Friday, August 28, 2009

Lilianna's school

Today Lilianna had a school booster fun run event thing-y. The kids were brainwashed into believing they needed to call relatives and get money donated to them for their school. I am all for giving to good causes...but I have different priorities of where our donation money should go....anyway...that is a gripe i will mostly keep to myself.

It was raining so they set up the gym with a big blowup cave thing and a small track. They played loud dance-ish music and the kids ran around in circles with teachers marking off on the back of their tshirts as they made a was very well organized.

Then...a Hanna Montana song came on....oh the jumping and singing along. I I often do at big my little baby is getting. Yes...I know I have other little babies...and when they are in first grade singing along to pre-teen dribble....I will probably get all weepy too. She is just growing into such a big girl. I didn't bring my it would matter since I have some sort of pathologic aversion to actually downloading pictures...but one of father's in Lilianna's class also is very active in O's cub scout pack took some pictures of her for me. He waved at her and told to to smile and she did this enormously teen age half smile and acknowledgment was hysterical.

She ran 28 laps...well she probably ran about 20 of them and walked about 8 of them...stopping at the water fountain in the middle of each of the last 10 or so.

After the fun run her class was scheduled for lunch so I stayed to have lunch with her. Their fun run ran into their scheduled lunch time so we went to the cafeteria for our lunch and then bought it back to her class room to eat. It turns out the neighbor 2 houses down from us is actually in lilianna's class.

One of the boys in her class also goes to our church and was in Lilianna's K class last year. While we were sitting in the class eating...he asked me if I was a nurse. I said that is close I am a doctor...and 2 other mom's go "OOOOOOOOO" in the snotty, 16 yo girl way...which is usually followed up with "aren't you special"...oozing with sarcasm and bile. I don't think her teacher was on of the people that said it...but I actually can't be sure.

I couldn't believe it. I have heard of other physicians that are mom's puposely not telling people they are doctor's because of this kind of reaction but I thought they were just being sensitive or something. I guarantee if I had been a dad eating lunch with my daughter and said I was a doctor - I would not have gotten that same response.

I have worked really hard and it sucks to be made to feel small like that. I am going to have Keith go beat them up.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 26

I have many blog posts to catch up from Lilianna's birthday, and Zeb's Gotcha day. Pictures from our court date on Monday when Zeb was officially adopted by Keith and he officially became a Byrne-Cox...and a Zebastian vs Sebastian...but this post is Picture Free again...because I am too lazy to figure out how to hook up Keith's camera.

Today is National Equality Day for Women, Mother Theresa's birthday, and, more importantly, it is my anniversary (and Keith's too). We have been married for 2 whole years...although it seems like much longer and it seems like 10 minutes at the same time.

I told someone at work that tomorrow (now today) was our 2 year anniversary and she was amazed...because we still act like newleyweds. I am not sure how long we will act like goofy newleyweds...but I am thinking it will be a while.

He brought home some candy for me the other night while I was trying to complete a was a reeses peanut butter candybar...not the cups...but a candybar like a caramello. We each tried a piece and I know what this needs and he said yep...vanilla ice cream. He was right - that was exactly what I was thinking.

He knows when I am only acting tough and not feeling tough, he is supportive of all of my crazy schemes, he works so hard around the house and provides so much to me and our kids...and I am talking about time, affection, and energy. We have crazy dreams together and have this wonderfull little world where our dreams are not totally unreachable.

I feel so lucky to be married to my husband and on this subject....there really is no way for me to string the words together in a way to aptly describe how wonderfull it is to be his wife. I am just crazy in love with my husband...what can I say!?

Thursday, August 20, 2009


So I thought that Zeb just missed his crib or wanted to be the baby...maybe some sort of regression. Last night we put Zeb in his bed and put up the pack and play and put Ben to sleep in the pack and play.

This morning...Zeb was in the pack and play with Ben. He just wants to sleep with Ben - it has nothing to do with the crib itself.

Now how to fix the situation.mmm. Suggestions?

I hate the idea of separating the boys but I also hate the idea of Zeb falling on top of Benjamin - Z is a big boy!

It is a work in progress

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

i know...u can tell I am off of work today...

I know....3rd post of the day. We went to our favorite Mexican Food restaurant for dinner. On the way home, Lilianna asked when she was going to be big enough to not ride in the car seat.

Our neighbor takes her Kindergarten daughter, Lilianna (1st grade) and her other 5th grade daughter to school in the morning. Evidently, the Kindergartener doesn't have to ride in a car seat and Lilianna does.
I told her that as long as she fit in a car seat with 5 point restraint...she would be in a car seat...she asked when....I replied.....until you are 30.
Keith added until she was 35 at which point she could start dating.
Then Lilianna asked....Am I almost 35?

It will get here soon enough that is for sure!

Adoption updates...

Ok...I initially started this blog a million years ago to kind of outline my journey to adopt the time there were literally 2 other public blogs on Kyrgyzstan adoptions. Since shortly after marrying Keith, we have been kicking around our next adoption and I know I have mentioned it very little on this blog.

Basically, we have been kind of waiting for things to start coming together to adopt from Beacon House in Ghana. is an update.

We had to change homestudy agencies because Villa Hope will not update our homestudy to complete an independent adoption. I am relieved in so many ways to have ended our association with Villa Hope and as much as I would like to dedicate more than one post to my experiences with Villa Hope.....I won't. Please, please, please email me if you are considering using Villa Hope for any services and I will be happy to provide you a detailed account of our experiences with them in a very objective way. So we filled out an application with Lifeline Adoption and had all of our homestudy stuff sent from Villa Hope over there about a week I heard from our new social worker.....Yeah! I have heard nothing but good things about Lifeline and I know someone at work that is using lifeline for the third time - that says a lot.

We got some new documents to peruse today from Beacon House and they only have to talk to one more reference before they can start deciding whether or not to let us adopt from their that is moving I get to use up my evening looking over paperwork stuff....yeah. I may have to go buy a new notebook tomorrow. The cute little notebook I bought this time last year when we were referred Aaron is falling apart.

Something about hearing from both Lifeline and Kelly at Beacon House has given me a little jolt of adoption adrenaline....that maybe we are close.

As a side note....I have become moderately obsessed with sisterlocks and am very excited about the whole thing.

Where does the time go!

So we have not had cable/direct tv at our house for about a year now I think...and I can't...for the life of me figure out when we used to have time to watch tv. Seriously - where in the world did we ever find time to watch tv.

Sometimes we watch something on Hulu before bed - but that is about it.

Oh yeah...we do spend a ridiculous amount of time "researching" things online...hahaha...research!

We breifly talked about resubscribing to direct tv after I start making doctor money...but we soooo don't miss it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

When Zeb is NOT cute!

About a week ago, Zeb started climbing into the crib with Benjamin during the middle of the night.

We initially had a really hard time getting Z to sleep in his bunk bed instead of his crib...he would just cry and point at the crib. So finally we had to take the crib was totally down for almost 2 months and then we put it back up and Ben started sleeping in it. Everything was fine for about a month...then last week.....Zeb was in the crib....with Benjamin basically underneath him. I have a theory that involves some regression around gotcha day...the question is how are we supposed to handle it. Our first response was probably not the best...we scolded him for getting in the just isn't safe for a 2 year old to crawl up into a crib in the middle of the night and climb ontop of his 1 year old brother!

However, now we have to decide what to really do.....Keith thinks we can babyproof the bottom bunk of the bunkbed and move Benjamin over there and let Z get back into the crib for awhile. I also thought we could put up the pack and play again in Lilianna's room or down in O's room (when O is not here of horrifying for an almost-teen ager to share one of his rooms with a baby....ack!).

We did clean up Lilianna's room so it is no longer a frightening pit of a million toys....but there isn't really enough room in her bedroom for a pack and play and ummmm...a 6 year old.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

why zebby is soooo cute..

ok there are many reasons and many ways he is just too cute...not that I am biased in any way.
1. "Slow down, Zeb" him means run in a crazy slow motion way with his arms moving like Bill Cosby dancing and they move twice as fast as his feet...with his little funny. I wish I had some sort of video-ing technology because it is hysterical to see him do his little slow motion bionic man run with dancing Bill Cosby arms.
2. he loves food...he doesn't eat as umm....energetically as he used to ...but he is so excited about eating. I worked overtime on night and then was on call the next night so I hadn't seen him in almost 2 days and I walk in and he comes running over to me screaming MOmmy...mommy with a great big smile on his face...eyes aglow...and excitedly tells me (as if it is the most important thing in the world)..."I ate hotdogs.....and CHIPS...and CHIPS!". so funny.
3. He loves to pretend sneeze and if you pretend sneeze back to him....he loses it with giggles
4. sometimes he will randomly walk up to you and pull up his shirt and say "tickie tickie" wanting you to tickly his tummy.
5. he loves to pretend to read. he brough a newsprint store circular in the car and was holding it and looking at it like he was reading it...then he started ripping in apart...but he was all in on the reading thing...he even furrowed his little brow like he was deeply engrossed in the ad for the new Max Lucado Fearless book.
6. When he wakes up in the morning he starts singing at the top of his lungs...not because he is trying to wake us up to get him...but because he likes to sing.
7. the way he and lilianna hold hands in the car...their car seats are both in the rear seat of the van
8. before Ben moved into his room...the first thing he would say in the morning is "where's Ben?"
9. He loves to talk on the phone and pretend to talk on the phone....he will just put his hand up to his ear and start saying.."hello?....hello?" at increasing volume until someone puts their hand up to their ear and answers him
10. He has a strangely uncanny memory for places. We got him potato chips at a gas station once and the next time we pulled into the gas station he said "Chips?" was weird. The last time we pulled up to O's house to pick him up..he said "O...". the other night we took Lilianna and O to the skating rink to drop them off for a church youth function and when we went back to get them as soon as we pulled into the skating rink parking lot Zeb said "O..and Lilianna!" He is a genius what can I say!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lilianna Coconut..

Today at church, Lilianna moved up from the 5K class to the elementary school class in sunday school. So this is the big leagues...if you will. It is first grade through 5th grad altogether for the first 30 minutes and then they break into small groups that is age and gender specific. I went to a women's I love that it is gender least for now.

She was a little shy when we dropped her off...but the new teachers were able to lure her in with sugar....yummm little sweet rolls. We were a little worried....if you take an anxious lilianna and add sugar the result is generally not good.

I went to pick her up and she had been problems...she said goodby to everyone...gave hugs to everyone...and then it started. I heard "bye coconut" like 20 times by like all different people from all the different classes and lilianna was saying bye to all of them. I asked Lilianna...why are they calling you coconut? She said when they introduced themselves she said her name was Lilianna but wanted everyone to call her coconut.
I put a lot of time into creating her name...I love her name....but from now on...she is going to be coconut. That is just too cute to ever go away.

We walked out into the parking lot toward the car and teachers from other classes and kids were yelling out their car windows..."bye coconut".

Either Lilianna will regret this whole coconut thing the rest of her school age life...or it will get her elected prom queen or class president.

When Lilianna was 2 years old she had a pet tupperware container full of water. .. yes that's right. She filled a small tupperware container with water..put the lid on it and carried it around with her. It had a name and everything. My mom called and asked me if I could remember the name of her pet tupperware container of water and I couldn't. That made me realize I need to do a better job and recording the kids and their funny silly things...because that is the kind of stuff I want to remember...that is the kind of stuff I will want to see when I cruise back through this blog in 15 years. I want to remember how in the world Lilianna got the nickname coconut.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

when you are old....

There have been little signs that I am officially getting old.....saying things like..."because I said so"...and meaning it....the gray hairs that seem to be multiplying on the middle right side of my head...but this is the new number one sign that I am getting old....

I want to see THIS movie.

Now I know I am old...I really want to see it. Of course, I am on a baking spree and Julia Childs did go to my alma mater....but is no "1991 the year punk broke"...of course that was like 18 years ago...another reminder that I am old!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Innocence of childhood...

Yes...I totally have to post pictures of Lilianna's birthday and tomorrow is gotcha day so I am sure I will be behind on pictures from that tooo....

but I was just reading the Lajoy family blog and was reminded about something that lately has been making me sad. Lilianna has always been very happy and very, very social. We will go to a park or playground and she is immediately looking for friends to play with. If she can't find someone or if she tries to play with someone and they don't want to play with her she just doesn't understand it and is very hurt by it. But she keeps on trying.

I went to a cub scout meeting last week with all of the kids. I haven't been going lately because I have been working and our babysitter watches the babies on Monday nights now. Anyway, I went last week and saw her doing the same thing...trying to play with the other kids. Most of the other kids are boys that are mostly older than her. There are a couple of siblings that are younger ...but it just broke my heart.

How many times can she be rejected by other kids before she loses her sweet, loving, optimistic disposition? Seriously. She is full of love for her siblings and for other kids...but I am worried it will be squashed by peers. I hope that that will never happen....maybe it won't. My happy, optimistic, make friends -i- ness was killed in about 3rd grade. I want my daughter's happiness and innocence about the cruelty of people to last longer than that.

In addition, when she comes back from her dad's house...literally every time she comes back from her dad's house...she is more snarky and less nice. It takes weeks until she reverts back to her more respectful and caring self. She comes home from her dad's rolling her eyes, talking back to her teachers at Sunday School. My other fear is that she will become the squasher of happiness. We went to Fox's Pizza for her birthday and she saw a little girl from ballet camp and the little girl was so excited to see her and said...Hi Lilianna and instead of Lilianna running over and saying Hi and playing with her...Lilianna said something snarky like I don't remember your name...who are you again? I had a talk with her about hurting other people's feelings. Lilianna also has a bossy streak that rears its ugly head after being pandered to at her dad's house.

I definitely don't want Lilianna to be a squasher of innocence and happiness. Is there an in between? Is there anyone who makes it through adolescence without having their heart destroyed by their peers?

I am reminded of a quote from The American President....a fine movie! There is a part where the lead female character is talking to the president and she has just had her heart broken and is frantically looking for a sweater she left at his house that belongs to her sister, she can't find it and finally says....

"Screw it....she is just going to have to learn to live with disappointment"

Maybe that is more of a truism in life than I would like to admit.

Monday, August 3, 2009


EACH is working to create equality for our adopted children and had a large role in crafting the FACE Act. The founder has sent an open letter to the adoption community addressing the concerns of those opposing this bill....which is only Ethica as far as I can tell.

Here is the letter...

Open Letter to the Adoption CommunityJuly 31, 2009

As an adoptive Mother, the President and Founder of Equality for AdoptedChildren, and a former senior legislative aide on Capitol Hill, I wouldlike to address some questions that have been raised about the newlyintroduced Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act (FACE Act). Thesequestions have caused some to suggest the bill should not be supported. This is unfortunate, because the FACE Act will bring significantimprovement to the adoption process and will, if signed into law,provide equality for our internationally adopted children as well assave adoptive parent's time, money and regulatory hurdles. I knowbecause I was deeply involved with its predecessor.

The FACE Act was introduced to amend and improve upon the ChildCitizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), a bill introduced by Senator Don Nicklesand Senator Mary Landrieu. At the time the CCA was introduced andpassed, I was Legislative Counsel to Senator Nickles and was responsiblefor shepherding the CCA through Congress.

The bill was conceived aftermy husband and I adopted three siblings from Eastern Europe and Idiscovered that despite the fact that my husband and I were bothAmerican citizens, our citizenship did not transfer to our foreignadopted children as it would have if they had been born to us abroad. As a lawyer I found this disturbing because I knew that under adoptionlaw, once a child is adopted, that child is entitled to all the samerights, duties and responsibilities as a biological child. The law saysthey are to be treated as if they were the "natural issue" ofthe adoptive parents.

CCA was drafted to remove discrepancies betweenthe treatment of children born abroad versus children adopted abroad toU.S. citizens. In short, to bring adoption practice into line with thelaw and in the process ease a number of procedural burdens unnecessarilyborne by adoptive parents.The CCA began the process of addressing a primary inequality: If anAmerican gives birth to a child overseas the child is considered acitizen from birth and is given a U.S. passport and a Consular Report ofBirth (which acts as the child's birth certificate) . The child is allowed to enter the United States as a citizen with documentary proof of citizenship. In other words, the child does not have to go throughan immigration process. Not so for an adopted child who must obtain animmigrant visa, go through a very different (and more costly andcumbersome) process even though they are every bit as much the son ordaughter of American citizens. Unfortunately, the United States is oneof the few developed countries that still treat internationally adoptedchildren of their citizens as immigrants and force adoptive families togo through an immigration process to bring their children home.U.S. Court decisions have established adoption laws that recognize thatadopted children are entitled to full equality of treatment asbiological children.

Yet despite the passage of CCA, not all inequalities have been addressed. The FACE Act would align U.S. adoption laws with U.S. statutes by recognizing all children of U.S. citizens as equal, whether biological or adopted. The FACE Act would rectify inequities both past and present.

Regrettably, as I know is often the case with legislation, some have misunderstood the contents of thelegislation.Protecting Safeguards and Meaningful ProceduresSome allege that by removing adopted children from the immigration process the bill removes the safeguards that protect adopted children,their biological families and their adoptive families.

This is a completely incorrect assertion. This bill absolutely upholds current requirements in regard to approval of parents to adopt a foreign born child, preserves current safeguards, and maintains current regulations related to intercountry adoption. Here's how:

* Upholding Requirements and Procedures.* The FACE Act continues to require that before citizenship attaches to an internationally adopted child, adoptive parents must be approvedby the U.S. government as fit to adopt, just as under current law. * Adoptive parents will still need to meet the same requirementscurrently submitted for approval of an I-600A or I-800A including an approved home study, criminal clearances and all other documents thatare now part of the approval process.

* Preservation and Maintenance of Safeguards and Investigations.* The FACE Act continues to uphold and require all immigration safeguards currently in place to ensure that a child has been adopted legally without fraud or trafficking.

* Conditions required tofulfill an I-600 or I-800 form will continue unchanged including an orphan investigation as mandated under current law.

* The U.S.government will continue to affirmatively determine that a child has been adopted appropriately and that the child meets the adoption requirements of U.S. adoption law for international adoptions.

* A welcome change in the FACE act would be the elimination of the paperwork, procedures and costs required to file for an immigration visa after an adoption has been completed and the child has been approved bythe U.S. government as having complied with U.S. adoption law governing international adoption.

Put simply, American adoptive parents abroad would take their documentation of a legal and appropriate adoption and follow the same process as American biological parents who gave birth abroad. The entire process would be simplified and standardized for both sets of parents and most importantly, would apply equal treatment to the children as established in U.S. adoption law.

Time and travel costs foradoptive parents would be reduced lowering further the barriers to international adoption.The FACE Act makes no changes to current regulations related to intercountry adoption. Current adoption law language does not detail what must be done to approve a family to adopt or what paperwork must be filed to get an immigration visa. Rather, the details are found in the regulations implementing the law. This bill and subsequent regulationswould do the same.

The FACE Act merely sets the parameters of how the law would be implemented and the subsequent regulations would provide the specifics of how it would be implemented.

Establishing Equality for All and Respecting HeritageAnother unfortunate misunderstanding of the FACE Act arises from asection of the bill that amends Section 301 of the Immigration andNationality Act (INA), which defines who is a U.S. citizen at birth. Currently, this section of law provides automatic U.S. citizenship to children born to U.S. citizens abroad, but not to those adopted abroadby U.S. citizens. The practical effect is that under the status of an immigrant instead of a citizen at birth, the adopted child could never be President of the United States even though a child born in the same foreign country at the same time to American citizens could. Amending this section of law to include our internationally adopted children as citizens from birth will finally correct one of the major remaining inequalities that our children suffer under federal law. Some have erroneously concluded that this provision will strip adopted children of their birth country's citizenship and erase their birth history.

In actuality, the FACE Act will help support adoptees who seek to learn more of their original birth history and reconnect with theircountry of origin. The FACE Act includes provisions that state:* "It is the sense of Congress that the government of eachforeign country from which children are adopted by citizens of theUnited States should provide documentation of the adopted children'soriginal birth history to the adoptive family in accordance with thelaws of such country."* "Nothing in this Act, or in any amendment made by this Act, maybe construed to abrogate any citizenship rights provided to an adopteeby the adoptee's country of origin, or nullify the facts of theadoptee's birth history."

Granting of citizenship from birth cannot eliminate the fact of where achild was born, or to whom that child was born, or deprive them of their original citizenship rights any more than what occurs now when U.S.citizenship is granted to them under the CCA. To the extent a foreign country allows dual citizenship and theprivileges that accompany that citizenship, that child will always have those privileges as a citizen of that country in the eyes of that country. No legislation passed by the U. S. Congress can change citizenship laws of other countries. If a country chooses to negate the citizenship rights of a child born in that country because they become a citizen of the United States, there is no law that the U.S. Congress canpass to rectify that decision.

Further, although Congress cannot pass laws ordering other countries to provide original birth documentation to adoptive families or to changetheir citizenship laws, these provisions mark significant steps towards establishing U.S. policy in these regards and would strongly encouragecountries from which children are adopted by American citizens to provide such documentation and maintain such rights.Protecting U.S. Citizenship and Preventing Family SeparationThe FACE Act also improves the current citizenship process for international adoptees with a provision that rectifies the damage that is done when adoptive parents fail to take the necessary steps underpast and current law to acquire U.S. citizenship for their child.

Prior to the CCA, internationally adopted children had to go through anaturalization process to attain citizenship. Many parents wrongly assumed that their adopted child was a citizen because they themselves were citizens. Unfortunately, this was not the case and there are manyadult adoptees who found out much later in life that they are not citizens. Even after the CCA was passed, the problem remains due to the way thelaw is implemented. Currently, only adopted children who arrive on IR3visas (where both parents, if married, saw the child during the adoptionprocess) receive automatic U.S. citizenship upon entry into the UnitedStates. Adopted children who arrive on IR4 visas (where only one parent, if married, saw the child during the adoption process) must be readopted in their new home state (whether required by state law or not)before citizenship attaches.

If the child is not readopted prior to hisor her 18th birthday, they lose the right to automatic citizenship. Over half the international adoptees enter this country on IR4 visas andrisk losing their citizenship rights if their parents fail to readopt them. Many children do not find out they are not citizens until they apply for a passport or for college scholarships. A number of adoptees have been deported back to their country of origin due to minor crimes they have committed because their parents failed to take the necessary steps at the time to acquire citizenship status for their child. TheFACE Act rectifies this for all future international adoptees by conferring citizenship upon completion of the adoption and the U.S. determination that the child was adopted according to law. Citizenshipis conferred with no further action required of the adoptive parents.

This is a significant improvement over current law and will eliminatethe tragic stories of adoptees deported to their country of origin with no knowledge of their original language, no support structure and no ability to return to the United States. For deported adoptees, The FACE Act allows these adoptees to file for and receive U.S. citizenship if U.S. citizens adopted them under the ageof 18.

In summary, the changes made by the FACE Act are significant but easily implemented. The FACE Act would:
* Remove internationally adopted children of American citizens fromthe immigration process saving time, money and, for many, travel costs;
* Confer U.S. citizenship upon internationally adopted childrenimmediately upon completion of all the necessary steps without requiringreadoption within the U.S.;
* Improve upon the current system byencouraging foreign countries to provide original birth documentation;and
* Provide the added benefit of making our internationallyadopted children eligible to run for President.

The sponsors of the FACE Act - Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator Jim Inhofe(S.1359) and Representative Diane Watson and Representative John Boozman(H.R. 3110) are great friends and supporters of the adoption communityand have crafted a bill that will provide equality under the law for ourinternationally adopted children and allow them to benefit in all waysfrom full American citizenship.

In closing, I recommend that all read the relatively short FACE Act billin its entirety. It can be found at: http://thomas. bin/query/ z?c111:S. 1359:/<http://thomas. bin/query/ z?c111:S. 1359:/>
In addition, Iinvite you to read a detailed section by section explanation of the billas well as answers to Frequently Asked Questions that can be found atthe following link: http://www.equality foradoptedchildr on/face.html<http://www.equality foradoptedchildr on/face.html> .
Once you do so, I believe, like me, you will find this bill worthy ofyour wholehearted support.
For the sake of our internationally adopted children,
McLane LaytonPresident, EACH

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