Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I do have a few excuses. After June (my last entry), summer got a little busy at my household. I kept thinking of all the things I could write about, then I would table them because I wanted to wait until the right time to do it. In my fantasy world, the "right time" means no child interruptions, all outside work completed, and no laundry to do. This, of course, never happened.
Another obstacle in my blog writing has been my addiction to Facebook. I never thought a networking tool could be so addicting. It seems that all of my online time is dedicated to updating my profile, commenting on others' statuses, and looking at ridiculous pictures from the early 90's my high school friends have scanned and uploaded. Evil tool. (But if you are on Facebook and want to become my "friend", click on my profile badge on the right.)
Needless to say, I think I'm back. There is much to write about. I now teach two Intro. classes at the University and I finally started reading my diss again. I'm also looking for a full-time gig (non-academic....I'll write about this later). Sassy Girl and Destructo Boy are growing up so fast and challenging me every day. Life is good. Stressful, but good.
Friday, June 13, 2008
On Wednesday, I stood holding Destructo Boy alongside dozens of other immigrants at the U.S. Citizen Swearing-in Ceremony. I held up my right hand and said the above oath for him. Though he didn't have to, Destructo Boy held up his pudgy hand as well.
I am happy that everything is over and all parts of the adoption is finally completed. However, as I was saying the words, I felt a little bad for Destructo Boy. He didn't choose to "abjure all allegiance to any foreign prince." He didn't choose to leave Korea. Other people (including me) made that choice for him. How will he feel about this when he is old enough to understand?
For those of you who are US citizens by birth, read the above words. Did you know what you are obligated to?
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
One year later we are still waiting for one more piece of paperwork - Destructo Boy's Certificate of Citizenship. I've already vented about this in a previous entry, but I bring it up now because the issue is still not resolved. Even though the law says my son is a U.S. citizen because of the adoption, I have no way to prove it. Unlike with my daughter, I just can't show up the Social Security Administration with his birth certificate and get him a social security number. I can't get him a U.S. passport. Why not? It says his birthplace is South Korea.
But get this...he's not a Korean citizen either. When I took him out of the country, I sat in the South Korean immigration office and officially took him off their citizen list (standard policy - if he remained on the list he would have to serve in the Korean army). So my son has no county, at least on paper.
10 months after we applied for a Certificate of Citizenship, we finally heard from the Department of Homeland Security. We have to show up in person for an "interview" and we were told to bring his green card and passport to the agency in order to receive his COC. Ummm....why does he need his green card? He is already a citizen because we adopted him. And passport? What passport? He never had a passport because he relinquished his Korean citizenship when we left the country. When I tried explaining this to the agent when I called the so-called "Help Line" at the DHS, I was told I would have to make an appointment to ask this particular question in person. So I try to make an appointment with our local office, but the next available appointment comes AFTER our scheduled interview. My faith in the Federal government shrinks each passing day.
This whole situation has caused me to have some crazy thoughts....if Destructo Boy was deported, where would he be sent to? Would he be forced to wander the terminal at the airport like in that mediocre Tom Hanks movie? Really...all I want is to get my kid a passport and a social security card so he can grow up and become a participating citizen. Why must it be so difficult?
Did I mention a Certificate of Citizenship costs over $400?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The funniest Mother's Day story I have is from when I was teaching fourth grade. I decided to have my students decoupage vases and make flowers. So I asked every child to bring a class bottle or jar from home. I should have been more specific in my instructions and asked them to at least rinse out the bottles. A handful of students showed up the next morning with Corona bottles, pints of Mickey's and bottles of Johnny Walker Red Label, some of which still had the contents in them. Even when I had the kids clean out the bottles, my classroom still smelled like a frat party. The vases did turn out really well, though...especially those made with the Mickey's bottles.
After Ebo and I were married and were starting to talk about children, I began to have a different relationship with Mother's Day. One year as they were handing out roses at church, the usher tried to give one to me. "No, thank you," I said, "I'm not a mother." The usher replied, "That's okay. Take one anyway." I began to wonder whether or not I would ever be able to legitimately have a rose. Would I always be the woman who would "take one anyway"?
Four years ago, I celebrated my first Mother's Day as a mom. I was almost at the end of my first trimester with Sassy Girl and people were beginning to notice that I was pregnant. Everyone was contratulating me and encouraging me to stand up during mass when the priest asked for all the moms to stand up. I didn't feel like standing. I didn't feel like a mom. I was happy about our IVF success, but I was scared that it was all going to be taken away from me somehow. Furthermore, because of my experience with infertility, I knew there was probably someone in that congregation that was in pain because she wanted to be a mom, too.
Since then, Ebo and I have tried to be low-key about Mother's Day. I don't expect flowers, brunches, or jewelry. Cards are even optional. On that day, I don't want to do anything but spend time with my family. This past Sunday marked my best Mother's Day as a mom. When I woke up, Ebo and the kids walked me downstairs to a bowl of cereal and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Like my father did with my brother and me many years ago, Ebo had our kids make breakfast. I was told later that Sassy Girl poured the cereal by herself Destructo Boy ate more jelly than went on my toast. It was the best breakfast I have ever eaten.
We spent most of the afternoon at a nearby state park. We got dirty, played in the river, and layed out in the sun. I couldn't have asked for anything more perfect. Yet amidst all of my joy I felt a little guilty. Because I have been part of the infertility community, I know how hard this holiday is for some. Mother's Day used to be a reminder of what I possibly would never have. A part of me will always feel that pain.
This year, though, my kids reminded me of the happier moments of past Mother's Days. Celebrating with my own mother was just as important for me as it was for her. The memory of the pride my fourth grade students had in their decoupaged booze bottles will always make me smile. I hope that as a mother, I can make happy Mother's Day memories for Sassy Girl and Destructo Boy.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
You Know You're An Adoptive Parent When . . .
1. The fact that there are 143 million children without a parent to kiss them goodnight has made you lose sleep.
2. You realize DNA has nothing to do with love and family.
3. You can't watch Adoption Stories on TLC without sobbing.
4. The fact that, if 7% of Christians adopted 1 child there would be no orphans in the world, is convicting to you.
5. You spend free time surfing blogs about families who have experienced the blessing of adoption.
6. It drives you crazy when people ask you about adopted child's 'real' parents.
7. You have ever been 'pregnant' with your adoptive child longer than it takes an elephant to give birth (2 years!).
8. You had no idea how you would afford to adopt but stepped out in faith anyway, knowing where God calls you He will provide.
9. You have ever taken an airplane ride half-way around the world with a child you just met.
10. You believe God's heart is for adoption.
11. You realize that welcoming a child into your heart and family is one of the most important legacies you could ever leave on this earth.
12. You know what the word 'Dossier' means, and you can actually pronounce it!
13. You have welcomed a social worker into the most private parts of your life.
14. You shudder when people say your child is so lucky that you adopted them, knowing full well you are the blessed one to have him or her in your life.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Newly born Sassy Girl - all 2 1/2 pounds of her
Sassy Girl at three - takin' on the world
Thursday, April 3, 2008
I chose to study anthropology because I believed that the perspecive of the discipline forces you to truly understand the human condition. I still believe that....only you can only get so far with perspective. Furthermore, some anthropological research just confirms the obvious. The more I write about my own research, the more I'm convinced people outside the discipline will read it and say "Well, duh." The bright side is that in all likelihood, no one will read my dissertation (this includes my committee members).
But if by some chance my writing did reach the general public, it will probably fall in the same category as these:
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
I compartmentalize my life the same way. It makes me uncomfortable when parts of my life "mix." I recently heard from a wife of a graduate school colleague who I haven't spoken with in over a year. She had seen my profile on Facebook and saw a picture of both Destructo Boy and Sassy Girl. She had met my daughter, but she didn't even know we had a son. When we were sending out announcements to celebrate Destructo Boy's arrival, I purposely left them (and a bunch of other graduate school people) off the mailing list. I didn't want to be the subject of department gossip/chatter.
Since Sassy Girl became sick in 2005, my contact with the department has been minimal, partly because I'm ashamed of the progress I haven't made. But I guess the other reason is that I don't want to disturb the perceived equilibrium between my personal and "professional" life. Right before the E. coli incident, I had started to make plans to increase Sassy Girl's day care time. I fixed up my old office at the department and began writing again. I was just about to finish when...boom. Sassy Girl goes into kidney failure and everything else seems so trite and unimportant. Since then, every time I start to try and start up again, I am scared that bad things will happen.
This past weekend, my equilibrium was disturbed. Back in October, I made a promise to Jenna and the rest of her blog readers that I would write a paper for the Society for Applied Anthropology. I originally wanted to do a piece that showcased several stories, but time constraints and family illness prevented me from doing in-depth ethnographic work. Instead, I decided to write a piece that focused on how the internet, particularly through online support groups and blogs, helps shape the "infertile identity" and create a virtual community. It was mainly a reflective piece that highlighted already published research, but I did manage to get some quotes and experiences from my friends at Carolyn's Boards to make the piece more "human." I will post about the actual content of the paper and my interesting experience later, but I will say that my talk was well attended, well received, and generated a lot of discussion afterwords. Someone even suggested that I write a book.
But I think the most interesting part of the whole experience was my illogical behavior throughout the whole thing. Even though I used my university affiliation to get into the conferenece, I told NO ONE that I would be there. I purposely did not stay at the conference hotel and I chose to drive instead of fly in fear of running into people at the airport. The abstract I had written was mysteriously missing from the online preliminary program (an error which was corrected in the final program), so I didn't come up in any online searches. I thought I was home free...until the chair of the department walked in the room the last few minutes of my presentation. He gave me a confused look, snapped a picture, and headed out of the room. After my session was over, I snuck out of the hotel and left the conference.
Why was I being so silly? Well, no matter how kick-ass my paper was, it wasn't really part of my dissertation research. This is something I had to write for myself and my community. The problem is that this means that my personal life is encroaching onto my professional life. My work is being mixed up and my files are merging. What will happen to my universe now?
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
If you know my history, you can see why this blog intrigues me. As a wife of someone with CF and a sister-in-law of a lung transplant recipient, I can relate to Nate and Tricia on some level. I have also ridden the "NICU rollercoaster" with my preemie daughter. I look forward to reading their blog every day because amidst all of their challenges, they remain very faithful and positive. And Nate is an example of the spouse I strive to be - he has accepted the reality of Tricia's illness and embraced the role of "CF Husband." His love for her is unquestionable. I hope that my own husband is able to feel that love from me.
Anyway, another blogger and CF Husband regular has challenged other moms out there to share their joys of parenthood with Tricia. Since she is still very weak from the pregnancy, Tricia remains in the hospital while she waits for her transplant. Gwyneth is in the same hospital and Tricia recently got to hold her for the first time. The list I am sharing with Tricia come from my perspective - that of a mommy of two preemies.
My List for Tricia
- Being with your little one at HOME with no hospital staff (a litte scary at first, but you will enjoy the quiet)
- Holding your baby without monitors going off
- Thinking in ounces instead of cc's or grams
- Not having to think about your child's adjusted age
- Celebrating every milestone, no matter how small, because you know how hard it has been
- Realizing that the NICU is a distant memory
- Reassuring the dog that her tail will not be pulled anymore
- Singing Wiggles songs in a bad Australian accent
- Getting wet drooly kisses on the cheek
- Hearing "Mommy, I poo-pooed in the potty. Want to see?"
- Hearing my husband say to his asthmatic son: "You think once a day on the nebulizer is bad? I have to do this twice a day! And it takes me half an hour! You only have to do this for ten minutes!" (Keep in mind my son is only two years old)
Nate and Tricia - I know that I am only one of thousands of readers you have in the blogosphere, but know that I am cheering and praying for you. I appreciate your efforts to make people aware of Cystic Fibrosis and premature birth.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
BOGOTA, Colombia - Hundreds of Venezuelan troops moved Tuesday toward the border with Colombia, where trade was slowing amid heightening tension over Colombia’s cross-border strike on a rebel base in Ecuador.
The Organization of American States scheduled an emergency afternoon meeting in Washington to try to calm one of the region’s worst political showdowns in years, pitting U.S.-backed Colombia against Venezuela’s leftist President Hugo Chavez and his allies. Colombian and Ecuadorean officials, meanwhile, traded accusations in the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.
The escalation of tensions was triggered over the weekend when Colombia troops crossed the border with Ecuador and killed Raul Reyes, a top commander of the Colombian FARC rebels who had set up a camp there.
Chavez, who sympathizes with the leftist rebels, condemned the killing and angrily ordered about 9,000 soldiers — 10 battalions — to Venezuela’s border with Colombia. He warned Colombian President Alvaro Uribe that any strike on Venezuelan soil could provoke a South American war.
Colombia’s defense minister said Monday that he would not be provoked into mobilizing troops in response.
President Bush said the United States will stand by Colombia and criticized Venezuela’s government for making “provocative maneuvers.” Colombia has received some $5 billion in U.S. aid to fight drugs and leftist rebels since 2000.
Retired Venezuelan Gen. Alberto Muller Rojas, a former top Chavez aide, told The Associated Press the troops were being sent to the border region as “a preventative measure.”
Soldiers boarded buses and trucks at the Paramaracay base in central Venezuela Tuesday morning, and battalions also were moving out from the northern state of Lara, pro-Chavez Gov. Luis Reyes said.
The Venezuelan military has been tightlipped about troop movements. Venezuela’s armed forces include about 100,000 troops, Muller Rojas said. Colombia’s U.S.-equipped and trained military has more than twice as many.
Colombia to seek trial of ChavezUribe said his government would ask the International Criminal Court to try Chavez for “genocide” for allegedly financing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC, the country’s main rebel group. He cited a reference to a $300 million Venezuelan payment in documents found in a laptop the Colombians said belonged to Reyes.
The biggest losers from the killing of Reyes appeared to be the hostages that FARC rebels have held for years, pending a swap with rebel prisoners.
Ecuador and France said they had been communicating with Reyes, trying to secure a hostage release, when Colombia’s air force crossed the border to bomb his jungle camp. Along with Reyes, 20 other rebels were killed.
“I’m sorry to tell you that the conversations were pretty advanced to free 12 hostages,” Ecuador’s leftist president, Rafael Correa, said in a nationally televised address. “All of this was frustrated by the war-mongering, authoritarian hands” of the Colombian government.
French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani confirmed that France was in contact with Reyes as well, and that “the Colombians were aware of it.”
Colombia said documents in Reyes’ laptop indicate that Correa’s internal security minister met recently with a FARC envoy to discuss deepening relations with Ecuador, and even replacing military officers who might oppose that.
Publicly, there had been no indication of even preliminary progress in securing the release of any of the 40 hostages the FARC wants to swap for hundreds of jailed guerrillas.
Those hostages include three U.S. military contractors and former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, a dual French national who has become a cause celebre in Europe.
Saturday’s raid followed right on the heels of last week’s release by the FARC of four hostages to Venezuela’s justice minister, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin. The minister said the raid proved the “intent of the fascist Colombian government is to hamper the handover of hostages, because that is the path of peace.
Several Latin American leftist leaders have suggested the U.S. was intimately involved in executing the raid that killed Reyes. Colombian military officials have said U.S. satellite intelligence and communications intercepts have been key to putting the FARC on the defensive.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command would neither confirm or deny American military participation. “We do provide intelligence support to partner nations but I can’t get into details on operations,” Jose Ruiz told the AP from Miami.
Another victim of the crisis may be border trade worth $5 billion a year, most of it Colombian exports sorely needed by Venezuelans already suffering milk and meat shortages. Ecuador also depends on some $1.8 billion in trade with Colombia.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Last Easter, I lived this drama. My friend's husband was starting a photography business and was offering a photo shoot with live bunnies. I like to support small businesses and the kids were overdue for some portraits, so I agreed. Before we arrived at their home, I gave Sassy Girl and Destructo Boy a lecture about how to treat the rabbits. Gentle, I said. Be nice. As it turned out, we were the last appointment after a long day of shoots. The rabbits (named Bandit and Cinnamon) looked like they were going to commit suicide. After two shots, Destructo Boy forgot what "gentle" meant and started pulling one of the rabbits' floppy ears. The smaller bunny, not sure of his fate, took the opportunity to bolt out of the room and hide (At this point, I think I yelled, "Run, Bandit, Run!"). Destructo Boy crawled after the rabbit and knocked over the giant plastic Easter eggs. We didn't get any posed shots after that, but the photographer did manage to take several pictures of Sassy Girl and Destructo Boy chasing a very scared bunny.
The whole taking pictures with animals thing makes me feel uncomfortable. It ties in with the trend of buying kids chicks for Easter and puppies for Christmas and losing interest after the cuteness is gone. (Now, my mom did buy me chicks for Easter...then proceeded to serve them for dinner about six months later. But that's a different story...). I wonder what happens to the Easter portrait bunnies and chicks. It's not like they can design furniture (Cindy Crawford) or host a talk show (Tyra Banks) when their modeling career is over.
Needless to say, I thought I had seen it all. Then yesterday I received an ad for Easter pictures with....a live lamb! Check it out:
Crazy. What's next? Christmas photos with the manger animals? Valentine pictures with a real baby dressed as Cupid? Give me your ideas!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
TITLE I--CITIZENSHIP FOR CERTAIN CHILDREN BORN OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
SEC. 101. AUTOMATIC ACQUISITION OF CITIZENSHIP FOR CERTAIN CHILDREN BORN OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES.
(a) In General.--Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1431) is amended to read as follows:
''children born outside the United States and residing permanently in the United States; conditions under which citizenship automatically acquired
''Sec. 320. (a) A child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a citizen of the United States when all of the following conditions have been fulfilled:
''(1) At least one parent of the child is a citizen of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization.''(2) The child is under the age of eighteen years.''(3) The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.
''(b) Subsection (a) shall apply to a child adopted by a United States citizen parent if the child satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children under section 101(b)(1).''.
(b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections of such Act is amended by striking the item relating to section 320 and inserting the following:
''Sec. 320. Children born outside the United States and residing permanently in the United States; conditions under which citizenship automatically acquired.''
The way I see it, this law says that Destructo Boy became a citizen the moment the adoption was final. Right? As I found out recently, it's only half right. After I received Destructo Boy's new birth certificate, I tried to apply for his social security card. This is what I found on the Social Security Administration's website:
"Please note that the adoption decree (issued in a foreign country or the U.S.) or a birth certificate is not proof of U.S. citizenship for a foreign-born child. Proof of U.S. citizenship can be obtained from DHS."
DHS stands for the Department of Homeland Security. So, even though the law says that my son is a citizen via adoption and he has been issued an American birth certificate, I still have to have additional paperwork to prove he is a citizen. Before you all say "What's the big deal?," I'll tell you what the big deal is. A Certificate of Citizenship (COC) from the Department of Homeland security costs $420. I have to pay $420 for a piece of paper that explains what any idiot should figure out from the adoption decree.
And there's more to this story....the fee for a COC went up from $250 to $420 just this past July. We received all of Destructo Boy's final paperwork before the deadline, so I hurried and sent everything in. A MONTH LATER AFTER THE DEADLINE, I get everything back from DHS with no explanation. After talking to many people WHO KNEW NOTHING, I was forced meet them in person. It was there that they told me that our application was rejected because the Dallas office did not accept personal checks. Okay...they why does it say on the website instructions to "Make all personal checks to Department of Homeland Security"?????? And furthermore, couldn't somebody have written me a note when they sent everything back to me? Even after all my aruguing, they still made me pay the new fee because the application was not processed before the deadline.
So we caved and paid, but that's not the end. By the time all that madness was over, it was the end of August. It's now February. WE HAVE YET TO RECEIVE THIS $420 PIECE OF CRAP PAPER THAT WE NEED TO GET A SOCIAL SECURITY CARD. We called the DHS and they said they are just now processing applications from July. JULY???? It was supposed to take three months to process. What the f*%k are my tax dollars going to? What the f*%k is my $420 going to?
What bugs me the most is that I feel like Destructo Boy is not being treated fairly. In the eyes of the law, he should be a citizen. He IS an American citizen according to the law. When he left South Korea, he had to relinquish his Korean citizenship. The United States of America was supposed to legally accept him as one of theirs as soon as we signed the adoption papers. And technically they have...but he has to provide proof. I am a child of immigrants, so unfortunately this type of discrimination and idiocy is nothing new to me. When my mother applied to become an American citizen, the then-INS office sent her paperwork to the wrong agency and it took months to find it. I am now reliving this burearcratic nightmare through my son.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Enter holiday season. All of a sudden, my family starts fighting a losing battle with various viruses. Sickness means kids are banned from day care. Sickness means mommy can't work. Sickness means mommy and daddy get sick too. Now, I don't resent that I have to take care of my little ones when they are ill. On the contrary, Sassy Girl's and Destructo Boy's health are my number one priority. I don't trust anyone besides myself, Ebo, and certain members of the medical establishment to nurse my children back to health. It's just in times like these I resent all the crap I was fed as a young girl on how easy it was to "have it all" (meaning career and motherhood). Yes, it is possible, but rarely was I told about the sacrifices you have to make at both ends. And the guilt - oh the guilt of not being there. When I was six years old, I remember my mother went back to work after years of being a stay-at-home parent. I, being the freakishly literate kindergartener that I was, wrote her letter of protest (I think it said something like "I don't like you to work. You are mean."). My mother has kept the letter to this day. I want to take this time to aplogize to my mom for making her feel guilty.
So if little illnesses and missed day care days weren't enough, there was the surprise hospital stay. This time, it wasn't Sassy Girl or Destructo Boy worrying me to death. No, this time it was Ebo. I must mention that for a guy who has CF, he keeps himself pretty healthy. For the entire time I have known him, he has not had to be hospitalized. However, this time he had been fighting an ear infection for a couple of weeks and was feeling lousy. Right before Christmas, he began taking antibiotics and had a bad reaction. He ended up in the emergency room and had to stay in the hospital for a few days. But miraculously, he was released just in time to see Sassy Girl make her theatrical debut as an angel in our church's Christmas pageant. Of course, my parents came after the whole ordeal was over, so the kids and I were dealing with everything by ourselves. I have to give them credit - they were very good about going to and from the hospital to visit their daddy.
As if this weren't enough, Ebo was also scheduled for foot surgery in early January. As such, he was incapacitated again for a couple of weeks. I swear I should have gone into nursing instead of academia.
In the middle of all of this was Destructo Boy's birthday. I felt bad because I barely had time to plan anything. It was the first time I was ever thankful to live in the suburbs because there is a party place on every corner. All you have to do is show them the money and a party is planned for you. And the best part is that it doesn't have to be at your house.
The next thing I know, it's February. Feburary? Where the f*%k did the last two months go??? Life happened. It's time for me to take a breath.