Just living my life, and making it work!

Archive for June, 2013

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How We Became An Asian American Family

Last September my husband a I embarked on a journey that would open my heart and mind in ways I didn’t expect. When we started our adoption journey we set our sights on Central or Eastern Europe. We both had a natural affinity for that part of the world. I was looking into Russian adoptions, and called a few agencies that had good reviews and helpful websites.

During my research I found that Russia was not a member of The Hague Treaty ( a set of laws that is supposed to protect families and children, and make sure international adoptions are carried out ethically). We didn’t feel comfortable going with a non-Hage country so we set our sights on Bulgaria. That country is part of the Hage, and freely accepts people with disabilities as applicants. During this time of information gathering I never gave China a thought. I knew they didn’t generally accept applicants with disabilities, and frankly I knew close to nothing about the culture. In fact, I remember telling my close girl friends that we were not interested in perusing a Chinese adoption.

I am a proactive person. Once I decide I am going to do something I take action to make it happen. I started browsing hundreds of pictures of waiting children. I registered to have access to between four and six different lists of waiting children. We were looking for children with visual impairments ( wouldn’t want any drivers in the family, wink wink). I saw several that on paper would be a good match for our family, but none jumped out at me. Until… this thumbnail size picture of this little boy with a water gun. He had thick glasses and a mischievous smile. My heart was instantly drawn to him. All of my biological kids are very outgoing and energetic. A shy reserved child probably wouldn’t mix well with the other three. Lol We reviewed his medical history and decided to ask China for special pre approval to adopt him.

We decided in August 2012 to adopt, and found our son in September 2012. ( We hope to bring him home in August 2013) We’ve been working ever since to bring him home. During the last year I have been researching how to parent an older interracially adopted child, and something unexpeded happened. Of course providing opportunities for your child to participate in and learn about their birth culture is important. I figured that he could take an art or language class here or there. I saw it more as something to check off a to do list than a life style.

I began to read about China, and the social pressures and laws that lead to high rates of abandonment, and my heart for these people changed. I began to see them not as horrible monsters who leave their babies on the side of a road to real people faced with heart wrenching choices. Who relinquish their children out of love, and hope for a better life. I began to appreciate the culture that gave us our fourth child, and now actually look forward to participating in Chinese holidays, and cultural events. After all we are now inexplicably tied to the Chinese culture through our son. It will forever be a part of our family history and culture. We may not be so in the traditional since of the word, but we are an Asian American family.

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Have Cane & Kids Will Travel

I love traveling during Christmas. It helps keep my children focused on spending time with family instead of gifts. We do not participate in the tradition of Santa so it is easy for us to have Christmas morning anywhere. Plus it is exciting to be a tourist during the holidays. Streets are beautifully decorated, and people are generally in a more cheerful mood.

When we announced our plans to travel with three children to Germany last Christmas most of our friends thought we were crazy, and maybe we were. It took two city busses, three plains, nine carry on bags, two strollers, and nearly 24 hours to get us there. At the time our children were 14 months, 4 years, and 7 years old. It wasn’t always easy. My son, the middle child, fell nearly breaking his eye socket, got electrical burns on his fingers TWICE, and fell through the train platform onto the tracks. Every time we moved between cities ( four times) we had to load everything up…walk to the rain station….get on the train….get seated…entertain the kids…get off the train…and walk to the new hotel. We didn’t always know where we were going, and our vision makes it difficult to see street signs. We didn’t even always find seats on the trains as reservations for all of us would have been expensive. Oh, did I mention we don’t speak German? It was all part of the adventure, and I would do it again in a heart beat.

True our kids were too young for activities like historical walking tours, Concentration camps, and the like. However, there are children everywhere, and we found plenty of interesting things for them to do. We went to five different cities, countless Christmas Markets, a perfectly preserved walled mid evil town, a chocolate museum, a salt mine, a zoo, two King Ludwig castles, the Duches Museum ( think German Smithsonian) , two fortresses, and several playgrounds we accidentally found. Just flipping through our scrapbook ( that I just completed by the way) wears me out.

There were also those everyday cultural experiences like eating at the Hoffbrauhaus, hanging out at the local laundry mat or grocery store. Watching German cartoons ( often Nickelodeon or Disney in German voices). They learned that Germans have two kinds of apple juice, one carbonated and one regular. We figured out very quickly the words for each as the kids hated the carbonated kind. They loved drinking juice from wine glasses, and trying all the different pastries in the doughnut shops and Christmas markets. They played on awesome playground equipment that you’d never see here in the States due to liability issues. Our hotel in Munich happened to be in a Middle Eastern ethnic neighborhood so my kids experienced a little of that culture as well.

They had a great time, and regularly ask if we can go back. I think the most valuable thing they learned is there is a great big world out there. People have, and do different things. Some you’ll enjoy, and some you won’t, but it is fun to experience it nonetheless. I am very fortunate to have been able to share my love of travel and experiencing different cultures with my children. I hope to take them all to China someday to experience the culture tha gave us our second son.

Hoffbrauhaus Muunich

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Salt Mine Salzburg Austria

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That’s A Slide!! Munich Zoo

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My daughter and I ridding on the train steps because all the seats were full.

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