Monday, June 30, 2008

Hey, You

Yes, You. While there are several PHL to TPE readers who are themselves adoptive parents or parents-to-be, there are many who aren't. You may be family members. You may be friends. You may have stumbled onto our blog through some other means.

Whoever you are, I suspect that some of you are curious about adoption. When you read blogs such as ours, a light goes on somewhere in your heart. The fact that there are a suspected 100 million orphaned children worldwide tugs at you. When you come across adoptive families, you think, "Hmm, I just might be able to see myself in that scenario one day."

I firmly believe that a) not everyone is meant to adopt a child, however, b) God does put a call on the hearts of many people to do so, whether Christian or not, c) some of those who are being called aren't picking up the phone.

If you are one of those people who have been lurking and reading, well, there's no shame in that. However, if you are one of those people I described above, I encourage you to take the next step. Do some research on domestic or international adoption. Some great places to start are adoption.com, rainbowkids.com, and the U.S. Department of State website. If you're the kind of person who finds inspiration in real, human stories, check out this massive list of adoption blogs (they are Taiwan-specific).

I sincerely challenge you to act on your curiosity. Who knows but that it might lead to something and someone who will change your world in ways so beautiful you never thought possible?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Coin-O-Matic Baby

Directions:

Step 1: Affix baby with mosquito-bitten face to exercise ball.

Step 2: Pat the ball furiously.

Step 3: Wonder what kinds of peculiar behaviors you might have engaged in as a young child.

video

Friday, June 27, 2008

Goodbye, Hello!

I am thrilled for Yvonne, Marina, and Lora, who travel to Taiwan over the next several days to pick up their children, Lachlan, Sarah, and Allie. Lachlan is in foster care and Sarah and Allie hail from William's old haunt, St. Lucy's Center in Tainan. Congratulations to the soon-to-be expanded families. I wish them the safest of travels, the most memorable of first encounters, the smoothest of transitions, and many good nights of sleep going forward.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vampire Jr.

You know the phrase, "Once bitten, twice shy?" Lately, I've grown to understand the sentiment behind that saying very well.

William's teething has really run amok, and he has now taken to biting me randomly. This morning, I sustained a bite to my thigh (good thing for wearing baggy pants). His "nibbling" has gotten to the point where I am sometimes afraid to let him rest his face on my shoulder because I have been bitten there one too many times. That's a sad thing, especially during put-down time when we sing, "Jesus Loves Me" as we walk around the dim room. So great is my fear that there are times when I have to hold him at semi-arms length as we circle the nursery.

"This is merely a phase, merely a phase." Breathe deeply in and out, then repeat several times.

(By the way, the creepy photo to the left is merely a shot of William lunging with one hand for my camera. He wasn't coming to suck my blood. All joking aside, I love you, little guy.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

So, We Meet Again.

As you may recall, my uncle was gracious enough to drive us up to Tainan to pick up William at St. Lucy's and to take photographs of the occasion. Unfortunately, the CD of pictures he burned for us got lost in transit.

My cousin has been kind enough to re-send them to us via email, but for some reason, we've had a lot of difficulty opening the files. We had a modicum of success last night, though, and were able to get a couple of pictures open. Below are some images from the special day that would forever change the course of our family.

As I look at these pictures, I have fond memories of the day we met our beautiful boy and of the wonderful staff at St. Lucy's who did their best to nurture him until we could come for him. I also think of all the other mothers who long to bring home their children, William's roomates. Among the many, I remember Jackie, Lora, Marina, Tiffanie, TamiJoy, Sarah, and KB, who eagerly await their little ones - and in some cases, the resolution of frustrating legalities. May the joy of Meeting Day be theirs very, very, very soon.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hello, Summertime!

William's adoptive grandparents have made their three-day, cross-country trek to the East Coast. Upon first seeing them, he was a bit guarded (maybe he associated them with all the upheaval of his homecoming three months ago? He had a similar reaction when he saw my parents again; they had initially traveled with us to get him in Taiwan.) Still, it wasn't long before he warmed up to them and turned on the charm.

Below are some pictures from our afternoon in the backyard with Nana, Pa, Aunt Kaity, Uncle Kevin, and Cousin Isaac.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

William's Favorite Things / 11 Months Old

Taking my cue from Ms. Winfrey, I now present you with a list of William's favorite things, current as of his 11 month-old birthday today.

1. Dogs. The boy is fearless around dogs and will throw himself at any canine passing by. A mere picture of a dog is enough to get him excited. Case in point: in an attempt to keep him amused and quiet during church, I let him play with my cell phone, which has a generic screen saver with different animals. Bad move. As soon as the image of a dog flashed by, he let out a loud, happy screech.

2. Music. He especially loves the CDs of children's music we purchased at the Eslite bookstore in Taipei. (Incidentally, I've noticed an uncanny number of songs feature lyrics about going to school, studying hard, and doing homework. Perhaps American kids' music needs to take a cue?)

3. Water. Swimming lessons are now over and all his fellow classmates and parents are probably glad. They had to give William and his propeller-like arms a very, very wide berth.

4. Eating. We thank God for a willing eater who will sample anything from sauteed mushrooms and herbed beans to carpet fuzz and miniscule bits of dried Play-Doh fallen on the floor. I keep a reasonably clean house but still find that I have to fish random objects of his mouth at least 3 times a day.

5. Books. My earlier concerns about his not being able to focus while I read to him have abated. He often crawls over to the shelf where his books are kept, pulls them down, and tries to look at them. His current favorite? Books with peekaboo flaps and - surprise! Anything with dogs.

6. Anything with which Andrew is playing. Big brother just can't understand why William is so... well, grabby.

7. Brushing teeth. William is entranced when watching others brush their teeth. He also loves to have his 9 chompers scrubbed with a fingertip toothbrush. Woe to the brusher, though. It's as risky a proposition as trying to stick your finger in a shark's mouth. It's a miracle I still have an index finger.

8. People. Chances are quite good that William will be an extrovert. He certainly seems to enjoy people and frequently tries to engage their attention with a big grin. If strangers aren't commenting on what a chunky baby he is, they are remarking about what a happy baby he appears to be.

9. "Walking" with assistance. I think it will still be a few more months before William walks unassisted, but in the meantime, he is so proud of himself when he puts one foot in front of the other and motors along holding our hands. You should hear the "Yaaaaay!" he sends up and the ovation he gives himself afterwards. We're still working on the humble thing.

10. When Daddy comes home from work. Why don't I elicit smiles like these? Their brilliance could blind anyone.

Happy 11 months, little man. May your next month of life bring you continued delight in all of your favorite things.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Old Bottles for New?

I have heard from very reliable sources (o.k., my friend, Amy at Occupation: Mommy) that many Babies 'R Us strores are accepting returns on baby bottles containing BPA. Of course, they aren't trumpeting the news from the rooftops for obvious reasons, but a quick search online confirms that the rumor is indeed true.

Each store seems to have a varying policy from the next. Some will give store credit for the old bottles, others will exchange the bottles for non-BPA ones, some may take no action at all. I decided to find out for myself. When I called our local BRU, I was told they would indeed take back Andrew's old bottles and allow me to swap them for non-BPA ones. Even though William currently drinks from BPA-less bottles, I can count dozens of babies who could benefit from a gift of BPA-free bottles. Why not try?

Sadly, when I got to the customer service desk, I was informed that the bottles had to be in sets of 3 (i.e., three four-ounce Avent bottles, three eight-ounce Gerber bottles, etc.). Apparently, the cost per bottle is less when they are sold in sets, thus reducing the refund amount to the customer. I suspect that enforcing such a restrictive rule also prohibits more parents from taking advantage of the exchange policy.

This sets-of-three policy was a big problem for me as I didn't purchase any of the bottles in groups of three. During Andrew's first six weeks of life, he refused to latch on while nursing and only drank from a bottle. After countless arduous feeding sessions, he finally got the hang of breastfeeding and declared a permanent bottle strike. During that time, we experimented in vain with numerous brands to try to find one he would take. Sets of three? No way.

Alas, William and I were forced to trudge back to the car with our large bag of assorted bottles. Failed exchange notwithstanding, I am at least happy to know that there are stores that are taking action against the use of BPAs in bottles. It's a step in the right direction.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Defiance

William's will has been showing itself lately. I think the picture below captures it well:


"Mommy says don't pull at her glasses. The crazy glue holding them together will break again." Chubby hands then reach up for the frail glasses.

"Mommy says don't play with Daddy's alarm clock. You'll reset it to go off at 1 a.m. once again." Baby makes a mad crawl back towards the alarm clock.

"Mommy says don't chew on the lamp's cord." Baby crawls back to the lamp and raises the wire towards his eager mouth.

For some time, I would repeat my admonitions and William would respond with laughter. (Do I really look that amusing when I reprimand?) I'm happy to report that as of lately, William has started to recognize the word "No" in both English and Mandarin. I can tell the meaning has registered from the serious expression on his face when I say "No," his back and forth glances at the off-limits object, the furtive looks he casts towards me as he approaches said verboten item. Sometimes he doesn't obey. Sometimes he does.

All I know is that anyone who tells you that babies are born spotless and innocent has never truly raised a child from scratch. The hard task of training our children to be respectful, obedient, and mindful of everyone's safety has already been laid out for us. And here at the K. household, it's time to get to work.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Last and First

Today heralded Andrew's last day of Pre-K. We are so proud of our big boy! It also marked the occasion of William's first haircut. While Gege finished up his school year with a class sprinkler/ice cream party, Didi and I headed to a child-friendly salon nearby. His hair was starting to look like an old man's who has just run indoors from a hurricane.



The salon features vehicle seats and t.v. screens to keep its young clients well-diverted. William, who has never watched Sesame Street, was mesmerized by the sight of Elmo to the point where he barely noticed the woman snipping away at his hair. What a relief, considering his older brother screamed bloody murder through most of his first two years of haircuts.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the newly coiffed William...


















I made sure to save a few locks of his hair for sentiment's sake. I'm thinking of mailing one William's birthmother when we send pictures and a letter to her in a few months. Next to me, she's the only other woman in the world who would treasure his leftover hair so much.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Ugly on BPA

Every now and then, I keep my ear to the parenting ground via a few choice online message boards. One of the hot topics that came up several weeks ago was the subject of BPA, or bisphenol-A, a chemical used in some plastics. BPA has been commonly found in baby bottles and other plastic products. The substance is so widespread that the CDC found trace amounts of BPA in 95% of the people its researchers tested.

According to one biologist who cites tests done on lab rats, "Very low doses [of BPA] — below the amounts that are present in humans — when, particularly, exposure occurs in fetuses and newborns... those babies eventually [develop] prostate cancer, breast cancer. They become hyperactive. They show learning impairment. It's a poster chemical for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder." Other findings suggest BPAs might lead to early onset puberty in females.

Um, that's scary.

Apparently, the use of BPA in baby bottles has become such a concern that the nation of Canada has declared a ban on bottles containing the substance. The American Chemistry Council, in the meantime, refutes the claim that BPAs pose any threat to human health.

I probably don't worry as much as I should about most of the health scares that crop up every three seconds. Still, this one has caught my attention. The last thing William needs is yet another potentially carcinogenic substance vying for his health. He's currently using Born Free bottles, one of the brands that is BPA-free. (For a list of other BPA-free bottles and feeding products, check out this list of recommendations I found online).

Quite soon, we'll need to transition him from a bottle to a sippy cup, so we're back on the prowl for more BPA-free drinkware. If you have any favorites that you can recommend, please do share. Enquiring minds and a thirsty baby want to know.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

3 Months Home

Yesterday marked William's three month anniversary of joining our family. When I mentioned this milestone to Craig last night, he was genuinely surprised because it really does feel like William has been with us for much, much longer.

Over the last month, we have seen more outward signs of a healthy bond developing. I could be wrong, but I think he's starting to trust us more to provide for him. In the first two months of being home, he would kick and howl and cry in his highchair until we inserted his bottle into his mouth. (Believe me, we prep his food as much as we can in advance of feeding time and waste no time in getting it to him.) Nowadays, he fusses much less. I'd like to think this change indicates his understanding that we'll provide for him unfailingly.

William is also expressing a recognition that we belong together. Recently, we were recently at a large indoor playground with our local MOPS group. He decided to chase after a toy that was a good 30 feet away. I let him go and waited with some apprehension. What would he do when he tired of the toy? Would he remember where I was and search for me? Would he crawl around aimlessly and cry because he thought himself abandoned?

I'm happy to report that when he did bore of the toy, he turned around and came back to me without missing a beat. Considering there were plenty of other children and parents around, he searched for me and found me. It seems silly to think he wouldn't, but as an adoptive parent, I don't take these outcomes for granted.

And finally, my favorite indicator of healthy bonding: for the past several weeks William has been giving me kisses. It's so sweet. He looks like a trout as he slowly angles his face towards mine, his petite mouth puckered into a perfect "O." (I know, fish are far from cute, but I think you get the picture). Just for the moment, it's easy to forget that I've been slimed and slobbered with baby drool. Ahhh... bliss.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Stork Strikes Again - Twice!

I have been reeling with joy this past week at so many announcements of incoming babies. This week, two of my blogging friends, Sarah W. and K.B. were referred babies from St. Lucy's Center.

Sarah, the undisputed queen of the Taiwanese adoption blogging world, has been matched with a 4 month-old baby girl after a nearly 16 month wait. I have yet to see Hannah Claire's entire picture, but rumor has it that she has a set of chins that could give William's a run for the money.

After an emotional roller-coaster ride of a wait, K.B. and her family were finally matched with a wonderful little 4 month-old boy. I am so happy for her!

It is amazing how excited I have become for women whom I have never met face-to-face. In following their blogs and corresponding through email, it has been impossible not to get caught up in all the highs and lows of their journeys and to hold my breath along with them as they waited for their referral days. I'm delighted to now have the opportunity to exhale.

Up and At 'Em

Quite literally. Ever since William figured out how to pull himself up to a standing position, he's been trying to grab anything within reach on low-lying surfaces. We have to make sure that all the small objects lying about are inaccessible to him. It's as if his mouth is a black hole that ineluctably sucks off-limits items in its direction.

Babyproofing aside, William is so proud of himself. Often when he pulls up, he will rest his weight on whatever is supporting him, clap, and smile irrepressibly. Sometimes, he even cheers "Yaaaaaaay!" for himself.

It has really been exciting watching him hit so many milestones in less than three months of being home. The experience is akin to watching fireworks explode in slow motion. William is now where he should be developmentally. Naturally, I wonder if his motor skills would have progressed much more quickly had he not lived in an insitution setting for almost 5 months of his life. Either way, we are grateful for the rare opportunity to have had him home at a younger age so that we can bear witness to the unfolding of these minor miracles.