Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why Single Motherhood?

I get asked this question sometimes. I'm sure that some women may intentionally choose this route. But I'd imagine the majority of us single moms-to-be didn't set out with this plan. I suppose I should only speak for myself though.

I've always hoped that someday my prince would come. And a few times I thought he had. Unfortunately, I found out I was wrong.

I was married once. Had a beautiful, fairy tale wedding. The wedding of my dreams, in fact. The marriage however....not so much. It seems my husband forgot one key element of what it means to be married. He forgot to stop dating. Other women. So that was that.

After my divorce, I decided that if I hit the age of 35 and had no prospects on the horizon, I'd pursue motherhood on my own. That seems to be the magic number for a lot of women for some reason. But for me, that was my cut off.

I fell in love again in the interim. But alas, that one was 10 years younger than I. Really silly idea, I guess. A lot of fun while it lasted though.

So in 2006.. I turned 34. With no prospects on the horizon. I realized that even if the perfect guy fell in my lap that day (which he'd pretty much have to do since I've made zero effort to look for him), it'd take far too long for me to make the determination that he was "The One".

I'm a lot older and wiser now. Not nearly as trusting as I used to be. And the older I get, the more determined I get that I won't settle for less than what I deserve.

So I gave up the fairy tale.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I'm not open to Prince Charming if he should decide to appear. But I'm not waiting for him any longer.

The one thing I've known my entire life is that I wanted to be a mother someday. No woman should have to give up the dream of motherhood just because she hasn't found a husband. And what if you really don't want one anyway?

I'm so grateful to live in a time and a place where it's become acceptable to do this on my own. And I'm so glad I waited until I was a little older. I'm glad that I lived my life for so long without children. Now I'm more patient, more appreciative, more settled and I know better.

I've lived out the selfishness of my twenties. I've had fun and been reckless. I've made my home. I've worked hard and been successful in my career. I've lived and I've learned. I've enjoyed my freedom. I've figured out who I am and what I want. And I'm ready now.

I'm ready for bottles, bedtime stories, first steps, sloppy sticky kisses, ponytails, special trips for ice cream cones, giggles and laughter, kissing scraped knees, training wheels, secret pinkie swears, soccer games or ballet ... or both, and hearing a beautiful little girl call me mommy.

I know it won't be easy. There are days that I'm scared. Will I do this right? Do I have enough money? Do I have enough energy? Can I really do this by myself?

But I know that I already love this little girl that I haven't even met. And I know that I'm ready to be her mother. With or without the prince.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mia's Bead

I love my Pandora bracelets. They're my most favorite pieces of jewelry. Every bead represents something important to me. A memory, an event, a person, an object. Well, except for the glass beads. Those are just pretty.  :)

I'd known for awhile I'd find a bead to mark the memory of my referral day. I thought I'd get Mia's birthstone. But when I went to the store and saw this one that looks like a cherry blossom.....
That was the one!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Her Name and Another Red Thread...

The "red thread" is referenced a lot within the Chinese adoption community. It's actually old Chinese folklore about a red thread that destines soul mates to meet . But I think adoptive parents have taken some liberties so that it applies to our circumstance as well. It basically just speaks to fate, destiny, kismet, "meant to be", whatever you wanna call it.
But all along the way you'll see signs of your red thread if you look for them. I have anyway. The biggest one... the penguins in the background of Mia's referral pic. But we'll talk more about that another day. Today I want to get my thoughts down about her name.

Mia's Chinese name is Tong Min Ying. It's pronounced Tawng Meen Een. It's still hard for my English speaking brain to look at these words and pronounce them this way. But I'm getting used to it.

Every baby ever placed in the Tonggu SWI carries the first two names of Tong Min. Only the third name is unique. They're named Tong for the location of the orphanage in Tonggu County. Tonggu means "copper or bronze drum". From what I've seen written of the place it's known for copper mining among other things.

There's also a well known landmark called "Tonggu Rock". Legend has it that it used to sound like a copper drum but during the 16th century there was a large protest of locals against the tyranny of the government. A famous general, Deng Zilong, was sent to suppress the rebellion. The leader of the protest hid inside the copper drum rock but General Zilong split it in two with his sword to capture him. When he split the rock, a golden cock {the rooster kind ;)} flew out never to return....and the copper drum rock was silenced forever. Interesting, eh? Here's a photo I found of it on the internet.
Min means "of the people". It's got a very pro-government, pro-communism connotation. My Chinese friend who translated it says it shows the orphanage director is very proud of his political party. I respect that. That's the way of life in China... no matter how we Americans feel about it. But because her first two names are not unique to her and because of their meanings, I'm choosing not to use them as part of her western name. We'll keep Ying.

So she has four names now. Mia Renee Ying.... and my last name, of course.

Mia is Italian and chosen simply because I love the way it sounds. I was delighted to find that it means "mine". Which I thought was appropriate since I'll be solo parenting her. She'll be all "mine". LOL! But now knowing her Chinese names, it takes on a new interpretation for me. I'm happy that she's mine... and no longer only just "of the people".  Renee is my sister's middle name. Mia will share it in her honor.

And Ying...well, there's a story there, too. I've said many times that I hoped her Chinese name would have a meaning that could be interpreted into a drawing. You see, I have a few tattoos. I wanted another in my daughter's honor.

Early in the process when I told someone this I said "with my luck her name will mean "blowing wind" or something really difficult to draw. I couldn't get lucky enough for it to mean something cool like "cherry blossom". That's just the image that popped in my head at that moment. Those are the examples I stuck with when re-telling this story over and over again during the last 5 years of this wait.

So you know where this is going, right? Ying means cherry blossom!!! In fact, my Chinese friend said not only does it mean cherry blossom but if a native Chinese speaker were to see the character they would immediately have an image in their head of the "PINK cherry blossom trees like those in Washington DC"!

I couldn't have found a more perfect name. Mia Renee Ying. That's my child. Somehow perfectly chosen for me.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Where is Mia?

Since most of us didn't study much about Chinese geography in high school I thought I'd explain a little about where Mia is right now. She's in Jiangxi Province (pronounced jiang-shee) located in southeastern China. It's the hot pink province in the lower right corner.
Here's a closer look. The provincial capital of Jiangxi is Nanchang. That's where I'll meet Mia for the first time. We'll be there for about a week before traveling to Guangzhou in Guangdong Province. That's where the US consulate is. We have to stay there for another week while we wait for Mia's travel visa. You'll also see Beijing further north. I'm hoping I'll have enough notice to travel there for a few days before heading to Nanchang.

Mia lives in Tonggu County. Prounounced Tawn-goo. It's a very rural area about a 4 hour drive southwest of Nanchang. Mountainous, lush and green from the photos I've seen. It's so small I'm not able to find a lot of info about it. But I've read in a few places that the population is somewhere between 130,000-140,000 people.
Which is really small for China standards. Considering Tonggy County covers 1548 square km. That's 597 square miles. To put that in's about the same size as Houston, Texas. And Houston has a population of 2.1 million people. See what I mean?

This is the Tonggu Social Welfare Institute. It houses both children and the elderly. And it has a purple roof and hot pink pillars which I just think... is kinda cool.
Although I'll make sure she never forgets where she started ..... soon this will be her home. And I can't wait to get her here!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Updated Pics!

I ordered a care package for Mia on Sunday night from Ann at Red Thread China. A lot of people in my June RQ family had done the same thing and received updated pics and measurements. So I really hoped I would, too. Sure enough... Ann delivered! I woke up this morning to find these in my email. What a surprise! I didn't expect anything so soon. Ann rocks!!! I can't recommend her enough. 
Look at my little chunky monkey! Her referral medical dated 3-1-11 said she weighed 18 lbs and was 61 cm. These new measurements from yesterday claim she's 22 lbs and 65 cm. Is that even possible? A 4 lb and 4 cm gain in just 6 weeks? I'm a first time clueless mom. I have no idea. Is that even a normal size for a 6 mth old?

She looks healthy. Those chubby cheeks and pudgy little hands show that. Someone is definitely feeding her well. But those layers can be deceiving.
I was also blessed to receive a photo of Mia with her foster father. This photo is priceless to me. Such an important part of her history. I can see that he loves her. She's too roly poly not to be loved. That just fills my heart. I know you can read a lot into a photo...especially when you're still floating on the bliss of a referral...but I like his face. His eyes seem kind and soft. And I like that he's smiling as he holds our daughter.
I hope to one day be able to express to him how grateful I am. And it makes me sad to know that my happiness... will cause his family heartache when they have to let her go.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Happy 6 Month Birthday
to my little cherry blossom
Mommy will be there soon

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Call: Part One

On Monday evening I got a call from Martha, my adoption agency coordinator, who told me "The Call" (in which I learned info about the baby chosen to be my daughter) would be coming the next day. I was nervous and excited but somehow managed to fall asleep that night. Before I did I wrote a letter to Mia. This was the last day of my life before becoming a mother. I felt like I needed to talk to her about that. She'll read it when she's older.

I woke up with my stomach in knots. The peaceful zen of the night before... was now gone. I had a couple of meltdowns while trying to get ready for work. I'd decided since I'd taken so much time off recently and would be taking more time off soon that I needed to try to get some work done. Go ahead and laugh now. I'll wait.

I was actually an hour late for work because I just couldn't quite pull it together. I had to stop and just sit still a few times. Deep breaths and attempts to clear my head and calm my nerves. There were some tears. I had a million different emotions all bouncing around at once. Scared, nervous, happy, excited, terrified, happy, sad, anxious, happy. The anticipation of 5 years worth of hopes and dreams in this moment.  Uhm yeah... I was a bit of a wreck.

I got to work and prepped my video camera. My partner was kind enough to be my stand in while I positioned the shot to make sure I'd be in the frame. That would've sucked if I chopped off my head or something. I hit the record button as a test run and he acted it out perfectly. Screaming like a girl, fake crying, throwing his arms in the air, repeating "Oh my God!" over and over. It was pretty dang funny. I threatened to actually show it... but since he was such a good sport, I won't.

And then I waited. And waited. And waited. But nothing....

Norman, my facilitator, is in California so I kept myself busy thinking with the time difference he just wouldn't be in the office until after 11am my time. And THEN I'd get the call. Except.... I didn't.

I'd posted on Face-book that The Call was coming. So I wasn't the only one waiting for it. All my "friends" were on pins and needles, too. My squad mates kept checking in to see if I'd heard anything. The day dragged on and on. And yes.... very little actual police work was done.

Martha had told me the night before she'd call and check in with me at 3pm our time. She's in Florida so we're in the same time zone. When I finally heard from Martha ( a little after 3pm) I was now home from work. She said she'd check with Norman and see what was up. I got a quick email from her saying she'd call me at 4pm! She also said I was going to get photos of my baby girl!! There had been some doubt initially. Normally the facilitator sends the photos overnight with the translated documents. I know! Torture, right? Like 5 years isn't long enough to wait!

My mom came over to keep me company as I paced the floor. I kept updating my Faceb00k page so everyone was in the loop. According to the comments there, I wasn't the only who didn't get any work done that day. LOL!

Finally 4pm came and the phone rang! I jumped up, hit the record button and prepared for the news I'd waited over 5 years for....only to be told that Norman was at lunch and would be emailing the stuff to Martha when he got back. Lunch! Lunch? Who takes a lunch in the middle of labor? Really? It was a bit of a let down but I prepared myself for The Call to now come an hour later as she had said.

Updated Faceb00k again. Cracked up over all the comments about the "lunch break". Y'all had me in stitches! I tell you... I was so glad to have those of you who were there following it on FB. It helped keep me sane. It helped me to pass the time. Because the clock had never moved slower than it did on April 5, 2011! And it made my heart feel so full to know how many people were as excited about the arrival of this baby as I was. Love!

Then an hour and a half later.... the phone rings again. It's Martha! Same thing happens...heart rate accelerates, jump up, hit record and before my finger is even off the red button, Martha is telling me to calm down because it's gonna be about 40 more minutes!! I updated my status again to let those of you waiting with me know.

But what I didn't mention at the time was that Martha decided to give me a little teaser. She knew how freaked out I was. She knew the anticipation was killing me. She knew I was about to lose it from the ups of the phone ringing and the downs of the stalling for more time. So she wanted to give me just one tiny little bit of information. One very important piece of information. My daughter's birth date!!

And I share that with you now. Forgive my moment of slight irritation with my mother who wanted a camera lesson in the middle of the whole thing. Since I had only just shown her several times how to operate it and then asked about 10 more times if she was SURE she knew how to operate it. But no... she couldn't figure it out. Insert massive eye roll here. LOL! Sorry mom. :)

My brain also froze momentarily when she said "I'm gonna tell you her birthday" and I forgot to put the phone on speaker. So you'll just hear my end of things. 
My trip to Florida is very significant. That's why you hear me mention it. That story will come in another post. Part Two of The Call will come later also ..... when I see her face for the first time.

Thanks so much for all the support and messages of congratulations! My feet still haven't touched the ground.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Finally ... Mia

After 4 years 9 months and 22 days.....
finally my daughter

Tong Min Ying
Born October 9, 2010
Only 5 months and 28 days old!!
Tonggu SWI in Jiangxi, China

And yes... those are magical flying penguins in the background of the top pic. If you know me, then you understand the significance. It boggles my mind. That's definitely my baby!