Coming Soon to a Kindergarten Near You…

For many readers, you’ve been there since the beginning when I started blogging about our adoption journey back in 2007. You were there when we received our referral, matched with a 7-month-old baby girl. You read about our sadness over missing Lucy’s first birthday when she was still in Taiwan and shared in our excitement when we gave her a do-over nine months later. You saw her hit the tireless twos and grow into a spunky, adorable preschooler.

So how could we not share Miss Lucy with you today, on her 5th birthday. The little baby I thought would never make it home into our arms is a smart, sassy, energetic and hilarious five year old who’s just a few weeks away from signing up for KINDERGARTEN! I have no idea how that happened when all I did was blink but, I do know, it’s never boring when Lucy is around!

In celebration of the big day, enjoy some pics of our Lucy Goose, shot recently by the very talented Renee Bowen Photography. Enjoy!

Kung Fu Panda’s Blow to the Gut

To the naked eye, it’s clear that my daughter is adopted. Double takes with a smile, stranger comments complimenting us for being “so good,” and those roundabout questions… “where’s your husband from?” when I’m alone with Lucy — there’s no escaping it and I’m cool with that.

But every once in a while, something comes up that flips my heart inside out, makes my head spin and I feel this profound sadness deep down. That happened tonight, as we saw Kung Fu Panda 2 in the theater. The idea that Po — the main character voiced by Jack Black — walked around feeling so lost and confused about where he came from, my heart was breaking for what my daughter may face in the future.

And then I got angry.

(SPOILER ALERT) Eventually Po discovered that his parents hadn’t actually given him up but that his feathered nemisis had torn them apart. I get that it’s a movie, but 1.5 million children in the U.S. are adopted, over 2% of the child population. What does that say when on the rare chance they see a movie they identify with, that the parents didn’t actually intend to give the child up. Do you think maybe we’ll have more than a few fantasizing, “Hey, maybe that’s my circumstance, too!” I hate the idea that the film could trigger even more confusing feelings in children who’ve been adopted.

One thing I did appreciate about the movie was the recognition of first/birth and adoptive fathers. That’s always been something that has bothered me. I know in our own home, my daughter understands that she had another mom who couldn’t take care of her and that we’re her family. But it hasn’t yet occurred to her that Jeff, too, has adopted her (never mind getting into the topic of siblings). Oftentimes, books/movies/people, even we, talk about how things came to be without really getting into the idea of a birth dad. And not knowing the birds and the bees at this point, it hasn’t ever been a question of who her father is. While that’s a comforting thought in some ways, I’m putting myself out there to say it can be quite painful when you appear to be the only replacement in your child’s life.

(BIGGER SPOILER ALERT) And then there was the end… it’s obvious a Kung Fu Panda 3  is in the works, given they ended the film with Po’s biological dad realizing Po was, in fact, alive and well. It was pretty clear the next chapter will include a search for Po, unbeknownst to the panda or his dad, the goose. I hate even imagining the internal battle that will go on when Po is left to ponder the nature vs nurture phenomenon.

Without giving myself too much time to process my feelings about the movie, I’m curious to hear from other parents. How did you feel about the adoption portrayed in Kung Fu Panda 2? And the bigger question… Where’s that inner peace they speak of?

The Year of the Goose

While the world is celebrating Chinese New Year and the brand new Year of the Rabbit, for our family, last week was all about the Goose — Lucy Goose, that is.

It’s hard to believe but on February 1, Lucy celebrated her fourth birthday, kickstarting her new life as a “big girl,” something she takes very seriously. I couldn’t help but think back to her first birthday, just three years ago, and how excruciating it was for us to spend it without her. Now, she’s a sassy, opinionated preschooler who loves to play with her brothers and cause a little bit of mischief here and there.
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In honor of our little girl, the five of us headed to the local Build a Bear to hand over our mortgage payment in exchange for some expensively-dressed fur balls. I would completely complain about the price of the overpriced animals had they not thrown in the free entertainment. Watching the male employee try to convince our daughter that she wanted something more girlie and not the blue Star Wars bear she had adamantly decided on was certainly worth the price of admission. There’s something rewarding about watching another adult’s futile attempt to go head to head with our little ball of determined fire.

After stuffing her new bear with lots of loving birthday wishes and accompanying Star Wars theme music, it was time to dress him. While Obi-Wan Kenobi was first choice, she settled on a Princess Leia outfit, complete with signature hairstyle. 

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Later that week, I spent time in Lucy’s classroom teaching the preschoolers about Chinese New Year and making a dragon parade with the kiddos. Lucy was eating up the excitement of her “special” week, which includes being line leader, getting lots of attention and being chosen to help the teacher with lots of special tasks. Funny enough, we call that *everyday*. I wonder if she even noticed a difference. (PS: Check out her beautiful dress that we bought in Taiwan — it finally fits her!)

We finished the Lucy-filled week off with a very important date, something that should have been done many moons ago. When Lucy came home from Taiwan, she became an American citizen the moment she arrived on U.S soil. She was officially our daughter and we could have ended the process there. However, her birth certificate still showed her previous name, something that would extend to her social security card, had we applied for one then. So we decided to hold off until we followed through with a re-adopt, which ultimately provides a new birth certificate with her MacDougall name. I have to admit, I was torn about this. While I certainly wanted to keep things simple and clear for her as she grows up and needs these legal documents, I hate the idea of providing a new “birth certificate” with our names. Of course we still have her original, which she will have forever, but I want to be sure Lucy knows that her life before us is honored and valued and that she can ask anything she wants to about her past.

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That being said, it was time to move forward with the re-adopt process and get our little lady a social security number. So we all trekked down to family court for our date with the judge. After arriving on time (yay, me!), we spent a few minutes running from one office to the next to the next, before finally finding the room where adoptions are done. As I looked at the list of cases on the door, I was suddenly sick with that feeling… why didn’t I see our family’s name listed? Sweating by now, I got back in the elevator, down to the second floor, and asked the sweet, friendly, not-annoyed-at-all lady behind the glass what I was missing.

Apparently, what I was missing… was the address. We had driven an hour to the WRONG courthouse. For re-adopts, the court provides a “courtesy” to families and allows them to complete the process closer to home. It was now 1:48 pm (our appointment was at 1:45) and we were 30 miles away from the correct location.

DOH.

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Fortunately for us, our judge was a kind, forgiving woman with a sense of humor and a handful of lollipops. As long as we got there by 4:00 pm, she would see our case.

And on that day, February 4, 2011, almost two and a half years after coming home, our daughter had officially become Lucy Mei-Ting Janice MacDougall. It was the perfect ending to Lucy’s special week, something that we wanted to celebrate in the way Lucy saw fit.

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And so we all went out for pizza. The end.