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The War That Is This Blog Post

18 May

Books have power. This is no secret. The school librarian put a book in T~’s hands this spring and if ever there was a book that needed to be read at that moment, it was The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

It’s a story that’s been told a thousand times a thousand different ways & yet this time, this telling, cracked open a window for T~. That crack, and a little mental maturity, has caused monumental shifts for T~ & for those of us that live with her.

A brief description of the story: Ada is told her whole life she is one thing & through a series of events, she realizes she is not who she thought she was.

The shift in Ada’s thinking. The shift in her perspective. It is all beautifully told in the story. What else is told is the cost of that shift. It is huge. All her life she wanted one thing to be true. But it wasn’t. That caused monumental hurt & uncertainty. The shift changed everything.

T~ & I read the book at the same time (she started it, went to bed. I took it, started & finished it before falling asleep. She finished it the next day). I’m so thankful we did because we had some wonderful conversations. For the first time, T~ found a book where the mixed up emotions she feels were put into words. She could relate to Ada’s confusion. Ada knew things were good but they still made her anxious, fearful, & unsettled.

T~ feels like that. Days J~ & I love, Referralversary or Za Ding Day are days of conflicted emotions for T~. She wants to please us by being happy, but she does not see these days through the same lens. When J~ & I think of Referralversary, we see what we have gained. T~ sees what she lost. I cannot change her perspective. It is hers as much as mine is mine. She cannot put on my glasses and see what I see anymore than I can wear her glasses and see what she sees.

A long time ago I read a blog post about how parenting is grinding the lenses through which our children view the world. I loved the analogy. We help shape how our children experience life. With my boys we started from the very beginning.

Hungry? Mom will feed you.

Lens grind.

Tired? Dad will rock you to sleep.

Lens grind.

All those grindings shape the lens so my boys saw safety, comfort, & love.

T~’s lens was ground differently. Maybe they started out being ground the same way, but eventually, her lens took a different shape.

Hungry? There’s not enough for you.

Lens grind.

Need to be held? No time for that.

Lens grind.

T~’s perspective of the world was of insecurity, anxiety, & stress.

We are doing the long, hard, exhausting work of grinding & adding filters to T~’s lens. She feels her trauma & losses deeply.  So we adapt and parent differently. We parent by book and by touch. We sense shifts & adapt as quickly as we can. We bring in experts who help us navigate the troubled waters & help us steer clear of other stormy paths. Some days we get it right. Others we get wrong. Some days we think we might survive her childhood. Other days we hope she’ll finish high school without becoming pregnant.

Good thing there’s grace!

And psychiatrists.

*insert funny segue*

To sum up.

Read The War That Saved My Life.

If you’re in the trauma/loss parenting trenches, we’re right there with you!

But you should really take some time and read The War That Saved My Life & then we can discuss 🙂





I Was Right!!

12 Apr

I love being proven right!

Way back in January, we applied for passports for the kids. If an Int’l adoption has taught me anything, it’s how to gather paperwork. I had all the necessary documents in my plastic folder, organized by kid, & all the extra documents T~ was going to need, plus additional documents, just in case.

The guy said he didn’t need them. Only the birth certificate. I didn’t argue too much because it’s not easy for me to let adoption documents go anyway. 6 years & I still have a phobia about letting her paperwork out of my sight.

Now we’re on our second request for additional documentation for T~’s passport.

See! I was right! You do need her original paperwork, citizenship document, & the name change paperwork! I was right! I was right! I was right!

Now I need to take some Ativan & find a secure mailbox so someone can pry the latest request out of my hand…


6 Years

20 Mar

Happy Za Ding Day!


Nothing says Family Day Celebration like a great meal at a Vietnamese restaurant.!


Six Stupendous Years

21 Jan

It’s Referralversary Time!

Referral Anniversary 2008


Tova 2 years later













Gia đình Day

20 Mar

I’ve always struggled with what to call our Adoption Day. Some people call it Family Day or Gotcha Day, but neither felt right to us. Our dear friends & travel companions came up with ‘za ding’ or family in Vietnamese & now we have a name for our special day.

Five years ago, J~ & I stood before a provincial official & were entrusted with the care of our daughter. It was a day that I will never forget. The days leading up to it were pure torture. The ride out to the province was full of apprehension. The ceremony was incomprehensible (mainly because it wasn’t in English). The drive back, full of joy because this little girl was finally ours.

Happy Za Ding Day T~!


5 Years & A Couple Of Days

24 Jan

This past weekend we acknowledged T~’s 5th Referral-versary. I say acknowledge because T~ spent the day curled up on the couch. I don’t like it when the kids are sick, but it does allow for some good snuggle time with my non-snugglers. I’m not sure there’s anything better than a child using you for a bed. Before we settled down on the couch, we took the annual Referral-versary picture:

It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years since we saw her picture. Time flies when you’re having fun!


My Daughter is Vain Enough & You’re Not Helping!

3 Oct

I have a major pet peeve. Gets my hackles up every.single.time.

I am so sick & tired of people telling T~ that she is beautiful.

I get it. She is a nicely featured child & I agree, she is a beautiful child. But her adoring public is doing her a grave disservice by always commenting on how cute she is.

Believe me when I say, she already knows.

Whenever anyone says to her “You are too cute!’, I want to pass out this Huffpo article about interacting with girls & say: ‘What she said.’

My daughter is very appearance oriented. She’s always fixing her hair or asking if she looks pretty in whatever outfit she’s chosen – mostly a girl thing. Right now she gets tons of positive feedback. What happens when she turns 7 & is now an awkward elementary school child? Or what about when she’s a teen & has a face full of zits & she doesn’t feel so beautiful? Will you comment on her facial features then?

Do you see the problem? For years she’s been set up to think people love her because she’s pretty & when that stops, I can imagine it will affect her self-esteem.

I want her self-esteem to be based on other things. I want her to be proud of her artistic abilities, or her fashion ‘sense’, or any number of talents she possesses. She is a beautiful child, inside & out, but it’s the inside stuff that matters most.

Maybe I’m going off the deep end here, but I also think people comment on T~ purely because she’s adopted. I think people feel compelled to say something; to acknowledge that she’s different. Also not helpful.

I wish I had some pithy, educational comeback for T~’s adoring fans. Something that would point out what they are really doing, & yet not deflate T~ at the same time. Depending on the day & the person, I’ve been known to comment that she’s also very vain & thanks for feeding into that. More often than not, I just say thanks & walk away.

So tell me, my adoring blog-reading public, what would you say?