Two Birthdays

February 29, 2012

   This past weekend was full of birthdays for us.  We went to our first kemem (Marshallese first birthday party) for Juliet, a little girl who lives up the street, and then we celebrated my birthday.  We didn't really know what to expect from the kemem and I was pretty nervous about the whole thing.  Even here, we're a pretty conspicous family and I didn't know how the Marshallese at the party would react to us.  For the most part they ignored us (a tried and true method for dealing with things on small islands) and we had a good time.  The food was great and there was a lot of it.  Sky ran around with the other kids like a crazy thing and had a whole lot of fun and D and I schmoozed with the other parents.  After dinner the Marshallese ladies there sang a special song for Juliet (I'll post the video soon).  It was really beautiful to hear and wonderful that they did it.  Sky had a meltdown shortly after the singing so we decided to call it a day.
  The next day was my birthday- I'm 33!  I think this was probably one of my best birthdays.  I rode my racing bike for 13 miles first thing in the morning, then came home to D making me breakfast (smiley eggs!).  I opened some presents and then we spend the day hanging out outside.  D surprised me with another present- a TV antenna!  Don't laugh, state-siders, that's a pretty big deal for us.  After lunch we watch a TV show and then we all took naps before we started cooking and cleaning for my birthday party.  We have a very small house but one of the upsides of that is that it takes 45 minutes to clean the whole thing.   D made me home-made macaroni and cheese, grilled sausage and corn for my birthday dinner with ice-cream cake for desert.  We ended up have 10 people over to help celebrate and it was so much fun sitting and talking on the back porch while the kids ran around playing.  We really are some lucky monkeys.

 Juliet and her daddy inspecting the spread

Encountering Racism

February 27, 2012

  The "just Marshallese" lady struck again this weekend.  We were at a kemem (a traditional first birthday party) for another adopted Marshallese child and she (lets call her R) was there with her family.  Sky had been playing with her son all evening and because of that, we'd hung out together for most of the party.  We'd spent most of the time talking about the kids and parenting, like you do, but just before we took Sky home, R started spouting off to me, while I had Sky in my arms, about how it was better that Sky was adopted, that she'll be better off with us and then started saying a bunch of disparaging stuff about the Marshallese.  D and I were ready to leave so we just ignored her comments, said our goodbye's and left.
  I have wondered since I heard R's previous comments second hand if she'd actually said them.  Now I'm positive that she did.  To say those things, not only in front of my daughter, but at a party full of Marshallese, isn't just thoughtless.  There had to be some kind of motivation there.
  Since Kwaj is a small island and my daughter is friends with her son, I would prefer to just let this pass.  Unfortunately, I don't think we can.  As long as we both live on the island our children will be in class together and we'll have to see each other.  Sky is getting old enough to understand what R said, at least the tone and implication if not the exact words, so we're going to have to address it.  It's really too bad that we didn't say something in the moment. Her comments caught us off-guard and it was more public than I wanted, but I wish I had.   Now I have to try and find the right moment to ask her not to talk about adoption and the Marshallese like that in front of Sky and who knows when that will be. 
  I will admit that there are things about the Marshallese culture that I disagree with, actions that their culture condones that are unacceptable in my culture, but there are also aspects that I respect very much and want to encourage.  What I want most of all is for Sky to discover all of these things and to judge them for herself, not to have her impressions shaped by small-minded people who have no real idea what they're talking about.

Thoughts on Family Day

February 25, 2012

  There's a lot of talk on adoption boards and blogs about what to call the day a child is adopted and whether or not to celebrate it.  Some families call it "Gotcha Day" and some call it "Family Day".  Some make a big deal with presents, some keep it low key with a special dinner and some families choose not to recognize the day in any special way.
  After a lot of thought and discussion, D and I have decided to call it Family Day and not to make a big deal out of it.  While we were ridiculously happy the day we adopted Sky, she wasn't.  She cried for days after she came to live with us (D even had a special shirt that he would wear, called "The Shirt of a Thousand Tears").  Also, it seems callous to celebrate the misfortunes and difficulties in her birth family that led them to make a heart-rending decision. 
  We're going feed Sky her favorite food for dinner tonight (hot dogs, noodles and edamame) and take time to look at her Special Book, a scrap book I made to tell her adoption story.  That will probably be the heart of most of our Family Days.  We want to make sure that Sky knows she can ask about her adoption any time, not just on one day a year, so we've been making a point to talk about it when it seems natural and we'll keep doing that.
  If your family has grown by adoption, what do you do to commemorate your child's adoption day?

A Year in Review

February 24, 2012

   One year ago today we adopted Sky in Majuro.  We had only met her the day before and were so nervous.  D and I arrived early at the court house and while we were waiting, a man approached us.  He asked us if we were here for an adoption and when we said yes, he said that he was Sky's father.  We were really surprised and while it was kind of strange initially, it was really nice to talk to him and to hear his side of the story.  Sky's Daddy V is a very nice, intelligent man stuck in a situation that keeps him from providing for his daughter. 
  Sky and her Aunt A showed up just before court time.  We each took the stand and then it was over.  Really, it happened so quickly you could hardly believe it.  After court we took some pictures:

One Year

February 23, 2012

  One year ago today, we met Sky for the first time.  We had no idea what to do.  The adoption ladies called us at the hotel and said, "We'll be over in 15 minutes", and then they were.  Sky was tiny in her aunt's arms and didn't really know what to make of us.  We didn't know what to do or think.  Our daughter, but not quite yet.  What a year it's been!

Thanks Grandma Lynn!

February 22, 2012

   Grandma L (my mom) has been great about sending us boxes lately.  We've gotten lots of little things that we've wanted and there've been some surprises too.  One of the surprises was a kit for making a memory stone.  Two Sundays ago after naptime, Sky and stirred the concrete together and then pressed her foot into it.  I think it turned out pretty good.  I hope it lasts- I'm imagining Sky putting her foot next to it through the years and marveling at how little she used to be.

Majuro's Passport Printer...

February 19, 2012

  Is up and running, according to my inside source.  Hopefully, this means that the folks waiting to travel for adoptions in Majuro will be able to fly out soon!

The Tall Ship Dewaruci Visits Kwaj

February 15, 2012

   This past Friday and Saturday have been great for reminding me why we live here.  Besides the fact that it's a tropical island in a foreign country, there are so many opportunities to do neat things here that would be a lot tougher to do if we lived in the states.  The Indonesian Navy's Tall Ship Dewaruci pulled into our harbor around lunch time on Friday:

 Why yes, that is the view out of my building's doorway!

Slices of Life

February 14, 2012

 Our first baby purchase arrived in the mail this weekend- Harley thinks it perfect.

Bowling Party

February 13, 2012

   One of Sky's friends from school had his birthday party at the bowling alley (yup, Kwaj has a bowling alley) and Sky got an invite.  She had a hard time waiting her turn and didn't really get the idea of waiting to see if she hit any pins but she had a great time carrying the bowling ball around and trying to roll them down the lane. 

It's The Little Things

February 11, 2012

 Another adoptive family sent us this wonderful box of goodies in trade for a Marshallese handicraft we sent them.  It's the little things (like buffalo macaroni cheese!) that make our world go round.

Thanks McKinney's, for our taste of home!

Too Many Words, Not Enough Pictures!

February 7, 2012

There has been a definite lack of cuteness on this blog lately.  We've just been living our lives, so I don't have any new pictures but here are a few cute one from the past.  Enjoy!

Info and Links for Families with Marshallese Children

February 3, 2012

    The links below contain some helpful information regarding the relationship between the Marshall Islands and the United States.  We used the letter from the RMI ambassador to obtain Sky's Social Security card and will be following the guidelines listed in the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) and on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website when we apply for her US citizenship next year.  I thought I would share them here for any other families that might need them.

-section 141 applies to immigration, entry and residence in the US
USCIS: Citizenship for Biological or Adopted Children Residing Outside the US
-this website directs you to the INA legislation regarding citizenship for adopted children that reside outside the US that don't have US citizenship
INA Section 101(b)E(i)17a
INA Section 322(c)
-the specific sections in the INA that refer to adopted children and their qualification for citizenship

  Marshallese citizens qualify for US Social Security cards.  This is the policy that explains that and will hopefully ease the process:
Social Security Numbers for CFA Citizens

*This is not intended to be legal advice regarding US citizenship or any other matter!  Please do your own research and contact a lawyer if needed!*

Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.