Friday, April 27, 2012

Gina's Gift

View this book on Amazon
When I met with Gina, the other day, she brought me a gift. Is she sweet or what?
She had find this children's book at her bookstore and had gotten one for her kid, and one for mine!

It is such a beautiful book! If you can find it, go get it for your adopted child...

The book tells the story of bringing a child home. It's written in the form of a nursery rhyme, with simple words appropriate for very young children.

But what I really love about Happy Adoption Day! is the pictures. Each page is filled with a beautiful, artistic painting in vivid colors. The family that is pictured is caucasian parents and an asian boy, but some pictures show other families, caucasian and also black.

If you'd like to see what the inside of the book looks like, have a look on Amazon. If you click on the picture of the book cover, you can see the first pages. I'm sure you'll love it too!

Thank you Gina!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blogging Etiquette

After my last post, I feel like I should tell you about blogging etiquette...
What can you blog about, and what should you keep to yourself?
It is, in fact, somewhat of a personal question. Some people prefer not to share their child's country of origin or even the city they live in. I personally have posted pictures of myself and such details as the cost of our adoption. These things depend on each blogger's comfort level. 
But I think there are some limits nobody should cross. First, you should always check with someone before posting anything at all about them. You shouldn't post your social worker's name if he hasn't given you permission, for an example. You should also check with your agency if it's ok to post pictures and details about a referred child before the adoption is final. 
A good general guideline would be to write your blog as if the following people were reading it: your social worker, officials from your child's country of origin, your child's birth family a few years from now and your grownup child.
Let me try to illustrate...

- How would your social worker like to read how drunk you got last night?
- How would officials from your child's country of origin react to a post about how far behind their country is? How would they like a comment about how good you are for removing a child from such a poor country? On the other hand, what would they think about a post showing that you are passionate about learning about and maintaining your child's cultural heritage?
- How would a birthmother react to reading a post criticizing her decisions? How would she feel if you wrote judgemental comments about her culture? What about a post about open adoptions which assumes all birthmoms are teenage junkies? 
- Most importantly, what if your child stumbled on your blog in 10, 15 years? Is there anything in there that makes it sound like adoption was a second choice for you? Would they like to find out that you have avoided meeting their birth families because it felt threatening to you? Would it be ok for them to realize that the whole world knows that they are a product of rape, or that you haven't shared all the details about their medical history with them?

Please don't get me wrong. I am not saying you should lie, or make anything up at all. If you really are scared of open adoption, it's ok to blog about it. If you are adopting because infertility prevented you from having biological children, it's fine too. 
But please be sensitive. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Why Blog?

When Pablo and I first made the decision to dive into the adoption process, we were hopeful and excited, but also somewhat scared and overwhelmed by the process ahead of us.
I'm sure other waiting families can relate: we had no idea even where to start!

So we researched on the web and found some good information on government web sites and on forums. I read some blogs to get a feel of what to expect. We were soon sailing along, one wave at a time, figuring it out as we went. But a million times, we had questions. How do we do this? What happens if? Is this required? Can I trust these people? And I have to admit, at times, it was frustrating.

On top of that, there really was not much specific information on Sri Lankan adoptions on the web.
And that's how I decided to blog.
I wanted to lay out the process for everyone to see: the requirements, the steps to follow, the what-ifs, the how-to's, the costs. I was hoping that people would have their questions answered by stumbling upon this blog. And it still is the main reason I'm blogging, although there really hasn't been any new information since the program closed out...
But I also stumbled unto something I didn't expect: there is a community, out there!
Pretty soon, I was in touch with a bunch of prospective, waiting or current adoptive parents. Some in Canada, others abroad, adopting domestically or internationally, even a few adopting from Sri Lanka.
There was S., who is raising a little girl from Sri Lanka and answered my questions over the phone. There's Tina, my Friend for Adoption, who makes my day when she sends out an email just to say hi. There is M., who is also waiting to adopt from Sri Lanka and has given me the first heads up that something was wrong with the program, back in December. There is Chamari, who doesn't even know about me, but is spreading Sri Lanka culinary culture in our family. There is Elizabeth, whose emails have sometimes helped put things in perspective, as she is hoping to adopt as a single mom. There is also Gina, who works with the same agency as us to adopt her Congolese child and met me for a very fun coffee yesterday morning. There are all the encouraging comments people have left on my posts. And there are so many more families whom I feel like I know after following their blogs for so long.

Thinking about starting a blog? Go ahead! You'll find a lot more than you had hoped for!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pol Cake

To celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year (2 days late), I have baked a traditional cake from Chamari's blog:

This sweet is a usual New Year staple in Sri Lanka...

It takes a bit of time, because of all the cutting. But it's so good!!! It's really sweet, and full of flavour... It has cardomome, ginger and lime skin in it. Not your usual cake ingredients :-D

Now I'm full (and a little nauseous from all the sugar)!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy New Year!!

Today is Sinhala and Tamil New Year!

In Sri Lanka, it is a day spent with family and filled with rituals. Astrologers determine the exact times at which activities must be performed.
The house is cleaned, and an oil lamp is lit to mark the new year. Then, following astrological time, everyone performs the first business transaction, cooks the first rice and eat the first meal of the new year all in unison!

There are also special meals and drum music for the new year. Firecrackers are lit to mark each important astrological times. Then, when the rituals are done, the party begins!

I'd really like to start our own tradition for Sinhala and Tamil New Year... I'm not sure yet what it will look like.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Bitter Gourd Strikes Back!

I thought I'd tell you about this awkward moment created by our motivation to integrate Sri Lankan culture in our daily life...

The other night, we had friends over for supper. Nothing fancy, it was a week night, I was dead tired from my day and they just happened to be at our place around supper time. So we just asked if they would share our meal.

Pablo cooked a My Sri Lanka inspired version of a sauté, using everything he could find in the fridge. Which included lots of bitter gourd slices...
Now I told you before, this ugly veggie is called bitter for a reason... It's good in small quantities, and maybe a bit of an acquired taste.

Pablo and I thought the meal was pretty good.
It took forever for our poor friends to finish their plates :-D
I don't know if they'll be coming over for supper again anytime soon! Maybe next time we'll have spaghetti...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Book to Better Understand your Child

View this book on Amazon
I just finished reading this book. I think as I feel more and more like an expectant mother, I am slowly getting ready to switch from reading books about adoption to reading less technical books about parenting adopted children, or adoption stories.
Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew was written by an adult adoptee. Most books about adoption are written by adoptive parents, so it's nice to have the different perspective.
This said, this book scared me at first. It almost makes it sound like every adopted child is a problem child with difficult, unresolved (and almost unresolvable) emotional scars.
It may just be that everything seems scarier when you're facing the unknown.... In the end, the book is really about compassion.
It aims at making adoptive parents realize what type of emotional challenges their children may be facing. I never thought that birthdays could be sweet and sour for my kid, as it may remind him of the fact that he doesn't know his birth family. I also never realized that not knowing your medical background can be a big deal at certain times in your life. The book also points out that there is a good chance our children will think often about their other family, and may not talk about it at all in fear of hurting us.
Once I got past the fear that raising an adopted child would be way different from raising a birth child (which I don't think it is), I started seeing the value in knowing about all of this. The whole idea is that, if you're aware of these challenges, you can support your child just by showing her that you understand.
You can, for an example, start the conversation about the birth family. Maybe have a Birthmother's day, on the day before Mother's day (and a Birthfather's day as well). You can dedicate the morning of your child's birthday to some quiet, intimate time where the story of his adoption will be the center of attention. You can say things like: " It must be upsetting to not have the answers to this medical questionnaire".
None of this is very difficult to do. But you need to know and understand what your child is feeling before you can show compassion.
All in all, this is a valuable read for waiting parents. Just keep in mind that some of the cases depicted in the book are there to show what can go wrong if you don't try to understand your child. If you are sensitive to the issues described, chances are things will go smoothly for your family!