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All posts for the month April, 2016

When Your Bubble Pops

Published April 11, 2016 by megchristo

Warning….this blog post is raw and real.  I am writing this in the height of the emotion of it all.  Carsten and I are mourning.  We are sad.  We knew it was coming some day.  It has arrived.

You all know that I am usually a sunshine and rainbows person.  I love talking about the high points of this life.  Tonight is different.  I am not writing to complain or to throw shade on anyone in particular.  My hope is to brainstorm ideas to change things, find solutions, and to be real.

As most of you know, Carsten LOVES baseball.  He lives for it.  He loves playing it, talking about it, watching it, and watching movies about it.  He can’t get enough.  The Little League in our town has been wonderful about accepting him and including him.  Last year he played down an age group, and we had a great experience.  The coaches and kids loved him, encourage him, and included him.  I asked for him to play in the same age group this year again.  I had a phone conversation with the head of the league, and it went great.  They assigned Carsten to a team, and Matt and I were so hopeful for another great season.  Don’t get me wrong, we knew the end was near, but we were hoping for one more season.

On Saturday, Carsten had his first practice.  The kids were standoffish, but we were expecting that.  They don’t know Carsten. After all they are two years younger than him. The head coach took time to work with Carsten, and I was hopeful.  Then the parent meeting at the end of practice happen.  The coach talked about his goals being:

  1.  To have fun
  2. To learn more about baseball
  3. To be competitive – this is the real world

Ok….not a fabulous sign, but we weren’t out yet.  Give them time to see the real Carsten…to get to know him.  They would see the benefits of having him on the team.  Time.  That’s what we need here.  Don’t panic!  I mean how competitive can 8 year olds be?

Then tonight we had the second practice.  Carsten was sooooooo excited.  He practically jumped out of the car.  I tried to push that voice into the back of my head.  I watched as Carsten walked up to his team.  The assistant coach didn’t even acknowledge Carsten.  His team mates walked right past him.  Carsten laid down his bag, and worked on getting out his glove.  He then walked up towards the team.  Again no one acknowledged him.  The head coach was a tad late, and when he arrived he moved the team down the field a little.  My sixth sense was SCREAMING at me!  GO GET HIM!!!  LEAVE NOW!!!  GO GET HIM!!  With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I texted Matt to come and switch me spots.  I couldn’t do this. When he arrived he walked over to watch practice.  The coach did work with him.  He texted me optimistically that Carsten was throwing as well as some of the other kids.  At the end of practice the head coach walked up to discuss his concerns.  He was worried about Carsten not being able to catch the ball well.  Matt reassured him, and headed for home.  Once home Carsten walked up to me crying.  He said, “It’s over.  I want a team.”  I cried and held him.  I said, “I know Carsten.  What if we go back to the Miracle League.”  He shook his head and said, “No.  I play baseball.”  Uggggggg!! Carsten is so intuitive.  He get’s it.  He understands how people feel about him.  He is nobody’s fool.

This is the hardest thing I have had to tackle with Carsten.  I could have never predicted this 9 years ago.  I officially give up trying to predict the hurdles we will face on this journey.

Let me add that the people with the Miracle League do such a wonderful job.  It’s a beautiful field. The volunteers are top notch. It’s a fabulous program.  The problem is it doesn’t feel like real baseball to Carsten.  Judging by all of the smiles on the Miracle League field, I think Carsten is in the minority here.

What am I to do?  Where does Carsten fit?  He wants to play baseball with the kids he goes to school with.  He wants to feel like one of the team.  He wants to be appreciated.  He wants to be included.

We’ve come a long way as a society, but have we come far enough?  Does having special needs have to still mean being separate from their peers?  I see the kids at Carsten’s school.  These kids are the cream of the crop.  They get it.  They know there’s more to life than winning.  This generation can truly change the world.  How do we make sure they don’t succumb to the way we think? How do we adults get out of their way to let them do this?  What’s a mom like me suppose to do?  I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard spot….on a deserted island. I can’t believe Carsten is the first kid to be stuck in this no mans land.  It’s so strange.  Bo could care less about sports.  If I put him in the Miracle League, I am sure he’d thrive!  He’d love the activity, and love getting the extra attention.  That’s not Carsten.

Here I sit with the same question swirling in my brain.  How do we do this better?  What do I do?  Do I call Carsten’s friends and see if they will meet us at a field to play ball once a week?  Call it a “Carsten pick up game” for all of those that just love the game?  Honestly,  what do I do?!?!?!

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Perspective

Published April 8, 2016 by megchristo

Today it has been 6 months since Matt and I met Kat.  What has changed for all of us in 6 months?  I told Kat that I wanted to gain her perspective in this blog post.  She said,
“But my English thoughts are not very good.”  I persuaded her to share her voice.  Her lack of perfect English doesn’t matter.  I will try to lightly edit her answers in way that fixes her English, but doesn’t change her voice or content.  I thought it would be easier on her if I asked her questions.  Ok….here we go.

  1.  Kat, how has the first six months been in the United States?

It’s been fun.  Sometimes I get sad because I miss my friends and the food.  I have a good English teacher, and I have good friends.  I have a big family.  I have a big daddy.  I have a beautiful mom.  I am always happy I have a family. I have visited Florida.  I like the holidays.  I like Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and Thanksgiving. My mom is crazy.  My dad is quiet, but sometimes he is funny too.  Sometimes my mom and dad always like to joke about my kung fu “boyfriend”.  It’s not real.  (side note by me….oh…he’s real!)

2.  What’s it like having a family?

We need to share.  We need to watch out for each other.  We need to have fun and be there for each other…you know the siblings or whatever.  (side note by me….or whatever!?!?!)

3.  What’s your favorite part of being a big sister?

Hummmmm…no idea.  I want to be a little sister.  Can you adopt a big sister?  (side note by me….no.)

4.  What do you think of school here?

I have a very nice school.  I have good teachers and friends.  People help me.  I learned swimming.  We don’t have too much homework.

5.  What has been the hardest part of the last 6 months?

English

6.  If you could change one thing, what would it be?

Change English to Chinese. (side note by me….I am not as smart as Kat.  I have now spent approximately 2 1/2 months in China, and I can only say about 5 things)

7.  What are looking forward to?

Having a job.  (side note by me….can you start by cleaning your room?)

8.  What were you most scared of coming to the US and being adopted?

The work would be too hard in school. I was scared my parents would hate me.

9.  What’s your favorite new food?

Cadbury Eggs

10. What has helped you the most in your transition?

I have no idea what you are saying. (I reask in a simpler way) My life is better than orphanage life.  I like my phone.  I can still talk to my friends in China and watch Chinese TV.  I think a dog would help me.  (side note by me….no)

11.  What else would you like people to know?

I can write, speak, and read Chinese better than English.  In China at my school, kids would tell me I live in an orphanage and I don’t have parents.  I hit one girl.  The teacher yelled at me.  I asked the teacher what they would feel if someone said that to them. I am super strong.  After I hit her no one said it again.  At first I would try to tell them not to say that.  That you can’t say that, but it wasn’t working.

12.  What would you tell other parents thinking of adopting an older child?

Very hard.  All children are very different.  Some children might cry.  I do not.  I knew about America.  Some do not know.  Give them something to talk to their friends. Talk with your child using the translator, so they will understand what you are saying.   Give time to your child so they understand what you are doing and what you are saying. Some child may cry all day.  Be very caring, and ask what is going on.  If you adopt a girl who is very sad and crying, you know some send them back to orphanage just like that.  Don’t do that.  (side note by me…Kat is talking about disruption.  She had friends who were being adopted by Americans, but when they cried a lot they were sent back to the orphanage). Just try to make them happy by playing with them…like play a game.  Some children don’t know English.  Find a translator to come to the house to talk to them.  Sometimes an older child can be trouble because they can cry because they miss China and their friends.

13.  How many children do you want to have?

Two…wait wait wait…one….wait…two…two or one.  I want to adopt an older child because I know what I am doing. (side note by me….I completely agree!  She would be a great at adopting an older child.)  You are so lucky for adopting a girl like me.  (side note by me….agree completely!  Lucky doesn’t even touch it girl!)

14.  What’s your dream?

My dream is to be a soldier or police woman.  When I was a baby a police officer picked me up.  When I was a baby I stayed with the police for 6 months.  (side note by me….her file does say she lived at the police station for 6 months.  We may have to look in to that more.)

Now here is what Kat has taught me in 6 months.

  1.  When you smile, the world smiles with you.  A smile can change your mood and those around you.
  2. American food makes you fat.  Kat’s very upset about this.  If you know Kat, she is far from fat, but has gained some weight since being home.  She has changed from calling me fat to talking about my food baby. I think I may have food babies now. I have tried to beef up on our vegetable intake though.
  3. Nothing beats a can do attitude!  Kat knows that she can do anything!  She is right.  Not only does she handle everything and every change with grace and courage, she does it with such a beam of positivity.
  4. You can never hear someone call you “mom!” too much.  Kat loves to call me mom!  I love to hear it. It’s like music to my ears.
  5. Showing someone a whole new world is fun and overwhelming.  The majority of the time it’s fun, but when you have to tell them to stop cutting in line and to buckle their seatbelt one hundred times….it gets a little tiring.
  6. Kat can trip over an invisible line, fall down, get up, and still laugh…which makes us laugh.  The way she approaches everything with humor is contagious.
  7. When your brain can’t take anymore new culture or language, take a nap…anywhere you feel like it. She fits her name.  She loves cat naps.
  8. What are you afraid of?Mom, Dad, and Kat