Thursday, July 31, 2008

How we became a trans-racial family

Some of you know that all of our children are adopted. What you may not know is that some of our children are of a different ethnicity. This post is kind of a history of how our children came to our home.

When we decided to have children we tried a lot of things. Finally we tried in-vitro. I have teased my wife that it is the only time I got to stick it to her as a result of giving progesterone shots. Long story short it worked. My wife became pregnant and we were so excited. Now we were also on the list for adopting a child. We did not take our names off that list as pregnancy is never a for sure thing. A few weeks into the pregnancy we found out that my wife had miscarried. It was devastating. But it also was the start of our adoptions.

About two days after we found out that she had miscarried we got a call from our adoption worker. We had been selected by a birth mother to have a child placed in our home. The first pictures we have of him are in an ultra-sound video with a song that his birth mother sang in the background. Two months later our oldest son was born. We received him the day after and couldn't have been happier. He is a full-white male and is also the child who has autism.

Our second child came to us almost three years later. Our adoption worker phoned to see if we would be willing to foster a baby for a few days before the baby was placed. We said of course. She had my wife come in to fill out paper work and when my wife got there, they got me on the phone. We had no idea the surprise our adoption worker had for us. Yup you guessed it, we had been chosen again! This time the birth mother was half Bolivian and had a bunch of questions for us. I served a church mission in Chile and one of the things that would help the birth mom know that we were the right couple would have been if I served a mission in Bolivia. The funny thing is that I was supposed to go to Bolivia, there was an incident one week before I entered my church mission that required a change. Eventually the birth mother was satisfied and two days after her birth our 1/4 Bolivian daughter came into our home.

Our third child came to us via a friend's father-in-law. He is an OB-GYN and had a couple come in and ask if they could help place their child. We were in the middle of moving from Utah to Arizona and I was already spending my time in AZ. The birth couple originally chose another couple to place the child with. My wife thought that it wasn't right. When our third child was born it was determined that he was addicted to Meth. The first couple chosen took some time to think about taking him and decided it wasn't right for their situation. I was in AZ at the time this happened. My wife received a phone call asking if we were still willing to adopt the boy. Her answer was of course. She phoned me (I was at the airport about to fly home) and told me to check my voice mail when I landed to see if we were going to pick him up. Sure enough there was a message when I landed and I met my wife at the hospital. There we saw "Popeye" (the nickname the nurses gave him due to a palsy that happened at birth). We were in the room when the birth parents signed their rights away (talk about ripping out your heart strings). Our third child is full-white and is hyper beyond belief.

Our fourth child came to us through two agencies. We were working with an agency that deals in African-American adoptions. There was a baby available, but there was a chance of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We initially didn't feel we were ready for this challenge. So we initially declined. The baby was born premature and had to spend a month in the hospital. Near the month's end we were contacted again and told that the baby still did not have any adoptive parents and if we would reconsider. My wife and I did reconsider and after a lot of though and prayer decided that this girl belonged in our family. So off to pick her up. Since this was an out of state adoption we had to stay out of state until Arizona and Nevada agreed that we could take her cross state boundaries. She is full African-American and does show signs of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Our fourth and 1/2 child (don't worry I'll explain) came to our family through the same agency as our fourth child. He was 14 months when his birth mother decided to put him up for adoption. His 1/2 brother (6 at the time) was also put up for adoption. My wife's sister said that she would be willing to adopt the older child and we would adopt the younger. Unfortunately, there was a paternity issue with our adoption and three months after he was placed in our home we had to turn him over to his birth father. It was heart wrenching and we were devastated.

Our fifth child came to us through the same agency as our fourth. My wife told them after we had lost child number 4 1/2 that they would have a child for us soon and that this child would be of an Asian heritage. They took it in stride and didn't quite believe her as they don't get children of Asian heritage normally. Low and behold about 3 months after the failed adoption we got a call from the agency stating there was a child of Asian, Polynesian, and African-American descent and would we be interested. Of course we were interested (even though I was a little concerned about money). Our third girl came to us the day after she was born. My wife was actually in the delivery room to witness the birth.

So that is how we became a trans-racial family. It has been a wonderful experience that we would not trade for anything. We have so many things to teach our children because of the diverse heritages that they have. We are planning to make sure they know about their family history (as much as possible) and the traditions of the countries their ancestors hail from. Now do we get some funny looks when we are out as a family? Of course we do, but that is part of the fun. It also allows us to educate others on adoption and diversity. I hope that by raising our children with a knowledge of the diverse backgrounds they have that we will raise a family that celebrates their diversity and helps to educate others on it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

And now for something completely different

I went on a trip to San Francisco for a 1/2 day business meeting yesterday (I really need to start taking a digital camera with me). I traveled late and got to my hotel room at 1AM. After waiting for another family to check in I was given a room on the "Club Level". It was 1AM and I wasn't thinking about my good fortune.

I walk into the room and here is what I see. First the flat screen TV (large and can be positioned for viewing anywhere in the room. Second the King size bed that is actually comfortable. Believe me I needed that as I was tired.

Since I was only staying the one night (OK really about 6 hours total), I grabbed my toiletries (remember it's 1AM) and went to brush my teeth before bed. What do I find in the bathroom? Well the mirror had a strange rectangular area (diagonal about 9 inches) and a remote control on the countertop. I thought "No Way!" and sure enough it was an electronic mirror screen that would show TV while I got ready.

Finally, the soda I drank on the plane got to me and I had to use the toilet. I go about my business and am ready to flush when I notice there are two buttons. On one side it says .9GPF and the other says 1.6GPF. It's 1AM remember and I thought to myself "How am I suppose to know which button to push?" I mean I'm not in the habit of looking at what I just deposited and determining how many gallons at a minimum would be required to flush. I chose .9 figuring I'd save water. Good thing that handled it.

Now why the graphic story? Well think about it, how many of us really would know how many gallons of water are needed to flush our waste away? Moreover, who came up with the requirements and design that said "We need a toilet that gives the user a choice of flushing options"? I also wonder if my .9GPF choice wouldn't have done the job and I did a second .9GPF flush, would the hotel charge me for the .2 gallons of water I wasted when I should have pressed the 1.6GPF button?

Oh yeah, while I'm thinking of it, where was the sign warning me that "Chemicals in this room are known to the State of California to cause cancer."?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Parenting Autism

There has been a lot of talk about what Michael Savage said about autistic children. I didn’t hear the piece live and so I won’t judge the piece. ESPN did a follow-up on "J-Mac" the boy who played in the final basketball game of his senior year and scored 20 or so points in the last couple of minutes. "J-Mac" is now a speaker and touring the country to tout what autistic children can do. As a parent of an autistic child I thought I would share what some of the challenges and opportunities are.

Our oldest son is high-functioning autistic. We first noticed certain characteristics that didn’t fit in with the other children his age. The biggest clue was the quick mood swing from happy to angry. He would go into a rage over simple things. So we began to see what things set him off. We soon found it was things like a change in schedule or moving something that he had placed in a specific spot.

This is where the battle began. We searched for help and luckily my job allowed us to see specialists. The first one, I’m sad to report, didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong outside of behavior issues that could be handled by good parenting. However, we stayed true to the course and moved on to a second specialist. This one opened our eyes to our son’s behavior that showed he has autism. He showed us for instance that our son didn’t play with toys except to line them up. Lining up toys is a classic symptom of Autism. Needless to say we were depressed. Our son, our first child has an affliction that we can’t cure in a short period of time and maybe not at all.

The diagnosis however allowed us to get him help. We now have workers helping him every day. It’s still a lot of work as a parent though. He still has moments of rage and needs help calming down. He also has other behavior issues that we deal with. The one thing I have to say is that it is worth it. It’s definitely not easy, but when he tells us we are the best parents in the world or says that he loves us we know it’s working.

Our son is mainstreamed. This means that he goes to school with other kids his age just like everyone else. There are things he needs help with (reading and math for instance). This year however we are sending him to a new school that will not pull him out for that help. We are so looking forward to this year to see him progress.

Autism is a real affliction. We are lucky that our son is high-functioning. There are others who are not. Each of us as parents of Autistic children has challenges and opportunities. Again, it’s not easy, but it is so worth it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Me, Myself and I

Ok, so I realized that my first blog posting probably should have been about me. That way anyone reading my musings will understand where I come from. This post is going to rectify that mistake.

I grew up outside of Buffalo NY on 8 1/2 acres of gorgeous property. Yes I grew up in the sticks away from "civilization". Growing up in rural America afforded me the chance to learn a lot of diverse skills. From chopping wood, to gardening, to bailing hay, there was a lot of hard work.

That's not to say that I didn't get a chance to play. In fact growing up I played a little of everything. From baseball to street hockey to basketball to soccer. I quickly grew into a sports fanatic and still am to this day. My real sports love is soccer and I'm quite passionate about it.

My family is very conservative and so I have that set of values instilled in me. I still get weird looks when I open doors for people or use my best manners. I still use words like sir and madam. It also explains my political views.

After high school I went over 1800 miles away to college. I earned a BS in computer science. I took seven years to get it because I spent two of those years in Chile as a missionary. The time I spent in college and on my mission gave me valuable life experience that has served me well over the years.

My first real job afforded me the opportunity to meet my wife. I can definitely say I would be nowhere without her. We have been blessed to have the great opportunity to adopt our five children. They are a handful, but also bring us much laughter.

Before our children came along I got my MBA. This has given me a unique view of how to mix technology and business and serves me well in my current job.

I currently work as an application architect. I work on applications that support customers in the financial arena. I have met many wonderful people in my job and have made many friends there.

So that's a little bit about me. Maybe it will help you better understand the posts I create from now on.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Energy and Us

Ok, so this is my first post and I'm tackling a doozy, energy and the common man. I have gone out and read the two candidates proposals so this post will talk about what I think needs to be done. Here is Barack Obama's plan and here is John McCain's.

My opinion is that we need to do what we can to increase the supply of gas while at the same time be able to explore and utilize alternative energies. One good sign is that the government isn't the only entity coming up with plans. T. Boone Pickens' plan for example shows that the private sector is also trying to help. Of course the private sector is also driven by profit and sees a way to make money from this, but that is the American way.

The bottom line is that immediate relief for the common man is years away (I know it's weird that immediate is not today). We have to be able to account for the increase in gas prices in our family budgets and day to day activities. However we must also speak up and let our leaders know that they need to stop being passive and get busy working on this issue. I believe that we need to increase domestic supply of oil in the near term in order to lower gas prices. I don't believe that we can sacrifice the research and development of alternative fuels. That needs to move forward. A balance has to be achieved to allow the economy to move forward.

America has been a self-sufficient nation. It's the only way a capitalist market works. We can continue to be self-sufficient if we are smart about it. The partisan politics of today will not get it done.

So which proposal is the best? Right now I have to say that none of them are. I believe that the plans need to be merged in a way that will balance the need for relief with conventional oil and the transition to alternative energies. Remember that it takes several years to get new technology approved and infrastructure built to be able to supply the country. So sadly it will take time to get new technology to the masses. However, if done correctly new technology along with near term oil relief can be done within a couple of years instead of the 7+ years that will be the minimal wait time for either candidate's plan to take effect.

Bottom line is that it is time for America to stand up and put a plan in action that will:
  1. Increase supply to lower gas prices (if we need to suspend some current laws to do so, so be it)
  2. Continue to fund the research and development of alternative fuels and energy
  3. Move away from partisan politics and work together for the benefit of all Americans