Sunday, December 26, 2010

Days 5 and 6: Merry Christmas and Snow!

(The studio apartment above Doug's pottery studio where I've been staying this past week)

Christmas this year was much different from Christmas last year. Last year there was a steady stream of visitors coming to look at the precious new baby, then only 12 days old. This year, it was only Doug, Maura, Reed, Gigi, and me. Nice, relaxed and low key. Reed was very impressed with all of the presents under the tree, most of them for him, but we let him open them up throughout the day at his own leisure. I got some Christmas booty myself though, and maybe because I wasn't expecting anything, everything I got was perfect. A jar of almond butter, some pens, a workout shirt, granola bars, and a really great hat.

My favorite gift that brought tears to my eyes though, was a hard cover book that they had made about our journey together so far.

Starting from when Doug and Maura came to Alaska in the summer of 2009 to meet me for the first time...

through the birth...

All the way up to the different trips they've made this year and family they've seen.

That night it started snowing and continued all through the night. The next morning I woke up early to a stomach bug that had ravaged through their household the week before, so I quarantined myself to the studio apartment I've been staying in for most of the day. By this afternoon though, I was feeling much better so I joined the three of them for a walk in the snow. How beautiful it was! Reed loved the snow, and I was happy to get the full experience of winter during my short break from my usual equatorial, tropical climate.

And now it's on to the second leg of my trip; Texas to visit my own family. These past six days have been so wonderful and needed for me, and it will be hard to say goodbye tomorrow morning when they take me to the airport. It will be another 6 months until I see Reed again, and I can't even imagine how much he'll have grown and changed all over again. During this trip, I was able to get to know his many laughs, see his sweet smile, and discover his personality. And what a personality he has! How did this wonderful little guy come from me? Tonight he was pretty interested in Maura's and my belly buttons, and I was amazed that at one time he was on the other side of it. It has been so good to reconnect with him, and to continue to establish a firm and solid foundation of a life long relationship with Reed and his family.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day 4: Christmas Eve

When I was a kid, Christmas Eve was the big day. That was when we had our big Christmas dinner with a ham and a turkey, lots of sides and even more desserts, and after dinner we would all go sit around the tree and open all the presents we had got each other. Being a family of 7, if it was a good year our tree was quite an exciting sight! Makes me wonder what kinds of traditions will develop in Reed's family?

The highlight of my day today was my special walk with Reed. While Doug and Maura were wrapping presents and getting ready for tomorrow, Reed and I took a walk down the dirt road they live on. We went to see the nearby chicken coup and hoped to see the dogs that he loves so much, but they were inside their owner's house. Reed is walking like a champ these days, and sometimes he doesn't want to be disturbed in his exploring. But today, I think because he was a little sleepy, he wanted to be held and I was more than happy to oblige. I love that Doug and Maura make an effort to give me my own special time alone with him, and I take advantage of it as much as I can. Today during our walk we talked about what a dog sounds like, what I've been doing in Singapore, what kinds of sticks are the best for banging trees with, what he'll be like the next time I see him, how much more fun it is to walk on the trails in the woods instead of on the dirt road, and how much I love him. My goal is to tell him every chance I get, especially when we're face to face, how much I love him and how special he is to me. He will have questions, but I hope he never questions my love for him.

For our Christmas Eve dinner we decided on a vegan feast, consisting of salad with carrot-ginger dressing, nori rolls, and raw chocolate balls. All homemade from scratch and absolutely delicious. Maura's sister Gigi joined us for dinner and we had an excellent time eating, drinking and being merry.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 3: Reed Land

Yet another day in Reed Land. My jet lag actually seems to be working backwards, because this morning I was wide awake at 3am. I've lost an hour each of the mornings I've been here so far...WHY??? But then I'm reminded of how sleep deprived Doug and Maura have been this last year, and I remember I really don't have anything to complain about.

Anyway, today we took an exciting walk to play in the swing set at Doug's brother's house (they're neighbors), and then to see some dogs that another neighbor has. Reed loves dogs; every time he sees or hears them he makes this barking/grunting noise and gets a huge smile on his face.

This may quite possibly be the best baby swing set in the world.

And Reed obviously LOVES it!

After Reed went to bed for the evening, Doug, Maura and I had dinner and when we weren't quite ready to finish talking, Doug broke out the bottle of port wine and some chocolate and caramel treats. As we sipped our port and nibbled on dessert, we reminisced together about our whole experience, recalling and retelling our thoughts, feelings and reactions about when I first found out I was pregnant, my decision for adoption and process of choosing adoptive parents, our first conversations together, their trip up to Alaska for our first meeting, all the way up to Reed's birth which they were a witness to and his first Christmas as a newborn. We were smiling the whole time, laughed, got teary eyed at points, and ended with one of those moments when everyone is silent with peaceful grins on their faces, soaking in the memories, the present, and each other. This is the stuff that family bonds, stories and traditions are made of. This is the stuff families are made of.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 2: Counseling

Today, still being jet lagged, I woke up at 4am. It just so happens that with a baby in the household, that’s often about when Reed’s family wakes up too. Maybe this jet lag is working to my advantage? I can tell you that I would rarely be up by 4 or 5 (or 10) under any other circumstance! After Maura’s parents left to go back to NY and Doug left for work, Maura and I sat on the living room floor and had a wonderful time chatting, drinking hot tea and watching Reed keep himself busy with his books and toys.

The big plans for the day, besides Reed’s one year checkup, were to go to the adoption agency we used so Doug, Maura and myself could meet with a counselor. Maura, being a therapist and recognizing my need for support through this whole process, had asked me a couple of months ago if I would like to meet with a professional during my visit, and I thought it was a great idea.

I’ve really been wanting counseling. It’s not because I feel negative about the adoption, in fact I still feel very positive about the whole thing. Even as much as I miss Reed and think about him, I have no regrets. Especially now, seeing how happy he is and what wonderful parents Doug and Maura are! But just because adoption was the best decision I made, doesn’t mean it was the easiest. Just because I feel very positive about how things are going doesn’t mean I don’t feel any pain. Just because I’m not the one raising my own son and I chose not to do so doesn’t mean I don’t miss him so much that it hurts down to my fingertips, and just because I’m genuinely happy and thankful for the life I lead doesn’t mean I don’t shed any tears.

I consider myself a pretty sane, rational and well adjusted individual, so if there weren’t any counseling I think I would still continue to be sane, rational and well adjusted. But oh how wonderful it would be for me to sit with someone who is experienced and familiar with what I’m going through, and talk and cry and sob and share my joys and confess my fears and they would just listen and ask me questions and hand me boxes of tissues and they wouldn’t try to fix my “problems” or pretend to have all the answers, but would just help guide me through this forest of emotions because it can be very dense at times.

Not only would counseling be hugely beneficial for me, but it would be really great if Doug, Maura and I could have guidance together as we’re still getting to know each other and work out our own relationships. They have been so wonderful so far, and again, if we never get any guidance, I’m confident that we can figure things out and make them work because of our love for Reed and for each other. But how nice it would be to have a professional setting with an experienced third party opinion to help us.

That’s what we were hoping for today as we headed off to the adoption agency, who promised life-long counseling as part of the deal. We had the appointment set a month in advance with the professional who is suppose to be able to see to these kinds of things, and I had already been going through in my head some questions I had or issues I would like to address. Just thinking about being able to finally talk to someone about it made me emotional. However that professional forgot about our meeting and was out of town, and we ended up speaking with a couple of other well meaning workers at the agency. As good as their intentions were though, it quickly became apparent that they could not offer us the kind of help and support we were seeking, so we cut the meeting short and left early. Since we’ve already been working on building a strong relationship and have been pretty successful thus far, the three of us agreed that we could do a better job and be more productive on our own. Not that we won’t continue to seek outside help, support and guidance in the future, just not from that source. Unfortunate.

In the car ride home, Maura and I continued to talk about some of the things that were barely starting to be touched on that we would have liked to discuss in counseling. As usual, she was very easy to talk to and we ended up getting a lot accomplished just in the drive home. It’s so wonderful to be working with such open minded and open hearted people! But there will be things that I can’t work out just by talking to Doug and Maura, and for that I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that there will be someone hopefully sooner than later whom I can meet with.

6 Full Days!!! Day 1

I finally made it!!! After over 30 hours of airports and airplanes, terrible food, and as many renditions of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" as you could possibly imagine, I finally made it to North Carolina Monday night. Reed was already sleeping by then, so I just peeked into his room and saw him resting peacefully. There is a studio appartment just above Doug's pottery studio right next to the house which is where I'm staying, so on Tuesday my jetlagged self woke up at 5am and walked over to the house at 6. I was greeted by this...

As the day went on, I spend as much time as I could with him, and as always, their whole family was wonderful to be around. Maura's parents who were visiting from New York even stayed an extra day just so that they could see me. They have truly adopted me into their family as well. I also loved learning as many little tidbits as possible about my son, re-learning who he is all over again. I found out that...

He LOVES to eat, and is even pretty good at feeding himself. It's kind of a joint effort, but he manages to get a good amount of food in with his little plastic spoon.

He loves his books, and can spend a decent amount of time (for a one year old) just sitting there and looking at them.

He loves the outdoors and playing in the leaves. And eating them.

He's such a happy boy; it's so easy to take really cute pictures of him because, well for one, he's just really cute, but to make it better he's almost always smiling!

Towards the end of the day we had our Christmas High Tea with Aunt Gigi and Cousin Meredith, Maura's parents, myself, Maura and Reed. It's a tradition we started last year that consists of lots of yummy snacks and a wide assortment of tea served in unique handmade teapots made by Doug's various potter friends.

So far I'm loving spending time with him and the whole family... this is going to be a wonderful week!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Monday was Reed's birthday. As I'm typing these words, I still can't believe he is a year old! I have been as excited about his birthday as I would be my own, and I wanted to make sure I spent the day with him, even though I'm 9,870 miles away. Here are the tools involved in my day of celebrating the little man who came into my life one year ago.

The 'Reed' Playlist
1: Starting with this song; "You Were On My Mind" by We Five. It's pretty much been my theme song since I first found out about him, and I played it over and over again on his birthday.

2: "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" -The Lauryn Hill version. When I was still pregnant with him in Alaska I would imagine lying in a bed with him just afer he was born, and I would sing to him, "You're just too good to be true, I can't take my eyes off of you, you feel like heaven to touch, I want to hold you so much, at long last love has arrived, and I thank god I'm alive..."
3: "Blackbird" by The Beatles. This was the song playing at the moment he was born. "You were only waiting for this moment to arrive"
4: "Green Eyes" by Coldplay. This was my NC song to him; "I came here with a load, and it feels so much lighter since I met you..." Fitting, no?
5: "Everywhere I Go" by Willie Nelson. "No matter where our trails will finally wind, our paths will keep on crossing yours and mine, Until then in my pocket you must go, I'll take you with me everywhere I go"

Birthday Cake (of course!)
Nevermind that he wasn't there to eat it, I love him enough to eat it for him. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! I did manage to experiment with the recipe; I substituted flour with ground flax seed and ground sunflower seed, subbed the oil with pureed apple, and subbed the water with almond milk. I also mixed pumpkin seeds and walnuts into the batter. The recipe was vegan to begin with, and it actually turned out pretty good! The frosting was made of soaked dates, cocoa powder, coconut oil, soaked cashews, honey, cinnamon, and jasmine green tea.
(I was going to take a picture of the chocolatey goodness, but plans changed and I ate it too fast!)

Birthday Dinner and Card
My original plan was to celebrate Reed's birthday at the Botanic Gardens, but the weather wasn't having any of that. So instead, I went to one of my favorite places in Singapore, Little India, where the general atmosphere is festive and lively every night. I went to a cheap food stall and had some delicious Murtabak and hot milk tea, and started writing Reed's birthday card. I told him all about the day he was born, who was there to witness his first breaths, how excited we all were, and wonderful it was to finally meet him. The card I chose for him was a hand made card of an ox, his Chinese calendar animal, that I found in Chinatown.

That night I came home and was able to see Reed in all of his one year glory on Skype. An extra treat- Bill was visiting from Colorado, so I got to have a nice long conversation with Bill, Reed and Maura. Maura's mom even made a guest appearance! Reed was delightful; he told me what a dog sounds like, he showed Maura and Bill where my nose was, and then stuck post-it notes on my forehead. We also showed Bill how we play cyber peek-a-boo, one of my favorite games. Sometimes he would be looking at the computer screen and smile at my image... there are just no words to describe it.

And now, I'm finally getting ready to see him again in person. With this week starting off with celebrating Reed's birthday and knowing that by the time the week is up he will actually be in my arms, well, it made it a whole week of celebration for me. Everyone knows that birthdays are suppose to last at least one week anyway! Again, I'm having trouble finding the words to describe how excited I am for this two week break I'm about to leave for, but I will say this: Of all the times I've traveled across the planet, of all the times I've taken jobs in distant places, relocated myself, not knowing what I was getting into, who I would meet, or where my road would lead afterward, I have never been as excited, nervous, anxious, and just plain giddy as I am now to go on this trip to a small town in North Carolina.