Friday, November 13, 2015

An Adoption Analogy... makes you think...

I found this when we first began the adoption process.  I thought I would share it here.

Imagine for a moment....
You have met the person you've dreamed about all your life. He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your fiancée. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by soul mate, for this person understands you in a way that no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow.
The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day's events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the world- the person who will be with you for the rest of your life. The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner's arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face. But it's not him! You are in the arms of another man. You recoil in horror. Who is this man?
Where is your beloved? 
You ask questions of the new man, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't understand you. You search every room in the house, calling and calling for your husband. The new guy follows you around, trying to hug you, pat you on the back. . .even trying to stroke your arm, acting like everything is okay. But you know that nothing is okay. Your beloved is gone. Where is he? Will he return? When? What has happened to him? Weeks pass. You cry and cry over the loss of your beloved. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over what has happened. The new guy tries to comfort you. You appreciate his attempts, but he doesn't speak your language-either verbally or emotionally. He doesn't seem to realize the terrible thing that has happened...that your sweetheart is gone.

You find it difficult to sleep. The new guy tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid him, preferring to sleep alone, away from him and any intimate words or contact. Months later, you still ache for your beloved, but gradually you are learning to trust this new guy. He's finally learned that you like your coffee black, not doctored up with cream and sugar. Although you still don't understand his bedtime songs, you like the lilt of his voice and take some comfort in it. More time passes. One morning, you wake up to find a full suitcase sitting next to the front door. You try to ask him about it, but he just takes you by the hand and leads you to the car. You drive and drive and drive. Nothing is familiar. Where are you? Where is he taking you?
You pull up to a large building. He leads you to an elevator and up to a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried. The man leads you over to the corner. Another man opens his arms and sweeps you up in an embrace. He rubs your back and kisses your cheeks, obviously thrilled to see you. You are anything but thrilled to see him. Who in the world is he? Where is your beloved? You reach for the man who brought you, but he just smiles (although he seems to be tearing up, which concerns you), pats you on the back, and puts your hand in the hands of the new guy. The new guy picks up your suitcase and leads you to the door. The familiar face starts openly crying, waving and waving as the elevator doors close on you and the new guy. The new guy drives you to an airport and you follow him, not knowing what else to do. Sometimes you cry, but then the new guy tries to make you smile, so you grin back, wanting to get along. You board a plane. The flight is long. You sleep a lot, wanting to mentally escape from the situation.
Hours later, the plane touches down. The new guy is very excited and leads you into the airport where dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new guy takes you to another guy who hugs you. Who is this one? You smile at him. Then you are taken to another man who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair. Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you've ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks and croons to you in some language you've never heard before.

He leads you to a car and drives you to another location. Everything here looks different. The climate is not what you're used to. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the black coffee. You wonder if someone told him that you like your coffee black. You find it nearly impossible to sleep. Sometimes you lie in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your husband for leaving you, yet aching from the loss. The new guy checks on you. He seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a mug of warm milk. You turn away, pretending to go to asleep.

People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new guy's hand. He pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you've fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness. Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Just in case, you keep your suitcase packed and ready. Although the man at this house is nice and you're hanging on for dear life, you've learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along.

Each morning, the new guy hands you a cup of coffee and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your husband is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new guy to yelp in pain. He just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly take the cup. You give him a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait.

How would each of us handle all these changes? 

How would this impact us for the rest of our lives?

care package for our 6 year old son{journey to junyu}

My friend and fellow adoptive mama was leaving to meet her new son about 2 months before we were traveling to adopt Junyu.  Her son was from the same orphanage as Junyu so I asked if she would mind bringing along a care package for him.  She happily agreed and gave it to the nannies that accompanied her son so that they can bring it back to him at the orphanage.  We were so excited to shop for the presents ourselves this time.  We sent Ruby Mei a care package as well but we used a service that time(a wonderful woman in China will shop for adoptive families and send them things you pick out on her website).  We bought Junyu: glow sticks, pop rocks, a picture book about lions, a stuffed lion, a disposable camera, Cars stickers, dino jammies, a Cars shirt, and a Lightening McQueen car.  I also threw in a package of gummy snacks and gum.  I laminated a family picture for him to look at and our Chinese teacher kindly translated a letter for him which I also laminated.  I made tags with his picture and his name in Chinese characters to attach to the camera and also the outside of the gift bag.  My friend said the nannies received the package and happily agreed to pass it along to Junyu when they returned to the orphanage.

I have since found out what happened once he got it so I thought you may be interested to learn about that too. As far what he had on his person when we met him: he had the lion, the pajama pants(not the top), the Cars shirt, and the camera(the letter had told him to take pictures of his friends, ect but the camera had hardly any photos taken already when he pulled it out on gotcha day).  He also came to us with a wonderful baby book full of pictures of him over the years.  This was a wonderful surprise. 

I recently asked Junyu(now that he knows English) what he thought of the package when he got it and what happened to everything else. Just out of curiosity! :)  He said he only received the jammies, the stickers, the camera, the pop rocks, and the little car.  He never saw the picture or the letter. :( He also said that the nannies put the jammie bottoms, the car shirt, the lion and the camera right into his backpack that he couldn't have until he came to meet us.  He never saw the lion book, the glow sticks, or the gum, or the gummy snacks.  Who knows why the nannies took that stuff out and didn't read him the letter or show him our picture.  I wish they had but that's just the way it goes.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Toys and Activities for long International trips with Little Ones {what we brought on our adoption trip}

In the months leading up to our last adoption trip, I spent a lot of time worrying and preparing for travel with a 2 year old.  Ruby Mei had only been in our family for 1 year by the time we left for her new brother and she had yet to spend even 5 minutes without Mama or Baba.  There was just no way we could not bring her with us unless one of us stayed home too.  We decided that we were not comfortable with this option.  In hindsight it was the smartest decision we could have made because our new son's transition in China was very difficult and I can't even imagine not having both of us there.  But...I digress. :)

I thought I would put together a blog post including all the things we packed for Ruby and also for Junyu in China and on the flight back.  Most everything can be bought on Amazon which I LOVE because Amazon means I don't have to drive around town trying to find stuff and wasting precious time.  I provided links to the ones that are.  I hope some of this helps!

And if you are wondering how the flights and trip turned out for Ruby- it was just fine!  All that worry beforehand for nothing.  Sure, if I had my choice I would not sign up to fly for a zillion hours cramped on an airplane with the busiest toddler in the planet.  But it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  She ended up sleeping for a large portion of each leg and played pretty nicely the rest of the time.  We had the 3 big kids with us too so they helped entertain her a little bit.  Mostly it was Mama and Baba though.  She did have a couple crying episodes but they were fast and she was just uncomfortable, cranky and tired.  She just did what we all felt like doing- ha!

OMURA COLORFUL PENCIL POUCH with Mesh Window, Zippered & Standard 3-Ring Binder, Pack 6 pcsPencil Pouches- Asst. Colors
I purchased this set and then made them into a book of sorts with binder rings.  Each pouch contained a different activity.  I will list the contents below.

Attach these together with binder rings.
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1. One of them had a bunch of stickers that I had bought at Walmart for about a buck a book- they are in the party supply section I think.  I can't find a picture of them online. You could always just grab a bunch of random stickers you have around the house too.  I got puppies and kittens, Veggie Tales, and Sesame Street.

2. The next pouch contained these:
Product DetailsJumbo Colored Craft Sticks -I attached velcro circles at the ends of these sticks and then we built different shapes with them on the plane.
VELCRO - Sticky Back - 5/8" Coins, 75 Sets - Clearvelcro circles

3.  A pill box with 21 compartments.
Product DetailsI bought this exact pill organizer at the dollar store.  There are some on Amazon though for a bit more money.  Inside each compartment I put a tiny item that the big kids and I gathered from around the house.  Some examples include: a button, a jingle bell, Pet Shop Teensies, Safari Minis, ect.  There are so many possibilities.  We would take out each item, one at a time and talk about what it was, the sound it makes, play hide and seek with it, pretend play... because there were 21 different objects it kept Ruby busy for quite awhile.

Product DetailsPainter's Tape Believe you me... this can keep little ones occupied for a long time.  What kids don't like tape?  You can also bring little "guys" (animals, figurines, ect) to tape to the seats and trays in silly situations, you can make sculptures, designs, balls, tape things together, on and on.  

Product Details Post-it Notes  For some reason Ruby loves playing with post-it notes.  You can make little flip books, stick them anywhere and everywhere, draw on them, ect.  We brought some regular size and mini size ones.

Product Detailsmini photo album (we grabbed one at Target and filled it with pictures of our family members(including lots of Ruby!) She had a blast looking at everyone and we talked about what was happening in the pictures.


Product DetailsProduct DetailsMelissa and Doug safety scissors   (Ruby was only 2 and hadn't used regular scissors yet so I brought these- plus I'm pretty sure you can't bring real scissors on an airplane now that I think of it!)

Product DetailsCrayola Triangular Crayons Why triangles?  They don't roll off airplane trays.  Enough said. :)  We threw in a small coloring book and a small tablet of plain white paper with these.

In a separate travel cube I brought some extra items.  I knew 2 year olds have a very short attention span so I wasn't taking any chances.  Our flight to Chengdu from San Francisco was 14 hours people.  Not cool.

Here is what I put in my back up stash:

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 EcoKids play-dough -we just brought one of these little containers.  Of course you can make your own or just bring regular old Play-do brand.  We had 2 of these from a sample box we got in the mail so that's what I used.
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 Melissa and Doug play-dough tools (we didn't bring these but it would be neat to bring a couple of them to use with the play dough... we just made freestyle shapes).  You can also use utensils from the airplane meals.
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The Melissa and Doug Water Wow Books These are awesome.  They come with a little pen that you fill with water and the images appear once wet.  After the pages dry you can do it again!

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The Melissa and Doug Splash Cards- Alphabet Same concept as above but these are cards that come with a ring.  There are number ones also.

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Toy airplane.  They make these for all the major airlines.  I chose United because that is what we were flying.  Ruby thought this was pretty cool and played with it a lot on the plane- and loved showing it to everyone around us.  They all thought it was pretty cool too. I wish I had bought 2 of these because our new 6 year old loved it too on the way home and they both wanted to hold it at the same time.  It still is a favorite 6 months later at home... they talk about how that plane took us to China and home. :)

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Suction cup guy. Ruby thinks suction cups are hilarious so she loved us playing with this guy with her on the seat tray.

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Mini music box- Ruby loved this.  It comes in many different tunes.  I got ours at a local teacher materials store but they have them on Amazon.

City Quiet Book Page PlaysetSock Matching Quiet Book Page, Felt Busy Book, Felt Activity, Imagine Our LifeLet's Cook Breakfast Quiet Book Page, Felt Busy Book, Activity Book, Imagine Our Life

A Quiet Book/Busy Book  This seller on Etsy has many pages and activities to choose from.  And boy, are they adorable.  Kids LOVE quiet books.  I have so many memories of playing with mine when I was a little girl.  I have been working on making Ruby more pages myself but when getting ready for an upcoming adoption trip, it is nice to have the option of just buying them already completed.  Time is precious at that point and the months and weeks leading up to the trip go by SO FAST!!

SO Awesome Wallet Cards- you guys... these are truly awesome.  There are many options and bundles you can choose from.  One of Ruby's favorite pastime is emptying my wallet and looking through everything.  When I saw these on IG one day I knew they would be perfect for travel with her.  I found one of my old wallets and bought a bundle set of cards along with some money, ect.  I packed the wallet full of the cards and accessories.  This was a big hit.  The quality of these cards are wonderful and they come with the ring to keep them together if you want to go that route.  Go check out their site- you will love it!

Kids Wired Headphones, RedKids Headphones Ruby didn't use much technology on the plane but she did watch a few Veggie Tales and Sesame Street videos here and there.  These were nice because it comes with a removable piece at the top to help fit little heads.  Junyu used them on the trip home as well.

Product DetailsWind up toys. We already had some but they carry them on Amazon and various toy shops.


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Melissa and Doug Reusable Sticker Pad (these are kind of large so I packed them in a suitcase to use in China during down times in the hotel).
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Melissa and Doug Make a Face - so fun!

Product DetailsAt the Airport Sticker Book Our new 6 year old son was in love with airplanes.  And stickers.  He really enjoyed playing with this.

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Magnetic Fun These come in many themes.  I bought this one for our son and he liked it a lot.  He still brings it on long car rides.

Product Details   Glow sticks.  Always a kid favorite.  We played around with these on the plane when it was dark and also in the hotel at night with our new guy.  They all loved them.  Target usually has glow sticks in their dollar spot.
Product Details Light up ball.  These are a lot of fun in the hotel at night- or anywhere really!  
Product Details Inflatable Globe. We packed this and played with it in China.  It was nice because it packed flat and we could also show the kids where we were and where we were traveling to.
Sharks Tattoos (Dover Tattoos) Tattoos.  These come in about a million themes and are really inexpensive.  These were a HUGE hit with our new son and was a big help in bonding on our first day together.  He wanted all 7 of us to put tattoos on and thought it was about the best thing he had ever seen. To this day he loves them.

Product Detailsbubble gun- we bought one there and it provided endless hours of fun and bonding time with our new son.  Ruby really enjoyed it too.

Crayola 8 Count Washable Window Markers
Window Markers- we used these in our hotel room with our new son and Ruby- they really liked it!
Child Airplane Travel Harness - Cares Safety Restraint System - The Only FAA Approved Child Flying Safety DeviceAirplane Travel Harness - we didn't end up using this but we brought it.  It would be great for kids that sit really nice in a car seat(and you aren't bring yours... which I'm pretty sure no one does) because then they will stay put. 

Product DetailsPacking Cubes.  This trip we bought a set of these for each family member. That was 7 sets(in 7 different colors).  They literally changed. our. life.  I cannot recommend them enough for so many reasons.  It made it so easy to spot where everyone's belongings were right away.  As soon as we got to our new hotel we opened up the suitcases and each person grabbed their 3 cubes and brought them to their room.  We kept everything right where it was supposed to be this way.  I purchased some extra cubes from TJ Max and Marshalls to pack our meds, snacks, ect. in.  Nothing was floating around in the suitcases- everything had a home.  It was so easy to find everything and the suitcases were always neat and tidy.  Yes they were expensive since I had to buy 7 sets but we didn't regret the purchase for one second.  And they will be used on trips the rest of our life. :)