Friday, November 27, 2009

Sawatdee Bangkok!

Picture the scene -the suitcases are packed and waiting in the hall, we have our tickets and passports (which I check approximately once every 10 minutes), money converted to Thai Baht and most importantly a room full of the most beautiful (but trendy!) baby boy clothes you have ever seen - washed, ironed and sorted at least three times! We were good to go!

Two days before we were due to fly out we got a phone call - Button (as we call him - for he is as cute as one!) was in hospital. Immediately I rang the orphanage to find out more. For those of you who know me well, you'll realise that this was no small feat for me - I'm slightly phone phobic, especially when it comes to "official" calls, but for the first time ever I was in Mommy mode - my baby was in trouble - I'd have phoned the King of Thailand himself if it was necessary! When I finally got talking to someone who understood my panicky rambling, I discovered that Button had pneumonia, but that we should come over anyway, because he'd probably be out before we got there, but if not it would only be a couple of days more. Thank God! Pneumonia I could deal with - people have that and recover all the time, right? It was all going to be ok.

After a long, but pretty uneventful trip, we arrived in a small town in the North of Thailand where our Button had spent the first 9 months of his life. The heat and humidity when we stepped out of the airport was overwhelming for two Irish bumpkins who had never been further afield than Majorca! But we were there! After a night at our lovely hotel, we met the escort from the orphanage in the lobby. She had with her a little book with a photo of Button as a very small (and I mean VERY small) baby - priceless to us, our first glimpse of the life he had led before we knew of him. He was still in hospital, and she was taking us to see him straight away.

How do you describe the moment when you see your child for the first time? There are no words that can possibly do it justice. But for us, that moment came in a large, slightly scary hospital, where we found him lying on a bed surrounded by doctors and nurses, having his airways suctioned. He was the tiniest thing I had (or still have) ever seen. When they handed him to me, I just wanted to take him and run - he seemed so small and fragile, his arms and legs were like matchsticks, and his face was all eyes. it was obvious he had lost an awful lot of weight since his referral photo was taken - and my gut instinct told me that there was much more than pneumonia going on.

Over the next week we visited Button twice a day. His chest rattled when he breathed and the doctors couldn't keep his temperature down. The visits we had were bittersweet, we were so happy to finally spend time with him, but it was incredibly hard seeing him so ill. We learnt that his nickname in the orphanage was "dtaa leuk", which means "deep eyes", and that he was very nosy, even on his sickest day, he would contort his body to see what was happening behind him! After 4 or 5 days he was diagnosed with TB and his treatment began in earnest. We, on the other hand, still had paperwork to complete in Bangkok. We flew down in the hope that when we got back Button would be well enough to come home.

Sadly, this was not to be. Even though his temperature was stabilising and he seemed to be responding to his treatment, there was no way that he was fit enough to fly or that he would be any time soon. We knew that he was getting the best care possible, and that he was surrounded by people who loved him and who were familiar to him (a Nanny was by his side 24 / 7 in the hospital) we were strangers to him, he didn't yet know how much we already loved him. We made the heartbreaking decision to leave without him and to return to Thailand in a few weeks to bring him home.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Welcome to my world!

So where do I start? When I was thinking about doing a blog, I wasn't sure whether to focus on adoption or autism - they're both such an integral part of our lives. But then I realised that any blog that was to truly represent who we are as a family has to include both - for they are equally responsible for shaping our family and have brought us into contact with some truly remarkable people, none of whom we would have met if we hadn't travelled on these paths.

When Mr Taz and I got married, we had our future all mapped out - our "plan" as we called it. We would enjoy married life for a year or so, babies would follow and life would be rosy! Well, they say that man plans and God laughs, and that certainly seemed to be the case for us! When it became clear, that having babies wasn't going to be as straightforward as we had anticipated, we very early on decided that we would rather go down the adoption route than try IVF. My body had had 2 years of fertility drugs, I was exhausted and stressed, and it just seemed that with adoption we would have a guarantee of a healthy, happy baby.

Much has been written about the gruelling nature of the adoption process, but other than the time it took, we found the whole experience very positive. Never having been one who was reluctant to talk about myself, I took to it like a duck to water - yes, of course, there were a few intrusive, personal questions, but to Mr Taz and I it was like free therapy! We decided that our future son or daughter would come from Thailand, a country that has well established procedures for inter-country adoptions, and the wait began.

After a year or so of waiting we started phoning Bangkok every 6 weeks to see if there was any news. This would involve me laying awake all night imagining all sorts of outcomes, then phoning at about 4 am. Invariably our lovely Thai Social Worker would say "Soon, soon. Baby soon" Until one morning, she said the words I had waited 4 years to hear - "You have been matched with baby boy". I was simply gobsmacked. I asked how old he was and she said "he is under 2 - oh no, under 1" To get a baby so young was nearly unheard of in Thai adoptions - all our prayers had been answered. I was a Mommy.

About 2 weeks later we were called into the Adoption Board to collect a photo of our son. Obviously, I'm completely biased, but he really was the most beautiful baby i had ever seen - he had these huge brown eyes and his little fists were clenched as if he was a prize fighter (a sign of things to come maybe?) We could hardly contain our excitement, our son was coming home.