Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Buster Boo-Boo

The wait box continued but within that time another event occurred that also had a profound effect upon me.

A number of years prior my wife knowing of my love of cats had agreed that we could get a couple of cats. Having two made more sense for they could keep each other company as they would be indoor cats.

We discovered a local private shelter where the adoption fee included spaying or neutering at the appropriate time. We went there with no particular type of cat in mind. We visited a covered area where there were several cats on both sides of a walkway and of course there was lots of meowing going on as we entered the room. I suppose they figured it was eating time and they were voicing their hopes of such. The range of those available was diverse so that choosing could have been difficult. I looked around and finally said to the cats in general - ok, who will speak to me first. Shortly thereafter a little white and gray kitten spoke to me and thus she was selected first. She was later named Muffin.

On the opposite side of the room there was this little cat running back and forth in this long cage. He seemed to be mostly ears with long fur and had a somewhat fearful look in his eyes. Further viewing ensued and we were told that his breed was Maine Coon. He was such a beautiful kitten we selected him next. He was named Buster.

Our two cats selected, they became our first of several adoptions to follow. Adoption then was a different mindset for adoption of animals or people are vastly different yet do hold some common components.

Buster lived with us and was Muffin's best friend as they played with each other and often slept together. Over time as other pets either found their way to our door or were found, these two became the elders of the lot.

Buster was also affectionately known as Buster Boo-Boo for his playfulness. He would bring me a twisty tie hoping I would roll it up and through it with a whoosh mouthed sound whereupon he would pounce upon it, gather it in his mouth and return it to me. We would play this game often mostly when I was in the bathroom and unable to freely move but also at other times as well.

He loved to roll over and let me rub my nose on his belly for even though he bluffed at being a feisty cat he was in fact just a lovable fur ball. His fur was the silkiest fur I've ever felt gliding like such through my hands.

We have a small earthenware pot that holds about 5 gallons of water that he loved to hop into and then peek out like a spy kitty to watch the room. He loved to snatch and grab at slowly moving things including watching a toy train come through a tunnel then playing Catzilla to attack and wreck the train but then hop back saying, who me? Who did that?

After these two adoptions in the years that followed, first Oscar Nelson and then Chester Bob joined to fill out the kitty ranks. In 1999, Gracie May, followed a couple of years later by Henry provided us with our dogs.

Time marched forth into the beginnings of our first adoption of a child. Buster continued with his playful attitude through most of the summer of 2007 until early fall when his weight started dropping rather significantly. Taking him to the vet after Thanksgiving, delay was I believe fatal, they confirmed the dramatic weight loss but offered nothing constructive to slow or halt the weight loss other than some new food.

His weight continued to decline but in late December he seemed to rally eating better as I worked with him on an hour by hour basis. His new home was in the floor of my closet, food, litter box and bed all there. We tried goat's milk and he really took to that as it was rich in nutrients but I suppose it may have overtaxed his system. I don't know and will always wonder, when I dwell on such.

Christmas Eve, my wife went to bed early and later going in to see about Boo-Boo he had jumped upon our king size, high bed and curled up was about midway up the bed. My wife and I both petted him and said sweet things to him and then I went off to do other things not knowing...

Regret is one of those killer emotions that beats us down, feeds upon itself, is hard to beat back. When I came to bed a few hours later Boo-Boo had retreated to his closet and I went on to bed after checking on him. Previously I had slept on the floor by his closet bed.

Around 630 or 7 the next morning I woke and went to check on him but he was not there. I found him by a vent in our family room in bad condition and woke my wife to tell her the same. We worked with him off and on trying our best to make him comfortable. My wife held him in her arms and around 10 that morning he made two final pleading, pitiful gasping meows and he slipped away. My wife continued to hold him until she could feel him stiffening.

A good friend and fellow kitty lover had previously built a box for him. To keep water away from him as long as possible the box had a Styrofoam base and I used modeling clay to seal the outside bottom of the box. My wife found one of my old tee shirts to wrap him in. Using a black marker I inscribed the lid on the outside and inside with his information - Buster Boo-Boo, June, 1993-25 Dec 2007, We will always love you.

Yes our little bundle of fur, our Buster Boo-Boo, passed away on Christmas morning. We placed the last twisty tie he had played with a couple of days before between his paws, said our goodbyes, and nailed down the lid. We had our own private service and then let his box sit on our patio table for a while as my wife sat in a rocker in the family room looking over him, lost in her own private thoughts.

Around 12:30, we moved up the hill above the house, to a flower garden overlooking the house near where a previous burial from another time was. Digging the grave was hard because our ground there is heavy with stone and not much dirt other than near the surface but presently it was large enough to hold this box and be underground enough not to be bothered by other animals. Placing the box in the ground and filling in around it, two large flat stones and the bulbs of some flower were placed on top. As we finished adding the final touches of his final resting place it started to snow.

Of course the rest of the day was hard as both my wife and I were lost in thought of the many memories of Boo-Boo, sometimes speaking of them to each other, some times thinking of them privately.

Presently though we finally had a small Christmas with each other and our remaining fur family. My wife opened gifts we had purchased for our daughter that we hoped would soon join us.

Now 19 months after that event, it still brings tears to my eyes, as I think of how much I miss our second adoptee, our first loss together for my wife and I. I remember now and believe I always will as long as memory remains to me, that I will fondly remember his love and trust in me, for he too in his own kitty way taught me a lot about caring, parenting, love and loss and I miss him so.

A few days later I was given a poem - Rainbow Bridge, which helped to some extent to think of the event in fanciful ways until reality crept in again.

My dearest Buster, my Boo-Boo, I love you still.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Wait Box

There is a standard waiting box, the box comes in different sizes for reasons that baffle the mind. I have to think that somehow Providence is also involved in this but that too baffles my mind.

I'm glad our wait box was not in my control because had it been we most likely would have been in China during the worst snowstorm in many a decade in January, 2008.

Providence / God held up some of our paperwork, which while frustrating to us to no end, turned out to be the perfect timing for when we should have been there.

Had we gone in January we would never have met and got to know the family of one of our daughter's fellow orphans. The weather was much better in March, the air much cleaner, even if smoggy, than at home and Beijing much warmer at 50 in March than who knows what it would have been in January.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Paperwork chase

Next the paperwork chase began. How many forms can you fill out in x time and still remain sane?

Of course one of the first things to come together was a quick snapshot of financial status, do you have two nickels to rub together to raise this child? Our agency person who had 20 plus years in the business looked at what we presented and said I can tell you that you have a 95% chance of approval, so I guess we got an A on that.

At the time we did our adoption we had some dates told to us when certain things would happen depending of course on paperwork we did or that others did. We didn't know the fancy acronyms used now to associate with certain dates for we were driven by start, do and finish.

In about 6 weeks my wife had put together an impressive stack of papers by the time we met our home study person. The home study person said that in 20 years only one other couple had put together so much paperwork in so short a time.

Our I-600 had been filed and we had our date to be fingerprinted by Immigration. We got a rough draft on May 1st and went off to be fingerprinted. At about the same time new rules were announced by China for future adoptions but since we already had our pre-approval (PA) we were using the old rules for our adoption.

I think often of the parallels between adoption and buying a house. One fills out many, many forms; throws money in every direction as told to do for some important reason; and waits. One of the big differences is you know more about a house one will occupy than you will about the child that you wish to live with in that house.

As it seems with most paperwork more than likely one will miss a blank or not understand the crossing of Ts and dotting of Is that are needed to pass muster with those who take the forms and search for those missed items so they can have the glee in saying this isn't filled out right. Thus such happened as we needed to get pen in hand signed copies to show we had in fact been born! So after another round of paper and dollars our dossier trundled off to China and the wait box began.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Two Mothers

My daughter has two mothers. Her birth mother somewhere in China and her new mother, my wife.

To the mother in China - I know you once loved this little girl we now hold and love. I know this because she was with you for 5 years or more before you parted ways. I have to wonder if you knew that Grandmother was taking your daughter away to leave her alone in a park and told to "wait here". I wonder what Grandmother told you on her return. Was it, "the deed is done" or "daughter pulled free and ran off" or some other story?

Regardless, I know it must have broken your heart to let her go for mother's love runs deep.

Now your daughter has a new home, far away in America. You are not forgotten for she still speaks of you from time to time. Some day she hopes to return to China for a visit.

Know that your daughter will be loved and nurtured as if she were our own biological daughter. We will remind her of her heritage and encourage her to remember her China roots.

We trust that your daughter / our daughter will always make you proud as she makes her way through life. We hope that somehow you will know this, if only deep down in your heart.

Lastly, we thank you for the privilege through your great sacrifice of raising your daughter as our own.

To the mother in America - Dearest, I have seen a wife transform into a mother before my very eyes and it makes me humble to be called husband and baba. I've seen love blossom from the very start of the process of adoption, change as the time to receive our daughter arrived. I well remember you turning to me when we first sat as a family and saying - 'she's so beautiful' with tears of joy in your eyes.

True that there are trying times, tough times as our daughter pushes against boundaries but through it all I see your love growing deeper and stronger. I admire your vast qualities of talent, vast quantities of energy as you parent this child. I know that our daughter loves you as well and that that love too will grow deeper and stronger as the years pass.

Thank you for the privilege of being your husband these 20 years and partner in this venture of love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Beginning

Christmas 2006 - Never would I have dreamed that Christmas how much my life was about to change. For the better mind you but after several years of humdrum existence I was and am bowled over by the fact of how radically my life has changed.

My wife's birthday occurs every year on the same date, yet somehow it always manages to slip up on me. Near the end of January, 2007, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday for what does a man know what a woman really wants, especially since they already have everything that would make a man happy and more.

We had talked of adoption off and on so when she replied, "you know what I really want?" for once I knew exactly what she was speaking of, so I told her let's go for it, for more than anything I wanted my wife to be happy for her birthday.

A few days later she approached a local agency with whom another family we know had used many years ago. My wife told the agency that we were seeking a Chinese girl that was older than a toddler, aged 6 or 7. The lady looked at her files and produced a picture and file and said what about this one? My wife said that she would have to consult me first.

We met for lunch that day and she showed me the referral pictures and the medical report on the girl. The documentation that came with the picture did not indicate anything we were unprepared to deal with. Again I told my wife - Let's go with this.

Having seen nearly instant love once before I was privileged once again to see such. At that point I don't think I'd seen her that happy since our wedding.

The story continues....