International Adoption Book

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Way Too Fun!

Today was a rather unique day. Matt and I were invited to go camping with my aunt and uncle and the entire gang. We, of course, said yes and were thrilled with the plan, though we knew we were only going to be able to stay for the day since M's asthma has kicked in again (it's been a bit touchy since arriving here. We're just getting it back under control, though we still have a little ways to go).

Things suddenly changed, though. We felt a strong need to stick around by the telephone today as we were hoping for an extremely special phone call. So, we called off our trip south for fear of missing the call.

But, once again, we changed our plans and went anyway. We realize that it is Saturday and most families are out enjoying their day together rather than sitting on the phone with strangers. And, most office personel are not manning the phones in their offices just to make us feel better. So, we decided to go ahead and go to the lake.

By this time it was almost 10:00am so I rushed around gathering all we needed and were driving out of town by 10:30am. We arrived at the lake at 1:00pm, and as we pulled in, we suddenly realize there is a parking attendant!!! YIKES... It cost to park and they didn't accept credit or ATM cards. Aunt "D"... We owe ya!!! I was thoroughly embarrassed having to borrow $3, but it would have been even worse because Aunt "D" had been waiting in her car for us to show up for a very lengthy time!!!

Well... We had a blast. It was a beautiful day (a hot 98 degrees) and the kids enjoyed their time playing outside. Big D took us all out on his boat. M was petrified (he's scared of fast things) and kept asking Big D to go slow... "You go slow? You no go fast?" was repeated so many times I'm surprised Big D didn't throw M overboard. But he was patient (as always) and kept reassuring M that he would go slow.

The moment the boat started to pull away from the shore M achieved a look of instant fear. But, surprisingly, M started laughing and insisting that Big D drive faster!!! Go figure... He LOVED it. And C had just as much fun. Both kids even braved the deep water. M loves to swim, so he didn't surprise me too much. But C, on the other hand, is terrified of being in water that is deeper than 2" (literally). She just shocked me to no end by jumping into Daddy's arms and clinging to him before clamoring back onto the boat. She did that several times. I couldn't have been more stunned had the Locke Ness Monster reared her precious head for a photo op!!!

I'm telling you... We all had so much fun, but it was made even more spectacular because of the shear trust that both our kids had for Matt and I!!! They made my day!!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

NOT Going "Private"

So, as usual, I've changed my mind (yet again). I've "met" numerous families during this past month who are interested in adoption. This was one of the reasons I started this blog: To allow those families who are interested in adoption/deaf adoption access to an experienced family (though, as anyone who has adopted before knows, each experience is different and never guaranteed). So, I've decided to NOT go "private" to allow these families continued access. I'll simply be a bit more cautious in my publishings and will remove photos from my posts every once in a while to limit the possibility of them being "stolen". So, disregard the original post (as seen below).

I've thought long and hard about this decision... I want others to be able to gain the knowledge of what happens during International (in particular, China) Adoptions that can be gained from those of us who are among the "been there done that" group but truly want my children to have some semblence of safety. The internet can be a scary place, especially for those unfortunate individuals who are not so computer savy. To make things a bit more scary, I've had a wonderful Precious Panda friend (a fellow adoptive mother) warn me about people highjacking photos of kids. In addition, my parents are very concerned about the safety of their grandkids.

So in one month my blog with go private. If you want to continue viewing my blog I will gladly add you to my list.

And, for those special people who check in regularly (you know who you are), I just want to say thank you for being an integral part of our lives!!! You're a great support and your words of encouragement is a constant uplifter...

Sending you all much love,
Manette & the gang

Woodland Park Zoo Adventure

Summer has officially started for the kids and I with nice weather and a jaunt into Seattle to visit the Woodland Park Zoo. This is a rather large zoo, though still quite small for the size of the city. But, the animals seem to have ample room to raom and plenty of quiet spaces for them to relax away from the loud crowds that I imagine are possible. Feeding the birds was simply amazing to both M and C and was, I think, by far C's favorite thing at the Zoo. M, on the other hand, absolutely LOVED watching the King Cobra eat its lunch of 3 frozen rats. We had to sit there waiting for it to finish eating for more than 15 minutes, way too long for me. My favorite part was watching the kids enjoy the day so much (and seeing the Grizzlies so close was pretty nifty, too). So, without any further ado (and no more gabbing from me) here are several photos of the kids enjoying their outing (photos removed):

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Adoption as a fad?

Yesterday, on one of my favorite Yahoo! Groups, a fellow adoptive mom posted a link to a rather disturbing article ( It irritated me enough to write the following article in response. I sent it to numerous papers across the country. Hopefully someone will pick it up. But, just in case they don't I'm publishing it here:

Adoption as a fad?
By Manette Stanley

On June 19, 2008, the Tribune-Review published an article entitled “Adopting Asian kids becoming latest fad” written by Mike Seale. He comes across as a male-chauvinist, as he constantly demeans the female-based movies that his supposedly beloved wife chose while allowing his mind to wander to things of far less importance: Like the lint in his pockets and the popcorn that was stuck between the razor sharp teeth he bared further down in the article.

Like a kitten that is lured into trouble by a length of string wiggling in the breeze, Mike Seale leaped at the first opportunity to berate and belittle an entire group of American’s regarding their choice of family, causing a stir of resentment within the adoption community that has since grown to a relatively large proportion.

The shocking attitude and unfounded arguments that Mr. Seale presented in his article rippled through Yahoo! adoption groups like an ocean wave crashing into a reef, with instant anger rousing families to send emails in direct contradiction to Mr. Seale’s stunted view.

Rather than taking the time to send an email to a man who would simply push the delete button before giving anyone, in particular a woman, the opportunity to voice an opposing opinion, I chose to sound off to Mr. Seale’s erroneous thoughts through an article of my own.

My husband and I have two beautiful children, both of whom are adopted. Our son was adopted through foster care while our daughter was adopted internationally from China; neither child could be loved or cherished more than they are. More importantly, neither child was adopted out of some deep seated need to be included in the prestigious club of international adoption, which includes such renowned persons like Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Meg Ryan, as if it was some 1980’s fad like parachute pants and the mullet!

Having experienced the two types of adoptions that Mr. Seale has presented in his article, I feel informed enough to make a few arguments:

Adopting from foster care generally means that you are adopting older and/or special needs children. Since most of these kids have been abused sexually, physically and/or emotionally, have often been severely neglected and/or are victims of prenatal drug and alcohol abuse they bring with them special behaviors and emotions that the average family has never seen.

I’ve experienced these special needs first hand; our son is a drug-baby. I’ve experienced the withdrawals an infant goes through. I’ve held my son as he screamed with mortal fear during the night as the terrors of drug inspired dreams enveloped him. People who have babysat him have told me, with tears streaming down their cheeks, “I love your son, but I didn’t understand you when you explained his behaviors. They are beyond what I can handle.” And I continue to help him overcome the severe speech/language and behavior delays that his birth-mother gifted to him with her use of ICE, marijuana, and alcohol (though I always bear in mind that she must have loved him tremendously to give him a better life with a forever family through adoption).

So, trust me when I tell you that most average families do not have the ability or emotional fortitude to adopt one of these precious kiddos. I could never blame or criticize anyone for the route they chose to travel during their adoption journey and they have every right to feel passionately wronged by anyone who does. In addition, adoptive families tend to be parents who want to experience parenthood from the youngest age possible. It is excessively rare to be gifted with a child from foster care who meets these needs. These are sad facts, but true none-the-less.

It is a reality when adopting within the United States that more than 30% of families loose their adoptive children to the birth families. The biological family has rights that are singularly denied adoptive families giving them the ability to control our lives of in a way that is extremely frightening. This is the primary concern on the part of adoptive parents when making their decision to adopt a child internationally. The idea of loving a child only to loose her just three months later is unbearable and the actual act is simply devastating (which is how we felt when we lost our two beautiful and loving black sons whom we had been trying to adopt through foster care. They had been with our family for nine months). So, to help protect their sanity families find the safest and most direct route when adopting a child. Though adoption is never guaranteed, China is a very predictable program. This alone gives families the security they need when adopting their child.

Whether a family adopts from foster care or China, they need to be honest about their needs, even if it doesn’t sit well with someone else’s views. An unhappy or uncomfortable family makes for an unhappy or uncomfortable child, which will ruin not only the family’s life but, more importantly, the child’s life. This is a child who has experienced more during their short existence than most average adults experience in their entire lifetime, no matter where they are adopted from. It is hardly fair to a child to expect them to live within a family dynamic that is hostile.

Though for most people race is not an issue, it can still be a concern (my husband’s paternal family has disowned us for adopting Asian children, though they were utterly thrilled with our black sons). The idea of disrupting the life of a child and placing them in yet another disheartening situation simply to appease the black, Latino, and other minorities’ sense of righteousness is beyond ridiculous. Adoption is not an Equal Opportunity Employer and should not be used as a way to forward racial acceptance.

Until people experience the emotions, obstacles, and tribulations that come with adoption for themselves it is extremely difficult to speak with any form of authority, especially when one is going to criticize families for not adopting a black (or other minority) child from foster care. A person who is unwilling to step out onto that limb themselves while passing judgment on others is a hypocrite.

So, I hereby challenge you, Mr. Seale, to take a leaf from your own book and adopt a black child from foster care. Even further, I challenge you to adopt a white child from foster care (children adopted into loving families should not dictated by the color of their skin)!

For a more detailed account of what it is like to adopt, try reading my book “Adopting An Angel”, which can be purchased at

[I realize that siting my own book is a bit cheesey... But, hey, why not? ;)]

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Seattle Aquarium

Matt & I discussed some options for getting out of the house this weekend. We planned on tackling the Seattle Zoo in Woodland, but on our way out to the van the kids decided they wanted to go to the aquarium instead. We were adamant about going to the zoo since it was a beautiful day for an outside romp. They were finally able to bribe us with lots of key phrases, like: " I Love You Lots, Mom & Dad" as we neared Seattle. So, we veered off to the seafront where the aquarium was located.

We decided to purchase an annual family membership to the Aquarium instead of paying for a day tour. Though it was more costly than the day ticket it was cheaper than paying for two days. Besides, we figured we would be more apt to take the kids up there if we had a year long membership and the only additional costs would be gas (which could add up) and parking. But, it's a great way to get out of the house, get out of the area, and get the kids interacting with other people (to help improve their socialization skills).

Needless to say, our journey through the aquarium was fun. The kids had such a blast and Matt I had fun, too. M's favorite part was the dome at the end of the walk (I must agree with him. I could have sat there for several hours watching the fish). C's favorite part was the Touching Pools. She really enjoys interacting as much as possible, while M wants nothing to do with it. He won't even touch the starfish.

There were lots of things to see, especially in the dome, including salmon of all ages, sturgeon, rockfish, some small grouper, a few small black sharks and a myriad of other species of fish. It was very cool to see the view from below the fish in the dome and the seal and otter habitats. They had several Harbor Seals and Northern Fur Seals as well as both River and Sea Otters. We spent almost 3 hours at the aquarium and will coordinate our trip next time to coincide with the feeding time (1:30pm) in the dome.

I've decided that I may want a job in the tanks as a diver!!! The sharks are tiny (I know they'll grow, but not before I move away) and the visibility is fantastic. I do have my Open Water SCUBA, but I have a fear of not being able to see what is coming at me so I like my visibility to be very lengthy!!! I wanna have ample time to panic when I see a Tiger Shark barreling towards me with a neon sign that says "I'm Home For Diner!"

After we left the Aquarium we walked along the warf for a ways, stopping at the amuzement section where the kids, with Matt & I holding them, rode the Mery-Go-Round. M was terrified of the Merry-Go-Round and wanted to sit on a bench. But, because Matt & I didn't have to pay because we were going to stand with the kids and hold them we made M ride one of the moving figures. He REALLY didn't want to do it, but Matt sat him on a horse right next to his sister with me standing in between both kids. I, of course, got so sick from the constant turning, though I finally figured out that I could look at the floor of the Merry-Go-Round and not be so motion sick. I was very thankful when the thing stopped.

We then went to the Pirate Store (the same one we went with Mom & Dad to last year). The kids each got 1 thing for under $10. C chose a yellow hat while M chose a glow-in-the-dark skeleton pirate set. As we speak, he and his daddy are in M's room playing "Pirate".

Needless to say, we all had a blast!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Talking In Her Sleep

Children are simply too cute when they talk in their sleep. But, when that child is deaf it can be even cuter:

Every night I tuck the kids' blankets safely around their precious little bodies and whisper "I love you" softly into their ears before heading off to bed.

Sometimes M will answer me and at other times he mumbles some jargon that is inrecognizable. C, on the other hand, barely moves a muscle. The moment she falls asleep her little body seems to go into a comatose state as she drifts deep into her dreams. And since she is profoundly deaf her reaction is totally understandable.

This evening, though, I got a bit of a shock. As I pulled the blankets up to her chest (any higher than that and she starts squirming as if she were a worm desperately looking for a new tunnel to wiggle through in order to remove each and every blanket) C rolled onto her side and began "talking" in her sleep. I must say, it was rather adorable since her form of talking is Sign Language. Unfortunately, she was signing as she was twisting around and the only part of her conversation I caught was "all done"! Now I'm going to have to start paying closer attention to her hands as I'm covering her up!!!

The Latest News On China's Earthquake/Aftershocks

The sheer number and size of aftershocks that seem to be continuously hitting the area are amazing. Hanzhong City has been hit with sizeable aftershocks fairly regularly, according to Chinese news organizations, with a 5.7m quakes just three weeks ago. And, according to Thaindian News, an online newspaper, there was another aftershock yesterday near Hanzhong (my daughter's orphanage).

Here is the article (and a link) dated June 18, 2008:

"Xi’an (China), June 18 (Xinhua) Two people were killed and one injured when an aftershock measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale hit northwest China’s Shaanxi province Tuesday, officials said Wednesday. According to the authorities, the quake hit the Ningqiang county Tuesday afternoon, destroying several houses and killing two people.

The injured was shifted to a nearby hospital, the earthquake relief headquarters at Hanzhong city said.

Shaanxi province was badly affected by the May 12 killer earthquake that left a trail of devastation in the province and its neighbour Sichuan province.

According to the latest official figures, the death toll from the May 12 earthquake has reached 69,172 with another 17,420 still missing as of Tuesday.

Meanwhile, heavy rain continues to cause havoc in Sichuan province forcing authorities to shift about 110,000 people to safe places out of fear of flooding and landslides.

About 50,000 people in Wenchuan county, the epicentre of the May 12 quake, have also been relocated at safer places."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kiss My Taters

As I was working online (okay, more like I was playing online since I was visiting my Yahoo! groups) M came into my "office" (a small section of my bedroom) for some morning lovin'. He dove into my lap and, after wrapping his arms around my neck, began to give me a humungous hug. Then he asked for kisses:

"Kiss my toungue, Mom."

At this comment I leaned away from him and, with my nostrils flaring with the idea of such a gross act, I exclaimed, "No way, son! That's disgusting!"

"Fine... Kiss my eyeballs." At this, M closed his eyes and pointed to each lid before replacing his arms back around my neck. I leaned down and gave both of his "eyeballs" a kiss.

"Kiss my nose!" I puckered up and gave the bridge of his nose a soft kiss. By this time, I was beginning to get into the spirit of kissing my son on the precious little parts of his adorable face. His next request threw that desire out the window, though...

"Kiss my taters, Mom!!!" As I watched with a quizzical look on my face M released his grip from around my neck and, placing a finger on each side of his ear, stretched his ear canal open a bit so that I could get my lips coser to his "Taters" (that crud that every mom calls a potato field).


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Today was a beautiful day here in the Pacific Northwest. Surprisingly, it was over 70 degrees and clear. This was the second time it reached past 65 this month. I'd love it if summer were to get just a tad bit warmer. Since we don't have a/c, too hot means I'll be miserable by the end of summer. Hopefully, it won't get too hot, though. Needless to say... Today was lovely. Even with the beautiful weather we still stayed indoors and snoozed all day. It was exactly what Matt had hoped for on his special Daddy's Day. I've added this photo of my sweeties to show you exactly what we did all day. That is... Till around 7:00pm when Daddy decided he wanted to show C how to box while M was showering, which she absolutely loved!!! I've attached a small video of their little sparring match. C needed some kind of help to reach Daddy, so my poor bed took a beating (along with Daddy)!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pregnant By Kraft Cheese

This afternoon M, C and I sat down to watch Animal Planet's Growing Up "Lion". It is a very cute program and is one that I will often use as part of M's Science education for his homebased education lessons.

As usual, the program was littered with commercials for a variety of products. One commercial stood out for all of us, though...

Kraft produced a commercial for their cheese slices. The commercial was cute in general, but M really enjoyed it. In fact, he put his own interpretation on the commercial and I wanted to share that today:

A young woman is standing in profile on a daily calendar (the kind of calendar that allows you to tear off a page as each day goes by). She is slim, pretty, and healthy. The bottom of the calendar reads "You are pregnant." The lady begins eating her Kraft grilled cheese sandwich and as the days fly off the calendar her belly begins to protrude with the growth of her baby. By the time the baby seems to be full term the sandwich is gone and Mom is cradling her tummy with baby safely inside.

As I said, the commercial was rather cute; but M's take was simply adorable! As the commercial closed, M started excitedly exclaiming: "That lady make her own baby by herself with food!!!!"

I had to obligingly replay the commercial so M could show and explain how the lady used the sandwich to impregnate herself!!!

C just stared at us as if we were crazy, even with the numerous explanations!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Speak English!!!

"Mommy, I sorry for not listening to you on the phone today," expressed my sorrowful five-year-old son, M. He had been playing Disney Games on the computer and I was being lazy. It was time for him to turn the computer off and I really didn't feel like getting up off my bottom to climb the stairs to issue my instructions.

So, what did I do? I used Matt's cell phone to call our home phone. M likes to answer the phone and regularly answers the phone on the first ring, so I knew it would be a simple process to "call my son" down for dinner.

Ring. Yep, one ring was all it took before I heard his cute little voice say, "Hello? Who's there." As usual, there was no pause between each phrase. But, that's okay... He sure does a good job.

So, I told M, "It's Mommy. Turn off the computer and come down stairs, okay?"

"Oh. It's you. Who you talking to?"

"You, Son. Now..." Click! The little devil hung up on me!!!

Ring. "Hello? Who's there?"

"M, don't you dare hang up again. Turn off the computer and get your bottom down here, NOW!"

"Okay... Gosh, Mommy!"

Does he come down? Nope... M decided he didn't want to listen and so went back to my desk and his computer game. So, I marched up the stairs, turned off the computer, and marched a crying M back down the stairs and proceeded to lay into him about following directions and using his listening skills. The poor kid was crying like crazy and telling me he didn't understand what I was saying on the phone.

Needless to say, we got that taken care of and it will (hopefully) not happen again. But, what does M tell me this evening?

"Mommy, I sorry for not listening to you on the phone today. But, you need to speak English. I not understand you!"

Hmmm.... Guess I may need to go to speech therapy, too!!! ;)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mommy, Who Is Your Biological Mommy?

Today was a very nice day. With C off to preschool and M enjoying a day of no school (a just have fun day for us), I was able to work a bit on my Parent Education classes.

Todays lesson was particularly interesting, though it was not new information for us. CCAI discussed the grieving process for adoptees (as well as for birth families and adoptive families). They suggested some ideas on how to help our children deal with the losses they feel in regards to a birth family. I particularly liked the idea of keeping a momento box... Something that each of our kids can hold and add to at any time in their lives. They can put in a drawing, a letter, or something that they would like to give to their birth family if they were ever able to locate them. I also liked the idea of starting a journal.

M, who was supposed to be napping during my lesson, overheard the speach. From the moment he got up from his nap until he finally settled down for bed time he has been trying our patience. He has been fighting with his sister and has been excessively argumentative. It took me a while to recognize what he was doing, but I firmly believe that he was acting out much of what he had listened to. The things he heard (in particular about the grief and loss his birth parents might be feeling about his loss) touched him.

M is a very sensitive child who feels others pain with deep empathy. So, this evening, after much arguing and screaming he finally came up to me and told me that he was feeling sad. When I asked him why he felt sad he was able to tell me that he missed his biological mommy and daddy. This is not a new conversation for us. We have this conversation with some regularity. But, as he gets older, M likes to make up stories and particularly tells me that he has forgotten his special ninja turtles video game at his biological mommy's house.

I've known all along that this is his way of expressing his grief. But, it wasn't until I listened to my lesson today that I finally understood that M needs to have this item in his biological mom's care and that it might be a symbol of the piece of his heart that she will forever hold. So, this evening, when he told me that he forgot the video game, I was able to tell M that I firmly believe his biological mommy would keep it safe as a symbol of the love she feels for her son and of the love that her son, M, feels for her. The look of peace that crossed his face as I told him this was all the confirmation I needed to know that this was exactly what he needed.

Once he get the peace he needed, curiosity took over and he began asking me questions about how I was born and who my biological mommy was. M understands that Nana is my mommy, but I cannot make him believe that she is also my biological mommy. He hears what I am saying, but firmly believes that each of us have TWO mommies! Oh well... One step at a time!!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

English or Sidesaddle?

Riding a horse has always been a peaceful and enjoyable passtime for me. Though I haven't had the opportunity to ride in several years (okay... I haven't ridden a horse with any regularity since I was a junior in high school 19 years ago), I still enjoy an outing every great once in a while. I can still get on a horse and still recall how to cling to this majestic animal with my knees. The tricky part about riding is being able to get off the tall, broad back without disgracing myself. The last time I was on a horse I had actually forgotten how to dismount. I had thrown my leg over the horn and proceeded to slide down the side of the saddle while holding onto the horn for dear life. I had safely made it to the ground while kicking myself in the rear for my stupidity.

But, I can honestly say that never, in my wildest dreams, would I have forgotten a thing so important as what style of saddle I was getting into. So, imagine my surprise when Matt called me this afternoon from work with the tale of daily exploit:

Matt gets to travel around the area scouting for and dealing with local businessmen who supply trinkets to the military for "Reenlistment Gifts". Apparently, there is one gentleman in the area who has a business that supplies much of the gifts given to Ft. Lewis soldiers. While he was visiting the store, Matt learned that this gentleman also owns a horse farm where he and his daughter give riding lessons (a sport I was hoping to be able to pass down to my children). He teaches English whereas I learned how to ride Western, though I've always been interested in learning how to ride English.

So, imagine my surprise when Matt called and told me about this fabulous opportunity! He told me that the kids and I could learn English riding. Upon telling me this he asked, "English... That's where both legs stay on the same side of the saddle, right?"

LOL..... I could not have laughed harder or gotten a bigger kick out of what he had said had he told me he had won the lottery! To me, it was the funniest thing anyone has told me for a very long time. Matt had confused English with Sidesaddle!

A Surprise Vacation!!!

We got a wonderful surprise this weekend... My parents decided to sneak up for a very quick visit. We only had a couple of days with them, but it was a so nice. I only wish we could have had a longer visit. I had to fight the tears when they left, but that's okay cuz I know I'll see them in just one month when we go down to their house for M's B-day (he'll be a whopping 6 years old) and 4th of July celebration. Anyway, as you may have noticed from these photos, C was not able to enjoy much of Nana and Papa's visit due to school... But M got to have a blast on some field trips. The one shown here was to Cabela's where he spent almost two hours checking out all the fish and (stuffed) wildlife. It was an awesome opportunity for his science and fit in well with our themes these past few weeks.... Living Things. We also went to Seattle to check out the Pike's market. That was enjoyable and C was able to go with us since she had had a Dr.'s appointment that day (we kept her out of school). Now we're back to the grind of our work weeks!!!