Saturday, December 30, 2006

Annaliese's First Christmas

Our Grand-Niece, Annaliese (Don's nephew's daughter) celebrated her first Christmas. She was born last June and Don will probably make a trip to North Carolina to visit our newest family member sometime in January or February.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Have Yourself A Merry Diva Christmas

If our dog, Diva, had been living in Bethlehem at the right time, she would have been there with the rest of the animals, praising the newborn King. Merry Christmas
The second image is a painting of the Nativity by Chinese artist Yu Jia-de.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Power of Words - from our agency.....

The Power of WordsThe POWER of WordsOur Words reflect our values. They wound or heal, alienate or educate.The words we use reveal as much about us and our values as they do about the situations that we are trying to describe. Our views, experiences, biases, and assumptions are intrinsically woven into the words we use to communicate every day. The language of adoption is full of expressions we have “always heard” and all too often use. These expressions shape the perceptions of both the people who use them and the people who hear them. They convey our values and biases, and they can encourage or hinder communication.The importance of being aware of the values that our words convey is not confined to the language of adoption. It can be as simple as deciding whether to use the word “problem” or “challenge” when it comes to describing a child’s behavior. A disagreement can be described as a difference of opinion or an argument. The subtle nuances between the words we choose and those we do not can elicit profoundly different responses from the listener because the listener hears through the filter of his or her own experience and emotion.So it is with adoption. A simple choice of words can reveal our views and communicate a great deal to a listener. We encourage social workers, adoptive parents, birthparents, board members, volunteers, and supporters to use language that accurately reflects the reality of adoption.
Rather than...
real parent(s)..................................birthparent(s), birthmother(s), birthfather(s)
natural parent(s)............................biological parent(s)
unwed mother.................................single parent
real child..........................................birthchild
Illegitimate child.............................child of unmarried parents
Put up for adoption........................Make an adoption plan
Give up for adoption......................Choose adoption
Is adopted.......................................Was adopted
Keep a child....................................Parent a child
Hard to place child........................Child with special placement needs
Unwanted pregnancy...................Unplanned, unintended, or untimely pregnancy
Foreign adoption...........................International adoption

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Creative Things to Do While in the Waiting Room - Take Your 94 Year Old Father to EPCOT

Every year we attend the Disney Christmas Candlelight Processional but this year, dad came along. It seems we choose the coldest day each year. 3 times each night, in the midst of all the magic, Disneys allows it's guests to get away and set their eyes and ears on the real reason for the season.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


"Xie xie" (pronounced: Sheay-sheay)

Did you know that "xie xie" means "thanks" in Mandarin-Chinese?
We are trying to keep the schedule full this Christmas to distract us from the absence of Joanna in our home this season. We had hoped that she would have arrived by now .... the day after Christmas last year, we went out and bought a truck load of Christmas lights and ychotchkes to celebrate. We'll leave them in the attic, buy some more and haul them out next year.
We take comfort in knowing that God is soverign in this whole adoption process. The time for Joanna's arrival was determined ...... who knows when ..... so in the meantime, we are singing in 2 musicals in our church, taking Don's 94 year old dad out and about as much as possible and attending as many holiday functions as the calendar can hold ...... we also have the opportunity to step back and say xie - xie for all we have learned, adapted to, experienced and suffered through in the Waiting Room ......
"Xie xie ni" (pronounced: Sheay-sheay nee)This is the more formal way to say "thank you" in Mandarin-Chinese.

The Mandarin language is the most commonly used form of Chinese in China and around the world. The second most commonly used Chinese language is Cantonese, generally used more in the Southern regions and in Hong Kong. There are many (hundreds) other dialects used throughout other parts of China as well.In honor of Christmas, we would like to say "xie xie" for the following:

Xie xie to China for allowing us the privilege of adopting their children.
Xie xie to CCAA for allowing Bethany, a Christian organization to work in China and find homes for their children.
Xie xie to Bethany's adoptive families for opening their hearts and homes to orphaned children. >
Xie xie to the caretakers of the world.
Xie xie to the brave and selfless birth-parents that choose life for their child and oftentimes feel forced to abandon their children.
Xie xie to those who find the abandoned Chinese children and place them in the arms of caregivers.
Xie xie to the Bethany staff and social workers across the country that all share the same Mission to find families for orphans.
Xie xie to the educators who help prepare adoptive families.
Xie xie to the medical professionals that care for the children.
Xie xie to the prayer warriors that never forget to pray for the forgotten.
Xie xie to the communities that embrace diversity.
Xie xie to those who share their hearts with fellow adoptive parents and support the same through the long waiting process, regardless of their preferences.
Xie xie to those who founded adoption.
Xie xie to those who fought for our freedoms.
Xie xie to those who made it possible for us to pray at work and at home, as this is a freedom that many do not have.
Xie xie to the children who resiliently adapt and embrace their adoptive families as their own.
Xie xie to our Gracious God who Created all to be thankful for.

From the Heart

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Latest from the CCAA

The CCAA has finished the review of the adoption application documents registered with our office before January 31, 2006.
The CCAA has finished the placement of children for the families whose adoption application documents were registered with our office before September 8, 2005.
Looks like the date for "The Review Room" hasn't changed.
The "Referral Room" has forged ahead about 3 weeks to Sept 8. Congratulations to the new parents who have some great news!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Preparing Doggie for Baby

We love our Diva Dog and we're not sure what to expect when Joanna arrives. "The Rumor Queen" blog has a good article which other dog lovers can find useful ---- here's the link:
Hit the item on the right sidebar titled "Preparing Your Dog for Baby".
A quote on doggie wisdom from - of all people - John O'Hurley (Mr Peterman from 'Seinfeld') -
"As humans, we tend to expose our goodness in glimpses. Dogs, however, live closer to their essence, and they are more constant in their goodness. Perhaps that is why God gave them to us - as teachers, to stay by our sides in quiet vigil, undisturbed by worry or regret, and to show us how to live each moment as it comes."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Creative Things to Do While In the Waiting Room - Go Hear "The Stradavarius Voice"

Shortly after we moved into our home in 1984, I was blessed with a case of insomnia (just like right now) and began surfing the channels. I came upon the annual Jerry Lewis Telethon and heard the most remarkable singing I'd ever heard. This gorgeous woman, with a voice like light in crystal, was singing an incredible jazz arrangement of "Tiptoe Trough the Tulips" and my ears couldn't believe themselves. The next morning I told Be about my discovery - "....and do you know who she was? I'll give you a hint .... (singing) ..... there's got to be a morning after, if we can hold on through the night ...... Maureen McGovern! The gal who sang the Poseidon Adventure song!"

At the time, I was singing with an acapella group at Disney, so I was way into exploring new singers amd expanding my CD collection with fine music.

This past Friday, we had the opportunity to hear this outstanding talent accompanied by piano, bass, drums and pops orchestra . We sat transfixed as she worked through songs from "The American Songbook" by Gershwin, Rogers, Hart, Hammerstein & Arlen, her multi-octave range in amazing form. At one point, she began scatting with one of the sax players, singing at lightening speed, duplicating and harmonizing, making my jaw drop into my lap. I listened closely, and she hit every note pitch perfect. I even got verclempt several times during the 90 minute set - especially as she interpreted "Over the Rainbow". Miss McGovern began the song on mic, stood up from her stool, held the mic behind her back, walked to the front of the stage and filled the auditorium with pure music - acapella! No sound reinforcement! The woman was in control no doubt!

We were rehearsing the music for our church's christmas cantata on the way home (a 2 1/2 hour drive from Palm Beach to Orlando) and had to laugh at ourselves as we sounded like geese in comparison. We will hear Maureen McGovern again next month, but alas, she won't be singing - she is the narrator for 3 nights at the "Christmas Candlelight Processional" at Disney's EPCOT Center. We'll reflect back on last Friday's concert and imagine her singing the script .....Well, I've depleted all of my superlatives ........ I'm outtahere ......

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Orlando Waiting Room - A Referral for Ruth & Steven

Monday, November 20 - Our Orlando area meeting of the Waiting Room Parents - We spent a good time with Ruth & Steven Holmes who will be traveling to China in early December to receive their new daughter, Yong Xiao Ling (Delicate Dawn). She is almost 11 months old with a birthday of December 15th 2005.

She is currently in the Province of Hunan in P.R. China, and they hope to be united with her shortly before Christmas!! They will be giving her the name Anaka Cerridwen Holmes.

We share in your joy Ruth, Steve & Anaka. We are thrilled for you!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Beautiful Labor of Love

Sunday, November 19 - we received a most wonderful gift from our friend Nancy Austin. She had been working on a beautiful quilt for our family and since the Austins live in France, we had no idea that she was preparing the quilt. Nancy told us that as she was sewing, she used the time to pray for our arrival from China, Joanna. Our hearts are touched by her thoughtfulness and love. We visited the family in France, about 30 miles outside Paris,
several times and we
have 2 photo albums
full of happy memories
of our visits. They are
stationed there
with Campus Crusade for Christ providing translation services for various projects.

The squares on the quilt:

for Joanna - a floral pattern in with Asian script and the traditional 'ladybug'.

for Be - the pink squares (on the border and the outer edge of the design) for breast cancer
awareness - purchase of the fabric included a
donation to breast cancer research. Be is a survivor.

for Don - the blue/green squares are named "All That Jazz" for Don's appreciation of good jazz. (He says "I was really jazzed" a whole lot.)

About the pictures:

(Top) The door to Joanna's room: We bought the door at a yard sale (for 20 bucks) when our home was being built inn 1983. It was probably used in an old farm house and dates to the early 1900s, if not earlier. It has carvings in each of the panels and the stained glass is a design we saw on a billboard in North Carolina when we were on vacation the same year. We fashioned original stained glass designs as a hobby in the early 80s and took the picture of the billboard and adapted it to the window opening in the door. It has been the 'welcome pineapple' to our guest room for the last 22 years. It will now welcome Joanna to her room each time she goes to bed with her new quilt.

(Center) Diva - the Multi-Ethnic Canine Love Sponge - says "Joanna, I'm waitin' for ya, baby! Like your new quilt?"

(Bottom) Aerial view of Nancy's Labor of Love.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Creative Things to Do While In the Waiting Room - The Osborne Family Light Show @ MGM Studios

Tuesday, November 14 - We broke out the Disney passes and headed over to MGM for a few hours to view the lights - Wow! What a power bill. This year, the tech staff upgraded the show with pulsing and dancing of the lights in synch with the Trans Siberian Orchestra Christmas selections. Their famous "Carol of the Bells" rocked as the lights dimmed and throbbed to the pounding of the music. It's quite the extravaganza and will put you right into the spirit of the Christmas season - there's even a snowfall at intervals throughout the evening.

In the pics........

---Be & Don on a side street. Don's wheelchair is out of the frame.

---Looks like the moon above the big ol' Christmas tree, no? It's really an artificial snow blob on my camera lens. The view is from a seated position in the wheelchair.

---Gargoyle on a stair post - with red eyes and if you look closely ---- Mickey ears.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Creative Things To Do While In the Waiting Room - Visit an "Open House" at a Winery

Sunday, November 12 - Lakeridge Winery, Clermont, Florida

We're not sure how many wineries there are in Florida, but we can only guess that this one is a bit different than those in Napa or Sonoma Wine Country in California. We visited back in the early 90s when there was no development, no tourism in Clermont (OK, there WAS the Citris Tower - it's still there) and the winery the was just starting to become a presence in the area (it opened in 1988). At that time, they were importing their wine from one of their other outlets, San Sebastian (up the road in St. Augustine - we escape Orlando for a weekend there annually), about the same time that Lakeridge opened.

Now, the winery produces their own product and it's quite good. We tasted about 7 different varieties and came back to my favorite ---- red. We're saving it for Thanksgiving ---- maybe.

We couldn't do the tour as Don was on crutches (the foot is coming along, but it's not even at 50% yet) but we had a fine afternoon.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

SCC Videos

One of our favorite singer/song writers, Steven Curtis Chapman, is quite the spokesperson for adoption. He is a gifted wordsmith. Here are 2 of his songs with the adoption theme ..... hit the link .......

"When Love Takes You In"

"All I Really Want for Christmas"

The 2nd video is available in full screen format at on their front page.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Creative Things to Do While In the Waiting Room - Sit On a Jury With Right Foot Elevated (See Oct 29 Item)

Looks like I need some "Creative Things to Do While In the Jury Waiting Room"
Taking suggestions until November 27.

Friday, November 03, 2006

CCAA - Update November 3, 2006

The CCAA has finished the review of the adoption application documents registered with our office before January 31, 2006.

Looking back ....... it was a year ago this month that our home study was completed. Next step ... dossier. Don was hospitalized during that period and had a lot of healing time at home. It was during recouperation that he was able to light the fire and get the dossier process going. Our documents were assembled in record time as Don was surgically attached to the telephone and handcuffed to our notary. By Christmas, the package was almost done with the exception of a copy of Don's birth certificate from the Great State of New Jersey. In fact, he informed some poor office worker at the Secretary of State's office that he would jump a plane to Philadelphia, rent a car and drive to Trenton and seek her out personally if the certificate was not in our mailbox by Friday of that week (this was after 6 weeks of dead end phone calls). We received the birth certificate on Thursday. After several adjustments and rewrites, the dossier was submitted to our agency in January, reviewed by the home office, tweaked some more and was on the way to China on March 9, 2006. We received our log-in-date (LID) of March 24, 2006 - and that's where we've been since - in the Waiting Room.

So - our documents were registered with the CCAA on March 24, 2006 and they have reviewed up until January 31, 2006. We are inching our way to our referral ...... 'scuse me while I wipe the eyes which are starting to fog up.

Congrats to all the families who are out of the review room - once again, we are envious.

God Bless Y'all,
Don & Be

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Preparing Doggie for Baby - or is that - Preparing Baby for Don?

We receive e-mails from on regular basis and we found this one appropriate ......

Preparing Doggie for Baby
November 2, 2006
Afraid you'll have to find a new home for your pooch when baby arrives? With a little preparation, you can create a comfortable home for the entire family.Start by making a list of the rules and routines your dog now follows, highlighting which ones will need to change once you have a baby in the house. Then, start introducing the changes and teaching any new rules before the baby comes. If your dog's a bit unruly, sign him up for an obedience class. And if possible, spend time around young children to slowly introduce your dog to kid noises and movements.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Aubrey Hope Svetlana Beams

In 2003, Be & I began attending a church about 10 - 12 minutes out our front door. We connected with the worship style and joined the worship team shortly after the arrival of Jason & Stephanie Beams the following year. We learned that they were already more than a year into the adoption of a toddler from Russia but because of their move from Texas to Florida (to take the position of worship director) much of their paperwork had to be transferred from their original agency, delaying the arrival of their child. The Beams moved back to Texas recently and the wheels started turning fast and their adoption of Aubrey Hope Svetlana was finalized on September 2, 2006. She was born on January 19, 2005 and has a sister, Brynlee Beams who is 3years. We are happy and envious at the same time. Congratulations Jason, Stephanie, Brynlee & Aubrey.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Creative Things to Do While In the Waiting Room - Try Negotiating a Corn Maze

Friday morning, October 20, 2006 found us near Mount Dora, Florida in a field of corn. The event was finding your way through a series of circles and dead ends carved out of a corn field and solving puzzles with clues posted along the way. Sounds as weird as a Cirque du Soleil show and perhaps the link at the bottom of this post explains it better.

We enjoyed fellowship with members of our church's worship team and their families followed by a late lunch at the home of some new friends near Clermont.

Creative Things to Do While In the Waiting Room - Go to a 3 Dog Night Concert

Another entry in the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival concert lineup - 3 Dog Night (describing how Australian Aborigines slept with their dogs for warmth on cold nights, the coldest being a "three-dog night.") We were howlin' like dawgs as we sang along with their number 1 hits "Mama Told Me Not to Come", "Old Fashioned Live Song", "Dance to the Music (Celebrate)", "Shambala", "Joy to the World" and others too numerous to list. They even did a rap insert on "Mama".

Although primarily a vocal band (and they still sound great) the instrumentalists were given their chance to shine as well.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Creative Things to Do While In the Waiting Room - Go to a Little Richard Concert

Well, the self- proclaimed "Grandfather of Rock & Roll" did not let us down last night when we attended 2 of his 30 minute shows at EPCOT Center. Little Richard entered in a pale pink rhinestone beglittered tux with the aid of 2 canes and one of his entourage who also doubled as his trumpet player. The old boy (he's 74) was weak but he gave it his best and a great time was had by all. "Lucille", "Blueberry Hill", & "Good Golly Miss Molly" were a few of the selections on last night's song menu. At one point, LR wanted some dancers to come up on stage and was very specific about the type of woman he wanted - judging by the ladies in the above picture, you can be sure that he was not particularly politically correct in his description. I guess if you're Little Richard and you're 74, say what you want and be happy you can still say something. He said 'shut up' about 17 times during the show and hit some pretty high notes along with his famous hoots and wails.

So, Joanna, come quickly from China. Your future parents have reduced themselves to attendence at concerts by aging rock stars....... Somebody! Help me!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Souvenir from the Dark Continent

LILONGWE, Malawi -- Madonna and her husband took custody of a motherless one-year-old boy from Malawi after filing adoption papers and receiving interim approval from a judge in the impoverished southern African nation.
The boy's father said he was happy for his son, named David and pleased with the celebrity couple who want to be his parents.
Yohame Banda, the father, said he met Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie at the court as part of the formalities. While they talked, Madonna, who has two children, carried the baby boy, Banda said.
"They are a lovely couple," Banda said. "She asked me many questions. She and her husband seem happy with David. I am happy for him."

Oy! I could puke. Let me say right off that I don't begrudge an impoverished child a chance for a better life........but does it have to be with Madonna? Chances are good, the child will be raised by a nanny anyway. My issue is how appropriate is Madonna when it comes to mothering? Is this adoption a ploy to make her wacko lifestyle (not to mention her freak shows) appear "normal?" Yeah----I know, I know-----"It's just a character she's playing. It's art!" Phoey! Was Madonna wearing her tophat and leathers when the talked with the boy's father and he found her so lovely? He didn't have a clue!

So, Ms Madonna......we didn't see you in that waiting room with the rest of us, did we?
Let's see. Which picture of yourself did you use? The 'Madonna Crucified' or the one with you playing piggy back with one of your dancers? How about your dossier......oh, you made it through all the background checks? Wonderful. Sorry you had to wait in that line for so long to have your fingerprints done. Who is your case worker.....Michael Jackson? And the details with all those other documents were so involved, weren't they......and look, o lovely one.....this one says that you were actually born.

Well, up to this point, I've kept the items in this blog fairly tame, due to the delicate nature of the adoption process. OK....maybe I'm a tad bit insensitive.....and now, you may be saying "So, what kind of a parent do you think YOU'LL be with all that sarcasm, Don?" Can you tell I've got a problem with some of these nutjobs? I mean, didn't adoptive parent Angelina Jolie carry an amulet of Bobby Bill's blood on a chain around her neck? (it's right there in Then there's Callista Flockhart. Hopefully she'll remember to feed her child. Acquiring a child may be easy for these celebrities, but in the fickle, all too strange world of Hollywood, raising them might be a different matter.

I'm so ticked right now I should probably go out and do some yard work.....

This just in ........ The above item was posted several hours prior to the following.......and don't worry......this blog is not going to become "The Adoption Enquirer"....... just had to vent ...... I'll be OK soon .....

Rights groups rap Madonna adoption bid
BLANTYRE: "Queen of Pop" Madonna jetted out of Malawi yesterday, leaving behind the 13-month-old boy she plans to mother and a storm of protests from local rights groups over the fast-track adoption process.
Malawi's leading child rights group yesterday said it would seek a court injunction to stop Madonna adopting the boy if the government did not put on hold its interim order approving the process.
"It's not like selling property," said a statement by Eye of the Child, a day after Malawi's High Court granted an interim order for Madonna to adopt David Banda.
"It is about safeguarding the future of a human being who, because of age, cannot express an opinion," said the group, adding that the government circumvented its own laws to fast-track the adoption process.
The US diva left the administrative capital Lilongwe on a private plane after a judge granted her an 18-month interim order allowing her to take David, the son of an illiterate farmer, out of the country.
However, the youngster will have to be reunited with the 48-year-old singer at a later date as vital paperwork was still to be sorted out.
"She left Malawi without David because there was little time to sort out passport and visa issues," said Penston Kilembe, director of child welfare services in the ministry of gender, children and community services.
Kilembe said David would later join Madonna, who left addresses in London and Los Angeles, where government officials can reach her and monitor the boy's progress in foster care for 18 months.
London-based Madonna, who already has two children of her own, must return at a later stage for the adoption to be given final approval.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mia (Maria Guadalupe Wittman) Is Coming Home from Guatemala

As future parents of Joanna, we have been following the journey of my co-worker Dean Wittman in his family's journey to adopt Mia from Guatemala. Our stories parallel each other significantly so check out their web page at

Today, it was my pleasure to ticket Mia Wittman for her first plane ride from Guatemala City, Guatemala to Orlando, Florida USA. It took a bit longer than usual as my eyes were all fogged up during the ticketing process at the US Airways Ticket Counter at Orlando. The Wittman Family has experienced the same anxiety and sense of the unknown as Be & myself - but we both know that God had orchestrated this whole event before the beginning of time. Dean & Ali will travel to Guatemala on Thursday, October 5 - that afternoon, Mia will be a citizen of the United States of America and member of the Wittman family. The Wittmans will spend a week in Guatemala as "turistas" and return home mid-October. I was quite jealous of (and happy for) Dino, his lovely wife Ali and son, Ty as we can't wait for our arrival from China - we don't know who she is, but we want her so bad----and our waiting period will be at least another 6 months. Can you tell from the picture that they're a great looking family? (In case you have not figured it out, Mia is on the right in the pic.) God bless you, Dino, Ali, Ty & Mia........

PS - Mia, I can't wait to meet you.

(Hit the Dean Wittman Blog link on the right for the complete story)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Get Your TIckets Here, Folks - Tour the CCAA

Pictures from Top to Bottom:

1- Dossier storage area - agencies are said to be color coded - (Look, honey. I think I see our dossier. Yeah, that one! Down 3 shelves and a little over to the left........)

2- The DTV (Dossier Transport Vehicle) bringing documents from the storage area to the Review Room where they are scrutinized and fine tuned. (Wait! No, that can't be ours. Rumor Queen says they haven't made it that far yet. Oh well, pass the soy sauce, please).

3- The Review Room

4- The Matching Room - where prospective parents are matched up with waiting chilldren.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Stir Fried Facts #8 - Transracially Adopted Children’s Bill of Rights

The "Stir Fried Facts" items in our blog are usually informational e-mails from our agency, Bethany Christian Services. We have come to have respect and admiration for the staff and their mission to place children in good homes.
The symbols on the header depict our daughter's name, Joanna, in Chinese.
Transracially Adopted Children’s Bill of Rights
Adapted by Liza Steinberg Triggs from “A Bill of Rights for Mixed Folks,” by Marilyn Drame.

Every child is entitled to love and full membership in his or her family.
Every child is entitled to have his or her heritage and culture embraced and valued.
Every child is entitled to parents who value individuality and enjoy complexity.
Every child is entitled to parents who understand that this is a race conscious society.
Every child is entitled to parents who know their child will experience life in ways differently from theirs.
Every child is entitled to parents who are not seeking to “save” a child or to make the world a better place by adopting.
Every child is entitled to parents who know belonging to a family is not based on physical matching.
Every child is entitled to parents who have significant relationships with people of other races.
Every child is entitled to parents who know transracial adoption changes the family structure forever.
Every child is entitled to be accepted by his or her extended family members.
Every child is entitled to parents who know that if they are white they experience the benefits of racism because the country’s system is organized that way.
Every child is entitled to parents who know they cannot be the sole transmitter of the child’s culture when it is not their own.
Every child is entitled to grow up with items in their home environment created for and by the people of their own race or ethnicity.
Every child is entitled to have places available to make friends with people of his or her race or ethnicity.
Every child is entitled to have opportunities in his or her environment to participate in positive experiences with his or her birth culture.
Every child is entitled to opportunities to build racial pride within his or her own home, school, and neighborhood.

Don't Call Me "Mr. Mom" - What Not to Say to a Stay-at-Home Dad

I read this article on a "Stay-at-Home-Dad" site and found it amusing and informative - I hope no one takes offense to the content. It pretty much sums up how I feel - in fact, I now have some ammo, although I may use my own bizzare twist to these slightly biting responses to some rather thoughtless questions........

Don't Call Me Mr. Mom!What Not to Say to an At-Home Dad

by Buzz McClain

Men who chose to stay at home to raise the children while the mothers commute to work experience things most fathers do not. Not the least of these are the insensitive comments by people who can't comprehend the concept.
It's the price at-home dads pay for being daring and non-traditional. After all, it's not everyday you encounter an at-home dad -- then again, maybe you do and just don't realize it because they look like ordinary fathers, except they have slightly more spit-up on their shoulders -- so you can't be blamed for saying the wrong thing. Well, we're here to help.
Here are a few things that make at-home fathers cringe, according to the members of the National At-Home Dads Association, who have heard it all.

"What are you going to do when you go back to work in the real world?" Oh, how at-home dads hate this. It implies raising children isn't real and it isn't work. It is lots of both.

"Wouldn't it be better for the kids if the mother stayed at home?" No offense, but no. Studies show that working mothers are more involved in their children's lives when the father stays at home than when given over to professional day care; and because of the circumstances, the fathers are far more involved with the children than the dads who see their children only briefly after work and on weekends. The kids get two parents with strong influences.

"What do you do with all your spare time?" No matter the ages and numbers of the kids, the statement is baloney: There is no spare time. Besides seeing to the children's feeding, clothing, bedding, amusement and education, at-home dads typically assume command of household chores, from laundry to kitchen duty to lawn care. And you can't punch a clock after eight hours and go home. You ARE home.

"Who wears the pants in the family?" This implies staying at home with the children makes you less masculine; true, at-home dads are likely to wash more dishes, fold more laundry and go to the tot lot more than the father who commutes, but when mom is home dads play and watch just as much sports, ogle just as many women and perform just as many testosterone-driven activities than other fathers. And they do it with more gusto because getting out of the house means more to them.

"Oh, so you're Mr. Mom." Don't call us Mr. Mom. The kids already have a mother. At-home fathers do not replace mothers, they simply assume duties traditionally performed by them. If you must call at-home dads something, try Mr. Dad. (I prefer HOMEDADDY myself - Don's editorial comment.)

"That's a nice Mommy Wagon you drive." Ahem. It is NOT a Mommy Wagon. It's a marvelously functional all-purpose utility vehicle that just happens to have enough room to seat more than half of the Stingers Little League soccer team.

"What does your wife think about you not working?" Ordinarily a fair question, but often asked to see how the woman is handling the pressure of being the primary breadwinner. Get real: The empowerment is a heady sensation, one most women don't get to experience, and she loves it. As a bonus, she goes to the office each day knowing her baby is in good hands. Real men deal with the role change just fine, thank you.

"How can you stand to change diapers all the time?" This is likely to be asked by the "traditional man," the kind who will overhaul a greasy auto engine but can't bring himself to wipe a baby's butt. We know of one such man who, when confronted with a messy diaper, put the baby in the bathtub until the mother came home. Diapers are easy, pal. (Plum-and-sweet potato spit-up is another thing altogether.)

"Do you miss the security of having a job?" Maybe at first, but who isn't disillusioned by the general lack of loyalty companies express these days? Mergers, takeovers, layoffs, forced relocations and a slavish devotion by corporations to the bottom line are enough to rattle anyone's sense of security. An at-home dad has the job of a lifetime -- you can't be fired or transferred to a lesser position.

"What do you mean you didn't get a chance to finish the laundry?" Most often asked by frazzled wives coming home from work. Well, honey, things got really fun at the tot lot with the playgroup and we stayed a few hours longer than we expected . . .
Copyright © 2000, Buzz McClain.
Buzz McClain is a music critic for the Washington Post, a columnist for Rugby magazine and an at-home dad of two, Samantha and Luke.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Stir Fried Facts #7 - O.K. Now....Let's Review

We've probably ALL been through the following in some manner, shape or form with all the on-line courses and required reading in the preliminary adoption process. But lest we forget, our agency sent us the following memo......


Jaclyn Piotrowski, MSW

1. Refer to birth-parent, birth-culture, and birth-country in a positive light.

2. Be cautious and sensitive when talking about the adoption with others, while your child is in ear-range.

3. Talk about or plan to visit birth-country when time is appropriate for your family.

4. Be able to provide resources to your child about their birth-country/culture, without forcing the issue.

5. Allow your child to “grieve” their loss appropriately without taking it personal. This feeling is real to adoptees, and needs to be dealt with without the child feeling guilty.

6. Have a plan in place to affiliate with other support groups, adoptive family groups, or cultural groups.

7. Celebrate your child’s “adoption day” or “coming home” day.

8. Always provide a safe and open environment for your child to approach you with questions or discussions. It is important to find a safe balance between asking them questions and allowing them to come to you when they are comfortable.

9. Have ethnic dolls, role models, and friends of your child’s race so that they grow up with pride, not unfamiliarity of their own face.

10. Have a sense of humor!

11. ALWAYS be honest with your child and share information at an ‘appropriate’ age.

12. Emphasize gifts your child received from birth parents: facial features, talents, etc., even if they are different than yours!

13. The reasons for your child being placed for adoption were due to circumstances, NOT the child, make sure he/she knows that they did nothing wrong.

14. Do not judge birth parents. Remember: What you say about the birth parents, you are saying about your child.

15. Do not allow or accept racial/prejudicial remarks, jokes or comments in your presence. If you do, you are teaching your child that it is OK that others may be doing that about them.

16. Celebrate similarities ALONG with differences. If you just emphasize similarities, you’re down-playing the obvious differences, which may make your child feel shameful.

17. Integrate Christianity and “God’s Plan” for all.

18. Emphasize and reassure your children of your permanent and unconditional love.

*Keep in mind that some adopted children generally tend to be more sensitive to circumstances of serious illness, marital discord, death, separation, moves, financial upsets, transitions, and other major family losses. You want to emphasize that no matter what, you are there for your child.

Friday, September 08, 2006

We Have Our Vacation Pictures......

I have posted an online photo album of pics from our stellar trip to Tennessee. We stayed in Sevierville, just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and hiked just about every day. With a young 'un comin', we were trying to keep up with our exercise regimen of improving stamina and increasing energy.

On some computers, you may need to cut & paste into your address line ....... others may take you directly to the site by clicking on the above address.

The photo of the old mill was taken at Cades Cove in the National Park - I did the antique treatment on Photoshop.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Stir Fried Facts #6 - Insurance for the Child of Promise

We received the following e-mail from our case worker regarding health insurance for the Child of Promise..........

Many families have questions regarding medical/health insurance coverage and the adopted child. During the formal application process, all families are asked to have their employer (HR representative or health care carrier) sign the "Affidavit of Health Insurance Coverage" form. This is your verification that your employer/health care carrier will cover the adopted child.

When considering China's children with special needs ("Children of Promise"), it would behoove families to verify with their particular health insurance carriers what is considered "pre-identified" and what exactly is (and in some cases, is not) covered.

In most cases, medical or health insurance coverage by law, begins at physical placement. The moment your child is physically placed in your arms, your health insurance begins to cover your child, whether the adoption has been finalized or not. For example, in China, if you receive your child on a Tuesday, the adoption registration and finalization is on Wednesday, and you arrive back in the U.S. the following Monday (your child becomes a U.S. citizen the moment the plane lands on U.S. soil), her/his health insurance coverage began on Monday, the day you physically received her.

If you have difficulties adding your adopted child to your health insurance coverage plan, contact your social worker. Your social worker will be able to compose a letter explaining the lawful requirements for adopted children. Most health insurance carriers are typically informed, but there may be some that are not familiar with internationally adopted children. This may be your opportunity to help educate them, which can benefit other adoptive families down the road! Other times, you may need to involve your Congress person or contact your State Insurance Commissioner. Nonetheless, what is most important is that your adopted child be treated equally to a biological child, even when it comes to health care coverage.

Please see the following articles about this topic:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We're Clean!!!!! - Fingerprints Sent by FBI (AGAIN) to US Consulate in Guangzhou

Wow! Am I EVER looking for progress to post on this blog! We have received word from the FBI that (once again - $70 bucks a pop ....... EACH!!!) our prints are without criminal history and the most recent update has been sent to the Consulate which will process Joanna's US Citizenship status when we bring her to the States, hopefully in March or April 2007.

Here's an interesting tid-bit. Be was selected for jury duty in Orange County, Florida this month. When she reported, she was called into the judges' chambers and informed that her SSN was matched up with a child molester in St. John's County. She told the powers-at-be that she had been through a thorough background check and was in the process of adoption from China - and even did the FBI fingerprint yaddah. After further investigation, it was revealed that the offender was dead and even of a different race. Oy!

I'll post a link to our latest vacation pictures this week ...... Cheers! Don

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fingerprints ......Done! ....... Again........

Our FBI fingerprint file expires in October, so in order to keep our adoption documents active, we needed to have them re-done. Our scheduled appointment was for 8 AM, yesterday, August 19. As we approached the Immigrations Office on schedule, we took note of the line in front of the building ...... about 50 - 60 people. We looked at each other and the expressions said "Oy! We'll be here for hours ....... and government employees!"
So the door opens to reveal a series of snake line airport type queueing ropes. We watched as applicatants took their clipboards with the pen-on-a-chain and the same form we had filled out last year and sat down on the same plastic orange stacking chairs. We received ours and sat down and filled out our form and realized that hardly any of the previous 50 or so people had moved from their seats. Then it hit us ...... ENGLISH!!!!! The form was in English! All of these people were applying for citizenship and did not yet speak the language! We promptly turned in our form and after a short review of our responses, we received positions 7 & 8 for the fingerprinting procedure.
With the exception of 1 employee who was just doin' her job, we found the staff to be accommodating and surprizingly courteous. Now, if they could just send a bit of that over to our local Driver License Office........ We were done in just under 30 minutes.
Do I hear breakfast at Cracker Barrel?

August 2005 - One Year Ago......

Surprize, surprize......Be and Don are in the 5th month of the adoption process of a child from China. We had been working on the idea for a few years, however, life's circumstances did not permit us to go forward with it until this year. The plan is that Don will retire from US Airways next year to coincide with the adoption closure. At that point, Don's new full time job will be father to whoever God sends our way. Be will continue to work at ORMC in her real job.The adoption process is quite involved with a mountain of paperwork, required reading, online courses, home studies, physical exams and blood work, FBI approval and then there's the referral and acceptance process and travel to China for up to 3 weeks to live and bond with the child.China has a model adoption program (mostly because they want to get rid of unwanted kids) and even though the process seems extreme, it's the best fit for Be and myself with our circumstances. So, we're looking at April 2007 until our new arrival comes back to Orlando with us. Your prayers during this process are much appreciated. We figure God has quite a sense of humor ........ a Chinese kid with the name Schafhauser?
As things progress, we'll keep friends and family posted with this page...........

Monday, August 14, 2006

We're Baaaccckkk.....

We took a week off and went up to the Smoky Mountains, TN. No agenda, no plans, no nothin'. We hiked (and hiked some more), did some white water rafting, saw a few shows and some friends (pic taken on their dock at Norris Lake). More shots to was a stellar trip!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

One Year Ago .......

...... we started our blog as a ledger of our adoption journey. Check out the posts for Aug & Sep 2005 for items about the beginnings of our process .....