Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sweet 16

Chipper, not his real name, turns 16 years old today. Of course he's sweet, but he also got to scrape out the frosting bowl!

He asked for an ice cream cake this year. Not my best decorating effort, but still, it's butter and sugar so who cares?

Theo tore into his cake. He can't just sit and wait for a bite. He meets you halfway or more if you are too slow.

Grandma C came over and a few cousins, too.

I did learn one thing yesterday, don't try to make the whole ice cream cake in one day. It needed more freezer time. Overnight would have been ideal.

More miscellaneous photos from yesterday. Rose. She takes a nice picture, huh?

Ruby in her typical pose, fingers in mouth and belly button.

Zhen actually keeping his glasses on! I've not been forcing the issue with the glasses, but I need to. The eye that had the cataract is still not developing correctly.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Adventures in pottying

HOMY and I attended an open house with Ralphie today. It was one year anniversary of Ralphie's cardiologist's new office.

This is the man who showed up at the hospital in the middle of the night that Ralph was born. In the wee hours, he spent time with us, drew a picture of a heart, and explained all the terms as if we were actually intelligent enough to understand them. If you've been around doctors and hospitals at all, you know how rare that is.

We sat around in the waiting area playing with toys and eating cookies while waiting for our turn to take pictures with the doc. I noticed that Ralphie was sort of quiet sitting in the corner. Then I caught a whiff of something. Oh NO! I didn't bring a diaper bag!

I did a little peek down the back of the pants and was relieved to find that it wasn't Ralphie that I smelled. I took this opportunity to take Ralph to use a public restroom for the first time ever, not counting hotel rooms and church. Well, ha-ha, the ladies room was being used, so the doc's assistant showed me the men's room!

Can I just say that it felt SO wrong for me to be in the men's room with him?! It was just a one seater, so I'm not sure what my problem was. Ralph did great! He did his business without taking every single piece of clothing off like he does at home!

Sorry if you didn't want to read about Ralphie's pottying adventures. It was just a pretty big deal to me. He's come so far from a medically fragile baby to a confident and strong little boy.

And after all those warm and fuzzies I got today, guess who woke up screaming with a fever? Ralph.

He was choking and crying and holding his breath. For the first time in over a year, I got out the stethoscope to listen to his chest. I laid him down in the living room and he snuggled up with Chipper and then puked on him! After that he seemed to breath a bit easier.

Guess who's not going to school tomorrow?

PS-here is Ralphie at Big Truck Night at school. He was too busy looking at himself in the mirror to look at the camera! Little narcissist!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fun times

As I was getting dressed this morning, preparing to head out to our local Down Syndrome meeting, I couldn't figure out why my hair looked so greasy! I mean, I just washed it...on...oh golly, I forget. So now you know what sort of week I had last week.

On Tuesday, while packing for an overnight trip with Jordan, Theo, Zhen, Ralph and Ruby, I got cold feet. I suddenly felt that getting up at 3:30 am to drive to Kansas City for Down Syndrome clinic would be less awful than having a slumber party at a friends' house with five children.

So that's what I did, almost. I heard the alarm go off on Wednesday morning. And then I didn't. And then I got up and noticed the time: 4:45am. OH NO!! I threw on my clothes, made numerous frantic trips to the van to buckle children for the ride and pulled out of town at 5:10am.

It's a three hour drive unless you hit the edge of the metro area at the start of rush hour. On top of the stress of being late, the stop and go traffic was enough to give me the jitters. Pegasus, our pretty white van that flies, was in rare form and I was only 15 minutes late. The newly increased speed limit didn't hurt, either.

The folks at the DS clinic at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City are the absolute BEST! Everyone we have encountered there over the past few years has been highly professional and caring. But, four hours in a little room is hard. It's hard with one child. With five it's just nuts. I felt like a caged animal! We had some escapes, some puke, some leaky diapers, and lots of noise. Theo bit one of the therapists. He just crawled over to her and chomped down on her shoe! She let out a little yelp of surprise. Then we had a good laugh.

I was never so happy to head for the hospital cafeteria for something to eat! Ralph had a hearing aid check after lunch. That was a breeze, but, five children and an audiologist stuffed in a little office=no fun. I was so happy to be done with the appointments that I completely forgot to stop off at the lab for blood draws. I realized what I had done about an hour later, well on our way home. I never fail to screw something up!

All the aggravation and discomfort was worth it for this one thing: the clinic pediatrician commented to me that last year, when we arrived at this very clinic with an emaciated Theodore, she did not expect him to survive. She called him a miracle.

I have to agree.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The End...sort of a beginning.

My friend, Grace, asked me for recommendations for a new facilitator. She and her husband had prayerfully decided, based on numerous reports of intimidation and threats, to switch to a new adoption facilitator before completing their dossier.

I was happy to help and gave them a few names that had made a good impression on me. I was also happy to assist the family in finding low cost lodging with a friend. Since Grace was not using the facilitator that had previously threatened my friends in Simferopol, they were happy to help.

Early in July, I was informed that Grace's original facilitator, whom she was referred to by Reece's Rainbow, had threatened her current facilitator with bodily harm. Additionally, as a result, Grace was asked to please find another place to stay (her husband had gone home after their court date) by my friend who was renting her an apartment.

Grace dropped off the face of the earth at that point. She stopped blogging and sharing photos. Not a happy way to spend the last few weeks of an adoption trip. She's home with her new child now, dealing with PTSD on top of the usual health and bonding issues.

How much more could I take, watching friend after friend being intimidated and abused? Why are families still being referred to this adoption facilitator? Who would continue to do business with such a person?

My ride is over. I have lost hope in the rainbow ride and I'm sick of being sick.

But, the children.

I'm so in love with the children I left behind. Especially the ones who are not cute enough to benefit from a photo listing on an adoption website. The ones who are kept in the back room, out of sight, out of mind. The ones in remote, backwater institutions.

I'm so in love with the idea of adoption. It's not for sissies. It's not for everyone. But, it is as true a reflection of salvation and God's love for us as anything I can think.

So, two things:

1) I'm going back to help the children that no one cares about. This fall, I and two other 'Yolochka' moms are headed back to Crimea to visit institutions and find ways to improve the lives of the children who have not yet been, or may never be, adopted into a family. We also hope to visit with Ukrainian families who are raising their differently-abled children at home. We want to encourage them and love them, too.

2) Are you adopting? Thinking of adopting? I'm around. Ask me anything. I'll share with you here what I know. I'll tell you if I don't know. I love adopting families as much as I love the children who need them. :) Leave your questions in the comment section. If you prefer, you may comment anonymously or you may request that I not publish your name.

At the risk of disclosing my questionable taste in music, in the words of Semisonic's Closing Time, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."