Thursday, June 28, 2012

An Incredible Girl

My Brother-in-Law and Father-in-Law were up visiting from Florida for the past 8 days. During that time, Kari and my grandson Logan also came to visit, so we had quite a full house for a little while. Tomorrow, DW, Shyanne and I leave for York Beach, Maine where we will spend the weekend with Kari, Andy and Logan as well as one of my nieces from Texas, a cousin from Kentucky, and my mother who we will pick up at the airport tomorrow in Boston (after spending the morning at the New England Aquarium)

This is both good and bad for Shyanne. She loves having other people around. I guess Mom and Dad can get boring at times, so any change is good. So she will love spending time with her big sister Kari and her nephew Logan. again. She will also love spending time with her cousin from Texas. Part of the reason is that they all pay so much attention to her and always want to show her a good time. The other part of it is that she is so easy to show a good time to.

Shyanne is one of the most appreciative young children I have ever met. She loves when people do anything with her or for her, and she loves doing things with other people as well. When she is doing somehting with someone, she almost always has a smile on her face. Reading her a story, or throwing a ball around with her, she is smiling. On the stage at her dance recital, she smiled the whole time. Playing basketball, T-Ball, Soccer or just riding on her scooter, she is smiling and happy.

I can't wait to take her to the fun-o-rama on Saturday to play games there. I know she will be smiling the whole time. I know she will be enjoying herself. I know she will love the beach and she will love being with all the other relatives. The best part is that she makes things far more enjoyable for everyone else who is around her. The happiness and enjoyment she has for everything she does transfers to everyone who is with her. She is one of those people they say "light up a room" when she comes in. She really does! She is truly an incrediable little girl.


Friday, June 22, 2012


So I just want to be up front and say that this post has nothing to do directly with adoption or foster care.

While Shyanne is a very important part of my life and I don't ever want anyone to forget that, and my three biological children are also a very important part of my life, and I don't want anyone to forget that, there is one other girl that may well be the most important of all. Without her, there definitely would not have been the three biological children, and it is doubtful that there would be Shyanne in my life.

Well, I am sure you have all guessed by now that I am talking about my lovely wife. The reason I choose today to bring this up is that today is our 37th wedding anniversary. It is hard to believe that. Thirty Seven years is a long time for anything, but for Linda to have put up with me for that long is truly amazing. Quite frankly, it is nothing short of a miracle.

We started dating when we were in high school and got married shortly after my 20th birthday. She was a tad bit younger than I. A lot of people thought we were too young to get married and I am sure there were many taking bets as to how long it would last. I am thinking that anyone who made those bets, lost.

I am asked on occasion how we have managed to stay together for so long. The simple answer is that we love each other. We would do anything for each other, and while we do have our moments where we have arguments, I don't think we ever lose sight of the fact that we do truly love and respect each other. Even if we do get each other angry on occasion.

I know that marriages suffer most when times are stressful. Certainly children increase stress in a relationship, as do financial concerns, illness, and other issues. For some people I think the stress sits between them and pushes them apart. I think for Linda and I the stress sits outside of us and pushes us together.

Nothing could have been more stressful than the first few years of life of our oldest child. She had multiple birth defects and required multiple surgeries at Boston Children's Hospital. I was working hard and working many overnight hours at the time and then commuting into Boston to be with Linda while she spent nights at the hospital. It was truly a scary time for two naive people in their early twenties. We made it through though and came out the other side stronger and I think even more in love with each other.

There have been other times when we have had problems, but in the end, those problems have just made us stronger. We are certainly happy together and have enjoyed our life together. If I had it to do all over again, there is absolutely no one I would rather spend my life with then her.

She is certainly the love of my life and has always been the girl of my dreams. I love her dearly and would never trade her in for anything.

Happy Anniversary Linda! I love you!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One of Those Moments

Saturday I attended Shyanne's Dance Recital. The one they have been preparing for all year. She takes Tap, Jazz and ballet. She enjoys them all. This meant that she was going to appear in three acts during the show. Plus the finale. So, considering she was in 4 acts, my thoughts were that it would be a good show for me and fairly quick.

The shows we went to in Maine were always long and drawn out. They crowded people into the school auditorium, there was barely room for everyone to sit, and the shows just dragged and dragged. The shows I saw in Maine were the ones you dread. the ones that you had to sit and watch so many other acts you weren't interested in just to see your own child for a few quick moments on the stage.

This one on the Cape was going to be different. "How did I know this?" you ask. Well, for one, the dance school had divided up the recital into 3 different shows! There was one show on Friday night, one show on Saturday at 1:00pm and the last show (the one my daughter would be in) at 5:00pm on Saturday. It was also in a much larger school auditorium. Taking all that into account, I know this would be a quick moving, relatively short show in which I would see my daughter on stage for three different dances and the finale.

I was actually looking forward to this dance recital.

DW had offered to help back stage with the kids. That was fine with me. I had no problem with that. She did have to show up an hour early though. Of course Shy had to show up 45 minutes early, and they opened the doors to the auditorium 30 minutes before the show, so it just made sense for all of us to go together. I didn't mind getting there a little early. This was going to be an easy early and quick show anyway.

So around 3:55 we all showed up at the auditorium. DW and Shy went to the back stage area and I waited for the doors to the auditorium to open up. There was one other person who had come early to see her granddaughter perform. I had the opportunity to purchase a rose for Shyanne while I was waiting, so I went ahead and did that. I was talking with the other woman about things in general. Where we lived, who we were there to see and just made small talk for a while. Then she asked me if I had a program. I said that I hadn't seen one yet and she pointed me to a gentleman who had programs for this show.

I went and got one and started looking at it. They had one program for all three shows and they listed the acts for the shows separately so it was quite a thick program. It was about the size of the PLAYBILL programs you see for theater shows and I went through looking for the Saturday 5:00pm show.

I couldn't believe my eyes. The first thing I saw was that the show had an intermission. AN INTERMISSION!!! How long was this show that it needed an intermission? Oh my! There were 49 acts in this show!! My daughter was only in 3 plus the finale. She appeared in one act before the intermission. What was going on here. Surely there was a mistake. They must have combined all the shows together and only certain acts were int his show? Maybe? please?

No, that wasn't the case. The show my daughter was in was 49 acts long. There was an intermission after the 22nd act. I would sit through those first 22 acts and see her perform only once. I was wondering what I had done to deserve such a fate.

So, at 4:30 they opened up the doors to the auditorium and I found a seat in the second row on the aisle. I got my camera ready and started testing out different modes to see what might work best. They wouldn't allow flash photography, so I needed to see if any setting was any better than any other. as it turns out, it all depended on the light provided by the auditorium as to whether or not the pictures came out any good. I guess if I was a professional photographer, it might make a difference.

At shortly after 5:00 pm the show started. Some of the girls danced very well. Some did not dance quite so well, but that was OK. For the most part they seemed to be having a good time doing their thing on the stage with everyone watching them perform. Most of them had smiles on their faces. There were no real small ones, so there was no one just standing there and not dancing. They were all doing the dances. The younger ones were not quite in sync as well as the older ones, but that is what you would expect. There were a couple of girls who performed solo and they obviously were the better dancers in the group.

Not being any more than an occasionally viewer of SYTYCD (So You Think You Can Dance) I really don't have any skills to identify what is a good dancer and what isn't. So I just watched and waited.....and waited......and waited for Shyanne to get out on stage for the first time. It was about 6:00 when she finally hit the stage for her ballet number. I had waited over 2 hours for this. The outfit was absolutely adorable and they danced to "Let's Go Fly A Kite" from "Mary Poppins". It was very cute and all the girls (and one boy) looked adorable. It lasted about 2 1/2 minutes and was over. My pictures came out just OK.

Intermission came and DW brought a sandwich to the lobby for me to eat while I awaited the second part of the show.

While it is already too late to make a long story short, I will shorten it up a bit here The second half of the show was more of the same except that I got to watch Shyanne perform her tap and her jazz dance during this portion as well as participate in the finale. (It wasn't really much, just everyone coming out and taking a bow.)

It was the second act that Shyanne was in that made it all worthwhile. This was the tap dancing act. It started around 6:30. They were all dressed in these adorable looking "rain jacket" type costumes with little dainty umbrellas and tap danced to "Singing in the Rain". It was really cute. Do you remember the old commercials with Bo Jackson where they went "Bo knows Baseball" or Bo knows football" or "Bo knows (put in whatever you are advertising here). Well, "Shyanne knows cute!" And she does it very well.

Anyway, they are tapping around in a circle spinning their umbrellas and having a grand old time when Shyanne notices me sitting there in the second row. She looks at me, gives me a big smile and then waves to me! She was the only one in the whole show that waved. Or at least the only one I noticed. I smiled and waved back.

The show lasted until 8:15. I was at that school for almost 4 1/2 hours. If you had told me before hand that it was going to be almost 8:30 before I got home, I would have been looking for ways to minimize the pain of attending the show. I may have offered to do just about anything to get out of attending the show. I am glad I didn't.

I would have sat through a thousand acts for that one moment when she waved to me. It made it all worthwhile. It also reminds me that you have to pay attention to what is going on. Especially with your children. You never know when one of those "moments" is going to occur and if you aren't paying attention, you may miss it. I'm glad I didn't miss it. 3 seconds made the whole 4 1/2 hours an absolute pleasure. I can't wait to get the video in the mail. I hope it shows her waving. Even if it doesn't, I will always remember it.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Listening to Hear, or Listening to Reply?

As I mentioned the other day in my entry about Forever Families Camp, all too often, we listen to reply.  By that I mean, as we are listening we are forming a reply in our head even before the person speaking has completed their statement. This is something that frequently leads to misunderstandings. Unfortunately, there are times we really do know what someone is about to say so our response is appropriate. The reason I say that is unfortunate is because it leads us to a place where we become more confident in our abilities to "read the mind" of the speaker.

Now, listening to reply is OK in some situations. Like the cocktail party. Hey, if you misunderstand someone and say something off track, a little laugh will get you back on topic and no one is any worse for wear. There are other times when listening to reply or "not listening" to reply can get you into trouble but doesn't really do any harm. Like when you are watching the ballgame and your wife comes in the room to ask you to do something. Before what she asks you to do is out of her mouth, you are already formulating the reply. Something like "next time out" or "after the game", or maybe a "yes, dear". And you never heard what was asked.

Then the next time out comes, or the game ends, and you get asked when you are going to do the said task, and you are befuddled because you don't even remember being asked. This is a time when you can certainly get into trouble, and should be avoided when possible, but again, it is not the time that I am talking about.

I am talking about the times when your children are talking to you. You can never truly know what your child is going to say. Some of the most surprising things can come out of their mouth and if you aren't listening, you might not hear it. Children can be truly amazing. When you really listen and think about what they say, their comments can be very profound at times. This is true of children of all ages. It doesn't matter if they are 4 or 14.

AND IT IS IMPORTANT TO THEM TO BE HEARD! Your wife may be used to you responding with the "yes dear" of "after the game" comment and it really doesn't bother her. She is an adult and will get over it.

Children won't. As I said, they want to be heard. They want to know you are listening to them. They want you to make eye contact with them while they are talking to you. In these days of easy distractions with cell-phones, face book, twitter, and instant messaging,  it is so easy to become distracted while carrying on a conversation with your child. It is so easy to want to formulate your response while you are still "listening" to what someone else is saying so that you can then move on to the next "instant" message that has to be tended to.

Keep this in mind. I know it is difficult, and even more difficult for the younger generation that has grown up with all of these handy distractions, but nothing is more important than listening to your children and really hearing what they are saying before you try to formulate your response.

This is true for ALL children, but especially true for children that have different life experiences than the majority. Children who have been in foster care. Children who have been adopted. Children who have different color skin then their parents.

Henry David Thoreau is credited with the quote:

                     "The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I  
                       thought, and then attended to my answer"

So pay your children a compliment every day and make sure they know that you are not distracted by them, but that you love them and are truly listening to what they say.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I don't know if going to Forever Families Camp got Shyanne thinking about this particular issue or not, but I suspect it did.

During her play therapy yesterday she was playing with a number of dolls. They were all in a car and there were five of them. (there were 5 children in Shyanne's biological family) There was another car as well. One of the cars had a husband and wife and one of the cars had a boyfriend and girlfriend.

As it turns out, one of the cars the parents kept fighting a lot and weren't able to take care of their children properly so the children were taken away and given to a family that could take care of them. At 6 years old, I think that is sufficient explanation for her at this point, although as she gets older, I am sure there will be more pieces that will come out from us, brothers, and her own memory.

I am not sure what all of this means in the overall scheme of Shyanne dealing with her past, or if it is even important from a standpoint of the event of her family being separated. I don't know if it is important that we dwell on that or not. I don't know if we should even really care about that part of it. I mean the actual event itself.

What I do know is important is that Shyanne is talking about it in at least some way with her therapist. I am really happy about that. I think it is extremely important for her to talk about it with someone she trusts as much as possible so that when issues do arise she is able to deal with them and knows how to handle them. She is a truly remarkable and incredible child. We are so lucky to have her in our life.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Forever Families Camp

We got back yesterday evening from Forever Families Camp and I am glad to report we had another wonderful time. Last year was great and we looked forward to this year with much anticipation and we were not disappointed. We now look forward to next year with even more anticipation.

Shyanne, DW and I all had a wonderful time. We all learned a little bit, we played a little bit, and reconnected with some friends we had made last year. We also made some new friends this year. You know I have not yet met a person who adopted a child that I didn't care for. Those of you who adopt children are special people and I really enjoy being with any and all of you.

The camp setting is absolutely wonderful. They had it at "Cedar Lake Camp" which is a camp run by the New Jersey Y. There are tennis courts, basketball courts, fields, cabins, a beautiful little lake with jet-skis, a huge ice berg, a water trampoline with a big swing and a huge slide to slide down into the lake as well. They also have canoes and kayaks, Arts and crafts and Archery, Ropes Courses and Pita Making Shy and I went out in a canoe twice this weekend. She made pita bread and ate it all up, and she made a few crafts for us to bring home. (DW and I also made some crafts)

This is a camp for Jewish Families that have adoptive children, and there are two parts to the camp which is what makes it so enjoyable for us.The first part and some may argue the most important part is that we get to spend a weekend together with the focus being on the family, and only on the family. That is great. We don't spend every minute with each other, but every minute, we are focused on the family. That is nice. The second part of the camp is what we can learn about different aspects of adoption and dealing with adoption issues, not only for the kids, but also for the parents. It is an opportunity to learn, and to relearn what we may have forgotten. So one of the things I knew but had the opportunity to relearn just from listening to everyone talk at the different "workshops" was that absolutely no two stories are alike. Now I already knew that from this blog and talking with other foster parents and adoptive parents before, but it is always good to be reminded of it. What that means is that when you are looking for information or advice on a particular situation or issue, you really need to talk with and get information from a lot of different people. Everyone may have a little bit of their story that matches yours and by asking a lot of different people with their part of the matching story you can then put them together.

This is only accomplished if you really pay attention and listen. While I know part of these workshops is to offer your own story so that others can gain information from yours, it is good to really just sit back and listen. REALLY LISTEN. I don't mean the kind of listening you do while thinking about other things, or drifting off. I don't mean the type of listening where you "listen to reply"  I mean the real kind of listening. The kind where you are totally focused on what is being said and paying close attention to all facets of what is being said, and not concentrating on what your reply may be until after the person is done speaking. That is the kind of listening that really gets you the best information and allows you to learn the most.

So I listened a lot. I heard about a family that is having the same kinds of problems with the legal system that we had. I hear about people who have adopted from other countries. people who have adopted multiple children from more than one country. People who have been reunited with birth parents and people who are concerned about their children reuniting with their birth parents. I think my next blog entry will have to do with that. There is always the things that people say and the things that people don't say. By listening closely you can hear them both.

For now though, let me just close with the fact that we all had a wonderful time and we are all looking forward to going back next year. There were over 100 people there this year and I think that is considerably more than last year. I expect next year will be even bigger again. Deb Schwartz who runs things is a truly wonderful person who does a magnificent job getting things set up. If you are interested for next June, she can be contacted at,


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Good Days and Bad Days

Shyanne had a bad day yesterday. At one point she was under her desk at school kicking and screaming. She said she couldn't think about anything to write for the assignment she was given. The assignment was to write something interesting about yourself that could be passed along to the second grade teacher for next year. Her teacher gave her some suggestions, but she wasn't having any of it. She ended up having to go to the office and talk with the school counselor.

She got gummies out of it, and help with the assignment and seemed to feel a little better about it. The question is why did this occur. She has had bad days before, but never as bad as getting under her desk and kicking and screaming. Well, DW I think had the answer.

For those of you who have been around us for a while, you are well aware that Shyanne has had some issues around saying good-bye. When she was smaller, she would hide in the front hall closet instead of saying goodbye to people leaving our house. She would cry and still does when special people leave and on occasion will just run away and not acknowledge that these people are leaving. She doesn't seem to like the feeling of loss when people leave. We guess it is related to her loss of her biological parents. The last time she said good-bye to them was the last time she saw them. The last time she will see them. It has been a long time since she has seen her two oldest brothers as well, and the way things are going, I think it will be at least many years before she does see them again, if at all. DW thinks this school assignment evoked some of those feelings as she would be leaving her first grade teacher who she absolutely adores.

It has not been a serious issue in the past. By that I mean we haven't really addressed it because it didn't seem to cause any big deal and we figured over time this was something she would grow out of.......Getting under a desk in school and kicking and screaming however, is a big deal. So now we have to address it from that stand point and quite frankly, we are not sure what the best way to proceed is. I know when she next sees her play therapist, that will be a topic we will bring up. She is the expert in this area and we definitely need to get Shyanne some help dealing with hose issues. We can tell her all we want that she will see her teacher again in the school and over time, she will just be a pleasant memory of a wonderful teacher, but past experience tells Shyanne that sometimes when people leave, they just never come back.

That is sad, but unfortunately it is a part of life, that for any six year old is hard to understand, but it is more difficult for someone with Shy's past.