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Quote of the day
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Well it's not really a quote of the day, but it is a quote that I really really really like and often think about.

It's from the great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. For those who don't know, he is generally regarded as the greatest basketball coach of all time. He won more NCAA championships than any coach ever (10, 7 of which were consecutive) and coach players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar among others. During that 7 year run on championships his teams won 205 games while only losing 5 (yes, 5 losses in 7 years). Anyway, the quote.

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

I think it's nice quote because I have a tendency to speak my mind. Unfortunately I often make the mistake of forgoing tact for truth (or at least my perception of truth) and that has the effect of people drawing conclusions as to who I am. And that's probably even more true here in the blog world since you only get snippets from someone in words that you then make conclusions about who they really are as a person.

I also like this quote because most I think seem to worry about the opposite. It appears that most people are actually concerned more about what someone else thinks of them then what they really are.

And this leads me to being out in public with a child.

Of course people make a living giving parents advice about how to help them raise a well behaved child. But even the most well behaved little one is eventually going to have an outburst. And often it's at a time and place that you as a parent would rather avoid.

Well I can't give advice about how to fix the behavior. After all I don't even have a kid yet to try out some of the stuff that I've read about. But I can give some advice about the environment. Don't worry about it. If your kid goes ballistic in the middle of the grocery store and everyone starts staring at you giving you those "What kind of parent are you?" looks, blow it off.

Who cares what these strangers think of you. For all you know that man who is upset with you for your kid screaming at the top of his lungs may be cheating on his wife. Is that really someone with whom you wish to have a good reputation from?

And here's another one. The airplane trip home. I'm hoping our little one will handle the trip okay and not be our little version of Damien. And we will do a bunch of things to help keep them calm during the trip. But in the event that they do become a major pain. Bummer. We're not going to be seeing any of the people on the flight again for the rest of our lives. If this is how they wish to view who we are (i.e., based on an umpteenth hour flight with us as new parents with a toddler) so be it.

That's not who we are. And whatever impression you have of me just by reading this blog is also probably wrong. Unless of course you think I'm just the most wonderful, most intelligent, discerning, perceptive, open-minded person you've ever met. Then of course you have me pinned. Oh, did I forget to mention modest?
posted by Steveg @ 10:04 AM   2 comments
Sort of a rough day
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I was listening to my iPod while I was working around the house today and Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill came on. In that song is the line, "...You can keep my things, they've come to take me home." Which kinda bummed me out.

On the lighter side of the news...

I've given the inaugural Purchase of the Week, aka POW (located in the left side of the page), to a toy my mother-in-law bought when she was up here visiting last week.

Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, and grandparents have to buy toys for grandchildren (even if those grandchildren are not quite here yet). Fortunately we convinced her that buying clothes were a bad idea since we don't yet know if it's going to be a boy or a girl. Not to mention that we have no idea what size they will be. Remember we're asking for a child under 2 years but that could mean anything from 12 to 24 months and, of course, with children raised in institutions, they will be far smaller initially due to the lack of sufficient diet.

But I'm literally afraid for my kid. Why? His/Her grandmother is going to make this kid believe that toys grow on trees. Bringing him/her back to reality that you can't always get what you want is going to be a task, I can feel it already.

posted by Steveg @ 6:08 PM   2 comments
Another semester, another Russian
I started the spring semester teaching my one lone class last night (if you're new to the blog I'm basically retired and teach part-time at a local college). Actually it's more like very part-time since it's only one class per semester.

Last summer I had a girl that was born in the Ukraine and spoke Russian fluently. Well sure enough, I have another Russian in my class this semester. Obviously there's some cosmic thing going on.

Thankfully when I spoke a little Russian to her and asked how I did, she was much nicer in her commentary. If you recall, when I had tested out my (at the time) 5 word vocabulary on my student during the summer session and asked how my pronunciation was her reply was, "Not bad, I've heard a lot worse."

Great, thanks.
posted by Steveg @ 8:52 AM   0 comments
Russians Invade San Francisco, news at 11
Monday, January 29, 2007
Stef and I had lunch with one of our friends who adopted from Russia. They got back with their little girl this past April. It's really nice to have friends who were recently there because you get to pick their brains for advice and all their answers are helpful. Things change so much in Russia in terms of adoption that sometimes things you hear from people who were there 3 or 4 years ago is no longer relevant.

She also told us about a Russian Festival that's happening in February here in San Francisco. We're now planning on going and we'll see if we can get a few other local adoptive parents to head up there as well.

Oh by the way, side note here (what me digress!). I'm not a native San Franciscian but a native Californian. And here's some advice for non-Californians. Never say "Frisco" when you are saying San Francisco. I'm from Los Angeles and there is a marked difference in the culture of L.A. versus San Francisco. See, in Los Angeles the people could care less and often call their city "L.A." However, San Franciscians are far more formal (in a Californian way of course) and NEVER refer to their city as "Frisco." And when others use that term it is viewed as, well, very impolite and offensive.
posted by Steveg @ 9:44 AM   4 comments
More diaper dirt
Sunday, January 28, 2007
I forgot to mention that we in the U.S. call them diapers but our friends across the pond (the U.K.) call them "nappies." A little bit of word history here. The word diaper was actually just a piece of cloth and it was Shakespeare who first coined it for the use to which we now apply the word.


I also forgot to mention a trick Stef and I found out about if the smell of a dirty diaper really gets to you (and if it doesn't you may want to have a doctor check to see if your olfactory epithelium is really working).

Anyway, the trick is to put a little dab of Vick's Vapor Rub under your nose just above your lip. Evidentially nurses in hospitals (which have far too many smelly situations than I care to think of) have been doing this for years. I also learned that police and medical examiners do this when working in some pretty disgusting crime scenes and such.

Hopefully the smell of the menthol and camphor in the product doesn't bother you (or at least doesn't bother you as much as the smell of poo). Stef doesn't like the smell of Vick's, but would rather smell that than the alternative. Personally I love the smell because (at least I think) it reminds me of getting better after a cold (see my mom used it on me all the time when I was little).

The interesting thing about products like that is that they tend to have many many other uses besides what they were intended for. And often you'll find a lot of these "herbalist" uses allow you to avoid expensive prescriptions (which often carry some pretty strange side effects).

When I was looking at Vick's I kept getting these websites that report that rubbing it on your toenails can cure nail fungus. One of its ingredients (Thymol) does the trick evidentially. I don't know if it really works, but considering all the side effects that the plethora of pills the pharmaceutical companies are kicking out, I'd probably give this a go first.

I also wanted to mention something (thanks to my mother-in-law) that I hadn't even thought of. Kids today are very fortunate indeed to have the new technologically advanced disposable diapers. Years ago diapers where fastened with diaper pins (yes, even the first disposables) and as my MIL mentioned in her comment kids would get stuck all the time. Although I have read that a lot of people starting using masking tape to put the early disposables together and that caught on so much that the companies started to figure new ways to incorporate fastening systems into their diapers.

Man, the stuff you learn on my blog. Doesn't it make you feel good to find out about these things?
posted by Steveg @ 11:47 AM   2 comments
The 40 year old diaper challenged man
Friday, January 26, 2007
If you've been reading this blog you may remember some posts I wrote about choosing the right diapers and the right diaper disposal systems. Well those two posts got a whole bunch of feedback. I was joking at the time when I said they were controversial subjects, but they turned out to be just that.

So now I'm really scared. Why? Well, I didn't even post the most crucial of the Diaper Post trilogy: Learning how to change a diaper. Until now that is.

Some of my friends have mentioned that if I really wanted to learn how to change a diaper, they were more than happy to have me come over and learn how to do it (for hours on end, if I'd like) with their kids.

Ya know, I think there's some cunning ploy going on there.

Actually, I think learning how to change a diaper is not really a big deal and both Stef and I will do just fine, but it's always a good idea to learn what you can upfront just to make sure you know what you are doing. I mean, call me crazy, but I just don't think we're going to be lucky enough to have our little one just sit there calmly and quietly while we try to figure out what we're doing.

To that end, Stef found me this cool "how to" website showing changing a disposable diaper.

A little side story here. My Dad tells a funny anecdote (funny that is for everyone else listening to it with the exception of me) about taking me to a pediatrician visit at which I pee into the diaper just as I'm put onto the examination table. The doctor (who was not wearing a lab coat at the time and instead a beautiful camel colored wool suit) starts to take off my diaper.

So my Dad tells him that he better wait a bit. However, the doctor said, "no no, he's finished." My Dad repeats that I'm not really done and always take a pause, but the doctor ignores him and proceeds to remove the diaper.

As my Dad tells it...I "hit him with a solid stream starting at the waist pocket in a perfect two foot diagonal shot ending at his breast pocket that makes it look like he's wearing a royal sash."

Side note: Yeah and thanks Dad for telling this story at least once a year (usually at family gatherings).

Bottom line, during my research I've learned that there are a few gender related things that one must do when changing a diaper. For boys, covering up the penis is paramount. First you avoid a warm shower (as my little story illustrates) and second you want to avoid potential sanitary issues (i.e., making sure when you are cleaning their bottom that nothing gets on his "well you know").

For girls, cleaning from the front to the back is also vital for very similar sanitary issue. Feces is not just gross, it's of course loaded with harmful bacteria and is the real issue (the "gross" factor is just an added motive).
posted by Steveg @ 10:43 PM   1 comments
A new blog to check out
I've spoken often about how lucky we are that we have a number of friends who have just recently adopted internationally. Well, one of our friends (who got back a little over a year ago from Russia) have just started working on going back for kid #2. Of course a lot of families do that and I think it really shows that although the process can be a little nerve-racking the results are more than worth it.

Anyway, mom is Cristina (yea I know, it'd be a little silly if that was dad's name) and she has started a blog for her second journey and you can check out her progress here: http://miraclesdohappen-cristina.blogspot.com/.

As far as my blog. I'm just about done with the makeover. It's taken awhile because I first wanted to use some of the cool blog templates in iWeb (a very cool webpage designing tool that comes bundled with every Mac). But the blog templates were just too hard to force fit into the Blogger service (I now see why a lot of people are using other online services for their blogs). I eventually just Googled for free blog templates and found something that I could work with (aka hack).

I should point out that hacking is not really a bad thing. Most people not associated with high tech think of hackers as these evil teenagers breaking into the CIA computer systems or company's websites. But actually hacking is not an evil thing by itself. Think of it more like the differences in companies, let's say the news industry. There are some that are good (like CNN) and there are some evil (like paparazzi) or just plain worthless (i.e., National Enquirer).

Hacking is the same way. As my most favorite website, Wikipedia, says a hacker is someone who modifies electronics to get extra functionality or performance.

So my new blog template is not meant as dissing the guy who made the original template but instead my freedom of expression in taking what I liked, augmenting it, adding to it, and making it better while still giving the originator credit for his work (which I do).
posted by Steveg @ 4:39 PM   3 comments
Blog pain
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Still working on the remodel of the blog. I do like Blogger, but it's also a pain in the ass if you wish to do some significant customizing of your blog page.

Oh, gotta tell you about this cool movie I Tivo'd on IFC the other day. Now, I'm not a big lover of indie films, yea I know it's hard to believe but I'm not (as one of my favorite characters, Cartman, would say) a "tree-huggin' hippie". However, I'm a huge lover of offbeat/dark comedies and a bunch of those are indie films.

So what is this gem, this priceless motion picture, this classic flick?

Bubba Ho-Tep

It stars one of my favorite B-movie actors: Bruce Campbell and the plot line alone will make you realize that the academy of motion picture arts got it way wrong when they didn't recognize this one.

Plot Line

Elvis and John F. Kennedy are actually both alive and in living in a nursing home in a small town in Texas. They discover that the recent deaths of some of the other residents of the home are actually the result of an ancient Egyptian Mummy stealing their souls. So they take it on themselves to fight for their own souls and those of their fellow residents.

The movie is just so funny and well done that I highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys good dark comedy. Campbell is absolutely priceless as an aging worn-out Elvis who must use a walker to get around.

I'm sure you will enjoy it as much as I did. And as the King would say...

Thank ya, thank ya very much.
posted by Steveg @ 12:05 PM   0 comments
Let's get rolling
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Okay with all this downtime I've decided to take on a major revamp of the blog. What does that entail you ask?

Color, color everywhere, get me some throw pillows, knock that wall down. What? I don't care if it's load-bearing, take a load off then.

Anyway, you should see some changes over the next few days. Mainly want to clean things up a bit and make it load a bit faster.

Also wanted to pass along something from Debbie's blog. It's a Google tool that to maintain the blogs you read. You create a list of your favorite blogs and it's a one-stop-shop kinda thing. It gives you links to all your blogs and even shows if they've been updated. Very cool and I highly recommend it, even if Google is one of the three members of the Axis of Evil. Microsoft and (I regret to say) my old company Apple being the other two. I know, I know and me being such a Mac guy. Well, sorry but they are just as bad as M$ and Googoo when it comes to trying to monopolize technology.
posted by Steveg @ 4:50 PM   0 comments
What to do during this wait
Monday, January 22, 2007
Stef doesn't like it when I post things that are too far away from the adoption topic (or kids in general). But as I mentioned last week it's going to be a several weeks of "nothing going on" for us as we await our agency's (and basically all the others) reaccreditation.

I think tomorrow I'll officially draft a list of things that we need to get done or analyze and maybe just start tackling some of those. But a lot of the stuff we still need to do (like selecting a pediatrician) are things we are going to do during the few months wait between trip #1 and trip #2. Since that wait will certainly be more nerve-racking than this one is. As I've said before, this one is merely annoying for us and I'm certain we will feel just like everyone else when we are waiting between the trips.
posted by Steveg @ 11:29 PM   2 comments
Finally a product every baby needs....
Friday, January 19, 2007
These are awesome!

Baby Toupee
posted by Steveg @ 1:55 PM   3 comments
Just a clarification
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Stef thought my last post a bit too political. Or at least as she called it "...a bit of a rant." It wasn't meant to be, I just wanted to say that we shouldn't get too upset with the Russians when we ourselves have some baggage.

Sort of the "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" thought.
posted by Steveg @ 4:22 PM   0 comments
Trying not to get too irritated
You know, the irritation the length of time the adoption process takes is really a paradox. Everyone (including yours truly) is upset by the current delay (reaccreditation). But the thing is that let's assume we were able to bear biological children and, in fact, got pregnant (I suppose "we" is not quite accurate since I'm just the preggor and Stef is really the preggee) we still would not yet have a child at this point. Based on our official starting of the process, nine months won't be until February.

The second thing that I think is a bit unfair (not that it's going to stop me from being a little upset at the delay) is the fact that we all are getting ticked off at the Russian government. If you think about it we should all be thanking God daily that it isn't the U.S. government in charge of this. Can you imagine the delay we would have?

I mean just imagine if we would need both the democrats and republicans to come together and work out adoption laws. Oy vey! Vey iz mir! My kid would be in college before I even had a chance to see him.

Also don't be so hard on the Russians for wanting to keep their orphans in their own country. Just take a look at the overwhelming position Americans are taking with immigrants to this country (now there's another paradox considering we all are immigrants here, unless of course your a Native American).

The reason I'm being hard on us (as in U.S.) is that we all (again myself included) tend to get mad at the Russians for what we feel is dragging their feet on getting the process completed or anti-international adoption or whatever. When in reality it's just human nature. Just imagine yourself as a good hard-working person trying so hard to navigate the process so that you can become a citizen of this country and how the statements of the Americans make you feel.

Just some food for thought.
posted by Steveg @ 1:59 PM   3 comments
Five questions...er...three questions
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Someone once told me, or maybe it was something I read, that you can really tell what a person is like by asking them two sets of three questions (or for my Monty Python friends out there that would be five questions).

Anyway, the five, er...three questions are:

First set...

1) What are your three favorite movies?

2) What are your three favorite TV Shows?

3) What are your three favorite musical groups?

Second set...

1) If you could meet them in person who would you rather meet: Alexander the Great, Jesus, or Einstein?

2) Who are your three favorite people in history?

3) Of all the ills facing mankind which one would you wish you could eliminate (or fix)?

So please feel free to leave comments answering these questions. For me, here are the answers:

First set...

1) Casablanca, Gandhi, Young Frankenstein ("Put the candle back!")

2) Get Smart, Blackadder (it's British TV comedy Show), Columbo

3) Talking Heads, King Crimson, The Who

Second set...

1) Einstein

2) Julius Caesar, Gandhi, Napoleon

3) War
posted by Steveg @ 11:47 AM   8 comments
What to say, what to say?
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I've been struggling to come up with some things to post recently. First we're on the 2-3 month wait for reaccreditations to happen (our agency submitted their application on Dec. 25th so we should hear something in late February or March). Then there's just the fact that there's nothing too exciting going on in our lives right now.

The only thing of semi-interest that is going on right now is I have one of those activities that regrettably comes up every year. No, not jury duty, I got out of that last week.

No, I mean a birthday. I will be 43, which sounds kinda old but I really still feel like I'm 30ish (although my body often tries to remind me the correct chronological figure). And of course on the other end of the spectrum is that I act like I'm a 10 year old.

There is some good news this week. My mother-in-law is coming to visit us later this week and that will be nice. She's quite fun to be with (the typical mother-in-law jokes don't really apply to her). For one of her big birthdays a few years ago (I won't say which year) we all celebrated by partying in Las Vegas. Needless to say, she's pretty cool.

We haven't taken any vacations since we started the process last May so that Stef could save up as much vacation days as possible for when we get to bring Lil' G home. So it will be nice to see some family (nearly all our family members live in Southern California and Arizona).
posted by Steveg @ 12:20 PM   2 comments
Who needs Siberian weather
Friday, January 12, 2007
It's been pretty cold here. Normally the Bay Area winters are heavy rain but moderately cold temps (we're not quite the sunny and mild Los Angeles weather that most people think California is). Anyway, we've been hit with a cold front coming straight down from the Arctic that has dropped the temperature far below normal.

There's been no clouds with this cold front so it's been even colder at night. In fact, last night and tonight the lows we have had are actually colder than the lows right now in Omsk. Keeping in mind that it rarely if ever snows here it's pretty amazing that our nightly lows are beating Siberia.

Stef went out last night to get the mail without her coat saying, "I'm trying to get accustomed to the cold." Fine for her but I've been doing some woodworking (just a hobby of mine) in our little shop area in the garage and I've been freezing my tushy off. Fortunately it's going to get back to normal in a couple of days.
posted by Steveg @ 12:21 PM   2 comments
Still waiting
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Well the non-official official Russian week-long holiday has ended and that means that all the MOE officials are getting back to work and should begin processing all the agencies applications for accreditation. From what I've heard practically all of the agencies that need reaccreditation have submitted their paperwork so there's an awful lot of work for the MOE to do.

Our agency believes that they will get little if any updates as to how the process is going (unless it's a notice to redo a document or two) and will just find out that they've received accreditation when it happens. As always they are on the conservative side and expect accreditations to be given in late February at the absolute earliest and late March as a more realistic estimate.

Since everything so far (NGO and the rewritten rule 268, now decree 654) has taken longer than what the Russian sources said they would take, I'm leaning towards our agency's view and think late March is going to be the timeframe. However, I'm still holding out hope that accreditation will happen in February and that our referral will come in late February/early March with a more likely scenario being a referral in April.

Yes, the waiting is annoying but it's really just that...annoying. I'm not all that concerned about it because I keep reminding myself that the most important thing is for us to have the opportunity to adopting and happy and healthy child. And so if it takes us over a year (if you recall we started the process in May 2006) than so be it.
posted by Steveg @ 9:45 AM   1 comments
Diaper control systems
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Diaper disposal systems are designed to hold dirty diapers and keep the foul odor out of your house. Do they work? Well, it depends on who you ask. Some people love them and others hate them. So ultimately, the answer is both "yes" and "no".

There are some things most agree on. It is true they hold dirty diapers and (depending on your nasal sensitivities) can contain the odor (as long as you don't open it up to empty it, which you're going to have to do at some point). It's also important to note that a lot of reviews you see about these systems are a bit flawed. The reason is that often the reviewer is writing it after only a couple of months use and that means with an infant.

The problem is that typically an infant on breast-milk has poop that doesn't smell all that bad.

Evidentially when a child moves to solid food God comes down and puts smell into their poo. At least that's what I've heard, so if you don't believe me I guess you're going to have to go ask God about it.

Most of my MEIT (Mommy Experts In the Trenches) gave them only a so-so rating on the high side to a "I think it sucks" on the low side. And a number of them now just use a simple garbage can (with a plastic bag in it) and just empty it often (every 10 diapers or so).

A couple of hints from MEIT for those that will buy and use them:

1. Since pee diapers don't stink just use the diaper system containers for poop diapers (which cuts down on how filled up they get). This is especially important for the Diaper Genie which has very expensive refills.

2. Really smelly diapers can be placed into a ziploc bag before going into the containers which seems to help with the odor. This can be done even if you don't buy one of these "diaper pails".

3. The world famous Arm & Hammer Baking Soda box in the bottom of the container helps greatly. Again, this too can be done if using just a garbage can.

But as MEIT has shown me, they are at best a semi-workable solution and at worst a waste of money. If you want to do some more analysis on which one to get I suggest reading epinions which has lots of reviews and for some models hundreds of reviews.

If you do look there you will notice that not one of the myriad of models (Diaper Genie, Diaper Champ, and Diaper Dekor being the big three) get more than a 3 to 3 1/2 star rating out of 5. So at this point I'm thinking that we may just forgo any of these and just go with a regular trash can (with a lid) using trash bags that are scented and just empty it often. We may even keep a box of ziploc bags there to seal the poop diapers before tossing them into the can.

Next up is how to learn how to change a diaper. Which for adopting parents is a bit more challenging since we miss out on working with a tiny infant and get to jump right into trying to handle a squirming toddler.
posted by Steveg @ 4:12 PM   6 comments
Russian "New Year's" culture
Saturday, January 06, 2007
The famous "Jim" of the adoption forums posted this link to an article that does a great job explaining the slowdown in Russia during the week of New Year's to the Russian Orthodox Christmas (Jan. 7). It's very interesting, and a good insight.


Oh, and by the way, the reason the Russian Christmas is January 7th is because that's the correct day on the Julian calendar. Most countries (Russia included) now use the Gregorian calendar which is a tad more accurate in calculations, but the Orthodox churches (the Greek Orthodox as well) continue to use the Julian calendar for high holidays.

In the Gregorian calendar, Christmas will be on January 7th until the year 2100 in which (because it gains a day about every 134 years) will move to January 8th.

Don't you love learning something new every day.
posted by Steveg @ 8:57 AM   1 comments
More research since we have the time
Friday, January 05, 2007
I thought I'd tackle another dirty topic...diapers.

Oh yea, with my sense of humor the long winter evenings just fly around our house.

Consumer Reports did a nice write up on diapers and I'll share with you some of the stuff I found interesting. By the way, their online service is $26 for the year or just $5.95 monthly (you can just do one month and look up a bunch of stuff to see if it's something that's useful for you). We typically buy a year and then cancel it, wait a couple of years and then do it again. It's a great site but there's only so much reviewing of products that you can do.

Anyway, back to the dirt...er...diapers.

Basically they said that due to competition diapers overall are getting much better and now a number of less-expensive store brands are close to the premium brands. The top two are still Pampers and Huggies but their top of the line models can cost over $0.30 per diaper versus around $0.20 for Wal-Mart's White Cloud, Albertson's Baby Basics, and A&P's America's Choice. And that adds up. Depending on how often junior takes a dump (I love being crass) you could save nearly $200 a year buying store brands.

Yet another plug for my favorite store, Costco always seems to have very good prices and has their own store brand (although Consumer Reports did not rate those so I don't know if they are any good). But one of the mommies I talk to metioned that the Costco brand (Kirkland) wipes are good. Also once you go with a brand, register at the company's website so you can earn coupons.

But they felt that the key is not so much price as it is which one fits your kid the best. And this is also what my experts in the field (again, my group of mommies I contact for research) also mentioned.

They also said that you may want to try out a couple of sizes. They pointed out that a child weighing 30 pounds can often wear either a size 4 or a size 5. This also can impact the cost because often the smaller diapers have more in the pack and thus the less you spend per diaper. Of course this does not mean you should cram a 30 pound kid into a size 2 diaper to save some money.

The other thing that I found interesting (and I've heard about this elsewhere) is that those training pants, like Huggies Pull-Ups, are not recommended and often can interfere with toilet training. The concept being that if an accident occurs, the child needs to feel wet to be able to learn.

There are two other subtopics I want to talk about but I'm still researching those. One is the diaper disposal systems (like Diaper Genie) and the other (which I can assure you will be entertaining) is how to teach a 40+ year old man how to change a diaper.

Stay tuned.
posted by Steveg @ 9:21 AM   3 comments
Lines that need to be drawn
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Stef was telling me a story about a wonderful little boy who is at the same baby home as a friend's child. He is evidentially having a difficult time getting adopted because he had asthma. Now asthma is not exactly what I think of as a major medical issue that would cause problems for a kid finding a forever family, but there it is.

This leads me to a tough topic adoptive parents have to go through...current or potential medical issues.

This is clearly one of the most difficult topics that adoptive parents have to think about. If your agency is good, they will have you think about this issue very early on and provide you with nearly all of medical risks or issues that you may encounter and ask that you give them some insight as to the level of medical issues/or risk of issues that you are willing to accept (before you even get close to getting a referral).

Now I'm going to hop on a soapbox here so if you are offended easily you may wish to skip the next couple of paragraphs. There are a bunch of folks (who always seem to post on the adoption forums) who for whatever reason (my guess is some holier than thou bug up their butt) get upset when adoptive parents even suggest that they are unwilling to accept a referral that has certain health risks. But that is exactly what you should do.

Working with a child who has a major disability (like mental retardation) is a tough job. While I was in college I worked with developmentally disabled adults at an ARC workshop (Association of Retarded Citizens) and it was a very satisfying job, but it was also a very hard job. And although it was a lot of fun, it is not something I would want to do for the rest of my life. And so we do have boundaries we set for accepting a referral and will stick with them.

However, it is important to keep in mind that no human being is perfect and we all have many many risks for future illnesses and diseases. It's also a good idea to remember that even with risks or issues that may occur, they can often have little or nothing to do with how far in life you can go.

Note that Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great both were epileptics. Helen Keller was blind and deaf yet lectured around the world in addition to becoming the first deaf and blind person to graduate from a U.S. college (Radcliffe, magna cum laude may I add). And one of greatest U.S. Presidents in our history, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was paralyzed from the waist down due to an illness.

For those who are thinking about international adoption or just getting started, it's your decision and whatever you decide is the right one for you. But just remember that risks are just that and may never manifest themselves into anything at all. But it is still extremely important that you establish what things you are prepared to handle and what things you're not.
posted by Steveg @ 9:52 AM   6 comments
And the winner is....
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
We were having some fun last night looking at some of the videos, slideshows, and just pictures of people who have already come home with their children. It's sort of bittersweat though since we don't yet even know what our child will look like. And I try not to imagine it too much because the image of Brezhnev with those huge bushy eyebrows keeps popping into my head (now there's a scary thought).

But anyway, some of my personal fav's from the viewing are:

Elle's little one's (aka Pickle) word and sign language video. I am honestly amazed how many words that kid knows at his age. And then he knows how to sign them as well!!!

She's not yet home, but the Cupcake soccer girl video, although she doesn't actually kick the ball, her dad just keeps swinging Cupcake back and forth and her little legs smack the ball around.

Melissa's little one who is clearly going to be a lady killer. Everyone says it, but this little guy is an extremely good looking little boy with movie star eyes.

Lauri's little girl is another one that is just a beautiful child. Lauri put up some very cool slideshows that are just fun to look at because you can see how much she's grown in such a short time.

I really need to add this blog to my blogroll because it has one of the funniest video's I've seen so far. Two little girls playing the tuba. And yes, they actually can make sound out of this huge instrument.

Honorable mention (because it isn't a kid pic) goes to:

Tricia's dog Thani in a graduation hat for passing obedience class.

And since every parent has a near fanatical feeling about how beautiful their kids are, please keep in mind that we only looked at a few and mainly from families that just got home. So please don't barrage me with comments that I'm an idiot for not mentioning your kid.

Besides, I already know I'm an idiot, so there!
posted by Steveg @ 5:23 PM   1 comments
The problem with rumors when they're about laws
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
I've spoken about this before but it certainly deserves repeating.

Often during the adoption process you hear a rumor about a new law or some negative event that a vast majority of folks immediately declare as the end of days (for international adoptions, for life on earth, etc.). I think even typically rational people tend to jump on the bandwagon simply because there is so much emotion wrapped in the adoption process it becomes hard to remain logical.

Case in point is something that some Russian lawyer who I believe is actually here in the U.S. posted to the various adoption forums yesterday. And from what Stef tells me, this person is a bit controversial to begin with since she helps people with independent adoptions which Russia is very against. Anyway, she says that there's a new law in which Russia's get 250,000 rubles (about $10,000) for adopting a child. Well, that amount is a huge sum in Russia (in some cases years of salary).

Unfortunately, she didn't provide backup i.e., a link showing the law's details, (by the way here it is) just her opinion as to what it means. So now a bunch of folks are extremely concerned that this is somehow going to severely impact adoptions.

Well, the short answer is...not a chance. And here's my opinion as to why:

First, from what I have read (keep in mind it's through a Russian translation which may alter words incorrectly) the "money" is not given to the parents but instead goes into a "pension fund" that must be used for education and other child support expenses.

Second, this fund cannot be accessed until 2010. Now, keep in mind the state of the Russian economy. Who's to say that the funds will even be available at that time, cause I certainly doubt they have them now!!! Not to mention that there were over 700,000 orphans in Russia (in 2003) so that number today is probably even closer to 1 million, of which about 5,000 are adopted each year here in the U.S. Somehow (very unfortunately) I suspect there will remain a significant number of orphans needing families.

Third, and this is the most important, the Russian culture is very different from the U.S. or really any other Western nation. The Russian people first and foremost do not believe anything their own government says, especially when laws are created which appear to help them out. This is very different from the U.S. in which most people believe the laws created to help will actually help (even though our government officials lie just as much if not more than the Russians do!).

But then why would this person, a lawyer no less, stir everyone up with a post that as she says, "...This law has already made an impact on Russian society." and that "...it can impact international adoption. More children...will likely be adopted by Russian families."

Yea, why? Well, again let's look at it logically. She works with families doing independent adoptions. In a couple of months there will be a slew of agencies who will have regained their accreditation and can start working again in Russia. Her business, certainly the competition, is going to get tougher. Perhaps a little scare tactic can drive a few folks to this person as new clients now.

But maybe I'm being too harsh. Perhaps she was just trying to be helpful and neglected to give out all the facts, maybe she didn't understand the law all that well. But wait, she's a Russian lawyer. Odd, don't you think?

The moral of this story is don't immediately believe anything until you get some confirmation. And for Russian laws there is no better confirmation as to what they really mean than a gentleman that posts on the FRUA forum and elsewhere under the user name "Jim".

He lays things out straight and always states that his commentary is merely an opinion and always backs it up with logical theory. When you read something from him, you're at least getting an unbiased logical opinion.
posted by Steveg @ 10:15 AM   6 comments
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Our Story:

I'm Steve and this is my wife Stefanie. This is our story, mostly seen through my eyes, of the journey to create our family by adopting a child from Russia.

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"The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it."

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