Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Two years ago

I was dejected, sad and certain that Christmas would come and go again with no referral.  I had been in process for almost 2 years with nothing to show for it except a dwindling bank account, growing frustration and battered up heart after having to decline a little boy who wasn't to be my son.  As if on autopilot I dialed the number of my agency for an update and to pose unlikely hypothetical questions like, "what happens if I get a referral while your office is closed for Christmas?  The government offices are closed too, so would it sit in an inbox until early January?"  As usual, I was passed off and placated by being told to call the director at governmental adoption services.  Begrudgingly I did.  I left the office I was at and headed out towards the next, dialing as I exited the parking lot.  I was half way through my speech when she interrupted me to say, "I hope it won't be an issue (the referral over Christmas) since I'm looking at your referral on my desk right now."  Silence... did I hear her right?  Shock.  MY referral?  On your desk?  Why oh why didn't SOMEBODY call me???  Who cares - seems to be moot at this point.  Did I have internet access?  No.  But if I cut this semi off and make a California lane change I can squeal into that Starbucks lot without public injury and be live in about 45 seconds.  There was no fanfare this time.  No call made to anyone to be there to share the moment.  My pounding heart was guarded and afraid of the sadness that followed the first happy email moment.  Alone in the parking lot with the rage of the semi's fog horn still ringing in my ears, I hit "Accept" on the Starbucks home page and send and receive at a rate of 4x / second until the email titled REFERRAL topped the list.  There he was
I had seen this picture a hundred times before as I scoured the photo listing but I never attached the potential words, "My son" to them until that moment.  Numb. He looked as scared as I felt.  I waited.  I contacted Dr. Bledsoe at the Center for Adoption Medicine and held my breath.  Additional photos arrived which were happier "cuter" if you will... I started to let hope creep in.  The call that mattered most came a day later.  Dr. Bledsoe's nurse called, "She can't squeeze you in for a consult right away but it's OK.  She knows you need to have an answer to give your agency quickly and her answer to that is yes... BIG GREEN LIGHT!  You should accept and go meet him".  Exhale... and that was another moment that changed our lives.  My hope grew with the consult discussion on Saturday.  "Resilient little Rascal" over and over - he's got something in his eyes that tells me he'll adapt, adjust, and be fine... He's a good one... All the words of reassurance I needed.  The scramble to pack, get a travel visa and collect my thoughts began. This year as we were driving the song "All I want for Christmas Is YOU" came on my ipod and I told Corbin the story of how it had been on my blog and how I did meet him at Christmas 2 years ago.  The only other song he has ever asked to play over and over is the wheels on the bus... it made my heart smile when he said, "Mama, play that one again... I like it best".
2 years... a blink, a million moments, a million memories, a lifetime of smiles, giggles and laughter.  2.  Wow.  That went fast.   It was a Merry Christmas after all.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Toys for tots

Garbage Truck and Lego - Garbage truck and Lego - Garbage truck and Lego...  Yes rain man  buddy, I know and I promise that I am frantically shopping  Santa is working very hard in his workshop to make the toys to bring on his sleigh Christmas eve!
I have managed to track down pretty much everything I'll need this year and have almost 3 weeks to spare.  I was searching for a particular garbage truck and had settled on one that was cheap not exactly what I had in mind but was a close facsimile.  It had the features but it wasn't the one I had seen but could not find.  One more trip... and what to my wondering eyes did appear but the recycle truck with 3 different bins and sanitation gear!  Aw nutcracker... the receipt for the other one was not to be found.  No worries, I hadn't bought a toy for toy mountain (for kids that go without gifts) yet so this would certainly do the trick.  Unwittingly, this has become a wonderful lesson for Corbin.  I had put the garbage truck into the vehicle and on our next trip Corbin spotted it before the door had even opened all the way.  "MAMA!!!  My GARBAGE TRUCK IS HERE!!!"  Enter sudden panic.  The conversation explained (with some initial tears) that this truck is for us to give to a good little boy who wouldn't get a gift under the tree this year because his family didn't have the money to buy him any.  As I danced around the obvious fact that Santa could still make one for him in his toyshop, Corbin started to ask questions about why the boy wouldn't have presents and talked about not getting presents in Russia except from me and that it would be sad not to have presents.  He finally conceded that he would give HIS garbage truck to the other little boy because Santa could still bring him Lego and maybe even new wheels for his Lego since Lyric (our dog) ate his tires.  What will make me happy is seeing Corbin open HIS recycle truck with a thank you note from Santa saying that "Billy" was SO happy to open his very own truck that Corbin shared and that THAT's what Christmas is all about.  (Well, that and finding a $100 recycle truck (seriously? WHO would pay that?) for under $30 - that's also my sort of Christmas shopping!).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas gift list

In a season over run with line ups, angry shoppers, honking horns and toys that will be broken before the Christmas tree comes down, here's a list of gifts that will last forever.  

An alphabetical list of 35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget.
  1. Affirmation. Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.
  2. Art. With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…
  3. Challenge. Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.
  4. Compassion/Justice. Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it.
  5. Contentment. The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are. (edit: WHOA!? What?  I would hope that my child would grow to be content with who he is!  Do I want him to continue to grow and learn - for sure, but I NEVER want him to feel like he isn't enough just as he is.  Gotta disagree on this one). 
  6. Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.
  7. Determination. One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?
  8. Discipline. Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive. 
  9. Encouragement. Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.
  10. Faithfulness to your Spouse. Faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Your children will absolutely take notice. (anyone have an extra brother or neighbor to lend to this cause... I'm as faithful as a labrador...)
  11. Finding Beauty. Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.
  12. Generosity. Teach your children to be generous with your stuff so that they will become generous with theirs
  13. Honesty/Integrity. Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.
  14. Hope. Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.
  15. Hugs and Kisses. I once heard the story of a man who told his 7-year old son that he had grown too old for kisses. I tear up every time I think of it. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.
  16. Imagination. If we’ve learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.
  17. Intentionality. I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.
  18. Your Lap. It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.
  19. Lifelong Learning. A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.
  20. Love. …but the greatest of these is love.
  21. Meals Together. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.
  22. Nature. Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?
  23. Opportunity. Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.
  24. Optimism. Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.
  25. Peace. On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a darn good place to start.
  26. Pride. Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.
  27. Room to Make mistakes. Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.
  28. Self-Esteem. People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.
  29. Sense of Humor. Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.
  30. Spirituality. Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.
  31. Stability. A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. 
  32. Time. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.
  33. Undivided Attention. Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.
  34. Uniqueness. What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.
  35. A Welcoming Home. To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?
Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local department store. But, I think that’s the point.