Bear with me while I search for new blog site. This one (weebly) requires that I pay money to post more pictures (I only posted few) and I would prefer to use a website that is free. I'll let y'all know where I moved to!
(31 for 21:13)

If we could get pregnant, would we still adopt?

Our answer?

A resounding YES!

I've always wanted to adopt children. All of my life, I fantasized where my children would come from, what they would look like, how we first met and so on. I even drew a picture of my fantasy family and wrote a short bio for each member of my fantasy family. I believe there were 10 kids altogether! ;) For me, during tumultuous times throughout my childhood, this was a way for me to pretend I had or am starting to build my own roots.

When I began dating James, I told him right away that I want to adopt children. If it was not something he is comfortable with, then there is just no way we could keep on dating. I knew in my heart that I would adopt my children and I also knew in my heart that the man I would marry would want the same. Thankfully, James did (I was getting quite fond of him! ;)). He agreed that we would adopt children but also wanted us to try to have some biological children as well. We agreed that we would have a big family and there's room to do both.

We were blessed with our first child within the first year of our marriage. We had not planned to get pregnant or adopt children the first year (or two) of our marriage because James did not have his permanent residency and we both did not have permanent jobs. But God had different plan for us. Jada was our "surprise baby". A friend told us about her and we just knew she was ours. So then the story of our family began.

You see. We didn't even try to get pregnant at the time and we adopted our child. So, yes, we would still adopt our children even if we were able to get pregnant.

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(31 for 21: 12)

For the longest time, friendships is one of the hardest challenge I had. For some reason, I always thought that a true friendship means a permanent, close friendship. I am not sure why I thought this way but every time a friendship fades, I saw this as a betrayal. Many times, I would wonder if it is me, if I did something wrong (I am sure I did few times) or if I am simply not the type of person people want to be friends with. Am I too loud? Am I too opinionated? Am I too intense? Am I too moody? I would often wonder. On top of that, being adopted at a late age with 11 years of abuse in my huge baggage, I have hard time relating/bonding with people in general.

The older I become, the more I understand myself. I now understand that friendships comes in many shapes and what works for my personality might not work for everyone. Those who I've come to be close with are those who understood me best at the time. There are certain friendships I needed at certain times in my life. Some friendships are short-lasting but true. Some friendships are long-lasting but involves many ups and downs. Some friendships are meant for that specific time and will always be remembered fondly. Some friendships are long distance and good in-depth talks would be reserved for times we do get together. And so on. Two different people come to each other in different times with different needs and whatever friendship came out of that would be the friendship we needed at the time. I now understand that it is OK.

Now, I have close friends who understands where I am at life right now. Friends who understand if I need to hide away for a little bit, friends who understand if I feel a bit frazzled when there are many appointments happening at once, friends who put up with my bragging about my girls and friends who celebrate our new family which is what matters the most to me at this point in life.

With that being said, I want ALL of my friends from all times in my life to know that I love you, I am grateful for our friendships and thank you for being you when I needed you to be you. <3

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(OOPS! I am 11 blogs behind on the 31 for 21 challenge! I promise to catch up! This blog is 31 for 21: 11, so be prepared for 10 more blogs coming your way!)

It is a hard choice for many moms. The choice between staying at home with children for an unforeseeable future or to return to workforce. For some moms, the choice might be easy or for some moms, there really isn't a choice. I can understand that. But in my situation, there are pros and cons to both choices and both are doable.

Actually, I do sort of have three choices. I could return to work full-time and put Tiana in daycare full-time. This option is not really a good option because of Tiana's multiple appointments and therapy sessions. I would have to pay for the daycare as if she goes there everyday but lose money on days she is not there (missed days at daycare is not refundable). And then there's the amount of days I would have to miss work to take Tiana to her appointments/therapy sessions. There would be a lot of financial and emotional strain with this option. For myself, Tiana and even for the employer. So, I am not even going to consider this option.

Then there are two feasible choices. I could return to work part-time and put Tiana in day care part-time. I could try to get her appointments to fall on days I do not work and she is not in daycare (best case scenario). I am blessed to have an employer who would be open to me working part-time. The pros would be additional income, continuing my career and for Tiana to be exposed to socializing with her peers and to speech (she has hearing in one ear). The cons would be the additional stress of juggling career (I would need to grade papers/develop lesson plans/etc...) and girls' 20 specialists on top of what needs to be done at home. Then there is also the fact that we do still want more children and when we do adopt our third child, I would be leaving.... once again.

And the final option is to stay at home. With this option, I would be focusing 100% on girls' appointments, on the adoption process for future children (which can be like a full time job on its own!), and whatever needs to be done at home. Pros would be less stress, more stability for the family and more energy for my family. This option could also be easier for James as well because by staying home, he would not have to miss some work to help out with appointments or in case of illnesses (which is numerous with our kids!). The cons would be less income (we would be REALLY tight with money) and I would not be keeping up with the momentum of my career. I would also miss teaching because oh boy, I do really love teaching!

It's a tough decision.

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(31 for 21:10)

Jada was the only child for four years. Throughout these four years, we really poured out attention, love and she really thrived on that. She was the sole apple of our eyes, the child we loved the most. These four years were all about developing a strong bond between three of us, teaching her things that she had not learned in first four years of her life and basically, loving the heck out of her. I would not trade those four years for anything in world. I truly believe that those four years were essential in developing the family we are today.

The only real concern I had in bringing a new child home was how Jada would feel and if she would see this as a threat to her place in this family. I would imagine many moms feel the same way, especially those who had one child for long period of time. We talked with her often about Tiana, about what life might be like, and we included her in preparing for Tiana's arrival. All throughout the waiting for Tiana, she was excited, impatient for her to come, daydreaming about what sister bond she would have with her, reminding me to do this and that for Tiana and so on. I was thrilled she was completely on board but I knew when Tiana is here, it might be very different from what she envisioned.

First two weeks with Tiana was actually amazing for Jada. Thankfully, Tiana is such a mellow baby and made it very easy for Jada to be really involved, or for me to give Jada oodles of attention! There were no real concerns until Tiana got pneumonia. It was then when Jada realized that sometimes, I need to give Tiana more attention than her and same would be true vice versa. There were a couple of days when Jada felt sad, withdrawn and in her own words "I feel lonely because I am on your lap less.". (aww) As soon Tiana got better, things slowly went back to our normal and Jada quickly readjusted into a happy child who is happy about her new baby sister.

My two little girls are truly two peas in a pod. Jada enjoys loving the heck out of Tiana and Tiana's face lights up when Jada They absolutely love each other and for that I am very grateful and blessed.


Jada's Own Words: I love Tiana. Daddy, mommy, me and Tiana are family. I am very happy. Tiana is very happy and Tiana loves me very much. She is my new sister.

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(31 for 21: 9)

Yesterday, I was talking with a mom who has a teenage daughter with Down Syndrome. I was explaining how we found out about Tiana and the process of bringing her home. During the conversation, I realized something. Our experience and our emotions when finding out that Tiana has Down Syndrome is different than the mom who found out at birth (or during pregnancy) that her baby has Down Syndrome. I am not saying one way is better or worst but I do recognize that it is somewhat different, at least initially.

When we found out about Tiana, we knew she had Down Syndrome right away. We educated ourselves about Down Syndrome (through books, doctors, workers, friends and blogs) and felt comfortable/excited about beginning the process of adopting Tiana. We knew it would be challenging at times but we also knew that it would be challenging with any child we bring home. Adoption is not all roses and we are realistic about challenges we will go through with each child. Loving our children trumps all and we knew Down Syndrome would not change how we love Tiana. This is our experience at the beginning.

Then of course, actually raising Tiana brings a whole lot of excitement and new set of challenges. I feel we share many same feelings and thoughts as other parents with children who have Down Syndrome. We feel sad at times. We feel joy at times. We feel frustrated at times. We feel excited at times. And we feel love at all times.

It might've started out differently for us but eventually, we all walk together in this journey. Thank you for welcoming us into the community and we look forward to making many more friends!

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(31 for 21: 8)

I just got out of a meeting with Tiana's home visiting teacher and a parent representative from the Down Syndrome Association. During the meeting, I realize that I've somehow found myself on the other side of the fence when learning about something that is new to me, which is raising a child with Down Syndrome.

As a Deaf person, I've always felt strongly about how my Deaf child should be raised, in which language and in what environment. This comes from experience and from observing many different situations within and outside the community. I know there are two different approaches that people often argue that is best for the Deaf child.  ASL as the primary language or following the Auditory-Verbal approach. Often, people who are not Deaf themselves will tell parents what is best for their Deaf child. There are some consequences to that because not every Deaf child can succeed at the AVT method (meaning full speech ability and high level of confidence in speaking environment), and the few that did become the "example" for rest of children to follow. Oftentimes, this is very frustrating because in doing this, the child who do not succeed at speech will spend most of his or her life working towards something that will just not happen (becoming a person with full hearing and speech ability). The point of this blog is not to argue which method/approach is the best but I'm sharing this perspective to explain why I suddenly "get it" from this other side of the fence.

As result of Tiana having Down Syndrome, there are many specialists and therapists involved in her life. Many of them have a very medical view of Down Syndrome and only see Down Syndrome through textbooks or at work. Not many of them actually lived with someone who had Down Syndrome. As a result, doctors will spend a majority of their time with me listing the negatives, things I need to watch for, or point out in what area Tiana is delayed in. This can be quite frustrating for me because I would leave the appointment feeling I did not do enough for Tiana or that no matter how Tiana is progressing, it would never be enough for them. But...

Today, a parent representative came from the Down Syndrome association to share resources available in my area and to just offer support. I couldn't believe how good the meeting felt, how refreshing it was to talk so positively about Tiana's progress and her future. Throughout the meeting, she played with Tiana, pointed out things she thought was amazing about Tiana, excitedly shared what she experienced with her own daughter at this age, and just really made sure I knew how welcome I was in this new community. She was so excited for us, she explained why having a child with Down Syndrome is special and she shared resources that were positive, refreshing and realistic.

Now, I get it when hearing parents of Deaf children share with me about how they felt after leaving AVT and meeting an Deaf adult, introducing ASL to their child and sending their child to a Deaf school or a Deaf program. I get it. It is so refreshing to just accept your child exactly as who s/he is and celebrating your child.

Acceptance. The word of the day.

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(31 for 21: 7)

I advocate for my girls every single day, morning, afternoon and night. In 75% of e-mails, I am advocating for them. In 100% of their appointments and meetings, I advocate for them. For every single new service, program or treatment, there is always advocating for my girls involved. Sure, every parent should advocate for their child. Most of you do. But one of things I think is unique about my family is the amount of advocating required to give my children a full access to a full, healthy childhood.

Just 5 minutes ago, I was writing an e-mail explaining why we need an certified ASL/English interpreter (not a hard of hearing person who knows how to sign) for a cultural event for one of my girls. Just 20 minutes ago, I was on phone demanding that Jada get a service that she is most definitely qualified for (although they think she does not). Two hours ago, I was researching different resources my girls will need and sent an e-mail to their workers asking for the subsidy to cover costs. I could share gazillion more examples. But this is one of things that I do when some people think I do "nothing" at home with our new baby. Among hundreds of titles I have, Advocate is one of them.

Although it can be frustrating at times. Although it can be tiring at times. It is ultimately a rewarding experience and I would not trade my girls for anything in world. They are exactly who they should be.

(I am not the only one who does this. Mad props to parents of children with Down Syndrome, ADHD, learning disabilities, medical conditions and so on. I know some of you read this blog and this blog is me saying "you rock!".)

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(31 for 21:6)

I've always loved looking at photos. I often had my pictures taken by photographers I admire. But I never actually took pictures for any other reason than capturing the moment with my simple, basic camera. My awesome husband gave me a Canon EOS Rebel T4i last Christmas after I told him I was thinking about trying my hand at photography and learn different techniques (Pinterest-inspired, of course!). I took some pictures from that day til now but I never really played around with it or took pictures for the sake of creating artistic portraits or whatnot.

This weekend, I finally had the opportunity! My friend needed some pictures of her beautiful pregnant belly and was worried that she would give birth before her photographer take any pictures. So, she asked me if I could give it a try! I had so much fun taking pictures then editing them on my computer and sending them to my friend for feedback. I really wish I did this sooner! Because I enjoyed myself so much, I actually did a photo shoot with my own family today! I see this becoming a healthy addiction of mine! :)

Below are one of my most favourite pictures of my pregnant friend and the rest are of my family from today! Enjoy!
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 (31 for 21:5)

Time really flies and this weekend, I've been really feeling nostalgic, so I looked at some old pictures from back when we first brought Jada home. I thought it would be neat to show what she looked like the first day we met her and what she looks like today! Same goes for Tiana, of course!

We first met Jada on August 31st of 2009. She was 3.5 year old and FULL OF SPUNK! She's still very vibrant today and I cannot believe how much we've gotten through in past four years to reach to this point! I am fully in love with who she has become and am looking forward to see what she does with her life. She is my firstborn, my first love as a mom.
We first met Tiana on May 28th of 2013. She was 6 months old and a total heart breaker! Look at her face! We just totally melt when we first saw her and held her in our arms. She is very mellow, very "go with the flow" type of person and continues to be today! She makes so many cute faces and she does things that just makes us laugh! She's definitely the one who really made us slow down, appreciate what we have and enjoy each single moment as a family. She is my second born, and I am amazed at how much I can love another child but she fully captured my heart!
How did I get so blessed? I would not trade them both for anything in the world and look forward to see what the future brings for all of us! <3

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