Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blogcation and the stalker

I'm too busy to get sucked any further into this nastiness. My family is leaving for a vacation in the morning, and it will be SWEET for this MAMA to get away. I doubt I'll be able to post while I'm gone, but I will if I can find the time and access to a computer. It's probably a good time to step away from the computer anyway. Someone is not being very nice, and I honestly don't have anything more to say to her.

She certainly is interested in me and my family though. Four log-ins over an hour and a half period, 89 minutes worth of time on my blog, and 38 page views. Perhaps it's time to go PWP. Note that I have not posted her blog URL, so she won't get a lot of hostile traffic coming from my three loyal readers, and that she's using an old user ID for a journal she hasn't kept up for more than two years to post her comments. Is that really any different than posting anonymously?

Two more points on the term "china doll"

1. You can't say that you use "china doll" affectionately and make it OK. That's like using the N-word and saying it was OK because you were just kidding. We aren't black, so we don't get to decide whether the N-word is hurtful or not. Only those to whom it is applied can make that decision. And this lame defense completely ducks my second and more fundamental point, that calling ANY child (Asian, black, white, purple, striped, whatever) a china doll is objectifying. You can call it political correctness, but I call it thoughtfulness. A thoughtful parent chooses words that build the child up, not knock her down.

2. I can't believe I have to point this out, but making fun of oneself (e.g., by using a double-entendre like "sugarmama" for your blog name) is fundamentally different than making fun of someone else, and really not even comparable to using an insulting and belittling word to describe a young child.

I think I started a fight

A cyberfight. Actually, I didn't really start it, but I stepped into it big-time. A friend of mine posted a comment on a third person's blog about that person's choice of words. She was writing about how she was considering joining the special needs program, and said something about how the boys adopted through this program are "the least of the least." My friend, being the parent of a boy adopted through the special needs program, found this terminology offensive, and said so in a comment on the third person's blog.

This person retaliated by insulting my friend in a subsequent post. She assumed that my friend must be an inexperienced parent to say what she did. Well, as another parent of a child adopted through the special needs program, I was also offended by her initial choice of words, and doubly offended when she insulted my friend, so I stepped in to say so. Unfortunately, I made my comment anonymously. I have since corrected that mistake, and now this blogger knows exactly who I am.

She called me politically correct for objecting to her use of "least of the least" and "china doll." Did you all know that "china doll" means prostitute? I would certainly never call my daughter or any other Asian girl a "china doll." Even if it didn't have that derogatory meaning, I still wouldn't use it. To call a child a doll objectifies her. It implies that she is something you keep to play with and dress up in pretty clothes. It makes her something less than you are, a plaything rather than a person. Avoiding the use of potentially hurtful names and labels is not political correctness, it's kindness.

A second problem I had with this blogger's post was her motivation for considering the special needs program. Since China's traditional program to adopt children with no known medical needs has slowed down so much, many more families have turned to the special needs program. I know that a lot of people are thinking about it because they don't want to wait five or more years for a child. I don't blame them for looking for a way around that wait. It's horrible that China is putting families in that position. And I wouldn't be totally honest if I said the wait played no role in our decision. But I said it played a role, not that it made us decide.

The ever-growing wait gave us the time to think about the special needs program. If we had only faced a 6-8 month wait, like we thought we had when we went into our adoption, I don't think we ever would have seriously considered the waiting child program. But given the time to think about it, to learn about the various health conditions these children have, we decided that we could do it. It took us some time. We were LID on August 1, 2006. Around Halloween, we printed out the medical conditions checklist and started talking about it. We did a lot of research, checked off some special needs, then reconsidered them. By Christmas, we were fairly confident about what needs we could handle and which ones we couldn't. We called our insurance carrier to verify what would be covered, talked at length with our social worker, then turned in our checklist.

At the heart of our decision to adopt a child with special needs was this belief: we can, so we should. We are lucky to have B, a perfectly healthy and vibrant child. We have group health insurance that will cover pre-existing conditions (not without a fight, it turned out, but that's another story). We can afford the co-pays and co-insurance to treat certain medical conditions. We have a supportive extended family and good friends we can lean on when times are tough. I have an employer that has a generous maternity leave policy, giving me enough time off work to help a child through medical treatment. In short, there were no good reasons why we should NOT adopt a child with special needs.

And it's true that these children have little chance of being adopted in China. If families in other countries don't open their hearts and homes to these children, they will grow up in institutions, and most will not receive the medical care they need. I think that's what this blogger was trying to say with her unfortunate choice of words.

But adopting a child with special needs is not easy. In addition to the developmental delays with speech and motor skills that most children adopted as toddlers from an orphanage environment display, our Z has a medical condition that will last a lifetime. She is lucky in that it is not life-threatening and will not limit her in very many ways, but it will never go away. For now, she looks a little bit different than other kids. If that bothers her when she is older, we can have cosmetic surgery to correct the way it looks, but it will never go away. It has involved a lot of doctor's visits, and two operating room visits under general anesthesia. Our medical bills have been rather hefty this year. And all of this will last a lifetime. (If it seems like I'm being rather mysterious here, I apologize. I made a choice way back when I first started blogging that I would protect certain core aspects of my family's privacy. This includes discussing the very personal details of just what Z's medical condition is. That is for her to share when she chooses to, not for me to share with the world at large.)

So what I'm saying is, don't take it lightly. Don't adopt a special needs child because you feel sorry for the child. Don't do it just to get around the wait. But if the wait opens your eyes to the program and some serious research and soul-searching leads you to believe you can do it, then by all means, go for it. And please, for the love of whatever diety you believe in, don't call those kids "the least of the least."

PS - I'm not sure whether to be flattered or offended to read that you think I could be the Rumor Queen, but I most definitely am not. Sorry to disappoint you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

B gets ahold of the camera again

Baby sister:

A self-portrait:

Two pictures of Lulu:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How cute are they?

This is my little sister & her fiance. They're getting married on August 2. Seriously, they look very happy, don't they?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Kitten on the lam

We have two cats, one sweet and scaredy, one fearless and evil. Kitten is the sweet and scaredy one. She hides when people come over. In fact, a friend who's been to our house many times over the past five years just told me that he never even knew we had TWO cats.

Lulu, on the other hand, is brave and seemingly friendly (it's an act -- don't be fooled -- once she's gotten what she wants from you, she'll turn into a demon). She jumps into the lap of every visitor and demands pets. She's especially fond of people who are allergic to cats. And any time we open the door, Lulu makes a break for freedom. (We don't let the cats out because of all the wildlife in our neighborhood. I had a dream shortly after we moved into this house that I looked out the dining room window just in time to see a fox dive under the hedge with Lulu in his mouth. Plus, the truth is that neither one of them is smart enough to find their way back home.)

Not Kitten though. She always stays inside where it's safe, and she stays away from people. Even we can't catch her. Getting her into a crate for a visit to the vet is a huge drama involving cornering her in a room with a shut door and disassembling furniture so she can't hide under it. Seriously, that has really happened. But at night, when we're in bed, she always shows up for some affection, then sleeps on top of my feet all night. Apparently we're much less threatening when we're horizontal.

Saturday night, she didn't show up. Around 10pm, M asked me if I'd seen Kitten. I was relatively sure I'd seen her briefly when we first came home from our trip to my parents', but I definitely hadn't seen her since then. We'd gone in and out of the house a lot, bringing in the loads of stuff you have to take when you do an overnight with two kids, but we're always pretty careful about shutting doors behind us (see the fox dream...).

We went all over the house, searching everywhere we could think of. We even got out a flashlight to look in dark corners and under furniture. No Kitten. After we'd given up, M mentioned that he'd thought he heard her in the garage, but he couldn't remember what he'd heard -- a jingle of tags, a meow, skittering paws? I went out to the garage to search it again, but no sign of kitten.

I was devastated. I adore that dumb little cat. Thinking maybe she'd gotten out and would eventually come home and meow at the door, I laid down on the couch in front of the open living room window and tried to read, my ears constantly perked for little kitty meows. After a couple hours went by with no sign of Kitten, I gave up and went to bed a very sad woman.

The next morning, we both took turns walking around the neighborhood, calling her & asking all the neighbors who were out if they'd seen her, but still there was no sign of Kitten. I went home with a very heavy heart, and tried to hide my tears from the kids.

M was getting ready to head up to the mountains for a bike ride, so I went out to move the carseats from his car to mine. When I pushed the button & the garage door started to go up, I saw a grey blur shoot out from under the tool bench and disappear under the shelves at the back of the garage. "Kitten's here! She's in the garage!" I practically danced with joy. I shut the garage door again and willed it to go down more quickly, before she could make a break in that direction and get outside, where we'd definitely never catch her. I moved a bunch of junk and stuck my hand under the shelves to grab her, and she hissed at me and took off again toward the front of the garage. I found her jammed into a 3" space between the bottom of a shelf and the top of my gardening cart. I grabbed her tense, hissy, growly little body, and brought her inside.

I hope that Kitten's night in the garage taught her to stay away from open doors! My heart will break if we ever lose one of those cats, even the evil Lulu.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This and that

We spent 4th of July with my parents. Some friends of theirs live right on the edge of the park where my hometown does their fireworks, and they always have a big party with lots of kids. We were crazy enough to let both kids stay up to see the fireworks -- Z went to sleep around 10pm and B not until after 11 -- but we didn't pay too high a price for that, believe it or not!

Most of the kids there were older, and B was determined to get their attention. He very earnestly demanded that they watch him do all sorts of crazy tricks, and that they go into a dark room in the house to see how his glow sticks worked. They all did a pretty good job of humoring him, and it was funny to watch.

B had seen fireworks before, but not since he was 2, and I'm pretty sure he didn't remember that experience. He's pretty sensitive to noise, so I gave him some earplugs. He put them in before we walked over to the park, because all the little backyard firecrackers were making him jump. When the big show started, he immediately backed up about four feet into someone's lap -- he thought they were going to get him! But he relaxed after that & really seemed to enjoy the show. Z watched about a third of the fireworks, then entertained herself by demanding that my mom, her friend and I repeatedly pass her back and forth among us.

On Saturday morning, my saintly parents agreed to feed the kids breakfast and take them swimming so M & I could go out to breakfast by ourselves. It was delightful. We had a scrumptious cajun breakfast and scoped out some neighborhoods in the town we'd like to move to. Most importantly, we had a leisurely adult conversation without any interruptions.

M found a quarter and gave it to B just before we left for home on Saturday. Half an hour later, as we were driving home, B asked me "Mommy, do you know where I put my money?" I offered the logical guess: in his pocket. "Nope! It's in my underwear!" Why? I have no idea. But I'm not borrowing change from B any time soon.

I have learned that both of my kids can open a child-proof medicine bottle more quickly than I can. I'm not sure whether this says more about their marvelous dexterity and intelligence, or my total lack of coordination.

B informed me last night that he has 14 fingers. He even counted them for me to demonstrate. He still says 11, 12, 14, 16, 11-teen, 20 when he counts in a hurry, but when he takes his time, he gets it right and can count up past 200 now before he loses track.

I am a woman on a mission. I've heard that Barack Obama's acceptance speech has been moved to a venue that will hold more than 75,000 people, and tickets are going to be given to lots of Colorado citizens. Did you know that he'll give this speech on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech? It gives me goosebumps just to think about it. I want to be there! And I am on a mission to somehow obtain two tickets.

There you have it -- my brain-dump for the day. I warned you with the title that this post would have no coherent theme!