Sunday, November 30, 2014

Twelve Girls Band - Freedom


12 Girls Band - My Heart Will Go On

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Warning about Fostering. What was at the back of my mind.

I have talked about fostering before.  I wanted to give a warning to those who may be considering it as an option.  This may be treading over ground that I have gone over before.  If it is, sorry.  As a foster parent, you have responsibilities when a child comes into your house.  You have to bring them to the doctor within 24 to 48 hours.  This is so they can document things like cuts and bruises.  This is very hard to do with the insurance they have.  Not only that, if you are a working parent, does your employer give flexibility to your schedule?  The reason you want this documented is because people out in society might see these "red flags".  They are trained to call in an investigation if they see them.

An investigation is not fun.  The department has to take all outside complaints and investigate them.  The funny thing is that it does not go both ways.  We had a child that we thought the parent was abusing during visitation.  We talked to her social worker and they said that we can not file a complaint.  Those same parents called in about 4 to 5 complaints on us.  Every time the investigator would come to the door, I would just laugh and point them towards the child.  We tried to complain about it, but the investigator said they had to investigate all claims.

One thing that always concerned me was older children.  They usually have been in the system for some time.  They have learned the ins and outs of the system.  I was waiting for the day when one of them would come up and ask for something and say that they will file a complaint if we did not give them what they wanted.  I believe that if they did call in a complaint that it would be a guilty until proven innocent situation.  We generally stuck to younger children.

As I said above, professionals are trained  to look for red flags: signs of abuse, etc.  Well we had that happen once.  A child we had had emotional issues.  She was constantly beating up my wife.  Police would come out and she would go to the hospital and then be transferred to a short term behavioral center.  One of the visits to the hospital ended in an investigation.  The nurse and doctor called in a complaint against us.  They claimed Munchhausen disorder.  They thought we were bringing in the child for attention.  That is even after she would beat them up also.  The investigator came to our house at 3:00 am.  She started to ask us questions and even had to wake the younger children in the house.  I was getting mad with her questioning.  She was asking leading questions.  I started to get angry.  In these situations, you have to be careful because it can go in the report.  She seemed to have it out for us.  After many months, we found out that the investigation had been dropped.

Although we went through a lot, I feel it did benefit us.  We have been prepared for anything and are willing to take in children that have special needs.  I know that I will never do it again.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Blog of the day! A day of rest or just writers block.

Thanks for following my blog.  I have been doing this as a tale to share with my children and others from around the world.  I hope to share the experience of adoption and travel.  I want to give people an idea of what adoptive parents go through.  I also hope to share the pictures we take.  Over the 4 adoptions, I have not had many people ask me about it.  This way I get to share.  Maybe one day I can get this published.  I would call my book Eat, Pray, Adopt.  Just joking!  I was thinking of something like The Adoption Trilogy.  I think that would have a problem, unless we adopt 3 more times.

I am happy with sharing this blog.  I would like to know more about the people who read this.  Feel free to comment.  If not, I wonder if people are actually out there or is it just computer systems faking the hits to make me feel good about blogging.  If you don't have a comment about the content, just leave me a Hello from where ever you are.  It is neat to see the countries that I get readers from, but I would like to know more.  I live in Apopka, Florida.  You may not have heard of it, but we are a city on the outskirts of Orlando.  If that still does not ring a bell, Walt Disney World is right down the road.

Thanks, your humble Blogger,


Visit to Canada (North America, not a Province in China)

So I know this does not follow our adoptions, but this trip and one to France happened in between our adoptions.  After our first trip, we had received credit from Southwest Airlines.  We only had a few months to use the credit.  We took a look at their flight locations.  We settled on Buffalo, NY.  We did this due to it's proximity to Niagara Falls.  Neither of us had ever been there and we wanted to see another wonder of the world.  We had already visited the Great Wall of China.  We arranged for our tickets.

At the airport, we rented a car and drove to the Falls.  The area around Niagara is like Myrtle Beach, Seiverville, TN (Dollywood) or I-Drive in Orlando, FL.  It has eateries and tourist shops/attractions.  The main attraction is the Falls.  We walked around and looked at them.  The kids loved it.  Funny thing is once you are done, you try to find other things to do.  We don't gamble and the shops are all the same.  They also tend to be expensive.  When it came to eating, we drove up the road looking for a place to eat.  What we discovered is that in Canada, they tax their fast food.  The food was expensive.  At home, we could get 4 roast beef sandwiches at Arby's for $4.50.  We paid $10.00.

After that, we found a grocery store and stocked up on supplies that can be made in the hotel.  We did not have to worry about breakfast, the hotel provided that.  At some point, we wanted to go further into Canada.  We took a drive to look for a mall or shopping area away from the tourist attraction.  We did find one.  It was an old style mall, but it fit our needs.  We walked around, did some shopping and settled down at the food court.  While we sat there, we saw some employees causing a commotion.  It seems that Alice Cooper was at the mall.  Sure enough, he comes walking by.  The employees were asking for autographs and he was graciously giving them.  We did not bother him.  He looked like he was on vacation.

It was a great experience, but I don't think I will be going back.  I'd rather see other parts of Canada.  It was nice to see and we got to see snow.  Also, they light up the Falls at night.  It rotates like every 30 to 60 minutes.  We did not stay long because it was cold and windy.

Jolin Tsai - Jiu Shi Ai

Jolin Tsai - Shuo Ai Ni

Stella Huang - Wu Liao Yi Tian (Boring Day)

Jay Chou "Listen to Mama" MV (Very good Song!)*****************************************************************

Proud of you - Fiona Fung

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Reactive Attachment Disorder: Adopting Older Children

When adopting, this is a term you will learn about.  It mainly comes from children that are over the age of 3.  The prevailing wisdom is that if they do not form a bond by age 3, they may never form that bond.  Our first child was perceived as have RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder).  She liked to play by herself, she did not show emotions, etc.  They even thought it might have been Autism.  After many years, we did not even believe that one.  In the end, it turned out to be a brain injury she suffered as a baby.  Her symptoms mimicked other disorders.

Getting back to RAD.  Our third daughter has it.  We knew from seeing her in China that there would be some issues.  I think that came from all of the children we saw when we were foster parents.  She displayed this sweet wholesome side, but you could see it was an act.  I think this came from the orphanage.  It was part of her survival skills.  Over time, we have seem what RAD is.  She talks back to us, she is not into hugging, she constantly tries to disrupt the house (she did this more in the beginning), etc.  At sometimes, it was like living with the child from the movie The Good Son or Orphan.  These movies take a situation like this and exaggerate it by 10.  Some people can handle it.  We sought our therapy.  We have been going for many years.

When people can't handle it, they do bad things.  They hurt their child, they punish them in ways that escalate, finally, some go so far as to try and give their child away.  We would never do that.  We brought this child into our family.  She is our daughter.  We only want the best for her.  Although I have a lot more grey hair, I still love my daughter.  If you do adopt, be prepared.  Not every child is going to be happy about their new families.  You have to work with them.  Don't let them get under your skin or try to set one parent against the other.  Both parents should have a game plan and be on the same page.  If it gets to be hard, seek out help.  

Talking with people about Adoption

Now a word of warning when you talk to people about adoption.  Especially when your children are special needs and from another country.  I don't know how many times I have had to bite my tongue when someone makes a rude comment.  Just the other day, I was talking about our new daughter.  I was talking about her possibly needing surgery when she gets home.  This person says that she does not think the health care in the US should have to cover costs for this.  This is my child she is talking about.

This was not the only time.  Another time, a person asked why I adopt from China when there are all the kids in the system in the US.  I don't think that is an appropriate thing to talk about, especially when were going to China to adopt a child.  Not only that, but we have adopted from this country.  So, I would have to say the response to that one would be that I have done both and if you are so concerned, get into fostering and adoption.  Been there and done that.

When these things are said, I try to ignore them.  Even the cost issue.  You really never get away from that one.  What we choose to do with our money is our own business.  We are not rich, but we do not waste money on things.  I'd rather get rid of things and bring a child into my world.  I find it interesting when they have stories about people who can not have children wasting thousands of dollars for IVF.  It is a risk that does not always equal to a pregnancy.  For some reason, people are programmed into thinking that their child needs to be of their blood.

My child are my family no matter who their birth parents are.  As they grow, I see them taking on characteristics of my wife and I.  I couldn't ask for anything else.

9 Years Ago The start of our Chinese Journies

On this day 9 years ago, we were having Thanksgiving dinner with our families in North Carolina.  We gathered our things in our suitcase.  The next morning was going to be early and interesting.  We had never been on a flight that lasted more than 3 to 4 hours.  After eating the Thanksgiving food, we were prepared for sleep.  Looking at all of our bags, I was concerned about how I was going to carry all of them after getting Michelle.

Next year will be 10 years.  It's also the year our little girl turns 10.  She might be celebrating her birthday with her new sister.  Both are born on the same day.  At least it's a date I can remember.  I have a hard enough time keeping all of the birth dates straight.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chinese Music (with Video links)

I have talked about how I discovered Chinese Music.  It was due to our second adoption.  Our daughter was 7 and I wanted to get music she could listen to.  When I started listening to it, I discovered that I liked it.  Even without knowing all the lyrics.  On the third adoption, I found Jay Chou.  I really liked his music.  Try some of these out.  I like the melody and the words.  Angie even sings to them, not just the English words.

Janice Vidal is an artist that the person at the music store suggested.  My kids liked some of her songs.  Cookie Can was a favorite.

Even if the World had no Fairy Tales

Another artist I found on Youtube is Janice Tsai.  Shuo Ai Ne has a really catchy beat.

In Florida, we were lucky to get a program through our library that allowed us to get downloads through Sony.  Here I found other artists.

Fiona Fung is like a Chinese Sarah Mclachlan and I really like her voice.  She sings in English in some of her songs.  A Little Love is a good one.

Proud of You

Goodbye Master.  This song comes from Infernal Affairs, remade into The Departed in America.

On the third adoption, I bought some music videos by Jay Chou.  This was before I heard his music.  When I was going home, I listened to the airline music.  They had a song by him.  This song has a country fell to it.

The song I listened to was Cowboy on the Run.

Ni shi Wo de OK beng    Jay Chou and The Drifters         Good song, uplifting video.  

Listen to Mama       Really good.

Grandpa's Tea

Princess Syndrome   Dedicate to my wife.  Her and Hello Kitty were born in the same year.    Good song.  It reminds you how important family is.  When I was let go from my insurance job, this video inspired me.

Olympic Song:  Look for Jackie Chan singing

Another song by Jackie Chan

Cecilia Han   Hey the Beatles      Good song.  

Linda Liao    Good Song.

Stella Huang     Good Song   Another favorite        Good Song

Check back and I will add more music.  Also, there is a toolbar at the top of the page from Amazon.  If you like some of the things I mention and want to buy it, you can check the bar.  It is programmed  to pick out things that I mention, like Jay Chou.  I checked the bar and his album Opus is listed.  It is a good album.  Plus, we receive a percentage if people go through that link.  All proceeds will help with our adoption.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Japan: A Nice Airport, Would love to visit outside

On our many journeys to China, we did get to stop in Japan twice.  Unfortunately, it was only to switch planes.  I wish we would have been able to get out of the terminal and explore, but that was not to be.

Our first visit to Japan was in 2005.  We were already excited, nervous, etc.  Once the plane came to a stop, we had to go out on the tarmac and enter a door.  In America, when we switch planes, they did not do a security check for a second time.  They probably assume that if you are on a plane, you were checked by the TSA.  In Japan, you have to go through another check before meeting your next plane.

We corralled into the terminal.  It was tight.  Wall to wall people.  We went up some stairs and headed towards a small room.  At first, Angie and I did not know what was going on.  When we saw the metal detectors, we knew.  The room had two to three check stations.  All carry on bags had to run through the detector.  I believe we walked through a metal detector, but I could be confusing that with China's system.

Once through, we were able to go on to our next flight.  At this point, we had to use the bathroom.  I would say it was a pleasant experience.  The bathroom was clean and had western style bathroom.  From what I remember, it was a closed off booth.

The airport was nice.  We did a little shopping.  Luckily, they did take American cash.  Angie was able to add to her collections of places we visited.  Then we made it to our terminal.  From here, we connected to our flight to China.  Unlike the flight over, this plane was not crowded.  There were probably 50 to 100 people, if that many.  The plane was new and had tv's in the seat.

On the way back, after going through the security check, a man had a seizure in the terminal.  The mother of the person kept yelling that she wanted a Chinese doctor.  Someone ran up and helped the person.

All and all, I liked the airport in Japan.  I can't wait until the day we get to visit this country.  Maybe we can plane some days when we take the girls back to China as teenagers.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Vehicle of Preference for a Family the size of the Brady Bunch

When my wife started her driving career, she drove a small Chevy Cavalier.  She could not have a vehicle like that anymore.  It would be too small.  Since we started adopting, the sizes of our vehicles have increased.  Before this last adoption, Angie was driving a Dodge Journey.  This vehicle was okay.  It was too small for our needs.  The kids were cramped in the back.  They tended to fight about the close quarters.

Angie started looking at new vehicles.  She started with a Ford Transit.  Our neighbor has one and it looked roomy.  So she drove over to the dealership.  She found the vehicle she wanted.  She did her research.  On the lucky day, she went over to deal with them.  I probably should have warned them that she gets practice by bargaining in China.  They did not want to deal.  They were going to give us a low ball offer on her trade-in.  They did not want to come down much on the price of the vehicle.

The next day, she goes over to Nissan.  She finds another vehicle.  It seats 12 people.  The chairs can come out for more storage space.  She goes in to deal.  This time, it is the end of the month.  They have not met their sales quota.  She already had financing in place with our bank.  They go back and forth.  She manages to have them cover her vehicle and come down on the price of the new one.  It is a nice vehicle.  I just hope she does not think she needs to fill every seat with children.

It's funny.  We have had the vehicle for a couple of months and people are still stopping my wife and asking her about it.  I told her she should talk to the dealer about getting a commercial wrap to put on the vehicle.  Also, she should get business cards and reading material she can give people.  Maybe they can help pay for it.

Tantrum in Guangzhou

It was a hot day in Guangzhou.  We had spent the day walking through the shops looking for bargains.  The kids were getting tired.  They all wanted to go back to the hotel.  We started down one of the many streets that led back to the White Swan.

Kiersten was 7 years old.  She did not speak English.  Most of the time, we thought that she thought that the guide was going to adopt her.  We kept asking our guide if Kiersten knew she was coming home with us.  She got along well with her new sisters.  The played like they had been friends for years.

As we were walking down the road, we stopped and looked at some of the small stores and vendors that littered the road.  At one point, we decided it was time to get a drink.  We tend to be thrifty.  So we bought a bottle of Gatorade to share.  Angie started passing the drink around.  Since she did not give it to Kiersten first, she started to get angry.  She starts yelling at us.  We didn't know what she was saying.

We kept walking.  She kept up the rant and crying.  At this point, I started to get worried.  We were walking down the street in China, without our guide, and only Kiersten spoke the language.  I was worried someone would think that we were trying to kidnap this child.  As we neared the main road, I started to see more people.  My heart was racing.  Kiersten kept it up.

These people started to approach us.  Oh no!  Low and behold, they started to scold Kiersten.  They knew she was throwing a tantrum.   In addition, they gave us a thumbs up for what we were doing.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Travel with Families. How to make friends abroad.

Of the three adoptions, only the first one was with a big group.  It was probably the one where we did not feel we were being judged.  When you do adopt, the agencies try to lump groups together.  It cuts down on costs for the company and the parents.  Fewer parents mean that you have to pay more for the amenities, like your guide.

Our first adoption, there were about 7 to 10 families.  We did a lot of things together.  I wish we had been able to do more sightseeing, but it might have been due to lack of sights in Jaingxi.  We shared an experience of a lifetime.  We still keep up with most of the families through Facebook.  We have not seen anyone in person since the adoption, except for a family that is in the same town.  That was only once.  I guess everyone was too busy.  I think we may be trying for some kind of 10 year reunion.

Our second adoption, there were 3 families.  We did more sightseeing on this trip because we were adopting from Beijing.  There are some provinces that make you stay an extra week.  Beijing is one of them.  This time, we had more time to see the sights.  Beijing has lots of them.  I don't know if it was because our child was 7 and the others were younger or because we brought our other daughters, but it seemed like the other families did things together.  They did not include us.  Believe me, I did not feel left out when they all decided to make a trip to Hard Rock.  We have one in Orlando and I haven't eaten there either.  We tried to stick to local food or less expensive eateries.  We still follow them on Facebook, but we see where they have yearly get togethers.  Guess they lost our address for the invite.

The last adoption was different.  I don't know if it is a cost cutting measure or because there are fewer children being adopted out.  It started with three.  Then, when we went to Cheng Du, it was just us.  Finally, we ended with the three we started with.  We kept up with one family, but could not find the other on Facebook.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Yuexiu Park Revisited

Within the same week, Angie and Kayla were tired.  I did not want to lay down.  I wanted to explore.  I put Mia in her stroller and walked over to the park.  This time, I decided to go up a big hill to see one of the monuments.  It was a nice walk.  At the top, I could see some more of Guangzhou.  Once we left this area, we headed in a different direction.  We found a soccer stadium and other park buildings.

Since I was exploring, I went down a different direction.  I guessed that if I went a certain direction, I would hit the main road that the hotel was on.  At the bottom, I found another park.  This park was the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's Memorial Hall.  After a look around, we found the main road and walked back to the hotel.