Monday, February 26, 2007

Are you a Thai adoptive parent or future parent?


In the interest of providing a wide range of information about Thai adoption and local Tasmanian adoption to those visiting my blog and, in particular, couples who are adopting from Thailand, please feel free to send me an email with a link to your blog or website and I will add them to my links section.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Melaka of Malaysia

This evening Scott and I had the most wonderful experience dining locally in a fantastic restaurant not 15 minutes from where we live.

No ordinary restaurant, Melaka, located in Franklin, Tasmania, is more of an experience than your garden variety night of dining.

The owner Victor Choo is of Chinese Malaysian descent and is the Owner and Chef. The food is therefore Malaysian also (ok, did I need to say this or did you get it already?!). The decor, from the outside to the inside, features Buddhas, tealights, warm bronze tones and soft lighting and invites you into a friendly and peaceful environment where the staff are happy and engaged with their guests, the Chef is kind and approachable making particular effort with the small, personal detail and the food ..... well, the food is magnificent, full of spices and textures and wonderful fragrances!

If you're down visiting our part of the world, I can honestly say that you will not regret a dining experience with Victor and the Staff of Melaka.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

A most confronting book & Hienous crimes on children

As we edge closer to the 'approval' stage of our adoption (approval from the Tasmanian adoption services to be suitable as adoptive parents, that is), I've been busily reading the mandatory books. The first one, "Adoption Parenting, Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections" was an excellent introduction to the many facets of parenting a child who has experienced more sadness and trauma in their first few years of life than most of us will in our entire lifetimes.

It has a lot of examples given by adoptive parents who have been-there-done-that (the BTDT's, as we call them in the adoption community) and provides useful information about the signs we newbies need to be looking out for, useful tools for fostering attachment with a child and all manner of details on all types of attachment disorders. I had no idea there were so many different categories of possibilities but when I got to thinking about it all, it really does make sense to be alert and informed.

Before we started the adoption process, we had no clue and had never thought really about how an adopted child can be affected by loss of the biological parents voice, smells, features and habits let alone loss of a culture, loss of family history, the trauma of upheaval in being moved from caregiver to caregiver (bio parents to foster parents - sometimes more than one set of foster parents - to orphanage to adoptive parents).

When you take a minute to think about that kind of effect on a child's life and compare it to the 'norm' - being born to your parents, knowing your parents, siblings and extended family and never needing to feel that you cannot trust them as you have only ever know them and them alone to care for you ... it really does hit home about why children of adoption are traumatized in many and varied ways and can stay that way for the majority of their lives if they are not shown how to 'be in a family', to trust that their parents will feed, clothe and protect them, be reassured that this is not a midway point until their next set of caregivers and so on.

Just the simple fact that a child who has spent any amount of time in an orphanage or social welfare institute may not know what it means to be part of a family and therefore doesn't have the skills to know how to interact when placed in a loving family.

That is the one thing that made me sit up and take notice and then to read more. Scott and I spend a lot of time these days just talking back and forward about the different methods for combating this possibility so that our child will grow into their teenage years and then into adulthood knowing how to interact on a relationship level with other people.

Can you imagine if you were born, placed for adoption and lived in an orphanage, moved to an adoptive family and no-one ever took the time or care to demonstrate to you, in a practical fashion, how a family loves each other, takes care of each other, shows affection, provides a safe haven in the home and the knowledge that no matter who the child grew up to be, no matter what choices they make, no matter how many mistakes they might make, that they will be able to turn to the safety of their family without fear of being cast out again?

This base level knowledge that the majority of us have as part of who we are is learned behaviour simply due to the fact that this is all we have ever known.

In the same way, a child who has lived a little or a lot of their life in an orphanage doesn't know anything but the survival instincts of those who have to compete for the attention of very few carers looking after a whole lot of kids, maybe they have to even compete for warmth and food depending on the standard of the orphanage.

The second book that is mandatory reading for us is "Attaching in Adoption - Practical tools for today's parents". This is the confronting book that the subject alludes to. There is a different depth to this book that can be a little scary in that it recalls real life children's experiences, including physical abuse, emotional and mental abuse, abuse by family members, by foster parents, multiple placements, extreme anger and severe disassociation disorders as a result of those crimes against children.

Some of these are going to be rare in the adoption community as thankfully not everyone's a predatory family member abusing a child from toddler years to early teens but it does give me insight into the possible traumas our child may have suffered prior to adoption.

Some days I just had to put the book down and walk away. I even found that one particular day, when the news was telling of the Romanian orphans living under the ground near drains and pipes, I was reading in this book a particularly grim experience a child had been subject to &, later that day if that wasn't enough, ended up talking to a mother of a child who had been abused for quite some time in their younger years. The mother was in complete denial about the seriousness of this and the severe effects on her child (now a very depressed and lonely individual). It was all I could do not to bellow at her to 'wake up woman!' and I found myself quite aggravated and immensely sad at the denial a human being is capable of, even when a family member is involved it still doesn't hit home that they must be there to do everything within their power to help address the effects of the abuse.

Normally, I am quite a positive person, with much to be happy about I don't have much cause for sadness. That day it took me quite a few hours to resolve the frustration and anger I felt. Even now, I just have to think of the conversation and tears come to my eyes.

It just goes to show, parents must keep their eyes and ears open for signs (and if you don't know what they are, read about them and find out!) that their child has suffered or is suffering some form of abuse, even from family members, as hard and as despicable as that is to stomach.

I know parents around the world have said this, in their millions, but if anyone, family or otherwise ever, ever contemplates this crime upon one of our children, or even a child that I know that is not my own, they should think again. Their life will not be worth living.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Living in Thailand

My quest to "get to know Thailand" seems to be taking up a lot of hours recently. What with visiting blogs by expats living out their retirement, or even just their lives, Thai locals, adoption blogs, Thai forums and the like, everyday I learn just a little more about what real life in various parts of Thailand is like. Albeit, there are many, many different points of view.

This evening I stumbled across one such blog, written by an expat now living in the north of Thailand, in Isan. Formerly of the US of A, this fellow now lives contentedly as a university professor in Thailand and, from the posts in his blog, seems to be all the better for it.

In the last week I've also been looking at different types of accommodation in Thailand, the ins and outs of buying houses, renting condos, where to stay for shorter trips and so on and so forth, to garner a better idea of the reality of Scott and I living there in future.

It does seem, on the whole, that an Aussie earning Aussie dollars would quite easily and cheaply survive a lot longer on the same amount of money in Thailand than in Australia. Most Aussies are aware of the existing expats in Thailand, it's not so unusual anymore I guess.

Nevertheless, it is enticing, especially since it is most likely our child will have been born there, if we aren't allocated a local child before Thailand refers us a Thai child. Either way, we both have the stirrings of interest there and will more than likely 'go Thai' in a couple of years time for about 3-6 months or so, all things being equal.

We do have to consider Scott's 80 year old mum who we have plans to have come and live with us. There is absolutely no way on this earth that Colleen will ever get on a plane, let alone a plane for 9 hours or so! Therefore, we need to factor this in. All in all, what happens will happen and eventually we will live in Thailand for an extended period of time, whether it's now or in the future ... *shrug*, who knows?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Second last homestudy meeting completed + Animals in our house.

Today was our second to last (we're almost sure!) homestudy meeting with *J*. We've now completed one half of our country project also, a children's storybook, and are 99% finished with the other half of the project, a Life-book for our child on all that we have learnt about Thailand that we and our child can add things to as he/she grows.

I must admit, at the start of our homestudies in January I really expected that it would take much longer than we thought however now that I look back it is only mid February and therefore a month a half since we started! The last meeting will be on the 19th of March due to a few commitments on both sides in-between so all up it will have taken 2 and a half months - pretty great! There may be a need for another, should *J* decide she needs to know a few more things however she does not anticipate this, I think.

From right now we'll be using our time effectively to safeguard our house and yard a little more for little people, prepare our profile for local adoption, gather up all of the copies of various documents we'll need to submit our file to Thailand after formal approval (assuming, of course, that we are approved - please don't let it be the other one) and attempting to convince our border collie Josh about the value of sharing and the pointlessness of jealousy.

About the dog ... Josh is a very soft border collie, who, if he were a person, would be quite easily frightened and a pitiful sad sack if not given a certain amount of attention. On the other hand, he can be quite the little bugger if he doesn't get his own way about things and is fairly tenacious if he really wants something. Josh tends towards obstinance in doing things even though he is specifically told not to. Looking at the positives, you have never seen a more loving creature and if you come to visit, he's beside himself with excitement as, naturally, you've come especially to see him. He does that border-collie paw thing too and the head-on-the-lap thing. So cute.

We have quite a new addition to our little household in the form of a very skinny, very deprived, fluffy tabby cat. He decided to visit one afternoon and nearly got trod on, as I arrived home from work and got out of the car, in his desperate need for some serious rubbing and food, NOW! Poor little boy, he was so skinny his bones were clearly evident despite being really fluffy. He now comes to our house for a cuddle and a lot of food and milk every evening as he sees the car drive in. He knows a good thing, not to mention a couple of softies, when he sees it.

Josh isn't too sure about how a cat fits into our household. He's always been 'the one' and the only and now that he's five years old, we hope he's not too set in his ways. Despite the fact that the kitty was eating cat food, Josh really was quite confused when he was stopped from eating it too and took a little pretend-to-be-threatening lunge at the puddy (it's all for show).

Cat is not too worried, he's seen it all before and just keeps his distance. This is a little cat and Josh is a big hairy dog so the cat knows his stuff. I'm waiting for the day when Josh gets a little too pushy and the cat gives him a big swipe across the nose. That's going to really freak old Josh out and put him in his place. He's a lover, not a fighter.

It does make me wonder how long it's going to take him to realize that the child we bring home is not sleeping outside. And that he, Josh, will be. He probably won't talk to us for a month. Dogs are so much like people. He sulks better than anyone I've ever seen.

Anyhow, it's getting quite exciting for us now. We're probably nowhere near being referred a child but it does put us closer to that time just by having the homestudy nearly completed and docs off to Thailand in the next couple of months.

Slowly but steadily we're getting there.

Who has the cutest doggie?

I was visiting another blog tonight who claimed to have the cutest doggie so I thought to myself, hmmm, I thought WE had the cutest doggie ever! So, what do you think?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cheeky Farang

I've been a member of a Thai forum for a while now and thoroughly enjoy reading about different perspectives of those farangs (foreigners) living in Thailand, often with their very own Thai wives (bless their sweet natures!).

There is one guy in particular, the gruff and funny "Cheeky Farang" as he calls himself, talks about his and his wife's life in a small Thai village, a couple of hundred kilometres outside of Bangkok.

You may enjoy reading his take on life but beware, if you're not fond of swearing and a little directness, then this ain't for you ...

Friday, February 09, 2007

From: Thai Photo Blogs

"Ashrita Furman (R) of the U.S. holds a tiger on a leash, at the start of a world record attempt, while skipping at the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province, 120km (75 miles) northwest of Bangkok, February 4, 2007. Furman, 53, officially won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records on Sunday by skipping 5 km (3.1 miles) in 35 minutes and 19 seconds at Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province, some 150 km west of Bangkok. To make the attempt more interesting, Furman skipped the first 100m and 75m of the last 100m holding the tiger. Photo taken February 4, 2007. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang"

Ahhh, the Thai dedication to 'sanook' (rough translation: Fun). There is a great Thai saying that goes like this, paraphrasing here, "If something is not fun, then why do it?"

The source of this info, and the piggys below, is a blog called Thai Photo Blogs, full of excellent and often hilarious info provided a farang (foreigner) living in Thailand. It gives an insight into life in Thailand at base level, not just the stuff you hear on the news at night.

From: Thai Photo Blogs

"In this photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, a dozen of Dongba pigs from Thailand, which are said to be small and agile, compete in a swimming game at a park in Nanchang, in east China's Jiangxi province, on Saturday February 3, 2007."

So cute.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Last day of Seminar.

The last day of our first seminar has been really great. You don't realize just how much you *don't* know about parenting until you go along to a seminar such as this one.

I especially enjoyed sitting with the other participants and discussing different responses to a set of questions we were asked as it showed that these guys are really active, involved and thoughtful parents. Naturally, there are differences in how people would handle things but ultimately we're all there for the same reason - our future kids.

Now, for us, it's on to our fourth caseworker meeting on the 13th of February and then hopefully just one more after that and then it's time to get our file off to Thailand and our local profile done.

The country project has been absolutely the most fun part of this experience thus far. We now have about 90% completed and will have the rest done in the next two weeks before our fourth homestudy meeting arrives. We actually ended up doing two projects but I think one is going to be kept more specifically just for our child to see - haven't quite made up our minds yet.

To all of our Adoption e-group ... it was great to meet you all. We have learnt so much from you already and hope to get to know you and your current and future children as time goes by.

Scotty & Kim

Saturday, February 03, 2007

3rd Homestudy meeting complete. Seminar attended.

We've now finished the 3rd homestudy meeting with our caseworker and we are making real headway now. This third meeting has brought up some interesting topics that Scott and I have been discussing ever since. We're finding the meetings to be quite fun in addition to being very effective tools in preparation for adoption of our child.

It's quite amazing - we started off thinking this is all going to be very straightforward and obvious, we'd been discussing the different facets of adoption, reading books and making contact with other adoptive parents and parents-in-progress, doing projects and study on the country from where our child will come and ensuring that we are aware of all of the different issues that adoption can bring and end up mid-way through the process learning even more than you ever thought possible.

I'd have to say that we consider ourselves *very* fortunate to have met the people we've met who've shared their wealth of experience with us. It's been fantastic to meet other parents-to-be who are going through the process alongside of us too.

Today we were involved in a learning seminar, as one of seven couples, where we met several families who already have their children home from various countries such as China, India and Korea. These parents and children have overcome multiple difficulties, extremely stressful circumstances and unexpected, unplanned curves in the road.

I know myself that listening to these people, in particular the parents of a delightful young Indian girl, Louise and Louis, and the parents of a sprightly little Indian boy, Veronica and Henry, have had a huge impact on both Scott and myself.

When faced with such trying times as these families were, their spirit and determination to learning all that they could, asking for help to get everyone through to the 'other side' shows a marvellous strength of character.

Parenting an adoptive child is quite different to parenting the biological child who has never been separated from their birth parents, abandoned or fostered out for a time. Parents make the difficult decision to go against everyday parenting skills in order to give their child the needed skills to attach to a brand new family who are, at first, completely foreign to them. This is no small feat as most people assume that parenting one child is just like parenting the next.

The everyday platitudes about parenting that one might hear from well-meaning family and friends often needs to be disregarded when in reference to a child of adoption and this can be confusing and distressing for both the new parents and those giving the advice.

That these adoptive parents, who have been-there-done-that, have been able in the first instance to establish the boundaries with their families and friends, their new child and each other without losing their own sanity is quite amazing.