How to Manipulate Your Children || On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from October 2008.

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from October 2008.

We have one working tv in our house, and it’s in the middle of the living room. So when the kids get to watch tv, I have to listen to it. They usually get a half hour after naps, and they usually choose Little Bill or Backyardigans. I was just so not in the mood today. So I reached into my bag of psychological trips and offered Jafta the “forced choice”. It’s when you give your child the illusion they are choosing something, when in fact the options lead to one outcome. I wanted the outcome to be High School Musical. ūüôā

So when Jafta woke up from his nap, I asked if he wanted to watch Oprah or High School Musical.

Guess what he chose? I got a break from preschool cartoons, and he was just happy he didn’t have to watch Oprah!




Taggerific || On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from October 2008.

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from October 2008.

1. I brush my teeth and floss a lot. Some might call it obssessive.

2. I hate fish. I hate seeing them, I hate smelling them, I hate eating them. People are always offering me a bite of their entree and saying “try this, it’s not fishy”. And I always think it’s disgusting.

3. I start to go a little crazy when I haven’t been out of the US a few times a year. I don’t know why. Oh wait, yes I do. My dad is the same way.

4. I am the least athletic person ever. Ever. My head is a flying ball magnet.

5. I like to read Us Magazine more than I’d like to admit.

6. I was on Mickey Mouse Club when I was 12.

7. I know all the lyrics to Young MC’s¬†Bust a Move,¬†Sir Mix-A-Lot’s¬†Baby Got Back,¬†and Rob Base’s¬†It Take Two.¬†Yo.

I am tagging Ali, Andrea, Anne, Bonnie, Diane, and Andrew & Chad.

What’s Taking So Long in Haiti? || On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from October 2008.

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from October 2008.

People are always asking me why our adoption is taking so long. It is such a hard question to answer. How do you explain the insanity of Haiti adoption? It’s a place with absolutely no infrastructure, poor communication, every-changing rules, and absurd corruption. The hoops for completing a legal adoption are almost laughable. Except you’ve been waiting too long to laugh.

Our orphange director John was writing about one of these hurdles in a recent blog post. This story is not about us. Keanan’s birth parents are both deceased – which is a whole other bag of worms. But I think this story is a great example of the insanity of adoption in Haiti, how narrowly things can sometimes come together, how much work our orphanage director must do on a daily basis, and how every child coming home is¬†literally¬†a miracle.

We try to keep tabs on the biological parents because we need
them several times in the adoption process. We need them to sign various
documents, to be interviewed on the Haitian side to verify that the parent in
fact is without coercion relinquishing the child and to verify documents like
birth certificates, death certificates etc.
But over the years there have been a few times when we have lost touch of the birth parent and have prayerfully had to go looking for him/her. This is what happened this week.

We had an appointment on Wednesday, October 8th for the birth
parent to be interviewed at the consulate; but we were not able to locate this
parent. We for over a month had been trying to find her but with no
success. And then we heard that she was probably in the Dominican
Republic, at a town near the border. So last Monday Junior and I headed
for the Dominican Republic, the country which shares two thirds of the island of
Hispaniola. Haiti takes up the other third. We went in the little
Suzuki since my truck was not working. We arrived a few miles from the
border after having gone through stretches where water, left over from last
month’s storms, was covering the road. We were able to make it through the
first two but clearly we were not going to make it through the third stretch
that we came to. So we turned around and planned on coming back on
Tuesday. Remember the appointment was for Wednesday, the next day.

So the next day we headed out again, but this time in my truck
which still wasn’t fixed and was shaking big time. We headed out with no
visa to enter the Dominican Republic and with only a couple of photos of the
birth mom that we were trying to locate. We passed through ten sections
where water was covering the road. Several of the sections were quite deep
and we actually turned around once thinking that we couldn’t make it even in the
pickup truck. I suppose that these were the cautious thoughts of someone
who has submerged a car, Beth’s car, in a river. But as we
were heading back to Port-au-Prince, a pickup much like mine passed us heading
for the border. So we turned back toward the border following the
pickup. We passed through ten sections where the water was covering the
road (The photo left is not a river, but it is the road covered with water).
And at four of them we were holding our breath and praying hoping not
to stall the truck. But we made it to the border.

Now here we were with no visa to get across the border and so as we do often do we go into talking mode. In Haiti there are times when we have to do a lot of
talking to get things done and give a little money as well. In about ten
minutes we passed the Haitian border and now we faced the Dominican border,
where we had to contend with the racketeers who could see that we were not sure
what we were doing. But living in Haiti has equipped us to deal with
such situations and so after about thirty minutes and about $10.00 we were in
the Dominican Republic and heading toward the border town where we heard that
the birth parent is living. We, equipped with the photos, drove around for
about showing the pictures and asking if anyone recognized the picture and could
take us to where this parent lived. After about ten minutes we found
someone who said that he recognized her and would take us to her house.
About thirty minutes later we parked in front of the house where we found out
she used to live. She now lived about eight hours away in the

We were able to get a phone number and after only about one hour of
being in the Dominican Republic, we were able to talk with her. She said
that she would borrow money and come Thursday, but I told her that we needed her for an appointment on Wednesday and to make a long story shorter let me tell you that on Wednesday morning at 10:00 she was in our office. We prepped her
for the interview and arrived at the Consulate at 11:20 and left at about
1:30. She did great and now wait for the date for the visa

This kind of stuff has happened before and as I said,
I have mixed emotions. It is pretty amazing that we could find her and
have her here the next day. Yet really I am not surprised as there were so
many praying and even her birth daughter who will soon be traveling to her new
adoptive home. She said to her mama, I prayed real hard that John
would find you. GOD ANSWERED HER PRAYER.


Surrendering to Looking Stupid, Part 2 | On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from October 2008.

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from October 2008.

I wrote about my own¬†surrender to looking stupid¬†a few months ago. Lately, I am realizing that this theory must apply to my children as well. Okay, let me try to circumvent any nasty comments by saying this: I don’t think my kids ever look stupid.

But . . .

sometimes the choices they make are just not my choices. And sometimes their fashion sense just doesn’t make any sense.

I’ve mentioned my disdain for character clothing, and my loathing of crocs. And yet, for some reason, these two items seem to hold a mythical attraction for Jafta. He has one “character” outfit that he begs to wear EVERY SINGLE DAY. Sometimes, at naptime, I will come in the room and find he has changed into this outfit by himself. And he wants to wear his crocs everywhere he goes. Pair this with his red Angels hat, which he also insists on wearing every day, and it’s not exactly fashion city around here.

And then there is India. She has her own quirks about dressing. She demands to wear her crocs, too, but she likes them with socks. Classy. She also refuses to wear pants, and won’t tolerate anything in her hair. So she is my messy-haired girl wearing dresses with socks and crocs. And for some reason, her latest demand is that she will only consent to wearing about four of the dresses in her closet. All of which are way too small for her.

Now I believe in picking my battles. I do not think that clothing is a battle worth fighting. But sometimes, my pride gets in the way. When we show up to preschool and all the kids are wearing¬†Paul Frank¬†and skater shoes, I grimace a little at my son in his Cars outfit. When we go to church at all the girls are in cute outfits with combed hair, matching bows and mary-jane shoes, I laugh and smile at India’s strong will, and inwardly wish she was wearing an outfit of MY choosing.

In my psychotherapy practice, I counsel people all the time about the concept of¬†differentiation. It’s the idea that caring about someone doesn’t mean they need to reflect our own choices in every way. It means allowing our spouse/friends/kids to have different views, different opinions, and different tastes. Intimacy is not birthed out of being like-minded with people, or liking the same music, or clothes, or shoes. That is an adolescent’s view of intimacy, and as we move into adulthood, we choose relationships based on shared values but enjoy the differences in our circle of friends. And more importantly, we recognize the choices of others are not a reflection of us. When we let go of this false need for managing others, our relationships blossom.

Wow, that sounds great, huh? So why do I struggle so much to do this with my kids? In a way, it does seem like kids are the final frontier in the process of differentiation. It’s hard to let go of the notion that they are walking and talking representatives of who we are as a parent. But when parents treat their children like little extensions of themselves who need to mimic them in every way, where does that lead? IT BACKFIRES. We’ve all seen the ending to that story of control, and it’s not pretty.

This all takes me back to a memory of the outfit I choose to wear for my first day of high school. I was 13 years old, and having kind of an identity crisis. I couldn’t decide if I was going to be a punk-rock chic or a hip-hop diva. I loved the music and fashion and attitude of both these worlds, and back in that day, it was all about personal expression of your musical tastes.

My decision . . . and it is with great pain and embarrassment that I write this . . . my decision was to make a pair of MC Hammer-style pants out of a punk-rock fabric.

Yes, you read that correctly. I¬†made¬†these pants. Not only was this the lamest idea EVER, but the idea was executed by the crappy sewing skills of a 13-year-old with a semester of home economics under her belt. (I’m sure you are surprised to hear that rapper pants in punk fabrics were not readily available at the mall.)

My mom, watching this whole debacle, had two choices: a) try to talk me out of this fashion disaster, or b) take me to the fabric store and help make sure my sewing didn’t leave my butt hanging out. My mom chose to help me make the pants. I know she thought they were hideous, but she was supportive anyways. And you know what? The result is, I got out of my rapping punker stage pretty quickly. Whereas had she balked at it, I probably would have kept up appearance just to be rebellious.

All this to say, my kids may like country music (sorry ya’ll), may want to dress lame, may want to join the¬†color guard¬†or follow a Dave Matthews tour or be in a¬†handbell ensemble¬†or wear a sequined leotard while singing a Depeche Mode song in a talent show (oh wait that was me). Whatever choices they make that don’t endanger their morals or integrity are gonna need to be left up to them. And me . . . I’m gonna need to¬†let go. Starting now.

A Little Haiti on Balboa | On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from September 2008.

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from September 2008.

Last night we had the pleasure of getting together with several other families adopting from Haiti for a beach bonfire. It’s always so fun to hang out with other adoptive parents. For one, it’s nice to just get together and chat with people who know all the dirty details about the Haitian adoption process. We mulled over the changes in IBESER, the Gassant firing, the 1974 law, the mess in Parquet, the timing of MOI, how passports are printed, when to file the I600 . . .¬†Confused??¬†Exactly why it’s nice to have some folks to share in the insanity of it all.

But I also love these gatherings because it is so neat to meet other families who are passionate about adoption, with children who resemble mine, and see them all play together. When we first arrived, we met Debbie and her husband, who are in the process to adopt a 16-year-old girl. We saw¬†Angela¬†with her three new Haitian children, who just came home this summer! Seeing her newly enlarged family gives me hope that our own adoption will happen. As soon as we arrived, Angela’s 16-year-old started holding India, and her son Jude started playing with Jafta. Her 4-year-old daughter crawled right up into my lap. Despite the fact that these kids are just learning English, they immediately took to my family, and it was a lovely picture. Then our friends¬†Alida¬†and her family came, who are hoping to start the process of foster adoption. Her oldest boys hit it off with Jafta, too. They were running around the beach pretending to spar with light sabers in no time! Finally¬†Donica¬†and Paul came, who we have so much in common with. They have two kids similiar ages to ours, and are also adopting a little boy from Haiti who will be the same age as their bio daughter. So we are both creating “virtual twins”. It was fun to talk about how life will change once we can bring our kids home.

I really appreciate the relationships I have with these families, and they are a support to me, even when we just sit around a bonfire singing worship songs. Their presence gives me strength.

And who said meeting people online was a bad thing??? ūüôā

********the photo above was taken on our last trip to Haiti *************