Category Archives: Adoption

One step forward, two steps back

The past few weeks have been rough as baby fell sick for the first time (which was inevitable) but had a rollercoaster recovery (which challenged us in unique ways as adoptive working parents). Plus, we are not so young anymore in our mid-late 40s!

We had started him at infant care just before CNY break, but he caught a cold a few days later either from his new friends at pre-school or some of the visitors and family at home. Having gone through baby colds before with big bro, I just rolled with it at first, using essential oils and OTC meds, adjusting his diet and naps, as needed. In my mind I thought — that worked fine with #1, who hardly got sick in his first 6 years, it should too for #2!

But unlike his big bro, baby didn’t recover within the week, and his runny nose got progressively worse with prolonged diarrhoea, fever, phlegmy cough, wheezing lungs… He lost his appetite completely, would vomit out his milk and what little he ate, and would wake every 2-4 hours overnight crying, struggling to breathe and arching his back in pain / hunger. It was tough to see him suffer like this — far from his cheerful, robust self 😭 (who had been eating like a champ and sleeping 11-12 hours through the night till this). The doctor confirmed that his little lungs were indeed infected, the pulse oximeter measured low blood oxygen levels, and the sputum test revealed mild mycoplasma pneumonia, essentially a nasty chest cold that could also be a sign of future childhood asthma. She mentioned hospitalisation, but we didn’t want that, so we committed to a 24/7 round the clock schedule of 4-hourly nebulisers, nasal sprays/suction and stronger meds including antibiotics (which will need to be followed by a month’s worth of probiotics to help restore the healthy bacteria in his gut).

Baby’s lungs finally cleared this weekend, leaving just a stubborn cough to deal with. After this tsunami of emotions (worry, guilt, tiredness) and stress (juggling a hyper 9-year old boy and sick 9 month old boy, household matters, keeping up with work), I am able to rest a bit and recover, yet also reflect on some new questions that I’m wrestling with: Should I have sourced breast milk for him, which maybe could provide natural immunity like #1 had? What is #2’s actual medical history? Does it even matter, or is it linked to eczema like some friends have shared? Should he take the flu vaccine to help future infections (but that would take another month)? Do we stop or pause infant care if so? How do I make adjustments to my work schedule to accommodate this? Unlike my time with #1, we both work in jobs that don’t easily lend themselves to part/flexi time, and unfortunately my elderly parents are no longer in the prime of health to mind a very active baby all day.

All of this is happening during Lent, a season often associated with new beginnings. And so I am also reminded to take captive my anxieties, conflicts and distractions, to create space in the midst of life’s responsibilities, to appreciate God’s presence with and intimate knowledge of each one of us. God alone knows if baby J does have a chronic respiratory or health condition, but as adoptive parents, we have embraced him fully into our lives, and all we can do is love and trust and wait, running with endurance the race ahead by “looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

PS – A good outcome from the doc visit is that we got to track his height and weight again. Thankfully chubby baby had built up good reserves (haha) so despite being sick for several weeks, he measured a solid 73.5 cm and 10.2 kg at 8.5 months. Other developmental milestones are also on track. He turns 1 year in June, and will be walking and talking soon!

PPS – Big bro was left to fend for himself during his first term exams (CA1) and March school break. Having little bro around has forced him to be more independent, more accountable (not an easy thing for mama to let him “bear the consequences”) and also more nurturing. I was worried that #1 would feel neglected or jealous, but instead, he truly adores #2 and is more willing to help with the baby than with household chores or homework 😂 — in feeding, diaper changing, soothing, entertaining, even picking up the toys all over the house to be washed out every evening. So grateful to see this side of him emerge! ❤️

Happy half birthday!

“All I want for Christmas is you…”

Baby J turned 6 months on Christmas Eve. We are so thankful to finally complete the adoption order and register his new birth certificate earlier this week! We were told this was a fast turnaround time, even though it felt like such a long process. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the other waiting and hopeful adoptive couples on this journey — we feel you, dear friends! ❤️

Other highlights:

  • He’s been loving the explosion of new tastes so far as we introduce solids 3x a day
  • He drinks milk and some water from his sippy cup
  • He comforts himself with an assortment of teethers, towels, his trusty thumbs, and oddly, wet wipes
  • He enjoys his sound books, playing peekaboo, finger songs and balls
  • His babbles are sounding more like speech, and he says a very clear and loud “MAAAAA!” when he’s really needy (hungry or wants to be held 😂 )
  • He rolls both ways, pulls up on his cot sides, scoots backwards … I see an active few months ahead!
  • He’s now 90% in height and weight at 68 cm and 9.05 kg 💪

We love you so much darling J! 💕

Month 3 milestones and fourth trimester reflections

Baby J turns three months today! The end of this “fourth trimester” also means mama is gradually returning to work. Maternity leave was brief but gave me precious time “off” to rest and bond, and settle the remaining adoption interviews and legal documentation. Yet it is bitter sweet to not be available or at home to focus on and respond to J. I have to learn as before with B, to trust others to care for his needs and be OK with variations in care and routine. It is also extra tiring whenever he regresses during those wonder weeks and growth spurts, as mama is still on night shift duty, and repeated night wakings are always tough! Especially now in my 40s! Old liao.

Meanwhile, little boss is thriving! We look forward to next week’s doctors visit to find out how much he’s grown 🥰. So far, he can:

  • Blow saliva bubbles and drool lots 🤣
  • Wriggle and lift his bum during nappy changes
  • Twist and turn his head side to side, esp. when we play nursery rhyme sound books during tummy time
  • Roll from tummy to back (this happened accidentally, only on one side!)
  • Push off with his feet from my lap / mat / bed
  • Grab and hold objects with both hands, playfully covering his eyes as if he’s doing a peekaboo. Favourite objects include his muslin blankets, dream pillows and bolster, wash towels, milk bottles, soft toys
  • Study and fiddle with his hands for a long time
  • Study and explore faces and textures with hands
  • Stroke his own head and cheek
  • Babble using loud / soft / low / high sounds, tell continuous “stories” after a nap or before bedtime
  • Behave differently with people. He’s always delighted to see mama come home 😝
  • Enjoy interactive songs: 10 Little Indians, Round and Round the Garden and my made-up songs in bad Chinese. I’ve even created a playlist to match his baby books 😉
  • Enjoy movement games: With mama – Pendulum, nibbling, riding the horse. With daddy – Airplane, slide, climbing the mountain
  • Sleep generally well during the day with 3-4 naps for a total 6+ hours. His last evening nap is getting quite short, at times he skips it, so we’re encouraging him to drink more to reduce evening fussiness and have upgraded his teat to a medium flow (3 months +)
  • Stay alert and awake ~1.5 hours between naps, which is when if we’re WFH, we try to interact with him more. Though he does whine to show boredom if we do the same things too often!
  • But… his night sleep is still erratic from 8p to 6a. Sometimes he wakes 1-3x not so much to drink but more to be held. Sometimes he’s great and self soothes (sucking his fingers, clutching his loveys) back to sleep and/or sleeps through the night! We’re tweaking his bedtime routine as he develops, and trying to get a consistent evening wind down. It’s more tricky with #2 as we have seven people (and their noise and stimulation) at home! But as with B, I don’t sleep train by crying it out, so will just observe, adapt and pray for better sleep ahead…. 😴

Anticipating the moment (part 2)

Since we said yes, we have been very blessed with getting fortnightly calls from the social worker — a very unusual yet welcome update as the adoptive parents. So far, we learnt more about the family’s background and situation, and are encouraged adoption is still the best course for all. The latest ultrasound results also show that birth mom and baby are doing well, health and weight are tracking normally. Knowing their situation, we also offered to pay for the birth mom’s hospital expenses plus confinement food. It wasn’t required of course, but just something more we wanted to do to thank her, and ensure she takes care of herself post-delivery. But the biggest news we received today was … it’s a boy!

Thankful for friends who reached out to pass on newborn essentials like a cot, stroller, bath tub, swaddles, towels, newborn onesies, mitts and socks. With this adoption case, we had less than a month to prepare, and still face uncertainty about the final outcome. So we will only determine what else is needed to borrow, buy and/or change around at home in the actual first few weeks. It’s hard to contain the excitement but we are trying to be pragmatic (as advised) since adoption cases aren’t 100% confirmed until everything is legally signed. This can take up to a year due to court paperwork and sometimes, the birth family changes their minds…. And also in our case, the baby is not yet born.

I started exploring infant care centers near to home, office and #1’s primary school. This will also help inform my thinking about the transition ahead. Back then, I had only sent #1 for nursery the year he turned 3, but our home situation is a bit different now. I did have doubts, but feel slightly more assured after reading up more and speaking to moms that have done this before. Good infant care can support our little ones and are a Godsend for working moms in sandwiched generation families like ours. Praying for opportunities to visit and meet the staff in person, and that there will be the right place at the right time for #2.

Last but not least, we have also landed on a name for this yet-to-be-son. Hubby and #1 had plenty of wacky ideas, but we all agreed on the one that truly speaks to the little one’s circumstances and is grounded biblically as well. Despite being rejected in the womb, the baby will be received by us (his adoptive parents) straight from the hospital to a loving home, God willing! “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in Me as well. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2).

Jesus is referencing his coming death, resurrection and eternal life in that passage, yet somehow these words seem relevant to our situation too as we prepare our hearts and home amidst the unique circumstances and uncertainties of this adoption process. Dear baby boy, do not worry, you are precious to God — who holds you close in His hands and has prepared a home for you, both in this world and in the life to come. We look forward to see you soon! Love, Mom.

Anticipating the moment (part 1)

How do you anticipate the birth of a baby that you’re not carrying, but who would eventually be yours?   I’ve decided to journal down my thoughts, prayers and decisions leading up to the moment, when God willing, this baby joins our family.

The moment I heard the news from the case worker, my heart leapt. For hubby and I, the decision was clear. We had been prepared for delays in the adoption process due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and social distancing. But God did the unexpected for us, and in a way that said: “My child, I know you. I see you. I remember you. I hear you.” (Exodus 2:23-25).

So within 24 hours after we received the call, we made the decision to adopt this particular unborn baby. Though so many questions lie ahead, the most important thing to do at this time is pray. With a few who have journeyed with us since the process started, we are covering the health of the baby and birth mom in prayer, for God to guard the hearts of all the individuals involved, for wisdom as we begin to share this news to others, and discernment on the way forward, step by step. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).

I also started looking up what my leave entitlement was at work, and thinking through the eventual communication and timing of any transitions with colleagues and my team at work. I used a friend’s pregnancy books to guide my thoughts as it is quite a different experience to anticipate the birth without actually being pregnant yourself physically — What to Expect when You’re Expecting, Praying for Your Unborn Child, and The Miraculous World of Your Unborn Baby.

Children are born with earthly parents, and this special child will be blessed with a birth mom and a forever mom. It’s hard to wrap our heads around this — no matter how many books, workshops and chats I’ve had! There are so many what-ifs but I claim the peace and purpose knowing that this is a child of God. As I read months ago from a mom speaking to their adopted child, “I may not have given you the gift of life, life gave me the gift of you.” Dear baby-to-come, we are waiting for you! Love, Mom.

Praying over Psalm 139 as our new journey begins

It’s been almost four years since my last entry, but I’m blogging (a little) again because today, hubby and I committed our intent to adopt a baby!  “For this child, I have prayed and the Lord has granted the desires of my heart.” (1 Samuel 1:27)

We certainly didn’t know it but God has prepared us for this child — through the years of losses, us maturing as parents, and the unique circumstances which led to this adoption opportunity. When we received the call from the social worker, we knew that there was no answer but “YES” even though we are agreeing to accept this child before s/he is actually born, without knowing what the gender is or what state the baby will be in. We walk by faith, and not by sight!

LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

You made all the delicate, inner parts of the baby’s body and knit him together in his mother’s womb. Thank you for making him so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous—how well I know it. You watched him as he was being formed in utter seclusion, as he was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw him before he was born. Every day of his life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Search us and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. Point out anything in us that offends you, and lead us along the path of everlasting life.”

Adapted from Psalms‬ ‭139:1-6, 13-16, 23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Even loss is a new beginning

And so concludes our journey of Trying To Conceive for #2. There was so much I’d hoped to share and dared to dream for the past eight years.  Alas, another natural birth was just not meant to be.

2018 ended with three consecutive failed Frozen Embryo Transfers.  No more two week wait, rounds of egg collections and blood tests, four times daily self-injections on the go, letters from the doctor explaining to airport immigration why this cooler bag I’m carrying around is full of medicine and needles…

Momentos from my IVF days

2016 started with my third (confirmed) miscarriage. The last time, I didn’t tell a soul at the first positive test.  After confirming positive every week for three weeks over the holidays, the dreaded spotting came.  We never made it to the end of the first trimester.

I didn’t expect to feel so anguished at all these losses given my history of secondary infertility.  I thought I was mentally prepared but while my body once again reset, readjusted and stopped sending out “phantom” symptoms, my emotions were in a state of turmoil:

Frustration that this keeps happening to me despite loving kids, wanting a bigger family, and being ready and able to support them.

Guilt that I wanted more after having our (first) son, and the added attention needed with him after he was diagnosed with mild ADHD.

Anger at the specialist for not looking further into why I’ve had recurring pregnancy loss when we approached him years ago.

Resentment that time is not on my side….

After the grief dulled, and I could even broach the subject of babies again with the hubby, we decided to stop trying for our own.  Thankfully life was full between work and caregiving for the older folk as well as being more intentional with our rather hyper kiddo.

For years, we focused on adding a child to our family but from 2018 on, we had a series of divine encounters with adoptive friends and their stories. I hadn’t even known that several pastors in our church had also adopted children as well! After discussing, reading, praying and reflecting on whether fostering and adoption is for us, we completed the mandatory MSF interviews and workshops, and received a favourable Home Study Report in late 2019.

God renewed our hearts and minds throughout this process.  It dawned on us — with all that we have been blessed with, “why not provide a child with a family instead?” So we are now embarking on a new journey.

Create in me a clean, clean heart

Create in me a work of art

Create in me a miracle

Something real, something beautiful

You’re not finished with me yet

You’re not finished with me yet

By Your power I can change, I can change

‘Cause You’re not finished with me yet

– Psalm 103 (adapted) 

Music with mama: Trial classes at MYC and Seimpi

Recently, B attended trial classes at Music For Young Children (Orchard) and Seimpi School of Music (Funan).  Both programs are parent accompanied, utilise a whole brain approach and go beyond generic music appreciation to introduce basic music fundamentals and early musicianship pre-Grade 1).

1) Music For Young Children: Sunrise class (27-36 months)
This was a special trial for B and his friends. We learnt about a variety of instruments, tonal and rhythm patterns using early learning and pre-reading concepts such as counting, direction (right/left), speed (fast/slow), dynamics (loud/quiet), sorting (shapes/colours). Class time alternated rapidly between singing, dancing, body plays, simple games, crafts, stories, listening activities, percussion play-along and ensembles.  For example, with keyboards: Each student takes turns to sing while pressing a key on a large sensory floor keyboard, teacher uses tactile visual aids (flashcards, storyboard, toys, props to demo “standing still” (same note) “stepping up” (moving up a scale), students then reinforce how to recognise and relate these notes, sounds and actions through worksheets, magnets, stickers, various manipulatives and games.

What we liked: Time flies! Concepts are presented and reinforced in an array of learning styles – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, digital, analytical, etc. to engage your little learner. The repetition – listening, responding and singing – is effective. The kids still talk about class days after the trial.

Check it out: If you’re looking for a fast paced, multi-sensory, early music class that emphasises verbal confidence and eventually composition. Regular students will receive a package that includes instruments and a comprehensive manual with singing, warm-ups, keyboard, listening, rhythm, and assignment sections. Give the code “FINALLYMAMA” for a special trial class and waiver of registration fee if you sign up. They also have an upcoming June music holiday camp.

2) Seimpi School of Music: MIM® Playtime class (2-3 years)
We joined an existing class which felt like a typical music and movement session with elements of their hallmark Music for the Intelligent Mind (MIM) programs like exposure to early note reading and key recognition, eye, ear, concentration and memory training.  For example, here’s the keyboard section: Each student takes turn to place stuffed animals on the black keys, then set and ring pitched desk bells on the white keys on a large floor mat, teacher reviews notes with a notation cloth, demos a few nursery songs, introduces a finger exercise song, and then guides each student individually to play simple pieces on a keyboard (there’s enough for each student).

What we liked: Exposure to note reading and proper playing techniques (i.e. using all fingers, not just your pointer) at an early age in a relaxed environment. Instead of solfège, students were introduced directly to notes (positioning) and keys (e.g. C-D-E).

Check it out: If you’re keen to start your child early on piano playing and theory, can commit to consistent follow up at home and have some music knowledge to do so. Regular students will receive two workbooks – activity (fundamentals) and piano playing book (beginner), with an audio CD.  Ask for a free trial – it’s an ongoing promo.

As for us, we enjoyed both and will revisit when B turns 3 or so.  Meanwhile, they inspired us to continue with our home music learning 🙂