Archive for the ‘Adoption Related’ Category

Mother’s Day

Friday, May 10th, 2013

This year’s Mother’s Day, like many before them, is going to be bitter-sweet for me. Partly because I miss my mom more than I can ever say. Partly because of thoughts of Alexei’s birth mother and foster mother (I know they don’t celebrate Mother’s Day on the same day in China but for many reasons this is the day I think of them both.) But mostly because, although we haven’t “officially” called a halt, it’s been clear for some time that – baring some major miracle – the path to a second child is closed to us.

So I started removing myself from adoption agency email lists and some adoption-related groups. And it breaks my heart a little.

I am blessed beyond measure with a truly awesome husband and the best little boy in the whole world. But there is still a hole in my heart where a little girl or another little boy should be. Removing myself from these areas means acknowledging the reality that I will never hold another baby of my own. And that really, really sucks.

On one of the Chinese adoption groups (which I haven’t visited for ages for reasons unrelated to the above,) there used to be long threads, frequently quite heated and vicious, about whether the wait was harder for prospective adoptive parents without kids than for PAPs who already had one or more. I stayed out of the arguments then – it’s kinda the PAP equivalent of the Oppression Olympics and can only cause hurt for all involved. And seriously, what’s the point of comparing your pain with someone else’s?

I will say that, for me at least, this grief is not as deep as the pain of the wait for Alexei, with its frequently soul-crushing desperation and fear that it might not happen at all. Watching one more Christmas, one Mother’s Day, one more birthday go by without the proverbial pitter-patter of tiny feet in our home at all was harder for me to face than the idea that we probably won’t get to do it all over again. I’d personally take this hurt over the other, thanks very much.

But that’s just my personal experience. Other people may feel very differently and that is just as valid.

The only thing that is harder, for me at least, is knowing that Alexei will likely never have a sibling. I watch him with kids both older and younger and I hurt for him. It’s hard for me, as someone who grew up with sibling both birth and foster, to imagine not having that bond. I still mourn for my little sister and brother who both died too young. I miss my big brother, so far away, though I am proud of and happy for the life he has built in NYC. So it is hard for me to imagine growing up without all the benefits and challenges of siblings.

This is not a knock on only-children: I know lots of singletons who had full and happy childhoods and are (or are becoming) well-adjusted adults. It’s just that I feel like he will be missing out on something special. Not to mention having someone to share the burden of these nutty parents he’s been saddled with. 🙂

Anyway, sorry for the rambly depressing post. Here’s something to make you happier and remind myself what it is I do celebrate.



Warrior Alexei


Happy Family Day!

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Two years ago today, we flew into Nanchang and a few hours later they put our son in our arms. Two years ago our lives all changed for the best. Two years ago we became a family.

Happy Family Day to my dearest men. And to our travel mates as well.

Bright blessings,



Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Just a quick note for now. Pics later.

Much love to all my friends and family. I am thankful for you all!

Bright blessings,




Monday, October 31st, 2011

OK, getting in a post before October (!) is over, so this seemed appropriate.

Alexei has been doing so well. His language is getting better and better. He’s starting to repeat back words – time to start watching our language! LOL! He’s starting to say a lot of words he used to only sign and he’s using more and more sentences. All in all he is doing so well for having to throw out his first language and learn a totally new one from the ground up!

We’ve had more struggle with sleeping but he’s been doing pretty well both with attachment and with sleeping in his own bed that we’re going to make the transition into his own room in the next month or so.

Unfortunately the cold season has been upon us for sure. He hasn’t been sick nearly as often as last year (thank goodness) and (knock, knock) no asthma issues.

He’s still loving gymnastics and gets more coordinated every week. He’s finally got two-footed jumping (as opposed to the skip/hop thing he’d been doing) down so that make the trampolines even more fun.

In September we went to the zoo with Brian, Tina, Bran and Killian. The older boys had a great time together. Bran is very sweet with Alexei and his little brother. All three boys seemed to enjoy the day and of course we had to go on the train which was a big hit with the two bigger boys.

The whole Hallowe’en season has been fun. We went to a pumpkin patch in Santa Paula with his daycare friends a couple of weeks ago. He enjoyed that very much though you could tell it was a bit overwhelming at times. He did love crawling on the hay bales and running through and trying to pick up the pumpkins. He loved the pumpkin chucker as did Mom. 😉

This past weekend we went with Auntie Boo on the Fillmore and Western Pumpkin liner – it’s a 20s vintage train the takes a short ride to a pumpkin patch just up the the 126. Alexei was sooooo excited about the train, especially when we were watching it move from the outside. The pumpkin patch was nice though I don’t think as nifty as the one in SP – still he enjoyed it even if he had no desire to go on the Jolly Jumpers. 🙁 Fell asleep on the train ride home as I figured he would but he loved the whole experience I think.

Anyway, I can hardly believe it is almost November and we’re heading into the Winter holidays. Looking forward to t-day and x-mas this year though. Paul will be out for x-mas – haven’t seen him in ages so it will be nice. And he gets to meet his nephew. Yay!

OK, not the most exciting of updates, but you really just come here for the pictures anyway.

ETA: Pics tomorrow. Boy had other plans for the evening.

Blessed Samhain and Happy Halloween.



This is how Bran and Alexei spent much of the walk around the zoo

Not a great pic of it but he's doing his own sign for flamingo

Alexei and Bran loved the dinosaur show.

Alexei and Killian were not as thrilled at this Bran hug though

The train!

Playing with koi

Fillmore and Western Train

Alexei and Auntie Boo



More koi!

Ride 'em, cowboy!


Family Day

Monday, September 5th, 2011

One year ago today our lives changed forever: we became a family.

Happy Family Day, my beloved ones!


Alexei is 2!

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Happy Birthday to my little man!

I love you so much you just don’t even know.

Dad and I are so happy that we got to be with you on your special day!

I know you probably won’t remember it but you had a pretty good day, even with the sinus infection you managed to develop just before your big day. Daddy time, your first In-n-Out cheeseburger, toys from Grandma R and the family in Boston, time playing on your birthday present from Mom and Dad and only one time out… LOL! Yeah, it was a good day.

Tomorrow, we party with the family!

Sleep well, by beloved child. We are so blessed and lucky to have you in our lives.



Alexei's b-day present from Mom and Dad

Best. Ramp. Eveh!

"Helping" put together Dad's birthday present

Alexei and his other best pal



Family Visits and Train Trips

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

So it’s been another busy month. It is so hard to believe it is nearly September – nearly one year since we got on a plane to bring our wonderful boy home!

We had our last post-placement interview with our social worker early this month and the completed form went to our agency last week and should be winging off to China in a few days! So, yey! Done with social workers for now. And the CCAA probably forever (somewhat sadly.)

A few weeks ago Darren’s sister Mindy and her husband and kids came out from Boston for a visit to SoCal so we headed up north one Saturday morning to visit them at Grandma and Grandpa G’s house. It was a really nice day. Alexei especially adored his cousin Kyle and Uncle Craig was pretty fun, too! He played catch with the whole family, chased feral kitties and ran up and down Grandma Sheri’s gravel pile for hours.  He really seems to like all those crazy people we’re related to. LOL!

The next week we decided to take our boy to the Ventura County Fair. Mind you we have lived here now for nearly eleven years and this was the first time we made it there. Alexei wasn’t terribly thrilled by the bus ride over, maybe because it was a school bus and really noisy and cramped, but he was way excited by the fair. All the lights and people and then the animals!!!!eleventy! Man do I wish we had room for the miniature donkey he fell in love with (did I mention all animals of a certain size with four legs are now Jo-Jo?) And we learned the wonders of corn on the cob. Yummy! He got to go on his first carnival ride – a train of course – although I think he was more excited about looking at the ride than riding on it.

Then a couple weeks ago we decided we needed to take a trip down to San Diego. Now those of you who know us IRL know we don’t drive to San Diego anymore due to some curse on our cars that makes it impossible for us to go past OC. So this time we decided to take the train, figuring if THAT doesn’t get us there we can never go to San Diego again (since there is no way we’re taking a chance with a plane!) Well, thankfully the train got us there with no mishaps and Alexei enjoyed the ride (he even napped some!) Although I am still not quite sure he understood he was ON a train. He sure enjoyed looking out the windows at all of the other trains and making us walk up and down the aisle a million times. Toward the end of the trip he made friends with a little 1 year old boy and they crawled up and down the aisle for quite a while. It was too much cute!

So the original reason to go down to San Diego was to see the celebrations of the new Asian exhibits at the San Diego Zoo. We decided to spend the morning at the farmer’s market in Little Italy (a short hike from our hotel) in hopes that he would get in a normal nap and we could spend the rest of the afternoon and evening at the zoo. We had a pretty good time at the market although it is definitely more of a trendy/touristy thang – a lot more prepared items and crafts than farm fare. Still we got some good eats and wandered around enjoying the music and dancing with our boy. Unfortunately he fell asleep in the stroller on the way to lunch, slept half and hour and promptly decided that was enough nap for the day! Ah, well, we decided to head over to the zoo a little early instead.

Got to ride the bus around the zoo and see some of the exhibits we hadn’t seen before. Also got to watch the Chinese acrobat show which was worth the price of admission all by itself! Alexei enjoyed looking at some of the animals but he was more interested in climbing and swinging on stuff especially the railing at the panda exhibit. And by dinner time he had entered the Meltdown Zone. First meal out with Tantrum Boy was tough but not nearly as mortifying as it could have been since pretty much everyone else there was with small children, too.

Night time zoo is way awesome by the way, even though many of the animals have gone to bed. Alexei passed out on the walk back to the front gate then stayed asleep most of the way back to the hotel. The one downfall of taking the train down is no car. Since taxis require a car seat we ended up taking public transportation to the zoo and back again. It was fine to the zoo but the bus “home” was 45 minutes late! Ugh!

Sunday morning we got to have a much too short brunch with Auntie Vicky at a nice little cafe. Then back to the hotel to pack up and make the train home. Alexei made yet another friend on the train ride home, a little four year old girl on her way home with her grandparents from the zoo, also, which helped make the trip back a little easier – well, other than when she didn’t quite understand that Alexei needed to nap but ah well. All in all it was a nice trip though there are a few things we’ll do differently next time including just heading down to the zoo first thing and going till he is ready to sleep.

The kittens are getting big and are increasingly Alexei’s entertainment of choice. He recently learned that throwing or rolling a ball for them to chase is The Best Game Evah and he will go on doing this until the kittens are too tired to run anymore. They now have the run of the house which both Alexei and the kitties think is great. They deal with him pretty well. Sazerac is much more patient and fearless than her sister so she’s the one who’s really our boy’s buddy.

Our attachment continues to become stronger. He gives and asks for hugs and kisses, makes really good eye contact and lots of other subtle signs that things are going well in that department. He is growing and developing so fast and except for height – and some language milestones – is right where he should be for his age. We are so blessed and happy for how fortunate we have been that he came to us so obviously well-loved and cared for and that he has adjusted and thrived as well as he has.

He’s coming up on 2 this week. And we’ll be celebrating our first Family Day as well. It’s been an amazing year and I am so excited to see where this journey takes us next.

So off to the cute!



Alexei showing off:

Um... ya got a little milk on your face. Let me get that for you!

Alexei and his best pals

Did I mention Alexei likes his bed?

Alexei meets Lexy

Alexei plays catch with cousins Kyle and Kendall and Auntie Mindy

Alexei really loves his cousin Kyle

Ah, modern childhood.

Alexei and Grandma Sheri

Sazerac tried to take over Alexei's bed... Alexei took over the kittens' bed!

Alexei and best pal Sazerac in the stroller

Future Olympic Star!

Walking through the Little Italy farmer's market in San Diego

Running on the Bocce ball court with Dad

He is getting frighteningly good at climbing stuff

Mom and Alexei watching the Chinese acrobats - this is pretty much how he watched the whole show!

So we decided Alexei is allowed to use his gymnastics training to do this someday

But not this!

Mom and Alexei at the gorillas

Jazz hands!

Running to Dad

It was a long day, Mama!


Another Picture Post

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Yes, I am too lazy to post a real update other than to say we are finally getting our explosion in expressive language. He’s even using complete sentences – “I want that” is his favorite phrase. “Ball” and “car” are by far his favorite words. All large animals are still “cow.” Still working on that.

In the next couple of weeks we should have new kitties. More on that when I have a little more time.

I know y’all only come for the pictures anyway!

Alexei loves his panda buddy

Balls are Very Serious Business

So are cars

Hercules, a friend's English Mastiff puppy, stands guard over Alexei and his bucketÂ

Alexei shares his bucket with Hercules (they both thought this was great fun)

Alexei and Auntie Tina




One Year Ago Today

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

We first laid eyes on this face:

Our first picture of our son

I’m sleep-deprived and cranky for it but still very happy to be holding my son everyday! We are so blessed.

Helping at the ranch

Good morning!

Riding a trike at daycare

All done!

Bright blessings, all!

Janice, Darren ans Alexei


Happy Mother’s Day!

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

My very first as a mom!

My heart is so full. Both with the happiness that the long, long wait was oh, so worth it, even with the 6 AM wake up this morning. And with the sadness that my own mother never got to see my son’s face. Mom, I know you are still with us in spirit, I know you share in our happiness in a way beyond my understanding. But what I wouldn’t give to have you here to hold our Alexei. And me.

OK, while we’re on a somber note, I’m also think of Alexei’s birth mother and foster mother in China. In years to come we’ll come up with some ritual to honor them, but today I will just say the simplest thank you for the gifts you gave our son, the gift of his life and the gift of his good care in that first year of life.

To all the women in my life who are mothers, in whatever form that motherhood takes, I honor you this day as well.

Blessed be,

Janice, proud and happy (if tired) mom to Alexander Darren Xiao van Slimming
Quick edit to add this pic:

In the Chinese garden at the Huntington