Friday, November 30, 2007

Home Again!

DX came home from the hospital yesterday and all is going really well, so far.
He was a real trooper in the hospital. Less than 24 hours after his palate surgery, he was drinking and eating. When his sisters came for a visit, he played and laughed. He tolerates his arm restraints- although he knows how to get them off by himself already. I guess you just can't keep a good kid down!
Here we are hanging out in his room (we both had seen better days!):

Here he is with the teddy that his Nan brought him, and playing with Mom's hair clip (thank goodness for those things!):

And, here he is, at home, showing the dogs his fancy new arm 'bracelets':

So, overall, things are good. The palate surgery did not seem awfully hard on him- although he had some pain off and on, as expected. All we are using now is Tempra, when he seems to need it (not often).

The whole experience was not as big a deal as I had prepared myself for. Of course, the surgeon and his nurses were fabulous, so that helped. And I will admit that he has a "take whatever comes" type of personality, so that helps A LOT! But if anyone is considering adopting a child with a cleft issue and is worried about the surgeries that will be needed, I have to say that, for us, at least, it really wasn't that bad.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Work in progress

Here's a snap of the not-pressed, full of stray cat hair, top of the advent calendar I'm working on for the kids. The imperfect border is pieced together from scraps- some Christmas-y fabrics and some not so much. The applique snowperson is made from an old t-shirt. I did buy some felt for his/her hat and the background for the star.

Is this picture out of focus? Or is it my aging eyes? Probably a little of both.

I debated quite a lot what to "write" on it. Merry Christmas? Let It Snow? Dear Santa-? (I had a pattern for all of these phrases in a book). I decided on "Comfort & Joy" because that's really my wish for the kids- and for everyone- during the Christmas season and beyond.

Of course, my 8 year old looks at it and the first thing she says is "Mom, why'd you write 'comfort & joy'? What the heck does that mean?" I say... "you know the song... (clearing throat)... oh-h, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy...oh-h...etc., etc." She just gave me a puzzled look and walked away. I guess that one didn't ring a bell for her!

I've now got to stitch the numbers 1- 24 on the little felt pockets for the count-down. I figure that I can take my embroidery thread and needle to the hospital with me next week and that will give me something to do if/when DX sleeps.

BTW, the basis idea for the advent calendar came from "Australian Country Threads" the Special Christmas in July edition from 2006. It's a great quilting magazine- I tend to like it a lot better than some of the others. More projects and less advertising. Check it out sometime.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Been a bit busy...

The blog has been suffering from a bit of neglect, I'm afraid. I've been a tad busy- like we all get from time to time.

I'm still in the middle of DX's quilt- the top is done, the back is done, now I need to sandwhich it all together and quilt it. Should be fun. I've also started a second quilt for Daughter #2- the top of this one is totally from scraps of fabric that I had for quilt square swaps- so the fabric is mostly "brights" and some Laurel Burch fabric that I dearly love. It's going to be really cute! (BTW, I just found out that Laurel Burch passed away recently- I'm so sad about that- I just think her fabrics are so wonderful!)

I'm also making a quilted Advent Calendar for the kids... it involves some embroidery, and its sort of a spare project that I can work on a bit while DX & I are waiting for the girls at their school. It's being done on the fly all the time, so it's definitely not perfect- but I'll post a picture of it when I'm done.

We're also preparing for DX's upcoming palate surgery- it will be this Monday. So, after the weekend, I'll definitely be out of touch for a few days, as we get through the hospital bit. But I will post to let everyone know how he's doing.

Hope everyone has a good Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Quilt Cat

Cats love quilting... especially the part when you're laying out your quilt top to size everything up.

Yes, as soon as my nearly-finished quilt top was on the dining room table this morning, the cat appears from nowhere, plants herself in the middle of it all, licks her paw, and gives me an adoring look that says "Thank-you, dahr-ling, I was looking for a new spot to lie down!". She was less impressed when I unceremoniously dumped her on the chair.

Interestingly enough, all of the quilters in my quilting class are owned by cats! Isn't that funny? There must be some kind of synergy in appreciating cats and enjoying the creative process of quilting.
So, the quilt is coming along. I think I could seriously get into this.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Rights of a Child?

I fear we are entering a time in which international adoption will become less and less possible.


Well, its certainly not because there are going to be fewer children needing loving families. If that were the case, we'd all be only too delighted to see IA decrease. In fact, it is likely that the numbers of orphans will increase in coming years in some countries- particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, as the devestation of AIDS leaves families destroyed in its wake.

Rather, the reasons for the increasing endangerment of IA are political and have nothing to do with providing families for children.

On the international stage, big players like UNICEF are using their clout to discourage IA. Their concerns for the "rights of the child" focus on the child's right to his or her heritage, to his right to remain in his country of origin instead of being relocated to another culture.

This is certainly something to consider. Children do have a birthright to their heritage and their culture... few people would argue with that. But, here's the thing: a child raised in his culture in an institution (or on the streets), without a sense of permanency, is impacted for life. And I mean that quite literally. We are learning that a lack of early nurturing results in physiological changes in a child's developing brain. Without the stability of becoming part of a permanent family, these changes can become a proverbial "cross to carry" for rest of the child's life.

Cultural knowledge or a sense of heritage do not, and cannot, make up for the neurophysiological impacts of being raised without the individualized attention that children get from parents. It does not matter how much of a "model" the institution is, or how good the social services and support programs designed to help these kids are. Children need the consistent care and love of at least one adult in their lives. Children need parents. Children need to be part of a family. There are no substitutes for family- whether the family is formed through birth or adoption.

This doesn't mean that IA is the answer for all kids in all situations where they cannot be raised by their birth parents. But it is the answer for some. Maybe, for many.

I would wager, though, that the total number of IAs in North America will begin to decrease, as there are already (temporary?) closures of programs like Guatemala (which has accounted for a significant number of US adoptions), as the referrals of children from large adoption programs like China slow down, and as there is an increasing tension domestically for prospective parents to adopt children born in their own country.

In several provinces in Canada, we are seeing the Ministries responsible for approving adoptions discouraging families from adopting outside their home province. This is completely ironic, since there are huge waiting lists of families trying to adopt children in most of the provinces, and the average wait for a healthy infant is somewhere around a decade! Some officials have actually spoken publicly to encourage families to adopt domestically instead of internationally (e.g., a recent interview in BC), while, in other provinces, the pressure is a lot more subtle. But there is little doubt that adoptive parents are facing more than their fair share of obstacles on the way to forming their families through IA in many provinces. My own included.

I hope that I'm just being pessimistic, and in the way that most things in life wax and wane, attitudes about IA will become more positive again. But as IA parents, I think we need to be on our guard, and be ready to stand up to the giants like UNICEF as well as the decision makers in our own provinces and states.

The rights of many children to grow up with the love of a family are at stake.

For an excellent article about the closure of Guatemala's IA program, read this Washington Post article by Elizabeth Bartholet, called Slamming the Door on Adoption.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Love Without Boundaries Videos

One of my favorite groups, Love Without Boundaries, helps many, many children in China. They recently posted a new video about their work on YouTube. You can find it here:

I am most moved by their video about cleft-affected children, though, for obvious reasons. There are so many cleft kids in orphanages in China, mostly because average Chinese families just cannot afford the necessary surgery for a child born with a cleft lip/palate. These families are left with little choice but to leave their child for an orphanage- probably with the hope that the child will get the care and treatment he or she will need. Here, in North America, cleft lip/palate is a medical need that is so easy to correct. It is almost unimaginable that it so often takes children away from their families in China. Eventually, we all hope that this won't need to happen. But, for now, the reality is that it does happen and there is a big need for the work of groups like LWB.

Take a look at LWB's work with cleft babies:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!!

Hope everyone had a great Halloween feast yesterday.
My kids had a blast... although my 10- and-a-half year old was NOT impressed that DX and I picked them up from school in full costume! They embarass easily at that age, I guess!!
Here are my little trick-or-treaters....