Saturday, November 28, 2009

Toddler Steps


We took a semi-mobile toddler to Nana's house for Thanksgiving and came back with a walker! Max took his first 'real' steps on his own last Tuesday and has been testing the waters since. (He even showed his physical therapist his mad skillz that Friday!) We predicted that he'd be walking steadily by the time we came back home after a week away. Throughout the week he started walking more and more each day (at least attempting to walk more than crawl anyway), and this morning he TOOK OFF. As soon as he woke up he was all about walking from here to there. Mind you, he's not running marathons or anything, but the Boy is mobile! We half-joked this week that we're kind of glad that our current apartment is so tiny vs Nana & Dave's houses. (LOTS to get into! So much room to roam!) The little man proved us right as soon as we walked back in this afternoon. Here, there, everywhere! He's truly the master of the house now. (And we couldn't be prouder.)

We had a relaxing and delicious holiday. Max started eating huge meals starting Thanksgiving lunch and hasn't stopped since. He visited his Uncle Dave in Pittsburgh twice and got to see his 'pet fish'. (Ahem, the fish that may or MAY live in Dave's aquariums.) A big highlight was last night- Max made his Nana's millennium! As Michael was getting ready to take him to bed, Nana said to Max "Night, night!" and Max responded "Naht naht!"

video

Friday, November 20, 2009

National Adoption Month

"November is National Adoption month, a month set aside to raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care." (Description borrowed from the Child Welfare Information Gateway website)

I am an international adoptee, as are my three siblings. My sister and I were adopted from Korea and my two brothers from India. We were adopted by our incredible parents and had an awesome childhood growing up in the midwest. To our knowledge, we were all 'products' of orphanages overseas, so although we were not in foster care (as is the topic of National Adoption Month), I felt compelled to write today about my experience with adoption in general.

I have never been overly interested in my past until last spring when I asked my parents for my adoption records. There was something about being pregnant with my first child and realizing that I didn't know anything about my genetics or what my early months were like. The information in the file was very interesting. After all these years, it was kind of neat to know little things:

- I was 12 lbs and listed in fair health when abandoned at the orphanage
- When my diaper was wet or I was scolded (even in a joking manner), I 'fretted'
- I was in a crib of sorts with 6 (whoa, six!) other babies
- A note in the summary/recommendations: "Hope she can be taken care of with deep love"

My siblings and I were about as 'American' as they come. I remember being offended growing up when one of my dad's friends referred to us as "The Tribe". Or amused when a lady at church asked my parents "when they were going to tell us that we were adopted". Really?! Like our differing skin color wasn't clue enough? Hilarious.

In any case, my parents were always open about our adoption and facilitated ways for us to learn more about our cultures. I have many happy memories of times visiting the Festival of Nations in St. Paul, MN. FON was held at a huge convention center and featured all kinds of displays, music/dance concerts and food booths from many countries. We were able to try Korean food, as well as Indian. (Although I'd venture to say we all gravitated to the WI cheese curds!) I'd like to return someday, it was a jolly good time.

One summer, my brother and I even attended a Korean Culture Camp at the Minnehaha Academy. (Yes, me and my Indian brother.) One of the things I remember most was: damn, there were a lot of Koreans there! Growing up in our small town, my siblings and I were in the relative minority, so suddenly being surrounded by Koreans! Everywhere! was a new concept. We took classes in language and dance and ate Korean meals. (Much to the chagrin of my husband, to this day I do NOT like kimchi.)

Back to us being 'Americanized', I remember feeling really out of place at the camp. Perhaps this was because many kids attended summer after summer and already knew a bulk of everyone in their age groups. It just felt 'clique-ish' and frankly, I thought "What's the big fat hairy deal?" My point being though was that we were fortunate that our parents gave us the opportunities to learn more about our cultures. The sky was the limit as far as they were concerned.

And as for the hopes of my "being taken care of with deep love", heck yeah. Couldn't ask for better parents! I hope that every child, be it in the foster system or orphanages (here and overseas) can be as fortunate as my siblings and I were- to be adopted into a loving and nurturing family.

Thanks, Mom & Dad.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fight For Preemies Day

Max entered the world when he was 31 weeks and 6 days. In addition to his prematurity, he was born with the eColi gram rod negative virus. He was not expected to survive.

He's a miracle.

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and today, Nov. 17, is Fight For Preemies Day. Please please please visit here to see what you can do to help these little guys and girls. I pray for the day that every premature baby can have Max's miracle ending.


UPDATE: Our boy took his first steps on his own today! He was very proud of himself and his mom, of course, got teary eyed. There's no turning back now!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thankfulness

This morning during Max's nap I copied and pasted all of our Carepages posts and the comments left for us into Word docs. Seeing as his entrance into the world was so early, many of the 'normal' things you'd put into a baby book require rather lengthy explanations, so we're going to assemble a separate NICU Album of the posts Michael and I wrote, as well as pictures we posted on Max's Carepage site during our 30 days there. I took the time to notate certain things that an adult Max might not know and/or might want to know down the road. (i.e. who some of the commenters were and their relation to us, what certain short posts meant, etc.) I hope that one day he'll enjoy/appreciate having a comprehensive 'documentation' of his start in life.

While reading some of the posts again was very difficult, I'm really thankful that we wrote them and thus, 14 months later, are able to print them out for posterity. It also makes looking at our thriving boy in person even more incredible- the little peanut who gave us the scare of our life is now just shy of 20 pounds!

I was also touched once again by the support and love we received in comments from family, friends and even strangers! For those of you who are still reading this blog and commented- THANK YOU! They meant so much to us. Going back to our room at the Ronald McDonald House to write and/or read comments after a long day in the NICU always cheered us up. For so long, it was our contact with the outside world. We are so thankful to have had such amazing support during our journey there.

Even after Max came home with us, we continued posting on Carepages now and then, particularly when Michael was diagnosed with cancer and after my Aunt Jean was a victim of a hit-and-run last December. The support continued and we are forever grateful. Hard to believe it's been a whole year since all of this happened!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two Candles


Today Madeline Alice Spohr would have blown out two candles. My thoughts have been with her Heather and Mike all day. The world wide web will always remember and celebrate your life, Maddie!

Please take a moment to visit Friends of Maddie, a charity created in memory of Maddie to provide support to families of NICU babies. Having spent an extended amount of time in the NICU ourselves, this is a cause I fully support.

On a side note, today has also been a day to celebrate and honor our veterans. I'm a proud sister, daughter and granddaughter! Thank you, Eric, Dad & Buddy!