I’ve taken a bit of heat since starting Dad Just Happened related to the nicknames we use to describe our kids. “It sounds like you’re making fun of your kids” is what we hear. This made me realize not everyone knows us as well as others and I thought a post to clarify some of this might help (and entertain).
The Hong Kong Boys, are Ivan, Blair and Yul. Blair and Ivan were born in Hong Kong (yes, they were Made in Hong Kong!); Yul is an honorary member since he exited China via Hong Kong. These boys have most held true to their Chinese heritage (particularly when it comes to food) and we’ve incorporated aspects of their culture into our family. Additionally, it is amazing to take these three strangers and turn them into brothers. Their bond is inseparable and touching. The Hong Kong Boys is a term of endearment, a recognition of these three amazing guys.
The Ukrainian Twins of Terror, while subtle, is also term of endearment. Amy and I possessed no foreknowledge of what we were getting ourselves into with the adoption of Luke & Irina. Yes, some clues existed on our first visits to meet the UTTs – Luke taking off his baseball hat, urinating into it, then returning it to his head. Irina scooping up and eating handfuls of dirt. They really earned the nickname, though, flying home from Ukraine. The 17 hours of hell (note: I was at home with the other guys while Amy and my mom endured this peril) included two Russian-speaking children who did not sleep a second of the 17 hours of travel. Irina opted to bomb dinner rolls and other food items at fellow passengers instead of eating. Restless and rammy Luke continually kicked the seats in front of him and barked like a seal for the entire flight over the Atlantic. Things got much worse on their arrival home including attempts to escape the house, sleeping 1-2 hours at a time followed by a minimal 8 hour period of wakefulness. Not to mention, both of them applying the non-stop torture of banshee screaming through all hours of the day and night.. The relief we experienced from professional diagnoses of autism and ADHD, in addition to Down Syndrome, enabled us to seek appropriate resources to help. The Ukrainian Twins of Terror earned their nickname; Amy and I earned the right to give it!
The Eastern European Front
The UTTs plus Sammy and Maddie, represent Ukraine and Bulgaria; they make up “The Front”. Divided they are easily conquered, but as a bloc they are a formidable force! It takes the skills of a secretary of state, cold war spy and Jeff Probst of Survivor to parent these guys. The Front unites Amy and I in a way that draws us closer together as wife and husband. The Front strengthens the vows we took at marriage and makes us “The Unified Front”! Additionally, we faced many barriers, prejudices and evils through their adoptions. This animosity fueled purpose to our mission – every child deserves a family! The Front’s existence is a testament to this!
The Downy Gang
Six of our 12 children have Down Syndrome. We often take heat for using this moniker, primarily from parents of other children with Downs. Instead, we apply this nickname as a badge of honor. Their kindness, positive attitude and fulfillment from life’s smallest pleasures (butterflies, Barney, ice cream, hugs, etc.) make our guys an indescribable joy! We’ve experienced many dark times in our history as a family but there is a place we can always turn to for unconditional love — The Downy Gang. The number of pregnancies terminated due to the diagnosis of Trisomy 21 breaks our hearts. I believe our world is so much better, kinder and loving when it is blessed with those with an extra 21st chromosome; celebration, instead, is what they deserve!
Laughing is always better than tears. A sense of humor is essential to taking on hard things. We are certainly serious in the situations that call for it. We are also able to not take ourselves too seriously. I hope this gives a little insight to the critics!