Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Adoption Travelouge, Part III

We were instructed to meet our Thai social workers in the lobby of our hotel at 10 am for an orientation. There are two other families from the States and from our same agency here to pick up their children as well. One family met and gathered their son earlier in the week, as his foster family lives in the South of Thailand. We were told that the other two other children would arrive here at the hotel at 10:30 am. They were late. After a two and a half year wait, an additional fifteen minutes inches by in eternity's time.

And then he was here. We were waiting in the other family's room and all of a sudden, at long and forever last, two social workers walked in with the children. In that moment it felt like they were walking in carrying our whole world. Such precious cargo. We could hear Oaks' quiet crying before we could see him. Once we laid eyes on his beautiful face, the pitch increased.

I had stared at the 10 or so photographs of him that we had received hungrily over those past months, I had memorized his face. I had thrilled at his sweet features. But now, seeing him in flesh and blood, I was convinced that this child was spawn from some sort of nectar of the gods. That he was, in fact, the most beautiful child that had ever, or will ever, draw breath. To be fair, I have had similar sentiments twice before, but that does not shake the core reality of this truth deep in my heart.

We let him have his space. He squirmed and whimpered in the social worker's arms and did all he could to avoid acknowledging our presence. We let him. The woman holding him tried to engage him in a bit of play and after a half hour or so, since he was so sad anyways - you know? - I decided to attempt holding my son. He acquiesced and settled in my arms with an unamused pout.

We tried to take some photos and video to record this momentous occasion. Oaks glared at us with such disdain that you would think we were trying to poison him. The only thing that garnered more contempt was should we try to smile towards his general vicinity. He just wouldn't have it.

The other child, a darling three year old little girl, had come in smiling to greet her new family. She giggled and smiled and played the entire time. She seemed instantly smitten with her new lot in life.

At last we headed downstairs to have lunch all together. Oaks' misery subsided as soon as we set foot outdoors. There is a koi pond in the garden area where we were having lunch. He must have stared at those koi for a good thirty minutes. He either adores fish or was considering jumping to avoid another moment of our smiles.

Oaks obligingly ate a few bites of noodle soup and some rice while he sat on Sean's lap. The social worker gathered him a few minutes in to get a good meal in his belly. After lunch we brought him back upstairs to show him our hotel room and it was that obvious he was not impressed with our digs and he was happy to let us know it. We would soon see what a far cry our temporary residence was from the place that he has always known as home. It was time to visit Oak's house and with that the only family that he has ever known.

Up next, Oaks' house

{all photos taken with various film/lenses on Hipstamatic app on my iphone}

Adoption Travelouge, Part II

We decided to spend our first full day in Bangkok with a guide in hopes of gaining some additional insight into Thai culture. We headed out early in the day to possibly hit some of the major sights before the heat and crowds caught up. We first headed to the Grand Palace. I recently watched portions of Anna and the King with the kids so I had scenes of Rama V and his life there playing through my mind as we wondered the grounds.

We visited the Emerald Buddha along with many Buddhist pilgrims who burnt incense, offered flower garlands and dipped lotus blossoms in holy water before ceremoniously anointing their own heads.

We seemed to join the pilgrimage as we traveled from wat (temple) to wat, always greeted by the resident Buddha statue. From fantastically large to so small they were hard to spot. Fat and happy, slim and stoic, standing, lounging, entering nirvana...and these barely scratched the surface of those willing to make our aquaintance.

When we couldn't take much more enlightenment we headed for lunch, which is the next best thing.

We found a little hole in the wall and partook of some of the world's finest spicy rice with spicy noodles and spicy chicken and spicy papaya. Even the diet coke seemed to have a little kick. It's was a nice way to cool off from the oppressive heat outside. Nice and refreshed we visited another wat and then headed for the klongs (canals) in a long tail boat. Here we got to see a side of Bangkok a million miles from the gleaming shopping malls and high rise hotels. With a boat for an excuse, we made our way into strangers backyards. From the klong we saw people eat, sleep, work and bathe. We were uninvited guests, still nearly each person smiled and waved in passing.

After eight hours experiencing Bangkok, we headed in for the night. We would have an even bigger day tomorrow. I think we will remember this day as the one when Bangkok stole our hearts. Such a curious mix of unending skyline - city as far as the eye can see in every direction - and then humbly behind each corner - the small, the quiet, the spiritual and serene.

As the city where our son first greeted the world, we hope to make Bangkok our city as well. Maybe not always, but sometimes and often.

Next up, Gotcha Day.

Adoption Travelouge, Part I

Perhaps it's because it feels as though an adoption's travelogue is akin to a pregnancy's birth story.

Perhaps it's the jet lag or the heat. Perhaps I have been savoring the little moments as only our own. Whatever the reason, it has taken me until now to put words to page, and even now if feels forced. But too many people have prayed. Walked with us and carried us to not share this journey with them. So seven days in, and what feels like a million miles late - I will try to recapture where we've been and where we stand today.

We boarded a flight departing from Los Angeles on August 15th at about 11:20 pm. 15 and a half hours later we touched down in Bangkok on the 17th, somehow skipping my birthday altogether which typically falls on the 16th, unless one outsmarts it. From one City of Angels to the other.

Through some random family connections here, we had an armed officer waiting for us when we landed to help us gather our belongings and whisk us through diplomatic customs. Made me realize that I need more connections.

Thunder, lightening and sheets or dark rain greeted us, just as rainy season had promised.

We had hired a driver to take us to the sleepy ocean side town of Hua Hin, not one of the more commonly visited beaches by tourists. This is where the King resides most of the time and is frequented primarily by locals and expats. We spent 3 lovely days is a jet lag/ Ambien induced haze, took a fantastic cooking class, hit a night market and did little else. Perhaps the perfect entry. I have decided that I am officially a "low season" person. Low rates, few people, and a chance of showers. Just lovely. But we were ready to move on to Bangkok and get the ball rolling. Kind rain ushered us back to the city, cooling the way ahead.

Up next, Bangkok.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

all my bags are packed...

...I'm ready to go. If you think of us please send out a little prayer, for grace and more grace.

I am hoping to post here about our adoption travels should you be interested in following along. We are heading out in about 3 hours and should arrive in Thailand on Monday night.

I don't believe that I can I actually post any pictures of Oaks on the internet before he is officially ours which doesn't happen until nearly a year after we return home. But I'll try to post some true glimpses of our journey.

xo - Em

{image by simply hue}

Monday, July 26, 2010

happy birthday, baby

Today is my son's birthday. He is one and we have yet to meet.

I have spent the past few weeks trying to figure out how to commemorate this day. How to celebrate someone while mourning their absence. My father suggested having a small party as a family with a place set for Oaks. We could take pictures to show him that we are here, anticipating his arrival. I love this idea.

Another friend suggested that our family plant an oak tree. A symbolic gesture to mark the day. I really love this idea as well.

And yet somehow, without intention, I find myself alone today. My kids left just yesterday for the mountains with their grandma. My usually boisterous home is silent. And somehow this feels right. A day of quiet vigil, watching and waiting for the celebration to come.

There's a decent chance that not only will there be no festivities for my little one today, but that his day will pass by much like any other.

This is the last time. Never, ever again will this day go by without great fanfare. I promise.

But for today, it will consist of only a couple of letters. Love letters from strangers. Detailed accounts from your mom and dad of how you were loved before you were known. How you were deeply wanted and fervently prayed for before you first gulped in the air of this world.

Happy birthday, little love. Your party will wait on you.

{image via mat.}

numbered days

Well, we are 20 days out from travel time (God willing) so it may be time to start checking in here more frequently. I may take this blog private at some point so you can just let me know if you would like to be invited.

Another bomb went off yesterday near Siam Square. Praying for peace throughout Thailand, and that all of our children will get home safely and soon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stella & Dot

For the past year or so I have been trying to figure out how the heck we were going to pay for this adoption. And soon after, another adoption. The price tag, as you probably know, is all together daunting. Well this past weekend I may have stumbled upon the answer. Or in all probability, part of the answer.

Have you heard of Stella & Dot?

It's a super cute jewelry company and it's...wait for sales.

Now we may have never met, but I'm pretty sure that you don't know anyone that dislikes direct sales more than moi. It is just so not my thing. Or so I thought.

Go check out their products and tell me if you don't understand my drastic turnaround. And this is the first thing that I have come across that feels not only doable for me but maybe even a little bit exciting. I am homeschooling my two little ones and that minor detail severely limits my opportunities to financially contribute to our adoptions. Until now.

I think I may be onto something.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

it's a boy!

We received our referral yesterday for a beautiful, healthy baby boy.
We are beyond thrilled.

Merry Christmas, indeed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


six is good! (do any of you watch Seinfeld?)

Well, we are moving on down the list. I was pretty bummed out about being number six for several days, seeing as there are typically 4-5 referrals each quarter. But I just got word that 3 families ahead of us have requested a girl so.... it could be December after all. Wouldn't a December referral just make the best Christmas present? This is what I am asking for this year!

{image from here}

Monday, July 20, 2009


10 is the magic number. That's right, the countdown has officially begun. We are 10 in line, waiting for our referral. That means probably March, possibly December or a miracle in September. I guess it's finally time to start catching up emotionally. I have been forcing myself to be so detached emotionally that we went from #20 to #10 in a blink of an eye. (This is something you don't typically hear from pre-adoptive parents!)

OK - Sweet Baby! We are praying you home soon!

Friday, March 27, 2009


This morning we went in to have our fingerprints done.   Some people see God when they look at the stars or a mountain or a baby born.  I, today saw God in a biometric fingerprinting device.  I felt so known.  So decided upon.  So intentionally made & wanted.  

Sweet baby, I pray you feel that way today too.  Your unique fingerprints say it is so. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

baby steps

We just received our 1-800a receipt and the date & time for our fingerprinting.  Yippee!  Another step complete.  We will be there soon sweet baby.  Not just yet, but we are getting closer. 

Monday, February 2, 2009


In an attempt to keep my mind off of our adoption for the time being, I started another blog.

Sometimes I need to duck out of the adoption world for awhile in light of the 2+ years we still have to go...

You can check out my (non-adoption related) blog over here.

Monday, January 5, 2009

from the Chapman's

I just read Mary Beth Chapman's Christmas letter and was really touched.  Mary Beth is the wife of Steven Curtis Chapman.  They lost their sweet girl from China this past year.  You can read the letter here.  

Friday, December 12, 2008

For all the waiting parents out there -

I heard this song today, and it struck me. This is just how I feel. I bet it's how a lot of you feel, too.

All you really want is to have your baby home. Safe, warm, loved.

I pray this for every child that doesn't get to be with their forever family this year.

Lord, even in our absence, let them be safe. Warm. Loved. 
But Godspeed them home so that we can have the honor of providing them with all the above. Thank you.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Happy Birthday to H.M the King of Thailand!

Today is the 81st birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the beloved King of Thailand. His annual birthday speech was canceled due to illness. Please pray for a quick recovery and a blessed year ahead for this King and the nation he serves.

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

keep it coming

The Thai Prime Minister has stepped down, cargo flights have begun to leave and remaining flights should be departing by Friday, in time for the king's birthday. Though this may all be great news, there is still a good change of a political backlash. Please pray for a continuing peace in Thailand.

to read more, click here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

peace, please

There is lots of political unrest right now in Thailand with a large anti-war protest at the airport (the worlds 18th largest airport). Over 4,000 travelers have been stranded and it has caused a major blow to the nations tourism-heavy economy. The PAD (People's Alliance for Democracy) is demanding that the prime Minister step down and refuses to negotiate until that has happened. Military involvement looks to be the next step. You can read more here.

Since you have read this far, would you stop right now and take a minute to pray for peace in Thailand?


Monday, November 17, 2008

can I get a witness?

The top page of our dossier {you know the one with all the official seals, Condoleezza's "signature" and that fancy ribbon laced through it} says this front & center: "To all whom these presents shall come, Greetings." I love that. And what a present it is.

Our Dossier has made it's way to Holt In Eugene, Oregon. We are officially "in line". We are number 25. Now the true waiting begins. But man am I happy to finally get to be waiting.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

have you voted yet?

...time is running out! don't forget to pick up FREE Starbuck's & Ben & Jerry's on the way home - the official fair and balanced meal of election day.

Friday, October 17, 2008


So, we hit a small bump in the road at the Texas Secretary of State's office. I haven't want to write about it so I've been putting off blogging. Hopefully it won't be a big delay.

Sean was out of town last week and will be traveling again this next week so we are taking off to my in-laws ranch for some much needed family time and then the kids & I will stay up there while Sean is gone. I am really excited to get away for a little bit. (read: I am ready to be wearing sweaters.)

Perhaps by the time we get back, things between Texas and I will be back on good terms, and our documents will be making their happy way to DC.

Monday, October 13, 2008

poetic rebuke

{this quote has been kicking my butt the past few days.}

"If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it;

blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches;

for the Creator, there is no poverty."

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, October 10, 2008

another list

Sean 's plane lands in two hours and forty nine minutes. Not that I'm counting or anything. There's nothing like being home alone with a couple of sick kids to make you really miss your man.

Here are today's top three things that I love about my husband:

1. He wants to talk it through. He wants to communicate so that our marriage can change and grow.

2. He is my partner. He is my helper. He has changed as many dirty diapers as I have.

3. He has excellent taste. And lots of opinions. It would drive me crazy to be with a man that didn't have a strong opinion. I would prefer for him to hate my dress or haircut or whatever, then not notice. I love my opinionated husband.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Jen of Jen & Jeff's Baby Blog tagged me. I don't typically do these things but who could say no to Jen!

So here goes... some interesting or unusual facts about me:

1. I spent a summer caring for a hawk named Skye. Poor Skye, I was REALLY underqualified for that job.

2. I am a homebody that loves to travel.

3. I have a deep love/hate relationship with personality tests as I love to understand myself and others better but am always bitter that I get scored as an extrovert when I am quite confident of that fact that I am an introvert.

4. There is something very appealing to me to living 'off the grid'. At the very least I would like to grow most of our food. I know - I have this inner hippie in there just trying to get out.

5. I am Irish, English, Dutch, Hungarian, German, and Jewish. I have also been a part of Catholic, Baptist, & Christian churches. Our second child was born in a Muslim nation and our third will be born in a Buddhist nation. I kind of wish I was a Quaker.

6. I long to live in North Carolina though I have never visited there before.

7. I think being a mom is the best job in the world. And again, a job I feel very unqualified for.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

champagne dreams

I just received this from my friend (and economic & political advisor), Scott. I thought that it was really helpful in understanding the current financial crisis. This is for anyone out there who like me has a little trouble grasping all this.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

nationwide tour

Today, our dossier should be arriving in the fantastic city of Austin, Texas. (it was there we became the Paben 2)

Upon arriving at the Secretary of State's office it will be signed and given the official State of Texas seal.

From there it is to make it's way back into our loving arms where we will make haste and have it on it's way once again. This time, destination Washington D.C. It feels risky sending important documents such as these to D.C. so close to the election. I try not to imagine any postal trucks being held hostage until one of the presidential candidates can prove how he is able to meet all of the desires of all the people.

Should said hostage situation not occur, our dossier will be delivered to a courier who will quickly walk (not run, trip or fall) until he has made his way to both the U.S. and Thai consulates. At each destination he will obtain both sign and seal. He will then walk carefully to the nearest FedEx office and send our dossier to it's final US stopover - the Holt International offices in Eugene, Oregon. Once Holt receives our fully signed & sealed dossier (and a large check from us) they ship it off to Thailand.

Then we are added to the waiting list.

Man-o-man does 9 months of pregnancy seem really short right now.

Monday, October 6, 2008

baby haze

This morning has felt a little surreal. I'm not sure if there is such a thing as adoption hormones, but if there are - mine have hit without abandon.

First, in the car on the way to drop Eva off at school we did our daily ritual of songs & prayers. Today we prayed for two of my friends that are trying to get pregnant through different fertility methods. I suddenly got all weepy and awed by the fact that God invites us to share in bringing forth life with Him. The emotions that swept over me felt reminiscent of the ones that arrived just after my babies were born. Beause God lets us share in all this, is why I was crying.

After leaving the school we went by Sean's work to pick up the last notarized document that we needed to send our dossier off on it's nationwide tour.


As I was driving to Mailboxes, Etc. to send it on it's way, I kept hitting red lights. Each time that I would come screeching to a halt, my arm would inadvertently cross over to the passenger side to cover the envelope holding all of our precious documents. I'm sure that my intention was to keep the papers from spilling out on the floor of the car, but I couldn't help but smile each time anyway. For the first time it felt as if there was something there of my coming child. Something that I could touch, protect from harm. In essence, something that I could mother.

I know that probably sounds strange, but that was why I couldn't stop smiling.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

taking a break...

be back soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

one day down

Today was sweet Eva-bear's first day of school. She was pretty sad when it was time for Sean, Oliver & I to say good-bye. She was mostly just deeply offended that she had been seated between two boys. Come pick-up time she was smiling and laughing. All in all, she took it like a champ. I, on the other hand, did not. My heart feels smooshed and crushed and bashed and bruised and pummeled and purpled and utterly ruined. I understand at a cognitive level that parenting is all about letting go, from the moment they leave the womb, we begin that forever journey of letting go. And yet, in just one day in the midst of a million days of letting go, this day feels particularly harsh.

Can you tell that she's my oldest?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I'm not sure what you all have been up to but we have been pretty excited about the Olympics over in our household. Even our 2 and 3 years old keep insisting each evening that they get to watch a little off the "0-wimp-picks" before bedtime. I haven't seen many Thai athletes competing and wondered who I may have missed. This morning when I scanned the medal earners I came across Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon of Thailand. She has one the sole gold medal for Thailand at The Beijing games. Prapawadee won the weightlifting gold medal in the women's 53 kilogram category, setting an Olympic record.

Jaroenrattanatarakoon lifted a total of 221 kilograms in Sunday's competition. She pulled off 95 kgs in the snatch and an Olympic high score of 126 kgs in the clean and jerk.

Her total was 8 kgs better than Yoon and Novikava who won the silver & bronze.

An interesting side note: She changed her name in 2007 on the advice of a fortune teller who said it would improve her chances of winning the Olympics.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thai fact

"In order to maintain some semblance of social cohesion the Thais try to keep their cool and avoid arguments. One should endeavor to live harmoniously with one's neighbors and follow the Buddhist middle path that urges followers to avoid extremes. Getting angry or telling people off is unlikely to solve anything - in Thailand anyway. Anger is disruptive and they regard people who go around making a fuss and picking quarrels as hotheaded - or, to translate literally from Thai, "hothearted" (jai ron). The best advice is "keep your cool" and smile benignly, however frustrated or annoyed you feel."

Monday, August 18, 2008

as good as it gets

Wow- we had a really fantastic weekend.
Thirty-one isn't so bad after all.

Friday, August 15, 2008

gettin' out of Dodge

My Love and I are heading out of town to celebrate my 31 years of life and our six years of marriage. We are super excited for our long-overdue-kid-less-weekend-away! Hope your weekend is filled with lots of hugs & kisses.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thai fact

"Thais like to have fun; they like parties, gossip, going to the movies, taking trips, and eating out together. Wherever you go in Thailand you will hear the word sanuk being used - the Thai word for fun. Is Bangkok sanuk? Was a certain film sanuk? Was a party you attended sanuk? Even occasions like funerals, which Westerners regard as serious affairs, ought to be fun in Thai eyes. And the same with work. The Thais do not draw a sharp distinction between work and pleasure in the same way as Westerners do.

The Thais are an exceptionally gregarious race when it comes to fun. They like to have a good time together and cannot envisage enjoying life in any solitary way. Their idea of fun tends to be unsophisticated and playful - usually with noisy music and bustling crowds.

Forget about the Protestant work ethic. Most Thais are easy-going people who refuse to work themselves to a standstill. Work is a means to earning a living, not the be-all and end-all of life. Indeed the Thai word ngan, which means "work", also means "party." "

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I missed Mother's Day!

I just found out (thanks Kate!) that yesterday was Mother's Day in Thailand. I guess it's apt that I missed it as I am not actually a mother to a Thai child yet but at least I now know the date for next year. (or in two years, more likely!)

The Thai people celebrate Mother's Day on August 12th because it is Her Majesty Queen Sirikit's birthday (or วันเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษา สมเด็จพระนางเจ้าฯ พระบรมราชินีนาถ as written in the Thai language) and she is considered the mother to all the Thai people. You can read more about how the Thais celebrate this holiday here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

free music - cool!

Ever since college I have been a big fan of Derek Webb's music. I consider him a modern day prophet, spouting out the things that nobody wants to hear but lots of people need to hear. Much like Keith Green he is a pioneer in a lot of ways. One of the things that he does (again like Keith) is that he makes his music available for free or whatever people want to pay. He has helped start up a site with some other musicians that are getting behind this same idea. The site is called noisetrade. You can choose to email three friends about the album or pay whatever you want and in exchange you are able to download the album...for free. Isn't that cool?

Monday, August 11, 2008

a greater gift

My Dad sent me the sweetest early birthday present this past week. It's from a site that I hadn't heard of called A Greater Gift. He found it as he was searching the web for a fair trade item from Thailand that he though I might like. And he was right, I do! Not only is this bag really beautiful, but the fact that it is helping someone in Thailand earn a good and fair wage makes the gift even sweeter. Eva thinks so too. She has barely let the bag leave her shoulder since its arrival.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thai fact

"Thai self-confidence is reflected in their smart appearance. Cleanliness is important, and Thais think nothing of having several showers a day. They make a point of being well-dressed, with clothes that are always spotless and neatly pressed. The Thai word for dirty, sokaprok, expressed disgust.

Urban women, in particular,take pride in their appearance, wearing stylish clothes and making extensive use of cosmetics. They also smile a lot - simply because a smile always looks more attractive then a frown."