Category Archives: International Adoption


I love them.

Even when they act crazy.

Even when they fight to be the center of attention…every single minute of EVERY single day.

Even if it means that I never get any sleep around this place…
I love them because they are mine.



Filed under Attachment, International Adoption, Siblings, sleeping, Uncategorized

2 Years as a Family

Family photo taken last weekend at a friend’s house. Please ignore the fact that my face appears to have been swapped with a beach ball for the remainder of pregnancy. Eck!

And just 2 years ago–walking around Hoa Kim lake in Hanoi with our new son.

**Since I just posted our adoption story, I will focus on recent events that show his integration into our family and his adjustment.

We were fortunate that our son has always been an affectionate baby. He readily gives and receives hugs and kisses, although we do go through periods of hitting and the very rare bite when he’s angry. As his communication skills increase, it is easier for him to express that he wants something or for us to back off for a bit.

I have been impressed with his ability to make friends quickly and his openness and trust. I hope that he is learning love and kindness from us–continuing to show the affection and quality of care that was provided to him in the orphanage.

Last night, Morgan decided that rather than go to bed himself, he would put mommy to bed.  He told me that I could have 3 stories! I loved listening to him read “Lama Lama Mad at Momma”, ” Sesame Street ABC’s”, and “Put me in the Zoo”. Then he asked me if I would like some “pretend” milk–I was given an imaginary cup and cautioned not to spill! And he tucked the covers under my chin, turned on the crib soother, and told me “I love you! Go to Sleep!” before closing the door to his room.  Wow. The kid has us DOWN.

This morning, he got into bed with us at 6am and held both of my hands underneath his chin and stroked my arms while smiling sleepily at me.  He always tells us both that he loves us and we all know that morning time is snuggled time. 

As we chatted, I could tell that the baby was also awake and seemed to be tuned in to the sound of big brother’s voice.  He was resting his head on the pillow that I use to support my stomach–so his face was near the baby at that point.  I asked if he would like to feel his little sibling move and Morgan put his hand on my tummy and felt the baby kicking. He spoke softly to my belly–Hi Baby, Go to Sleep…and No come out!   I had to crack up at the last part because we have talked about the baby getting bigger and getting ready to come out and live with us. It’s something that Morgan hasn’t fully embraced. He’s pretty clear that he wants him/her to stay put!

It’s been a beautiful two years–Thank you, Morgan!

Also see my post “a year” from our first anniversary which is so much more eloquent.

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Filed under Attachment, International Adoption, Uncategorized

A Napless day turns into some sweet Mommy time!

J and I have been enjoying going through our old pictures with Morgan–talking about his “baby time” and how much we treasured those first months as a family.  It hurts to know that we will never have memories of his 1st ten months without us. With a baby on the way–I worry about explaining the lack of “baby Morgan” pictures and milestones from that precious time before he came to us.

Yesterday, Morgan did not take a nap at school and threw a huge tantrum before we even made it out the door to the car in the afternoon. Our daycare director is very kind and carried him to the car for me since I am waddling more than walking these days and it is nearly impossible to carry a writhing toddler right now! He loves “Ms. Nena” and snuggled against her–feeling special that the director of the school was showing him some prime attention.

We sang “I like to Move it Move it” from the Madagascar sound track on the way home–I crack up watching him dance and sing in the rearview mirror.  Some days we play it 3-4 times in a row but I tolerate it because he loves it. He’s so cute saying ” I like to Party Party!!”

When we got home, I noticed that Morgan had been touching the wheels of the mom-mobile again and then rubbed brake dust on his face and hands. I decided that we needed a “swim” in mommy’s tub–which is a rare treat and Morgan looks forward to it. J and I have a jacuzzi tub in our masterbath that is big enough for Morgan to think he’s swimming 🙂

After 30 minutes of splashing in aveeno baby bath–which is kind to the eczema! He was in a happy mood and readily admitted “Morgan tired, Mommy”. I helped him grab his blankets (which have multiplied to include his crib comforter in addition to his two security blankets that he has always toted around) and we snuggled on the couch and watched Toy Story.  J was working late and I decided that Morgan could use all of the mommy time he could get that evening.

I made dinner early, anticipating more toddler madness. We had a Morgan friendly dinner of cheeseburger macaroni, green peas, and vanilla pudding. After that, I asked if he would like to “rock” in his green chair–which has also been moved to my room in anticipation of  baby Elmo.  Again, I felt a little pang of guilt a the many changes coming his way.

We spent nearly an hour in the rocking chair. My baby snuggled against me with his pillow and three blankets and drifted in and out of a light sleep. I would finish singing a song and he would whisper “Do More, Mama”.  We sing our own lullaby to the tune of Frere Jacque that is simply “Mommy loves Morgan, mommy loves Morgan–yes she does, yes she does. Mommy loves Morgan, Mommy loves Morgan–yes she does.”  I love it that my nearly 3 year old allowed this moment!

I put him on my bed while I took my bath and put on pajamas–but he didn’t fall asleep because Claire was jealous and hopping up and down on the floor next to the bed demanding to be lifted up!  I heard “No bother me Claire! Go Away!” and smiled.

So we switched Morgan to his big boy bed and read a few books–everything he chose this evening had “I love you” in the title. I read “I love you no matter what” 2x in a row per his request and then he was ready to kiss me goodnight.

For the first time in nearly 2 weeks, my little bug slept soundly.  I guess we all need a bit of reassurance at times.



Filed under Attachment, International Adoption, pregnancy

Our Adoption Success Story

April 28, 2008. Danang Social Sponsoring Center, Vietnam.

In light of what is happening with Russian Adoptions, the JCIS has asked families to celebrate their successes by sharing their adoption stories on their blogs today as part of their “We are the Truth Campaign.”   

International adoption can often seem frightening and full of unknowns–but with good parent education and awareness–it is still an amazing way to build a family.  Here is our story:

It feels like this is where my world began. Above is the first view of my son.  After a year of paperwork and nearly 6 months of nail-biting while waiting for CIS approval, Jeremy and I traveled across the world to the beautiful country of Vietnam to meet our baby boy.

We became a family that day–and I will be grateful to the government of Vietnam forever for allowing us to be Morgan’s parents.

Our first days with our new baby were both joyful and sad at the same time–he grieved heavily for his nanny, who cried hard on the day of our giving and receiving and carried him to the car not wanting to let go. It was obvious that he was loved and had been well cared for during his ten months at the orphanage. It broke my heart, and I remember trying to tell her that I would always be there for him and love him…but finding these words inadequate in the face of her pain. 

On the other hand, there was this overwhelming joy to hold Morgan and to be parents at last. We delighted in taking him around the city as we discovered Vietnam together. I remember being sad that he would not remember this incredible place where strangers asked to hold him and showed us so much kindness.

Morgan’s personality emerged over the next weeks and months and he fit well into our family–completely charming his grandparents and extended relatives. Our little guy has an impish grin and adorable sense of humor and embraced our family with love. It wasn’t always easy–there was teething to overcome and some sleep issues that left us puzzled and exhausted! We coped by blogging with other adoptive moms and reading books on attachment and bonding.

J and I learned that raising an adopted child differs from raising a biological child. We had taken classes prior to bringing Morgan home as part of our adoption requirements and they helped us to spot potential issues and to take action when we needed to.  

Our son was incredibly clingy during  those first few months and we used a sling to carry him close to our bodies and we did not put him down unless it was absolutely necessary.  We put away his pack and play because it seemed to cause a lot of distress–we had seen them in the orphanage and wondered if he spent a lot of time in them while his nannies were busy attending other children.  We loved him through this time and even spent most of our first year co-sleeping because Morgan was best reassured with one hand on Mommy and one on Daddy during the night.  It was hard at times, but worth it!

Over the past 2 years as a family–we have grown together.

I would not change it for the world. He is simply our son.

**I have kept silent about my feelings about the abandonment of a 7-year-old boy who was adopted from Russia. I don’t know his adoptive family or what they went through. However, in reading the news articles available, I know that his adoptive mom did not share her struggle with her agency nor did she seek help from outside social services before placing this little guy on a plane with a note and a bag of cookies and shipping him back to his home country.

If anyone learns anything from this tragedy–

Seek Help! There are services available for families struggling. Speak to your adoption agency or your licensed social worker who performed the home study/post placement visits. 

Investigate local resources: Our son was eligible for Early Childhood Intervention free of charge. They provided speech and occupational therapy to us but they also offer psychological help, skilled nursing, physical therapy, and more.

Do your homework: Adoption is not the same as giving birth and there are many unknowns. We spent nearly a year researching countries alone. We made decisions based on likelihood of mother’s drug use, length of time spent in institutionalized care, stability of the country, etc. Talk to parents of adopted children and seek out groups online or in your area that are forums for adoptive parents to communicate. Walking in blind is never a good idea.

Be prepared/realistic: Your baby might not look anything like you imagined or behave as you expected. Just as a biological child can develop autism or illness–these things happen in adoption as well. There are no guarantees in life. We were asked to close our eyes and picture our baby in one of our classes–and then we were shown photographs of children in orphanages. Babies who are dirty, lethargic, malnourished, covered in bug bites and scabs, all races and ethnicities…crying…and it helped us prepare.  Our own son was clean, but showed signs of dehydration and lethargy on the day we met him. He had a huge bug bite on his head that was infected and looked very sad and distressed when we took him from the only caregivers he had known.

Read everything you can about the culture of the country you choose, the children available, the age group that you are adopting. Learn what is common for adoptions from that area. Find other families that you identify with as well as those who have much more experience than you. I now have a close group of blogging friends who adopted around the same time we did as well as the knowledge of many “large families” who have spent years adopting and raising children from institutions/foster care. In addition, I spoke to friends and former classmates who were adopted and keep in touch on different issues and questions that arise.

 Be a Parent: Put the needs of that child above your own. Go in with your eyes and heart open–knowing that it may not be easy and that surprises could lie ahead. We are their legal parents and it is our responsibility to do right by our children. That means that you don’t cause further harm. Their health, happiness, and safety lies in your hands. If they need resources, extra help–find it. Make it happen because you are the adult and that is your job.

If you posted today–please link your story in the comments! I would love to share them.

I found this parent’s post today and it made me smile.



Filed under Attachment, International Adoption, Uncategorized

My beautiful Boy

We’ve been dealing with some awful 2 yo tantrums in this house over the past few weeks…but this morning was the soothing time that I desperately needed with our little guy.

Morgan called to me over the monitor at 6:15 am–“Mommy where are you?” I have explained the little device under his bed and that mommy can hear when he needs me. It is so cute to me that he chooses to use that rather than get out of bed and roam on his own when he wakes up.  I went in to get him and his pillow and his two blankies (all very important if I want an extra half hour of sleep!) and bundled him into the bed with me.

His tiny hand reached for mine and he said “I love you, Mommy”.

We slept a bit longer with him crawling into the snoogle body pillow with me. He loves that and so do I! It’s like our own little nest. I call him my baby bird and he says “Peep Peep” and cuddles closer.

At 7am, we got up and made smoothies and peanut butter toast. Morgan thinks his smoothie is ice cream and that it is deliciously naughty have this treat for breakfast. He cracks me up the way he looks at me like we are sneaking something wonderful as we sip. I love the little fruit mustache and peanut butter grin!

We received a new book last night– “Waiting for Baby” by Rachel Fuller. It is a very simple board book for littles about to become a big brother or big sister. It drew my attention because the child in the book had a different skin tone than Mommy and Daddy and reminded me a bit of the way we look as a family. 

The words are very simple–covering different aspects of the wait such as doctor’s visits, helping Daddy make dinner while Mommy rests (HA! Jeremy loved that one!) decorating the nursery and buying clothes and toys, and staying with Nana or a friend while Mommy and Daddy go to the hospital to have the baby. We’ve started to talk about Morgan staying with a family friend or with Nana and I want him to be as prepared as possible. He seemed to really enjoy the book and made some very intuitive comments.

I worry that a lot of the tantrums and insecurities of late stem from the changes happening. If anyone has advice on preparing the little guy for being a big brother I would welcome them!

As for the tantrums–I was so desperate yesterday that I googled for a solution. What I found really helped me cope. It all started over a banana (really) and escalated quickly to a nightmare.

  1. Remove child to a quiet place where they cannot harm themselves.
  2. Do not attempt to rationalize or allow your own temper to escalate. Children in the throws of a full blown tantrum are beyond reason.
  3. Do not attempt to hold a combative child or you can be hurt in the process (yep.)
  4. Allow them to calm down and then speak quietly–redirect them if possible

Morgan raged in his crib, throwing stuffed animals and blankets for a good ten minutes. Then he called for me and said he was ready to get out. I took him to the potty, gave him a drink of water and rewarded the potty trip with a sticker and an M&M. It felt so much better than being kicked/slapped while in the throes of his anger.  We were able to move on!


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Filed under International Adoption, Uncategorized

Adoption Corruption

Please follow this link to read about one woman’s horrifying experience with a corrupt agency and child trafficking in Pakistan.

As an adoptive mom, I thank the universe every single day that we were able to bring our child home safely and that our agency was reputable. I’ve mentioned before that not all agencies have your best interest at heart. It is sad that greed is a motivating factor for so many people and that innocent children pay the price every single day.  The little girl mentioned in this blog  just one innocent victim but all children and families caught in situations like these  deserve justice.

You can help by going on F$cebook and becoming a fan of Lisa Ling’s page. Leave a message requesting further investigation and help give the families affected by unethical practices in Pakistan a stronger voice!



Filed under International Adoption, Uncategorized

Looking Back

I am home today, nearly incapacitated by the common cold, and crying my eyes out over an episode of “An Adoption Story”. It quickly takes me back to our trip to Vietnam and our first meeting with the little guy.

When I think about it now–my son was so brave! He allowed his clumsy new parents to hold him and love him from the start. He laughed with us and showed his sweet little personality in small glimpses that first 24 hours even though he must have been so confused by what was happening.

I am constantly amazed by my little one. Everything in his life was turned upside down and he managed to adjust. It thrills me to watch him today–confident and posessing this quirky little sense of humor….and so full of affection and love.

Words will never describe the reward of being loved by a child that you did not give birth to. It feels like a miracle to earn their trust and respect. It fills me with joy to meet his needs and to know that I am “mom”.

That totally outweighs the fact that said little one sat on my head at 8am with a poopy diaper. What a way to deliver a message! I said my kid was quirky, right?



Filed under Attachment, International Adoption