If you're a new visitor to our journal, I suggest that you start at the beginning. For our returning friends, welcome back and I'm sorry for the hiatus. To do a quick recap for everyone (especially me)-- On March 30, 2004 we landed in freshly thawed Chicago with our newly adopted four-year-old son John. I still flinch when I try to recall that twenty-hour flight from Almaty, Kazakhstan. It's only possible for me to focus on single sharp fragments of pain floating in a murky sea of suffering. I'm still trying to suppress most of that trip home.
Once back in our cozy house I tried to update the journal. However, the sweet simple joy of sleeping in my own bed and the constant anxiety of adjusting to a new foreign roommate, made me continue to put it off. Friends gently suggested that I needed to at least wrap it up. It wasn't our intent to create a cliffhanger, but they wanted to know what happened to John.
The first couple of months were a little trying, and it's probably best that we avoided updating the journal. We were frazzled from the travel and tense from our own inexperience. It seemed like every minor thing would have turned into a tale of woe like, "Why won't our son eat?" or "How do I keep him from chasing the cat?" It felt like we would have only been griping and complaining.
Only from the safe distance of three months can we start to put things into perspective, and realize that most of our concerns were... stupid. It was first time parent stuff coupled with reading way too many cautionary adoption scare stories. I'm grateful that Renee's mother helped keep us grounded and didn't disconnect her phone because of our excessive lame questions. But how were we to know that he would only eat bananas and milk for a week straight? He can't survive on that can he? Let me spare you the suspense and let you know that he did survive.
After things started to resemble a normal life with much less sleep, I started thinking about the journal again. This time my excuse for avoiding it was privacy-- both ours and his. Renee and I are both private people, but it's particularly hard for Renee to see some of these stories in print. She's from a fine midwest family that deals with it's own business without involving the neighbors. We were able to talk through our own reluctance when we thought about other people in our position. If our stories could help one child find a home or help a new mother cope a little better, than it would be worth it.
The question of John's privacy was something I hadn't considered until I read an article about "parent blogging." The author pointed out that some of these blogs could be around for a long time. In the pre-digital dark ages, we've all probably dealt with minor cases of parental privacy abuse. Dad would love to show my new girlfriend that cute family photo of me dancing naked under a sprinkler -- "He was such a free spirit in junior high school." Mom could talk for days about my solitary "athletic" trophy on the mantle-- "See what my boy did? First place in the poetry reading competition! He used to have such potential."
Fortunately it's easy to avoid this gentle form of parental abuse. Just grow up and move away from home. You can limit it to the occasional awkward holiday meal and at least be an adult an avoid it. However no one can escape the scope and memory of the Internet (If that's not a motto for a failed dot.com business, it should be.). I don't know how John will feel if he ever finds and reads this. Okay, I can guess that he'd be pissed. But after the rage fades I hope he can appreciate and enjoy it. These journals are a way that Renee and I remember and can connect with him. It has an immediacy that would be lost if I told it to him later. We also feel that we should be as honest with John as possible. John if you're still pissed... I'm sorry. But maybe this payback for that time that you did that thing that I warned you a million times not to do....
Almost every night Renee and I review the good and the bad that happened with John. It's mostly blabbing about how great John is. Last night we were talking about the latest glimpse of brilliance ("He ate a tablespoon of pudding and only cried for five minutes first!) and she mentioned that we had only been home with him for 80 days. That number stuck in my head and I woke up knowing that I had to restart the journal. Then when I sat down with my trust calendar (iCal) I realized that it was probably closer to 91 days or so. Curse Renee for her artistic disregard for numbers!
So that's where we're at. I'm skipping the straight chronology of our past entries. I'll try to write once a week or so on different aspects of adjusting to America-- food, discipline, and HBO. If you'd like to see me address a particular area let me know. And if you aren't using a RSS reader, get one. Here's one for Mac [NetNewsWire] that I thinks works fantastically! There's others for the web and Windows that I can't endorse. The main advantage of RSS in a nutshell? It will automatically tell you when a web site has new content, and it helps you scan a ton of pages in a fraction of the time. Give it a try.
I'll end this with a recent random picture of John. You tell me... Does he look different from when he was in Kazakhstan?