Saturday, July 30, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Our adoption paperwork process was quite an experience. I'll never forget the day we received our dossier packet by email shortly after our commitment was made. Contained in this collection of documents was our child specific petitions. These petitions contained our prospective sons' real life names and birthdays!
Looking back, I can say that our paperwork went quickly and smoothly. At the time, though, it seemed to be one time-wasting drama after another. Getting the required information about our home from the county appraiser was like pulling teeth. I was convinced at one point that our adoption was over because of the resistance I encountered there.
Among my other possibly adoption-ending dramas was the day I was compelled to track our doctor down AT HOME to get a paper signed before an important deadline. As I stood on his doorstep, dying of embarrassment on the inside, I kept reminding myself that my boys lives were at stake. The very same day I caught my social worker at the salon and then later at hardware store after my notary stamped over her signature!
One other item of interest in the dossier packet was a blank power of attorney. Looking back, a bit wiser, something in my gut says it is not a good idea to sign and notarize and apostille a blank power of attorney and send it over to an Eastern European country.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
It might be helpful to back up a bit. I've been riding the rainbow for nearly four years now. Would it be helpful to know how I got here?
I became an Internet research bloodhound after Ralph was born, sniffing out anything related to Down Syndrome and pulmonary hypertension. I also turned into an accidental blogger, to more efficiently communicate with friends and family about Ralph's serious medical condition.
When I stumbled across an organization called Reece's Rainbow, I found to my horror that children with Down Syndrome were treated like garbage in many other countries, hidden away in remote institutions, deprived of loving human contact and necessary medical attention.
That thought alone drove me to advocate for children listed on the RR site. I used my blog and my credibility to raise funds for specific children and families. I even got my quilting group to donate a beautiful hand-made quilt to give away. I stayed up late at night to pray for the children one by one and read adoption blogs.
I was sure we would adopt a child with Down Syndrome when Ralph's health stabilized. And as soon as I convinced my husband that it was a great idea! We couldn't get enough of Ralphie! The convincing wasn't that difficult to do.
Two years passed. Ralph grew. He became healthier and more awesome, if that was even possible. Then darling little Ruby came along and delayed my adoption plans by another year. Finally, in January of 2010 at dinner with my husband, on my 40th birthday, the decision was made.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
When I travelled to Ukraine last summer to adopt Theo and Zhen, I had a really unforgettable experience. The trip was hard, physically and emotionally, but I had friends to smooth the way and give pointers. Thank you Toby and Suzanne, and Ken and Nance. I was also warned about problems with our facilitation team, but I put this information out of my mind. After all, based on the dozens upon dozens of adoption blogs I had read over the years, I could completely trust Reece's Rainbow and their Ukrainian facilitation team. Besides, it was too late to find another facilitator.
Boy did I feel like an idiot when nobody was waiting to meet us at the airport in Kyiv! My husband trusted me to make these arrangements. In my sleep deprived and weary state, having let him down, I had my first nervous breakdown of the trip. Thanks to a friendly taxi driver who showed us where to change money and find internet, we were able to contact friends in the US and get help.
In our region, Crimea, we had the good fortune of renting an apartment by the month. This way we paid a little over $17 per night. Not bad, huh? I'm so glad we made our own lodging arrangements. We enjoyed Christian fellowship as well, making friends with local missionaries and Ukrainian Christians. We opted for public transportation and walking in lieu of a daily driver. This alone easily saved us many hundreds of dollars.
Never once, did I feel unsafe or threatened. Perhaps it was all the prayers being said on my behalf. Even walking through wooded areas where homeless men were camped, or footpaths between ugly, hulking concrete apartment blocks, or stepping over passed out drunk people, I felt confident and safe.
Out of deep appreciation for the people who helped us along in Ukraine and a desire to share my unforgettable in-country experience, I set up a private blog for the families who would be heading to Simferopol. Here I shared tips on riding the bus, where to eat, what apartments were available, site seeing and so on. Why shouldn't everyone have a great time in Crimea while adopting? It is a tourist destination, after all.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Here are Zhen and Theo together almost a year ago:
Theo was TINY! Even Zhen was much smaller. The changes in these two are so dramatic, but I don't see it happening. I have to look back to fully appreciate the way these two have grown and changed. It makes all the tough times worth the while.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Ralph is four years old now. He's really blossoming!
Each week his speech therapist tells me what a hard worker he is. He sits still and pays attention like a big boy. He has great receptive language, that is he understands nearly everything I say to him.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
1. (of a substance or object) Able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.2. (of a person or animal) Able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions
Saturday, July 16, 2011
One problem, I didn't have a suit and we were running late. Rose said, "Mommy, how about Target?" Sweet, bright girl! We stopped there on the way to the party and I found a suit on sale for $10!
Thursday, July 14, 2011
I debated whether to publish this or not. The last thing I want is for people to think I hate my life! But, I'm committed to keeping it real. You can find beauty and love in a harsh environment. See?
I noticed that Ruby's right ear was red and swollen yesterday. I suspected an outer ear infection. This morning she woke me up crying and I saw that the redness had spilled out onto her face. Time to see the doctor.
But, Thomas had to be at church at 9am for his Thursday summer youth activity. And Theo had therapy at 10:30. And Zhen had therapy at 11:30. I didn't want to wait until after lunch for Ruby to get seen.
I had to make a decision, and quick.
I grabbed the little kids out of bed and...oh goodness. Poop. I quickly threw Zhen into the tub. Did you know that anti-bac hand soap is pretty decent shampoo? There was not time to get little kids dressed so I stuffed their clothes and shoes in a bag and we loaded up the van.
Thomas was on time, but I was stressing out about taking 7 children to the minor emergency office. I was fortunate to run into a friend who took four of them into her home and fed them some breakfast while I took Ruby, Zhen and Theo to the doc. Half a circus instead of the whole crazy one!
I dressed Zhen and Theo in the waiting room and put their shoes on while we waited in the exam room. Ruby received quick and efficient service today and we were out of there with a prescription in no time. On the way out to the van I happened to look down and noticed something on my shirt. Guess what?
I thought I was so careful picking Zhen up out of bed! The half dried out baby wipes in the van just couldn't cut the poop. Oh well, nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other. I had just enough time to pick up the other kids and head across town to therapy.
I treated the kids to McD's while Theo has his PT, and then let them play in the playroom while Zhen had his speech therapy. Poor Ruby. I had to keep her strapped into the stroller while the other kids played. I wouldn't risk her exposing any other potentially fragile kids to her brand of ear and skin germs.
I couldn't stomach dragging all the kids into the grocery store pharmacy that we use so I dropped all the kids off at home. (And I changed my shirt!) Big brother Chipper was home from weight training so he had the privilege of feeding them lunch while I took a time out at the grocery store to get Ruby's medicine! ha!
Did I mention that all morning long certain children kept reminding me that I promised to take them to the pool today? Oh yeah. I took them. For 30 minutes. It was the very best I could do with dad out of town and my only teenager in football camp every evening. There was more drama involving paperwork, signatures, and a whacked out printer/scanner that I'd like to punish severely.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Every afternoon until bedtime Zhen's good eye gets patched. We cover up his good eye to force his brain to use and improve vision in his bad eye. It's a mind trick.
Can you imagine any self respecting 4 year old allowing this monkey business? Nope? Neither can I.
But it is what it is. And I'm his mother. And I will not put his eye doc's children through college for nothing. He will wear the eye patch. And he will wear his glasses. Or else.
Each day I put on the patch. I give him an opportunity to wear it like a big boy. I put his glasses on over the patch. I give him an opportunity to wear them like a big boy.
No? No big boy today?
Ok, then we get the no-nos out. Having his arms straight makes it much harder to get the patch and the glasses off. Well, at least it slows him down a bit.
The stinker has learned to use his feet to take off his glasses and eye patch. He can also wiggle out of the no-nos like Houdini. This is when I pull out my big guns...the footie pajamas!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
In the eyes of a child there is joy, there is laughter
There is hope, there is trust, a chance to shape the future
For the lessons of life there is no better teacher
Than the look in the eyes of a child
On occasion you will hear me complaining about Zhen's eyes. Seriously, why couldn't the orphanage arrange to have his cataract removed when he was a baby? Then his vision could have developed normally as he grew. The sad truth is that in Eastern Europe, babies with disabilities just don't get the medical care that they need.
After the laser surgery was performed, the doctor came out to talk to the family and said... "Oops, we made a mistake and your son is now blind in that eye". (Can you even imagine?! The word "malpractice" comes to my mind.) The doctors did not operate on the other eye at the time, (thank God!) but said that it would need surgery in the future.
Over the course of the next two years, Dema and Marina, Andrei's father and mother, home schooled Andrei because the doctor said that a blow to the head or a fall could make him permanently blind. Now, I ask you, is that any way for a young boy to live, in fear of getting bonked on the head or falling down? No rough housing with his little brother? No running?
Now Andrei is now down to 50% vision in his one good eye.
What a nice looking family! Andrei's father leads the singing at church and teaches young adults. His mother is the church pianist. This photo is a couple of years old.
Last Friday, Andrei was having some problems with his eye and so the doctor wanted to take his eye out (!!!) and coat with silicone to help preserve the eye. Well, instead of that (sheesh!) we would like to get Andrei to the United States as quick as possible so that the doctors here can work on him. Marina had an appointment today at the US embassy in Kiev and thankfully, she was able to get the visas they need to leave Ukraine right away.
In a couple of weeks Andrei and his mother will travel to Chicago. A doctor there believes that he can help save his one good eye. A nearby church has agreed to host mother and son for one month while Andrei receives treatment. The good doctor cannot treat Andrei for free, but he will reduce his fee. What a great opportunity!
Or you may send your gifts to:
His Kids Too!
219 – B Delta Ct.
Tallahassee, FL 32303
*note Project TLC on check memo
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Ralph had fun pushing his brothers and sisters around.
He had to really put his back into it!
Theo loved being outside in the fresh air. He's always happier when we are outside. The weather will be heating up again tomorrow. I'm so glad we got out of the house tonight.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
We had a lot of fun on the 4th of July. Thomas and Chipper have been working a big tomato patch in exchange for fireworks. Together they earned about $200 worth of fireworks, so we had to get started while it was still light!