Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Grandparents' Night: A Smashing Success

Well, last night was the much-anticipated annual Grandparents' Night at Catholic Charities. Their tiny room was packed full of parents-to-be and THEIR parents! My folks drove down from Scranton, PA, and Jeff's folks drove up from Manassas, VA. It was fun...they really educated our parents about adoption--the process, how being a grandparent of an adopted child is different from being the grandparent of a birth child, what to expect, how to help when the child is finally at home with Mom and Dad, etc. One of the most important things that Catholic Charities educated our parents on is "airport etiquette." When the child arrives, or when the parents arrive with their child at the airport, the first thing that every grandparent wants to do is to hold the baby. Margie, our caseworker, explained to them that this is a HUGE NO-NO. The reason makes perfect sense: Already, this kid has been passed from the arms of a nurse/doctor to the arms of a foster mother to (perhaps) the arms of an escort (if the child is being escorted to the U.S.) and finally to the loving arms of Mom and Dad. But if there's a lot of passing of the child at the airport (and when we arrive home), the child is STILL not going to know who Mom and Dad are. Not a very good thing for Mom and Dad, or for baby, for that matter! Margie asked, "So how ELSE can you help?" People started shouting out very good answers: Do the laundry. Make phone calls. Send emails announcing the good news. Walk the dog. Clean the house. Make dinner." (Heck, all of these sound GREAT to me! Bring it on!)

Our parents were able to meet and socialize with Margie, our caseworker, which was something that was so important to us. We converse so regularly with her (mainly over email and at parents-in-progress meetings) that it was important that our parents get to know her, too. All four of our parents participated actively, raising their hands and answering questions, and asking Margie some excellent questions as well. As we left, all four of our parents were raving about what a great time they had and what an excellent session it was. They said it was so informative, and in my Dad's words, "I learned so much about adoption tonight! More than I ever thought I would learn."

I took photos of us out to dinner before we left, and then took a photo of all of us sitting there at Catholic Charities, waiting for the evening to begin. These are some of the first photos that will be in our child's "lifebook"!

Have I explained the lifebook yet? A "lifebook" is an adoption thing; it's a scrapbook/memory book that traces our child's life journey, from as early as we can possibly manage, so that as our child grows, we can share with them the story of our journey to her or him and the important milestones along the way. We may not have photos of their birth, but we do have a lot of other meaningful things we can include. A lifebook can include everything from photos (including that magic "first photo" we'll get with the referral!) to airline tickets to cards/letters to pictures of Korea. It basically shows the child that he or she has an important and unique identity and their very own story to share with the world! It also shows them that adoption does not make them "different" or "less than" their peers: It simply shows them that they are as special as any other little boy or girl, and here's how.

All right. Back to work. Just wanted to share how things went last night. It meant so much to have my parents there (they drove 4 hours yesterday and then turned around and drove 4 hours back home today when I left for work!). Plus, the six of us don't get to spend time together very much, so everyone enjoyed the time we were able to spend together.

Talk to everyone soon! Have a great week. Probably no more posts this week.

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