2:02 PM

Happy Birthday Baby

It is Elora's second birthday.  I am awash with emotion.

More about my emotional rollercoaster, but first I want to tell you about her birthday party.

You may be one of those parents who read the adoption books and got to the part about the loss that an infant experiences and how it can imprint them for the rest of their lives.  You might have rolled your eyes, because they are just babies.  Babies can not have complex emotions like fear, loss or anxiety and if they did it would promptly be forgotten.  This was my initial reaction.  Do you remember the part in the book where they said that a child's birthday and adoption days could trigger in them profound feelings of loss and anziety because these days were full of triggers, smells, events, activities, sights, sounds that reminded them on a conscious or unconscious level of a previous trauma?  Well apparently Elora read the text book because this is what played out starting the eve of her birthday party and the day of her party to. the. letter.

About two days before the party we started talking about it a lot, she had been to other children's parties so she had some idea what to expect.  We practised singing happy birthday and blowing for the candle.  We talked about the friends who would come and the fun presents she would receive and the cake she would eat.  She seemed excited and really liked the song in particular.  Then the night before the party she woke with her first ever night terror.  Even when we went in to sooth her she still cried in our arms, I took her to bed with us.  It was so nice to have her warm sleepy little body snuggled so close, something I don't get much of from her any more, she is always on the go.  This night terror was a blessing in disguise since I was feeling so sad about how fast she was growing up.  The next morning she was still off, then when daddy left the house to get the party ready she melted down.  She grieved and cried for 3 hours.

People some times ask me how do you know she is grieving and not just crying.  Before Elora I wondered that too, how will I know?  Although some situations are more questionable in regards to the source of the problem, when she cries this way there is no mistaking it.  I knew it instantly the first time I heard it.  It sounds a lot like the adult version of grief, that cry that comes right from the gut and sounds like the person is dying right along with their broken heart.  If you try to distract them from the grief you will be met with disgust and anger, imagine trying to placate a new widow with a rattle and you will get the idea.  This cry turned me into a believer, the text book was 100% right and I was super glad we had read it even though at the time I might have thought it was over the top.

So it was her party and she would grieve if she wanted to.  I wondered what the trigger could be?  Was she wishing that nanny could be with her with the rest of her friends and family who had joined to love on her?  We tried all the things we do when she is missing nanny, we looked at pictures, we watched the adoption day video we looked at her orphanage room.  It did not help.  Then we talked about the big change that happened, this is how we talk about her adoption at this age (also straight from the text book).  Bingo.  She was scared that this birthday/party was going to trigger another big change and she would be taken from us too. I still don't know what the trigger was.  Maybe the last time all her loved ones and friends gathered was the day before she was given to us.  Did she have a good bye party that had cake and presents?  I know she was given a gift and a new outfit the day she left the orphanage, likely this was the one and only time she ever got either of those luxuries, so perhaps it was the idea of presents that scared her. Was she thinking of the day that she turned one and left the infant room and every thing she had just come to understand to move to the toddler room with every thing new?  All I do know is that she is much more emotionally complex then I ever would have given a 2 year old credit for.  She has real emotional memories from her life experiences.  The most amazing part to me is how she is able among all this sadness to be able to open her self up and love.  To love nanny, and us and her extended family and friends.  She loves big, and she lets you know that you are among her loved ones.  Being loved by her is nothing short of magical.  She is truly a privilege to know.

Now for the sappy stuff.

P.S. I so wish I could share with you a darling photo of her all dressed up for her party, she was cute as can be.  I am still trying to work through a plan to keep blogging and keep her privacy, so until then, no photos.  I am as bummed about this as you are :(

11:40 AM

Is it awareness or just plain creepy?

Yesterday another albinism mom notified me that a photo of my daughter had been taken from this blog and posted on a photo sharing site.  It has since been re blogged over 4000 times.  This was mind boggling to me.  To this date my daughter's face is appearing on 4000 websites and growing every day.  In the small blessings category all of the comments have been about how stunning and cute she is.  I still am feeling violated.

I know she is amazing to look at and adorable and memorable, but the fact that photos of my son who is just as cute are still only on this one site make me feel uncomfortable.  This is not about being a cute baby, it's that she is a "sight" and "oddity" an extremely cute one, yet still something people feel the need to single out because of her difference.  There were also a lot of comments about how they had "never seen such a thing", "did not know this existed".  Part of me was thinking how amazing it is that all these people now know a tiny bit more about the face of albinism.  A bigger part of me wanted to take my baby, hide in a closet and delete this blog.  I feel like I have really opened her up to a global level of scrutiny that I did not anticipate.  I thought we would only be found by people who were thinking about special needs adoption and who would be happy and thankful to learn about my girl, people who would be respectful and a part of our community.  I am so naive.  I just did not think my little blog of 18 followers could fall into the wrong hands.  But it has.

So here is the issue, according to google analytics about 21 blog hits have come from people who want to know more about albinism adoption.  That is a pretty small portion of the total hits.  In the past I thought that it was a great number.  What if just 10 of those folks decided they could manage this special need because of our story?  That would be fantastic!  Now though I wonder is are those little amount of people finding us worth violating my daughter's privacy?

In China every where we went Elora was oogled at.  I am not sure I really talked about it in detail at the time.  It was really hard.  It's a cultural difference, but they were invading her personal space, wanting to touch her hair, pointing and poking, taking her hat off.  Most of the time she was in the carrier and we were able to keep the on lookers at bay, but once when she was ridding in the stroller at the zoo, she got swarmed by a huge crowd all taking her photo at the same time.  People took her photo every single step we took, sometimes they would ask some times they would be sneaky about it.  I am pretty sure those photos are circulating the web too.  Once we were home our small town folk mostly just think she is Caucasian and though her hair gets many compliments it seems more normal to me.  Emery was a flirt of a baby and also was stopped daily for being so cute.  I had come to feel like that feeling of being stalked and being a spectacle was behind us.  Turns out western culture has the same base interest as the Asian.  The difference being that in public westerners will feel it is impolite to stare or draw attention.  All of that politeness melts away in the anonymity of the internet.

Lesson learned.  I feel like I have new empathy for Suri Cruise.  This really feels crappy to not be able to control who sees your child and even worse what they want to say about her.  The result is that this blog may be coming to an end.  I am going to take some time to think about it.  To think of the ethics and weigh the benefits and risks.  The one thing that keeps weighing on me is that finding an albinism blog was a MAJOR factor that helped us as a family choose this need.  With out these other bloggers in my community I can say for certain that Elora would not be in our life.  That is a heavy thought, and I feel the need to pay it forward very strongly.

4:20 PM

Sunday Snapshot - Puppy Love

Elora and our dog Sissy. 
Sissy was my baby girl, the one I dressed up, who's hair I brushed and accessorized, she even has Mary Jane shoes.  Yes I was THAT dog person.
Then came Elora and Sissy lost her spot as the cutest girl in the house.  I know she feels displaced. She is only 2.4 pounds so a house of toddlers is not her favourite place to be any more either.  She may look like a puppy but she is really a senior citizen with a ripe old age of 11, her birthday is this week.  Despite all of this she and Elora have developed a sweet relationship.  Elora gives her gold fish, Sissy gives her kisses.  Sissy was one of Elora's first words.  She calls "Zizzy Ca He!" (Sissy come here!) and slaps her leg and makes the kissy sound.  Sissy opens one sleepy senior eye and rolls over to show her tiny pink belly, and they compromise, Elora pets the belly instead.
So you will understand why we just could not resist when we saw this outfit with a Sissy dog on it who was wearing Elora's favourite sunglasses.  We just HAD to have it.  Then we HAD to have a photo shoot to document this special friendship.

Ni Hao Yall

9:27 PM

Siblings - Sunday Snapshot

This is my favourite photos possibly of all time.  Not because it shows my growth as a photographer but because it documents the growth in the love of two siblings.  My baby dolls.  An older brother who used to be just tolerant has come to enjoy his little sister's company and she is just completely radiant when he chooses to shine his attention on to her.  See how she holds him to her self when he is hugging her, she wants to make him stay there. 
It's beautiful to watch.  The best part of my day every day is when they play together instead of separately.  Double the fun, and a million giggles a minute.  I find it laughable when I get asked daily if they are twins.  I mean really... but it is kind of fun to dress them up the same.  Since Elora's big growth spurt this summer they are wearing the same size currently.  This photo does really play on their similarities (and so can I).  She copies every thing he does, I made him laugh big for this photo, she did not get the joke, but she could not be left out so we got a copycat smile :)  Photographing them together is less like herding kittens now and more like just herding cats on the difficulty scale.  We did go out this month and try out some new camera skills on things that don't move, i.e. plants.  It was a lot of fun, I got some cute ones of the kids and Emery had fun using his little camera too.  We will definitely do some more of this real soon, I think I am going to post some of his lens vs my lens shots.  Stay tuned :)

Ni Hao Yall