PK and the Gang

Bringing Eastern Europe to Eastern North Carolina

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Life’s Big Questions: Do You Know What You’re Getting Into?

I love getting questions about adoption but, honestly, some of them are just strange. I have had the same conversation several times when people find out that when the adoption is finished PK will be around 18 months at the youngest:

Lovely Person: A toddler? You do realize they’ll be talking then, right?

Me: I hope so!

Lovely Person: They’ll be speaking Polish.

Me: Polish kids typically do.

Lovely Person: How will that work?

Me: Well, by that point, I’ll know more Polish than “The man is driving the blue car” and “I would like something to drink” so we’ll have that. Besides, kids at that age are like sponges and they’ll start picking up English pretty quickly.

Lovely Person: Huh. I guess you’re right. Maybe it will work.

This conversation has happened so much it has gone from mind-boggling to amusing. One question that still confuses me, however, is “Do you know what you’re getting into?” When I was first asked the question, I thought people were playing off of the truth that parenting is so much more than what you think it is when you are on the outside looking in. The actual meaning became clear with further explanation. Basically, I’ve found, “Do you know what you’re getting into?” is a polite way to ask, “You are aware that you adopted child will grow up to be a serial killer/horribly maladjusted person/mutant, don’t you?”

I’m aware that Hollywood loves to capitalize on extremes and the unknown and so adoption is a great way to play off of “the bad seed” and “the devil next door” tropes. The film “Orphan” even goes so far as to have the little girl actually be a  grown woman from Estonia who is mentally unbalanced and kills people. I know that our child will have a history and baggage and possibly even illnesses and handicaps. Then again, who doesn’t?

If you look at Becky and me, you’ll see we’re not the most shining of genomes to combine – I have Tourette’s, and scoliosis, deafness, and dementia run in my family. Becky has her previous illness as a starter. Cancer and all sorts of other problems

Is it just me or would make a good logo for a Polish-American Superhero?

Is it just me or would make a good logo for a Polish-American Superhero?

have popped up in both our families. Basically, if we had biological children odds are high that they would either turn out to be the X-Men and save the world or the Horsemen of Apocalypse who will destroy the world and recreate it in their image. It’s probably in the world’s best interest that we’re adopting.  Take a moment to look at your family, though, before you start thinking, “Man, it sucks to be them!” Everyone I’ve run across has something or someone in their family that they hope skips a generation. We all have issues; not everyone has the luxury of hiding them.

Yes, PK could turn out to be a serial killer (God forbid!), but they could end up curing AIDS, being the next Indiana Jones or writing the Broadway musical by which all other shows are judged – just like your kids. As far as physical needs, PK might have have those, too. Kids adopted internationally often have some problem. It could be a major issue or something as common as ADD, in which case PK will fit right in to the Arthur clan. Becky and I have to talk about what we can and can’t handle physically, emotionally and financially. We’ve already chatted about a few of those (we know we’d be open to a deaf child due to my family background) and there’s more conversations to come. They aren’t decisions to be made lightly.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, Becky and I don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into – just like any other expectant parents.

Life’s Big Questions: Why Poland?

Everyone has questions about our adoption journey. Heck, we still have massive amounts of questions ourselves. After being asked why we are adopting, the second most popular question seems to be, “Where are you adopting from?” I wish I had a camera around for some of the reactions to hearing “Poland.”

First, we never really thought much about a domestic adoption. The need is great both in the US and the rest of the world. I’ve had several friends with wonderful, successful adoption stories both domestically and internationally. We’ve also heard plenty of heart-breaking stories on both sides. (Side note: when you start researching adoption or telling people you’re feeling called to adopt, be prepared for loads of stories that will make your hair stand on end) Please do not think that I’m against domestic adoption – it’s a wonderful way to give kids a home. It just isn’t what Becky and I feel called to.

I’ll be first to say that I’m aware that Poland isn’t on the top of the list of international adoptions. The most popular countries seem to be China, Ethiopia and various other African countries. Korea and Russia were high on the list until a little while ago. The fact that many international programs are closing down led us to search less likely options.

We thought about India for a bit. When we looked at the the program, however, we hadn’t (and still haven’t) been married long enough to begin the process. India’s program has been going through many changes lately. First, they didn’t want to adopt to anyone who was not of Indian descent, then they stopped adopting outside of the country. From what I understand, the predominant cultures in India are not ones that favor adoption and the state has found the numbers of orphans in its care growing exponentially. I have heard whispers that they are considering a revamp of their adoption laws but, at least for now, we know this is not the land where our child is.

This is Poland. Our kid is located somewhere in this general area.

This is Poland. Our kid is located somewhere in this general area.

Quite by accident, we found out that there were a handful of programs that worked in Poland. Becky was instantly attracted to Poland because of her family heritage. We found out that Poland looks favorably on families with a connection to the culture and that it is a solid program with little corruption. We liked the fact that there is a good amount of time that is state mandated bonding time. After a lot of prayer, we felt God was calling us to Poland as the place where we would add to our family.

At first, I have to admit, I didn’t feel a big connection with the country of Poland itself. Becky did and that was enough for me.  I quickly found myself loving Poland as well. First, you can’t beat a good Polish festival or polka music. Polish food has been a part of my life since I stumbled upon pierogi as a bachelor and marrying Becky has only increased my horizons and my passion for Polish food. I’ve loved learning about Polish history and the similarities and differences of Polish culture. While I will smile and wave at everyone on the street, like any good Southern boy, I appreciate the concept that smiles are precious and that you save them for the people you really feel connected to. That a little complaining is obligatory when asked how you are so that you don’t seem to brag about your good fortune. These are people who are fighters and have overcome adversity time and time again. This is the land that gave us Copernicus, Chopin, John Paul II, and Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish freedom fighter who fought on the American side of our Revolution (and he was even in North Carolina for parts of it!). Not a bad heritage at all.


Life’s Big Questions: Why are you adopting?

I’ve been away from the blog a bit more than I had planned. As I am sure everyone can relate, life is crazy. We’re running around getting ready for Christmas in the real world and the big holiday season (big tours during the day and a spectacular living history event for the next two Saturdays) at the historic site I work at. Becky has been baking up a storm! Between this week and the next, I believe she has nearly 90 dozen cookies to deliver. Aside from fundraising, the cookies have been a great way of raising awareness and Becky and I have been asked several questions and, since inquiring minds want to know, I thought that we’d take the next few entries to answer a few of these big questions. The first up – Why are you adopting?

For me, I’ve known for a while that I wanted to adopt at least one child. When I was younger (I don’t remember exactly when – middle school perhaps?), I found out that my parents had looked into adopting a child before I was born. He was a foster kid who lived in their neighborhood. I know that Ma and Da had contacted Social Services and were ready to start the process but came to a halt when the social workers found out how close they lived to his foster parents. Ironically, it wouldn’t have been an issue since my parents moved a few months after I was born.

Since I found out about my “phantom big brother”, I’ve found myself wondering about him and what his life is like now and how it would have been different if he had become an Arthur. I wonder if he still is in New Bern,  if he’s married and has kids. I also reflect on the care and concern that my parents still show in their eyes on the rare times they talk about him. Growing up, that proved to me that parental love isn’t something that comes with DNA. It’s something you choose to do and I’ve wanted to do that myself for some child.

Becky came upon adoption a bit differently. She was sick when she was younger and while she has won that battle, it reduced the chances of her being able to get pregnant and getting pregnant could trigger her body to do things that would endanger both her and the baby. Not wanting to risk either of those, Becky told me when we started talking marriage that adoption was likely the way we would have to go in order to have children. It’s strange that even though we both knew that upfront we both have had to do a bit of grieving for children we’d never have. Not that adoption is a second choice – it’s our right choice and we are both incredibly excited that we are starting down the road on this phase of life. Now I find myself sitting in quiet moments wondering if there is already a child in Poland waiting for his or her Mama and Tata (it’s Polish for Daddy – go ahead and laugh. I do.) or if our child has even been born. Either way, I hope that as soon as they are aware of their situation that God lets them know that they are loved and they are wanted – even if we are a half a world away.

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