby.  This time, that won't happen...  We know what life is like at home (and truthfully, it is awesome!  but we know we will long for China once we come back). So leaving China will be tough, and I am ridiculously thinking about it now, when I should be thinking about the excitement of the trip, not the fact that it will eventually come to an end.

At this point, our preparations are as follows:  We have a China box, in which we place anything we're planning to take with us.  It is allowing us to start packing things we won't need for the next month, and that we plan to take with us. Everyone laughs at me because right now, it contains mostly Kleenex, toilet paper and antibacterial wipes.  Oh, and Halls Cough Drops.  Lots of them.  That is the one thing that we wished we had brought more of last time.

The planning stage is in full force now.  We have our Travel Visas, and we sent a letter by courier to our daughter's orphanage (in English and in Chinese) this week, inviting them to meet with us when we travel to their City.  We have no idea whether they will respond.  We had intended to use a guide, but she is not available on our travel dates, and there seems to be a shortage of guides in our daughter's particular area.  So we will be bringing a friend who speaks Mandarin and Cantonese and hope for the best.  Yikes!

So the countdown continues and the anticipation mounts!  :-)

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Xiangjiang Safari

I just found out today that there is a zoo/safari very close to where J and I will be staying in Guangzhou.  This is ridiculously exciting, and J and I will be keeping ourselves busy during the day.

The Xiangjiang Safari has tons of Pandas, and the largest number of white tigers in the world.  It has zebras (yay!) and monkeys, and about another 396 species...

We will also be going to the Chimelong Circus, so we just may come back with a trained and caged animal overload....

39 days!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Afterthoughts on the Visa post...

I have done a lot of thinking after I posted yesterday.

I've realized that the reason I am upset with the cancellation of J's passport is simple.  As I mentioned yesterday, when J became a Canadian citizen, amid the celebration, it bothered me that we were having to make this decision for her.  It sure would be nice if we could allow her to choose her preferred citizenship when she's older.  But at the same time, when she was granted her Canadian citizenship, there was no physical proof of her renunciation of Chinese citizenship.  This cancellation of her passport is exactly that.  It is the physical proof that she is no longer a Chinese citizen.  And that is, no doubt, why it bothered me so much.

One of my work colleagues thinks I am being overly sensitive about this.  I have to beg to differ.  I think it's important for me to realize how this factors in the loss my child has experienced.  Is she happy and healthy in Canada and in our family?  Of course.  Is she better off in a family in Canada who loves her than growing up in an orphanage in China?  Probably.  But I think this is an erroneous comparison when discussing the loss a child has experienced in the adoption process.

The true comparison is between a child who grows up with her birthparents vs a child who grows up in an adoptive family.  As a family created by adoption, I can proudly say that our child does not want for anything.  She is loved and cared for, happy and healthy. We are good, loving parents, and we do all we can to create and maintain a good understanding and connection to her birthculture. But that doesn't mean that she has not experienced loss.  No matter how good the adoptive family is, an adoptive child has, necessarily, by the very nature of the act, experienced loss.  In our daughter's case, loss of her birthparents, the nannies at the orphanage and her Foster family.  Loss of her culture, her language, the foods she ate, the smells she liked and the sounds by which she was comforted.  She has lost her citizenship, and her country.  Has she gained a truckload of things in the process?  Of course!  But does this extinguish the loss she has experienced?  Absolutely not!

As J's mom, I now have to choose how I will deal with all of this.  I can deny the loss and spend my life trying to convince J that she is better off where she is now (as most of the entire world will invariably try to do), or I can recognize the loss she has experienced and let her know that I am there for her when she needs to think, cry, or talk about it.  I can wait for her with a warm, comforting mommy-hug and a huge dose of "it's ok for you to feel like this and I'm here for you".  I choose the latter.

Good night my little (forever) Chinese-Canadian Princess...  I'm here for you.  Always.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Travel Visas! :-)

I picked up our Travel Visas today!  Yay!!!

I had brought all of our documents in last week to file the application, and was thankful that I had previously researched what the potential issues could be.  I was also very fortunate that my BFF is resourceful and made sure I had everything I needed from her!  She had sent me a letter of invitation with tons of details, as well as photos of 3 different parts of her passport, all of which I needed, but would never have known to ask for.

I was also glad I had been reading posts on a yahoo group about homeland visits.  Through this group, I became aware that if it is your child’s 1st time returning to China since his or her arrival to your country, you must send their Chinese passport along which they cancel and return to you.  I was ok with this, until I collected the Visas today.  The fact is that they (rightfully) cancelled the passport with a huge “CANCELLED” stamp on several pages.  This is not really a big deal to most people.  Child is no longer a Chinese citizen, child’s Chinese passport is cancelled.  Simple enough, right?

Wrong.  As I have posted in the past, by choosing to adopt a child from China, we “chose” to raise a child while meeting certain conditions, including revoking their Chinese citizenship and facilitating the process to have the child become a Canadian citizen asap.  Having “made the decision” to revoke my child’s Chinese Citizenship bothers me.  I wish there was a way that we could wait until our child is old enough to make the decision herself.  But that is impossible, and I understand that.

Nevertheless, when I saw the “cancelled” stamps, I felt like in the midst of trying to expose J to her birth culture and encouraging her to embrace it (the Visas were obtained for a homeland visit, after all), one of the steps in the process has been to take a little bit more of it away from her.  It’s not like we could have ever used the passport for her to gain entry into the country.  But At the same time, there was something about that passport that remained hers.  In its pristine condition, it was a proof of her heritage and of the mutual belonging she had with China (mutual, in the sense that she belonged to China and China belonged to her).  For some reason, I foolishly thought that this would last forever. 

Let’s be honest: the cancelled stamp on J’s Chinese passport do not change anything about who she is or where she comes from.  But I can’t help but feel that a little bit of her past was lost today. 

However, instead of letting this get me down, I will use it to propel the meaning behind our upcoming trip.  I am hoping that our trip will be much more memorable than a passport is.  And I will be honest with J.  At some point, I will tell her how I feel about this.  And she may share my feelings.  Or she may not.    But I am hopeful that this will lead to an important discussion on identity and cultural belonging-when the time is right. 

Back to the Visas:  I actually messed up today…  When I filed the application last week, I was given a slip of paper with a number on it that I was to return with today.  I forgot it…  So I had a really hard time getting them.  In the end, a Manager was called to see what could be done, and thankfully, she was the one who had taken my application!  She remembered me from last week!  Thankfully, she authorized the release of the Visas (with appropriate pieces of identification for both J and myself and a signed waiver).  Lesson learned for next time!

So this is real….  and coming soon!  We leave 41 days from today!!!  ( Oh wait-it's after midnight here-40 days!!!)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Our trip to China-Intro

This November, J and I are embarking on a new journey.  My BFF moved to China in the Fall of 2008 and it is expected that she will be coming home (or, at least, moving away from China) at the end of the current school year.  Furthermore, it is rumoured that the Orphanage Director where J spent her first 6 months (followed by 7 months in foster care) will be retiring at the end of this year.  This combined with a stellar opportunity from a private benefactor made it such that on November 7th, J and I leave on a 12 day expedition to her homeland.

Let's be clear on this...  I have dreamed of going back to China since the day we landed in Canada.  I am absolutely, positively, unabashedly in love with China and all (well, most!) things Chinese...  I used to joke that if I had been to China as often as I'd planned to go, I'd be very well traveled by now.  So we are embarking on this trip, which will take us from home to Chicago, to Narita/Tokyo for a 20 hour stopover, to Guangzhou, to Guigang, and back.  

When I sit and think of the fact that in less than a month and a half, I'll be in China once again, my heart flutters and I feel warm inside.  I get very emotional and I feel like it's a dream.  My only fear is that when I'm there I will feel anxiety instead of joy.  This scares me a bit but those feelings are quickly replaced by anticipation and a peacefulness that reminds me that I will soon be in a place that is so important to me.

A work colleague asked me today why I love China so much.  My best answer was twofold.  Firstly, China is a significant part of who my daughter is.  She may not remember China, but it is where she was born.  It is where the people to whom she was born lived at the time of her conception and birth, and where they may very well still reside.  It is the country and culture which has allowed us to become a family.  It is where my daughter got her beautiful skin, small frame, dark brown hair and gorgeous almond shaped eyes.   

The second reason, which is more of a by-product of the first than an intentional act, is that if I love China, it is my (perhaps foolishly na├»ve) hope that my daughter will maintain an interest in it as long as possible.  If her interest resulting from her quest for knowledge about her birth culture is not sufficient to keep her interested, I hope that the fact that it is mommy's interest will prolong it, much like a parent's interest in hockey or music motivates their children in the development of their interests.  I don't know whether this will happen, and in fairness, we'll never know.  I have no doubt that someday, J will, at least temporarily, cease to be interested in her Chinese history and culture.  At that time, it will be impossible for us to tell what led to her (hopefully) prolonged interest: her personal quest for knowledge about who she is and where she comes from, or her mimicking of her mom's interest and passion for a country that her Mom loves so much.  But one thing is for sure, J will always know that her Mom is interested in facilitating her relationship with her birth culture.  

I hope to include as many details about our adventure here.  I hope you’ll follow along with us!

Time to get to know me....

I am a mom to a beautiful, smart, funny, witty, bright and clever 5 year old daughter.  She is the apple of my eye and the centre of my universe.

My daughter, J, was born in China.  For reasons that we will never know, J's birthparents, or tummy parents, as she currently calls them, were not able to care for her.  Through a series of events that we will never fully comprehend nor be sure of, she was eventually placed in the care of the Guigang Social Welfare Institute.  By the grace of God, she was matched with us in 2008 and we became her parents in March of that year.  We are amazingly lucky to have been able to become her Mommy and Daddy.

As a parent, and more particularly an adoptive parent, there are things that define me. Some may be shared by other parents, some may not.  Some may be a breath of fresh air to adoptees, and some may be offensive. The only one that troubles me in the latter.  I hope to never say anything that will offend adoptees, and I hope that none of these will be taken that way.  Honestly, I'm really not concerned about offending anyone else...

Here are some of my defining thoughts:

1. When you adopt internationally, citizenship is an important part of the process.  When your child becomes a citizen of your country, it is an exciting day.  But please remember that you are actually taking a substantial part of your child away from them.  When we went through the immigration process for our daughter, we were performing an essential part of the adoption process.  But we were also being forced to take away our child's Chinese citizenship.  This is something I feel guilty about, even though we had no choice in the matter. So when J became a Canadian Citizen, it was bittersweet.  We feel Canada is the greatest country in the world, for so many reasons.  But we've grown up here and it's all we've ever known. We are not at all happy about having to revoke J’s Chinese citizenship in order to become a Canadian…  

2. We have no fear or anxiety about J ever finding her birthparents.  If any mechanism ever is developed that will allow us to find them, and J wants to do so, we will support her 100%.  I would be so happy to be able to have them in our life.  J will have questions someday that she won't be able to answer without them.  They have had to make the most difficult decision a parent ever has to make.  I hope that they would be pleased to see that their child is happy and healthy, and respect the fact that they have suffered great loss in this process. Ultimately, the process of reuniting a child and his or her birth family needs to be based on the willingness of the parties.  I am not one of those parties and do not have a say.  I’m ok with that.

3. We did not “save” our daughter from China.   We did not adopt to “make a difference in the life of a child”.  Here is why these comments annoy me…  If these things happened as a by-product of the decisions we made, then so be it.  But it is clear that our first motivation was selfish.  We wanted to be parents.  We wanted to have the joys of parenting and we wanted to experience the pride of having an awesome kid.  We did this for us.  I admit it.   

How could I feel we “saved” J?  We swooped in there, took her away from everything and everyone she knew, to satisfy our need to be parents.  Today, she loves us unconditionally and is a proud Chinese Canadian girl.  But someday she will go through a phase where she resents us.  And with reason.  We have no right to expect her to be grateful to us for becoming her parents.  Because to us, this adoption is about creating a family.  But to her, adoption is about loss, trust, and heartache.  She says she misses her tummy mummy and tummy daddy, even though she does not remember them.  She says she misses her foster family too, although she says she doesn’t remember them either.  We need to be conscious of the fact that her emotions in this process need to be respected, supported and addressed appropriately. 

I feel we are good parents to J.  But that will not be enough as she grows up, and we are fully aware of that.  She will have to deal with the emotional toll an adoption takes on a child and remains with him or her as they grow up.  All I can hope for is that I’ll be able to be by her side during this process and support her as a mom should always support their child. 

4. J does not believe in Santa Claus.  Or the Easter Bunny.  Tooth Fairy, either.  I never did and haven’t made her to.  At 5, she also knows that it is not up to her to spoil the magic for other kids and respects that.  I have assured her that I will NEVER lie to her about anything important.  Truth and trust is essential in our family.  I do not lie to her about her background either.  I tell her what we know (in age appropriate bits and pieces), with caveats where they are appropriate.  I am allowing her to choose what she believes in.  As such, I will be able to maintain as she grows older, that I never lied to her about anything that was important (and hope she won’t consider it “important” that I lied to her about the fact that chocolate is spicy….).

5. I believe the celebration of the day our child joined our family should be called whatever feels right to us and to our child at any given time in her life.  There has been much discussion about the use of “Gotcha Day” and the objections to it.  Some families have justified their use of “Gotcha Day” in very interesting and convincing ways.  We don’t use the term.  We refer to the day we met our daughter as our “Forever Family Day”.  But that’s because that works for us and I don’t feel comfortable with “Gotcha Day”.  But I have no right to tell anyone else what they should say.  I’m all for doing my part to increase sensitivity.  But that doesn’t mean I can tell people what works best for their family.

6.  I don’t believe in protecting my child from everything in this world.  I feel that teaching her the skills to deal with everyday risks is far more important and enduring than ensuring she never gets hurt.  Let’s teach our kids that they need to be careful in dangerous situations, instead of making sure they are never put in any situations that carry a risk.  Let’s teach them that they will see and hear things in their lives that are not acceptable in our family  (swearing, drugs, promiscuity, “adult” clothing on children, etc) instead of sheltering them from those things and having them see those things later, at a time when they are ill-equipped to make decisions about them on their own.  Let’s teach kids that they need to make decisions about their friends and what behaviours they are willing to accept from their friends towards them, rather than running to the school or to other kids’ parents as soon as there is something of which WE don’t approve.

These are some of the thoughts that define me and our family.  I may add to these from time to time, as I know there are many more....

So take it or leave it-this is me.  I'm proud of me-of our family-of our life.  We rock!  :-)

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Why "Living Medley"?

Hi!  Welcome to my blog!  I'm glad you're here :-)

I've written and maintained blogs before, but none of them ever with the intention of posting anything and everything...  That's precisely what this one is for.

In the past few months, I have caught myself often thinking (and sometimes saying out loud): "I should start a blog about...."  So I am.  Here it is.

This blog is about me.  It's about my city.  It's about my family and our life.  It's about lessons I have learned.  Some of it will be funny.  Some not so much.

This blog is about a multitude of different subjects.  But most of all, it's about life.  My life-as a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife, a worker, a friend.  And so on.

The term "Medley" came to mind because of the variety of stuff you'll find in here. defines a medley here as :

a mixtureespecially of heterogeneous elements;hodgepodge; jumble.
a piece of music combining tunes or passages from varioussources: a medley of hit songs from Broadway shows.

That makes sense, doesn't it?    This really is a mixture, hodgepodge, jumble of stuff all brought in to one place.  And the reference to music is simple and natural for me.  Music plays such a huge role in my life.

So welcome to my Living Medley.  Come on in and stay a while :-)