Friday, July 31, 2009

New Pictures of Ping!

So we contacted a lady in China who has a business (the Red Thread) who will deliver gifts to your adopted child while they are still in China waiting.

So we ordered a couple of dresses through this Red Thread company for Ping.
The Red Thread had to contact the orphanage to get Pings measurements so they could get the correct size of dress.
In the process, the Red Thread also managed to get us some more pictures of Ping!


What a great surprise to wake up to!
... not as good as getting our approval to travel or our Letter Seeking Confirmation (LSC) to adopt. But still... greatly appreciated.

PS: My wife is nesting like crazy now... shes repaint the whole house! Re-doing all the kids rooms! I've "lost" my computer room (sorry SensFanRob - no room for my Stereo or TV anymore)! Help! :-)
Any ideas to keep her distracted?! :-)
"Oh look honey! A new episode of Corrination Street! Infact, I bought you the whole 20+ year Collectors DVD set!"

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lan's Nose...

We were having our family movie night last weekend, and during the pizza dinner, the children currently with us started talking about how much they looked like me or their mother, one commented they had their "mom's lips", another "mom's freckles", "mom's eyes", etc... etc... etc.
Oddly enough, none of my children look like me... hmmm... no that's not true. My oldest son walks like me, talks like me, acts like me, drives my wife nuts like me... welcome to the pre-pre-teen years! :-)

Anyway, during the conversation everyone was having a good time, laughing, when their mother started asking questions...

Wife: So how do you feel Ping would feel if we all started talking about how much you guys look like mom or dad?
Son #1: She might feel sad.
Wife: Yes, she might. So what are some things we could say to help her feel included and loved?
Son #1: We could say that she looks like her real mom or dad!
Me: We are her mom and dad. (a little surprised how sensitive I am to that word, "real")
Wife: Well yes. But... she has brown eyes like your dad.
Son #2: And big lips like me!
Me: Yes, and Lan's nose.

See, who is this Lan, and why her nose? Well... let me fill you in. :-)

My brother had a good friend growing up, his name was Chuck.
Chuck is an interesting fellow.
A great guy.
Someone I really enjoyed spending time with.
Back around his late 20s, early 30s, Chuck decided it was time to settle down.
Now, Chuck being Chuck, went about this in the typical Chuck manner.

Chuck: (flipping though a travel book) I'm gonna go to a beach.
Brother: Yea, where.
Chuck: (flip, flip, flip) Here!
Brother: There?
Chuck: Yup.
Brother: Do you know where that is?
Chuck: Nope. But I'm gonna go there. To that beach.
Brother: Where will you sleep.
Chuck: (flip, flip, flip) There. Under that tree.
Brother: Not a hotel?
Chuck: Nope don't have the money for that. And I'm gonna meet a girl on the beach, and she is gonna feed me fruit from her hat.
Brother: Fruit from her hat?
Chuck: Yup. And I'm gonna marry her.

Well, me and my brother wished Chuck well as he headed off for Cuba.
A few weeks late, Chuck popped back into town.
He did in fact go to Cuba.
And he did in fact, sleep on the beach.
And he did meet a girl there.
And although she did not have fruit on her head... he did marry her.
A nice Vietnamese cheer leader from the University of Toronto.

Now, I wish I was making this up. But that is Chuck.
No one was really surprised.

Still not seeing how this is connected to our little Ping's nose eh?

Lets fast forward a few years again.

Nurse: Just keep walking Mrs. Berzenji... the contractions will be easier if you keep moving.
Me: Did you hear that? The nurse said to keep walking.
Wife: Thank you Nurse. You, don't talk to me!
Me: Okay.
Chuck: Ade?!
Me: Chuck!
Chuck: Hey! What are you doing here?
Wife: Oh, hey OW OW OW, Lan.
Lan: Hee-heee-haaaaa... oooh... Hey Roberta.
Me: Oh, not much. Wife's in labour. How you doing?
Chuck: Oh good. You busy?
Me: No, not really.
Wife: What?! Not busy! We're having a baby!
Me: I can't talk to you... you said not to.
Chuck: Wanna go for a burger?
Me: Uh, sure, let me check... Mind if I go for a burger?
Wife: Don't talk to me!
Me: You know, Lan's not yelling.
  • NOTE: Now at this point, I'm pretty sure my wife is ready to kill ME. Luckily, Lan was there!
Lan: Oh sure! You boys go and have fun! (BIG smile!)
Me: Realyl?! Oh sure!
Chuck: Gid'y up!

So me and Chuck went for burgers, came back... and a few hours later, we each had sons. Born by a mere few hours apart.

Still not sure where this is going? Well, after our sons were born, we went to the viewing room to gaze at them in wonder and awe...

Me: Oh look! There's our son!
Wife: And he has the cutest nose!
Chuck: And there is our son.
Lan: He has my nose!
Chuck: Actually, their son has your nose too. Wait, all the babies have your nose!

And sure enough, ever since then, every baby we see, has "Lan's nose".

Unfortunately, we don't see much of Chuck and Lan anymore. Kind of miss them. I'm not sure why we don't see them much. Might be that they moved out to BC and we now live 10,000Kms apart... but I think it might have been that two weeks after having our 1st child together, we got together and had lunch at Pizza Hut. While by lovely beautiful wonderful wife was still trying to recover from the trauma of making a baby... in bounded Lan in a little halter top showing off a terribly flat tummy.

... but I'm sure its the distance... :-)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why China? Why Waiting Child Program?

Thanks to Henry for asking some excellent questions which prompted these ramblings. :-)

Ahhh, good questions. :-)
  • Why Adopt?
  • Why China?
  • Why Waiting Child Program?

We had wanted to adopt since before we had any children. Back in Winnipeg, we were on an adoption list - but we got pregnant, so we got removed from the list.

As to why we wanted another one? Well, when we had no children, the family did not feel 'complete'... so we had our 1st child. Then, the family felt complete... for a while. Then we realized we wanted another child, and welcomed our 2nd. Again the family felt complete, for a while. :-) We then had our 3rd child. And realized that the family felt complete... but only for a while. :-) See a pattern forming?

However, this time, we thought, do we want more than 4 children? That, I'm not sure.
So it became apparent, that if this was to be our last child, now would be *possibly* our last chance to adopt.

I guess the bigger underlying question, is not "why did we want another child", but why does anyone want children.

And if you do have 1 child, what makes you want a 2nd? 3rd? 4th? ... 12th?! Crazy I suppose. :-)

Children bring so much joy and wonder and love into your home - it is amazing!
I don't think I can fully describe why we want children, just that we do.
And it is amazing and wonderful and beautiful.
Challenging at times, for sure.
Fustrating? Check.
Crazy? Absolutely!
And so indescribable on many levels.

So yes, we wanted to adopt, it was always part of our family plan.
And why adopting vs just another 4th biological child?

I almost think that that question isn't important.
How you have your child is not nearly as important as why you have a child.
Whether it is by biological means, adoption, fostering, or some other means, you have your child.
Is one way better than another? I don't think so.
To think so would de-value an adopted child, or elevate a biological child...
Neither of these are good, or true.

So, why China VS another adoption Countrie?
Now that is a question easier to answer.
There are many factors considered when choosing where to adopt from. I'll just list some with a little thought on each, and how it affected our choice:

  1. Reputation: China is a very well run adoption system, good orphanages (well funded), and well regulated.
  2. Integrity: China is not involved in any child trafficking, bribes, or the like.
  3. Costs: Adoption costs far much more money than I expected, so some of the reasons are financial. And this is true as well for having another biological child. Even if there is no 'adoption' costs, in the U.S., I think the average is over 10,000$ to have a baby at the hospital. Then there is the increased costs of everyday life, sports groups, cloths, etc. So every time you add to your family, I think finances are considered. That being said, we still had to be realistic in what we could do.
  4. Integration with our Family: We figured that a daughter would fit best with our family, the age gap between boys would be hard for our new child to adjust to. However, our daughter is still young, and a sister would be very close in age... much easier to integrate with.
  5. Sex: Not all countries allow you to choose the sex of your adopted child, China did - for us at least, and for the Integration reason above, a girl made sense.
  6. China is Cool: Okay, this is just a ME thing, but I love the Asian countries! I totally wanted to be a ninja, samurai, or kung-fu warrior for my while childhood... okay, scratch 'wanted' and replace it with 'wants'
  7. Adoption Agency (Thank you to my wife for pointing this out): Family Outreach International (FOI) is our adoption agency, and they were a HUGE factor in choosing to adopt from China (since they only do China). They are an amazing agency and we felt 'safe' working with them. See Roberta's comments for more...
I'm sure there were many other reasons as well... I can't remember them right now tho. :-)

We did look at other countries to adopt from. India was actually quite high on our list as they had a wonderful toddler program as well.
Ahhhh, right, toddler! Add "age" to the list of reasons.

So, why the Waiting Child program ...
  1. Age #1: We already have a 5 year old daughter, the thought of a 3 or 4 year old daughter fit well with the ages, and thought she would integrate well with her sister.
  2. Age #2: We have already had 3 new borns... we did not necessarily feel a need to go through that stage again. I understand if your adoption is your 1st child, that yes, you would probably want that whole experience. But we have gone though it, and realised, that there is probably a wonderful 3 year old who will not even be considered for the majority of adoptions because she is 'too old'. And we were right, there is a WONDERFUL 3 1/2 year old (our Ping) who was waiting!

    NOTE: I really think the whole adoption process should be renamed to the Waiting Parents program. :-)

  3. Why Not Question: Yes, this was an actual question... if you were pregnant... what guarantees do you have that your child will be born healthy? Without cleft lip? Without clubbed foot? Without a heart murmur? Truth is... we have none. We have no guarantees that our children will be healthy. Yet, we would love them. We would love them beyond all reason and sense! Why?! Because they are our child. So "why not" adopt a child that might have cleft lip, or club foot, or _____________ (fill in your blank). Truth is, we will love them! We will love them because they are our child!

The bottom line for us was that, we will love our children because they are our children, not because they are perfect!

That is us... unless Roberta disagree in the comments below... :-) Then, its just me.

PS: You can find some links on China adoption in the blogs LINKS area, as well as the Waiting Child Program

Friday, July 24, 2009

People like Matt

Recently I went out with a good buddy of mine, lets call him Matt for the purposes of this blog, and well, because that's his name.
Matt and I get together often over nachos, ribs, chicken wings, and the occasional Milk Shake.
Yes, the manly milkshake... where all male bonding takes place.

Anyway, during our guys night out, we spent a large portion of time (okay, maybe the whole time) talking about adopting.

He was asking questions, and as a guy, asking questions with little fear of offending me, or sounding silly. And I loved it!

It just once again pointed out how little I talk (freely) about adoption - even though I want to talk about it. So often if feels like I have to filter what I say to family, or to those who do not have children, or even to those who do have children...

It is like when people are pregnant, it is all they think about, and want to talk about. And that's great.

Maybe it is because when people are pregnant, every one is 'happy' for them. But when we signed up for adoption, we got a lot of comments like 'oh you should not adopt a baby from china!', or 'this is going to mess up your family'... etc...

So if you are a friend, or family of someone who is adopting, don't be scared to talk about it.

Because we WANT to talk about it.
We really do.
Our adoption process consumes our thoughts and time, but more importantly, the dream of a child is always on the fore front of our minds.
And when we do find out who our new son/daughter will be, then we want to talk about it even more!

(just please don't criticize us)

So ask away!
Talk to us!
Talk to us about our daughter!
Even if we have told you everything about her/him, ask us anyway.
Let us tell you (again) about the process, our thoughts, fears, dreams, hopes and what ever else is burning in our minds.

Because we want to talk about it.

And thank God that he put Matt in my life - someone I can talk to freely, without fear, and know and trust that he will be happy for me, what ever issues arise in the journey.

Hopefully, there is a Matt in your life as well, someone who you can talk to.

Maybe as adoptive parents we don't talk about it more, because we don't want to 'always be pushing' adoption, or seem oblivious to anything around us except our adoption...

... but then again, maybe this is just an Adrian thing, and 'normal' people do talk about it more freely.

... but if it is socially acceptable for new (biological) parents to be ga-ga over their unborn child, or new child... then why shouldn't we be just as crazy and obnoxious about our new children as well.

So, I am Adrian... and I am adopting. Who wants to talk about it? :-)

(oh, and if you don't have a Matt, you can rent mine... 45$ a session... that's about the cost of some wings and ribs... and a milkshake for 2)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Renovations for the "Home Study"

NOTE: This is an older repeat from Facebook, if you read it there already, sorry. But these are some of the continued home repairs for the "home study". I'm starting to think that the "home study" really needs a new Big Screen TV and Stereo as well.

Yay! We ordered new windows for our house!


Now, I didn't KNOW we were ordering new windows for our house.
In fact, that last thing I remember was a conversation when my lively wife and I agreed to get a "estimate for some new windows".

Now... lets just do a quick look up on the difference between an 'estimate' and a 'purchase' (I just want to make sure I'm not going off on a tangent here).

Main Entry: estimate
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Latin aestimatus, past participle of aestimare to value, estimate
a: to judge tentatively or approximately the value, worth, or significance of
b: to determine roughly the size, extent, or nature of
c: to produce a statement of the approximate cost of

Alright... I think that is about what I had in mind.

Main Entry: purchase
Function: verb
a: to acquire (real estate) by means other than descent c: to obtain by paying money or its equivalent : buy
d: to obtain by labor, danger, or sacrifice
b: to constitute the means for buying

Aaah... well... Thank you .
I see my problem, when my wife said 'estimate', she really meant 'purchase'. Its an honest mistake.

Let me re-wind a bit.

So the other day, my wife was asking if she could get a quote to replace the windows on the main floor. Now, we have replaced the windows in the basement, the patio doors/windows and other such things. So I was pretty OK with her asking to get a quote. She said she would contact the same company which did the other windows/doors for us and get an 'estimate' for the cost to replace our very sad windows.

However, on the Monday morning they were to come and do the estimate, I had a meeting at work. Alas, I had to leave before the window people got there. Mistake #1. Well, more likely this was already Mistake #27 and I'm not not yet smart enough to catch them all. Regardless, I left for work. Confident that when I returned home, my wife would have an 'estimate' for replacing some windows.

12:23pm ...
Adrian: Good afternoon, Adrian Berzenji speaking.
Voice on Phone: Don't be mad.

Aaah! Its my lovely wife calling me at work wishing to re-affirm her love for me. To count the ways in which I complete her every nee... er... what?

Now I know... I KNOW that when ever a phone call starts with "don't be mad" that I should just hang up.
Yes, 15+ years have taught me this much.
Put the phone down.
Go get a coffee.
Sit down somewhere quiet... and cry.
Because I know what ever follows the 'don't be mad', is not going to be good for me.
But I froze.
Like a deer stuck in the headlights, I couldn't move.
As much as my brain was screaming at me "HANG UP! HANG UP YOU IDIOT!" my body just would not co-operate.
I couldn't speak. I couldn't hang up. All I could do was listen in horror as I was unable to stop what was about to happen. Like a dream where you try to scream, but nothing comes out... or run, but you are stuck in the mud... or get in your car to flee a horrific scene - and because it is a 1976 Plymouth Horizion it will not start unless you get out, take off the air filter and open the butterfly with your bare hands while you have one of your buddies named CheezeBurger turn the ignition key and hope to all that is good and pure in this world that the carbourator hasn't filled up with gas and that a raging ball of fire will not leap from the engine block and incinerate your beautiful face ... thats where I was. Doomed.

Wife: I ordered the windows!
Me: What? You ordered the windows?
Wife: Yea! Isn't that GREAT!?
Me: Great! Ummmm... yea. Thats... uh... great.
Wife: They were such a good price that I got more than just the two windows we talked about! I ordered the two, plus the ones for the bathroom on the main floor!

Now... I'm not a rich man. Far from it. I also don't get to see my wife or kids much... mostly because I work a lot of overtime to pay for ... well... stuff like this.

  • Like the plethoria of van repairs this last month.
  • The new bed from a bit ago.
  • Some more adoption fees.
  • A vacation to Disney Land in Florida for the wife and kids... (I mean, I wont get to go... I'll be working. But rest assured, my wife said she will take lots of pictures to show me).

I mean, that was the purpose of getting an 'estimate'... to find out if I COULD afford to buy the windows.

Slowly... my brain starts to kick into gear and I think I've come up with some good questions.

Me: So... uh, how are we gonna pay for the windows?
Wife: Well, you can just work some more over time.
Me: You realize that every Saturday, every Monday, every Thrusday and every other Wednesday are already booked solid for over time for the next 6 weeks just to pay for the van repairs and the Forida trip right?
Wife: Yea, I remember that. But don't worry! I asked them to deliver the windows in 8 weeks! That way you have enough time to work the extra hours and pay for it! See, I was thinking of you when I ordered them!


Oh forget it. I don't even care. How CAN I be mad? She was thinking of me!

Look. If anyone wants me... I'll be at work.

And to the following people:

  • Marg - the flyers my wife promised you I would make for your home business, they may be a little late.
  • Tulin - thanks for super, but the DVD my wife said I would make for you, it may be a little.
  • Church Group - the web site that my wife said I would make for you, it may be a little late.
  • Finacial Advisor person - the web site my wife said I would make for you, it may be a little late.
  • Family - the 2005, 2006, and 2008 Photo Books that my wife wants me to finish, may be a little late.
  • Wife - the DVD you wanted me to make for you with all the chinese cooking on it, it may be a little late.
  • People Waiting for the Computer I'm Fixing - it may be a little late
  • Music Ministry Team - one day I hope to make it back
  • Tech Team - someday...

If anyone needs to reach me... you can reach me at me work address and work phone number.

If someone can take the odd picture of my wife... kids... my new windows... and email them to me, that would be great. I'd love to see them sometime.


PS: Do you think someone can bring me a change of cloths? Maybe some food... a toothbrush?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

PRIDE Course (no, not that kind, NTTATWWT)

To adopt there are many tasks and red tape one must complete. To an absolute computer geek like myself, it helps if I image these tasks as a quest in an online role playing game... something like World Of Warcraft.

Wise Old Mage (WOM): Lo! Thou hast before thee thine quest! A quest to conquer the foul beast of PRIDE! Tis wise to bring a companion on thy quest, lest ye be beseech-ed by tasks beyond what thine mere mortal hands may handle!
Me: Yar! Ready my steed! I shall set off in yonder Steel Stallion (my Saturn) and travel great distances (to Kanata, ON) to vanquish said beast! And I shall take with me, mine fair maiden! For together, we shall triumph!

This is generally when my fair maid... er, wife, interrupts my little make believe world (where I am one with Conan) and brings me back to real life.

The PRIDE course is a basic parenting course to help get oneself ready for adoption or foster parenting. It is a pretty intimidating course. There are broad topics covered, and you actually have to "pass" the course in Ontario in order to be able to adopt.

After the last lesson learned with that whole "spanking incident", I knew to keep my mouth shut. :-) My wife on the other hand, was a fount of wisdom. At one point, the course instructor came by on a coffee break and commented that she particularly liked her answer with regards on how to handle a tantrum in the grocery isle. (Um, for the curious, you leave the store, that's what you do!)

Course Leader (CL): Oh, I really enjoyed your answer about the tantrum.
Fair Maiden (Wife): Thanks.
CL: Yes, you have shown a lot of wisdom in that answer.

Well, my wife was flying! She was convinced that the leader hadn't liked our answers... Not that I really tried to answer anything. But my wife being the mature person she is, took what the leader said, and treasured it in her heart....
... not really.

Wife: Did you hear that?! I'm SMART!
Me: Yes. Good for you. I knew that.
Wife: The leader LIKES me!
Me: Yes... yes she dose.
Wife: And she DOSN'T like you!
Me: .. well, I don't kno...
Wife: She didn't say she liked you!
Me: Hey now, it was our answer. I said it to you, you just put up your ha...
Wife: She likes me! She thinks you are stupid!

Okay, maybe I'm paraphrasing there a bit. But not much. To make matters worse, when we got our Home Study complete, we scored pretty much the same (not that I'm comparing tho) in all areas, except she eeked me out by 2 points in the parenting category. Well... you should have heard her then!

NOTE: I would like to point out, that all things considered, she gets to do a fair bit more parenting than me. You know, while I'm working 13 days straight to pay for the new "counter top" for our "new daughter"... shes off parenting. So naturally she would have more experience. I think on a per hour per score basis, I would have won. Not that I'm comparing. :-)

Back to the PRIDE course tho.

During another part of the PRIDE course, we had to break off into small groups of 3 or 4 people and answer some different questions. I got put into a group with a couple other guys, and my wife wound up with some of the other ladies.

The small group time started as we all grabbed our markers, and big sheets of paper, and set off to begin journalist-i-cising our thoughts on the matter at hand.

As I looked at my fellow men, we started trying to decided what was important information to write down, what was fluff, and what was not at all related to the specific topic. This dosn't sound like a big deal... but the conversation quickly went off track and we would up arguing over how to write on the paper... landscape? or Portrait? Who would write? Why him?! Why not me?! You saying I have messy hand writting?! Oh yea! No, YOU'RE the jerk!

Meanwhile, I glace over my shoulder at my wife and her ladies, and they are talking, and laughing and having a great time! They've started filling sheets of paper with poetic words, and pictures, and little borders... you would think its a scrap book meeting over there!

Finally we get to the point of writting something down. Damn! Markers dry! What ensues can only be described as mayhem as the 3 (there used to be 4... one guy left to go be with his wife) of us argues over who should have to walk all the way across the room to get a new marker. Finally, while the other two are still arguing, I duck a flying chair and go get a new marker.

Upon my return, I see that the ladies are now sipping tea, with what can only be described as a stack of paper resembling that of an Agatha Christie novel, leather wrapped and bound, in full color detail sitting beside them.

I on the other hand, return to my netherlander(ish) co-horts and find that they have managed to kill a Caribu and have used our paper to start a fire and are cooking its meat.

... I love being a guy!

:-) The PRIDE course was actually really fun. Not only because you got to learn lots, but because you get to meet people going through similar "stuff" and encourage each other.

Good times... good times. :-)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ulterior Motive

The other day I was walking though Wal-Mart with my precious little daughter when we passed by some of the Disney Princess stuff.

Daughter: Daddy! Look! Look at the Princess Pillow!
Me: Yes, it is very nice.
Daughter: Daddy! Can you buy it for me? Pllllleeeeease?!

Now, generally I know when I'm being played. There are often tell tale signs when someone is trying to get something from you. For example, when ever my wife starts a sentence with something like:
  • boy you are looking good today.
  • have you been working out?
  • you remind me of Johnny Depp.
This was one of those "I'm being played" pleases. Fortunately, 10+ years of parenting have prepared me for moments exactly like this.

Me: No baby. You don't need that. You already have a beautiful pillow.

Now my daughter is not used to hearing "No" from her Daddy. She is used to hearing things, maybe like, "Yes", "of course", "no, I don't mind if you crawl all over me, again", "more chocolate?"

But this "no" thing seemed to have left her a little confused.

However, she is smart... as soon as the shock and horror from this "no" word wore off, I could see the gears turning in her head as she started to figure out what to do.

And thats when I heard for the 1st time, something I would start to hear alot more of.

Daughter: Daddy, not for me. For my sister!

I don't think it is really all that important to cover over the rest of the interaction with my lovely daughter here. As the title says, this blog is really all about ulterior motives... and kitchens.

Okay, the "kitchens" isn't obvious in the title... but it will make sense soon. Stay with me just a little longer.

A while ago, my wife was standing in our kitchen looking at the cracked and damaged counter top. I'm not going to try to defend the current state of our counter top. It was from the 1970s, and it was cracked, and maybe a little smashed, and maybe about 2 years ago I took a sledge hammer to the counter top and smashed out 1/3 of the counter top and cupboards to "open up" the kitchen and dining room (as per my wifes instructions).

As my lovely wife talked about replacing the counter tops, I ever so foolishly reminded her that replacing the counter top just wasn't in the budget right now. We were, after all, saving up for the adoption.

Which is when I once again heard that famaliar argument...

Wife: It's not for me. It is for our new baby!
Me: Right. Because our new daughter will obviously want new granite counter tops.
Wife: We have to pass the home study! If we don't pass the home study we won't be able to adopt! And it will all be because you didn't buy me a new counter top!
Me: Fine, get a guy in and get a quote for a new counter top. I'll just work some more over time to pay for it.

So off I go for some over time to pay for said counter top...
... about 13 days later, I finally return home from work...
... it might have been longer...
... I'm not sure.
After the 1st 96 hours or so of stright work it all starts to blurr together.

Me: Hi, I'm home.
Friend #1: Hey! We are SO excited!
Me: Uh, Hi... great... um, what are you doing here?
Wife: Oh, I invited them over to see what we are doing to the kitchen.
Me: We are just replacing the counter top. It's nothi...

Now at this time, I knew something was wrong. I could just feel it. Like a box of chocolate knows it is in danger around Valentines Day, or a Turkey at Thanksgiving, I KNEW there was impending doom for me.

Friend #2: Oh yea! We've been talking for the last couple of days! We're gonna take out that wall there... move those closets to the back of the house... take out those closets, move the fridges, sell the appliances, get new ones, with 2 fridges!
Me: We are?
Wife: And a dish washer! Can you belive it! 11 years of marriage and I'm finally gonna get a dishwasher!
Me: I'm gonna go back to work...

Long store short, the new "counter top" for our "new daughter" to pass our "home study", wound up being a whole new kitchen! We replaced some walls, took some walls out, bought new appliances, re-did the windows, new ceiling, pot lights, and I'm sure so much more... I can't really remeber it all.

My wife just sent me a lovely email with the picture attached of the new kitchen...
... it looks lovely.
I hope one day I will get to see it. But for now... I'm still at work.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Main Entry: vul·ner·a·ble
Pronunciation: \ˈvəl-n(ə-)rə-bəl, ˈvəl-nər-bəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Late Latin vulnerabilis, from Latin vulnerare to wound, from vulner-, vulnus wound; probably akin to Latin vellere to pluck, Greek oulē wound
Date: 1605
1 : capable of being physically or emotionally wounded
2 : open to attack or damage : assailable
3 : liable to increased penalties but entitled to increased bonuses after winning a game in contract bridge

As I sat at home thinking about how much to share and how open to be during this whole blogging experiment, it hit me just how vulnerable it can make one feel.
As a father and husband, there is a certain level of protection that I always wish to keep around my family. The children are reduced to Kid #1/2/3 in the blog. My lovely wife is simply, Wife.

Why is that? Am I really that afraid of posting their names? As if some how that is opening them (or myself) up to a vulnerable position?

And yes. It does feel that way.

So as I sit there, in my little stew of contemplation, lamenting this feeling of vulnerability that I am trying to over-come, my thoughts return (as they often do) to our new daughter who is waiting in an orphanage in China right now.

What vulnerabilities has she faced over the last 3.5 years?
Has she ever felt safe?
I worry if someone is going to pick up on the names of my children...
... she worries she may never have a parent?


And it breaks our hearts as parents!

When my children go though a rough time at school, if someone is mean to them, hurts them, or makes them feel scared (vulnerable?) - doesn't that just fill you with so much "want" to fix the situation? To just rush to their defense and "save" them?

Sometimes you can...
... sometimes you can not.

Today, I can not. And I'm not sure that I'm OK with that.

As Ping sleeps now, what will tomorrow hold for her?

I'm sure that whatever it is, it is bigger than if anyone reading this finds out what my children names are.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The New 168 Super Market

There is a very Chinese supermarket in China Town Ottawa. I thought that taking the kids there would be a great experience for them. They could see some different foods and we could pick up some stuff that I thought they might actually be willing to try.

Our children are not adventerious eaters.

One of the main reasons I wanted to take our children down to the super market was for the Chinese New Year. I did not want the 1st time our children celebrated anything Chinese to be when Ping got home. I really wanted them to be used to some Chinese traditions, foods, etc.

I thought this was a great move on our part, very deliberate and intentional to help prepare the children for Pings arrival.

That way, as we slowly work aspects of Chinese culture into our own culture, the children will not see it (hopefully) as "we are only doing this because of our new sister"... but more of a "we are doing this because we have done this many times in the past."

But before we went to the New 168 Super Market, I thought I should prep them for some of the things they may encounter.

Me: So, we are going to go to a Chinese food store. And there may be stuff there that you are not used to seeing.
Kid #1: Like what?! Strange things?!
Me: Not strange. These are perfectly normal things.
Kid #2: Not normal to us.
Me: Well no. Not normal to us. But nor...
Kid #1: So they ARE strange!
Me: No. Not strange. Normal. Just different.
Kid #2: But different is stange?
Me: No, different is just, you know, the opposite of ... um... same. Okay... focus! Stay with me. We are going to go to the Chinese food store and they may have strange thi...
Kid #1: SEE! They ARE strange! You just said strange!
Me: Different things! What is important is that you do not do anything silly about it.
Kid #2: Like what?
Me: Well. If you see something that you don't recgonize, like, say, a duck hanging on the wall of the store, do not point and scream and yell and say 'ooooh, thats gross! Look at that!'. Or if you see fish heads by the fish counter, don't giggle and laugh and point. Just remember that this is normal food.
Kid #1: Just not normal for us!
Me: Right. But it is going to become more normal for us.
Kid #3: Can I have chocolate? [our daughter, obviously]
Wife: Alright, lets head out!

... some minutes later we arrive at the store...
... some many minutes later we are still circling the parking lot looking for a place to park!

This is when it sinks in. This is Chinese New Years - Saturday afternoon! I think the whole Chinese community is out shopping at this ONE store! Oh my!

I finally parked some distance away after dropping the children and wife off at the door and slowly made my way back throught the snow and slush.

When I got to the store, there was my lovely family huddled together, holding hands, and just looking around at it all... beside them, were our good friends who had agreed to meet us there. The wife had already filled a shopping basket with all sorts of foods! When I queried her as to what was in the basket, she responded "I don't know! But I'm gonna cook it!".

Now, my wife and I have travelled a little. Combined, we have been though markets in Africa, Europe and South America. But to our children, it was like we had stepped out side of North America!

It was all so very exciting!

It is amazing how much culture there is, even in our grocery stores. We wandered the isles looking at stuff, unable to read packaging, picking stuff up and tried to decipher what it was.
Everyone in the family got to pick some desert/snack type foods for the dinner we were to have that evening.

As we started pushing our way though the crowd muttering "Dui bu qi, dui bu qi", the children were brilliant! They were engagged, looking around, pointing at things and asking questions without making a scene or acting all grossed out. I was so proud as we walked past the hanging ducks, fish heads, live lobsters, gutted fish and all... they were the very model of wonderful children!

My wife on the other hand...

Friend Wife (FW): WOW!!! And look here, they have Pickled Pigs Toes!
Wife: Look at that sign by the lobster tank! It says "Do not wash hands in Lobster Tank!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

NOTE: Although my wife thought the hand washing sign was a funny cultural "thing", it was a Chinese co-worker who pointed out that the sign was written in English. :-)

Needless to say, we did have a wonderful time.

I apparently should have given my wife the pep-talk before going to the store, not my kids.

And that night, we had a wonderful Chinese feast as Chinese friends of ours came over and taught us how to cook some wonderful authentic dishes!

It was a wonderful experience! But next time, I'll leave my wife at home. :-)

And our daughter did get chocolate.

Yeargh! :-)

So when we decided that our adopted child would be from China, I came up with the brilliant idea that I should learn to speak Chinese.

Now, I strugle enough just with english... let alone learning French or any other language... let alone Chinese, a dialect based on tones and inflection (when we as poor english speaking people can not even understand sarcastic tones).

However, I am a lucky guy... I have MANY co-workers who are from China and can speak Mandarin exceedingly well. So they can help! Right! Right? *siiiigh*

Me: Hey! Wanna teach me Chinese?
Co-Worker (CW): Chinese? No.
Me: Yea, I need to learn to speak Chinese... you can help right?
CW: You know that Chinese isn't a language right?
Me: Uh, no. Not really. You don't speak Chinese?
CW: Do you speak Canadian?
Me: No way, eh, we like, speak English... eh. Okay. Well, what language should I learn?
CW: Well, there are 10 to 12 major dialects in China. Mandarin is the official dialect though.
Me: Great! I'll just learn that then!
CW: Right. Lets start with something simple... Lets say "Hello", repeat after me: Ni Hao.
Me: Ni Hao. [YES! Nailed it!]
CW: No, Ni Hao.
Me: Thats what I said. Ni Hao.
CW: No, you said, Ni Nao, what you needed to say was Ni Hao.
Me: I'm telling you, thats what I said.
CW: No, you said it wrong. Ni Hao.
Me: Ni Hao.
CW: Ni Hao.
Me: Thats what I said! I was there!

... fast forward about 3 months...

CW: No, Hi Hao! Ni HAO! NI HAO!!!!

... fast forward another 9 months...

CW: *sob* Ni ... hao .... *sob*
Me: Know what, I don't think you are a good teacher.

I found a great website: - they have lessons in Mandarin you can listen to.

After listening to mandarin radio online for a year, and then listening to these lessons every drive into work, I've master the basics of mandarin.
Okay, not mastered.
And maybe not the whole basics.
Okay, fine... maybe I can ask for coffee (the lessons are geared towards office conversation)
But thats VITAL.

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good about my mandarin... I can complete simple sentences around work with my Chinese co-workers in Mandarin, ask for coffee, appologize for stupid things I've said, ask whats happening, give them stuff, you know, stuff like that.

I'm not gonna lie... its been hard this last year trying to learn Mandarin.

But I'm really happy about it. If my 3 1/2 year old wants to know where the photo-copyer is, I'm all over that. She needs a coffee? Got it covered!

Yay me!

... oh wait, hold on... my wife just passed me her referral.
Guandong? You're kidding me!?
She speaks what?!
NOT Mandarin. YEARGH!!! :-)

Me: *sob*

So if anyone wants to help teach me Cantonese... ;-)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Comforting/Encouraging Words

One of the things I really appreciate are comforting words from those around us.
Words like:
  • Oh, she will get here when she gets here!
  • Don't worry about your documentation being lost... again... it is all in Gods hands!
  • Shes a lucky one to be adopted by you!
  • Her life is going to be so much better now!

See, while those may all be good and true, it is very much akin to telling your 43 year old single aunt who desperately WANTS to get married:
  • Its fun to be single!
  • There are plenty of fish in the sea!
  • Better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.
  • Boy you are lucky not to have to be tied down!

See, the problem is, again, that nothing above is terribly 'wrong'. It is just so very... misguided.

There are so many things here, so I'm not quite sure where to start. Probably should have thought this through before I started posting... but here we go anyway. :-)

We are not adopting Ping for the purpose of giving her a 'better life' than the one she could have in China. We are giving her the opportunity for a life with us. Now we hope and pray that this life with us will be wonderful and all that she ever wanted... but how ignorant and arrogant of us to think that her life will be better just because she will be with us.

If one were to argue that her life will be better because she may have better food, better schooling, better things... then I think we are missing the true definition of what makes life 'better'. Goodness knows that there are many rich people who can have all the food, schooling and stuff they can ever desire, yet be miserable and have not a 'good life'.

And on the flip side of this same logic, is even an uglier thought... if someone wanted to adopt Ping who had a bigger house than us, more money, better school district, etc, would they have been able to provide Ping with a better life than even we can? And if so, then why should we even be allowed to adopt her?

And issuing statements like 'it will happen in Gods time' is true - in that God controls all... but at the same time, and absolutely useless statement. The Israelites wandered in the desert needlessly for 40 some odd years (a walk which should have taken 1.5 years or so). So how is that comforting?! :-) Well, fine, I guess it is comforting in that God kept them alive for those 40 years, provided fire at night, shade during the day, water from rocks... but that is not my point. :-)

More to the point, I know Gods plan is perfect, but that doesn't mean that pat answers and cliches bring any comfort.

Adopted children will be loosing everything that they have ever known.
Ever loved.
Ever held in their hands.
Every face they have ever looked upon.
Every voice they have ever heard.
Every smell.
Every thing.

How silly of us to think that that will not matter or affect her, and that she should just be 'happy' that she is coming home with us.

When people say 'comforting/encouraging' words like the ones listed above, more often than not, it really just saddens me.

It makes me realize that, yes, I believe we will be bringing so much more to her life than what she is loosing, but ... do I/we really understand what she will be going through?

How can I comfort our daughter, when words seem to hollow?

When she will look at me and ask "do you know what I'm going though?"

All I will be able to do is pray,
and to hold her close,
and as tightly as I can,
and to whisper in her ear for the ten thousandth time today,
that I love her more than she can ever imagine...

... and hope that she understands.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Soooooo... no spanking?

There are a few things in life that married couples should know about eachother.
Things like, oooooh, I donno...
  • Thier significant others eye colour (brown, no wait, GREEN).
  • Thier likes (me, on some days) and dislikes (me, on other days).
  • Favourite desertes (sticky taffy cake)
  • Favourite foods (sticky taffy cake)
  • Favourite passtime (sticky taffy cake)
  • Names of thier children...
  • ... or at least how MANY children (rough estimate in the case of the husband)
The basic stuff.

There is however, a whole different range of things which should be known.
Things that are learned over time and which are specific to each couple.

And I'm just going to throw this out there, I'm not sure that it applies to anyone other than us... but among the things I think the wife should know about thier husbands is this:
When meeting a Social Worker to determine the ability of ones self to parent a child effectively, maybe, just maybe, it would be a good idea to give said husband a few pointers - BEFORE the meeting...

SO here is the deal, when adopting in Ontario, the adoptive couple have to have a Home Study conducted by a Social Worker (lets call this person our Adoption Practicioner (AP)). Said AP studies the family, the home, the parenting style, interviews any children (even our 4 year old) to see what happens when 'mommy gets mad' and stuff like that.
The reason the AP has to do this, is to determine for the Ontario government IF we are FIT to be parents.


Lets forget the fact that the Ontario governmnent allowed us to have 3 children biologically.
Those we are allowed to screw up and send screaming into therapy as we see fit.
However, a child from China, well... thats different. We can't mess up those children. Oh no.
But I digress.

So down around the 3rd or 4th interview with our AP, we started covering the 'discipline' issues in parenting.

AP: So, Roberta what do you think of spanking?
Roberta: Oh I do not agree with spanking at all.
Me: What?! We spanked our kids. I'm pretty sure you just spanked one today.
AP: And Adrian, what do you think of spanking?

Now, I had read a lot of these here new fandangled 'books' (the kind filled with words (not just pictures)) about parenting and I thought to myself:
Self, this is a wonderful oppertunity to show our AP just how intilligent and well informed on disciplinary topics I am!
I mean, I dont watch Dr. Phill for nothing! If there is one thing my grandpappy used to always say, it was you can't catch a catfish unless you ding the ding a long ding ding!

Me: Well, I think that spanking is another tool in the parenting toolbox that we have cultivated over the years. Yes sir, I think that spanking is a great way to communicate* right from wrong to your young child.

* = It was around this time that I noticed my wife started kicking my foot from under the table.

AP: Really? So you were spanked? And how did you think that affected you?

Well, I could TELL she was just impressed with my use of 'book' words like, toolbox and cultivated.

Me: Well, I think I turned out pretty good!**

** = It was around this time that the foot kicking had graduated into a more frantic foot stomping, accompanied by repeated punches to my thigh.

The AP simply closed her book she was looking at, slowly looked up at us.

AP: There will be NO spanking. You will not be allowed to adopt a child in Ontario unless you agree that there will be NO spanking in your family what-so-ever.
Roberta: Oh sure! We agree! No more spanking! Ever!
Me: Really? But before two years of age, thier little minds haven't even created the neurological connections to associate cause and effect? A hot hand on the stove will teach a child not to touch a stove, yet all the words in the world and 'time out's could never teach that at that age.***

*** = It was around now that I'm pretty sure my lovely delicate little wife had broken my foot in 3 places, given me the largest charlie horse of my life, and had actually started sucker punching me in the kidneys

  • NOTE: I would like to point out that although my wife feels that 'spanking' is wrong, apparently sucker punching your husband is perfectly acceptable.

AP: There will be NO spanking.

I'm going to stop the running dialog there. I'm pretty sure you can see where this is headed.
It was pretty clear to see that we would no longer be spanking.
And in our defense, we hadn't spanked in years, and you could count on 1 hand the number of times our children had ever been spanked.
I always considred spanking in anger to be wrong... but this was news to me that we were actually not 'allowed' to spank.

Now, at the end of the day, do I care about that? No. The whole rambling point of this post today, is to show that my wife should have KNOWN to give me a heads up about the spanking thing! :-)

No, thats not the point. The real point is more along the lines of what I thought as a parent. I though I would know how to parent an adopted child... but I sure didn't.

Our wonderful AP (she is terrific) had asked us some other questions. Some of them pretty standard, and I think most parents today would use the same toolbox:
  • If our child acts out - give them a time out... so much better than a spank.
  • If our child refuses to obey - take away a toy...
  • etc.

The question she asked us was this, and do please get this, because this is huge:

What do you take away from a child who has lost thier mom? thier dad? thier home? thier toys? thier bed? thier friends? Even thier name? What is it going to accomplish if you take away thier 'My Little Pony'? Do you really think that is going to teach them what you want it to teach them?

What do you think would happen, if your new child acted out, and you sent them to thier room for a time-out? Do you think they will learn what you want them to learn? Or do you think you will teach them that if they are bad, you will send them away? Just like other people have?

The way you have to parent a child who is suffering with loss is so vastly different that one can not help but feel totally un-prepared.
Yes, I have 11+ years of parenting under my belt.
Yes, I have 3 children.
Yes, I am a great father.
But No, I am not prepared for parenting a child who has suffered loss.

But we will.
And we will do it well.
And Ping will know that she is loved.
And she will know, that her parents are not perfect.
And I may have to re-learn everything I thought knew.
But I'm OK with that.
And I look forward to Ping teaching me all over again how to be a great father.

And so help me, if my wife has to read EVERY parenting book related to adoption for me to be a better Dad, then she will! :-)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Starting it all...

Yes, we are adopting.
No, its not a new decision.
Yes, we were looking at adoption even before we had our biological children.
No, I this will not 'mess up' our family.
Yes, I fully expect it to be hard.
No, I didn't expect it to be THIS hard.
Yes, I would absolutely do it again.
No, I have no idea when.
Yes, I do already love her.
No, I don't know why my wife is crying... again...

If you are one of the brave* families going through adoption, then I'm sure you can guess what they other 1/2 of the conversation above would be. I'm pretty sure you have had similar ones yourself.

My wife has spent hours pouring over so many 'gotcha day' videos on YouTube and so many blogs of other adoptive families that we (she) has realised that there is a common good in sharing our experiences with one and other. To encourage eachother. To support eachother. To push eachother onward and hold eachother up when we are too weak to carry on with our own strength.
However, she refuses to learn how to blog.
So here I am, you are stuck with me. And for that, I'm sorry... :-)

I'm sure if my wife wrote these blogs, they would be much more deeper, meaningful, full of grace and emotional content. However, I will do my best to post what I can.

Our adoption process has been going on now for quite some time. In the near future, I will start posting as often as I can to catch up the last 12 months or so of joys, fears, heartaches, excitment, dissapointments, and victories as best I can.

So welcome, sit back, enjoy the ride.

If you too are an adoptive family, I hope you will find some solace here.

If you are a friend/parent/relative, I hope you will fine some information here, and insight as to what your loved ones are going through.

If you are considering adoption, then I hope you will see something wonderful with the fullfillment of one dream (ours) and the beginning of yours.

If you are not any of the above, then I hope you will see that adoption is a wonderful thing, and come away with a new understanding of what it means, and an awareness and ability to support those who are making that wonderful choice.

* brave == anyone having an urge to expand thier family, be it biologically, adoption, or other means. Because lets face it, no matter how you add a child to your family, everything you know will be challenged, you will be pushed, prodded, stretched, you will win some days, loose others... and yet we still march on, no we run with wreckless abandonment towards these challenges and all for the love of a child.