A New Essay About My Path to Adoption at The Manifest-Station

So it’s been a while since I last blogged. (Okay, it’s been a loooonnnggg while since I last blogged.) But I’ve been wonderfully occupied with getting our new son Yao acclimated and comfy in his new home. And, yes, I’ve managed to squeeze in some writing between 4:30am & 6:15am every day.

Happy to share that my new essay, “With Child,” was recently published at Jennifer Pastiloff’s amazing site, The Manifest-Station. This story of my adoption path to the Yaoster is one of the most from-my-heart things I’ve ever written. Would love for you to head on over there and give it a read.

Here’s the beginning:

“During the adoption process for our second child, I packed on a good twenty-plus pounds. As a number, twenty isn’t so much. Twenty bucks won’t get you far. Twenty minutes pass in a flash. And at twenty years old, most can’t find their way out of a paper bag. But if you go to your local farmer’s market, pick out two ten-pound pumpkins, strap them to your arse, and walk around for a day, you’ll quickly realize that twenty pounds is a heck of a lot of weight.

“Physically, there was no reason I should have gained any weight at all. It’s not like I was growing our child in my womb and had to feed it. But emotionally, for nearly two years as we went through the adoption process, I was eating for two. Emotionally, I was trying to feed this faraway baby in a Chinese orphanage who I didn’t even know, yet who I knew was not getting enough love or nutrition or food or stimulation…all those things babies need. From thousands of miles away, I was eating and eating and eating, trying desperately to give our future child everything he or she needed to thrive until we could scoop them up and bring them home…”

There’s also a moment in which I eat the dashboard of my Suburu.

xoxoxo Kristin

Sleepy Boy After Consulate Appointment_Guangzhou

A Long Road to Guangzhou…

Cutest Carrefour baby, ever!

Cutest Carrefour baby, ever!

So…of course Friday night’s flight from Tai Yuan, China, to Guangzhou, China, was delayed. We ended up taking off around 10:30 p.m….and landing around 1:00 a.m.

(curse word, curse word, curse word)

By the time we got picked up, delivered to our hotel, and checked in, it was 3:30 in the morning.


We were wiped. All of us. I.had no idea what day it was.

To top off the fun, Yao and I got up early–6.00 a.m.–to join our group for the children’s medical checkup for the U.S. Consulate end of things. A well-organized, but exhausting process. The TB test for the Yaoster was hell. This little guy let everyone know he was not happy with the blood draw.

But afterward we visited Carrefour for necessities (aka chocolate). As you can see, Yao could be the new model for the store.

Our Last Sunday Breakfast as a Family of Three!

Today, Andrew cooked up our last big Sunday breakfast without our new son. (You can see his high chair is all set up & ready next to Tully.) Next weekend we travel to China for the adoption. We’ll be home in a few weeks to cook a Sunday breakfast for four! We can’t wait! Not even sure how I’ll survive the anticipation this week…

Last Sunday Breakfast as a Family of Three

Our Family Is Growing!

So, dear readers & friends, surprise!

I’ve got some big, happy news to share! Our family is growing! In just two short weeks, my husband Andrew, daughter Tully, and I are heading to China to adopt this darling boy (see ooshy-mooshy sweetness below). We’ve been in process for an excruciatingly long while so it feels really wonderful to share this news out loud. La la la la! Tully is beyond excited to become a big sister, and we can’t wait to hold this little guy in our arms and hearts.

Nov 12 14 (3)
Did I say “two short weeks”?! Ahhhh, so much to do! Huzzah!

We’ll be in Shanghai, our old stomping ground, from July 6-11, before continuing north on our adoption journey. Looking forward to seeing old friends, eating great food, and showing Tully all the places we used to frequent when we lived in China.

Stay tuned!

Happy Mother’s Day

I’m a lucky mom. I’ve got an amazing daughter who changes my life in wonderful ways every day. I became her mom via adoption nearly four years when she was just a baby, and though I don’t know Tully’s birth mother, each year I proudly share this day with her. After all, she created and gave birth to this amazing kiddo.

On this day—and many other days—I talk to Tully’s birth mother in my head and heart. I tell her what an incredible, loving, giving, smart, creative, heart-centered, silly-as-heck kiddo Tully is. I tell her how much love Tully gives and receives in her life with us. I acknowledge the sacred connection between us.

So today, I wish all moms a happy Mother’s Day.

If you’d like to read more about my journey as Tully’s mom, here we are in 2008 on our very first day together, and here we in 2009 on my first Mother’s Day.


Expat Sat: Something Gained…Mamahood

Welcome to Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writing. And where every Saturday, I offer tips for writing and publishing to expat writers around the globe.

Last week I wrote about something lost (my ability to park a car) that contributed to something gained (the fact that I no longer care so much about fitting into a clearly demarcated parking spot—literally and metaphorically).

This week, as we move into Mother’s Day, the opposite: something gained…with a shadow of loss.


While living in Shanghai, my husband and I adopted our daughter from Vietnam. Like many couples that grapple with infertility, our journey to parenthood was long, tricky, and *&#(% frustrating. But on September 26, 2008, when the nanny at my daughter’s orphanage put her into my arms for the first time, I knew I would have moved mountains, parted seas, climbed beanstalks, chased down giants, wrestled tigers, and waited forever for her. (If you’re interested in reading about our first days as a family, click here.)

So each year since, on Mother’s Day, I close my eyes a gazillion times and quietly chant “Thank you, thank you, thank you” to whatever powers that be. But as I do, I also thank Tully’s birth mother back in Vietnam because I know I am not alone in this journey of growing this amazing child.

Each year as Tully gains a little more conscious understanding about what adoption means, I know that we scooch a little closer to her conscious understanding of the fact that in addition to me…Mumma…she had a birth mother…a woman who carried her in her womb before having to make the excruciating decision to give her up for adoption. And I know that no matter how much we prepare, that’s going to hurt and will be a thing for which Tully will have to find a peaceful place in her gorgeous heart and head.

This hit home yesterday when Tully brought me a Mother’s Day gift she made at preschool. Her teachers had printed a mommy poem on a piece of paper and tied the paper to a jar of homemade body scrub the kids had made.

A line in the poem reads: “And you gave life to me.”

Which just isn’t so. That honor belongs to her birth mother.

And I thought, wow, in a couple of years when Tully “gets” this poem, that line is going to have all kinds of connotations and will point to the fact that in this particular way, Tully is different from most of the kids in her class.


But when we get there, we’ll manage it with love and honesty. And probably tears and lots of talking.

Right now, my job is to ground Tully in her truth and our truth as a family. In our love.

Each night before bed, Tully now asks me to tell her “her story.” For kids born to biological parents, this is their birth story. For Tully, it’s her coming home story. Her adoption story.

“Two times,” she says every night before I begin.

“Two times,” I agree.

And then I tell it…just as she asks…two times…adding bits and pieces as I feel she’s ready.

It’s a beautiful story. A happy story. A sad story. A funny story. An adventurous story. A true story.

So happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there in the world. Motherhood is a shared experience…in more ways than one.



Q4U: Expats / Repats / Globetrotters: As I’ve written these two posts about things gained and lost, I’ve realized that very little in life has one without the other. What have you gained (with a touch of loss) during your life as an expat?