Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Invisible Child

Nowadays, there seems to be a Yahoo group for just about anything. Among the many to which I belong, I am a member of a group entitled "Bio and Chinese," a forum for parents of biological children and Chinese adoptees. (O.K., so William hails from Taiwan, but until the Taiwanese adoptive population explodes in size, we'll just have to make do.)

Not too long ago, someone posted a link to a thought-provoking article on the importance of valuing our biological children's heritages. I'll wager that quite often their cultural backgrounds and places of birth don't get celebrated anywhere near the extent as those of their adoptive siblings.

With all of our chatter about Taiwan lately, Andrew's 50% Taiwanese make-up has been well-indulged. I'm not worried about satisfying that fraction of his heritage. However, Burbville, New Jersey where he was born needs to become a bigger deal in our every day parlance. We need to return to that Polish festival late this summer and perhaps listen to some bagpipe music (his late, great-grandpa H. Collier Mc. would appreciate this). It also wouldn't hurt us to frequent an Oktoberfest celebration or two.

I've been doing the best I can to make sure that Andrew doesn't feel neglected in all the hullabaloo over William's arrival. Still, this article convicts me that I need to take my efforts one step further. Read it for yourself, and if you're also in the Bio-Taiwanese or Bio-Anything Else parenting boat, you may find yourself a bit challenged, too.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Speaking in Triplicate

Yesterday, while on a walk with William, we came across our neighbor and his terrier, Schulz. William, who has a strong interest in live animals, grew very excited. I narrated what we saw: "Dog!" "Gou-Gou!" ("doggie!") For extra emphasis, I patted my thigh a few times to demonstrate the word in sign language.

What came back to me from him was, "Dah!" "Guh!" and a few slaps on the side of the stroller. True, the words and sign weren't perfectly executed and perhaps I'm imagining things out of a desire to see a certain outcome, but I was downright impressed. Our baby just spoke his second word in three languages! Excuse me while I indulge in a proud mommy moment.

Okay, carry on...

When Dreams Come True

Craig and I are absolutely thrilled to pieces for our good friends, Greg and Kara. After 5 years of wondering, hoping, and praying, their dreams finally became true in the form of one little boy. Baby Jude was born two days ago and couldn't be any cuter. Our heartiest congratulations to the newly expanded M. family.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Baby Goes Green

Ever since we moved to Pennsylvania two years ago, we've known about the miles of nature trails within easy access of our home. However, it was only today that we decided to take advantage of them. Boy, have we missed out!

Safely ensconced in his backpack carrier, William was well-shielded from the plants that still daunt him. He quietly took in his natural surroundings and fussed only when I reached up to wipe his runny nose (yes, ladies and gentlemen, he's got another cold).

Now that we've experienced first-hand the hidden treasure we've ignored for so long, we'll definitely be back for more.

Picture Perfect

Thanks to Gwyn E., my women's Bible study leader, William is now the proud owner of the beautiful painting above. Gwyn owns an antique store and ran across the reproduction on one of her treasure hunts.

The picture is one of the few I've seen that depicts Asian children in an un-stereotyped manner. The kids in the image are just being kids, having fun. Nice find, Gwyn!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Unspeakable Tragedy

You may have heard by now that the 5 year-old daughter of popular Christian singer, Steven Curtis Chapman, passed away in the worst sort of accidents. Our hearts grieve with the Chapmans, who have been such dedicated advocates of adoption. Their charity, Shaohannah's Hope, has made it possible for many children to finally be united with their adoptive families.


On a personal level, Shaohannah's Hope recently awarded a grant to help bring Noah, one of William's St. Lucy's roomates, home. I had the privilege of seeing him when we picked up William and I can tell you that he is one precious boy.

Please keep the Chapman family in prayer during this unimaginably difficult time.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Just Add Mullet

Yes, given the 1980s' look of the guitar he's holding, a mullet would've been more appropriate on this image of William. I'll have to suggest that option to the good people at Slide.com, where I got a bit carried away earlier.

Anyhow, today marks William's 10 month old birthday. Happy 10 months, baby boy. Rock on!

Frequent Flyer Attends His First Birthday Party

In less than three months, William has logged more frequent flyer miles than the average baby. This past weekend, our family flew up to New Hampshire to attend his cousin Mei-Ling's first birthday party. You can see Miss M. and the boys below:




I was a little concerned about how William would feel flying on a plane so soon after having just returned from Taiwan. Would he have any bad memories or negative associations? I know I sure have a few. However, he did well on the trip in and as well as circumstances would allow on the flight back.

We were stuck in the Manchester airport for 2 hours awaiting inclement weather in Philadelphia to blow over. Once the rotation of baby toys got old, once snacks and peekaboo failed to work their magic, our napless wonder decided it was fussy time. I popped him into the Ergo and walked him back to the flight attendant's jumpseat area where he cried at the top of his lungs 5 minutes. I never thought I'd be thankful for the deafening hum of an airplane, but it was actually quite useful in blocking out much of the noise from his crying.

All in all, things could have been worse: once we returned to our seats, William turned on the charm and tried to engage his fellow passengers in a smiling contest. Andrew's whining decreased. Craig, who was feeling lightheaded earlier, was back to 100%. And despite some turbulence on the way down, I didn't have to use the motion sickness bag, which I had popped open and ready to go. There are certainly worse ways to end a weekend.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Merbaby

You know that woman who chases her son around the swimming pool, desperately trying to coax him to re-join his swimming class while he shrieks in fear, "I don't want to get my eyes wet! NOOOOO!!!!"?

I am that woman and a certain you-know-who is that boy.

In light of our past experience, it was with great trepidation that I signed William up for swimming lessons. Certainly, I realize he's not going to learn to swim at 9 months old. We didn't adopt a mermaid. However, from what I've read, swimming lessons are a great way to promote bonding because the child is forced to cling to his parent. The skin-to-skin contact is also supposed to help in some sort of primal way.

Praise God Almighty! William has no issues getting water in his face. To him, the swimming pool is just one big bathtub. Throughout the first lesson, his arms were constantly in motion, splashing himself and everyone else within range.

The only drawback is his sensitive skin. By the lesson's end, the chlorine turned much of his back, legs, and arms lobster-red. I showered him down upon exiting the pool and slathered him in moisturizer when we got home.

So, if you happen to be at your local pool and notice a large baby splashing around mercilessly, and if he's accompanied by a woman who's wiping her eyes every other second, chances are, it's the two of us.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tag - I'm It!

I've been tagged by my friend, Amy, to share the following details with you:

5 Things You Can Find Inside My Bag:
1. Assorted baby rattles, none of which are ever quiet enough when I need them to be.
2. Crushed ATM receipts
3. Fake pirate tattoos from the dentist office's treasure box (they're Andrew's - um... really, I swear!)
4. Surfboard cracker crumbs
5. A chunky bead necklace that I scored at Target for $3.99. Prior parenting experience should have taught me that necklace on Mommy = handlebar for baby

5 Favorite Things in the Room I'm in (I'm in the family room):
1. A gigantic clock that is roughly the size of a manhole cover
2. Two black and white pictures of my beautiful boys
3. A whimsical black and white sketch of two people signed by the artist. It was given to us by Craig's late grandfather. Whenever I see it, I always think of him telling me that the image spoke to him of mercy.
4. The reclining leather club chair I'm sitting in now. I've always thought Lazy-Boy type chairs were hideous, but look at me now!
5. My laptop. Laptop and I are sadly inseparable. More and more, I am convicted of my need to break the addiction.

5 Things I've Always Wanted to Do:
1. Finish the novel I started writing months ago and get it published
2. Learn Photoshop, Illustrator, and other such programs
3. Learn to use a real camera (not my piddling point 'n shoot) well
4. Learn to decorate cakes
5. Play the drums in a punk rock band

5 Things I'm Currently Into:
1. Peanut M&Ms
2. Jhumpa Lahiri's aptitude for rendering emotional undercurrents in her prose
3. Sleep - though I seldom get as much as I need
4. The Book of Genesis. It's amazing how the same old story takes on new meanings each time.
5. Searching for a bargain price on a Maclaren Quest stroller

4 People I Plan to Tag:
1. Yvonne - because the details of her everyday are always a pleasant read
2. Haewon - because I'm curious to know what the most stylish woman I know keeps in her bag and because yay! She's having a boy!
3. Jennifer - because Miss Twin Momma could probably use some diversion from having to change poopy diapers two at a time
4. Sara/Sofa - because her responses are sure to be the very definition of LOL

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Babies, Babies!

Congratulations to my oldest sister, Diane and her husband Ryan. She just called to share some wonderful Mother's Day news - she's 3 months pregnant with her second child! Hooray for her family and hooray for a new cousin for William!

Next weekend, we hop on a plane to New Hampshire to celebrate their elder daughter, Meiling's, first birthday. It will be fun to watch William and his little cousin play together.

Of course, visions of walking fussy William up and down the airplane aisles and a seatmate who had a near-brush with death flash through our minds as we anticipate the ride. Thankfully,it's only a 70 minute trip from Philadelphia. However, now that William is much more mobile, he is considerably more wiggly (just ask the good people who sat near us in church this morning).

Now where did I put our extra supply of surfboard crackers?

Mother's Day 2008

Lately, I've been wishing I could hook a USB cable up to my head and do a mental download of all the sights and sounds William's birthmother has missed over the past few months. She has asked for photos of him on each of his birthdays, a request with which we are more than happy to comply. With them, we hope to send a letter detailing his growth, personality, and adjustment. There is just so much to show and tell.

I wish she could experience everything - the way his face tenses with anticipation then explodes into glee as I release him in the tree swing. I want her heart to ache at the pure, sweet sight of him sitting up in his crib, clapping his hands when he should be napping. I wish she could see how how frustrated he gets when he surveys his highchair tray and sees nothing he wants to eat. (For her sake, I might edit out his shrill whining. I could replace it with the sound of his purring like a cat when I rub my face against his soft belly.)

Unfortunately, mere words and pictures don't do these moments justice. On her first Mother's Day (do they celebrate Mother's Day in Taiwan? I don't know), I wish she could experience all of these things for herself. No doubt she longs for the same thing. As it is, through life's odd twists and turns, we are who we are, where we are, two mothers of the same beautiful boy. Mother's Day will never be the same for either of us again.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Fortunate One


At every turn, it seems like we keep running into "predictors" foretelling that William will one day have a prosperous life. I'm not one to put much stake in fortune tellers, palm readers, or even plain old-fashioned luck. Still, the following is interesting:

William's Chinese name, Szu-Chuan, bears the charcaters for gold. Incidentally, we learned from Sister Rosa at St. Lucy's that his birthfamily paid good money for a fortune teller to create his name.

Sister Rosa also said that two of the volunteers who come to work with the babies at St. Lucy's are palm readers. They looked at the lines on William's hands and predicted that wealth and prestige await him.

My Aunt Mary, who joined us at St. Lucy's on pickup day, tells me that when she reads our blog in Chinese via Google's translation tools, the name "William" translates into "wealth."

Perhaps inspired by William's Buddha-esque physique, my own father can't help but predict that he is destined to bring great financial gain upon our family.

I don't know what God has planned for our baby. There are so many things I would wish for him. However, if it's wealth that is headed his way, may he have the wisdom to know that money is not the sum total of life, that it's not his to keep anyways. He is merely the custodian of it on behalf of Someone Greater. If it's poverty that marks his days, may he have a deep-rooted faith that trusts that the same God who feeds the sparrows and clothes the lilies of the field will do the same for him. And if he's somewhere in between, may he have the humility to judge neither the wealthy nor the poor but to love them indiscriminately and to be generous with what he has been given.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Whiz Kid

We just returned from William's 9 month-old pediatrician's appointment. After a 40 minute wait, we finally met with the nurse practitioner. She went through the usual verbal checklist, then asked me to lay him down on the table.

As she was examining his privates, he decided to pee all over her hands. Perhaps it was a preemptive attempt to ward off the two shots and toe prick he was to receive later. Thankfully, she was a good sport and had a sink within easy reach.

As for the numbers, William weighed in at 22 lbs. and 10 oz. and measured 30 inches in length, considerably lighter and shorter than I had expected, but still quite a load to carry.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Get Your Move On















Craig and I have a bet going: he believes William will be walking by his first birthday. Given his slight motor delays and his overrall contentment to observe from a distance rather than be constantly hands-on, I beg to differ. I am guessing we won't see him walking - fully walking, not just taking a few faltering steps, then reverting to a crawl - until he's about 15 or 16 months old.

Unfortunately for me, Craig may be closer to winning the bet. These past two weeks have seen tremendous growth in William's mobility. He can now maneuver himself into a sitting position from lying down. His inability to do so before was one of the things that prompted the occupational therapist to categorize him as slightly delayed.

He has also started crawling in the traditional position on all fours. It's still a slow, sticky crawl (you can see for yourself in the video below), but he's definitely on the prowl. Baby gate, work your magic!

video

Finally, William has started pulling himself up to a standing position. I'm guessing he doesn't have the muscle strength in his arms and torso to do this well so he doesn't try very often. However, his legs are quite strong. He can balance himself upright with little support from us once he does manage to get up.

I know many people say that we shouldn't look forward to the day when he walks because all havoc will break loose. However, I don't half mind if it means my arms won't be so tired from schlepping him around. Tomorrow, William has his 9 month-old pediatrician appointment and I would not be surprised at all if he weighed in at least 24 pounds.

In the meantime, we have a baby on the go. Bravo, William!

The Next Best Thing

Do you remember Lucy, William's cute roommate at St. Lucy's? Unfortunately, there has been no news of a court decision on her behalf, granting her leave to join her new family.

However, she has been given the next best thing in the meantime. Her mother, Jackie, has flown halfway around the world just to visit her for a few days. How's that for love?

You can check out the heartwarming photos for yourself on their blog.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

2 Months Home

Yesterday marked the two month anniversary of William's joining our family. Has it only been that short a time? Looking back, it's becoming hard to remember a time when he wasn't a member of our family.

Families who have walked the adoptive path before us often say it's as if their child was handpicked for their family. The more we learn about William, the more we are finding this to be true.

He's the perfect little brother for Andrew: he's laid-back enough to tolerate Andrew's high-octane ways without breaking into tears (crying babies really unnerve him). That he is such a happy baby is also a confidence booster for Andrew. More than once, I've caught Andrew giving lessons to his classmates on how to play peek-a-boo just the right way in order to make his brother laugh.

From a parenting perspective, he's flexible enough to handle the rigors of being the second child - naps in the car, interrupted story time, an older brother who preempts his toys for use as makeshift Hot Wheels ramps. He's a good sleeper (apart from waking at 5:20 a.m. every morning). And his cheerful disposition and quick smile balance out our tendencies to be over-serious. God couldn't have matched us more perfectly.

By the way, did you notice that, just like us, our baby also has an extra chin or two? Surely the Good Lord has a sense of humor.

Elbow, Elbow, Wrist, Wrist

Some time over the past few days, William learned how to wave. Here he is giving a dispassionate wave to all his fans worldwide. (Sorry, blogreader in Indonesia; at the time of filming, you just couldn't compete with the weeds in our garden bed.)

video

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Perfect Shot

Below are some pictures of William and Andrew taken at a local indoor sports center earlier today. A few days a week, the staff clears out one of the soccer fields and fills it with toys for open play.

I tried my best to get a good picture of the two brothers, but as I'm quickly finding, the perfect shot is harder to capture than Osama bin Laden. I marvel at those families with 3+ children who can turn out Christmas cards with every child well-posed and smiling angelically. I think we may resort to taking the clever approach of our friends, Ted and Anna. They Photoshop the best versions of their 4 children's faces onto their bodies and voila! Instant money shot.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Laugh out Loud

Though William didn't quite deliver the full-out belly laughs he rendered the first time I humiliated myself making dog noises (wouldn't you know it? I didn't have my camera on hand), the following still contains a high concentration of giggles:

video