Thursday, August 29, 2013

Once in awhile, it's awesome!

I received an email recently asking if I would be willing to help promote the new Barbie movie- Barbie Mariposa and the Fairy Princess.

Ummmm, yeah sure okay.


'Cause if I didn't, there are 2 tween girls roaming this house who would make me pay for my egregious error in judgement for at least the next 8- 10 years. Quite likely more.

So I agreed to write a post, and the movie people sent us dolls featured in the movie, Barbie and Catania. The excitement! The thrill! The massive amount of cool mom points!

And so, while I'm not sure this is exactly what the marketing department had in mind, I'm going to tell a little story.

When Genea first arrived in our home at the age of 4, she brought all of her possessions with her. DVD's and VCR tapes included as well as tons of toys. Most everything was brand spanking new, as she refused to play with toys. Anyway, as I've noted in the past, she moved in and spent the next 4 years give or take screaming, tantrumming and flipping across the ceiling. The most I could hope for her to do, other than those preferred activities, was about 2 minutes with a book or 10 minutes of a PBS show. That's it. Oh, or sleeping. Though even sleep only allowed her peace for a few hours at a time.

Rest assured, I tried everything. Good idea's, recommended idea's, bad and even super sucky ideas. Nothing. She would do nothing longer than 10 minutes if it distracted her from her goal of 12 hours of screaming a day.

Except for one thing. In her boxes of precious possessions was included a Barbie movie. When she asked if she  could watch it, I agreed easily. Couldn't hurt. Might help.

Genea sat down and watched that Barbie movie from start to finish. It was a long one, about 2 hours, and it was amazing.

So when I say we are Barbie fans in this house, I mean more like super-fans. I mean like Packers fans don't got nothing on  us. In the early days, those Barbie movies were the only thing that could hold Genea's attention.

Well, both of my girls were beyond thrilled with the dolls. They played pretend with them for -I'm not kidding I swear- 3 hours straight. The dolls both convert from "normal Barbie's" to Awesomely Beautiful Fairy Princess Royalty with a little button. Here they are....

Teena was so excited in the morning morning she risked speaking to me before my coffee to say she had written a story about her doll and was going to read it to me!

Barbie Mariposa and the Fairy Princess. Check it out.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Abandonment- How could I forget?

Genea has been with us for six years now. Having arrived at the age of 4, she'd spent those years split evenly between an orphanage and a different family.

Lots of issues from those early days have held on. One thing I doubt will ever go away is her distaste for change. I've often said, Genea has the rest of her life scheduled to be exactly the same as yesterday. She relies on a rigid adherence to time. If she sees me reading near lunchtime,  she begins to show anxiety. She'll make a show of getting up to check the time. Lots stomping loudly and sighing with voice. As 11:50 approaches, we eat at noon, she'll start to ask me if I want to know the time. No thank you, I'll say, I know the time. A few minutes later she'll start to discuss the time with herself. Oh good, she'll say, it's almost noon. If that fails to raise my attention, she starts to comment on her hunger level in relation to the time. MMm, I can't wait for lunch, she tells the air in the room. I'm so happy lunch is coming soon. Panic starts to set in and she comments to herself that her stomach hurts. Must be because I'm hungry, she says.

Usually by now I'll start to laugh a little. Not to be mean, but because it's kind of cute now that she's able to handle herself better. My sitting and reading does not fit in her cycle of expectations and is a change. That makes it bad. She knows lunch is coming, she knows she has never missed a meal in this house. Not once. Never. But she still needs to reassure herself that if things do not appear in the anticipated way, that indeed I'm not messing things up, about to skip the very first meal in approximately 2,190 successive occasions.

So when our little cat Bailey died, we knew that she would be devastated that something so important had happened without any of her control. She was devastated but okay. Somehow, maybe all these years of counseling, she dealt with it as well as could be expected. In fact it was Teena who went off her rocker and skyrocketed into the WTF Zone.

About a week later, The Husband took a brief trip to Ohio to help his grandmother move.

Somehow then, I failed miserably and fantastically, to consider that her father going away would set off her triggers and alarms and leave her fighting in the dust scrambling to regain her traction using all of her old ways to communicate. None of which involved words.

I took the three of us to visit my parents for the weekend. Share the responsibility a little. Genea lost almost every skill she has learned. Unable for even a minute to distract herself from what her psychiatrist calls her woodpecker behavior. If there was a way to get my attention on her, good/ bad/ indifferent was irrelevant. She came at me like a starving mosquito. When that failed, she went after Teena. Following that she started going after my parents dogs. Determined.

Because I am dense like that sometimes, I was still chalking it up to missing Bailey. I noticed though, we were sitting at my moms counter next to each other on the stools eating some fruit, her pupils were dilated way more than there was a need for. I knew then, that something else was going on and asked her.

"I'm worried about Daddy", she told me.

Oh geez. With everything else going on I never even considered she was worried about her Dad. But HELLO her cat just died and now her dad disappeared. Sheesh.

"What are you worried might happen?"
"I'm worried he might not come back. Or he might die. Or I'll never see him again".

In my defense, it's been SIX YEARS. Genea is 10 now. And yet, when something confusing happened, an unexpected change, and her control was swiped away, she immediately fell back into an intense fear of abandonment. An almost primal fear state I had failed to even consider might come around after all this time. Yet it did. With bells on.

Well, bells, a torch and a grenade.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Winner

Well, I greatly underestimated the crazy stuff that other schools could come up with for parents to buy. I thought for sure my own entry would take the win (3 empty 2liter soda bottles?) and after all, there was no prize. However, as I sat innocently clicking through comments, gigging to myself, along comes Hevel from to knock the rest of us out of the parking lot. Down the hill and through the weeds. To lay soggy in a marsh full of trash and brain munching amoeba infested waters.This is his comment, in full.

"Let me see, my kid in art school is required to take in 3 posable figures from IKEA. He already took in three last year. We have one at home, and it's impossible those three have been worn out already.

Last year (we homeschool this year) one of the kids had to take in used or new, blank label CDs or DVDs. They were used for Sukkot decorations. Since we always label our CD's I had to buy all new ones.

100 toilet paper rolls for the two in gan, each. No idea what they did with those. 1 kg of potatoes for the 4th graders each. At least I know they used them for a stamping project.

2 bags of wallpaper glue. When my kid went to school in Hungary, a class of 30 pupils used a bag for a whole year, and then the teacher had enough left over to glue wallpaper on the beaten up wardrobes to make them presentable for the following year. "

Wow. I mean, to me it sounds like someone is moving to a new house and is expecting parents to foot the costs for the redecorating and bathroom needs of the owners.

So Hevel wins. Big time!

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Contest! No Prize!

Once again, for the 6th time, back- to- school shopping rolled around in my life. This year, I did things a little differently. Designed to maximize my comfort and reduce personal stress, I set myself up with a clipboard across from the teeming mass of supplies, children, and parents that reminded me of a maggot infestation. I called out what was needed and assigned a name. The called upon child then raced through the aisles, tossing aside ugly pencils and weird notebooks to acquire the needed item. The child brought the item, told me the price, and I approved it for the cart.

It went well!

Typically I require the cheapest, store brand  junk available but I allowed them each one "luxury item" this year. They could pick one special, fancy, pricey thing. They both chose pencil containers.

I present to you the selections.

This is Teena's. She loves color in a mind altering way. I find my eyes seizing up just looking at it.

This is Genea's. She loves wallpaper.

And amazingly, she managed to find a reflective, metallic bag that practically glows! The full glory could not be contained to just one photo.

Last year for some reason, Genea's room teacher requested 48 pencils. The language teacher requested a set of 24. Other teachers, music, pe etc, requested a few pencils here and there. The grand total pencils I sent my 9 year old to school with that year was 78. All of which had to be sharpened!!! I was flabbergasted. However, I regretfully have to acknowledge that Genea "ran out" of pencils around January (code for *hucked them in the trash thinking she would not have to do work that way*) and expected me to buy more. Without sympathy, I told her to dig around under her bed until she found some. It had become one of her "things".

Anyway, the contest without a prize is the most ridiculous item on your childs school supply list this year. It should be known that I am prone to announcing contests in this vein only because I myself believe I have the winning entry. With that disclaimer, I give you my submission:

3 empty 2 liter soda bottles. Not green or tinted. Rinsed, with the label removed.


I could go off on childhood obesity and blah blah blah but that would be too easy. My objection here is, we don't drink soda. If I buy it, I actually go find those little half- size cans. Sometimes clear soda in bottles for a sick kid. That's it. I surely do not ever buy soda in liter measured quantities.

I'm guessing they are for some super cool experiment, or to make a lesson of I dunno', gravity or something. It's just strange. (3) 2 liter soda bottles, 963 individual tissues, only 56 pencils, and some folders that she will bring home in June of 2014 untouched by human hands. Etcetera.

SPECIAL BONUS NON PRIZE to the first person who can tell me how to get those cool social media icons embedded in a post (and working of course). I can get them to show on a sidebar, but using the gadget things, nothing shows up when I drag it over. It shows on my template, but not on the live blog. Argck!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Conclusion: Birth Mother information

To summarize, I found a profile on facebook where the name matched that of my daughters birth mother. I freaked out a little, wondering all sorts of things, including "what if I contact her and she wants Genea back" as well as my startling reaction. I heavily considered the statement of an adoption professional that adoptive parents should never participate in any search activities when it comes to the birth parents.

I will add, the lecturer who stated parents should never get involved is an "adoptee" herself, and works with adult adoptee's. In the comments of the post on Casa Bicicleta was the point that 100% of grown, international adoptees at another seminar reportedly said that adoptive parents should always keep their hands off the search.

Regardless of that opinion, I decided I had to do something. Genea may resent my intrusion some day in the future. However, I believe if she found out I could have searched and didn't, and the information changed and was gone forever, it could harm our relationship permanently. The adoptee's referenced above were from Korea. I don't know about the reliability of records there, or resident mobility, but I think there is decent documentation. In a country like China for example, entire villages are mowed down for progress. Children are abandoned anonymously and if there is any link, I think you have to race to preserve it. In Haiti, there are often not even records of birth. Haiti additionally had the earthquake which killed so many and dislocated so many others. If an adoptive parent has a trace of information they'd really ought to hustle to keep it for their adopted child. In my opinion.

Anyway, I did it. After deciding I was thinking too much and needed to just do something already, I sent a private message to the woman on facebook. All it said was "are you in Ukraine?"

I checked my private message box every few.... seconds, for a long time. Despite the fact that facebook plops a bright red circle on the box if there is a message, I clicked and checked anyway just in case there were errors. Nothing. Several weeks went by and nothing. I had no way to know if the woman had seen the message. The profile remained unchanged.

At one point, I was on my phone using the facebook app and clicked in to see if anything had happened. Come to discover, on the app it notes if the message recipient has seen the message and date stamps it. She had seen it. No response.

Of course, it takes me awhile sometimes to pull all my brain cells together to work towards a single goal and I realized- she may very well not speak English. Argh. Like Russia, Ukraine uses the Cyrillic alphabet. Have you seen this? It is extremely difficult! The government of Ukraine uses Ukrainian as their language, however large portions of the country use primarily Russian.

*Insert tons of mind numbing research including an effort to translate information with no exact sound- to- sound equivalent here.*

Using a translation program, I sent another message. I know Ukrainian pride is very important, especially concerning independence from Russia. I desperately did not want to be culturally offensive by using the wrong language. I'd sought out advice from a Ukrainian immigrant (thanks to a connection with Lindsay) and discovered the subject of language was even more complex than I thought. I finally decided if the government uses Ukrainian, it probably has the best chance of being understood.
This is my message:
Hello. I am searching for a woman with your name from Abcxyz, Ukraine. The woman would be ## years old. If that fits you, please reply. Thank you.

So, as of now, nothing. No response no matter how I click into facebook. I don't know if I'm being ignored, which is fine, or unseen, which would be something else.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

And then there is this.....

To continue, having unexpectedly found a name matching that of Genea's birth mother on facebook, I was frozen in place as to what to do next.

About a year ago I read a fascinating post on the blog Casa Bicecleta. The blog author had attended a seminar presented by a well known adoption expert (who she never names). Muddling through emotional incendiary explosives as one does at these things, she listened closely as the subject of birth parent searches came up.

The lecturer was  asked "Is it okay for the adoptive parents to search for the birth parents?". The blogger (CB) had spent a long time considering the many facets of taking on the search for a young child adopted internationally. Whether it was the right thing to do, whether it would do more harm than good. 

I expected CB would go on to explain the speakers answer in terms of "if/then" and geared up to skim the section.
IF the child remembers their birth parents, THEN you should make contact.
IF the child's birth parents do not want contact, THEN you should respect that.
IF the child has medical needs, THEN search.

I was one hundred percent surprised to read on and find the presenter gave an answer in absolute terms.
No, she said. Never.


Searching out birth parents is something I thought of as my responsibility! To get what information we  could get and hold it for Genea until she was of an age to either handle it or when she became an adult.

I was highly tempted to dismiss the opinion. CB goes on to reiterate the status of the lecturer. Well known, highly respected, with great insights and loads of personal experience (still no name).

However, something I have discovered many times on this 'adoption journey' is, I may not always understand. I might just have to accept certain ideas as facts which I will never comprehend.

At any rate, CB proceeds to analyze her own beliefs in reaction to the lecturers statement. Here is an excerpt:

 And when I think about searching....I'm trying to think if she would want me to do that FOR her.  And I'm not sure she would want me to do that.  I want to give her information.  Because I want to help her.  I think that having information will make her feel better, having answers to her questions will give her a narrative that she can latch on to--she's a very concrete person.  I think a story will help.  I.  I.  I.  I think.  I want.  I suppose.  Mostly because I know for myself I would want information, I would want to have that, I would need it, it would make me feel better.  I, me, my needs, my wants, what I think, I feel.

And then, if I try to think of myself and my Mother......if I try to put myself in Bicicleta Girl's place.....


If I think of my Mother trying to do something like doing a search for me....  I have a feeling it would piss me off. I don't know.  I was, am, continue to be, fiercely independent. And if my Mother tried to hone in on my story and make herself part of it or tried to decide what I wanted, something so personal, something so excruciatingly personal as my Birth story....yeah....I would hate that.

I never thought of it that way before.  I always thought of it as me, the Mom, giving something to my daughter.  Something to help her.  Something to arm her with.  I wanted to give my girl some information to help her.  I wanted to be the one to GIVE her what she needed to be strong.  And you know what?  Maybe she doesn't want what I have to give her.  Maybe she wants to get it all by herself.

Mmm, yes, the "I"'s have summed up my opinion perfectly.
Part 4 to come (surely you didn't think I could keep it simple?)

What is your perspective?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

To continue.... birth mother considerations

It all seems rather anti- climatic now, but I'm going to continue anyway as I had planned. Since it got so dragged out though, I want to say that in the end there is no connection made.
(highlight the black bar to preview the ending. I feel bad this got dragged out so if you just want to know already, you can find out)

I had poked around Facebook and found an entry with a name that matched that of Genea's birth mother. The profile had been put up less than 2 weeks prior to my finding it.

To say I was shocked to find a matching name with such coincidental timing would be like saying eh, it can get chilly in Wisconsin . More like an earthquake and a blizzard hit simultaneously. Suddenly I could hear my blood rushing through my veins,  my stomach clenched and contracted, my eyes felt hot.

My very first thought was "what if that is her and she wants Genea back?". What if I contact her and she says the relinquishment was a huge mistake?  Once the thought barreled in, there was nothing I could do. I couldn't not think it through.

Then I was even more rattled, because the follow up was not, No Way In Hell. Unbidden, my brain listed a series of pro's and con's. Another part of my brain felt betrayed. How could I even think that? How could I defend the thought? What is wrong with me?

Suspicious of myself, I pondered a few ideas. Of course I love Genea. Of course I want her. Of course she is part of our family. But what if it would be better for her to be with her biological mother?

Logically I know that disrupting Genea even further, shipping her to a country she doesn't know, to a person she doesn't know, probably would not benefit her. But logic and feelings don't always meet neatly.

I think of the story of The Red Thread. It's a Chinese legend that says people who are destined to be important to each other are connected by a red thread. It may stretch and twist, but will never break. It is often referenced in adoption. Adopting parents sometimes consider their child was meant to be theirs and the red thread brought them together. Before learning that concept (today, on Wikipedia, checking my reference), I always thought the red thread was the child's connection to China and birth parents. Regardless there are many who scoff at it as a cliché, or as an excuse adoptive parents use to cover their discomforts. Some people consider it vile that the adoption community has hijacked the story in the first place.

Personally, I love it and I think it's beautiful.

Following the legend then, certainly Genea has a thread to me. Hers winds and twists over oceans and continents connecting her to people I've not met. Truly significant people I'll probably never even know about. When I think of my biological daughter I imagine a thick red cord. A fat cable even. It's a short, tight little thing.  Nausea provoking the thought may be, but if somehow we were separated when she was born, the thread would be there connecting us forever.

Anyway. Following my thoughts through, how could I not consider the feelings of another birth mother? Impossible.

That's if I were to contact her. That's if the mystery Facebook woman were to even be the right person. Myriad "if's".

More coming.


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