Friday, December 6, 2013


We had to get up early today. It was the big day. But Lo woke up around 1:30 AM I woke at 4:00AM. We both went back to sleep but it was still an early start. Riley was not scheduled to arrive until around 11AM but we still wanted to eat a good breakfast and prepare for her. 

Mo the social worker called at 10:45. We still had some paper work to do. So we met her in the lobby to get that done. Riley showed up soon after that and after some pleasantries with the other families, all 6 of went to our room. Three social workers, Lo and I and of course the star of the show, Riley. 
All went well while the social workers were there. As soon as it was evident that they were leaving, Riley became inconsolable. She knew that today she was leaving her foster mom and staying with us but as they were leaving, she cried and cried that she loved them. It was truly heart wrenching. 

They left, and Lo held her for an hour while she just cried her little eyes out. She was grieving her losses. First of the only mother she had ever known and then the social workers to whom she was very attached. For the first time in my life, I was truly helpless and all I could do was watch and listen. It was made worse by the fact that Riley wants nothing to do with me. Although today was better than yesterday in the respect that at least she does not run away from me and scream, I cannot hold her. I had no idea my heart could hurt so bad. As my own tears slipped down my face, Riley saw me through her own tears and stopped to wonder what I was crying about. She stared at me for what seemed hours but was really only about 3 minute. I found her eyes to be captivating. I could not look away. God has given me an instant love for her. 

As the afternoon wore on, she began to lighten up and play with Lo. She played with blocks, with her piggy bank, her first english word was money! I taught her. She played peek a boo at the top of her lungs and as you can see from the picture above, she is a camera hound. She cannot pass a mirror without stopping to admire herself and strike a pose and wave. She loves blowing kisses at the video camera as well. 

We just hung around the hotel room the whole afternoon. We played, we cried and played some more. Then we all cried a little bit more and then played some more. It went on all afternoon. Crying, playing, crying. All in all, it was much easier than Lo or I thought it would ever be. 

Around 5PM we went down to the hotel restaurant and had dinner. I had pizza, Lo had a club sandwich and Riley had fried rice and chicken. She ate it and played in the restaurant at the same time. The wait staff were very kind. Since we were the only ones in the entire dining room, they took real good care of us and Riley. 

She is still real shy around me. During her bath she almost had a fit when I brought her bath toys in and she was unclothed. Some one taught her modesty. As I write, we are trying to get her ready for bed. So far so good, but we are only in the pajama stage, we have not started actually going to bed. Who knows that that will be like. So anyway, another day in the journey. Eventful but also less so than we though it might be. 

Monday, July 24, 2006

Day Three,8:15PM
  Dinner is over. Tony Romas tonight. We wanted to eat something we did not have to inspect for unidentified objects. We’re tired after a long emotional day today. We spent the morning eating and waiting for Riley to come to the hotel. She arrived around 10:30 and we went with the social workers and other adoptive families to the Central Department Store for a day of shopping with the kids. 
Turns out Riley is a shoe addict just like Lo. 

While yesterday was a pretty emotional day, today was that in spades. Riley was in a foul mood. Mostly I think she is just really frightened. She knows she is leaving the only mother figure she has ever known and the foul mood is just her way of grieving that loss. Anyway, at the department store, any eye contact with either Lo or I resulted in Riley simply throwing temper tantrums in various styles and assorted volume levels. After around 5 or 6 of these, Lo and I were pretty frazzled. Not sure of what we were supposed to do, we just followed her and the social worker around and tried to act normal. Whatever that is at this point!

Just I thought it was a lost cause, I noticed that Riley and the social worker were in the kid shoe department. Riley found a pair of Barbie shoes that she liked and sure enough found the courage to ask me to buy them for her. Even though she would not actually hand them to me, she wanted them bad enough to stop crying for a little while and call me papa. I told Lo later that I always knew that the way to a woman’s heart was through her shoes!

After the department store experience, we went to lunch where I was informed that Riley wanted hot dogs for lunch. That was no problem, but that was the only Western food item on the menu so I ordered fried noodles and chicken in a chili sauce. WOW, it was hot! And it lasted for hours. My lips were on fire for several hours after lunch. But I ate it and oddly enough, I liked it. 
We drove back to the hotel and it was a 15-20 minute drive but Riley was tired from the crying and shopping and fell asleep standing up in the van!

We got back to the hotel soon after lunch and the social workers told us to take Riley to the room and wait for us. We had some paperwork to complete at that time. I picked up Riley and headed for the elevator and listened to the most tortured crying ever. Riley was devastated to be carried by me. Finally she desperately reached out for Lo to carry her. Lo held her for 30 minutes while she cried and screamed. The social worker finally came and Riley ran to her for comfort like she did yesterday. This time though, she told Riley to stay away. It was part of the separation process. This did not go over real well. Riley was not to be denied. Finally she calmed down and we were able to complete the paper work. When that was done, the social worker left and Riley remained with us for another 30 minutes. 30 minutes of crying and weeping. Lo and I prayed for her and tried our best to console her but she just cried that she wanted to go home over and over again. We finally took her down stairs and along with the other families, began saying good by to the kids. In an unguarded moment, I greeted Riley with the traditional Thai greeting Sawadee, what do you know, she promptly returned it and then waved goodbye and said goodbye in English! Well the social worker saw it and decide that we were saying goodbye to early. So we walked outside to the waiting van and there she made Riley say it again. Only this time, she made the little curtsey that goes with the greeting, kissed Lo and I both on the cheek and gave us a little hug. She got in the van, the window opened and she waved goodbye to us until the van pulled away. 

We ran for the hotel room and simply collapsed. The emotional drain was exhausting. We spent the better part of an hour talking about what ifs. You know, what if this and what if that. All things we could not control, so in the end, we went downstairs and ordered a drink. It seemed appropriate in the moment. 

Tomorrow, Riley comes to live with us permanently. We will see what happens then.

Sunday, July 23, 2006 THE CAST OF CHARACTERS

End of Day Two
The Cast of Characters:
There is of course, us, the blissfully ignorant adoptive parents, the Eckstoms’ adopting their second Thai child. They are getting a little boy. Then there are the Paulsons, they are from Norway and adopting their third Thai child, they too are getting a little boy and they have brought their other two children. A boy around 8-9 years old and a girl who looks maybe 10-12. It’s hard to tell with Asian kids. The soon to be adopted children are all are under two years old except for Riley who is a few days shy of 4 years old. This was apparent when after viewing a video shown by Mo one of the young social workers about HSF, they brought the children into the hotel meeting room. Instantly the tension went up in the room as parents and children began looking at one another. Trying to see what was going to happen. Trying to see if they would be comfortable around these strange and quite large white people! Besides the three families, there are three social workers. Mo, and two who were quite nice but we never did get their names. 

When the children arrived, the two young boys went to work having a great time. They played soccer, played with the blocks and various other toys the social workers brought with them. Riley though being 4 and somewhat suspicious of what was happening, took some time to warm up. It took 30 minutes of blowing bubbles and using three bottles of bubbles to get her  past the wary stage. After that, she batted a balloon for another 20 minutes that Lo blew up and tied for her, after that, it was the car that she pushed around with us all the while maintaining her distance from me. For some reason, she is quite reserved and nervous around me. She let me hold her hand when she first came in but quickly thought better of it and never once touched me again or let me get close. She would play bat the balloon with me but that was it. 

Around 11:30 AM we went across the street to Thai House Two for lunch. Wow, there were giant prawns in a real dirty tank, mirrors on every wall except the outside wall that was floor to ceiling dirty windows. Then again, all windows in Bangkok are dirty. Ok, all flat surfaces in Bangkok are dirty! So anyway, we ordered fried rice with chicken. Really it was the only thing on the menu that we recognized! They served it with soy sauce that at first glance seemed pretty benign but oh my god… was fire hot! I used two bowls! 
At lunch, Riley started to warm up to me. I think it was because I was video taping the whole thing and I turned the screen around so she could see herself being videoed and suddenly she was a star! The rest of the time, she spent waving and blowing kisses to herself and giggling like the little girl she is!

After lunch, we came back to the hotel room with the social worker and Riley. We spent an hour with her. She tried on the clothes we brought with us. We discovered that she is a girly girl. The clothes made her smile and laugh and she made several trips to the mirror to admire herself. The shoes sent her into hysteria. On they went and she spent 15 minutes showing them off to us. I have video of her nearly twisting her leg off to get her feet high enough into the air for us to see! After this, we went to visit her home. It was outside of Bangkok about an hour. She lives in a two story home that is unlike anything we have ever been in. No glass windows, no chairs, (we sat on the floor, I nearly died) exposed corrugated tin ceiling, VERY steep stairs, no indoor plumbing that I could see, no flushing toilet, two dogs, a bird, no lawn to play on and of all things, a computer. We spent an hour sitting on the floor, talking with the foster mom, her sister, several of Riley’s cousins and two social workers. I should say, everyone else talked, we listened and occasionally asked questions that they answered in depth with much talking and laughter. Riley spent the time wiggling around on the cousins and drinking orange soda.  
Soon we had to leave and we all gathered around for a group photo. It was sad to leave but Riley was wore out. It had been a big day for her and she missed her nap. 

So after all the excitement, travel and meeting with the family, we came back to the hotel. We spent the rest of the afternoon wondering what in the world we were doing here? The emotional roller coaster between excitement and terror had been heating up over the last few weeks and the toll was beginning to show. I felt sick to my stomach, Lo was almost in tears and neither of us felt we were up to the task ahead. We have taken so many risks in the last few years, some of them quite large but nothing compares to this. It has the potential and most certainly will test everything we have as we try to be good parents. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear that she will turn out to be the anti Christ or at least his right hand woman! Ok so that last one is a little melodramatic. You get the picture though. Thousands of previously unknown emotions have really wrung us out but we will survive and prosper. I know that God has a plan for us in this and we are faithfully following His direction to live one day at a time and see His hand on each day. 

Tomorrow is another big day. We go shopping! I am terrified that she will love it. Just what I need, another clothes and shoe addict!

Friday, July 21, 2006 WE TRAVEL TO BANGKOK (BKK)

17 Hours on a plane! Whew, we are glad that is over! Actually it wasn’t that bad. The trouble started in LA. We arrived early, went to the Thai Air terminal and discovered we were 2 hours early to check in. So we went upstairs and had some McDonald’s food. When Thai air opened, we went down and stood in line at the business class desk. When it was our turn, we found out that we needed a reciept that our travel agent had in fact provided but I forgot to take with me. We had a seat, but the reciept was for the upgrade to business class. We waited an hour and after several frantic phone calls home, we were able to get our travel agent Nancy to fax over a copy of the form that Thai Air need to allow us on in business class. For awhile, it looked like we might be traveling coach!

So we waited until 11PM, (its now currently 9PM in the Royal Silk lounge which Thai Air shares with British Airways and Quantas. It was really nice to not have to hang out with the common folk on the terminal! (just kidding, the lounges do the make the wait easier to handle though)

Anyway, we boarded, and the seats were magnificant! They reclined electronically all the way down so after dinner we slept almost 10 hours right off the bat. We woke up over Toyko Japan. Video on demand meant that Lo got to watch a chick flick while I watched a guy movie. Free headsets, free socks to keep your feet warm, free toothbrushes, free alcohol if you want it, free eye mask to help you sleep, business class rocks! This was the easiest long haul flight we have ever done! Tons of leg room and even a privacy panel between seats if needed.

So we leave the airport, travel down the streets of Bangkok and it seems like home again. The smells of the city, the black mold growing on every flat surface, the dogs fighting in the streets and everywhere you look, motorcycles. Little tiny ones. It is the only way for millions of people to get around in this city, one of the most congested cities in the world. For us though, it is a Toyota Limousine and driver that speaks no English.

The Amari Boulevard Hotel that is to be our home for the next week and a half is nice, but below the standard set by the JW Marriott Hotel right down  the street and where we are used to staying when in Bangkok. We have a balcony, which will be nice when our little Riley comes to stay with us next week.

So tomorrow, we have a little video session about HSF, the Thai sister agency of Holt International, the adoption agency we used. Then Riley, whose current Thai name is Chamchan (pronounced Jamjan) will come to see us for an hour and then we go visit her foster parents. All this is over around 2PM. Then we have the rest of the day to ourselves to think and ponder just what in the world we have done!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 ...Strength For the Journey

Lo found a Scripture that has given her strength. She is scared but putting  her faith in God that he has a blessing in store for her through this adoption!

This evening we put Chamchan’s picture on the refrigerator. It is real! We are going for it!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Monday, October 17, 2005 Coming Around

Today we discussed Chamchan at length. We talked about the possibly of mental illness. We’ve decided that it is a remote chance at best. Also we talked to Holt today. Chamchan is ours if we want her! The other family backed out due to the mental illness issue. 
Lo is coming around and is almost 100% on board but is still terrified just like I am. 

Sunday, October 16, 2005 A Week of Praying and Thinking

Cham’s medical history indicates her mother is schizophrenic. This is an issue with us. We are learning about this and if it is genetic or not. So far it is not. Even if it is, I believe God can change the DNA of His creation and bring a little girl home to us healthy and sound. Lo is VERY nervous about this journey. Sometimes she thinks she will lose her life inside the demands of motherhood. I understand this but also I know she will find fulfillment in it as well. Her heart cries out whenever the subject of orphan children comes up and I cannot help but believe that when Cham comes home, her heart will connect with her just like the orphans we love in Myanmar.