May 31, 2009

Must Dig Worms

Picture it, a gorgeous 70's and sunny weekend full of walking through gardens, playing outside, planting our own garden, and riding bikes. Sure, Ash started the weekend off with a case of the sniffles and was leaking a gooey orange substance that caused multiple daily wardrobe changes, but he seemed happy and wasn't running a fever so we chalked it up to some seasonal allergies and a recent addiction to carrot juice. Then Sunday afternoon comes along and we wrap up our gardening with some delicious pre-nap pasta (read: mac n cheese), when Ash starts complaining that his mouth hurts. We're 105% sure that he's talking about a tiny spot on the inside of his cheek that he accidentally bit the night before while reenacting the love scene from Spiderman II (read: hanging upside down off of the art table convinced this was the best way to retrieve his wayward crayon), so again we didn't think much of it.

Then he started making these gagging sounds and we both start to get really annoyed that he seems to be coming up with every trick in the book just to avoid eating lunch and inevitably naptime. So, being the diligent observant and keenly aware parents that we are, we continue shoveling food into his mouth and he somewhat energylessly obliges to chew and swallow. This is followed by a rather meager attempt to get the words "all done" out of his mouth, but unfortunately somewhere after "all d" and just before "one" his lunch decided to defy gravity and set launch for mommy's shirt, pants, shoes, chair, and I'm pretty sure he even hit one of the cats. Turns out it wasn't the spot where he bit his cheek that hurt, and turns out the gagging noises were, well, a real life prelude to Barfalooza May '09.

So, (after we hosed ourselves down) he napped for about an hour in his bed, then on me for another hour and a half, then got absolutely anything and everything his little heart desired for the remainder of the day. You want ketchup on your apple slices? Sure. Another Popsicle for dinner? You bet! Your own floor-through garden apartment on W. 12th Street with built in underground garage? No worries, I'm sure I have a Nixon mask around here somewhere...

Perhaps Barfalooza isn't the right title for today's events, maybe something more along the lines of GuiltyHorribleMother-alooza May '09 would be more fitting. Yeah, that sounds about right. If I'm lucky he'll remember the moments from earlier today when I dug up extra worms for him to play with while digging holes for our tomato plants instead of the moment when I completely lost all sense of mommy intuition and force fed him into pukesville. Note to self: Must dig more worms.

May 28, 2009

Join The Club?

The scene played out something like this:

Mom & Ash sit quietly at the coffee shop enjoying coffee, juice, and a sinfully delicious piece of cinnamon coffee cake. A woman with three young children walks by (let's call her Scary Wavy Woman, SWW), proceeds to the counter to place her order, then walks by once more on her way to the door. But then she stops, turns around, and approaches Mom & Ash at their table.

SWW: "Hi. Um, I wanted to ask you, well, is your son adopted? I have an adopted daughter from China."

ME: "Yes, he was born in Ethiop..."

And this is where the scary waving began. Before my cheeks had time to form the last two syllables of the word Ethiopia I began feeling a strong wind brushing across my face. It was Scary Wavy Woman becoming disturbingly excited at the fact that I was having coffee with my adopted son from Ethiopia. Once she was able to catch her breath and the waving subsided (momentarily), she began to fill me in.

SWW: "Oh I'm SO GLAD you said Ethiopia! I have a friend who has had her heart set on adopting from China but her agency just told her that now "it's Ethiopia or nothin'" and she's heartbroken. But I really think she should adopt from Ethiopia, it's just as good as adopting from China and I've heard they're giving out referrals really quickly so she could have a kid in less than a year! Can I give her your phone number so that she can call you and talk to you?"

Meanwhile, Ash had proceeded to shove an entire half of his coffee cake into his mouth creating a solid syrupy coating on both cheeks topped with a squirt of apple juice in the eye, SWW doesn't seem to notice.

ME: "Well, I suppose so, although I know that Wide Horizons for Children is hosting an information meeting in town in June, perhaps she should consider attending that to learn more about the Ethiopia program?"

SWW: "Oh no, my friend lives in Oregon."

(We're having this conversation in a coffee shop in New York...)

ME: "???" (I don't remember exactly what I said next, but it must have been clear that I was a bit confused about why I was being recruited to talk to a stranger friend of a stranger woman who lives on the other side of the country about my adoption story in an effort to convince the stranger friend that adopting from Ethiopia is "just as good" as adopting from China.)

At this point SWW proceeds to search for a pen and paper so that she can give me her and her friends phone numbers and continues to fill me in on "the club" I apparently joined last year when arrived home with Ash.

SWW: "You know, you're a member of the club now. People will just walk up to you and start talking to you about adoption because it's so obvious he's adopted, it's the same way with us because our daughter is Chinese. Both my husband and I have been approached at least once a month for the 12 years we've had our daughter by people saying that they had intended to adopt but due to some excuse it never happened. They just keep making excuses."

ME: "Uh huh, (taking the piece of paper with the phone numbers on it) ok, it was nice meeting you."

And you would think it would have ended there, but she just kept coming back to our table, reminding me of her friend in Oregon who needs to be talked into adopting from Ethiopia because she adopted from China but that's not possible anymore and she thinks that adoption is something that everyone should consider. Eventually she made her way to and out the door, thrilled to have encountered another member of "the club". I on the other hand had some serious wet-wiping to do as Ash had smooshed most of the cinnamony crumbly topping over the remaining spaces of his face and was starting to have a hard time breathing because cinnamon flakes kept creeping into his nostrils.

Post wet-wiping and after dropping Ash off at daycare I continued to reflect on the moments of the morning. Was I being too sensitive or was SWW really that naive?

We (adoptive parents) all come to the decision of whether to adopt, where to adopt from, and various age, gender, and health preferences via our own avenues. Some have had their hearts set on international adoption since the beginning, and others have as well but just didn't know it until one day all of a sudden their heart was somewhere else, longing to be united with a child far away. These are just two samples of an array of personal experiences that lead families to pursue international adoption, but one uniting factor should always be love for a country and a culture. And that, my friends, is not something that you can (or should) be talked into over the phone by a complete stranger. And "the club" doesn't really sound like something I want to be a part of, I mean the whole perpetuating ignorance thing is kind of something I've always tried to steer clear from.

I'm not sharing this in an effort to exemplify me as a holier than thou adoptive parent who always does the right thing and gets her kicks by demonizing other less than perfect adoptive parents. Let me be the first to say that I'm (obviously) far from perfect, and Karma can be a real bitch so I tend to stay away from the whole demonizing thing. But, being recruited to talk a friend of a complete stranger into changing her heart from China to Ethiopia over the phone because a stranger noticed I was a white mother with a black son so what the hell, might as well ask if he's adopted because that's totally her business, well, me thinks that thought has one too many flaws. Yarr. Well, that and the fact that I'm pretty sure there are adoption agencies in Oregon who just might be better qualified to discuss this life altering in a zillion ways decision with her friend, in person, with follow up appointments. Double yarr.

So, I'm starting a new club. It's called the "I survived another loud public adoption inquisition with my son present and all I got was a lousy piece of cinnamon stuck up my nose."

May 24, 2009

Some Stories Just Tell Themselves...

Today we spent the morning/afternoon hiking around Lake Minnewaska

Where the boys felt inclined to enjoy the first lake-splashing of Spring

I couldn't possibly imagine a better way to spend a Sunday.

May 22, 2009


We put Ash to bed at 8:24 tonight, turned on the video monitor and watched him do a screaming lap around the room and then climb back into bed, under the covers, and fall quietly to sleep. Story time to snooze time in 0 to 60 seconds. Cheers. Though it may have been due to the fact that he came home from daycare to the sight of this in his backyard... Yes, folks, daddy pulled superhero secret ninja stunt #409 this week. He drove to CT to disassemble and load the playset into a truck, brought it to our yard in NY where he sanded the entire damned thing and restained all of the parts that weren't facing down (we'll get to those on Monday), replaced some rotted pieces of wood, dug out half of our garden to replace tomato roots with space to play, and then recruited enough hands to assemble the entire thing today. Short of some finishing touches of staining and laying the boarders and mulch it's complete and ready to be featured in "I bought a used playset for dirt cheap and assembled it in 1 week" magazine. Or maybe the title of that magazine should just be "Daddy Rocks".

Fav Foto Friday

The boy does love his sauce!I get to post this not-so-flattering picture today because Lord Two Year Old decided that screaming for nearly an hour and a half at bedtime last night was the best way to put himself to sleep. And it wasn't just high-pitched screaming, it sounded more like this: DADDY REEEEAD IIIIIT DADDY REEEAD MOUUUUUSE DADDY REEEADIT! Over, and over, and over again. Apparently reading once through his mouse book (Micky Mouse Clubhouse, he's obsessed) wasn't enough for him so he kept getting out of bed as soon as we'd shut the door, finding his mouse book, and would then bang it against the door while screaming the above sentence. We have a video baby monitor so we got to watch the whole scene as it played out (if I haven't already, I HIGHLY recommend the video monitors, especially for this phase where being able to see him is hugely convenient). And, despite our multiple attempts at walking him back to bed, letting him scream it out, being firm, being loving, and at one point actually removing the mouse book from the room (which I'm pretty sure is what tacked on the last half hour of ear piercing MOMMMMY DADDDDY MOMMMMY DADDDY) he demanded to fall asleep on his own terms, laying belly-down in front of his door at 9:44PM, approximately 90 minutes post-story time. At least he slept until almost 7:30...

The 3-day weekend is calling our names and there are 4 beautiful strong sets of hands assembling Ash's new playset in the yard. TGIF? Youbetcha.

May 19, 2009

Progress With Accuracy

We've been making progress in several areas lately, and first and foremost it has been in the realm of age. Ash is two, he is so definitely two. And if it's not too redundant I'll say it again, he's two, a two year old, a two year old boy. Let me just say this - there is not a single doubt in my mind that the birth date on his Ethiopian Birth Certificate is 100% accurate. According to that document Ash turned two on May 5th, which just happens to be around the exact time he began behaving like a two year old. Age and birth dates are big questions for many adoptive parents, because many times the dates are unknown completely and even in the cases where they're known they can be misinterpreted (Ethiopia runs on a different calendar than the US). Given Ash's recent behavioral developments I'd say the date is right on, he is very very two. We no longer have any question of the accuracy of his birth date.

Progress is also being made with the playset, it's been stained and the garden area prepped for it's arrival. This means that (0ne) of the last steps in this process, the most exciting if you ask me, is ready to happen, the assembly! Sure we have a few sides that remain in need of stain because they were facing down while staining the rest of the sides, but those will be easy enough to complete once everything is up and put together. And sure, we'll need to add some nice trimming and wood chips to the ground and touch up some other aesthetics, but again I say - the most exciting part is ready to happen, the assembly! We might be able to pull together enough strong arms in the AM tomorrow but the higher likelihood is that this will all come together on Friday sometime, which means there's likely to be a few leftover to-do's on Saturday, but in the scheme of things we can handle that.

Our two year old will have a jungle gym of his own to climb, jump, swing, and hang off of at his leisure. Which hopefully he'll have time to do inbetween shouting his newest favorite phrases:

"Ashton FUNNYYY?"
"NO, Daddy, that's ASHTON'S bike!"

And then there's the pouty face which we're quickly putting an end to... let's just say he was in his jammies and in bed at 7:10 tonight (an hour before normal bedtime) and then FINALLY agreed to eat the required 4 pieces of chicken that sent him to bed early in the first place. Our tactics seem to be working, but Holy Hell is two a lot of work.

May 18, 2009

Deadline: Saturday

A man who I can only assume is suffering from some form of insanity put his family's Rainbow playset on Craigslist for mere pocket change. We jumped on it, and now it sits in our driveway awaiting to be sanded, stained, and assembled. Oh, and there's also the whole part about prepping the area of the lawn where it will live which will involve reducing the size of our garden in half (which is very OK) and all of the rototilling and refencing that will entail. And it will be done by Saturday, because if I post it and commit to it then it will really happen...right? 5 days to go and we've already completed the sanding and will start the staining tonight. Off to a good start!

May 17, 2009

24 To 34

When Ash became a McGregor (1 year ago yesterday) he was 24 1/2 inches tall. Today, 1 year later at the age of 2, he measures in at 34 1/2 inches. 12 months, 10 inches, 4 countries, 5 US States, and a passport to a life not yet even hardly begun. All of this growth has not gone without recognition of a life lost, a family separated, and a country of beautiful, strong, brilliant people. Ash is a McGregor, but he is Ethiopian first and forever and we love nothing more than the privilege the country of Ethiopia and his first family gave us to parent him and love him and raise him to be HIM.

The past week has brought on much discussion following EJ Graff's Slate article "The Orphan Trade: A look at the families affected by corrupt international adoptions", where adoptive parents are for the most part reduced to heartless baby-buying thiefs who create a "demand" in countries where supply can be "created". Let me first and foremost state that I agree with her on the primary point of the article - adoption corruption is a severe issue that must be addressed and responded to with urgency and immediacy, as is the case currently in Ethiopia where cases of abandonment have been put on hold due to questionable circumstances of one agency's referral practices.

Still there are children, many many children, who are waiting. Other possibilities have been exhausted for them, and although it would be ideal to find a way to continue their lives in their homeland this just isn't possible for every orphan out there. Julie's post on Anti-Racist Parent, Dr. Jane Aronson's post on Orphan Doctor, the NY Times via an article discussing celebrity adoptions and the real world here are all pieces that add insight to vision in this discussion sparked by Graff's article. My posting about this can't be a formal "this is where I stand on the issue" blurb because talk about a saucy slice of nothing reply that would be - I'm already in it, been there done that, there is no formal stance to take for us because WE ALREADY ARE A FORMAL STANCE. We met his mother, we know his background, and we believe she made the bravest most selfless decision possible for a mother and we intend to live up to her love every moment of every day.

We can't wait for 34 inches to turn into 44 inches and eventually blossom into a man who loves himself as much as he revels in his daily passions of life. Today that means Ash and Daddy running around the yard on his balance bike (both with helmets, of course) but tomorrow - TOMORROW - that's what we're really psyched for.

May 15, 2009

Fav Foto Friday

It's a rainy Friday in May and we are SO ready for the weekend. I think someone has had an exhausting week...

PS: Tomorrow is Forever Family Day! May 16th, 2008 we successfully passed court in Ethiopia and the Ministry of Woman's Affairs stamped our last name on Ashton's documents. We did a lot of waiting and had a lot of patience and shared countless moments of frustration throughout the adoption process, but I can say with 100% certainty that it was on this day, May 16th 2008, when the two of us let out the biggest freaking collective sigh of relief possible by two sets of human lungs. For our many blogging buddies currently waiting on pins and needles for their moment to enjoy the most wonderful sigh of relief there is in the whole wide world, please know we're waiting with you and will smile with you when we read the news that your last name is now stamped on an Ethiopian Birth Certificate. The current situation will be resolved, cases will be heard and successfully passed, and that sigh of relief will be yours.

May 11, 2009

My Little Energy Ball

My newest business venture: Harness the energy of two year olds and sell to the highest bidder. I'll make millions.

May 10, 2009

Making Their Moms Proud

Ash had brunch with his best friend this weekend (they even allowed the mommies and daddies to tag along) and if I do say so myself, both 2 year old tots did their mommas proud. They ate, they ran, they occasionally got into something they probably shouldn't have, and then they held each others hands and ran smiling through the streets of Brooklyn. Hand in hand, and hell bent on evading the inevitable...trains home in opposite directions. Seeing these two together does nothing less than warm my heart the way that hot chocolate with marshmallows or hot cider with a kick of rum are sure to do. Lets just say they kick butt at being best buds. There's just something about the Ash/Owen bond that screams "YOU WERE MEANT TO BE MY BFF". And bff's they are, hand in hand, from G train to L train to the F to the A to the 4,5,6...

May 7, 2009

Making Sense

I held off posting about Ash's big birthday weekend at first because I knew CHI was going to link to the video I created in my last post and it "made sense" to me to make sure that it was the one at the top of the pages when fellow PAP's visited. Then I thought that I could at least prepare the big birthday post so that I could publish it a day after the video post was linked to, but later decided it "made sense" to wait until the events of the week transpired before committing to the words that would describe it. And then today our agency made us aware of new adoption news, the kind that "makes sense" but is still so terribly difficult to stomach, especially for waiting families, with words that change everything for Ethiopian adoption, at least for the time being.

Apparently one adoption agency (not ours) didn't follow the rules, and gave the courts reason enough to believe that a group of children being processed in the courts for adoption finalization listed as "abandoned" were in fact, not abandoned. This prompted the courts to cease hearing cases involving children listed as "abandoned in Addis Ababa". They're not failing these cases, they're simply not hearing them right now. Children abandoned in other areas of Ethiopia are still having their cases heard, as are children relinquished by family members and children orphaned for other reasons such as deaths of the mother and father. I have no idea how many or what percentage of adoption cases waiting approval involve children who were abandoned in Addis Ababa, but based on the fact that the agency we used had 10 families who's cases weren't heard by the courts today due solely to this new rule I'm guessing the number is LOTS. And it "MAKES SENSE" to me why the courts would institute this new rule, because ANY sign of unethical activity in international adoption BEGS the introduction of new regulations, but my heart absolutely breaks for the children who have been abandoned, have been referred to waiting families, and now find themselves (the children and the families) in a state of limbo with possible consequences I don't even want to begin to think about. For something that makes sense, this sure doesn't make any sense.

I also hesitated commenting on the new regulation because it didn't "make sense" to taint Ash's big birthday post with news that is both good (because it means Ethiopia is committed to ensuring ethical adoptions) and awful (because it will absolutely result in negative repercussions for the majority of adoptions that are being handled ethically), and then, just now, things "made sense". Of course I should post this now, today, and in conjunction with Ash's big happy birthday post, because that's how this process is. The best thing in the world will happen simultaneously with events that shatter your heart. And when I say shatter, I mean really truly shatter. And when I say best thing in the world, I mean events that will rock your world more than you ever thought possible. My guess is that hundreds of families were informed today that pictures of children they have fallen in love with may never result in a real life uniting, (although I'm hopeful, along with many others, that the courts will reconsider this) all due to the unethical actions of one agency who decided they were above the rules, and could pass off children as abandoned when that was indeed not at all the case. Shame on them.

Adoption is not the best solution, ever. Ashton living with his birth mother happily and healthily in the country of his heritage, his home, would have been the best. But sometimes the best solution isn't viable, the resources to make it happen, the reality surrounding it, just can't come together to be. In those instances adoption can be beautiful and can unite families across the globe in ways that surpass the bonds of blood. This can be a truly beautiful, honest, humble, and inspiring beginning. We were lucky, our beginning was unveiled by the most perfect of perfect little boy. But our boy, Ash, has another mother, brothers, and who knows how many family and friends celebrating this week in honor of him thousands of miles away on the other side of the globe. And all of a sudden, "making sense" no longer matters.

We're lucky beyond reason. It doesn't make any sense why we were brought together the way we were, why we live the way we do, or why every morning we awaken to a new day of possibilities and seemingly endless rivers of love. But, we do, and the only way I can think of to live up to that kind of karma is to celebrate every freaking moment of it. Thankfully, as it turns out, we happen to be pretty good at just that.

Jam session anyone?

Let's make some pasta people!

No no no, let ME read that book to YOU!

Um, my new kitchen is the COOLEST THING EVER!!!

We are family

I got all my sisters with me
We are family

Get up everybody and sing!

Because every good party ends with Rock Band

The "morning after" - Ash and Owen's first slumber party!

And last but not least, a Brooklyn shout out to the new neighborhood fav Bati.
We love us some delicious Doro Wat...

Stay strong, live smart, be love. Life doesn't ever make enough sense until a sudden and unexpected swing of luck finds itself in your very fortunate lap. Then you'd better find a way to thank the hell out of karma...

May 2, 2009

Two Years Of Life In Video

It's been a whirlwind of 2 years that I wouldn't mind repeating over and over and over and over again. To say we feel blessed would be a drastic understatement as honored, humbled, and truly inspired by life is more like it. Ashton, we love you more than choo-choos and horsies and cookies combined. You're the smiles, the hugs, the tears, and the eyes we've always dreamed would grow our family. Happy birthday baby, here's the last 2 years in 10 minutes...

Happy 2nd Birthday Ashton!