I finally have time to sit down and write this stuff down.
|Ralph ate two plates of eggs...feeling better for real!!|
I'm the mother of Ralph, born April 29, 2007 with meconium aspriation syndrome and an atrial septal defect. He developed pulmonary hypertension as a result. He also has Down Syndrome. Ralph has 7 brothers and 2 sisters. These are our stories...
|Ralph ate two plates of eggs...feeling better for real!!|
I'm home. Well I was for a few hours anyway. I surprised the kids this morning. It was fun to see their faces!
Actually, right this moment I am on the way to the hospital with Theo. Its going to be an interesting Christmas.
As you can probably tell, I'm not in the mood to blog. I've got very little emotional energy to spend, and it's all for Maxim right now.
A spelling error was discovered in Maxim's file on the day of my initial appointment in Kyiv. A spelling error from 2004 when Maxim's mother's rights were terminated. Why this wasn't discovered at some point in the past eight years baffles me. The adoption department scrutinizes adoptive parents dossier paperwork with a fine tooth comb...letter by letter. Internal documents regularly get the same treatment. This one slipped through a tight crack.
My facilitator went to work immediately last week to try to get this court decree fixed. By early Wednesday, it was apparent that it would never be completed unless we went personally to the courthouse to speak to the judge. You see, Maxim was born in an entirely different region, one that is not an easy trip from here.
We set out in a sleet storm on Wednesday morning. The roads were terribly icy and in terrible condition. It is no surprise that there is a tire shop on every corner here. Seven hours later we arrived in Max's birth city. We would go to work in the morning.
It's long story, every story is long here, but we did get the document fixed, finally, at 6:30pm, after a whole day of office hopping, driving, waiting, and with the assistance of Ben Franklin. The document is considered official on the 5th day after it is prepared. Then it must be signed by the adoption authorities in the capital city. This normally takes 10 days. Then, and only then, will I be able to go to court to adopt Maxim.
If you can count, you will understand that I have a difficult decision to make. Will I stay here and wait for a court date? If so, I will miss Christmas with my family.
Will I go home for Christmas as originally planned? If so, my second trip here will be a very long one...and I don't even have childcare lined up for that trip yet.
I'll need to make this decision in a few days.
Maxim is doing great, if you don't count his poor bloated belly. And his extreme oral defensiveness. And gosh he is skinny. He seems to like me. He LOVES getting kisses and snuggles. He's a real treasure and I can't wait to get him home.
Oh yes, indeed!!
I knew it was going to be a rough week, but I had no idea what was in store for us. I would love to share with you how excited I am to be leaving to meet Maxim, and about all my preparations, but I've been in survival mode for a week and I'm not prepared at all.
Last weekend was the long Thanksgiving weekend. Theo had a difficult weekend, with many troubling and heartbreaking obsessions and behaviors getting in the way of his joy. He cannot get into a developmental pediatrician until February, and we are really hurting for him.
Zhen developed a frightening cough over the weekend. By Monday afternoon I was concerned enough to make a doctor appt. I brought Theo along, just in case the doctor had something new for Theo's behavior problems.
Long story short, we had to have Zhen tested for pertussis and Theo got a new prescription to try, Focalin. I bought a new humidifier for Zhen's strangling cough, took it home, set it up, it didn't work, saw that it was broken, took it back to the store and bought one twice as expensive that works very well. So frustrating to have to make several trips.
After the kids were in bed, Theo continued to cry and rock in his bed. I got him out of bed and rocked him while he drank a bottle of milk. Then he started to thrash and bite and hit and scream. After consulting with some other knowledgeable moms, I gave him some melatonin on top of his regular night time medicine. He rocked himself (stinker) on the couch for awhile, bouncing his head forcefully off the cushions, and passed out about 11pm.
The next morning Theo woke up bright and happy. I gave him his Focalin, his breakfast and put him on the school bus. About two hours later I got a message from his teacher, Theo was out of control. The teacher and paras had tried all of their sensory tricks to calm him but nothing was working. I called the doctor to see what we could do. She said it sounded like a reaction to the Focalin and that I should give him some Benadryl to counteract it.
Poor Theo, in trying to help him with his behaviors and obsessions, I pushed him over the edge. I grabbed a bottle and a dropper and headed over to the school. Oh, and all this is going on while I'm waiting for a delivery of a new dining room table that was gifted to us! I had to leave several children home with the delivery men building the table (they were SO slow!)...so not cool.
I finally caught a break on Thursday. I had some time to work with my home schoolers so they are not behind when I leave. In the afternoon I got a phone call from the school nurse. Zhen had been exposed to the chicken pox at school. The health department was giving me 24 hours to get him vaccinated or he would be excluded from school for 21 days. Did I mention that I'm leaving on Monday?
Through the miracle of social networking, I was able to locate several people who can read the handwritten Russian cursive notes that constitute Zhen's medical history...within one hour I found that he had chicken pox in February 2008. Praise God!!
I don't have my travel cash yet. I don't have enough clothes. I'm certainly not packed. I did manage to get some donations into a duffel bag...eight pair of shoes for the men at Buri Ooglie, the men's mental asylum in Maxim's region. I will buy some more items for them when I get there, socks and undergarments and such.
Challenges keep cropping up. And I'm weary and I may be down but I'm not out. We are about $700 from having a fully funded adoption. I'm traveling in just a few days. We have so much for which to be thankful!
This could be the last time I sit down to write before I leave. I'll be posting as many updates and photos here as possible, so please don't give up on me!
If you have time today, check out our final fundraising auction that closes today. We have some very high quality art items and aprons up for bidding until tonight at http://maximimpact.blogspot.com/. You need a cute apron for holiday baking, don't you?
TGIF!! Have a great weekend!
Here is the first photo I ever saw of our Maxim. I'm not sure if it was just a photo op, or if he was really allowed to play on a toy four-wheeler. It didn't matter to me. I fell in love with that funny looking, cross eyed little kid. Something about him grabbed my heart and made me pay attention.
Did you know that today is Orphan Sunday? No? If not, you are not the only one.
Until we adopted Zhen and Theo, I had never, ever heard of Orphan Sunday. I wasn't aware of the mandate for the church to care for the fatherless. It just wasn't on my radar. I had a depraved indifference. I know I was not the only one.
I was so radically changed by our adoption trip to Ukraine. I was really hoping to inspire some families from my church to adopt as well. I'll never forget the first Sunday we took Zhen to church! He was so overstimulated and freaked out by the crowd of people in the foyer that he started to slap me and claw my face. Arrggh.
Today, Orphan Sunday, I am thankful that my Vera is an orphan no more. After church today she bit me, hit me, pulled my hair, screamed and fought as I wrestled her to the van. I chuckled inside as I thought about saying to each person that we passed, "Don't you want to adopt a child too?" :) The scene did not exactly exude warm fuzzies about adoption. Rather, the scene shouted ORPHAN CRISIS! May I suggest, the orphan crisis is not just the millions and millions and MILLIONS of orphaned children around the world. It's not just the number. The orphan crisis lives inside each of them. They carry their trauma, neglect, abuse, etc. with them. Their trauma will not be healed overnight (or 16 months). It runs deep, friends. Whenever Vera begins to feel love from Jon or I, she does whatever she has to do to fight it. She doesn't understand unconditional love. She doesn't know how to respond to it. She has asked us why we don't leave her when she screams and hurts us. This is the orphan crisis. It's in my home and the homes of some of my dearest, most courageous friends. Would any of you tell my precious Vera that she doesn't deserve a family because of her negative behaviors? I didn't think so. So, what is stopping you?
PLEASE consider what you can do for an orphan. Foster. Adopt. Pray. Donate. Advocate. Spread awareness and be willing to step out of your comfort zone. We solve the orphan problem one child at a time.
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
What can YOU do? What WILL you do?
Shoot where did the month of October go?!
Honestly the month was a blur. My high school reunion was the last weekend in September, and that seems like yesterday!
Today was crazy, but we were able to put some candy collecting costumes in time for the harvest. Zhen was such a good boy! He listened to me and only picked one piece of candy at the self-service trunk-or-treat stations. We still had to work on putting the candy in the bag for later, but we celebrate EVERY victory.
Down Syndrome awareness month is coming to a close. I'm not sure I did much to further awareness. Are you more aware? ha!
It seems that our transportation problems will be solved tomorrow. I just need to get my teenager driving and life will be rainbows and unicorns! Well, the evenings when my husband is traveling will be more enjoyable anyway.
Daddy was gone last night. So we had cereal for dinner and I didn't even feel a little bit guilty.
Except for Ralph. No cereal for Ralph. He goes through phases with food. It used to be bologna...on sandwiches or alone. Yick! Then it was buttered bread, one piece after another. He is presently going through a green bean phase. He got a can of green beans out of the kitchen and brought it to me in the living room. He shoved it in my face until I agreed to open it for him. At least he knows what he wants, right?
Theo is getting a feeding therapy evaluation. I recently posted a video of him eating lunch, in the lunchroom at school...with all the other kids...and not grabbing their trays and throwing food!! It was pure victory. But, someone commented that he had not chewed any of the food he was eating.
That person was right. He smushes. He doesn't chew. We are going to get that looked at.
Zhen pops the lenses out of his glasses. Turkey! I pop them back in and try to keep a better eye on him. Recently he "lost" the bifocal lens for his right eye. He might have thrown it in the garbage for all I know, but it's GONE.
I took the frames to get new lenses today and guess what? Yep. The prescription is expired. Sheesh. We are going to try a new doctor but can't get in until next Monday. I hope the new doc is more tolerable than the old one.
Hey, it's a full moon. Bright, huh? Anyone else having trouble sleeping?
The good news is that my dossier has been successfully submitted to the adoption authorities! Better late than never, right?
The general population of America is mostly ignorant and oblivious to the reality of anything beyond what they have seen/experienced in their lives. While I acknowledge that having multiple adopted children is unusual, I do not worry about, nor am I offended by the general idiocy we face as a family. In my opinion, adopting multiple special needs kids will teach several lessons:
1. Who your real friends (and family) are. Many friends and family can't handle "it". In my opinion that's their problem and if my life is too much for them to handle they can pound sand. I've got too much going on to baby them. Fish or cut bait, all I've got to say about that. Go for quality friends, not quantity.
2. There is more to life than the McLifestyle. We have a lot of friends with two kids, three cars, big TV and a big fancy house in a neighborhood of houses that look exactly the same. Most of them are up to their eyeballs in debt. They can keep that life because self-glorification just isn't for me... (yes there is some generalization here, but not much). The reality is that special kids don't belong in the McLifestyle - and that's NOT a bad thing.
3. Do what works for you. (And no one can tell you what that is.) I don't know why people love to give unsolicited advice. But man it's annoying when a one-child mother of a one-year old tries to act like she's "been there, done that." when it comes to our lives and our family. (The caveat to this is older grandmotherly women who raised large families - they're like the Oracle in the Matrix.) The only person who can make good judgements for what your children need is the parents - everyone else should just shut up and stand aside.
4. "Let me know what I can do to help" = "I don't really care enough to really help, so I'm just throwing out this bone knowing that for you to call me would be to admit that I'm right about adopting all those kids being a mistake." Boy this is common isn't it folks? If a friend shows up at your door with brownies, they're golden. If they show up with a mop bucket and cleaning supplies, they're your best friend (or a maid.)
5. Accept the fact that some folks just can't fathom what you do. They'll try to do the math, they'll try to figure out how you fit in the house, how you make the meals, how you handle the medical needs, etc. The reality is - we just do it... we don't think about the math, we don't wallow over ourselves when we deal with medical issues. One foot in front of the other every day... it just happens.
Final caveat - I've found that it is important to surround yourself with people who understand and accept you, your family, and the special needs of your children. For us this has created an environment of stability and safety that helps our children grow and develop. We have a strong support system through church and (parts of) our family.
I was hoping to have some good adoption news to share today. But I don't have any news at all. Figures, right? I figured I might not hear anything, so I tried to stay busy.
It's fine for me to be busy when Ralph is at school, so I try to get as much done in the mornings as possible. He's really a good boy, don't get me wrong. He plays with Ruby and watches his favorite shows on Netflix in the afternoon.
Ralph knows. He knows when I'm preoccupied and that's when he makes his move. That's when he disappears. Poof! Gone!
One day we looked for him for 20 full minutes. Upstairs. Downstairs. Garage. Front yard. Down the street. Finally we found him in Boo's closet, under some clothes, drinking a juice box!
Today he got into my bedroom and found my toy stash...toys that I have picked up on clearance and have stashed away for Christmas and birthdays. He was so excited!! What could I do?
I broke out the philips head screwdriver and the AA batteries! It was almost as fun as Christmas morning, except that no one took these toys away in order to shove yet another present in their faces. It was precious.
We have had a wonderful week of firsts around here!
I got this note from Theo's teacher yesterday, "Theo ate lunch in the lunchroom with the gen ed.kids today. He did such a great job. We will start having him eat in there unless we are really working on a skill."
I just about fell off the face of the earth there for a moment.
The past month has been unbelievably stressful and blurry. Homestudy, immigration approval, four trips to Topeka, one trip to Kansas City, calling my social worker over and over for new copies, hunting down notaries on a Sunday, 25th high school reunion, no sleep, driving, puke, rental cars, notaries, tears, grandma's memorial service, tears, driving, poop, laundry, emails, more documents, you get the picture.
In the middle of the storm I experienced some real love and encouragement. We received some of the most heartfelt donations ever...one out of the blue from a high school acquaintance, one out of the blue from a long lost high school BFF, one out of the blue from a current dear friend.
Another dear friend was available by phone to help me figure out paperwork, shipping, and talk me off ledges in general.
I got to hang out with my cousin and his sweet little son. I got to cry with and love on this devoted dad and enjoy watching him care so tenderly for his little boy.
I got to watch my childhood girlfriend walk her handsome son out onto a football field and cried with her as he was named homecoming king! I got to hug her tightly later and do some catching up.
I learned a few things, too. Things that I though I knew. I'm not good in noisy crowds, just not my element despite the crew that lives in this house! I learned that I'm not in control. Really. How many times to I have to learn that one?
I'm looking for some more positive adoption news this week. But if I don't get good news I won't be surprised. I won't be crushed either. God's in control, not me. I'm just along for the ride. Storm or no storm.
Yep, I missed a day.
In the past 11 days I have been to Kansas City once, Topeka twice and Hays twice. I've hunted down grocery store notaries and begged for new paperwork from social workers on Sundays. I've run back and forth from state office building to state office building. I've reunited with long lost friends. Stayed out until 4am. Reunited with relatives from Vermont to Arizona. Had my heart broken. Laughed. Cried. Screamed. Cleaned up puke, poop, and more (trust me, a lot more) poop. Steam cleaned a rental car in the dead of night (puke, remember?). Got a parking warning when my meter ran out. Thank goodness it wasn't a ticket!
All I want is to stay home, bake banana bread and assorted pumpkin goodies, hang out with my kids and get the fall and winter clothes organized. I want to spend more time with my home schoolers, working on school. I want to spend time with my swimmer, working on his strokes and turns. I want to spend more time with Ralphie, working on his sight words. I want to spend more time with my teen, working on his driving skills. I'm really in the mood to paint trim, too.
I just need life to slow down a bit, but I've nearly given up. Each day brings it's own fresh drama and emergencies and expenses. Each day I make it through. What other choice is there, right?
I *think* I'm getting close to a more relaxed pace. It's time to start cooking ahead and putting meals in the freezer. It's time to start thinking of warm things to pack for Ukraine. It's time to rearrange sleeping quarters, and make a nice spot for Maxim. There is much to do here at home.
I'll be saying "no" more from here on out. I'm the type that wants to do everything! I hate to miss out on anything...until I start missing out on the really important and eternal things, right? So easy to lose perspective.
It's been a wild week and a half, but I do have fresh perspective. And I'm very thankful for it.