Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I heard the clock ticking today. It’s not like I was just waiting for it to tick. On the contrary. I was running around the house, packing things for the charity shop, sorting stuff that’s ours vs. what belongs to our landlords, moving stuff from this pile to that...moving out essentially. I’m leaving Ireland in a couple of days. Leaving Ireland. Leaving. Ireland.

So I heard the clock tick and I had to pause because I was struck with a very strong memory of what my life was like when we moved here two years ago. I had come from a relatively high-stress job, with a relatively high-stress life (some, but not all, of my own making) and when I came here there was nothing. Floyd would go to work and I would sit. Sometimes I would read, or watch TV, or go to coffee with other expat ladies. But, other times, I would just sit. And I would listen to that clock tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Marking the passing of time at an unbearably. slow. pace.

Why is it that time only seems to go slow when you’re miserable? Or, shall I say, when you think you’re miserable. Because I look back on that time now and I think about what I could’ve been doing with that time. And not so much "doing" with that time as "enjoying" that time. That precious time.

That precious, miserable time lasted about three months and then I managed to fill my time with classes and horse-back riding lessons, doctors visits, and trips into Dublin for acupuncture and herbs. We were still trying to get pregnant back then so I was pretty focused on that. I would go to the gym and work-out most days. Other days I would just go for a run. I slowly became more comfortable in the kitchen and began cooking adventurous meals. We ate at the table and I stopped watching TV. I had successfully made my life busy again.

Then we decided to adopt, so my life became completely focused on that for several months. Then we started to travel. And travel. And travel some more. We had friends and family over and took them to fun places like Paris and Rome and Oughterard.

And then our house burned down, so we had to focus on that for about eight months.

Then more traveling and more visitors who we took to fun places like Paris and Rome and Doolin.

And then we met Thor, so we’ve been focusing on that for the last four months.

And now we’re going home. Time’s up. No do-overs.

I was reminded today of those first few months in Ireland, listening to the clock tick, back when I thought I was miserable. I feel like I haven’t heard that clock tick in a really, really long time, so I became nostalgic. I have always said that boredom is highly underrated.

Now I’m going home. Back to my job and back to our lives. We’ll soon travel to China and bring home our daughter. Life will naturally be different, but I’d like to think that I’ve learned a few things in the last two years. I’m sure I have actually. I discovered today that I learned to enjoy the sound of the clock ticking.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A bus ride through Thor's home town...


Monday, August 06, 2007

No Crescendo

Last week we found out that we have been approved by the Chinese government to be Thor’s parents. Holy crap.

The approval came in the form of our Letter of Acceptance or Seeking Confirmation (LOA/SC). This is the most coveted of documents in China’s Waiting Child Program. It’s like getting your referral in the traditional, or non-special needs, program. Essentially, it’s huge. It means they have reviewed our files, reviewed our petition to adopt Thor, reviewed Thor’s special needs and deemed us good and fit parents. Holy crap!

There is now nothing but a few simple pieces of paper and a few thousand miles standing between us and our daughter. Holy crap!!!

We are thrilled, yes, but I’ll be honest with ya’. There are a lot of other emotions going on as well. And some of them have nothing to do with rainbows or ladybugs.

I don’t like comparing the process of adoption to the process of giving birth because they are very different on many levels. I have felt uncomfortable when listening to people make comparisons because it *sometimes* sounds like a desperate attempt by a potential adoptive mother to FEEL pregnant or to validate (for her or for other people) the connection to her adopted child and, in doing so, implying that being pregnant is better than adopting. And I don’t feel that way.

Therefore, it feels very strange to admit that I feel like Thor has been growing inside of me since the day I laid eyes on her. I have grown to think about her constantly. Every move I make, every decision I make, absolutely EVERYTHING that I do, I do with her in mind. Everything. I look at her face and not only do I know, intellectually, that I’m her mother, but I FEEL like her mother. I didn’t start out this way, but I’ve become this way. I can sense what her skin will feel like and what her little hands will feel like. I can see her running across our floor. I can feel her on my lap, and I sense her concentration as I read her a book. I can almost...almost hear her cry.

So I think I’m ready for this. Heck, I know I’m ready for this. But I have to tell ya’....I’m scared shitless.

Going back to the birth/adoption comparison, women give birth to an infant. A little, tiny creature that takes up very little space, sleeps most of the time and cries little cries with little lungs. Thor, on the other hand, will be 18 months old when we she storms into our lives. Very different story. They’re all different but, generally, toddlers take up more space than their small frames can account for, sleep only when they darn well feel like it, and have a loud desire to make sure people think you’re the worst parent in the world every time you step out into public. People give birth to infants so that, by the time they’re toddlers, they have learned how to parent this creature.

I just finished a book entitled “Toddler Adoption – The Weaver’s Craft” by Mary Hopkins-Best. It’s a great book that describes some of the trials that adoptive parents can expect when adopting a toddler, and how they might address these “issues”. I won’t go into the “issues” here because many of them are scary. Like really really really scary. Due to the objective of the book, she doesn’t spend much time talking about how wonderful your life will be after you adopt your little one. It’s all just plain scary. Yes, she presents effective tools for addressing these “issues”, which I am thankful to know about, but that doesn’t take away the scary. Just because you know you can repel vampires with garlic, doesn’t make them any less scary -OR- knowing that George Bush will someday be out of office, doesn't make him any less scary. So, obviously, that’s where this fear is coming from. (I love what people are thinking right now...”Oh Lord! She’s comparing her daughter to the undead! – please.)

Adopting a toddler feels kind of like a trial by fire. It’s not a slow build-up, or crescendo, to the maelstrom. Rather, you just start there.

I’m excited by my new (umpteenth) on-line group for parents of toddlers adopted from China. I’m sure I’ll find one or two kindred spirits there. I need to talk to people who understand the fear that their daughter will be repelled by them, who understand the isolation when nobody in your circle of friends can relate to your situation, who understand the rages and the grieving and the frustration and the night terrors. Who understand this particular kind of scary.

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