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.