Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Last Day!

Learn or teach about positive adoption language.

I've been noodling over a post about this anyway, since we occasionally get a comment that uses negative adoption language. Someone recently said S was "pretty close to being mine" because she came to us at 2 days of age. I assured her that S was well and truly ours, legally and otherwise.

I'll admit I'm not always as consistent as I should be with certain terminology. So here we go. This information is derived in part from information provided early in our adoption by our agency.

The words we choose say a lot about how we really think. Using positive adoption language means choosing words that show respect for all participants in the adoption (birthparents, adoptive parents, and adoptees). Using positive adoption language can help validate adoption as an option to build a family, just as birth is. Both are important, but one is not better than the other.

  • Birthparents should be described as such. Using the term real parent or natural parent implies that the adoptive parents are imaginary, or artificial.
  • Mom, Dad, or parent are fine, and don't need to be preceeded by "adoptive". There are certain situations where it is germane to conversation, but not usually.
  • Birthparents don't abandon, relinquish, or surrender their child, or put their child up for adoption. Birthparents make an adoption plan, just as some biological parents make a birth plan. Birthparents are actively involved in the decision to place a child for adoption, and their involvement should be reflected in the language we use. And you can only imagine how an adoptee feels when someone says their birthparents abandoned or surrendered them.
  • My adopted child is my own child, just as much as any biological child would be.
  • S was adopted (vs S is adopted). I'm guilty of this every so often. The point of this type of language is to emphasize the fact that, while adoption is a part of her life, it's not the end-all and be-all of her life. She may have been adopted, but she's also tall-ish, has blue eyes, and loves bananas. As I've mentioned before, this is one of the fine lines I struggle with. I want adoption to be part of her life and something to be a positive thing, but I don't want it to define her.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My dad the cook, part one

Ever since we hosted Thanksgiving, my parents have been chomping at the bit to make dinner. Tonight I planned kabobs, and my dad graciously offered to make them. He disappeared to the grocery store, then got busy in the kitchen.

The carnivore kabobs, complete with scotch for Dad

The veggie kabobs for Mom.

Tomorrow night we get homemade mac n cheese. Yum!

Our daughter the football fan

We bought the diaper when S was tiny.

We bought the football onesie in September.

This was the first time we just hung out and watched football.

I don't even care if she looks like a boy.

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 29

Collect donations for waiting children and their families for the upcoming holiday seaason.

Not quite the same, but our agency had a gift card drive to provide gift cards to birthfamilies with children at home. We were happy to be able to contribute this year.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 28

Light a candle for your or your child's birth parents.

We will definitely do this over dinner tonight.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 27

Hitting the home stretch!

Donate clothing, books, and toys to Family and Children's Services.

We have a small bag of newborn clothes we have collected to donate to our local maternity house. Now if I can just get them to answer their phone...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 26

Keep positive thoughts for those with currently pending adoptions.

This has been on my mind lately. As I've mentioned, I participate in a lot of message boards, and one has to do with adoption. There are a few gals on the board who have been waiting quite a while for a match, some enduring multiple matches that fell through right before or right after the child was born. While we had an amazingly quick, positive adoption experience, we have to remember that not everyone does.

And there are those who are in the midst of the foster-adopt process who have a child in their home but are waiting patiently for their adoptions to be finalized, which in some cases can take years. During that time, there is always the worry that their child may be returned to their biological family. Which in some cases is for the best, but can cause great sadness for all involved.

So for those of you waiting for your forever child, know that we are thinking about you, not only today but every day, until your child comes home.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this Thanksgiving Day, we were thankful for S:

As her shirt says, everyone is thankful for her

We were also thankful for the turkey (and for the cook):

And for Nana:

And Tapa

Enjoy your weekend!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 25

Spend this day enjoying your family

No problem!
Pictures to come...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 24

Begin a lifebook for yourself or your child.

DD has a baby book chock full of stuff that is updated as much as we can add to it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 23

Attend a local adoption support group

Our closest group is an hour away, and apparently they meet sporadically. Might be worth it to see if they're getting together soon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 22

Invite your local media to cover adoption events

Our local media already has!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 21

Encourage your children to share their thoughts and feelings about adoption.

Probably not the best age to ask S about her thoughts and feelings about adoption, but we'll keep this in mind as she gets older.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 20

National Adoption Day! Support your local adoption community by attending a ceremony.

No ceremonies in our area, but I do hope the court where we finalized S's adoption is having a mass finalization day today. We'll be thinking of all those who are finalizing their adoptions this week!

Friday, November 19, 2010

She stands, the sequel

I love watching milestones being fully embraced.

First S pulled up to standing on the kitchen chair. Then it was her step stool. Then it was her bin of books. Then it was using me as leverage.

When J got home last night, S pulled up on the sofa, then let go and stood on her own.


Adoption Awareness Month: Day 19

Volunteer at a local maternity home.

That's a bit of a challenge with S, but we do have a local maternity home, and we're donating some of S's newborn clothes to them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lean, mean cooking machine

I've been cooking and baking, and it feels so good!

I made this beef and beer chili yesterday. I liked it so much I had it for breakast this morning (well, that and there was almost no bread left in the house).

Speaking of bread, I made a loaf of light whole wheat bread from my Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook. It stuck to the peel before it went into the oven, so it's this weird bendy shape, but it smells delish. I may use some for french toast tomorrow morning.

And I made cornbread to go with the chili. It's just the basic recipe from the side of my cornmeal container, but it's oh-so good. As a matter of fact, I'm off to have a square with butter and honey :)

She stands

We knew this would happen eventually. First she rolled, then she crawled. Now she stands.

S has been attempting this for a little while, often with little success. She first tried going from all fours to standing, but that didn't work out so well. The other day she figured out she could stand by using a box for support. Then we brought down her little stool to see if that would help (it did).

This morning she was motoring under the kitchen table, and the next thing I knew, she had pulled herself up to standing. Twice.

Doesn't she look proud?

Adoption Awareness Month, Day 18

Mentor foster children close to "aging out" of the system.

I'm not sure we're in a position to do that right now, but it is something to keep in mind.

Which reminds me, our local news station did a story in honor of Adoption Awareness Month yesterday. A couple in our area just adopted a 16-year-old girl from the foster care system. Her adoption was recently finalized, and the station interviewed the whole family. They were so happy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Frustrating crafty update

I attended my sit n knit at my local yarn store last night. I was stoked, because one of the crochet experts was there, and I needed help on a new stitch.

We spent essentially the entire 2 hours getting my pattern to work for me. I know I ripped it out to the beginning when I first got there, and did it again during my time there.

I thought I was on the right track, but I got home, did another row, and found I was still screwing up.

I ripped it out again, and will come back to it when I'm in a better frame of mind. Frustrated is not a good state to be in when doing any kind of craft.

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 17

E-mail or call friends and family about upcoming adoption events.

::off to find upcoming adoption events in our area::

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 16

Watch an adoption-related movie with your family.

I saw The Blind Side, but J hasn't seen it yet, and I think he's like it. Maybe we'll table this until my parents are in town and we can all watch it together.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 15

Organize your own adoption event to have later in the month.

Do they realize what happens later this month???

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Falling behind on Adoption Awareness Month, so today's a double entry.

Nov 13: Look into becoming a foster parent
Nov 14: Celebrate your family by beginning or catching up on your scrapbooking

Fostering is something J and I have tossed around in the abstract, but we don't feel like we're in the position to be foster parents at this point. However, I do have friends who have gone the foster or foster/adopt route, and have found it very rewarding. This is a shout out to those of you foster parents. You know who you are, and you rock.

So, scrapbooking. Something I used to do on a fairly regular basis, but it's been a long time since I got out the fancy paper and the decorative scissors. We've made shutterfly albums of S, but nothing formal in the way of scrapbooking. Maybe I'll get cracking on that this week. If I can put the knitting and crocheting down long enough...

Friday, November 12, 2010

An advantage to living in the sticks

I just took S up to her room for her afternoon nap. Her blinds were open, and as we walked in the room, we saw a white-tailed deer, a buck, in the trees behind our house. Who was quickly joined by another. They ran around our back property and along the side of the house multiple times while I changed S and put her down for her nap.

What I would have given for a camera. Their antlers were impressive.

Can you stand the cuteness???

This is S with her new stuffed bear, Abby.

If you read this on a regular basis, you know we're all about the stuffed animals. We have a ton. We've even resorted to giving some away and packing away others, and the house is still filled with them. We made a pact to stop (or at least limit) our stuffed animal purchases after a baby came along. We begged, pleaded, and threatened friends and family to not get any more. For the most part, we've succeeded. We got a big stuffed panda (and a little one to match) right before she came, and we got a pink bear (we named her Hobbette, because she sheds as much as Hobbes does) on our first Buy Buy Baby run after S came. Grania got S a giant Baby's First Pooh Bear, but he goes so well with her giant dragon.

Abby couldn't be refused, though. She was at an outlet store that was selling the bears for a fundraiser. I'm a sucker for stuffed animals for charity. Then I found out that it was an adoption charity, and I had to get her. Actually, I think Nana bought her, since she was with me and making purchases already.

For the last month or so, Abby has languished with some of the other toys S wasn't that interested in. But this week, Abby became a star. S seeks her out, strokes her soft fur, then all of a sudden stuffs that bear in her mouth and flings her across the living room. She thinks it's the coolest thing. And it keeps her still for a few moments before she motors across the kitchen.

I'll be curious to see if Abby becomes an old standby, or just another phase of toy love. Time will tell.

Adoption Awareness Month, Day 12

Send thank-you cards to your local foster care office. They work hard and would love to know they are appreciated for their dedication and for all of their efforts.

Hmm, I don't even know if we have a local foster care office.

::runs to see where our closest foster care office is located::

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month, Day 11

Make a family tree that includes both adoptive and birth children. This solidifies that it doesn't matter if one has different birth parents; he/she is still an important and loved member of your family.

We may have to pass on this one. We have an adoptive child, and no birth children. But I think it will be a fun idea when S is older to put together a family tree showing both her adoptive and birth family. We even have pictures of some of her birth family, and we're looking forward to sharing them with S so she can appreciate all the people who love her so much.

Happy Veteran's Day!

This is the day I send special Veteran's Day wishes to my dad, who's been a veteran for quite a while now. Fittingly, my parents found some old pictures of my dad in his Navy days and sent them along to use kids. Here he is, becoming a veteran in Vietnam, circa 1968.

Handsome, no? I believe my mom used the words "hunka burning love". Dad noted no wedding ring in case he was captured ::shudders::

Dad always likes to say he started his military career fighting a war, and spent the rest of it training to fight one. He retired in 1988, shortly after flying in his last air show, which is where this picture was taken. He's the guy on the right ;)

Handsome, no?

So on this Veteran's Day, be sure to thank a vet for his/her service. Veteran's Day seems to have been ignored for quite a while, especially in the hangover after the Vietnam War. I don't remember anyone really mentioning it much throughout the 80s and 90s. I'm glad to see that our vets are being recognized more these days, even if it (sadly) took another war to make that happen.

And Dad, thanks for your service.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 10

With your family, brainstorm and create a new family tradition. This doesn't necessarily have to be adoption-related. It can be a new tradition for the upcoming holidays, or a family summer tradition after school has ended. The important thing is to continue growing closer as a family.

This could be kind of fun. S is experiencing her first year of everything: Easter, summer vacation, Celtic Classic, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, etc. I'm sure we could come up with something that's a new and unique tradition. We've discovered a new town in New England that perhaps we'll try to visit every year.

For some reason I'm thinking we may come up with a charitable donation in S's name, possibly something adoption-related, but I'm not sure yet. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 9

Have a get-together with all members from all sides of the adoption triad. Enjoy the company, and give each person the opportunity to share his or her own personal experience with adoption.

I'm not sure if this means getting together with all members of our adoption triad (us, S, and S's birthfamily), or just member of the triad in general (adoptive parents, adoptee, birthfamily). In any case, we are sending S's birthmom a letter this week hoping we can get together soon. We don't know any other birthparents, so this will be our opportunity for all the members of our triad to get together.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 8

Ask your employer into looking into adding adoption benefits to your existing benefits. If your employer currently does not offer any type of benefits, encourage a large, local business to offer adoption benefits to their employees.

We are very, very fortunate to have this covered. Both of our companies offer generous adoption reimbursement benefits, and the benefits at J's company are twice what my company offers. He works for a large company, and several people who adopted lobbied for the benefit. As a matter of fact, J started filing the paperwork just last week!

But an even bigger benefit, at least in my opinion, is to have a maternity leave policy in effect for adoptive parents that is on par with biological parents. Again, I was very, very fortunate to have a maternity leave policy that didn't distinguish between adopting and giving birth. So many women I see on adoption message boards have no maternity leave policy for adoptive parents, and have to go back to work after a matter of a few short weeks.

So if you're in HR and you're reading this, look into having these benefits at your employer. Thanks!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Baking FAIL

I made some pumpkin cookies last weekend for Halloween (come to think of it, they didn't turn out that great either, tastewise). While I was digging out my Halloween cookie cutters, I came across one in the shape of a maple leaf. So pretty. I decided I had to make gingerbread cookies, and I had to use that cookie cutter.

I had some time today, so I dug out my trusty copy of The Complete Cookie. I have kind of a love/hate relationship with this book. There are some amazing cookie recipes, including some of the authors' family favorites (some with a nice twist), but they're not the easiest cookies in the world. Which I was reminded of again today.

Gingerbread dough is notoriously hard to work with. It tends to be on the sticky side, and you typically have to work with it when it's cold. But if you treat it right, it can be very, very good to you. Or so I thought.

I mixed up the ingredients. The dough was pretty darn sticky, but I let that slide. I put it in the freezer for about an hour and a half, 3 times longer than recommended. I rolled it out between 2 lightly floured (ha!) sheets of wax paper. And then it all went horribly wrong.

I peeled back the top layer of wax paper, and half the dough came off with it. I cut out a whopping 2 leaf forms out of 4 tries. The other 2 refused to come off of the wax paper.

I let those 2 cookies bake while I tried again with more frozen dough, and more flour, and more waxed paper. No dice. After many bad words in the kitchen (thank goodness S was sleeping), I tossed the rest of the dough and shared the 2 cookies with J.

If I'm feeling particularly ambitious, I might try again with more flour. Or maybe I'll find another recipe.

So, so disappointing

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 7

Bake cookies for all the adoption professionals who helped you through the process.

This might be tough, as our adoption professionals are anywhere from an hour to 2 hours away from us, so we'd have to send them, etc. I am baking cookies today though (not going well--don't ask). And we're thinking of sending a thank-you to our social worker for all of her hard work.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 6

Blog about adoption awareness.

I think I have that covered...

And if you have personal experience in adoption, share that as well. You never know who you will touch or and how you can change someone's perspective.

Good point.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month, Day 5

Encourage local schools to speak and teach about adoption.

S isn't even near school age, so this will likely not happen until she starts school, we've assessed if adoption is discussed at her school already, and if we're comfortable having it be a big topic.

This is one of my biggest dilemmas as an adoptive parent, at least right now. Yes, we had a very positive adoption experience. Yes, we want to promote adoption as a great option for building a family. But we don't want it to be the end-all and be-all of S's life. And I think a little part of me is waiting for someone to react negatively to the fact that she was adopted, and having to address it in an appropriate manner.

When a random stranger says something about S looking like me, or making comments about my pregnancy with her, J and I don't bring up her adoption. Because this is a total stranger whom we will likely never meet again, and we don't see the point in going into the whole story. Again, I think part of us just doesn't want it to be the focus. Yes, she was adopted, but she's also beautiful, smart, can crawl, has big, (sometimes) blue eyes, and has tiny feet. With people we know better, we are more than happy to discuss any details they want to know about (within reason), or answer any questions they have.

So I think that's why we'll feel out her school and teachers before we jump into the adoption discussion. I don't want her labeled as different from the get-go (though I'm sure every kid has some difference that gets them noticed pretty much off the bat). And I want to make sure her teachers are informed about adoption before launching into discussions.

Wow, that turned out way longer than I expected.

Anthony Bourdain, I'm disappointed in you

Or should I say, I'm disappointed in your fixer.

One of Tony's latest episodes of No Reservations found him in Baltimore, Detroit, and Buffalo. Kind of a "let's see if these messed up, depressed towns can offer anything to me." To be fair, he had a bad experience his last time in Baltimore, but I was pretty disappointed in how he depicted it.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I have kind of a love affair with Baltimore. Sure, when I moved there, they had one of the highest murder rates in the nation. And there's a huge drug problem. And there are some parts of town that almost defy description in terms of how bad they are. I remember hearing about the open-air heroin "market" blocks from my first job there. And you wonder why my mom thought a gun was a good idea.

But Baltimore is such a fun, quirky town, as I discovered in my almost 10 years of living there. There's something for everyone. I lived (and worked) in some pretty crappy neighborhoods, areas on the rise, and everything in between, or so it seems. And there was always something new to explore.

As the first person Tony interviewed (Jay Landsman from The Wire) stated, Baltimore is a collection of little neighborhoods in a giant patchwork, and you can go from the worst neighborhood to the best in less than 10 minutes. Yet Tony didn't even begin to explore those neighborhoods, their history, or what they have to offer. He seemed to just want to declare his adoration of The Wire, show a lot of abandoned rowhomes, and eat at 3 places with seemingly no thread to connect them, much less anything showing how they related to Baltimore as a city. For goodness sake, the man didn't even eat blue crabs!

So if I were giving Tony the tour of Baltimore, here's where we'd go:

Attman's Deli. I had my first matzo ball soup from here. It would be a great way to talk about the evolving history of different ethnic and religious groups in Baltimore.

Samos Restaurant. Located in, appropriately enough, Greektown. Great little family restaurant, BYOB, food to spend an evening over. Best thing Spiro Morekas ever did for me.

India Rasoi. As I like to say, the best Indian food in all of Little Italy. The hostess makes a point of finding out how comfortable you are with Indian food, and gently guiding you through the menu, describing what's in each dish. My mom still talks about this place, and it's been over 5 years since she's been there.

Speaking of Little Italy, Vaccaro's. Tony doesn't seem to be much of a pastry guy, but I'm sure he'd be down with some pignoli, cannoli, and the gigantic portions this place puts out. Maybe I'd even take him to an outdoor movie first. Or we'd watch a bocce tournament. He might put up with that.

Dudas Tavern. He has to spend a little time in Fells Point. Dudas was my go-to place for a cheap steak night. For $13, you get a steak, baked potato, and salad, all made in the tiny kitchen in the back. And good beer. And a nice chat with the folks behind the bar. What more could you ask for? Heck, we might head over to Bertha's or Max's afterward. Heck, we might use Fells Point as a jumping off point to talk about the Latin influx, and hit one of the many restaurants up and down Broadway.

I could go on and on. That greasy spoon on the edge of Canton, that fun little diner near Hopkins Homewood, Cafe Hon, microbrews at an Orioles game, some of the fancier joints in Federal Hill (and oh by the way, we could talk about Federal Hill and its place in American history while we're at it), and some of the fancier restaurants, period. Not to mention Lexington Market, which if I remember correctly is the oldest indoor market in the US. Tony's been to indoor markets in every other country, but he missed Lexington Market???

Maybe someday, if Tony does another contest to have someone escort him to an undiscovered locale, I'll sign up to take him to Baltimore. And if I ever win, I'll blog about it ;)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 4

Commit to sponsor a less fortunate child for an entire year.

Hmm, something to look into. I know my parents have done this in recent years, so perhaps I'll call Mom and ask what charity they work with.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

8 months!

Today is S's 8 month birthday!

We took pictures with her blocks in the high chair today...

...or in the car seat...

...because our other option wasn't cutting it.

S "celebrated" her birthday by waking up at 5am and not fallling back asleep until she was in the big bed. Which means a very tired Mommy, who didn't want to fall asleep with an increasingly mobile child in bed. But we both managed to doze off and on.

We also had S's flu booster. She was SUCH a good girl. The receptionist held her, and said all she did was make a little "eh" sound. She was more clingy today, and a lot of little things set her off. Hence the picture below, with a tiny little tear under her eye. I think she fell over, and you would have thought the world ended.

She perked up this evening, but is fighting sleep as we speak. Good times.

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 3

Ask local libraries or bookstores to feature adoption-related books this month. Encourage them to place these books near the entrance to garner the most attention.

At the very least, we're going to check out the library and our local Borders soon. From past experience, our library has featured adoption-related books near their entrance, and on the floor where other adoption books are, in prior years. I found them quite easily when adoption was just a topic to explore.

Borders should be interesting. When I first looked for adoption books at our local store, despite a section labeled Adoption, there wasn't a single book. When I e-mailed them to ask why, they said they only carried what people asked for. (Odd that you'd have a section labeled Adoption, but only carry said books if requested). I returned a few weeks later and found they had simply been filed in the wrong section--2 sections over from where it was labeled. I will be interested to see if they've fixed that little snafu.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We voted!

S and I just got back from the polls. I tell ya, being a stay-at-home-mom means very short lines on election day. S charmed all of the poll workers until she and Mommy disappeared behind the curtain to vote.

Happy election day!

Adoption Awareness Month: Day 2

Celebrate your child's heritage through a new recipe, a cultural dance, or traditional fairytales. If your child's heritage isn't different from your own, let your child select any heritage for your family to learn more about and to celebrate.

S's cultural heritage is 1/2 Italian, 1/2 Irish. We've got the Irish nailed down in this family, so J suggested I pop in one of the multitude of Celtic CDs today and listen to them. I immediately thought of making capellini pomodoro for dinner ;) Maybe we'll do both! S is too little to suggest an alternate heritage, so we'll hold off on that until she's older.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Adoption Awareness Month!

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and we're so excited to be able to celebrate it with S this year. In honor of this month, there's a calendar with adoption-related activities to do with your family each day. We're going to try and do as many as we can, and I'm going to post a little bit about each activity every day.

Today, November 1, is "Read an adoption-specific book". We have quite the variety of books for S. Some are about adoption, some are not. We have the standard collection of Winnie the Pooh, Sandra Boynton, nursery rhymes, shapes and colors, and of course our favorite, Knuffle Bunny. But my favorite adoption book is "I Wished for You: an Adoption Story". It's kind of long, so we usually don't get through the whole thing with S, but it tells our story pretty closely.

So tonight, "I Wished for You" is on her bedtime reading list. And of course, during her bedtime prayers, we will pray for her birthmom and her family, who gave us this wonderful gift.