Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Catch a Grenade For You

Daughter #1 (G):  Daddy, why did that man say Grenade?
Me:  Huh?  What?
G:  In the song Daddy.  Listen.  He says Grenade.
Me:  Okay... let me turn it up...

I’d catch a grenade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I’d jump in front of a train for ya (yeah, yeah , yeah)
You know I'd do anything for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah) Oh, oh
I would go through all this pain, Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby ;  But you won't do the same

Me:  Hmmmm... um, I really don't know baby.  It doesn't make much sense does it.

That song got me thinking (a dangerous thing, I know)... how many times in moves or music do we see or hear,  these overly romanticized acts of self sacrifice to show our love to someone?  And then, in how many of these movies do the people change their minds 1/2 way though and want out of the relationship... 

Me:  ... well G, its a love song, kind of.  The boy in the song is trying to say how much he loves the girl, in that he would catch a grenade for her... to save her...
Son #1 (K):  I like grenades!  (can you tell he is 12?)  I'd catch a grenade!
G:  Oh.  It still doesn't make any sense.
Me:  Yea, I know.  I mean, if you are so close to the girl, catching the grenade isn't gonna help.  Same thing with the train... If I jump in front of a train, I'm not going to stop the train.  The train would just run me over, and then run the girl over.  Now, I could PUSH the girl out of the trains path... that would be helpful.  And a bullet through the brain?!  Really?  Nope, thats just foolish.  Again, if I know someone is trying to shoot my girl, maybe I should get her the heck out of there.  I mean, after I'm shot in the head, I haven't removed the girl from danger... the shooter is still out there...
G:  Daddy, you're not making any sense.
Me:  Maybe not... but neither is the song.
K:  Can I have a grenade?!
Me:  No.
K:  But I LIKE grenades!  (seriously, 12 year olds... ungh...)
She might be little, but shes still not buying what I'm selling...
Love is hard.  I mean, it is hard work.  Not for my wife though.  I'm sure its easy to love me.  I'm rough and rugged, and funny and all that... I must be easy to love!  But for others, I am sure it is hard work.

I think we often fall into this trap thinking that our children want huge shows of affection, that they want us to break down walls, or jump in front of trains, or even catch grenades for them.  But really, what I think they want, is steadfast love.

What is the point of showering our children with lots and lots of affection like toys, gifts and everything they ask for, if we get all angry with them every time they don't behave the way we think they should?

Extravagant shows of affection are easy!  Thats why us men will come home with flowers and chocolate when we do something stupid - because it is easier to buy a box of chocolates than to try to string together a thoughtful sentence like "I'm sorry, I'm an idiot for doing _____________."  There is a while diamond industry built around extravagant shows of affection...  but last time I checked, no amount of diamonds can save a marriage*.

True love is lived out daily, and in the small ways and the small things.  Its giving our children the consistent love, patience, genteelness and acceptance that they need.
Reeeeeally not buying it...
This is especially true when Adopting an Older child.  They have history.  They know love... their knowledge of Love may be skewed and incorrect - but to them it is love.  They may not trust love.  They may have years of "stuff" they are dealing with.  We have to understand how our children process "love".

I like asking fathers some simple questions... questions like...

  • where do you want to be in your career 5 years from now?
  • what type of car do you want to be driving in 10 years from now?
  • where do you want to live when you retire?

What kills me, is that the fathers will have answers for these types of questions.  They will say "I want to be into upper management", or "I want to be driving a BMW 350i(?)"...

But ask them questions like...

  • what do you want your marriage to look like in 5 years?
  • what are you going to do in the next 6 months to be a better father?
  • what is the love language of your child?

And all you get are blank stares...  Do we honestly believe that we don't need to plan to be better fathers?  husbands?  How are we going to handle the hard times if we don't have a plan?  Do we expect to be able to ride in on a White Horse and save the day like in so many cheesy Hollywood movies?  To bring it back to the overly romanticized songs... do we expect to be able to fix all the pain, and past experiences of our children with 1 big act of selfless love - especially one which doesn't address the real love issue (ie: catching that grenade didn't save the girl, you're still standing there beside her, but now with a grenade in your hand)?

No.  Not in 1 act.  1 act can start the healing process... or 1 act can begin the love relationship...
This was the 1st step, there are many more to come...
I think often we try to show our adopted children that we love them with the big things...
...when really, what they need are our hearts.  Everyday.

* = But apparently there is no harm in trying.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Banquet

K and his friend Y at a Christmas Banquet
My how the time flies... look at our little man there... at some fancy dress up diner for a Christmas Banquet!  With a girl non-the-less!  Ye'sir, K and his little friend there had a lovely time a formal banquet for diner.  I'm not sure I'm ready for K to be getting all grown up.  I mean I KNEW it was going to happen some day... that he would want to start to spread his wings and fly.  To grow up and turn into his own person.  No longer to be our little baby (he will ALWAYS be our Baby... he might not think so though).

Even though we prepare for our children to grow up, and to move on in life... (good parents prepare their children to grow up and move on) it is never easy to come to the realization that today, my baby needs me maybe just a little bit less than yesterday.

So how is it that we are caught of guard, and surprised, maybe even a little saddened when our children grow and mature...

I think, at least for me, it is the realization that I have 1 day less today to spend with my child than I had yesterday.  And 1 less opportunity to tell them how amazing and wonderful they truly are.  How proud I am of them.  How much they amaze me in every way.

But most importantly... ONE less day to EMBARRASS them!

阿姨Deborah (via Skype from China): So, how was your guys Christmas?
Kids:  Good!  We got lots of stuff!
阿姨:  Yea?  Like what?
阿姨:  Hey cool!  Thats just like my camera!
K:  And I got Lord Of the Rings Super Duper Long Extended Version!
阿姨:  Awesome!
Ping:  'nd we got barbie house bigger en me!
G:  But not me, I'm taller than the house.
阿姨:  Nice.  And did you guys do anything special?
Me:  Well, K went to a fancy Christmas Banquet.  With a GIRL!
K:  WHAaaaaat?!!  Daaaaaaaad...
阿姨:  Yea?  A girl?
Me:  Uh-huh.  You should ask him if she was pretty.
阿姨:  Oh?  Was she pretty?
K:  WHAT?!  WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME?!  I don't know!  Shes a friend!
Me:  Uh-huh.  Well she WAS very pretty.  She had a beautiful dress.  Oh, and ask K what he wore!
阿姨:  *laughing*  So what did you wear K?
K:  I don't know.  *laughing and turning quite red*
Me:  He had a nice pair of jeans, and a new black shirt that he bought just for the diner!  He even took a shower!
K:  Mom MADE me buy a new shirt!  And she made me take a shower too.  I didn't want to.
Me:  Yes, it is all moms fault.  I mean, why would you want to be clean.
K:  I'm leaving now.
阿姨:  Bye.  Say hi to your friend for me!
*K leaves*
阿姨:  He was SO embarrassed!  
Me:  Yea, it's about the only perk to being a parent... being able to embarrass our children. 


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

They may not look like me...

Well, my kids may not look like me. Thats for sure. They are all too cute and perfect. None of my little ones are rough and rugged like their father. Even our eldest with his long hair can be mistaken for a girl to the untrained eye... The all have light hair... blue or green eyes... while I wander around with dark hair and dark brown eyes.

Thankfully though there are other things which help me identify them as my own...

  • Our eldest son has my mannerism - he walks like me, talks like me, jokes like me, even likes to stay up as late as he can... like me.
  • Our middle son - well, hold on, I'll come back to him...
  • Our eldest daughter looks nothing like me, but thankfully a spitting image of her mother (although her mother denies that) and even acts like her mother... while we were all putting the lights on the Christmas Tree, she was sitting in the "cuddle chair" drinking hot chocolate telling us "That looks really nice, you're doing a good job. But you missed a spot there". Even the wife had to stop and laugh...
  • Our currently youngest daughter FINALLY has my eyes, and my hair... so thankfully at least ONE of my children look like me... granted, shes a tiny Chinese girl and I'm a rough and rugged Flin Flonian... so the similar appearances end at the hair and eye colours. But even she is starting to act like a Berzenji. Yes sir, she is starting to track me down for kisses before I goto work in the morning, curl up in bed and then ask me to get her a glass of water... just like her Mom...

K, Ping, G + D

Okay, but getting back to my middle child - our 'D'. He is a bit of the odd ball for me. He looks like his mother. He acts like his mother. He gets mad quick like his mother (he once had a knock down drag 'em out fist fight with a door which kept closing on him... he wouldn't move, or prop the door open, nope... just kept punching it open, only to have it close on him again). Now he IS very inclined technically... so there's maybe a little hope that there is some of me insid'a'him... but maybe there is more of me in him than I realize sometimes...

Our 'D'

D: Hey Dad, is it true what K said about herbivores?
Me: I donno, what did he say?
D: He said that a herbivore eats like 500,000 plants in its life time!
Me: Well, that is what the sign said on the nature walk we took.
D: Wow. Thats a lot of plants.
Me: Yup.
D: Don't plants help our oxygen?
Me: Yup. The help filter out pollution and make the air cleaner to breath.
D: Hmmmm... OH! I know how we can help the environment then!
Me: Yea? Plant more trees?
D: Nope! Kill all the herbivores!
Me: Yes. Well, that is an option.
D: Cuz they eat all the plants which help the air. So if we kill them all, then the air will be better.
Me: Well, I'm having a hard time to argue with that.
D: Yea. I need a sniper rifle then! (he's 10... does it show?)
Me: A sniper rifle?
D: Yea! Then I can start shooting bunnies! In the head!
Me: Lets maybe continue this discussion later... not while we're eating.
D: And we can make a video game out of it! And you can see the bunny brains sliding down your screen when you shoot them in the head!

*siiiiiiigh* Yea. There are somethings, which make you a family... and it isn't the way you look. It might be the way you think alike... act alike... or want to shoot bunnies with sniper rifles.

I guess the point that I'm trying to avoid is... families are made by the love we share and the lives we live together. So even if your child doesn't look like you... you might be surprised to find out just HOW much they really are like you.

... now, if you don't mind excusing me, I have a very excited 10 year old in the garage looking for my shot gun.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chinese School - New Student

I know there is always much chatter about Chinese School for our adopted little ones from China.  I assume it would be the same for anyone who adopted internationally and cross-culturally.
I know some are very Pro Chinese School.
Some are very Anti Chinese School.
I figure, we just do our best for our children, and it may not be the same for every child or family... but we've had some interesting times at Chinese School so far.  :-)

Ping in Class...
From the "I don't want to Learn Chinese", to the "don't send me back to China" and the occasional emotional melt down to the overly enthusiastic response when she remembers something in Chinese... I though we had seen it all... until...

Ping:  We go China school tomorrow?
Me:  Yes Ping, we will go to China School tomorrow.
Ping:  Just you and me?  We go school?
Me:  Yes, Daddy will come.
Ping:  And Daddy stay with Ping.
Me:  Of course Daddy will stay with you.
Ping:  Cuz Daddy never leave me.
Me:  Thats right, Daddy will never leave you.
Ping:  Cuz you love me!
Me:  Thats right.
G:  Daddy, can I come to Chinese School with you and Ping?
Ping:  Whaaaaaaat?  You learn Chinese?
G:  Yes, cuz if I learn Chinese, then I can go to China when we adopt again.
Me:  G, you really want to come to Chinese school?
G:  Yup!
Ping:  YAY!!! Me and Gemma go Chinese School!  Mah big sister!
G:  Pleeeeeease can I go?!
Me:  Of course you can come.  We'll just have to talk to the teacher when we get there.
Ping + G:  YAAAAAAY!!!
Big Sister G in Chinese School
And G did come to Chinese School this Saturday.  I was expecting to get a little bit of grief from the teachers - as an outsider, it can be very intimidating sometimes dealing with a whole slew of people you don't know or understand.  To my amazement, they were very very excited to let G join the class!  The Teacher sure worked hard to get her included in things, even the circle time and all.  They understood (as best they could) the adoption issues (that Ping felt scared in class thinking that we were going to send her back to China, but with G there, she had less fear (because we would not send G to China)) and bent a few of the rules for my precious babies.

They are going to allow G to take Jr. Kindergarten with her little sister Ping - and they are both very excited to be in the same class (even if G is a couple years older than most of the kids there).
The Cuteness is overwhelming in Chinese School now!
I'm really curious to see how this is all going to play out.

But for now, I'm just amazed at our children, and even though G was absolutely LOST in class (the whole class is in Mandarin, no English at all), and there was so much going on she didn't understand, G stuck it out, and is willing to come back week after week to be with her Sister.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Tree Down

I really don't know what it is about me and trees...
But if you do a search for "tree" on our blog, you get like 4 pages of results.

And over the years, I've had more interaction with trees than I for.
I've climbed trees.
Felled trees.
I've attacked trees with shovels, ice picks, hatchets, sharpened rocks, chain saws...
... and now, thanks for some poor decision making and slippery roads... we can add, the van.

Notice the damage?

How about now?
I was driving home from the store at 7:30 the other night.  A beautiful winter-y night... with soft falling snow... and a sheet of ice on the road.  I slid though a T intersection totally unable to slow down.  I had hammered on the brakes a good while back from the stop sign... but apparently, there was no grip to slow me down.  As the van started to slide sideways towards the ditch, there were many thoughts which started going though my head... these are some of them... in no particular order:

  • Oh crap!  I can't stop!
  • The van is turning sideways - oh no... ditch!
  • If I hit the ditch, I'm toast!  The van is gonna flip for sure.
  • Oh look!  A drive way!  Let go of the brakes, straighten out, run off into the drive way.
  • Oh snap!  2 parked cars in the driveway!
  • GAH!
  • Okay, ummmmm... lets see...
  • ditch...
  • parked cars...
  • orrrrr... TREE!
  • I'm going to take out the tree.
  • That should stop the van too.
  • Oh dang.  This is gonna hurt.
  • *swirve*
  • *bang*
  • Wha?  Why am I still driving towards the house?
  • Did I miss the tree?
  • Oh great.
  • I'm gonna be one of THOSE guys you read about in the paper who "drives into a house", and you ask yourself "what kind of an IDIOT drives into a HOUSE?!?!".  Me.  Thats who!
  • Oh crap!  You know what, this is gonna cost me a crap load of money to fix, and I'm still trying to save up for the costs of the adoption.  Dang it!

When the van finally came to a rest, I had in fact hit the tree.  I climbed out of the van and was immediately releived that nothing was going to blow up - no one was hurt, all ended better than I could have thought.  Yes, the tree then flipped over my van and landed on one of the parked cars.  I did miss the house, and got the van between the house and the water well in the front lawn.  Pulled a bit of a U turn, and amazing, came out of it all without any scratches.  The van wasn't too bad, from the looks of things.  Sure, it was stuck on a big rock, cracked the front bumper, lost the DODGE logo on the front, and took out a tree... but it could have been much... much worse.

Hitting the ditch would have been horrible - and hitting the house or the two parked cars would have been pretty darned bad as well.

But enough about that.  I want to get back to the tree.

As the van was out of control, I was left with a feeling of helplessness, unable to change the situation I was in, yet forced to go through it.

When I looked around at my options, they were all pretty crappy.  I didn't really want to hit a tree with my van... but it was the best option available to me at the time.

I'm sure to our beloved children, who have been ripped from all they know, they must feel like that... only, a thousand times worse!
This helplessness.
Unable to change the situation they are in.
Maybe, not even wanting to be in the situation they are in.
And maybe they do what I did.
They look around.
The try to find a safe(er) place to land.
And sometimes, that safe(er) place isn't even a good place - but the best of a bad situation.

We as parents are sometimes (many times) that safe(er) place.  We're the tree.  Our children are the out of control van plowing into us.

Is that great for us?  No.  It hurts (and it's not really about us anyway).  It sucks when your child plows into you with a van sized "I no love you!  Not today!  I want go back China!"

But I'm the tree.

Can she get back to China?  Can she fix the situation she is in?  Can she change course?  Can she stop this crazy ride she is on?  No.

In the end, after my child plows though enough of my trees, and she comes to a rest... she will climb out of her van, look around and go "you know what, that wasn't so bad - it could have been a lot worse".

Maybe she will look at the smoldering remains of all my tree stumps, and say "Thanks Dad, thanks for being my Tree and slowing me down while I was out of control, even though I didn't want you to".  And you know what, even if she never says that... it doesn't matter.

Sometimes, there are trees in our lives that we have to removed.
Sometimes, there are threes in our lives which we want to remove, but God keeps there for some reason we don't understand.
And sometimes, we are the tree for others who need one to crash into.

* == totally should be me!

Monday, December 6, 2010

New Children's Adoption Story Book!

About Destiny
Adoption is a beautiful word that demonstrates the purest form of love from every side.
I've got a great friend who wrote a great childrens book about adoption.  To be more specific, its a story about inter-cultural adoption.

The motivation for writing this book was to empower my daughter with the answers she would need to develop a healthy self-image. My daughter was adopted as a newborn and my goal as her mother is to daily ensure that she feels safe and secure with her story.
The art in the book is beautiful, and the story is even more so!

The book can be found on her website:  http://www.destinyadoptionservices.com
Check under the "Products" link.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Me and the Police

I know this may come as a complete and total shock to anyone reading this... but sometimes, I have issues with those in Law Enforcement. Well, to be more precise, I don't have an issue with them... but they seem to have an issue with me.

Future Wife: Are you speeding?
Younger Me: Nope.
Future Wife: Why did you get pulled over then?
Younger Me: I'm not sure. I'm sure we will find out soon enough.
Policeman: License and registration please.
Younger Me: Sure.
Policeman: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Younger Me: Because of my dashing good looks?
Policeman: No, because there is reason to believe you are driving a stolen vehicle.

I look at my car (man, I wish I had a picture of it!)... a rusted out 1976 Plymouth Horizon. Floor boards had rusted though so bad, that when we drove though a puddle water splashed up on the INSIDE of the car. There was no muffler really to speak of. And the whole car was held together with duct tape and chicken wire.

Younger Me: Officer Sir, if I were to steal a car, I would have stolen something nicer than a 1976 Plymouth Horizon.
Policeman: Son, get out of the car and spread 'em...

For the next 45 minutes, I'm standing in the freezing rain on a cold Winnipeg Autumn evening... while some police officer is sitting in his nice warm cruiser watching me freeze. I tried to re-enter my car, which cause the officer to jump out and almost shoot me...

On the flip side, my beautiful wife and her sister got pulled over for:
1) speeding
2) not wearing seat belts
3) having the wrong plates on the vehicle
4) not having the insurance/liscence on the vehicle
5) having the children not in thier seats (it was a cargo van)
And THEY got off with just a "warning". GAH! If that was me, the cop would have shot me for SURE!

OH! Shooting me! That reminds me of another time...

Policeman: Open the door!
Much Younger Me: Uh, why are there police men running up to the house...
Older Brother: And why do they have their guns drawn?

... uuummmmm, you know what, I'm gonna finish that story AFTER our adoption is complete. :-)

Getting on topic... recently, we had to get our criminal reports done... like... 3 times... because *SOMETHING* always got forgotten in the report.

But dealing with the police with our adoption has been different. Everyone at the station has been super helpful, and even though the paper work has not gone as "smoothly" as one would like, the police seem genuinely interested in getting our adoption completed as quickly and painlessly as possible.

I'm sure that these police officers who are just "doing their jobs" don't understand that they are actually helping bring a "missing child home".

I've heard it said before that it "takes a village to raise a child"... in the world of adoption, it "takes a city of government workers to work though all the red tape to allow you to bring a child home"... or something.

So, to all the unsung heroes of adoption... Yeeeeees, to you the Social Workers, the Criminal Report Checkers, to the Finger Printer Taker Guy at the RCMP Office and yes... even you, you crazy little Guy Who Stamps My Paper at The Chinese Embassy before Sending it to the Laywers* - this post is for you - Thank You**.

* == Laywers are not included in the list of people to thank... nor is AirCanada... blood thirsty leeches***!
** == See, cup 1/2 full kind of guy - I'm not freaking out that we've lost like 3 weeks due to this paper work bungle! Not. Freaking. Out.
*** == if my Blog dissapears soon, its because the laywers**** sued me for something...
**** == I'm only kidding, the laywers are great*****.
***** == I still think AirCanada shouldn't charge FULL FREAKING FARE for a 2+ year old.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jason Upton's Adoption Story

The link above is a great video of an Adopted person telling his story.  If you are unfamiliar with Jason Uptons Christian music, some of it is amazing!  I wore our one of his praise CDs from non-stop rotation.

Anyway, the link takes you to another blog who originally posted the video.  For those who may be too lazy to actually click on a link, I've also embedded the YouTube video below (at least, I HOPE I embedded it... my firewall blocks YouTube, so I'm guessing that it worked).

Its the CRAZIES who are Thankful!

I like to think that I'm a pretty Happy Go Lucky kind of guy.
I mean, I like to think of myself as a "cup 1/2 full" kind of guy (unless you are drinking from it, then it is 1/2 empty).
See the good in everyone.
Look on the bright side of things.
Find the silver lining in the cloud.
You know, all that kind of good stuff.

Don't get me wrong, I have my bad days like everyone... okay, well, maybe not EVERYONE. I have one friend Rhonda, who I don't think EVER has a bad day. Drives me NUTS! I just wanna scream... Its like, "C'mon! Can't you just have 1 bad day?". *siiigh* Oh, and my good friend Bobby - always happy! Always. Crazy. And everything works out for him too! He is one of those guys that if his car broke down on him on the way to Church, a new Lexus would fall from the heavens with the keys in the ignition and Megan Fox in the passenger seat! Goodness that guy bugs me too! You know what! They ALL drive me nuts! Happy people! BAH!!!

Where was I? Oh right... I'm Happy and Thankful!

Sometimes it can be really hard to be Thankful... honestly, I think sometimes we have to be CRAZY to be Thankful!

Me: *looking at the bank account* Oh snap.
Bad Me: You know, this whole "adoption" thing is kinda expensive. Like... really freakishly expensive.
Me: Yea, I know.
Bad Me: Dosn't that tick you OFF!
Me: Yea, kinda.
Bad Me: Kinda?! There are 147 MILLION orphans in the world - all you want to do is help 1, and someone wants to charge you thousands of dollars!
Me: Hey, you know what, that is crazy!
Bad Me: Thats right! Its CRAZY!
Me: They shouldn't do that! Thats CRAZY! Stupid regulations!
Good Me: Maybe you should be thankful instead of getting all upset.
Me: What? Be thankful for what?! That this is going to cost us a LOT of money, so I have to work TONNES(1) of overtime to pay for it all?!
Good Me: You could be thankful that you HAVE a job where you can work the over time to help pay for the adoption. Or you could just be thankful that you have a job at all.
Me: Okay, fine. I'm thankful that I have a job. But I'm still upset that this is SO HARD to adopt when these children need homes.
Good Me: Why don't you be thankful that you are adopting a beautiful child into your family, and not focus on the paper work.
Me: Okay... fine. So I'm thankful that I've got a job. I'm thankful that I am able to adopt a child. But, but... do you remember what the last adoption was like! I mean, you weren't the one getting yelled at in Mandarin every day!
Good Me: Why don't you just be thankful that your beautiful daughter will even talk to you.
Me: Grrrrr... fine. I'll be thankful for the job, for being able to pay for the adoption, for adding to the family, even for my daughter yelling at me.
Good Me: See! Don't you feel better now.
Me: You know what... no. This is still hard! And I haven't even gotten into the all the other krump(2) we've gotta work though for our "Special Needs" now.
Good Me: I know. Hey, you should ask God how hard adoption was for him. But there are some other things you can be thankful for.
Me: Oh yea, like what?
Good Me: Well, women with poor taste in men. With-out that, you would still be a bachelor!
Me: You know, for a "good conscience", sometimes you can be really mean.
Good Me: And you should be...
Me: Thankful for that too?
Good Me: My work here is done.

There are always two choices when life throws something unpleasant at you.
You can get mad, rage against the injustice* in life and hold onto bitterness, anger, resentment, etc.
Or, you can be one of the crazies. And goodness knows, there is enough krump in the adoption process to make anyone jaded (even the crazies like Bobby and Rhonda)...

As for me, I'm happy to be a crazy. I want to focus on what God has given me, and simply walk steadfastly though the trials of life, holding onto love, joy, peace, goodness, faith... and yes... even holding onto crazy, er, thankfullness. :-)

(1) Totally not a made up word - simply the proper spelling of TON (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tonnes) - welcome to Canada eh!

(2) Totally a made up word. Based loosely off CRUMP (which means "to explode heavily" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crump)), except rooted in a metaphorical term for issues which seem to "explode heavily" into your life, if you want them or not.

* == There is definitely a time to rage against the injustices of this world - but it probably is going to be a time that you won't like, and for something which you don't want to do. :-)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Special Needs Report

So, we got asked by our Social Worker to provide a supplemental report on the Special Needs we were OK with. This report is being requested by the Ontario Government (not our Social Worker), and I think it is to ensure "we" understand "what we are getting into" in regards to the Special Needs.

The report is to contain:
  • What the special need is
  • What the special need means to us
  • What the effects will be
  • What our experiences are with the special need
  • etc...
In our report we cover the following special needs:
  • Albinism
  • Mobility Problems
  • Cleft Palate / Cleft Lip
  • Heart Defects
  • Missing Digits
  • Facial Deformities
  • Birthmarks / Port Wine Stains
  • Club Foot
  • Limb Length Differences
  • Mild Spina Bifida
  • Ocular Motor Nerve Paralysis
  • Visual Impairment
  • Hepatitis B
  • Other Minor or Correctable Handicaps
If any of these Special Needs are on your list, feel free to view our report on our Special Needs Report page.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Parental Disappointment

Doctor:  Congratulations!  You've got a son!
Me:  Wow!  A son!
Wife:  Oh look at him!  He is beautiful!
Me:  He sure is!  Handsome!  Rugged!  He is going to be a star Athlete!
Wife:  He can be anything he wants to be...
Me:  So long as he is Athletic!  And rough and rugged like his Dad!
Wife:  Ummmm... I don't think you are as rough and rugged as you think you are...

And as simple as that, the expectations were set.  Yes, I had two wonderful boys - at least one of them would wind up being interested in Sports or some kind of Physical activity.  Right!  Right?

Wife:  Sooooo, football?  Hockey?
Me:  Are you kidding me?  Do you know how much those sports cost!  Think cheap... soccer... baseball... the European sports.
Wife:  Alright, well, there is a baseball league in the nearest town.  Only 40$ a kid.
Me:  Perfect!  Lets go!

It wasn't long into the 1st practice that I could see my dreams of having an Athletic son started to fade.

K waiting for his turn to bat
Wife:  What is he doing?
Me:  Huh?  Who?
Wife:  Our son.
Me:  AAAaah, yes, number 14 playing the out field!  He is doing great!  Look at him run and catch the ball!  Amazing!
Wife:  That's not our son.
Me:  I'm pretending it is.  I don't think his parents are around.  WAY TO GO NUMBER 14!!! YEAAAAA!!! WHOOOOOOO!
Wife:  Look at your son.  Over there.  By the 1st base.  What is he doing?
Me:  Oh.  Right.  Um, he is taking the orange cone pylon, and filling it up with sand.  Then, he pulls the cone up, and laughs as the sand pyramid crumbles down.
Wife:  Aaaah, well... that would explain why the cone is almost at second base.  But look at how happy he is!
Wife:  Oh look!  He's waving at you!  Isn't be beautiful!  He is so happy!
Me:  Shhhh!  Don't wave back!  Others will know he is ours!

Maybe baseball just wasn't his "thing".... there are other sports right?  Enter son #2...
D (son #2) - my chance at redemption?
Wife:  What is he doing?
Me:  Our son, he's leading the offensive charge!  Look at him out there - number 14!
Wife:  Isn't that the same kid from baseball?
Me:  Yea, isn't he great?  Way to go number 14!
Wife:  Oh look!  There is our son!
Me:  *siiiiigh*  Yea.  He's uh... he's chasing the butter fly.
Wife:  Oh he looks so happy!
Me:  Son, case the ball!  The soccer ball!  Not the butter fly!
Wife:  He's waving at you!  Look how proud he is!
Me:  The BALL!!!  GET THE BALL!  Oh, look... great... he is coming this way.
D:  Look Mom!  I pick you flowers!
Wife:  Oh I LOVE you baby!
Me:  Okay, D, now you're here... listen to me... you are playing soccer!  You run!  You run hard!  And you KICK that ball hard!  Now, go get it!
D:  Okay Daddy!
Wife:  Oh look at him run!  He is so fast!  Oh, whats he doing?  Why is he shaking?
Me:  *Ungh*  He thinks he is Mega Man.
Wife:  Mega who?
Me:  Mega man.  From his video game.  He is "charging" his shot.  Look at his pose... leg lifted back in the air, arms up, head down... shaking.  In the Mega Man game, you hold the "shoot" button down for a few seconds and Mega Man strikes that same pose, and starts to shake... the longer you hold the button, the stronger the shot will be... he is charging his shot.
Wife:  Oh look!  Someone just took the ball away.
Me:  *siiiigh*
Wife:  I'm so proud of you baby!
D Mega Man-ing it
Now thankfully, our little G is quite the soccer player!  Yup, our eldest daughter is my little striker.  She can rack up 5 or 6 goals in a game.  You should see her hustle out there!  She is chasing down girls waaaay bigger than her, muscling them off the ball... amazing!
G looking cute, but she will eat you alive on the pitch!
It's funny how as a parent, I put so many of my expectations on my children.  And they really were my expectations.  And when my beautiful children did not reach my expectations - when they "failed" - I was some how... disappointed in them.

The funniest part of it all though, is that my children never failed.  I did.

They simply excelled in ways which I was too blinded to see.  Yes, they were having fun, and that is great.  But forget the sports all together.  I was so blinded by my own thoughts on who my children should be, that I missed who they were!

  • I missed the fact that both my boys were excelling in music!
  • I missed the fact that our 2nd born son was invited to a Robot conference in US (where only Government, Military and Universities were allowed to attend) because he was so knowledgeable on the subject at the tender age of 6!
  • I missed the fact that our eldest son preached at church when he was like 5!
  • I missed the fact that our eldest daughter raised ~200$ for Haiti children instead of getting gifts at her birthday!
  • I missed the fact that they were beautiful, and loving, and amazing children that any parent would want!

K preaching at church
D posing for a picture at the Robo-Conference
I ran the risk of missing all the wonderful things that my children were accomplishing because I was so fixated on what I wanted them to be... instead of noticing who they really were.

And I wonder... how much of that do we put on our children without knowing it?  We expect our children to be perfect - to have no special needs.  And why?  Because of what we think our children should be?

For the sake of our families, may we never "pass by" a child simply because we are too scared, or too blinded to see beyond the physical.

To that beautiful little girl who is in a wheel chair, or a little boy who has Hepatitis B, may we never let our limitations limit what our children can be.

And may our eyes focus not on who they are not - but may they be forever focused on who they truly are.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

[Lord] grant me patience...

Wife: We are TOTALLY gonna do this adoption better!
Me: Oh yea, totally. I mean, we're totally going to ... uh... how are we going to do it better?
Wife: We are going to be more organized!
Me: Un-huh...
Wife: And we are going to be patient!
Me: Yes!
Wife: And we are not going to freak out when things go wrong!
Me: YES!
Wife: And when we want to scream and cry and rip off some stupid minimum wage making government official because they forgot to double stamp our police report - we will NOT freak out!
Me: YEEES!!! You go girl!
Wife: We will NOT be the ones to break down and cry! To rage against the paper work to fight the system!
Me: No Ma'am! Not US!
Wife: We will be diligent and get our paper work done before it is asked of us, that way when our social worker asks "Do you have this paperwork done?", we can say yes, and give it to her!
Me: Ye... errr... So, you would not be mad if... saaaaaay, my Doctor hasn't released my medical forms yet?
Wife: Oh no. Not at all. Because we have lots of time!
Me: Oh good! ha ha. Good.
... awkward silence...
Wife: Why do you ask?
Me: Oh its nothing.
Wife: What happened.
Me: Weeeeeeell, my Doctor hasn't sent in my medical forms yet.
Wife: Why? Why not? Why wouldn't she have sent them in yet?! How come?! WHY!?!? They were supposed to be in last week! Why isn't it done yet?! What did you DO?!?!
Me: Nothing. Its just... you know... she is on vacation.
Wife: WHAT?!?!?! THAT IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE! When is she getting back??!?!?!!?
Me: Oh, uh... next week.
Wife: Well thats not too bad. We'll have it in be the end of the week then.
Me: Baby, its Monday. Next week. You know, like 7 days away... and then she needs to review the records before sending them in. So, they might be done in two weeks.
Wife: WHAT?!?!?! OH C'MON! This is TOTALLY unacceptable! Call them back! Tell them this is for an adoption!
Me: I did.
Me: Oh no, the minimum wage receptionist sounded very concerned.
Wife: I'm calling them right now! RIGHT NOW!!! BECAUSE THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! *sob*
Me: I'm so glad you are taking this better than the 1st adoption.

... fast forward a few days ...

Me: So, the medical forms are back. It's all good now!
Wife: I'm so proud of us! We TOTALLY didn't freak out there. We're doing this adoption SO much better! I feel like... you know, anything can happen, and we will be OK with it. Nothing can phase us.
Me: Yup. We're like a rock. Solid.
Wife: Un-huh.
Me: Yeeeeah, so even if something funny happened, like you know... the police forgetting to get us our "list of occurrences" when they did our blue form we wouldn't freak out.
Me: Me? No.
Wife: Well WHO would LOOOOOSE our letters of occurences? Huh? Why would be THAT foolish?! And dis-organized!
Me: Well, uh, you actually did the police forms. Sooo...
Me: No, its, um... your fault that YOU lost our lette...
Wife: DO YOU KNOW THAT I DO EVERY DAY?!?! You try doing what I do! See how much YOU remember! (carry on the whole "I'm doing everything while you just sit around and write on your blog" speech)
Me: (some time later) Okay, look, I just got off the phone with the police, apparently THEY forgot to complete the form...
Wife: (chatter-chatter-chatter) ... oh, well, good. So you can just go get the missing form.
Me: Yea. Um, but I have to go to our Adoption Workers place, pick up the original incomplete forms, return them to the police station, along with the original receipts.

... fast forward a couple more days ...

Me: Okay, well, I picked up the original Police forms from our social worker again. And I've just gotta write up an couple letters explaining what happened, and then drop them off again at the Police station.
Wife: Good. We are doing SO great still! Totally not freaking out!
Me: Nope. Oh, and I need your passport again.
Wife: Huh. Uh, what.... why?
Me: Ah, something about proving our identity again and blah blah blah...
Wife: Okay. Okay! Ohhhhhhh kay. Breath. Its not that bad. So, how long will this paper work take to complete?
Me: You mean, to complete it again? The police forms, which we've already done twice now? Not to mention the 4 trips to the Finger Printing* place... that paper work?
Wife: Yes. That paper work.
Me: Well, uh... they said it should be less than two months.
Me: Yea. Oh, good news tho! Our "draft" report is done! So once we get this paper work back, we are GOOD to go!
Wife: Okay. Thats. Um. Thats. Great! Really! We. Are. Doing. Sooooooooooo... great.
Me: Yeaaaaah, great.
Wife: What?
Me: Oh? What? Nothing!
Wife: WHAT?
Me: Ah, well, its just ah... when I was with the adoption worker... she needs... you know, some more... information from us.
Wife: More. Information.
Me: Yea. But you know. Its nothing big. Just uh. We need to take all the special needs we said we were OK with, and... well... write a 1 page essay on each.
Wife: WWWWWWHHHHHHHAAAAAAAATTTTTTT?!?!?!?!?!? OH MOTH[BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP]ING SON OF A [BEEEEEEEEEEP]!!!! Thats not in the Official Paper Work! WHY?! WWhhhhaaaaayyyyy?!?!
Me: We're the 2nd family in Ontario to EVER have to do it.
Wife: WHaaaaaaaAAATTTT?!!?
Me: Yea, something about the Government wanting to "make sure we know what we're getting into".
Wife: BUT!! BUT! Its NOT on the list!
Me: Yea, I know. I mean, we COULD send in our paper work without it... but then 2 months later, they might reject our paper work and we'll be back here at square one... You okay? I'm sure other families adopting special needs will have to do the same. (pause) Seriously, you OK?
Wife: Boy... you know... I prayed for patience... God is REEEEEAAAAAALY pushing it, ya know?! God is REAAAALY pushing it!
Me: I'll make sure I pass that along to God when I'm talking to him.

* == the Wife's finger prints would not work on the digital finger printer (something about having her finger prints erased when she was an Assassin working for the KGB), so they had to "ink" them. We were THEN told the inking would take up to 9 months. At that point, the wife starting going daily to the finger printing place getting each finger printing tech to try to take her prints (they used sand paper on her fingers, they tried soaking her hands in warm water, etc, etc, etc)... in the end, they wound up getting a good enough set of digital prints.

Berzenji Forever Family Day!

Yes sir, 1 year ago today, we finally met our daughter face to face.

Today, was our 1st annual Forever Family Day!

We had pancakes with chocolate chips, strawberries and raspberries. We had bacon and syrup and whipped cream! MMmhhhh! So good!

Getting ready to head off to school - the pancakes made us late!  :-)
 I don't think they minded!
 Oh, and there was something-something about a new beautiful daughter who 1 year ago today, stepped out of a back room filled with bright colourfull chairs, wearing a pale yellow fur coat, and stepped right into our hearts...

She quietly looked at Roberta, and said "ma ma", then turned to me, and in the most beautiful voice I've ever heard... said "stay away from me you big fat YETI!" and started to cry!

Okay, maybe she DIDN'T say EXACTLY that...

But she did win over our hearts that day. Actually, she won over our hearts 5 months before that when we first saw her picture and read her profile. Or to be even more precise, 5 years ago, when she was born, she became the answer to a question which we didn't even know our family was asking.

Look how tall she has gotten in the last year!  We marked her height when we got her referral (Jade 3.5), then when she got home 5 months later (Jade 4).  Hopefully the markers can be seen in the photo.

And now, 1 year being home with us... it is nothing short of a miracle to see her with her siblings, and how she is thriving in every way!

I love you Baby! Happy Family Day!

Friday, November 12, 2010

1 Year Gone... (Meet Ya Day Video)

November 11th, 2009... last year, we were on an airplane - headed to China to get our new daughter!

Over the past year, we've had ups and downs.
Good days and bad.
We've had wonderful moments with friends and family where they have loved our Ping, and we've had moments when people just didn't.

Has adoption been what I expected? Hmmmm...

Not really. I mean, the obvious things are there. We adopted a wonderful beautiful girl from China. So, you know, THAT was what we expected.

However, there were some things we (I) did not expect...
I did not expect to be yelled at in Chinese as much as I have been.
I did not expect our daughter to "hold onto" her orphanage life as much as she did.
I did not expect problems in the Kindergarten class (or at least not the KIND of problems as we've had).
I did not expect to have to work so hard to have Ping like me.
I did not expect to have to cut my hair... or shave... just to get her to give me a kiss.
I did not expect to be starting this all again in less than 1 year home.
I did not expect our daughter G to be such a great Big Sister! She really stepped up her game!
I did not expect Ping to hug so strongly.
I did not expect Ping to cuddle up in bed with us almost every night for 10 months straight.
I did not expect to fall in love so quickly with this beautiful little girl.

And there were some things we (I) did expect, which turned out different... but the one prevailing thought thought this all is... it is good.

It has been an exciting and wonderful year! And as we look towards the next year, it is only going to be even better!

To ask myself the question above again, "has adoption been what I expected?", I would have to answer No *.
But it has been exactly what we (I) needed.

* == Its been different/better than expected, we were expecting much more behavior problems.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Video Link to our Orphan Sunday

Adoption Day Video

The link above is a link to the recording of the Church service where we celebrating "Remembrance" - and although we typically remember the veterans of our military (which we did), we also took some time to remember those who sometimes have no voice of their own - the orphans of the world.

The adoption stuff kicks off some where around the 16:30 minute mark!

And talk about the beginning of a "movement" - I understand that the church has received hundreds of people from all over the world contacting them to (hopefully) find out more about adoption and starting a Forever Family of their own, or just finding out how they can support those whom they can!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Orphan Sunday - We're Sharing!

Just a quick shout out - this Sunday is Orphan Sunday (http://www.orphansunday.org/) and our church The Life Centre (http://www.lifecentre.org/) is going to be dedicating part of this Sunday (Nov 7th) to the Adoption Movement.  If you happen to be in the Ottawa area - and are looking for a good way to celebrate Orphan Sunday - feel free to come and check it out!  It should be a good time!  There's gonna be some cool stuff going on (I mean, me and the wife are sharing with some other families which have adopted).

2214 Innes Rd
Ottawa, ON K1B 4C4


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Don't you worry about: Behavior

People also seem to be worried about our desire to adopt because of "behavior" issues.  It is as if they assume children adopted will behave badly, while biological children will behave gooder.  I've even had one well meaning person ask me "Why would you want to adopt, you already have 3 wonderful children, and you want to risk wrecking that by adopting?"  Now, I know what they meant, but the "risk" had nothing to do about adoption - and everything to do with just adding another child to the mix.

Wife:  So, we need to take two cars into Church today.
Me:  Oh, why?  Do you have to stay in town for something?
Wife:  No, G invited 3 of her friends, and they all want to come to the party.
Me:  Aaaah, I see.  Okay.  Well, two cars it is.
Wife:  Great, you can drive the girls, and I'll take the boys.
Me:  Why don't you take the girls, and I'll go with the boys?
Wife:  Oh... ah... its... a... because you can get ready quicker in the morning!  Yea!  Thats it!  And you would have more to children to pick up.  The boys only have 1 friend coming.
Me:  Oh, ok.  No problem then.
Wife:  Love you!
Me: *thinking* ... hmmmm... whats this feeling of impending doom for I wonder...

So I stacked G, and Ping into the van, and went and picked up adorable little girls #1 (ADG1).

ADG1:  HI G!!!
G:  Hey!
ADG1:  hehehehe... Hi Ping.
Ping:  This is your house?
ADG1:  Yea.
Ping:  It close to my house.
ADG1:  Yea, it's as close as my BUTT!
Ping:  BUTT!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!! Daddy, DADDY, she say "butt"!

Ping and ADG1 apparently, sit together on the Bus ride to school every day.  And as they talked about "butt" and other such things, they eventually broke out into a laughing match.  Yes, they wanted to see who could laugh the loudest and the longest.  Which would be fine... except that ADG1 would do it only when Ping tried to speak.  Naturally, Ping started getting annoyed, because she wanted to talk to G + ADG1... but every time Ping opened her mouth, ADG1 started screaming!  In fact, I saw A LOT of what Ping has learned lately (which I don't like), coming from this ADG1.  Word for word... including the "what-ever" every time you ask them to do something... 

Me:  Oh, we don't way "whatever" or "butts" in our family.  Okay?
Ping:  Okay Daddy!

Hmmm, Ping actually stopped saying "butt" and "whatever" when I asked her to.  What a good daughter, way to go Ping!  It was (thankfully) a quick drive to adorable little girls #2 house...

ADG2:  Hey G!  Hey Ping!
G:  Hey!  Come sit by me!
ADG2:  Okay!  Oh.  Hi.  Let me tell you about ...

... it was unfortunately a 15 minute drive to the next girls house ...

ADG2: ... and thats why she said No!

Yes, ADG2 talked the whole way... non-stop.
So now, I have Ping getting mad, because ADG1 is STILL screaming every time Ping tries to talk (and thinking its funny).
ADG1 is driving me nuts (who I've corrected many times already in the van - but keeps coming up with "variations" of what she is doing wrong, ala the: "but you didn't say I couldn't scream at the window" excuse.
ADG2 is talking at the top of her lungs to be louder than ADG1.
And poor G is just trying to have them all to get along.

We wind up at adorable little girls #3 house...

Me:  Okay, G, lets go get ADG #3.
G:  Okay!
Ping:  I come!
Me:  No, sorry Ping.  You are waaaay in the back of the van.  We will be right back.
Ping:  I want to come!
Me:  Sorry baby.
Ping:  You not nice!

By this time, we had been in the van for about 30 minutes.  And poor Ping has been getting yelled at by ADG1 every time she opens her mouth.  Pings patience is getting pretty thin.  At this point, I'm wondering ... how did my wife talk me into driving 5 girls all under the age of 6 to church while she is having a relaxing cup of coffee at the breakfast table...

Anyway, ADG3 gets into the van - and the chaos continues.

Don't get me wrong.  The girls were all having a good time.  It was just utter Chaos!

I don't think Ping does well with Chaos.  It seems to work her up into a frenzy which she then starts to behave poorly.

45 minutes later, we are at church and I'm signing the girls into the Sunday school party.  It is at THIS time my wife decides to show up and take the credit...

Kids Pastor:  Oh look!  G, you brought like 3 friends!  Thats wonderful!
Wife:  Yea, well, you know, they wanted to come, so I figured we should bring 'em!
Kids Pastor:  Oh you are such a wonderful person!
Me:  Hey!  Wait a second!  I'm the one that ...
Wife:  Go hang up the coats?  Great, thanks.

Now, I mentioned the boys had "1 friend" coming.  Well, it turns out that this "1 friend" ended up like, fracturing his ankle in one of the games at the party.  Oh, not good.  But, more importantly, my wife handed him off to ME and I had to take the broken kid home to his parents.

After dropping him off at the door with his father, and explaining the story as best I could, I returned to the van to the 5 girls all under the age of 6 to hear Ping crying and yelling at them.

The moment I open the door ADG1 + 2 start with the "Ping is being mean to us" song and dance.  It is a dance I've been hearing all morning from these two, and it has never been the case.  Yes, Ping maybe got mad at them, but it was always upon provocation.

Me:  What did Ping do?
ADG1+2:  She yelled at us!
Me:  Un-huh.  And what did you do, that made her yell?
ADG1+2:  Oh, noooothing. *little angle wings and halos appearing out of no where*
Me:  Un-huh.  I'm not buying that.  Ping, what happened?
Ping:  They were no nice to me.
Me:  Hmmm.  Interesting.  G, what happened?
G:  I don't know.
Me:  Yes baby, you do.  It just happened, and you were sitting right there the whole time.
ADG2:  We didn't do nothing!  *halo slipping a little to the left*
ADG1:  Yea!  Nothing!  Ping just got mad.
Me:  G?
ADG1+2:  She is mean!
Me:  I didn't ask you girls, now, be quiet.
G:  *long pause*  Well, ADG1 + 2 were not talking nice to Ping.  They were saying mean things to her.

Aaaaah!  There is my daughter!

Ping was rightfully upset after that.  She reminded me that she did not like ADG1, or 2, for the rest of the ride home.  She even said she didn't like G anymore... or me... or anyone...

I guess there are a few things noted here...

  1. even biological children can be pains in the butt, and can have behavior issues
  2. adopted children can have behavior issues, some specific to adoption
  3. raising an adopted child isn't any "harder" than a biological one, you just have 'different' issues
  4. adorable cute girls 1 + 2, really, were not that adorable
  5. never let your wife talk you into taking 5 girls under the age of 6 for extended road trips
  6. our daughter G is wiling to stand up for her sister - even if her friends are going to be mad at her

I think that last point there, thats the one to pay attention to.

Did Ping get mad (at everyone)?  Sure.  Was it because she was adopted - No.  It is because she had an annoying biological child screaming in her face for 30 minutes, it is because she was getting picked on, talked meanly to, etc.  Any child would get upset over that.

Did adopting make our children less "wonderful"?  No.  Not at all.  If anything, it is helping teach us all how to be a better family... including G, who despite her gentile nature, and her desire never to hurt anyones feelings, grew a little more wonderful this Sunday as she stood up for her sister in the midst of peer pressure.