On my bookshelf

We’re still waiting on a few s l o w state background checks to come through so that we can finalize our homestudy, then send that off to US Immigration to apply for a pre-approval to bring an adopted child into the US as a citizen. Once we get that pre-approval (which takes about a month from the time you mail it off), we’ll have all of our paperwork ready to send to China. Which is exciting! But in the meantime, means a lot of patiently waiting. (And then once we send our dossier to China, more patiently waiting, for a match, and then for more paperwork to get processed so we can travel.)

SO, how to fill my hours? (Ha! Two small children at home = not much time to fill.) I’m trying to savor the relative freedom of this current stage of life before it becomes complicated by adding an extra person to our family. For instance: on a sunny, summer-feeling day a few weeks ago, Mats had taken a few major spills from his scooter (as in, he had 12 bandaids on his body!) and was just DONE outside, and Scott was going to be late, so the kids and I packed up on the spur of the moment and headed to see Trolls at the cheap theater, with popcorn and McDonald’s hamburgers for dinner! Tomorrow after school, we’re going to the aquarium for the afternoon with friends who have guest passes for us – when we’re home, both kids do an afternoon rest time but no one sleeps regularly, so we have the flexibility to do big fun things in the afternoon instead of being quarantined for sleep.

One of my personal favorite pastimes, though, is reading. I was a huge reader as a kid – I remember bringing home stacks of Nancy Drew books from the library and taking them to my bedroom to put away, then sitting on the edge of my bed thinking, “I’ll just read one chapter …” An hour later, I’d emerge excitedly telling my parents every plot twist of Nancy’s latest escapade. When I worked before kids, my job had some lovely slow hours that I could fill however I so desired, so I was paid to read. It was glorious. These first few years of parenthood have been tough to squeeze reading into, but I’ve tried – I have fond memories of sitting on the family room floor at our old house, toys spread around me, giant book in my lap, and baby Mats crawling over my legs while I’d read. I’m pretty terrible at adulting when I am in the midst of a good book, so I go through stages (including some where I ROCK the adulting because I have an awesome audio book that makes me just want to do more dishes so that I have an excuse to listen).

Right now, though, I do have some blocks of time that I can devote to reading – during afternoon rest time, after kid bedtime – and I’m doing my best to see this time of waiting for paperwork to happen beyond my control as, at least in part, a season of preparation. There are some really great resources out there about adoption and parenting kids from hard places and Chinese culture, and I’m slowly but surely trying to fill my brain with those things.

I was really intending this to be a short post, but let’s be honest, books = all the heart eye emojis, so 600 words later, here’s the adoption/parenting related material stacked up near my bed:

Currently reading: Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love, by Xinran. Based on what she’s said about her work in China, it seems like the author was a late-night radio host in the vein of America’s soft-rock sad story call-in host Delilah (but she calls herself a journalist, so maybe she did more than just that) who happened, through the course of her work, upon the then-untold national story of women aborting and killing and abandoning their girl babies. This book is a compilation of those stories, told, I believe, with the intent that children who were adopted from China could read these stories down the line and understand the heart of what their mothers went through – the fear and desperation and love and intensity and loss – and understand that they weren’t abandoned out of lack of interest or malice, but rather that this was likely an act that deeply shaped their birth mothers for life. I love memoirs, and find the insight hard to read at times, but so poignant.

Currently reading: The Connected Child: Bringing Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family, by Dr. Karyn Purvis. This book is basically the holy grail of adoptive parenting literature. It is a research-based resource on how to parent “kids from hard places” – kids who are coming to you with trauma in their past. From what I’ve read, trauma is the thing that you will interact with on a daily basis, more than any medical need your child may come with. And I find it scary only in that it is such a big unknown – it can look any of 100 different ways, so how do you prepare for that?! By reading The Connected Child, and watching Dr. Purvis’s videos online, and talking with friends about what it looks like to parent with connection, and (even now with my bio kids) to try to look behind a behavior to figure out where it is coming from and thus how to help the child heal. Trauma can be big and scary, but I find it immensely encouraging that there is a plan for how to approach it and well-trained specialists on whom I can call if needed.

To read:
The Ministry of Motherhood, by Sally Clarkson
Toddler Adoption, by Mary Hopkins-Best
Forever Lily, by Beth Nonte Russell
The Post-Adoption Blues, by Dr. Karen J. Foli and Dr. John R. Thompson
Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child, by Patty Cogen
In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence, by Philip Darke and Keith McFarland
Wish You Happy Forever, by Jenny Bowen
The House of Hope, by Elisabeth Gifford
Raising a Sensory Smart Child, by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske
The Lost Daughters of China, by Karin Evans
In On It: A Guide for Relatives and Friends, by Elisabeth O’Toole
Becoming Home, by Jedd Medefind

And, always listening to the Creating A Family podcast which has really phenomenal resources for adoption education – they’re very careful to provide quality, research-based information, and interview experts in every field associated with adoption.

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