Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New Blog

We'll be moving over here, if you're interested in keeping up with our post-adoptive life.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Year in Review

It's time to shut down this adoption blog -- mission completed -- and we'll continue on with Martin-Spisak musings in another thread soon. But as a celebration to the year gone by, here's a 10 min. video, if you've got the time.

Much love and thanks for the support.

Luke & Sheri

Sunday, January 07, 2007

But still a clutz

But, I have to say that he's still a total clutz. The skinned nose and lip were because of TWO face plants while running down the driveway. We're starting a "stitches pool" if anyone is interested in guessing the date for his first emergency room visit...

 Posted by Picasa

Smiling Boy

We're seeing a lot more of this smile now. It is remarkable how quickly he is transitioning to the mad world that is the Martin-Spisaks. We've found that he goes through stages very quickly. For instance, at his first pediatrician's appointment back in early November she said that, he should be climbing up on chairs on his own. Well, he must have understood (okay, not really) because within a day he was doing just that, and now pushes chairs around the house and stands on them, just to prove that he can do it. And he's getting pretty good with the chainsaw too. If only I could get him to stack the wood neatly! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Long Awaited Photos

Okay, okay, I know I've been delinquent. These are from late Oct. to early Nov. I'll post a whole batch later (yeah right) to flickr.

Ubiquitous bath shot.
With Grandma Yvonne.
For every "keeper" we've taken ten times as many shots. He has a remarkable ability to turn away or drop a smile as soon as the camera is focused on him.

Slides were his first major obsession/accomplishment.

Nothing would get a smile out of him this day, though we were very lucky to have him stand still for a few seconds.
First cupcake. (With Sheri at Olivia's soccer game.)

Food in hand. His preferred way to travel.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


I'll add some photos later. Still uploading them...

What's Up?

Yes, it has been a while since we’ve added anything to our blog.

What’s up?

Hmm. Not sure how to go about answering that question. Did I mention that back in early October we packed for, traveled to and returned from Taiwan? And that we now have a fourth child, a sweet bear-like boy named Seth?

I took a month or so off work. I went back to work. And we’re now partway between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I suppose your better question would be, What’s not up?

There’s a busy-ness with parenting, whether it’s one child or more. But if you only have one child don’t fool yourself into thinking that four’s probably not that much more difficult. You only have 24 hours in the day, no matter how you look at it. Actually, that’s not true. I didn’t realize it until entering the realm of four-children-hood that the Time Gods figure that you’ve already hit your family allotment – everyone is given a maximum of 120 hours per day per family. So as long as you stay with five and under, you’re okay. Once you get to the sixth, you start seeing a reduction in your personal allotment. Your kids still get 24 hours. But the parents see theirs reduced accordingly. So with four kids at 24 hours each, that gives you about 12 hours each, on average. Some days I give Sheri 16 or 18 hours and drink a lot of coffee, and other days she’ll give me more than my 12 hours. I hear, though, that once you have teenagers there’s a whole different way of calculating things. Something about the square root of despair, but that doesn’t make much sense to me yet.

Anyway, what about Seth? He’s doing well. Great. Okay. Up and down. Clingy and then oblivious. Eats and sleeps without much problem. He got sick about two weeks after we got home and I must say that it was horrible – particularly because we didn’t know that he was sick. He just seemed to be grouchy, inconsolable, was sleeping poorly, and wanted nothing to do with me whatsoever. We considered the latter a good thing (though sad for me) because we could see it as a stage in the bonding process, and realized that attaching to Sheri was better than attaching to me, because of a little fact that I eventually was going to have to make my way back to work. But once he worked his way through the virus, he was back to his easygoing self, as easily going to me as to Sheri. And that’s good. But it’s not good. It’s good because he’s pretty easy to live with – feed him, change him, rock him, hug and tickle him, throw him way over your head (ah, that’s me – Sheri threatens divorce when she sees some of my super-tosses), and he’s happy. But it’s bad because there’s still something missing. I think that if we packed him up and brought him back to St. Lucy’s he would be sad – having left some great people behind – but he would transition back to what he knew. The completion of attaching means that’s impossible, that his very DNA wouldn't allow such a hand off. And I mean it. All this nature vs. nurture crap comes from sociologists who have never adopted a child. There comes a point when you are connected by more than an adoption decree and mutual fondness. I think if you’d dig through my DNA code, and that of my children, you’d be surprised to see that there are common strands among all of us, adopted or biological. That’s the mystery of adoption.

I’m not yet ready to say that the months of waiting – the needless extra months of waiting because of a lazy bureaucratic judge – are disappearing. I can’t say that it was worth the wait or that it was all in its own perfect timing, two things people kept saying to console us. The wait was wrong. And for me, until he is fully bonded with us (and us with him) I won’t be able to forgive that judge. Think of it this way. If this adoption had happened in June as it was supposed to have, we would be four months closer to the end of this attachment period.

So, that’s what’s up. Oh, yeah, and the house is a mess and we have very little clean laundry. But I do have a 1L bottle of Jagermeister in the freezer. I tell the kids that it's my cold medecine.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Home at Last

Our final days in Taipei were wonderful and for the most part leisurely -- we slept in, strolled around, saw a few sites, swam, ate noodles, went up and down the glass elevators, headed out for some souvenir shopping and even, believe it or not, had some half-decent Mexican food. (We just happened on a little taiwanese-taqueria near the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial.) Oh, and Sheri, Grandpa Dave, Maya and Olivia all went to see a Chinese opera, acrobatics and kung fu at Taiwan Eye -- Sheri says that it was one of the highlights of the trip and would recommend it to everyone. I had the honor of hanging out with a cool little toddler in our hotel room.

For those who were with us through Maya's Chinese adoption, you know that it was days and days of paperwork, running from one office to another, getting something notarized and then the same thing authenticated at another office. In Taiwan, the process couldn't be easier. We showed up at the American consulate (AIT) at around 8:00 (I forgot visa photos at the hotel so had to quick head back for that -- if anything was about to complicate things, I wanted to be sure that that anything was me). Then we waited about 15 minutes for our names to be called, filled out a bit of paperwork, went downstairs to pay the visa fee, headed back upstairs and waited about 45 minutes, raised our right hand to swear something about something, and that was it. Our interviewer even had the time to tell us how great Taipei is, complete with Costco, TGI Friday's and Outback Steakhouse, and still have us out the door by 9:30. That's it! Oh, I guess I had to walk the three blocks from our hotel the next morning at 11:30 to pick up the visa, but that was just a nice stroll, so it doesn't count.

And, fitting with the easy immigration process (and contrasting the difficult court process), our journey home was relatively effortless -- or at least not as traumatic as we had convinced ourselves it would be. Two miserable parts of the trip: 1) the taxi ride to the airport, dispatch radio on full blast, Chinese pop station blasting on the radio, Hello Kitty cell phone continually going off, while Lu-Yu was restless the whole time; 2) and then the check-in at LAX this morning. It's been a long time since I've traveled domestically with paper tickets, which means you have to wait forever in a long line, and there had to be a gauntlet of five or six security checks to pass through (at 6:00 a.m.) in order to make it to the plane. But the 45 minute sunrise flight into San Diego was spectacular -- made leaving beautiful Taiwan a little easier.

I have to thank Sheri's family for showing up at the airport this morning. We flew into the commuter terminal, so it was quiet, and we all hung out, Lu-Yu running around with his cousins, happy to go into everyone's arms. Thanks -- Terry, Carole, Joanna, Dave, Jake, Sam, Anna, Shannon, Steve and Shelley -- for the bagels, coffee and mimosas in the parking lot, a well-stocked fridge, an industrial-strength highchair, for the Frida care and for all the cool toys for new little brother!

So many other people we need to thank, and if this was the Oscars they'd start the music right about now, because our list is endless. We honestly appreciate the enthusiasm and ongoing support of all the readers and commenters on this blog, the Yahoo Taiwan group, our friends and family, that one great friend of mine who doesn't need to be named but whose financial support helped make this happen, our pet-keepers and tireless Frida-sitters, and especially Grandpa Dave for being a vagabond traveler with us, and for picking up the lion's share of the hotel bills. Thanks for the prayers, the encouragement, and from refraining from questioning our sanity in going through with all this.

By the way, can you tell from this long post today that everyone's jet lagged and sound asleep? Sheri's been out for two hours, Lu-Yu for three hours, and Maya for six hours. Olivia is a zombie but a great playmate for Frida right now.

I consider this journey complete. You'll get some photos in the coming days, a bit of baby update, but then that's it, I promise! As the title of this blog reads, our journey to Taiwan and back is now finished. Lots of other journeys ahead, yes of course.

Don't think, though, that I'd end without revealing Lu-Yu's name -- something that Sheri and I worked very hard on deciding. Naming a toddler is difficult, because he's had the chance to grow into his name: Lu (blessed) Yu (cosmos). He will continue to be "Louie" for us during this transition, but officially I'd like to introduce you to our son:

Seth David Luyu Martin-Spisak

A big name, but a big boy. Seth, because he was chosen for us, and us for him; David, because of his grandfather, complete with his giant-slaying confidence and gentle heart; Luyu, because that links him to St. Lucy's ("Lu" for all the children born that year) and to his birth mother, Yu-Jou, a brave young girl, who we pray can rise above her circumstances and flourish; and Martin-Spisak because, sure, what's bred in the bone outs in the flesh, but at the end of the day it's nurture over nature, baby: he'll have us to blame and thank for the life that lies ahead of him.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Taipei Photos

All continues to go well. He's a happy and crazy little guy, and we're doing our best to keep up with him. Thank goodness that he has two fellow playmates, thanks to Olivia and Maya. Otherwise, I'd be flat on my back with exhaustion by now. Only so many times you can run the hotel corridors.

Out the window of TAIPEI 101 (world's tallest building):

At the foot of TAIPEI 101:

In our hotel room. (Geez I love these robes.)

Howard Plaza swimming pool:

Wandering the hotel with grandpa Dave:

Sweet little Lu-Yu:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tainan Photos

Lu-Yu's in the next room snoring like a soldier, so I thought I'd try to post a few of the photos again. It was an effortless night -- he lay between Sheri and I staring at the ceiling a while, and then fell asleep around 9:00. Other than taking up half of the king-sized bed, he did great.

With Timothy and Lynne in Willy's Second Base, a pub owned by a former major leaguer who retired to Tainan. (Guiness on draught!)

I love this picture because we've seen the two-happy-parents-and-three-cute-kids-background in dozens of other photos, as families pose with their new children. Take note of the contrast. (And note that he's not crying because Dave's holding him. He's "fake crying", as his nannies call it, because he wants to keep moving.)

And this last photo I'll leave up to interpretation. Two ways to look at it: his crib is now emptied, as he leaves Taiwan behind for his forever family in California; his crib is now emptied because he's dashing off for the party of his life!

Difficult Pregnancy, Easy Delivery

I was going to post a few photos but are experiencing some kind of server proxy error. Oh well. You'll have to trust me that Lu-Yu is a beautiful and unique little soul. I'll try with the photos again later tonight.

Where to begin?

How about waking at 4:00 this morning and not being able to get back to sleep. So, I donned my runners, slipped out of the room without waking anyone, and headed to St. Lucy's. The lights weren't on (good sign), so I just hung out a while, and then ran the sweaty Tainan streets for an hour or so. For me, it was the perfect end to my pregnancy -- and I was ready to deliver.

Sheri's preparations were more pragmatic: woke, showered, ate, packed. (I'm quoting her verbatim, but let it be known that I was the one who did the packing.)

We arrived at St. Lucy's at around 9:30, got to meet the wonderful staff and some of the volunteers who have been with him for all these months, and took our place with our fellow waiting parents, Lynne and Timothy. Dave got ready to take some photos, and Olivia and Maya slouched on the couch bored. Suffice it to say, that was the last little bit of boredom I suspect that anyone will see for quite a while in our family.

Trumpets sounded, and out came Chien-Lu (13 months) and Lu-Yu. As a bit of comparison, Lynne and Timothy were handed their beautiful, quiet boy, and he settled comfortably into their arms. Lu-Yu? Holy smoke. When I say that he is energetic, I'm not using the right word. Frenetic maybe? Like a runaway locomotive on a steep downhill run? That's pretty close.

He marched down the hall, the nannies saying that he was going to see his baba and mama, and meanwhile he quickly sized up everyone -- caregivers, parents, children -- and without hesitating, he grabbed Olivia's hand and continued on towards the door to the outside. Maya quickly caught up and grabbed his hand too, and we all trailed after them. No snuggling on the sofa, no time for sentimental tears. It was play time! Within fifteen minutes my shirt was soaked with sweat, up and down the three flights of stairs, in and out of the chapel, through the parking lot, out to see the scooters on Shengli Road, into the nursery, climbing trees, balancing on walls, back flips off parked cars (okay, the final three were just visions of the future ahead of us).

I thought that the transition would be difficult. I imagined that he would cry and reach for his nannies, that he would have a fit in the taxi, and sob the whole plane ride. Umm, didn't happen. Until he passed out around 4:30, he was nonstop action, giggles, jumping, chasing, rolling on the floor, eating bananas on the fly, running the hotel hall with his sisters, pulling toys in and out of his backpack, flipping through his board book, driving his plastic truck, fitting the paper cups together, and on and on.

He's most definitely a boy, and most definitely a toddler, and I'm proud to say that he feels like both a Martin and a Spisak. Gosh, what a lot of work we've got ahead of us!

He's now out of the bath, kind of mellow, and looks like he could fall asleep again any minute. It's been a long day for him -- and he's got a whole new world to explore tomorrow...

Monday, October 16, 2006

A few travel-ish photos

Posing in Jiji:
Scootering in Jiji:
Fried seafood balls and coconut milk:

Giggly girls in Tainan:
Why God created the video iPod:

Drinking blue gin across the street from St. Lucy's:

Early Morning in the Cambridge Hotel

Our weirdly wired brains are a wonder. You know how it is. You’ll be sitting in your office, reading some memo about logo usage, or in the grocery store, trying to decide whether it’s worth it to pay the extra two dollars for organic milk, or maybe (oh the excitement) waiting in line to renew your driver’s license, when in a synaptic flash you remember that horizon of rice fields outside Wuhan, or that banana vendor in Koh Samet, or punching that donkey cart driver kid in Kashgar. I think it’s a defense mechanism – out of the monotony of our daily lives those moments come as bits of salvation: life is way more than this. And this trip has been like that. In line at Whole Foods, sitting in traffic on the 8 at College, or ironing my grey trousers, I might be blessed with one of the following:

  • Riding at breakneck speed (exaggeration) on a motorcycle (exaggeration) down a winding highway outside of Jiji, Maya standing on the floor board in front of me, giggling while she gets to open up the accelerator. (And knowing that Maya will never forget this moment as long as she lives.)
  • Olivia crying when we tell her that she can’t take the wild kitten with her that she found on Bagushan, near the giant Buddha, in Changhua. (And, knowing that Olivia will never forget this moment as long as she lives.)
  • Watching Dave on the train from Ershui to Tainan, proudly sharing photos of his family and California with a young social worker who works with the elderly. (Like me, he laughs. No, no. You look very young.) (And knowing that he will remember this moment as long as he lives.)

And this, one that I’ll forever share with Sheri. Sitting in that odd little café, drinking blue gin-and-tonics out of hermetically sealed plastic cups, eating tiny sandwiches, staring across Shengli Road at Number 85, where our son lay asleep. We really didn’t plan on ending up there, but once there I knew that all along it’s all that I wanted to do in Tainan. I may have thought that we were going out for dinner and to explore a bit, but I should have known that the unsettled feeling in my stomach was simply the urge to be as close to Luyu as possible, as soon as possible. And I felt three things while eating my tiny sandwich: that my son was real, that I was blessed to have a wife and friend to share these journeys with, that life is damn good.

To Frida

Hello Frida!!!
I am thinking so much about you and miss you. Are you having fun with your gramma and aunts and cousins? We rode a motocycle and a train today. I bougtht you three gifts today and can't wait to give them to you along with a hug and kiss. We will get LuYu in one day! And I am going to tell him all about you and bring him home. 6 more nights sweetie and we will be home. We love you. Mommy and Daddy

Trains, bicycles, scooters and noodles

My first post ever. Thought I should come up with a catchy title. Did I succeed? Here is a little of what we have done since our last post. But I need to preface that without Luke we would not be enjoying this as we are. He is amazing to watch communicate with the locals, buying us tickets and ordering us food. He says he is having difficulty with the language and that some people arne't understanding his chinese. But from where dad and I sit, it is very successful and impressive. And thank goodness he is in shape, be ahs carried this suitcase up and down the train stairs and carried sleeping girls back to the hotel and up stairs and into bed. So I have to thank him for maing this all go very smoothly. We have travelled to Changhua (100 foot high Buddah, stray kitten Olivia cried over, and maya slurping noodles while Olivia fell asleep in hers). Then we went to Ershur (bicycle ride searching for a monkey preserve that was always just up the road and we never reached and an interesting lunch of soy beans topped with shaved ice and an assortment of sweet syrups.) Dad made a couple friends while sipping coffee and we had our first really yummy meal for all of us= $7. Olivia is becoming more adventurous everyday, but am expecting her to loose weight like our time in china. She biked a good 5 miles and we are walking everywhere, I know she is so hungry. Maya is so happy here and loves the nooodles and the "fancy hotels". We took a short train ride to JiJi. Woke up to a beautiful morning: quiet town, birds singing and beautiful mountains and a temple roof all from our balcony as we sipped tea from paper cups and threw peanut shells at dad as he took his morning walk. There are many wonderful details to write about but the real new experience is to share this all with the girls. It is really an honor to see them in this totally new strange place. They are taking it in and at the same time playing their endless games of pet dog, fairies,... They are really having a great time.
It was here in JiJi that Luke and I both felt the magnetic like pull to the south. Time to get close to where LuYu is living and get a sense of his home. So after our incredibly fun fun fun scooter ride around JiJi and an attempt to climb a mountain on them we set off for Tainan. Dad met a woman on the train and shared photos from home and talked with her. It was neat listening to him. As we approached Tainan the emotions started to grow in me. Added to this was a woman in front of me with a small boy, of course LuYu's age (I had been playing a bit with) was just slapping him and just being rough. It was so stressful. I was happy to leave them. But when that train stopped I was flooded with tears. The same feeling i had when I landed in Guangzhou. When that plane touched ground I knew that I would never be as far as I was from Maya again But now that I am older I cry more and pulling in to Tainan I am confident in my purpose, just alot sappier about it. I read the court papers for the first time at the hotel. And learned some things that I didn't know ( like the judges name grrrr) but I also found out that LuYu's birth mother named him! Her name is Yu-jou. So it is a very important bit of information for me, so meaningful that she named him. Then to top off our day Luke and I in search of a Pub (which doesn't exsist) migrated to St. Lucy's. This is where Luke fell apart. So close, a dark parking lot not knowing which building he is in. We ate across the street. Strange.
So I need to go to bed, it has been a long day. We have great photos of the girls in their many hats that they have bought and new wood shoes and them riding scooters and bikes but we just can't figure out this system to post.
Signing off. Thanks for keeping us all in your thoughts.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sleeping Pills, Eva, Lotsa Water

Those are Sheri's three recommendations for all those traveling to Taipei. She partly took her own advice: sleeping pills worked wonders for her and she woke without jetlag. She drank some water, but not lotsa water. And, our one failure, we didn't fly Eva. (That's a long story, and we really did try to get the Evergreen premium economy, but in the moments between checking rates and booking seats, prices went up by $1,000 USD per ticket. We ended up flying sardine class on China Airlines. They pack you in, hook you up intravenously to the nonstop video at each seat, and hope that keeps you comatose enough not to realize that the food is bad, that you can't sit normally if you're over 5'10".)

Anyway, we are so very happy to be here, finally. I got to go out for a morning run and ended up, just by chance, at the Sun-Yat Sen Memorial, where hundreds of early morning tai-chi, kung-fu and ballroom dancers were waiting to greet me. There's nothing in the world like an early morning in a Chinese city.

We're staying at the Howard Plaza, a nice choice if you're looking for places. Breakfast buffet was good, rooms roomy, service smiley. We spent some time this morning trying to see if we could get something cheaper for our final three days in Taipei, but all the hotels seem to be about the same amount of money -- $150 for singles, $200-$250 for suites. Or all the hotels that I'm allowed to look at. Cockroaches not allowed on this trip.

From here we're going to hop on a train this afternoon and probably head to Changhua, maybe to Chiayi. From Changhua we'll either head to Lugang or up into the mountains on the Jiji scenic railway. From Chiayi, if we decide on that route, we'll head up to Alishan. That little excursion will take up the next three days, and then we'll be heading to Tainan on the 17th, with a 9:30 a.m. pick-up at St. Lucy's.

Okay, Sheri's saying that we've got to pack up and go. Thanks to everyone for the well wishes and prayers -- they're working well so far. (Except for our camera -- didn't find out until getting here that our lovely Frida broke it. Alas. But Sheri's dad brought his, so that should suffice.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Our Bags Are Packed

Or mostly. We've got little things here and there, little things that I'm questioning whether we even need -- that looks like a menu to Sheri's favourite coffee shop over there in the going-to-Taiwan pile. Or maybe I've got the piles mixed up.

Travel-wise we're just overnighting in Taipei and then heading south to Changhua. From there we'll maybe hop to Lugang for a day trip, and then up to Jiji for some mountain views and hopefully some monkey sightings -- the girls are hoping to catch one and bring it home with them.

Oh, I wanted to thank Val again for all the wonderful photos she took of Lu-Yu while she was at St. Lucy's a few weeks back. And, even more, for taking the time to play with him. Photos are one thing -- playtime is so much more. You can see some of Val's photos at http://luyuforyou.blogspot.com

Short of Kim Jong Il lobbing a nuclear bomb in our general direction, you'll be hearing from us from Taiwan shortly...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


We had thought that once we got the referral we were no longer worth reading -- not a single comment. We wondered whether it was the drama that everyone loved.

Alas, somehow I messed around with the settings and comments needed to be approved by me, the moderator.

Thanks to all who have wished us love and celebrated along with us. And I'm sorry that we didn't see your comments immediately!

Monday, October 02, 2006

September Photos

Looking back over the past months, I'm thinking that we're going to have more photos of Lu-Yu than we do of our other kids. (Except that first year with our oldest, Olivia. The first child always gets photo-spoiled.)

And I'm overjoyed that these are the last pre-with us photos that we're going to get.

  • Height = 32.87"
  • Weight = 27.56" (over a pound this past month!)
  • Head = 19.09"

From Val and her husband, Kevin, we hear that he is a "crazy man" and the favorite of the nursery -- which makes sense because he's the oldest and has had the longest bonding time. Though I like to think it's because he's particularly wonderful. Kevin also told me that he's the nannies' little helper and has the run of the place. I know that on one hand it'll be traumatic for him to be uprooted from a place where he's become something of a Little Emperor, and that we'll in turn have to hold him through some inevitable tantrums; but on the other hand I know that because he has been so well cared for, so loved, and understands what it means to attach, after wrestling with him through a tough transition time, his attachment/bonding to us might be easier than with some. (Plus, that's why God invented lollypops -- stop crying and there's more of these where this one came from...)

One thing I love about all these photos is the quirky details. Notice the fashionable baby blue shoes in the first two shots.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Travel Plans

Yesterday we made the trip up to Pasadena for our travel meeting. We got great information on what to expect at St. Lucy's, and that the Taiwanese consider it impolite to wear Speedos in public. (Or maybe that was in my dream last night.)

The only bad news out of the meeting was that the "four to six weeks" that everyone is told about travel times, put into the Luke & Sheri bad luck equation, meant that we got the outside number. Six weeks. Sad we were, but what could we say? Six weeks is better than nine months.

But, it appears as if our luck is on the upswing. Kerry called this morning to say that it looked like our pick-up date would be moved from October 24th to October 18th. See the sky open up? Hear those archangel trumpets? At this point, six days is a lifetime, it really is. Just removing one week from our sentence has felt like a reprieve from the governor on the night of a scheduled execution. Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration.

That means that we'll be sailing out of here around October 10th. Why travelling so early? Two reasons: 1. we want to do a bit of site-seeing, particularly around Lu-Yu's birth city; 2. if our bad luck does continue for a while, we want enough time so that if our flight is canceled, we can still make it to Taiwan by other means. (Kayak, submarine, shuttle Atlantis, tunnelling are a few that come to mind.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Universe Has Order Again

We've heard it said that The Call comes when you least expect it. Maybe that was what we were doing wrong all these months -- we were expecting the call every single day.

Here we are, September 11th, at around 9:15 p.m., when we get a call from our agency's Executive Director. And, even hearing her voice, I was expecting some info about something or other. But, for once, I was completely wrong. It was The Call.

(Okay, Sheri just corrected me. She said "for once?" Okay, okay. I guess I've been completely wrong for the entire spring and summer.)

We always thought that on getting The Call we'd break into tears or scream like Britney Spears fans. For both of us, the response was a lot simpler -- "ahhhhh." It's like my chest opened up a bit and I could take a full breath.

Details still need to be resolved, but we're looking at travel in about four weeks.

It's nice to post this, but I need to get back to this bottle of 1998 Dom Perginon (thank you Miro!) and my beautiful partner. All is good. It really is.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

More Haikus

From Sheri:

A space empty here
A son calling from the east
A family home.

From Maya (age 6):

Lu-Yu is very good
Lu-Yu trades a toy with Zack
I love you Lu-Yu.

From Olivia (age 9):

My brother awaits
For he knows we are coming
To pick him up soon.

From me:

Summer's heat passes
Cool nights now, crickets singing
Still alone he lies.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Though the dates have come and gone, I can at least add some poetry -- words of hope. As I understand, Dave and Joanna (Sheri's dad and mom) have been firing haikus back and forth at each other for the past few days. Ironically, these two crossed mid-air. It looks like this wait and this boy is on everyone's mind.


The phone does not ring
Lu Yu knows not he waits still
Mom Dad sad judge bad


Waiting wanting soon
The keeper judge holds our hearts
Our faraway toddler boy

Need I even say that we've been told that we'll receive the call "within the next week." As you may know, the judge lives on another planet (I believe it's Uranus), so that could equal months and months in earth time.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

August Photos

I held back from posting these for a few days, hoping that maybe I'd be able to save some typing and be able to announce The Call. Alas, no call. It's a mixed blessing getting wonderful photos like these -- I can see that he is happy and well cared for, and that he looks good in pink (which is exactly what his sisters will dress him in); the flipside is that no matter how happy he looks, he's still not here.

The details:
  • height: 32.7 inches
  • weight: 26.3 lbs
  • head: 18.9 inches
  • He has 8 upper teeth and 6 lower teeth. All the better for biting with... can't wait for him to meet the judge.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Island of the Day Before

In Umberto Eco's novel the protagonist is shipwrecked within view of an island, and he's convinced that he's on the international dateline -- that magical place where you can change the past, since it's the only place where you can step into yesterday.

That's me. I feel like I'm at a disadvantage, since by the time I wake today, it's already tomorrow there. They've gone through their day, and this judge has obviously done it without having made a decision, once again. She's busy making tea, or reading the newspaper, or getting her Mercedes tuned up, or planning for her retirement. (We can only pray for the latter for those coming after us.) Maybe if I were in her time zone I could do something to influence things. I could speed up the tea making, highlight the important articles in the newspaper, bribe the mechanics to get it in and out in under fifteen minutes, and give her a nice brochure on a retirement village in Fairbanks. (Where her cold heart will find a sympathetic home.) As it is, I can't do anything. It's already tomorrow, and today we didn't get the call.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Not Today

Today was the first of our potential Call Days. It's now nearly 6 a.m. in the morning tomorrow in Taiwan, so I take for granted that we're not getting the call.

And today is his 18th month birthday.

Nothing more to say.

Monday, August 21, 2006

New Birthday

People following this trek know that we've had lots of bum luck the whole way through this process. Whether it was the dilemma of having to get three Canadian birth certificates, when one is all you're allowed, and not needing them after all, but paying for three, and only getting one, or whether it was having to have all our documents re-notarized -- we've done it all.

You may also have noticed that during all of this I was applying for U.S. citizenship, and that I was doing my darndest to get them to change my incorrect birthdate to my correct birthdate. Alas, I got my new passport on Friday and it looks like the government has won. I've got myself a new birthday. In the ecstacy and patriotic fervor (p.s. notice the new U.S. spelling) of my Oath Taking Ceremony, I didn't notice that that document had the incorrect birthdate. So, I was screwed from that moment. The Department of State declared that because it is on my Certificate of Naturalization, my birthday is officially February 14, not February 17, 1967.

I called CIS today and explained the situation. No problem, they said. All I have to do is fill out form N-565 and note the change. Oh, and include the $220 filing fee. But, I said, it was an error made by you not me. Unfortunately, she said, the N-565 will only be reviewed if it comes with the filing fee. They may decide not to cash my check, but will not review the application without the check. Call me conspiratorial, if you'd like, but I doubt that I'd see that check returned.

So, based on my string of bad luck this year, I'm sticking with the new birthday. Next year, when you're buying roses for your partner on Valentine's Day, make sure to remember me, and hope that my luck has turned. I'll have spent my $220 filing fee on a bottle of Jadot grand cru, celebrating my 40th birthday.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Meta Call

Well, we got the call about The Call. Which, when you look at it honestly, is really the call about the call about the call. The real call that matters is the one with the travel date; the emotional call is the one about the first decree; and the kind of weird one is the one about the call about the first decree.

But we do appreciate the information, we really do. Kerry called yesterday to say that they had received some good news, that we can expect our first decree between August 23rd and September 1st. They usually don't get this kind of advance notice. We're happy to be tossed any bones whatsoever. We don't know how long this judge will pick her teeth while waiting to issue the second decree, so I'm not even going there yet.

For us, it means that for two weeks we're given a reprieve: no need to worry about things on a day-by-day level. We know that there will be no call. Which is better than the expectation.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cute in Camouflage

Thanks to Lynne Brown for shooting this video while she was visiting St. Lucy's a week or two ago. Seeing little Xiao Yu (I think that's what she's saying, though it might be Xiao Lu) run around has put us within inches of declaring his name.

Here's hoping that the wait is soon ending.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hope Springs

Sheri and I abandoned the kids last night -- actually overnight -- and hit the town. We always have big ambitions of doing things, but usually end up having appetizers and drinking and talking in the same place for hours and hours and hours. We probably would have done that all night, but had a concert to catch -- Bruce Cockburn. For those who don't know, Bruce is a mash up of, I don't know, Thomas Merton, Che Guevara, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Louis Riel. There's just something about his music -- it's lyrical, passionate, angry, funny -- that always strikes me poignantly, especially in concert.

You may or may not know his song Lovers in a Dangerous Time. There's a line partway through that is one of those few moments when a human being looks at the grand, confusing universe around us, our place in it, and gets it. (And I'm not the only one who thinks this about the line -- a collection of his songs by a bunch of fellow Canadian artists uses the line as the album title.) I was ready for the line, feeling it coming, and when he sang it, the tears streamed down my cheeks -- not the coolest thing in a concert, but I don't think that anyone noticed.
nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight --
Gotta kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight
That's where I am. You can read through my posts here and I probably seem a bit flippant about all this. My anger and frustration, a growing depression, none of these are very apparent. But it's dark, and I've come to the point that I hope that we'll get a call from Taiwan not today or this week, but maybe this month. And some days I am sure that it will never happen, that this boy I believe is my son will disappear from us. In that darkness there is only one thing for us to do: kick, fight, tear at the very fabric of the universe around us, wrestle God to the ground. Passively sitting back, confident that all will be well -- sometimes that's just not an option. And, though it might not appear so, that is hope.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

July Photos

Don't you think that in the above image he's thinking exactly what we're thinking? This judge sucks. He just doesn't have the language to say it yet, but you can see it on his face.

He continues to grow:

  • height: 32.28" / 82 cm
  • weight: 26.01 lb / 11.8 kg
  • head: 18.7" / 47.5 cm

And we heard that St. Lucy's did call the judge again, confirming once again that she had all the information that she needed, which she does. So why not just do the right thing and issue the decree! Paper-pushing bureauocrat? Mean old wench? Control freak? Prejudiced?

But we have to remember that he looks happy. This is about his journey to us, as much as it might appear that it's only about our or my journey to him. Blessings on this little boy. (And curses on all who stand in his way.)

Fire's Burning

A raging wildfire is the perfect partner to a slow adoption, don't you think?

Just over the hills a couple of miles from us is burning the 15,000-acre Horse Fire. I've been watching this area on the south edge of town -- a big beautiful valley that sprawls south to the Mexican border -- since the massive 2004 Cedar Fire burned right up to the north side of our town. That area hasn't (I mean hadn't) seen any fires since 1970, so there's quite the build up of dry timber. My paranoia appears to have been justified.

We're under evacuation advisement, but we're not worried. We packed up our irreplaceables this morning -- photos, documents, keepsakes -- and will add a rat, three cats, some hermit crabs, and my pc to the list if we get a mandatory evacuation this afternoon. Que sera sera, right?

Oh, don't bother telling me that this could be the reason that our adoption journey is taking so long. There is no justification for it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A quick visit (but not by us)

Another waiting mother, Lynne Brown, traveled to St. Lucy's today. Her son, Chien Lu, has some medical conditions, so she made a visit to consult with doctors there. Her situation is similar to ours, as far as we're both stuck with the same judge, Madame Molasses (as slow as). While we envy the fact that Lynne got to travel and see her son, I can't imagine how difficult it must be for her to pack her bags and head home without him. Not sure I could handle that. I'd probably hire a boat and steal away in the middle of the night.

So, thanks to Lynne for this photo. If you're reading this, please make a visit to the evil judge of ours and sincerely threaten her. It's ridiculous that so many families are getting their first decree in a matter of eight weeks when we're looking at three times that. She is either evil or incompetent, or maybe just plain callous. But there is no excuse.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

No Comment Necessary

Held By Someone We Know

Amanda and her husband submitted their paperwork about the same time that we did. They got their call in mid June and were able to pick up their son, Zack, on the 11th. Congratulations to them! We're so happy that their journey is winding to an end. (And, of course, just beginning.) And we appreciate that they took the time to snap some photos of Jasper Lu-Yu while they were there. We are in your debt -- and we look forward to reuniting these two playmates in the not-to-distant future!

Per Amanda...

"Oh you two.....He is just precious. He was wakling all around the jointlike he owned it!!! Everybody just loves him and he is beautiful. That little face of his will just melt ya. He was very happy and relaxed. He and Zack are indeed best buds. The staff just kept saying that they were good friends and Zack imitates Lu Yu always. They are the two oldest and were right next to each other in their cribs. In fact, Lu Yu tried to steal a rice cracker from Zack while we were there. Very sweet. They look a lot alike when you see them together. I took as many photos as I could. I may have to send them in two emails because the connection here is a bit slow. The staff at St. Lucy's is very kind and truly care for the babies. They were very sweet to us and Zack and allowed us to stay for 4 & 1/2 hours!! Lu Yu went down for his nap while we were there so I didn't get to spend as long as I would have liked with him. They did mention that your case was moving slowly and that they were trying to speed up your "slow judge". Nice to hear that you have lots of folks working on your behalf... I toldthem that we knew you and they were very pleased to hear that the babies may remain friends. I'll send you more nuts and bolts travel tips after we get home... just wanted to be sure you had the photos right away."