When the Sun peaks

** Pictures are shared throughout…Enjoy!**
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On my way to school

Okay….today is Tuesday, July 15. It has officially been 2 weeks since I stepped foot in China! My first few days here were rough (no doubt) but my communication issues made it overwhelming. After a rough day, you at least want the choice to either deal with it alone or call someone. Those days without my family lifeline seemed unbearable but I made it. I changed the name of my blog because of the emotional and mental bridges I crossed and rebuilt after being a mom to my Stinky (who will be adopted in a few months!!). Those first days here required me to grip on to my courage and remain on my path.

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So…. I. WAS. PISSED. after I locked myself out my cellphone. It was similar to the moment after you say, “It can’t get any worse than this.” I was in a sleepy state trying to adjust my phone settings and hit an incorrect number thus changing my password and forever locking myself out. Your girl had APPs on APPs for this trip because I knew about the censoring and heeded to the advice of others. What do you do when your Google powered phone is reset and you don’t have the means to connect to Google OR wifi OR wifi to go to Google because you’re VPN app is gone. Yeah….it was a hot mess. Tears were shed…a very lonely moment.

*Moving On*

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I eventually had internet although it was about a week or so before my VPN would connect and I could log on to my desired sites. I have a fairly steady connection now and speak to my family daily. They are using Skype and WeChat so I am a happy woman. I speak to my mother daily <3

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Great food!

On yesterday, I braved the streets of China and headed to WalMart. I was proud that I survived crossing the streets. In comparison to American driving laws, I can say that people stop at red lights/go at green lights but everything in between is frighteningly different. I couldn’t put my seatbelt on fast enough! In America, we can do our cute walk across the street/you have to yield walk…..UMMMM not up in my city!! It is knees to chest! You can’t even run because the traffic. I have been in the middle of the walking lane, timing my run a few times now. If it’s not a car, it’s a moped/tiny China work truck about to run you over.

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On my way to WalMart

Speaking of being ran over, I have witnessed a few drivers and passengers with their eyes set on me and not the road. I’m basically the Beyoncé of China….*flips hair*. These are some of the reactions to my brown foreign skin: double takes…parents stopping and pointing me out to their children/telling their children to speak to me/asking to take my picture/boldly taking my picture/gasping/running and getting others to see me and etc. I literally had a woman freak out on me! The nurse in me is trying to assess her with my eyes until I realize she’s freaking out over ME??! She was ecstatic to speak with me. I took a trip with my school to the Tianmu Lake and was in love with the beauty of it all. It turns out that the other visitors felt they were getting a VIP package with seeing a brown skinned person there. A group of men came near my school group and one stopped very close next to me. I realized he was posing for a picture so I moved out the way (to be kind). I heard the universal “Shoot!” sound and put 2 and 2 together. Dude was just going to stand next to me and pose for a picture with the foreigner LMBO. Oh! I can say it’s my brown skin because there was also a white male teacher with us and he seemed to blend in I suppose. There are 4 other foreign teachers here for a total of 6 men and 1 woman (me). I have yet to meet the other 4.

Okay…I will write more soon. Enjoy the pictures!!

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Disappearing Acts- Night 2 in China

** This is the final post done by hand prior to having internet access. I was able to make a connection a few days later. However, there are many sites that are censored and my internet continues to be spotty at times. I am happy to report that I am in MUCH better spirits than the one below. <3 ***

It's July 4, 4:44 am. As dramatic as it sounds, I feel like I've "dropped off the face of the earth". The reality of being unreachable itself is foreign to me. There is WiFi at the apartment but none of my electronic devices have been able to connect to it. I accidentally locked myself out my phone which resulted in it having to be reset and items lost. I lost all my new music and the apps that were to be pre-installed before arriving to China. Google is sensored here which is death to my now reset Android phone. Everything on my phone is connected to my Gmail. 
I was able to Skype my sister for 5 minutes in the Samsung store via my tablet. I was a stream of tears. It had been over 16 hours since contact with one of my parents and over 24 hours for my siblings.

The apartment is nice but the prior teacher left meat in the fridge.  As a result, I was welcomed to gnats. The owner of the school cleaned the fridge for me which softened the situation somewhat. (I didn't know who he was until hours later.)

I have my first day at school today. The new schedule is from 8-5. The other two teachers (male) have invited me out and initially I was on board. However,  after realizing my Internet situation, I can't fathom doing anything outside of trying to fix it. I want to be able to reach my family and vice versa. If I was with a group, I could deal with some "grey areas". As a (solo female) first time traveler…I'm not comfortable with adding "inaccessible" to the list. I've asked myself is this a deal breaker if the situation can't be rectified…and I'm not sure. I can't imagine being in my family's position, I would not be able to sleep from worrying about my sister.
Smh.
This is yet another post written by hand to be posted once I am online.

Night One in China

*** This post was written in my journal on 7/3/14 prior to having internet access.***

It’s currently around 0430 in Liyang, China. I am wide awake but not from excitement. In my mind, my journey to China would be communicated to my family. However, I was unable to access Wi-Fi throughout my 24+ hour trip (and counting). I am fine and safe but it has killed me not being able to share this with the family I left in tears.

The company set me up in a hotel for the first night (no Wi-Fi). I have applications on my phone that would allow me to contact them in at least 4 different ways….WITH WI-FI. So, while I should be sleeping, my heart and mind are worrying about my family.

Okay…rewind.

I was expecting maybe 2 family members to see me off. It actually became 7 people + 2 little ones. My brothers had to be at school so we said our “see you laters” and I saw them out. They returned about 20-30 minutes later and for the first time, I saw my little brother cry. My heart broke into a 1000 pieces hearing him sob. There were multiple moments of mini breakdowns. My eyes seemed to shed steady tears. At the airport, they watched me at the window, we waved our “see you laters” and I walked towards my adventure.

The flight to San Francisco was uneventful and short. The second flight was to Beijing and roughly 12 hours. I did well for the first 10 hours and then became lightheaded, sweaty and nauseous. I was positive that I was about to pass out! Thank the Lord, I pressed through with more Dramamine, wet cloths and lots of fanning. My final flight from Beijing to Shanghai had EVERY potential to go astray. I was L.O.S.T. The first person I asked for assistance spoke English and guided me through the first 2 parts of making my connecting flight.

I had to visit an area to check my passport (?), immigration, security…and then find my gate. I arrived to my gate and quickly assessed that it was ground level. I’m looking like…”where is the plane???!!” It turns out that everyone’s ticket is scanned and then “directed” to a shuttle. I’ve never been in an area so packed in my life! All the while, I’m getting stared at my wondering children LOL.

The shuttle drives us to the flight grounds and I’m not talking about around the corner either. There is no last minute hopping on the flight. The flight was uneventful. There was an older man (50s) sitting next to me who somewhat adopted me for the flight. He was either very nice or I looked in distress LOL. He woke me up for snacks and drinks. Literally, anything that could be easier with a second set of hands, he was on it. God’s little blessings, right :)

Upon arriving to Shanghai, with direction, I retrieved my luggage. There was no sight of anyone with my name on a sign. I eventually headed outside and there was new co-worker with my name sign. We travelled by car about 3 hours to the city. On the trip, I experienced my first Chinese toilet and there was NO toilet paper in sight. It was a very awkward moment…squatting and aiming into a toilet…especially when the urine surrounding it is unavoidable. **** pause for gagging****

We went to grab a bite and my stomach about retreated. I looked at the meat and I couldn’t justify taking that adventure at 3am. I settled for rice and a edamame/greens mixture. The looks I got throughout our time there was priceless…a mixture of confusion and interest. They were happy to pack up my leftovers…with a spoon. It was clear from JUMP that my chopstick game is on level 1.

Well, I’m in a hotel. I’ve showered and am lying in the bed watching the light grow from the curtains. I should be sleep. The plan is to complete paperwork at the police station and go to my apartment today.

Attempt to Sleep #2

I’m here!

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I made it to China! I’m experiencing some technical difficulties. I will share a more thorough post soon.

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The view from outside the class.

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….Walmart! ! I believe these were fruit?

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The owner of the school took us to dinner.  I am allergic to shellfish so “picky” doesn’t even touch my behavior.  Let’s say, I may lose a large amount of weight lol.

Hair Identity

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The picture above is of my sisters and I. (Well, two of the five). I’ve discussed the adoptions in my family and have even touched on how we’ve been received in public. (I will try to find which post and link it.)
My family loves to travel so we have been from LA to Philly to the Virgin Islands and even down to Mississippi.  We are accustomed to glances and after all these years, we hardly note them.
My sister pictured above came to us when she was 3 months old. I recall our flight to St. Thomas, she was giving this old man THE EYE.  She looked at me and said, “Puddin, he’s not coming with us!” He was trying to have small talk with her and she was not having any parts of it! She eventually became comfortable with white people once she started daycare. 

I give you this back story to set up for the real topic of my post.

My little sister loves black hair products.

I mean…..give her access to a comb and some hair moisturizer and she’s in heaven. I can understand a spritz of Hawaiian Silky occasionally but this chick attempts to style her hair with it. I’ve explained to her that our hair is different and that she doesn’t require grease/oil/moisturizers. I usually get a gentle “Puddin,  I know my hair” look from her.

So, we just…let her express herself! We mimic what we see and she’s had the heaviest dose of them all. I figure as she gets older (she’s 10 now!), she will gradually end her affair with black hair products.  Who knows…maybe she’ll be an amazing hair stylist ♡

Silent Sacrifices

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Although I have this beautiful little space of mine, at times I still struggle with truly being transparent. As intimate as this blog is for me, it is still the internet. A space far from a journal tucked in a drawer at home. These last few months have tested me.  One of my greatest strengths and weaknesses is my huge heart and overactive conscience. I will go further and say the same is true for my family to an extent. I am the woman who will stop to comfort a crying stranger. I will approach a possible domestic violence situation if need be and it’s not due to a lack of fear. My heart and conscience will not allow me to turn the other direction. I’ve lived my life in this manner and struggle with remembering that my mindset is not the norm (in deed not words).

When my parents decided to do foster care more then 10 years ago, my siblings and I were supportive and even excited. We quickly began fostering a set of twins and seemingly overnight they were up for adoption. My parents ( understood as “my mother”) desired to continue fostering. A 3 month old came through Emergency Foster Care and soon after her toddler sister. If we fast forward maybe a year or so, it’s discovered that the twins have 2 more siblings in the system. By this time, our initial immediate family had completely transformed. The addition of four young children felt like enough. My parents decided to adopt the remaining two. Our little family of 5 had grown to 13 with the adding of the adopted children and 2 cousins. As a “little family” with no extended family near…my (first) siblings and I quickly had new responsibilities.

** Note: Please squash any ideas that I don’t love all my siblings. I am sharing my experience as the biological child that is unique to me and the factors/dynamics/history that make my family. Stop reading now if this will be difficult for you to read and not take personally.**

As one of 3 biological children, we each shared intimate and unique relationships with our parents. My brother was in middle school and my sister and I were in high school when the first children were adopted. The ways of our family had been established. I’m not sure if this would have been “easier” with younger biological children. There was never an issue per se until we hit a family total of 11 and then 13. Scheduling was golden and with the assistance of the Bios (even me now in college), we were able to make it work. I remember my little brother sharing with me about his desires to play sports in high school. He wasn’t able to participate in social activities let alone a sports program because he was needed at home.

Spending time with my parents became a hassle because they were always needed by a little person. My father stayed at home with the children and gradually he seemed to change also. My mother is a teacher and comes home in the late evening. Looking into the eyes of my parents, I quickly absorbed my own personal  hurts and pains that occurred in my life. I couldn’t justify adding more to their plate. We (the Bios) don’t have an intimate relationship with any extended family. Key Word: Intimate. There was no backup…not even emotionally for us. There is no Aunt/Uncle to call that we feel comfortable with leaning on. My little sister has been blessed in her being “adopted” by her best friend’s family and her best friend’s husband’s family. I’m happy that she has an outlet because somewhere in the last 10 years, we burnt out.

I mean….we…burnt….out. My parents continue to foster 2 children at a time because my mother wants to adopt one more little girl. This brings our family total to 15/16 (including my much older sister). When we’re together (the Bios), any talk of “having children” is always met with this look of disinterest. We feel like we’ve had children already!  It’s this blurry relationship of mother-like/sister that we have yet to break through. Granted, I am 29 now and their ages (the 6 adopted) sit from 9-12.

The “scheduling” and our family workings has lasted over years. Well, my decision to move has been a hiccup in some ways. If you add on my sister’s decision to do travel nursing, and my brother’s desire to move in a year….you have sparks flying. We’ve been under the radar for so long, my parents are struggling with our decisions to leave the state/country. Example, upon learning that I had to work on the scheduled day of the family photo, my family STILL took the pictures. Mind you, our last one was in 2003. My parents discuss my move to China minimally. I potentially won’t have either parent to see me off from the airport. They are dealing with my move as if it’s not happening….*sigh*  I’m trying to be understanding but hurt and disappointment meet me there.

Which takes me back to the beginning of this post……

My heart reaches so far for a stranger and even further for family because it was how I was raised. Sometimes I feel that NOW we have to be drowning to get a response. Time must be stretched. I can’t get enough time with them before I leave and I know I will miss them. As my move to China approaches, I am holding this realization that I’ve been missing them. I miss my mom, my dad and I miss time. I miss feeling like there is a team behind me celebrating my achievements and helping me up from my falls. I miss being able to talk to them. I miss them being able to see past my “Hi Daddy” and hear the hidden hurt. I miss feeling seen……. but we (the Bios) don’t make a fuss, we just help make it work. We make silent sacrifices that are to be unspoken and sugar coated until they’re unseen.

 

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10 More Days!

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Did you read the title??? Do you see the picture above? I literally have 10 days left in America until I’m off to China! Well, this is pending me being approved for a visa. It turns out that experience as a Sunday School teacher and a reference letter from your Pastor are NOT embraced on that side of the world. There were issues and adjustments made which resulted in stress and sending my visa paperwork to the Consulate with minimal days left. I had to wait for the special package below…

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I wish that I could say I was “nervous” but the term seems a bit too cute for the current situation. I’m about 8 hopscotches from it….and a bag of chips. Assuming the visa is approved and returned in time, I will be aboard that plane on July 1st.

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The other hurdle is…….PACKING. I’ve made a total of 3 moves since I sold my home. I’ve gone through my clothes three times now and I am STILL unsure. I hear that most “larger” sizes are not available so I am stocking up on bras/panties and evaluating my clothing choices. There is no dryer so I will be using a clothing line instead. There is something about having your lady part covers out in the wind that encourages you to “kick it up a notch” LMBO. (Team No Granny Panties) I am currently at 2 pieces of large luggage, a carry on plus my purse.

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I need to install a few more applications to my electronic devices. They censor social media and apparently Google now but as they say…”there’s an app for that”. As I prepare my mind and comfort my heart, I am enjoying spending time with my family and friends. Oh yeah…and that 80s party! I will keep you guys updated :)

 

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Pre- China Shenanigans

I had the most awesome experience yesterday! ! I attended my first Comic con and about hyperventilated from pure excitement. I wonder if they have these events in China?? I plan on doing some research because it ….was….EPIC.

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He smelled so good! Hey Darth Vader! ♡♡

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I love me some X-Men!

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Because I’m Batman!!!

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I literally chased them down!

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Who doesn’t love Space Ghost? ?

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I love them!!

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My little sister said to pretend there was an explosion.

Two Year Anniversary !!

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As a single black woman in her 20s, there was little information in the “cyber world” whether it was an article or personal account of OUR stories as foster parents. I searched for a face and story similar to my own. I discovered quickly that I was in a small percentage and became committed to sharing my experience.

On May 29, 2012, I sat down at the computer and started to type my first post. My blog was titled, “A Tale of Puddin, Tigger & The Blessing” and it covered the final portion of my PS-MAPPs course, process to licensing, the arrival of my Stinky, our 18 month journey and then her transition to a permanent adoptive home. At the conclusion of our journey, I decided to continue blogging with the focus of how being a single foster mom has shaped me. The blog was retitled, “Yesterday, I was a Mom” in March 2014. The blog has transitioned into following my new journey as an English teacher in China.

I can’t believe that it has been TWO years! I have categorized each post to allow for new/old readers to filter through them. Strangely, I have not been able to read my blog from beginning to end. It’s almost as if it’s to personal?? I love that all my emotions are a fingertip away…yet it remains like a time capsule that my heart isn’t ready to open. My hope is that single women and other black women are encouraged and inspired through this blog to be a foster parent.

Being a mom to my Stinky was one of my highest achievements and is my most precious memory. As I nurtured her and watched her grow, she changed me too. She remains my Christmas morning and is in my thoughts daily. She has made me brave and I am so thrilled to share my experiences with her as I embark on this new quest.

***Cheers to my upcoming TWO year anniversary***
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