Friday, November 27, 2009


On Friday, October 9, 2009, we forgot about all professional and academic matters and used some Union Bank coupons to spend a wonderful day at Legoland, right before Thomas' corrective surgery, which would take place the following Tuesday, October 13.

I could not believe my eyes when seeing Thomas and Nicholas enjoy all the rides, try roller coasters for the first time with no fear, and excitedly want to go on the same coaster over and over again. Thomas kept on insisting that he was brave--and he was so very proud of himself! It seems impossible that he is the same Thomas who used to cry at the drop of a pin, who was scared of vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, and coil wires. For several months after their homecoming, he would still get startled with the slightest noise, and on a rainy autumn evening would say that the grey clouds above were out to get him.

As for Nicholas, the transformation had been even more dramatic. It was hard to believe that he was the same boy who on the day when I had first met him and Thomas in Haiti, would very soon go back to his toys as if lacking in any interest about the events and about his surroundings. As guilty as this thought makes me feel, it was hard to believe that he was the same boy I had wished I did not need to take home. I'm sure that many adoptive parents will identify with such feelings of initial reluctance, but still every time he does something cute I can't avoid the remorse of thinking how disappointed I felt when I first saw him that day, knowing he would be my son forever. His look seemed to be lost in space somewhere, and he did not appear to care much about what was going on around him, in a kind of attitude that erroneously conveyed the impression of autistic traits. Yes, I did want children facing some physical challenges--but no, I was not prepared for a child with autism. I do apologize if this statement eventually touches upon anyone's family circumstances. The problem would not have been the autism, but just I, as I was not ready for it. In any event, at that point it had been Catherine, my daughter, who by e-mail had reminded me that "he is now your son and our brother, and together we'll make everything work out fine." She had added that she loved all the children at the S.T.A.R. Program, where she was then finishing her last internship and where she's working now, and that Nicholas would be "our very own shining STAR". Well, thanks mainly to her and to the twins (I was too busy preparing the move), in less than one week at home those autistic-like behavioral components were gone forever, never to be seen again. That absent, blank look got very soon replaced by eyes that are so very expressive as to easily convey the words that, due to his c.p., his tongue has a hard time trying to articulate. He pays attention to everything, wants to know everything, and wants to be in everything--sometimes too much maybe.

They both feel safe, secure, wanted, important, loved. They are totally bonded into our family with no "buts" of any kind. They trust us. And that takes me to Thomas' surgery, which would take place on 10/13/09, a few days after Legoland. I still don't know why I agreed to such corrective surgery on his right foot, though. Despite his hemiplegia diagnosis, before surgery he could already walk, and could already run as fast as the wind. It was a triple C osteotomy, to correct the shape of his right foot and stretch a little the muscles of his right leg. Even after waking up in pain, with a huge cast, and unable to walk, Thomas did not care about anything else other than being with us. Despite the pain medication, he would not fall asleep on the hospital bed, but on the recliner at the side of it, next to one of us.

Now the big cast is gone, and was replaced by a much smaller one, with which he is walking around again, and which, in turn, will be removed on Monday, December 7--the day before the twins' 13th birthday, which is on the day of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8. The really moving issue is that Gerard and Warren consider being able to see Thomas again going back and forth without any cast to be the best birthday present they can ever have!

Quick General Update: Are we actively involved in adopting again? Definitely yes!!! Yet, before posting more, I'd rather wait--at least until things are a little more advanced. I'd like to clarify that, even though I'm widowed, when talking about adoption I always use the plural due to how totally, completely, entirely, absolutely, and inconditionally my mom and my three older children were and are in the processes.

Are we moving out of state? (That's what I was saying in my Aug.'08 entries). No--at least, not for now.

God bless everyone!!!


Am I getting old and start enjoying old stories? I guess it's just that I'm an incurably proud mom who needs to brag about her kids all the time.

These are different anectodes from different times, and are not in chronological order. Simply I feel like sharing them because of their precious contents in love, selflessness, caring, candor, and naivete. Some are truly moving, and some may also bring up a smile(and even a good laugh).

A couple of wonderful stories about the twins.
In May of 2006, at the Kids Korps' Annual Staff-A-Thon, there was media coverage, and the four top volunteers were interviewed: a girl, Gerard and Warren, and one more boy. The news channel aired only two interviews, and they selected the girl and one of the boys: Warren. Far from being jealous, Gerard was happy for his brother, and Warren was sad because Gerard's interview had not arrived to reach the news. One year and a half later, in November of 2007, while helping at the burned home site after the wildfires, Warren happened to find a necklace that was what the owner of the ill-fated house wanted the most. The media happened to be there, and Warren was interviewed. Once again, it was the same twin to be on T.V. Gerard rejoiced again, and was excited to go home and watch Warren on the news. And, once again, Warren was unable to enjoy his "celebrity" status because it had not included his brother.

Around the fall of 2005, the door of a car closed on Warren's hand. Thanks God, there was no permanent injury, but it was really painful. He wanted to be brave and did not cry, even though his face as pale as snow and there was a distraught look in his big blue-green eyes. The remarkable issue is that at the very same time, Gerard was also holding his own hand in pain, in exactly the same way Warren was holding his. . . because he was feeling, experiencing, suffering the same pain. I will clarify that they're not identical, but fraternal twins.

Two Santa stories involving Catherine.
After having been told by her pre-school teacher that there are children who are too poor and get no presents, when we went to see Santa at the mall and he asked Catherine what she wanted, her reply was, "Please, Santa, I want you to bring toys to all children in the world so that no child is sad." She was only 3 years old. I was aiming my camera,trying to shoot as many pictures as possible, and through the lens could see that my daughter's request had truly moved the man in the Santa's clothes. He promised Catherine to make sure not to miss any child, and asked her what she wanted for herself. Her reply was very humble, "A toy." She did not even want Santa to spend time looking for a particlar toy to bring her in order for him not to miss any remote home anywhere on earth.

The next story is real fun. In her 3rd grade, Catherine was attending a parochial school. One afternoon right before the Christmas break, after getting back home from school, she gathered up the courage to ask me, "Mom, Santa is real, isn't he?" I realized that the time had arrived to "do it" in the same soft, subtle, non-traumatic way in which my parents had "done it" with me. I told her, the same as I had been told, that as Catholics, we believe in St. Nicholas, and that St. Nicholas was, and is, entirely real, and used to deliver toys and goods to children and families in need. From there I went on to explain to her that from the reality of St. Nicholas, the legend of Santa Klaus had sprung. She looked at me in my eyes, threw her arms around my neck, and told me, "Mom, you should have told me that one day before: Today I argued with the entire class in order to protect Santa!"

Another story that will bring up a smile. Catherine will be mad at me for publishing it--but it's so funny that I can't help doing it. Since she was very small, she always wanted a little sister or brother more than anything else in the world. You could go with her to any toy store that she would not even look at the toys, but at the babies. She would run to each stroller and stare at the little bundle of joy in it as if she was in front of Baby Jesus. That was her biggest wish, her sole dream, her daily prayer, and her fervent request to Santa Christmas after Christmas until the twins were born. One day, when she was 8 years old, we were at a lady's room, and there was a mother changing a baby boy. Catherine suddenly got a sad expression, and tears started filling her eyes. I was surprised that she would not even look at the child. As soon as we went outside, I asked her what the matter was. With a feeble voice, as if afraid of what I might respond, she asked me, "Mom, is that baby going to die?" I couldn't understand. It didn't make sense. The baby looked pretty healthy to me. I asked her why she thought that the little boy might die, and her reply was, "Because he has something big sticking out there where her mom was changing him. Can that be cancer?" She had not seen any baby boy with no clothes on yet.

The Need for a Mom (about Thomas). It was Halloween day 2008 in the morning, and Thomas and Nicholas had their first appointment with a pediatric ophthalmologist. My mom, Catherine, Gerard, and Warren had all wanted to come with me. As we were in the waiting room, I found an unabridged version of Peter Pan, and started reading it to Thomas. At one point I arrived to the passage where Wendy tells the Lost Boys stories about mothers and says that "the world is a much better place if you have a mother to take care of you." At that very moment I could feel Thomas' arms tightening around my neck, his head pushing even closer against my side, and his cheek moving up, seeking to make contact with my cheek. Sometimes I had wondered how much English he did really understand. That was eloquent enough--not only in terms of comprehension, but much more.

About Nicholas and the chicken sandwich. In early 2009, Gerard and Warren had been invited to a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at a nursing home where they used to visit the elder and pray with them. I picked them up with my mom, Thomas, and Nicholas in the van, and we went to a drive-thru for supper for the rest of us, who had not been at the dinner. Yet, Nicholas didn't know that the twins had eaten already, and thought I was not buying anything for them. He broke off his chicken sandwich and offered half of it to Warren.

Very recently, thinking in a loud voice, Warren asked himself whether Nicholas will be able to live independently one day--and immediately added, "If he cannot, I will take him." In a fraction of a second, at exactly the same time, both Catherine and Gerard sprang up, "No, I will take him!" And all three of them threw themselves on Nicholas, and started to pull as if really fighting for him. Poor Nicholas looked a little overwhelmed yet delighted with so much attention and so much love. A couple of weeks later, Catherine started a similar pretend fight over Nicholas by claiming him for herself. Both times the three of them soon decided that, as they will always live close to each other throughout their lives, Nicholas will have not one but three different households more than willing to welcome him and will even be able to alternate. Many [people view that as a terrible burder for my biological children--something that I should not allow. On one hand, yes, they may happily let go of one or two dreams for Nicholas' sake one day--but on the other hand, in the event that life vicissitudes might hit one of them more heavily than the others, it is for sure that the one hardest hit will never be alone.

One last story. Catherine has all the good qualities in the world--but she does everything at the very last moment and has a very hard time arriving anywhere on time. One day earlier this year, she had an important paper due pursuant to her dissertation. It was almost the time when class was starting, and she was still at home, revising, printing, and stapling her work. Thomas, who typically comes near us when we're working, went to Catherine at that moment when every second was precious, crucial, irreplaceable. I was anxious, thinking that Catherine would speed on her way to class, and scolded Thomas, who started crying. I was trying to keep Thomas away from Catherine, so that she could finally finish and leave--but my attempt totally misfired. As soon as Catherine saw Thomas' tears, she forgot about her class, her paper, her presentation, her rush--eveything. No matter how extremely late it was, she took some time to comfort her small brother.

Had I said that would be my last story? Well, I have one more to post. Shortly after Thomas and Nicholas' homecoming, Catherine decided to change the look of her naturally blonde hair and color it brown. I do hope nobody will judge me negatively if I confess that I tried to dissuade her. She kept very adamant in her decision, and told me that she liked the Snow White look--that being the closest she could her to it without a totally dramatic change. Yet, I know her much better than that. I know about her two unspoken precious reasons behind her desire for a darker hair shade--and for sure Snow White was not one of them.

JUST PICTURES (They say that one picture is worth one thousand words)

I will step back and just post some pics of my kids growing up--or, to be totally honest with everyone, I won't be the one posting the photos. I will be the one selecting them--and asking Warren or Gerard to post them for me.


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