Friday, June 28, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

It starts Monday. 31 Days of Preparing to Parent. . . when you're adopting an older child. 

I'm so excited. The guest posts throughout the month are going to be great. Adult Adoptees. Therapists. Adoptive Parents. I hope you'll check in every day. And I hope you'll help me spread the word.

I've been thinking of doing this series for a long time. But posting ever day -- for 31 days? I was intimidated and a little afraid to fail.

Then, I saw this on Nester's blog. And I was inspired to go for it.
Lara Casey

Since this blog is going to be unreservedly devoted to all things older child adoption for the month of July, the next six quick takes will be totally random!

For years I've been basically using my fancy DSLR camera as a point and shoot, but today is the first day of the rest of my life, and I'm learning to shoot in manual. Yes, I am. I'm taking a class called Manual 'n More from Nancy over at Ordinary Miracles and the Crazy Nine. Today's assignment: Grab your favorite model and take a photo to upload to the class website. I picked Julia. The above photo represents the starting place for my work. I hope to take Nancy's Lightroom 101 editing class when I graduate from Manual 'n More. Get ready. Gorgeous photos coming your way soon.

This time last year I was begging someone to put me into a medically induced coma for a few days while Nathan went away to camp for the first time. I poured out my heart in a post called Missing Someone, Sniff. . . Sniff. Well, it's here again. Summer camp. This weekend. Help!

Guess what's arriving at my house next Friday? Stitch Fix #4. I was completely happy to take a break from Stitch Fix for a while, but then you guys went crazy ordering Stitch Fix fun for yourselves through my referral link. So now I have a pile of Stitch Fix credit burning a hole in my pocket. What's a girl to do? Oh my, I'm deliriously happy anticipating what my stylist will choose for me this time. You'll have to wait until August to see the photos. Because me modeling trendy, pricey clothes really has nothing at all to do with preparing parents to adopt older kids. In the meantime, you can read about my previous Fixes here.

Here's the post that made me laugh the hardest last week: Kristen Howerton's the time the kids and I drank beer at Target.
Here's the post that made me think the most last week: Scooping it Up's Two Cents on why it's OK to be Disgusted by Ms. Deen.

Lastly, here's a post that I didn't expect to love as much as I did: Glennon Doyle's I Love Gay People and I Love Christians. I Choose All.

Have a great weekend, and be sure to drop by Monday morning!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gotcha Day - Yea or Nay?

Our First Family Portrait on Wenxin's Original Gotcha Day Back in 2010

"Hey Mom, do you know about Gotcha Day?" 

Thank you very much, Netflix. Somewhere, in Wenxin's daily consumption of Disney sitcoms, he happened on an adoption-themed show. And one of the characters let the cat out of the bag about Gotcha Day.

"It's for adopted kids. It's a day to celebrate the day you adopted me -- kind of like a birthday."

Gotcha Day. Sounds good to Wenxin, but you might want to know that not everyone's a fan.

At first glance, Gotcha Day seems like a great idea. A day to celebrate becoming a family. What could be wrong with that? 

Well, for one, some people seem to object to the cutesy name.  The word, gotcha, conjures up images of childless parents snatching or acquiring children. You know, "Gotcha!" For folks who cringe at the term, Gotcha Day, many simply change the name to Family Day or Adoption Day. Problem solved.

But for others the issue is deeper. Here are some comments from adult adoptees I found by doing a quick search of adoption message boards.

I was adopted as an infant but back in my day (lol) the term "Gotcha Day" hadn't yet evolved (thank God). I do think that "Adoption Day" would be a more respectful term. 

I personally felt an added pressure to "perform" because I was a "chosen child". It felt a little bit like I was acquired to fill the space in my family that needed to be filled. I was loved and cherished, but it did not erase that fact. Celebrating "Gotcha Day" would have probably made that feeling even worse. Adoptive parents (even on this forum) seem so eager and desperate to find a child (being honest here) to love. And yes, I can understand that. But coming from the other end of that love, I'd just say be extra careful. Celebrate that child's full heritage, and let him/her acknowledge the truths and reality that they are separated from their biological identity, family, and heritage. Adoption involves loss, and when we enforce a "celebration" around it, I personally believe it tells that child it's not safe or right to feel any feelings other than positive. Then when the child grows up they have to revisit their entire reality. Just my opinion.

From another adult adoptee:

I'm going to be a bit more blunt. I think the idea of celebrating a "Gotcha" day or "Adoption day" is one of the more ridiculous ideas I've yet heard. I don't intend to offend anyone, but as an adoptee, I would have dreaded such a day every year. My thoughts would have been along the lines of -
"You want me to celebrate the fact that someone gave me away?"

Another individual suggests that the age of the adopted child makes a big difference:

When I was really young, I was "proud" to have been adopted and think I really would have enjoyed the formal celebration. I'm certain, however, that I would have wanted no part of it by the time I reached about 11 or 12. 

Hmmm. . .That's a lot to think about.  Adoption always looks a little different from the eyes of the adopted child.

But while I'd love to say that our lack of celebration surrounding Wenxin's Gotcha Day has been the result of careful thought given to the pros and cons and long-term effects of such celebrations, that would be a tad untrue. While I have definitely been influenced by listening to adult adoptees, the honest truth is that I have four children, and I'm just not sure I can add one more celebration to my already overflowing plate.

I've noticed that, as a mom, there's a rhythm to my year. And every year, from September to the beginning of March, I run a gauntlet. It starts with Julia's birthday and continues on to the Chinese Moon Festival, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Nathan's Birthday, Christmas, Wenxin's Birthday, New Years, Chinese New Year,  Valentines, and finally, Katherine's Birthday. The thought of inserting one more holiday to this list is exhausting. Enough special food. Enough presents. Enough gift bags. Enough!

And then, because I have three biological kids and one adopted child, I definitely don't want to make it kind of like another birthday, as Wenxin inferred from the Disney show. I'm pretty happy with each child, bio or adopted, getting celebrated on their one special day each year.

I promise I'm not a lazy mom. I am, however, a fairly tired one.

Recently, Wenxin and I revisited the topic of Gotcha Day. I explained to him why the term, gotcha, made me a little uncomfortable.

"Oh, I see," he said. And then he thought for a moment. "I know what we can call it."

"What?" I asked.

"We could call it GOT YOU Day."

Yeah. . . I'm pretty sure he's just in it for the presents.

So what do you do in your family? Gotcha Day. Yea or Nay? Shared at We Are That Family.

Coming July 1

Ni Hao Yall

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pardon Me, While I Wipe the Egg Off My Face

I open an email from the ministry where Mike and I serve. The email asks if I'd like to mentor another woman on our staff in the area of using technology in ministry. 

I respond saying that I'm willing to mentor someone who wants to start a blog. Since I love blogging, I think this might be fun.

The person in charge pairs me up with Carol and sends me her contact info.

I decide that a letter of introduction might be in order, so I send this.

Dear Carol,

Looks like we've been paired up for a blog mentorship. 

I started blogging about 4 years ago as we were preparing to adopt a 7 1/2-year-old boy from China. It was a great way to keep family and friends informed about our adoption. Secretly, I also wanted to develop as a writer, and this seemed to be a great way to "practice in public," so to speak. 

Lots of adoptive parents stop blogging soon after they bring their child home. Life gets busy.

But for me, I found that I loved writing, and I loved the creativity involved in making my blog the best it could be. And I found a niche - older child adoption.

There's a huge call in the Christian world for churches to care for widows and orphans. A big part of that call involves adopting waiting children. Many people answer that call with good intentions and big hearts, but very little understanding of the challenges they'll face adopting an older child. I blog to paint a picture of older child adoption in real life. In the process I've learned that a lot of blogging is "community building," which is something I enjoy as well. My little "older child adoption" community is growing.

So my blog is a little different from the blogs of most ladies in our ministry. It's not primarily devotional or evangelistic in nature. But I still see it as a ministry where I'm encouraging women to love their adopted kids well. 

You can visit my blog at Death by Great Wall. While you're there, check out the "About" page from the top menu. Also, pick a post or two from the "Reader Favorites" on my right sidebar. That'll give you a taste of my style and what my blog is all about.

So what about you? Do you already have a blog, or are you just getting started? What would you like to see happen with your blog?

I look forward to hearing from you.


Not bad, if I do say so myself. Informative. Friendly. Upbeat.

OK, so maybe it's a little too chipper. Maybe a little over-eager. Oh well. I send it anyway.

A few days later I get Carol's response.

Hi Dana, 

Thanks for emailing... but I don't remember signing up for something on blogging!  I don't like to write, in fact!  :-{ 

Sorry about this - Hopefully, this will give you some time with someone who loves to write! 


All I can say is, "Oops!"

This is what I call wiping the egg off my face and turning it into a blog post. Enjoy!

Coming up in July, a post every single day.

If you're new to Death by Great Wall, I'd love for you to become a follower by clicking the Join this Site icon over on my sidebar . . . or  by"liking" Death by Great Wall on Facebook. . . or both!

Ni Hao Yall

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How I Use Pinterest

In my opinion, Pinterest, used purposefully, is an amazing tool.

If you've been around here long, you know that I'm an information junkie. I'm constantly reading and researching things. In the past, I'd often spend a whole evening on Google, trying to find an article I'd previously read online or a photo I remembered but couldn't seem to find. Pinterest gives me a quick and easy way to archive useful information that I might like to revisit at a later time.

To show you how I use Pinterest, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite boards.

Pinned Via Pioneer Woman
Tried It, & It Was Yummy! - I have a Pinterest board of recipes I'd like to try, but this is different. This is a board where I pin recipes I've already tried that were winners. This is the digital version of a recipe card file. Tonight, I cooked that yummy dish pictured above. I love this board!
Pinned Via Brabourne Farm
Bedrooms for Girls - One day, I hope my girls will be able to have their own rooms. So when I see a pretty bedroom online that would work for tween/teen girls, I just pin it to this board. It's the digital version of tearing photos out of decorating magazines. I love this board, too!

Via Pinterest
Hair - Just getting started on this one, but it's fun to be able to pull a Pinterest photo up on my phone to discuss with my stylist. Don't tell anyone, but I even started pinning photos of gray hair, in anticipation of the day -- a day in the very distant future -- when I decide to grow out my natural color. Shhh. . .

Via Pinterest
Building a Wardrobe - I started this board to help my Stitch Fix stylist, but it's really helping me as well. It's helping me define my style so I don't make impulsive purchases, just because something's on sale. It's also helping me think about the clothes I already have, so I can be purposeful about future purchases. This is the digital version of window shopping.

Older Child Adoption - I'll say it upfront. I LOVE THIS BOARD! This is a board where I pin articles from Death by Great Wall, along with great posts and resources from around the web. New adoptive parents glean tons of helpful knowledge by hanging out on this board. Along those lines, I think every adoptive parent should create an adoption board on Pinterest. Probably not the last time you'll hear me say that!

Parenting with Connection - This is a new board I created just this week. I'm especially excited about this board because it's a collaborative effort. A group comprised of parents, bloggers, and even a counselor who works with adoptive families will be pinning to this board. We all want to encourage a parenting style that promotes a secure attachment in our kids. There's a little overlap with the Older Child Adoption board, but there will be different material as well. I think most adoptive parents will enjoy following both boards.

So that's how I use Pinterest. It's fun, it's helpful, and it works for me!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Favorite Posts Revisited: "They Said"

They said, "What about your other kids?"

They said, "You can't save them all, you know."

They suggested Nathan would have difficulties.

He'd always been the only boy.

He'd never had to share his room.

They said, "You need to think about the kids you already have."

Well. . . we thought about it.

And we took a risk.

Not just for us. . . but for our kids.

Last Saturday, Nathan, who'd never had to share his room, climbed an enormous tree

with his brother.

And Nathan said, "One of the best days of my life was the day we adopted Wenxin."

First posted November 2012

Ni Hao Yall

Monday, June 10, 2013

If You Give a Blogger A Stitch Fix

Thanks for the input everyone! There was never really any question in my mind. I loved #1 from the time I took it out of the box, and I'm proud to say it now lives in my closet.

If this had been a 1/2 price sale, I would have considered #2 and #3 as well. But alas, it was not, and I chose to stay within my budget, only choosing one item. I'm still holding out for that elusive 5 item home run, so I can get the 25% discount.

And that little plaid number. . . several of you spoke up in its defense. All my friends who are way hipper than me seem to think it got a bad rap. After thinking about it, I changed my Stitch Fix profile to say I'll consider plaid in the future.

The poor green blazer was the dud of this Fix. It didn't get a single vote. I think we'll call it Bud the Dud.

This was a super fun experience for me. Think the surprise of Christmas morning plus the fun of playing dress-up all rolled into one.

If you decide to give it a try, use this link, and when you order your first Fix, Stitch Fix will give me referral credit. Of course, if they give me referral credit, then I'll want to order another Stitch Fix. And if I order another Stitch Fix, then of course I'll want to blog about it. And then everyone who reads my blog will want to try it, and I'll get more referral credit. . . and so on. . . and so on. . . and so on. It's possible that I may become ridiculously stylish without ever leaving my house. It doesn't hurt to dream!

Popped the items I didn't buy back into the prepaid mail bag.
Popped that gorgeous maxi dress into my closet. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Stitch Fix #3 - The One Where I Model the Clothes!

I got another Stitch Fix, and this time I'm even going to model the clothes. Totally out of my comfort zone here, folks!

You may remember that my last Stitch Fix was a bust that ended with the cry, "Back in the bag, ugly shirt!" I'm having a much better experience this time around.

In case you haven't heard of Stitch Fix, here's the short version. 

Stitch Fix is an online personal stylist for normal people like you and me. To get started, you go online and fill out a detailed style profile.

For a twenty dollar styling fee (that can be applied to anything you buy from your Fix), your stylist picks five items especially for you and ships them to your door. You have three days to try them on with other items from your own closet. Then, you simply go online to checkout. Purchase the things you like and send the rest back in the postage paid bag that comes with your Fix. Like it all? You get a whopping 25% discount when you buy all five items. Shipping is free both ways. Easy and fun!

Without further ado, here's my latest Fix. What do you think?

I asked for a maxi in this Fix. Pros - The fabric is nice, and the color (a deep navy) is so gorgeous. I can style it lots of ways. I already tried it with my navy cardigan, my flowy white scarf and my coral cardigan. I've always loved longer dresses and have been wanting to try a maxi style. Cons - It will need to be hemmed, and it's very form-fitting. Can I wear this dress at 51? I found that holding my purse strategically helped in the photos. Do I want to have to do that all the time? Sure is pretty, though. . .
The next tank is fun. Pros - I like the fit and the color, plus I don't have anything like it. Cons - It's 100% nylon, and the fabric feels kind of cheap to me. It is not, however, cheap.

Notice the little styling cards in the photos. Every item in your Fix comes with a styling card to give you ideas of how to mix and match it with items from your own closet. Genius!

I asked for flowy summer tops in this Fix. Pros - It's flowy, and I love the color. Cons - I'm not sure it really does anything for me. What do you think?

This next blouse took me back in time to the Phi Mu Hall. My how we all loved our pink and green back in the day. I'm not sure why this was in my Fix, since my profile says I like to avoid plaid. It was also too small, and it kind of made me feel like a farmer. 10-year-old Julia (my photographer), however, thought that it was a good look for me and that it had potential. Doesn't really matter, though. This one goes back!

Last up, another item I requested - a summer blazer. I wasn't thrilled with the color, and this one was too small as well. Back it goes! I'm thinking that maybe a blazer is something that's better purchased in person.

Overall, this Fix was much more my style. And as you can tell, Julia and I had a blast doing the photo shoot this afternoon.

So here's where you can help. Without knowing the prices, what do you think I should get? Leave a comment, and let me know. I'll let you know what I choose and give you my best Stitch Fix tips on Monday!

Want to try Stitch Fix for yourself? Just click here to get started.

For a peek at Stitch Fix #4, click here.

I am not affiliated with Stitch Fix in any way and was not compensated for this review. I purchase items from Stitch Fix with my own money. However, if you join Stitch Fix through any of the links on this blog, I do receive a $25 credit when you get your first Fix. 

Sharing over at Ni Hao Y'all.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

24 Days Each Summer

I cried on and off all day Sunday. I cried for a family I've never met.

Katherine's new friend from soccer has a big sister who suffers from San Filippo Syndrome. It's incurable. . . and progressive. . . and fatal.

On Sunday, Mike took Katherine to help her friend sell lemonade to raise money for San Filippo research. I stayed home and read about the syndrome online and cried.

Because I know what it's like to lose a child.

Because it's almost that time.

The 24 days each summer that are really hard for me.

On June 22, it will be twelve years since my daughter, Sarah, was born, and on July 15, it will be twelve years since she died. She only lived 24 days.

Every year I remember.

Every year I'm sad.

Whenever we lose someone we love, certain special days are harder than others. Birthdays. Anniversaries. I think it's a normal part of grief.

Sarah's little life was so short that the whole 24 days is like one event to me.

It's gotten better over time -- a lot better. It's not debilitating. Last year, one of the days -- I don't remember if it was the anniversary of her birth or the anniversary of her death -- passed before I knew it. I literally forgot to be sad that day. A few days later I realized my mistake and had to smile. A lot of healing has happened in my heart.

But still, I get a little nervous each year, anticipating those 24 days.

As they approach, I get uneasy.

That's just where I am, 12 years after the fact.

And I think that's OK.

Sharing today at Emily's blog.