The Family Tree saga

Back in mid September, we receive a note from the before / after school program that Alex attends on his school days (he is still every other day) that they wanted the children to bring in family photos for a family tree that they were going to be working on. So of course – my head started spinning. As an adoptive parent, you know the issue of family lineage will come up and it can be difficult to provide answers – especially in international adoption. So I tried to spark up a conversation with Alex about where his birth family came from – but like he does with most conversations that do not revolve around hockey or superheros, he decided to ignore me. He knows he was born in South Korea, and will tell you that if he is asked. Once in a blue moon he may ask where his foster mom lives or maybe ask something about his birth mother or father – but for the most party, he doesn’t seem to want to talk about it yet, at least not when we initiate the conversation.

So back to the family tree issue at the school.  I posted my concerns about it on Facebook – especially since i was surprised to have this come up in Senior Kindergarten – I expected I had at least until grade 1 or 2 to prepare Alex (and myself!).  My concern was not that there may be questions, but it was more that with Alex’s speech being delayed, and the fact that he can be shy in front of groups, he may be more hesitant about answering any questions his classmates may have.

I ended up giving our family picture to his before school program coordinator, and mentioned to her that Alex may not be able to answer questions that his classmates may have and that I did not expect him to if he wasn’t comfortable with it. I did mention that he was born in South Korea in case that question came up, but I felt it was best to leave things more vague.

The coordinator was very supportive. I guess the reason for the Family Tree “assignment” was that some kids were feeling sad because they missed their moms and dads since many were at school for the first time (and some arrive as early at 7am). So in reality, the family tree is just a tree on the wall with the pictures of the families stuck to it and I really didn’t have to worry about much.

As an aside… when I was picking Alex up from school one day, I thought I recognized one of the little boys who he had been playing with, but I couldn’t place him. When we went outside I saw a lady getting out of her car – and it clicked. I’m not going to say her name… but I may have mentioned her in this post. She had adopted him from Russia (I believe – thank you to the lady at the Thai food restaurant who was filling me in on some local gossip) and he looks very Asian.  So I told Alex that the boy he had been playing with was adopted too. He didn’t say much… but then asked about his friend “D” who is also Korean – he asked where Dylan was adopted from. I told him he wasn’t adopted but that he was born in Canada and lives with his birth mommy and daddy. He seemed confused and said, “but Dylan has black hair like me”.  It broke my heart a bit and also made me chuckle at he same time. I guess everyone he knows that is adopted has been adopted from Russia or Korea, and the Russian children all have dark hair and have a slight Asian look to them. So I reminded him that his friend “K” in his class, who is blond and blue eyes was adopted and she doesn’t have black hair. I don’t know if that set him straight or confused him more.

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1, 2, 3, 4

There once was one little boy named Kaeul, living in South Korea, awaiting a forever family.

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Little did he know there were two people from Canada waiting to be his mommy and daddy.

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On February 3, 2009, the three of them joined together – forever.

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Today we celebrate four years with our little boy. He is our sunshine, our joy, our everything.

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We love you Alexander!

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Brickman’s Picnic!

One of the events I look forward to each summer is the picnic put on by Bob an Marilyn Brickman. This picnic is for the families who have adopted from South Korea through Children’s Bridge – and lucky for us, it is located about 10 minutes from our house. We went again this past Saturday, it was the fourth time we have been able to attend. I love going and seeing all the little boys and girls as they grow up – especially Alex’s “Seoul Siblings”! Luckily this year, most of our group were able to attend.  There was Barb, Andy, Daniel and Matthew, Belinda, Steve, Adam and Benny, Emily, Jeremy, Xander and Belle, and us.

Like last year, the boys flocked to the pond in search for fish and frogs. Daniel even picked up a few!

Saturday also happened to be little Isabelle (Belle)’s birthday! She turned two so all the kids celebrated with cupcakes.

The mommas had a nice group shot – thanks to Andy our photographer.

We then attempted a kids group shot… well. You know how difficult that can be!

I’m hoping one of the other moms has better shot…

We missed you Karen, Kevin & Lucas – hope we see you again soon! Thanks Bob and Marilyn!

 

Playing Catchup

Like many of you have been feeling, life has a funny way of running ahead of you, and you end up feeling so far behind.  This week I’m going to try to catch up with various things going on at the Robinsons house, beginning with a quick movie review.

On Saturday night I watched the movie “Mother and Child“.   Here is a synopsis from the IMDB: 

Almost forty years ago, a young girl of fourteen has sex, gets pregnant, and gives her baby up for adoption. Fast-forwarding to the present day, we meet three very different women, each of whom struggles to maintain control of their lives. There’s Elizabeth, a smart and successful lawyer who uses her body to her advantage. Any time she feels that she doesn’t have the upper hand, and cannot control the situation, she uses her sex appeal – whether that be starting a romance with her boss when she suspects he is trying to start one himself, or finding some way to control her overly friendly neighbor and husband. Karen, meanwhile, is a bitter health care professional who obviously has a lot of heart but never shows it. She gave up a daughter at the age of fourteen (wonderfully shown rather than told, she is the young girl and mother of Elizabeth), and has never gotten over it – her bitterness inspiring her to lash out at everyone around her – even the gentle man at work who is undeniably drawn to her. Finally, Lucy is a woman who has failed to conceive with her husband, so she turns to adoption to make the family she desires.

I thought it was a very interesting movie about about the twists and turns, the joys and the sorrows that can be associated with adoption. This film shows various view points and life long impacts of the domestic adoption process – for the birth mother, the adopted child, and the adoptive parents. The movie is slow at times but if your life has been impacted by adoption you will find it very interesting. You will need some tissues handy for this one, because as many of you know, adoption, especially private domestic adoption is not for the faint of heart.

Adoption #2 – where are we?

Good question – where are we? If you remember back in January we got notified that we could start the homestudy process for our second adoption, affectionately called Adoption #2.  Well things got kinda delayed because of our move.  I wanted all the documents to be for the same address so the plan was to get started in the middle of March.  Then the whole Alex not sleeping thing happened, and we were way too tired to do anything beyond the basic household necessities (and even then we were slipping at times! Thank goodness for our cleaning lady).  Now that things are getting a bit better (or we are just adjusting to the lack of sleep), some of the paperwork is getting done.  Luckily since this is the second time around, we just have to do a homestudy update, not a complete homestudy.  So far we have completed the application, questionnaires, the financial paperwork, and the CAS checks and reference checks have been mailed out.  Next week we get our medicals and fingerprints done.  After the fingerprints are done, we submit them to the RCMP for Interpol clearance.  And when everything is received I’m sure our social worker will want to come and see our new place and get an update from us.  All the while that is going on, we will need to get started on completing our Dossier for the Children’s Bridge.  Phew.  In the mean time I’m finally getting Alex’s Canadian Citizenship paperwork done (just need photos and pay the fee), and plan a super dooper second birthday!  I can’t believe Alex will be 2 in just over 2 weeks.  Overwhelmed? Yes. 

I’m sure many of you have felt this way – but it is a real surreal feeling knowing that somewhere in Korea there is a woman who is pregnant right now with our child. It gives me shivers. 

I can’t wait to see this view again. 

View from the SWS Guest House when looking towards the SWS.

When you wish upon a star…

… your dreams can come true.  And ours certainly did.  

One year ago today we met our son.  It still seems surreal that we travelled around the world and were blessed to be able to bring home the most amazing and beautiful little boy.   This year has been the best year ever (although I really could have done without teething and H1N1).  We have learned so much – and it is amazing how much love you can have for someone.  I can’t wait to watch Alex grow into a young man… I know it will happen in a blink of an eye – and that saddens me, but it also reminds me to enjoy every second we have with Alex because he truly is a wish come true. 

Here’s a little video I put together of our trip to Seoul, meeting Alex, our Forever Family Day, and then our trip home.  I hope you like it.

Vodpod videos no longer available. 

Handle With Care

I (finally) just finished Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult.  What a great book.  As I seem to discover with pretty much every book I read or listen to recently – this book touched on adoption.  There is a character in the book who was adopted domestically and is searching for her birth mother.  I wanted to share a paragraph about what her character thinks adoption feels like.  I think it is kinda nice, and hope this feeling is true – but not being an adoptee, I of course really don’t know.

“Being adopted felt like reading a book that had the first chapter ripped out.  You might be enjoying the plot and the characters, but you’d probably also like to read that first line, too.  However, when you took the book back to the store to say that the first chapter was missing, they told you they couldn’t sell you a replacement copy that was intact.  What if you read that first chapter and realized you hated the book, and posted a nasty review on Amazon?  What if you hurt the author’s feelings?  Better just to stick with your partial copy and enjoy the rest of the story.”

That same character at the end says:

“Parents aren’t the people you come from.  They’re the people you want to be when you grow up.” 

The book was even more moving for me since I have a close friend who had to make a very difficult decision this summer to terminate a late term pregnancy.  Reading this book at times made me cry for her – and “understand” a bit more of the pain that she is going through.

Next Steps

This past month has been such a blur I haven’t had a chance to update everyone on what’s happening on the adoption front. 

On August 5th, we had been home with Alex for 6 months!  That night we had our final meeting with our adoption practitioner.  Everything went well and we even spoke with her about having her do our homestudy update for adoption #2.  After the meeting, our AP sent in the “ROACH” report to the Children’s Bridge who then sends it to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.  The ROACH is the “Report of the Adjustment of the Child in the Home”.  Once the report is reviewed and approved by an adoption officer and everything is in order, the Ministry will send an approval report to our agency.  At that time a Director’s Statement of Adoption is also sent.

Once the Director’s Statement of Adoption is recieved, our agency’s lawyer will prepare an application to have the adoption finalized in our local court.  The court hearing usually happens between 9 and 12 months of placement (on Saturday we will be 7 months – can you believe it?!).  We have requested to attend court for the official finalization if it is possible.

After that all happens, we will be able to apply for a birth certificate, a social security number, and then finally a passport.

Then we can start everything all over again for Alex’s little brother or sister! Phew!