The Annual SI Boobfest Comes to Bug’s Hometown: My Complicated Thoughts

The annual ickfest known as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has hit the stands, and imagine my surprise when I start seeing blog and web forum posts about the racism in these images:

Miao SI pic Li River SI pic

 

I immediately recognized the background of these pictures as my beautiful Bug’s hometown.  The little girls in the first pic are of the Miao (Chinese Hmong) Minority, the ethnic group we suspect Bug belongs to.  The second pic is of a traditional fisherman on the Li River, one of the biggest tourist attractions in all of China.  The fishermen fish with Cormorants, which you can also see in the background.

Let me give you some background some of the commentators reacting to the shoot obviously lack.  Cormorant fishermen on the Li River, as well as pictures of the Li River itself, are some of the most iconic images in all of China.  A cormorant fisherman on the River graces the front of numerous guide books.  A drawing of the Li River graces the back of the 20 RMB bill.  Guilin is renowned as a tourist destination both inside and outside of China, and is widely known by Chinese as the most beautiful and iconic area of China.  When we went to China this summer, our guide in Beijing summed it up this way: “Beijing is a testament to what man can make; Guilin is a testament to what god can make.”  Here’s a few shots from our trip down the Li River this summer (a boat ride dominated by Chinese, not Western, tourists), including one of a fisherman on a raft who pulled up next to our boat to sell fish to the staff:

China Trip 2012 218 China Trip 2012 326

Guilin and the surrounding counties are also the home to numerous ethnic minorities, including the Miao, Yao, and Zhuang.  Guangxi, the province (or state) in which Guilin sits is actually a minority Autonomous Region, meaning that it is a majority-minority region with more ethnic minorities than Han Chinese.  The minority groups have a long, proud heritage but often live in grinding poverty.  One of their few thriving sources of income is the tourist trade, which flocks to the Guilin area for the Li River and karst scenery.

Last, though a bare majority of Chinese live in cities now, it’s far from truth that a majority live in glittering, westernized cities like Shanghai and Beijing.  The largest city in Guangxi AR is Nanning, a small city by Chinese standards with about 2.5 million people in the urbanized part of the city and 6.6 million in the greater provincial area.  The urban core certainly has its share of skyscrapers, Wal-Marts, and KFCs, but even in the urban core you can see the remnants of traditional China, and you get right outside the urban core and you can see the China of years past.  The reality is that millions of Chinese live outside of Westernized urban areas.  They fish, they farm, they live a subsistence existence.  They have little access to transportation.  Schoolchildren walk miles to school, and at times even have to supply their own desks.

So imagine my surprise when I read this article on Jezebel.  While there are numerous things wrong with the Guilin pictures — and the annual crapfest that is the SI Swimsuit Issue in general — I was taken aback at the rank classism and racism inherent in the depictions of the people and landscape of my daughter’s hometown:

“In another shot from Guilin, Guangxi, model Anne V. reclines as a local man uses a pole to propel a raft. A white person relaxing, a person of color working. Tale as old as time. A non-white person in the service of a white person. This photo cements stereotypes, perpetuates an imbalance in the power dynamic, is reminiscent of centuries of colonialism (and indentured servitude) and serves as a good example of both creating a centrality of whiteness and using “exotic” people as fashion props. China has tons of skyscrapers and modern cities that make New York look rickety, but this image recreates an age-old narrative in which anything non-Western is quaint, backward and impoverished. This is the image the mag is using to represent Asia. (Maybe the editors didn’t want to shoot swimsuits in a city, but they did take shots on dry land and they didn’t have to use a dude with dental issues on a river raft.) Also: People are not props.”

While I agree with the point the “people are not props,” wow.  This is not a recreation of a colonial-era image.  This is real life for the Li River fisherman of Guilin.  And “dude with dental issues on a river raft”?  Wow.  How classist.  And hateful.  And othering.

But the greater issue is the idea that this is not “Real China.”  The only “Real China” to Dodai Stewart, the author of the piece, is one that looks like the West.  The fixation on things that look Western is in itself racist.  Had the author done even the barest research she’d have known this is authentic China just as much as the Westernized parts.  Who is she to decide what China is, and that the only acceptable China is the one that looks like the West?

Now I’m not naive.  I’ve seen the full galleries from Guilin, and the pictures from Namibia with a native Namibian in loincloth and spear.  I don’t know why the minds behind the shoot picked the locations they did, but I suspect in the Namibian case it was because they thought the desert locale and “native with spear” fit their own personal narrative of what Africa is.  Perhaps Guilin was the same for the SI braintrust– or perhaps it was picked because it was such a popular and iconic tourist destination.  Like I said earlier, there’s a lot wrong with the pictures, and I feel downright icky seeing my daughter’s hometown defiled with these shots, many of which are downright disrespectful to the locations, like the naked women posed sexually in front of a temple.

BUT, and this is a big, screaming neon BUT: one objection shouldn’t be that this isn’t “real China” because it doesn’t look like the West.  This is real China, the China of my daughter and her family.  Something about may not sit right with Dodai Stewart, who wants to mock the locals, but I’m sorry, these people exist. I see them every day in the face of my daughter.

I do think it’s a complicated issue of how you portray a country or any geopolitical subdivision fairly.  That’s an issue we face here in Kentucky.  I know I and other Kentuckians cringe when we are portrayed as all Appalachians living in poverty, with little access to dental care (sound familiar, Dodai Stewart?), but the reality is that Appalachia is as much real Kentucky as is Louisville.  Is it fair to focus solely on that?  It depends on the context.  But the poor of Eastern Kentucky exist, and are as much “real Kentucky” as I am.

For another take, I’d recommend this great piece from China Hush.  The blogger there, Mitch Blatt, had a reaction similar to mine re the Jezebel piece.  And shocker!  He’s actually been to Guilin.

Like I said before, the Namibian shoot seems to be problematic, but I wholeheartedly admit that I am less qualified to talk about that.   For some thoughts on the Namibian shoot, I’d suggest this blog.

 

Posted in Politics, Pop Culture, Travel | 2 Comments

Guilt, Empathy, and Inauthenticity: (My) Transracial Adoptive Parenting

I’ve been thinking about parenting a lot lately, and adoptive parenting in particular.  What qualities make for a good parent?  What qualities does a good adoptive parent possess?  What additional qualities are required if the adoption is transracial or cultural?  Well I can’t even begin to represent that I have it all figured out, or that I think that G and I actually possess all the requisite good qualities.  I’d like to think I’m a “good parent,” whatever that means, but Bug will have to judge that for herself when she’s grown.  For now, I think the best I can do is talk about the three main qualities that seem to inform my parenting at this point:  guilt, empathy, and inauthenticity.

The first component, and probably one that overrides all the others for me, is guilt.  That’s got to sound odd at first glance, especially since I love being Bug’s mom and wouldn’t change that for the world.  But here’s the thing.  When you first start the adoption process from the adoptive parent perspective, it’s all about you.  That’s not because PAPs are bad people– it’s just the only perspective you know.  When we went into the process we were assured that we were adopting for the right reasons, and we tried to go about things as ethically as possible.  For instance, we only wanted to adopt a child who really needed adopting.  We wanted to make sure we were prepared for Bug’s attachment and health needs.  We read up on transracial adoption and issues related to being an Asian in America.  We did all we were supposed to do.

Thing is, it wasn’t enough. It could never be enough, which we figured out the first day we had Bug.  Bug was terrified.  She had been ripped from the only family she knew — her beloved foster family — thrown on a train, and then dumped in the arms of two white strangers who were going to take her away from the only culture and family she’d ever known.  The guilt was immediate. I remember crying and looking over Bug as she slept that night and asking G what we had done.  We felt like kidnappers.  And so the guilt began.

Now when I’ve recounted that overwhelming feeling of guilt over the years people have tried to make me feel better.  They tell me that Bug was in need of a permanent placement, and that China would never have allowed her to stay permanently with her foster family.  [True; confirmed by her foster family for us.]  They tell me that once Bug was slated for international adoption by China she would have been adopted by a family somewhere outside of China, whether it was G and me or not.  [True.]  I still can’t get over the guilt, though.  If we hadn’t contributed to the demand for children from China, would she have ever even been slated for international adoption?  Of course we’ll never know.  But those true facts remain, and don’t assuage the guilt.

Don’t assume that this guilt is a bad thing or that we inappropriately wallow in it.  I actually think the guilt is a good thing.  This guilt is the first step to the next quality I want to discuss — empathy.  Without the guilt, the understanding of what we’ve done to Bug by taking her away from China, we couldn’t develop the kind of empathy necessary to respond to Bug where she is.  I read posts of adoptive parents on web forums and on blogs, and I’m often struck by the utter lack of empathy for their children.  No understanding of the trauma they’ve endured by being separated from birth parents.  No understanding of how that trauma was compounded by taking our children from their country and culture of birth.  No understanding of how hard it can be to stick out like a sore thumb in their family– to have no privacy, because everyone can tell at first glance you are adopted.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

For some of our kids, the empathy is critical on a day-to-day basis.  With Bug, for example, extra empathy is needed because of her developmental trauma and PTSD.  These are not uncommon issues for international adoptees, and in fact, I’m convinced it’s more common than agencies and other APs want to let on.  A parent absolutely has  to understand that background and have empathy in order to effectively parent her.  Without empathy, you’d be up a creek.  Unfortunately I see that lacking in so many adoptive parents.  It saddens me, and it makes me wish I could do something about it.

In sum, my guilt drives me to be the best parent I can to Bug, and I try to achieve that through empathy.  I’m not perfect by any means, but my guilt keeps me striving forward.

The last quality, inauthenticity, is also tied to guilt.  Inauthenticity is tied to the racial and cultural element of a transracial adoption.  I’m a white American.  I will never be anything other than a white American.  My child is Asian, a Chinese girl born in China and transplanted without consent to the U.S.  Because of our choice to adopt her and bring her here (the guilt again), she will never fully fit into the Asian American community, and she will never fit wholly back into Chinese culture should she wish to move back as an adult.  [For what it’s worth, I can easily see my Bug making the choice to live in China as an adult.]    I can put her into language classes, take her back to China regularly, participate in cultural activities, and do any number of things APs do to try to “keep culture alive.”  The reality is, though, all of these things will be inauthentic compared to what Bug would have had in China, or what she would have if she were being raised in an Asian American family.  At a certain level, I as a white AP have to accept the inauthenticity  because there’s no going back.  I already made the choice to become Bug’s mom.  Does that mean I give up?  No– the guilt won’t let me.  I will still make efforts to help her keep her language and culture and will take her to China regularly.  In fact, I’m going to do a presentation on Lunar New Year at Bug’s school next week.  But I have to do all of this with no illusion that any of these activities are authentic, and that’s something all APs have to come to grips with.

So, my transracial adoptive parenting is probably fairly summed up as a mix of guilt, empathy and inauthenticity.  I know that sounds negative and depressing, but it’s not.  Our life is full of joy, but we have to deal with reality, and that’s our reality.

Posted in Adoption, Mommyhood | 13 Comments

Confessions of an Aging Hipster

Now that I’m 40 and a parent, and I have had too much time alone on the road lately to think about such things, I have come to the realization that I am the oxymoron known as an aging hipster.  Because, if you are 40, can you really be hip?

As for my hipsterhood, I’ll have to explain so you can get an accurate picture of me.  I was never the popular girl or the party girl, but I do know in the past I’ve fancied myself hip in the sense portrayed in the hilarious blog “Stuff White People Like.”  I’ve got super-short spiky red (dyed of course, not natural) hair, wear chunky black-rimmed glasses, and my weekend wardrobe is a t-shirt (often a v.v. cool Yo Gabba Gabba! concert shirt), cardigan, and black Chucks.  Yep– total hipster uniform.  Love hipster music, too– the only Sirius XM station I listen to is The Spectrum, the total hipster hangout.  I carry a loud Vera Bradley quilted bag as a briefcase, because you know, a regular leather one would look too much like I’m bending to the man.  So, yep, I’d fit right in in hipster hangouts like Seattle or Asheville, NC.

Now I don’t have any illusions that I’m unique or anything like that.  I may be iconoclastic compared to my coworkers in the legal profession, but let’s fact it– I’m just conforming to another set of societal norms.  It’s just that these fit me.  Different personas fit different people, and this has always worked for me.  It was just a side benefit that it was deemed “hip.”  😉

The realization came to me last week.  Like I said, I had too much time on the road, which is lethal for me.  I engage in way too much navel-gazing when driving through open spaces.  And it hit me.  Can a 40 year old ever be hip?  Do I have to change my persona away from the hipster?  Do I look pathetic with my cropped spiky hair?  It is pitiful that my favorite band is Mumford and Sons, and should I just listen to the 80s station?  Do I need to make myself more, for lack of a better description, middle aged?

The good thing is about the drive time is it gave me some time to sort all this out.  What I’ve concluded is that I’ve not aged out of hipsterhood– hipsterhood has aged out of being hip.  This really is who I am.  I’m comfy, and though I know I am a laughable stereotype I haven’t chosen this to conform to the hipster masses.  But what hit me is that when 20- and 30-somethings are looking to be hip, though, they aren’t emulating what I and my generation chose.   They have found and will find another way to be hip.  So, what 40-something hipsters are doing really isn’t hip anymore anyway.

I don’t know what is hip nowadays anyway (true to my age), but maybe I’m ok.  Maybe my aging hipsterhood is appropriate after all.  It just shows me for what I am– a 40-year old just being myself.  Just like the entire population of Asheville, NC.

And to leave you with a nugget of 40-something hipsterhood, here’s my current hipster song fave, a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” by Jerry Douglas and Mumford and Sons:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9dTcqmJjxw

 

Posted in Pop Culture, Work | 4 Comments

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, bloggy readers!  After receiving some wonderful encouragement from a Blogger I have tremendous respect for, I’m going to make a concerted effort to blog more in 2013.  We’ll see what happens, though– if the past week is any indication, I’ll fail miserably at the effort!  In my defense, the entire family did ring in the new year with the flu.  I came down with the dreaded virus on December 31, and G and Bug followed me the next day.  Fun times!  Today is the first day I haven’t spent substantial amounts of time with a cough which sounds like a seal barking.

I wish I could say I’d gotten some good pictures over Christmas, but since I had bronchitis at the time — an ailment just starting to resolve when the flu hit — I’ll have to leave you with this lone picture of Bug, taken Christmas Day at my parents’ house:

Christmas 2012 202

It’s not much, but as usual, it’s cuteness personified!

Happy New Year all!  Here’s to a great 2013!

Posted in Mommyhood | 1 Comment

In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, an old post on the reality of adoption.

Mad Momma Moogacat

Even though the popular view of adoption is one of rainbows, unabashed happiness, and joy, there’s just no getting past the unescapable fact that at its base adoption is about pain.   I’ll use as an example my Bug.  This morning on the way to daycare Bug declared “You know what?  I don’t remember what my birth parents look like anymore.”  Now the fact that she was 4 days old the last time she saw them and so never really had any conscious memories of them is beside the point.  I asked her if this made her sad, and she said yes.  I also asked her if she wanted to know them one day, to which she also said yes.

I completely get this.  I know some adoptees don’t care a whit about finding their birthparents, but I know as a kid I was obsessed with biological connections– I wanted to know about family…

View original post 455 more words

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Fall Fun– A trip to Moogacat’s Alma Mater

Through a weird confluence of events we ended up at the in-laws overnight this past Saturday.  That’s always so much fun for Bug– she loves her LiLi and YeYe. Even though it’s November it was beautiful this weekend– sunny and low 70s.  LiLi and YeYe live only about 20 minutes from G’s any my undergraduate alma mater, Georgetown College.  So we cajoled Bug into driving over Sunday and seeing where Mommy and Daddy met. 

Georgetown College is something of a tradition in my family.  My brother and parents went there, as did my mom’s sister and one of my dad’s sisters.  Several cousins went there too, dating back to the 1930s.  G was the first in his family to go, but his ties are no less signficant since that’s where we met and started dating.  🙂

We started out by showing Bug the dorm where I lived my freshman and sophomore years, Knight Hall.  My mom lived there too.  From there we parked in Giddings Circle and walked into the heart of campus.  Here’s Bug on the steps of Giddings Hall, the historic administration building with the super-cool brick columns. 

We walked over to Pawling Hall, which was my dad’s dorm in his day, and the main humanities classroom building when G and I were students.  There’s a brick out front with my name and graduation year on it, but since the program was relatively new at the time of my graduation, it never occurred to anyone that putting bricks in a driveway might wear the carving off.  You guessed it– my brick is now illegible.  😦

We went over to my old sorority house, the Phi Mu house.  Bug thought it was funny that I was in a “club” that lived together.  Here are some pics of her out front:

And here’s one of Bug in front of the 1895 cornerstone of Rucker Hall, where my mom’s sister lived.  My sorority house now sits where Rucker sat.

We walked around south campus, and showed Bug where G lived his freshman year and where my brother lived his last three years, Collier Hall.  We swung around and showed her the houses of my mom and dad’s “clubs,” even though those houses didn’t exist when they went to G-town.  We stopped at G’s fraternity house, the Lambda Chi Alpha house, and got another pic there.

We went back to the heart of campus, walked Bug through the student center, and then stopped for a pic looking back out toward the great big library that G and I only wish had been there when we were students.

It was kind of sad being at Georgetown today.  Georgetown is having financial problems, and the turmoil led to the (forced) resignation of its long-time president, who was inaugurated when I was a sophomore.  I also can’t imagine wanting Bug to ever attend Georgetown, either.  It’s way too “white,” for lack of a better word, and will likely be too socially conservative for her.  It was the perfect place at the perfect time for both G and me, but I doubt it would be for Bug.  It sure was nice seeing it and showing it to Bug on a beautiful fall day, though.

We finished out the day at Steak and Shake, which like so much else, wasn’t there when we went to school in G-town.  In fact, almost none of the interstate sprawl in this pic was there.  Lots of changes!

Here’s madame at Steak and Shake– her first visit to the hallowed institution!

We had lots of fun today.  These kinds of memories are priceless!

Posted in Marriage, Mommyhood, Travel | Leave a comment

What is Family? A post for National Adoption Awareness Month

This is a post I first started back on March after a very good conversation with Bug, but for some unknown reason I never got around to finishing it. Since it’s now the dreaded National Adoption Awareness Month.  Most people may not realize NAAM started as a way to draw attention to the outrageous numbers of children languishing in foster care in this country, a laudable thing.  But, the adoption industry has latched on to NAAM and morphed it into Promote Adoption at All Costs Month — mostly ignoring foster care.  Thus, it seemed like a good time to revisit this long-forgotten post.

Some of  you out there are probably aware of so-called “adoption positive” language. In reality, it’s just adoptive parent-positive language.  Adoption positive language started developing in the 70s and 80s as adoptees and first parents started demanding open adoptions. Agencies, fearing that adoptive parents wouldn’t want to keep the industry alive if they couldn’t blot out the adoptee’s past, had to come up with a new way to convince potential APs (“PAPs”) of primacy.  Thus the advent of adoption positive language.  It sounds cynical, but being on the other side now (now an adoptive parent (“AP”) and not a potential adoptive parent), I can tell you this is not borne of cynicism, but reality.

Two of the bugaboos of the syntactic game are “natural parent” and “real parent.”  APs like to crab about these phrases, saying that to call a biological or first parent a “natural” or “real” parent means that APs must be unnatural or imaginary, which of course they aren’t.  In reality, what so many APs want is to be the ONLY parent– agencies tell PAPs that a “real” parent is the one who takes care of a child day in and day out, thus obliterating the first parents, and relegating the birth parents to no more than sperm and egg donors. 

Let’s think about it.  As far as natural parent, is there anything more natural than giving birth?  I have a hard time of thinking that natural parent is a slam.  As far as “real” parent goes, if I am the real parent, then is Bug’s first mom imaginary?  That’s bunk.  We’re all real.  I for the life of me don’t understand why PAPs and APs get so wound up over that one.  When people use it to refer to bio parents, we all know what they mean– what is more “real” than a childbirth.  They aren’t intending to demean APs by it.  My own Bug even at times refers to her birthmom as her real mom.  And it doesn’t bother me one bit.  I know she loves me.  There’s enough love to go around.

This takes me to my discussion with Bug back in March.  Bug likes to talk about all the members of her families– her three moms and three dads.  Her first parents, her foster parents in China, and G and me.  Most APs like to talk about ourselves as our children’s “forever family” and relegate birth and former foster parents to the long-forgotten past.  For Bug, all three are present and fully family.  Full stop. 

We’re all “forever family.”  Bug’s first parents.  Bug’s beautiful foster family who though separated from us by many, many miles still loves her and keeps her in their hearts.  G and me.  None is past family– all are still forces in Bug’s life, and all are her family forever. 

APs have nothing to fear from first parents.  APs may want them to be past, but for our kids, they are forever in our children’s hearts.  They see their first parents every time they look in the mirror.  Their presence affects our kids’ daily life in multiple ways.  Rather than denying it, we as APs need to embrace all of our children’s family.  For our kids.

Posted in Adoption, Mommyhood | 3 Comments

Fall Break 2012– Niagara Falls, Ontario

Bug’s fall break was last Friday and Monday, and since we fancy ourselves a traveling family (finances willing), we couldn’t miss the opportunity to take a short trip.  This year we settled on Niagara Falls, Ontario.  I can’t say Niagara Falls was something I always considered a must-see in my life, but I’d always kind of wanted to go, and Bug LOVES waterfalls.  When I started reading about it online, I thought it would be perfect for a short trip.  So we booked the trip a few months ago, and on Friday off we went!

We flew up on Friday to Buffalo connecting through NYC.  That part was actually a treat in and of itself.  G has never been to NYC, and even though we didn’t get to leave the airport, G happened to be sitting on the side of the airplane with a full view of Manhattan.  He saw the Statue of Liberty, the new World Trade Center under construction, and the Empire State Building.  He’s always wanted to go to NYC, and still does, but it was fun for him to get at least a glimpse of the big city.

We got to the hotel on the Canadian side close to dusk, and after checking in made our way to the room. We stayed at Sheraton on the Falls (http://www.sheratononthefalls.com/), and I highly recommend it.  I’d made sure to book a full waterfall view (of both falls), and couldn’t wait to pull back the curtains and show it to Bug.  She was in love!  She sat in front of the window the rest of the evening, and slept the first night on the pull-out couch by the window.  It’s so fun to experience these kinds of events through her eyes– she makes it magical!

The next day we devoted to exploring the Falls and environs. First up after breakfast was the Maid of the Mist (www.maidofthemist.com). The concierge warned us that we’d get a little damp. You crazy Canadians. Poor Bug got drenched. And, mind you, it was 45 degrees Farenheit when we went. So, a little chilly. 🙂 You can imagine how a six year old reacted. Not well– you’d think she was being tortured. Nevertheless, she declared it pretty cool and one of the highlights only a day later. Here’s some pics.

Both Falls from the overlook:

Bug getting ready to go, before pre-and post-poncho donning:

 

Looking down at the Maid:

The American Falls from the Maid:

And last, a rainbow close to the Horseshoe Falls:

We took Bug back to the hotel room, got her warmed up and changed, got the car, and drove up the Niagara Parkway to the Butterfly Conservatory at the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden (http://www.niagaraparks.com/garden-trail/butterfly-conservatory.html).  Wow, was this cool.  If you pressed Bug, I’m sure she’d say this is the top highlight of her trip.  I’d never seen so many butterflies in one place.  I took probably 50 pictures, so I’ve tried to distill it to the best ones.

 

After the Butterfly Conservatory, we drove into Niagara on the Lake (very cute town; horrible parking), and then back to the Hotel for a late lunch overlooking the Falls.  The rest of the day was spent chilling out and having supper up on Clifton Hill, one of the main drags of Niagara Falls.

Per Bug’s request, we spent the entirety of the next day at the Fallsview Water Park (http://www.fallsviewwaterpark.com/), connected to the hotel.  That was TONS of fun.  Bug could have spent 8 hours there.  Twelve waterslides Bug was tall enough for — heaven!  We ended up spending about 5 hours, and we were whupped.  The tickets were pretty pricey for a day pass, but given how much time we spent there, it was money will spent. 

After collapsing back for a nap in the hotel room, we went for dinner at Rainforest Cafe, also connected to the hotel.  I know that Rainforest Cafe is basically a tourist trap, but Bug loved it, and the food wasn’t too bad even if it was overpriced.  Like so much on this trip, Bug’s excitement made the extra cost worth it.

On Monday, Bug insisted that we take a ride on the Sky Wheel, a massive ferris wheel with enclosed cars.  It sits in the heart of Clifton Hill, the kind of cheesy tourist trap entertainment district unique to resort areas.  The Sky Wheel was pretty cool; I only wish we’d done it at night.

 

And here’s one of the best pics of Bug from the trip, while on the Sky Wheel:

Here are a few views of Clifton Hill, including the Canadian icon Tim Hortons, as well as our hotel in the background:

And last, but certainly not least, one more pic of my sweetie in front of the American Falls with Honey Bunny:

Overall, this was a great trip.  Bug asked almost immediately when we’d go back, so in six year old-ese that is two thumbs up.

Posted in Travel | 4 Comments

To My Bug’s First Parents

Dear First Parents,

I just wanted to let you know that you are not forgotten. 

Our beautiful Bug loves you and misses you.  She thinks about you every day.  As we talked about the beautiful Autumn Moon this weekend, and the fact people in China were gazing on the same moon this weekend, Bug wanted to know if you were looking at the same moon.  She wanted to know if you were thinking about her.  She wants to know you, to see pictures of you, to look in your eyes and see someone who looks like her.

There’s a hole in Bug that only you can fill.  I don’t say this to make you feel guilty.  Not at all– I have no idea why you couldn’t parent Bug.  I will likely never know.  But I do realize that I can’t give Bug everything she needs– and part of what she needs is to know her biological beginnings.  Where she comes from in a primal sense.  

If you could see her, I know you’d be proud.  She’s a kind, smart girl, beautiful on the inside and out.  She’s proud of who she is and where she comes from.  She is a joy to be around.  She has a fantastic sense of humor, too.  We are always laughing!

I’ve promised Bug that we will take her to China one day for the Autumn Moon festival.  She wants very much to gaze on the Autumn Moon in the country of her birth, at the same time as her birth parents.  I would love it if you could join us.  If you can’t, I understand, but know we will be thinking of you as we look at that moon, and hoping one day to meet you.

Very sincerely yours,

Moogacat, Bug’s adoptive mommy

Posted in Adoption, Mommyhood | 1 Comment

Dyslexia sucks.

For a six-year-old, dyslexia must suck. I’ve been doing a ton of reading about dyslexia since Bug’s diagnosis, and there are a surprising number of benefits to have a “dyslexic brain.”  People with dyslexia are quite often more creative and are good at seeing the big picture.  They make great executives and leaders.  They are visionary in ways neurotypical people aren’t.

Problem is, that doesn’t help out a six-year-old who struggles with reading.  Who is behind her classmates.  Who can’t imagine being the leader of anything.  Who has to go to after-school tutoring twice a week while her friends are playing outside.  Who consistently reverses her letters, much to her chagrin.  Who struggles with writing assignments, taking twice as long as most kids to get them done. 

Bug throws a whopper of a temper tantrum every time we leave school to go to tutoring every Tuesday and Thursday.  I can’t say I blame her– tutoring represents everything that is “wrong” about herself to Bug, and I would be pretty peeved too if I were her.  It still doesn’t make it easier for Momma understanding that, though.  Every session when she starts to cry and wail for Momma while I stand outside the door, I just want to run in, scoop her up, and take her home and hide her from the world.  Keep her six years old forever, when reading is not entirely necessary.  I know that’s not realistic, no matter how much I’d like it, so I grit my teeth, listen to the cries, and then relax once I hear her giggles as she settles into the lesson.

Now once Bug calms down tutoring actually goes well.  Bug is starting to read (yay!!!), and she herself can see the progress.  She even read me some sentences at tutoring last Thursday.  I thought I’d cry right there on the spot!  She couldn’t wait to tell Daddy about it– she was so proud!  She’s not as resentful of books as she was even three months ago, and she is finally enjoying being read to so much that she asks us to read to her even when it’s not a school night and reading is homework. 

Still, even though it’s getting better, it’s going to suck for Bug for some time to come.  It will get better, and dyslexia will give Bug a beautiful way of seeing the world, but for now, it’s hard, and it’s going to stay that way for a while.

Posted in Mommyhood | 2 Comments