Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Is if bribery if it works?

I once had a friend, a fellow special educator, tell me, If you bribe your kids and it works, it's not called bribery, it's called "effective parenting". But if it doesn't work? Then it's totally bribery!"


Yesterday Angela and I had a bunch of errands to run, all of which revolved around Axel. We also stopped at Target and bought a few pairs of underwear, socks and pajamas for him. He'll be handed over to us in his birthday suit, so we have to bring clothes along. 

Angela liked picking out boy pajamas and the underwear. ( I think she was fascinated with the fact she was shopping for boys underwear. ROFL)  She REALLY likes shopping in the boys clothing section in general because they have lots of stripes there, and the girls section has very few! Who knew? LOL Anyway, we ended up having a small issue with one princess teenager getting a little jealous over all this shopping for Axel that was going on. I didn't say anything to her to feed into the poor me moment she was having, but I did wander over to the Vikings jerseys and ask her, "Weren't you asking Dean about getting a football jersey this year? Since you've done such a great job helping me pick out this stuff for Axel, and reminding me that I need to get my office supplies too, you can pick out which Jersey it is you wanted to get."

Oh, that was one very exited young lady who got to pick out her Brett Farve jersey! 

I have NO idea if this was the right thing to do or not. I wanted to praise her for helping out with something that had to do with the new brother who's coming very soon, who although she can't yet see him, had taken my attention this entire morning. She never complained, but I could see that it was getting to  her. I wanted to catch her being good before she turned on me! So I did what any good mother would do and I bought her love.  Does that count as a bribe, or "effective parenting"? Or neither? So, which attitude did I encourage her to display in the future? The one that is willing to be  helpful (as long as there is something in it for her!) or the one that is crabby she we are shopping for someone else? 


Calling for your ideas

I'm starting to put together a travel bag for Axel.

This bag will serve three purposes. First it will hold some small toys or fun surprises that are bound to hold his interest for 10 seconds or more. These will be used to win his trust and make him like us those first few times we get to meet him before we rip him out of the home he's known for the last 2 1/2 years. I'm not trying to make light of the situation, I'm just trying to explain just how absurd it all seems.

The second purpose of said bag is to keep Axel busy while he is trapped alone with me in an apartment in the dead of Eastern Europe's very cold winter for a week or more. These will be bonding activities, and our future depends on them.

The final purpose of this back, even though he will now have had these same toys and trinkets for many days already, is to keep him busy, and most importantly quiet for 22+ hours of time on the airplanes, not to mention the time hanging around in airports, making mad dashes through customs, and hopefully not missing any connecting flights.

We will try to keep some toys set aside so they're new and unexplored, and send the "old boring ones" home with Dean who is only staying for the first week of the trip.

So, Axel is 10, but developmentally very much 4-ish, maybe 5. So far I have a couple of matchbox cars, some paint with water books, wiki stix, a couple coloring books with chunky crayons, a travel size magna doodle, my iTouch with a ton of kid apps, (including signing time apps!) and bubbles. What other ideas do you have? I've just been grabbing things as I see them. I'm thinking maybe a blow up beach ball might be a good idea. What other ideas do you have?

Friday, October 29, 2010

More adoption resources

Jennifer, over at A Difference to This One is a frequent commenter here (Thanks for all your support Jennifer!) This morning she posted a great link to a webinar series by Dr. Karyn Purvis, who is one of the leading experts on attachment after adoption. This particular series is about adopting children from "hard places", particularly Haiti, but the orphanages and institutions of Eastern Europe certainly qualify as "hard places".

If you're an adoptive parent who is getting ready to travel, or has recently brought home your child, you might want to check these out! I certainly am going to!

It really DOES happen

Do you remember my post a few weeks ago about what it means for a child to be "transferred"? People, it really DOES happen!


Yesterday it was found out that Vladim, who has a family coming for him, was transferred to an institution. Nobody knows where, or if his family will still be able to rescue him. Please pray for Vadim.

Lord God, someday will you explain to us why this happens to these children? Will you explain why there were people put on this earth who will watch these children suffer worse than animals in a slaughter house? In countries who sign onto the UN treaties yet the UN turns a blind eye to the atrocities that are these institutions?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Monday

Monday we should get our EXACT travel date. We've known the "first week of December" but not the specific day. We have to wait until Monday to get a specific day. Monday.....Monday....Monday......!!!!

Post Placement Support

My friend Abby, a dog trainer friend of mine, who also just happens to be a two-time adoptive mom, sent me this awesome blog post today! THANKS ABBY! Go read What Every Foster/Adoptive Family Needs Post-Placement. 

Anyway, it's about post placement support for the adoptive family. In other words, what kinds of things can you do to be supportive of an adoptive family? Bringing home a newly adopted child turns a family upside down, changes the family dynamics in a big way, and takes a LOT of adjustment for everyone in the house.

Think back to when you brought home each of your new babies, and how difficult it was to figure out how to work that baby into the workings of the house. It didn't just happen. It took a few weeks to fall into some kind of schedule, to find your "normal" again. Bringing home an adopted child is the same way, only now the parents and children (all of them, both biological and adopted) are struggling to form a bond with each other. It takes TIME, all of which must happen around the rest of life.

Anyway, I thought it was an excellent blog post, and wanted to link it here.

The hardest thing we've ever done

Bringing home Axel is going to be the most difficult thing Dean and I have ever done, either independently or together as a couple. At 10 years old, he knows some stuff. He's had some life experiences, and a lot of them were worse than we can imagine. Then we are taking him from the foster family where he has spent the past 2 1/2 years, severing those bonds (particularly with the foster sister) and moving him to the other side of the world with people he doesn't know, who speak a language he doesn't understand, who eat food like nothing he's ever had before, and who have four dogs in the house. (not the norm there).

My heart is just breaking for him today.

We don't expect that Axel is going to get off that plane, walk into our home and be a smiley, giggly boy who can hardly wait to get on with life. I'm sure we'll see some smiles, because kids are resilient that way, but I expect to see a lot of tears too as he remembers the family he lost. I have no idea if he has a good relationship with his foster parents. I know he's close with his foster sister, and that she looks out for him a lot. She is going to be hurting too. Someday, after he's home, I can tell you more of that story, but for now I'll leave it alone.

It's good that Axel can form bonds with people, it's just sad that he's being forced to break them. I feel like Dean and I have a *slight* advantage in this process, in that we have both parented children who are not biologically ours. It is different. It is not automatic. When parenting step children, you do not love them right away, and they do not love you. Sometimes it takes years before you feel honest "love" toward them. You CARE about them! And you NUTURE them! But that is very different than a mother/child love bond, or a father/child love bond. It just really depends upon the chemistry between you and the child. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not. I think that people are surprised when they bring a child into their home and that bond is not automatic, or in their eyes takes way too long to develop. Sometimes you love the child long before the child loves you in return. Sometimes it is the other way around.

Part of the reason this bond is different is because an older child comes with other people's habits. You didn't get to develop these habits, and they can be very annoying to you as a parent. It can be very difficult to not blame the child for these habits that they had established since they were small and suddenly you want them to change and do things YOUR way. Before you suddenly demand change, look to see if there is a purpose for the habit. If it's not hurting anything, don't worry about changing it. It will eventually evolve into something close to, if not the same as what you were shooting for. But if you force the matter you're just creating a power struggle over something that is not worth it.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to refer myself back to this post a time or two over the coming months, I'm sure, on those days when I become frustrated with myself, at my inability to be patient and understanding.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Dossier Dance

The Dossier Dance is what you do when your dossier...that very expensive pile of documents that we spent most of the summer putting together...arrives at it's destination. It's hard to allow someone else to touch those documents, much less hand them over to fly to the other side of the world when you've been guarding them with your life for the past couple of months!

But it's done. It's there. It arrived safe and sound and I don't have to worry about it anymore. Unless, of course, someone on that end looses a document! UGH!

Fingerprints done!



These aren't just any old prints, these are Biometric prints, (pictured above) which measure and count all the loops and whirls that you have on your fingertips. These are done electronically and scanned in the US FBI central registry. The people in the Immigration office were really nice,  got is in right away, and asked us lots of questions about our upcoming adoption while they were doing our prints. We were in an out of there in 20 minutes.

Getting our fingerprints done for USCIS (Immigration) is a major step. Really, it is the last thing that WE can do on our end that is directly related to getting Axel home.  Everything else lies in the hands of the officials in Axel's country.

It takes 24-48 hours for the Immigration department to receive our prints, which will be added to our file along with our homestudy which they already have. Then the worker who has been assigned to our case will make sure everything is in order, and as long as it is, will issue Immigration approval. A copy of that approval is then sent to the US Embassy in Axel's country, which allows them to issue him a visa to enter the US when we're ready to come home. Axel's visa, along with his other paperwork, allows him to become a US Citizen the moment his feet touch U.S soil.

We have about 1-2 more weeks of waiting before we will know our exact travel date. We should be getting good at waiting by now, don't you think.

Monday, October 25, 2010

GIDDY

It seems it doesn't take much to make my knees shake these days. Todays episode was brought to me courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security in the form of our fingerprint appointment letter.

Our appointment isn't scheduled until November 17th, but this is international adoption we're talking about, and it comes with it's own set of rules.

You see, this appointment was scheduled by the Immigration Dept.  adoptions division in Missouri, and they don't really know the calendar for the St. Paul office. So we'll take our tickets to the office ourselves and ask for a different appointment. Sometimes they will get you in later that same day, or perhaps the next, but there is no need to wait until the date set by the main office, which is weeks away.

Once the biometric fingerprints are done, they are sent back to the Immigration Dept's main office, who will have them within 24-48 hours. Then we wait for their approval. That is our golden ticket! A copy of that golden ticket is sent to the US Embassy in Axel's country, telling them we have permission to bring him back to the US, and allows them to issue his passport when we're ready to leave the country with him.

Do you see?

Do you see that $$ Thermometer over there on the right sidebar? It went up $1,000 today. There is now $1,000 in Axel's Reece's Rainbow grant. That's what has come in so far on the iPad giveaway, in just one day!!! You people are amazing! I love every one of you. I wish I could give each of you a hug.

Two weeks left to go on the give away. Two weeks to keep spreading the word to everyone I know. (poor people are tired of me spamming them! Remember the "Worst Cook contest for the Food Network???? They still haven't sent my my prize! Not that I'm bitter much.

Little Boy Blue

Like many adoptive parents, I have no idea what size clothes Little Boy Blue wears. But I have an advantage, I got to meet Axel a few months ago.

The problem is I wasn't there to be his mother, I was just there as a representative of an adoption organization to see how he was doing, get the scoop on him. Our host spoke so highly of the kids we were on our way to see, and I was excited! On the very long drive (Approximately 3 hours) to the city where he's located, Shelley and our host discussed many different children. This one who was 4, and That one who was 7, another 10, and another 6. It's a remote possibility that I dozed off a time or two along the way, and by the time we got there really had no idea which kid we were visiting.

When we arrived at the foster home and started walking up the drive, around the front of a car came this toe-headed little boy.

"Wow, he's tall for four." I said to Shelley.

"Four? He's almost TEN!" Shelley said.

"Oh, well never mind then, cuz he's SMALL for ten!" And he was. I would put him at the size of an average American 5 or 6 year old at the most. I tried to think of Angela, who has always been on the small end of the DS growth spectrum, and how small she was at 10. Axel was smaller.

We were invited into the home, where we made our way to their living area. Axel was a little shy at first. He'd never seen two people like us before, speaking a language he couldn't understand. We didn't know exactly what the other adults told him, since Shelley and I didn't speak the language.

Somehow I had managed to leave my camera back at our apartment, and was so upset with myself, but Shelley had her point and shoot. She carried it in a little pink purse, and Axel had fun with that little purse, putting pennies in and out of it.



We were told Axel doesn't talk, so we started using some signs (I'm a sign language interpreter). We taught him the sign for camera, which he had fun with, and he would initiate the sign whenever he wanted us to take a picture so he could look at himself on the back of the camera! It was clear to us, the way he sucked up whatever signs or gestures we used, that Axel was craving communication, and nobody had ever given him a way to express himself.

Axel's foster mother also told us that he loves music, and likes to dance. Suddenly someone turned on the radio, and the music overtook him. Here he is dancing. I wish I had a video. (I also wish I knew what size pants those are! That was 6 months ago and I bet they're too short now.)

Axel is also a jokester! He really had a fun time teasing us, and getting us to play certain games with him, or getting us to go back to games we thought we were done playing. 

This is Axel's sneaky look! He was going to get something off the shelf that belonged to his foster mother, and he was checking to see if the adults (as in the people who spoke the right language!)  were looking away yet. LOL

 Axel is currently non-verbal. He imitated very few vowel sounds while we were there, but he clearly understood everything that was said to him in his language, and was able to follow their directions. What we don't know is why he's not talking. Clearly he WANTS to communicate, is desperate for it, in fact. It could be that he's never been expected to talk, and that everyone has always spoken for him. Or, maybe there is a structural problem, like a submucus cleft palate, (sneaky things that they are, but shouldn't cause that much of a problem.) or a neurological issue like verbal apraxia, all of which are things common among children who have Down syndrome. I can't wait to get him in my care, spend some time with him, and get a real feel for what's going on.

Tonight I was in Target, when I found myself in the boy's clothing section. I realized we need clothes for  Little Boy Blue, who will be home so soon. It's been a long time since I pulled boy clothes off the racks. Well, ok not THAT long, since it's Angela's favorite department because there are lots of stripes to be found! But my BOYS are all grown now. As Angela orbited around the department, I stood various sizes of pants on the floor, trying to remember just how big Axel was. I think he's a 6-8, and will bring a couple pairs of both sizes along.  I looked at the shirts and was torn between small or medium.

And then there is the "busy bag" we need to bring along for him, which is a whole different post entirely!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Let me tell you a little secret...

Let me tell you a little secret about myself. Shhh...come closer. Really close so I can whisper it in your ear.

shhhhhhhhhhhh

Most people will tell you that I am usually a calm, cool, mostly collected person. It takes a lot to rattle my cage, and even when I does get rattled, I can shake it off in a few minutes. I am not a "high anxiety" person at all. My whole family is this way, and Dean is this way too. We're just laid back people in general. So what's the secret?


I AM FREAKING OUT! 

There is too much to think about! Here is a general list of what goes through my head when I try to close my eyes at night. In no particular order:

How will we get all this stuff done in so little time?
How will I get all these forms filled out and which needs to get in the mail tomorrow?
Which grants should we be applying for?
Will we qualify for any grants?
Do we have time to get the room painted?
Don't forget to pay the bills!
Oh, we have to buy clothes for Axel! He comes to us naked! We have to bring them along!
What size does he wear?
I don't remember how big he is, I should have paid attention to that.
Don't forget to bring boots and and a coat/hat/mittens for him, the babushkas will yell at us if he's not dressed warm enough.
Toys for Axel, things to do on the plane.
What does Axel like?
How will we raise the rest of the money?
Who will stay with the dogs?
Who will take Angela?
Maybe I should take out a short term loan just in case I get stuck from another volcano? It DOES happen!
How will Axel and I do alone together when Dean goes home?
What if Axel doesn't like us?
What if we're too boring?
What if Axel and Angela hate each other?
OMG WHAT IF ZURRI COMES IN HEAT WHILE WE'RE GONE?
I should bring pull-ups along, so we don't have "problems" on the plane. That would be bad!
What if he gets airsick? That would be WORSE!
I need to get my ear tubes checked to make sure they're still in place, cuz that would be HORRIBLE if they're not!

And this, my friends, is why I have not slept all week long! This is called "nesting". The only difference is there is no baby sucking the physical energy from me to cause me to sleep. Instead the brain tries to drain the energy, which causes me to stay awake. UGH!

IPAD Give Away!!!

Yep, we're doing a give away!!! Help us get Axel home! With just a few weeks until we board that plan to get our boy, we're in the final stretch to get our funds together, and what a stretch it is! So, who's game for an

Apple® - iPad™ with Wi-Fi - 16GB



How to enter: $25 per entry, and of course you can enter as many times as you like! But, as an added bonus, any donation of $100 will give you FIVE entries!!! All donations are 100% tax deductible to Reece's Rainbow, which is a 501c3 non profit organization.

Give away ends November 7th, and the winner will be announced November 9th. Please help us get Axel home  by posting this on your facebook pages and blogs, and help us get Axel home!

Remember $25 per entry, just click below to get to Axel's donation page. Ready????? When you get there, click the "Donate" button.

Friday, October 22, 2010

One decision made!

Well, one decision has been made for us! Angela cannot come along on this trip. The drive from the big city to Axel is long, and the car small. And we will need to be brining Axel back with us on someone's lap as it is. (I'm sure he'll be thrilled about THAT, considering he's probably not going to want to go with us in the first place!)

Dean is only coming along for the first week of the trip, so it's only one week that I need to figure out care for Angela.

AND, today I found out that the person who we had lined up stay with our dogs - when we were hoping to travel in November - is booked all of December. Normally for four dogs she charges $50/day, but was going to do it free of charge for us for the adoption. Boarding them somewhere is out of the question, it is just too expensive! Well that and two of them are breeding dogs (not spayed/neutered) so cannot go to a kennel anyway. Because we have four dogs, it is easiest to have someone stay here with them rather than farm them all out. We can see if one of our adult sons can stay here, but it puts them quite a ways away from their jobs.

See, Satan does this stuff to throw a wrench in things as soon as they start picking up, I tell ya!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What about Ianna?

Have no fear! We have NOT forgotten about Ianna!!! We are hoping that we'll have the opportunity to see Ianna while we're there, so Dean will have a chance to meet her. I'm going to ask (beg? Grovel?) if we can get a meeting or something with Ianna's case manager, so he/she can see we are a real live family who WANTS this child! That we are willing to take her off their hands, and provide for all the things she needs. It can't hurt to ask!!! When we get closer to travel, we're going to be setting up some type of prayer event for this.

We won't give up on you Ianna. We will bring you home! Like Axel, we will not let YOU become an Eastern European statistic without a fight!

So now what?

Just three weeks ago, we were finally given the go-ahead to send our family profile for Axel. It took some time for it to be translated, and make it's way through the channels. We knew that once we got word, there would not be a lot of time and that things were going to move quickly.

Yes, in fact, our homestudy was just completed two weeks ago, and was received my immigration two days ago.  We haven't been fingerprinted yet. As soon as that's done, and our immigration approval comes in, we're ready to travel! We are "penciled in" to our facilitator's schedule to arrive in country the first week of December but could go sooner if our approval comes sooner.

This makes my hyperventilate.

Why? We have 6 weeks to get things figured out and lots of families get far less.  Well, because we are approximately $5,000 short for this adoption. Because Axel is in foster care, it is slightly more expensive than we'd originally planned when we were planning for Ianna. (more about Ianna in a separate post!) 

We haven't yet decided if we're bringing Angela along. Originally when we were going to be getting Ianna, we were definitely bringing Angela because of where Ianna is located, but the logistics of where Axel is make it not only difficult, but more expensive to bring one more person along. But, leaving Angela behind means I have to figure out what I'm doing with her for a week. We have someone staying here with the dogs, but she doesn't know Angela. Dean is only coming along for the first week of the trip, then Axel and I will be coming home two weeks later. So if Angela stays behind I'll need someone willing to take her for one week. 

Oh, there is much planning to do in the next couple of weeks!!! Our dossier was sent off this afternoon, and I have to wire money for translation fees tomorrow, and other funds to send to various places tomorrow as well. A room to paint, bedding to buy, clothes for a boy who I wasn't paying attention to EXACTLY how big he was. 

Wow...lots to do!

His name is AXEL!

A name only a very strong boy can earn, carried down from my grandfather who in the early 1900's, at the age of 14 came alone from Canada to Minnesota then western Wisconsin, earned enough to purchase land, build a farm and raise a family of 11 children.

Our soon-to-be Axel has survived conditions even worse. Born in Eastern Europe with Down syndrome, like all the other babies born there with DS, he was immediately placed in an orphanage where he stayed until somewhere around the age of 4 when he was transferred to an institution, where most spend their days TIED in cribs, often dying from starvation, dehydration and hypothermia. The life expectancy of a child with DS in Eastern Europe is 6 years old. Axel had already beat the odds. He stayed there until he was 7. Unloved and alone.  At that time he was supposed to be moved to yet another facility, probably just as bad, if not worse.

But Axel got lucky. God opened a door, and Axel was moved to a foster home where he has been ever since. Even though he was in a foster home, with foster parents who cared for him, he has never been allowed to attend school. Kids "like that" don't go to school there. He's never been taught how to read, or write, or anything else. After all, Axel has Down syndrome, and kids "like him" can't learn. He doesn't go out in public freely like my Angela does. You don't see "those kids" walking the streets of Eastern Europe. You don't see them anywhere! They're gone...shut away so everyone can forget they exist.

Last April I visited some of the orphans of Eastern Europe, and this foster home is where Axel was when I met him. His foster mother is very nice, and obviously cares for him, and he has foster siblings who he is attached to. But his social worker pleaded with us to find a family for him. He was going to be turning 10 in August, and his time in foster care was up. The Government has limits to what they will pay for, and age 10 is it. Sadly the foster family was not in a position to adopt. (and rarely in this country does a foster family actually adopt the child.) The resources for Axel had been exhausted, and he was going to be moved to an institution. The life expectancy there is short. Being the size of an average American 5 year old, he would quickly be victimized, hungry, cold and would soon loose his will to live.

I held Axel. I  played with Axel. I  looked into the eyes of this smiling child so full of life. Look at his face in this picture.

I could not imagine this lively, vibrant child, being put into such a facility and facing his death sentence. I had to do SOMETHING about it! Like Ianna, I vowed to find him a family. When Dean and I decided that we would adopt two children, (remember the man who dropped me off at the airport saying he would never adopt, and now here he was agreeing to TWO????? God does crazy things like that!) because of our ages we knew that we would not be adopting the "little and cute" toddlers who everyone else was bringing home. We would be adopting the older, very hard to place children. Ianna was a given. She was ours from the beginning. 

But who else? I never forgot about Axel. But what about Dean? We discussed who the second child would be. Dean said, "Who is in the most danger?" Well, Axel, of course! And so, the first week of December we will be on our way to bring Axel home!

You can help Axel to NOT become an Eastern European statistic by entering to win an

Apple® - iPad™ with Wi-Fi - 16GB




How to enter: $25 per entry, and of course you can enter as many times as you like! But, as an added bonus, any donation of $100 will give you FIVE entries!!! All donations are 100% tax deductible to Reece's Rainbow, which is a 501c3 non profit organization. 

Give away ends November 7th, and the winner will be announced November 9th. Please help us get Axel home by posting this on your facebook pages and blogs, and help us get Axel home! 

Remember $25 per entry, just click below to get to Axel's donation page. When you get there, click the "donate" button. Ready?????
  Drawing is now closed, but if you'd still like to donate to help get Axel home, every dollar helps!  

It's coming! It's coming!

I PROMISE!!!! Tonight the news is coming! FOR REAL! I have to leave to run a bunch of errands, write some big checks, then come back and upload the changes to the blog (if I can remember how to do it!) but we have been given the green light, all systems are GO!!!!!!! WHOO HOOO!!!!!!!!! Eastern Europe, HERE WE COME!!!!!

100% GRANT


"This little angel can just light up a room with her smile and her giggle. She is constantly happy, very alert and playful, and is an orphanage favorite. We are waiting for some new photos of her, but she is registered and available to be adopted now! She has had surgery for her spinal hernia (not spina bifida), but it was unsuccessful in her country. She is not able to pull up or stand/walk on her own. We hope she would have much better chances of correction here in the US, but we will not have any x-rays or other records available prior to your trip to share with a doctor for review. She has decompensated hydrocephaly as well. "

Is this your child???? She has a FULL GRANT! $23,000!!! Her family is out there, looking at her picture RIGHT NOW, and your heart is stirring!! Look, $23,000 has been raised for this child, for you to complete her adoption. Please listen to God's calling. This child is going to be transferred VERY SOON. If this is your child, please contact Andrea at Reece's Rainbow for more information.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

HOUSTON! We have communication!!!!!

We have communication from the other side of the world!!!! What does it say? HA!!!! It says, (Paraphrasing here) "We haven't had time to go through everything yet, but please send those fancy, golden stickerfied documents you spent big bucks for last week, and while you're doing that, please wire transfer another $1,000 so we can translate said documents from English to ? so that our high ranking officials can read them."

Sounds like one of those 417 schemes, doesn't it? ROFL Scary, I know! But I assure you, this is very real, and this is just how things are done!

Now, I'm just waiting for one final approval so that I can tell you what in the world this is all about!

Well?

Will today be the day? Will I get to share any news with you? AND JUST WHAT WILL THAT NEWS BE????? It could be bad and leave me in tears and hiding for 3 days, or it could be good and have me hollering from the rooftops!  I honestly do not know, but I'm waiting on pins and needs to find out. It could be today...or it could be tomorrow. UGH!!!!! My hair is turning WHITE I tell ya!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Not gonna sleep tonight

My spirit is not going to be at rest much tonight. There are too many things going on in the world while I am supposed to be sleeping and other parts of the world are awake.

I always joke about the fact I do my best thinking in the shower. No, really, I'm THINKING or PRAYING! I think it's because that's the one place where most of the time nobody is bothering me, no dogs are bugging me to go outside, no puppies are whining, the phone is not ringing, and there are no emails (I refuse to bring any electronic devices into the bathroom unless I'm expecting an incredibly important phone call. Anything else can wait 20 minutes!)

The shower is where I get my best ideas. It's also where I'm able to hear God, probably because of the aforementioned uninterrupted 15 minutes. I don't know how many times I've said to Dean, or to one of my good friends, "This morning I was in the shower and I thought of something....." I'm pretty sure they all think I'm crazy already anyway, so I might as well give them another reason to confirm their suspicions, right?

Anyway, tonight I was in the shower and I started freaking out a little bit. There is so much to get done! Suddenly I saw these to-do lists in front of me: one for me and one for Dean. Mine was much longer than Deans, but his was long enough that I was all of a sudden irritated by the fact he went out of town this past weekend to "get away from things." While I was having a minor panic attack Dean made the mistake of walking into the bathroom. Poor guy! I came out of the shower dripping wet, rattling off these lists of things that needed to get done, the time frame in which they needed to get done and by whom. (Ten for me, two for him. Ten for me, two for him, and so on!)

Dean, smart man that he is, didn't say much of anything. He just stood by, watching me have my momentary anxiety attack, knowing full well it would pass and he could get back to the show he was watching. He did make one critical error. He told me, "Well, write it all down so you don't forget anything."

It suddenly became clear to me he has not been following this process AT ALL!!!! Tonight my not sleeping is going to mean I'm hanging out with the copy machine a lot, and that Dean is going to get an eye full of what has been "written down" for the past few weeks!

Just a glimpse

Just a GLIMPSE of what I saw of the children of Eastern Europe. These are the smiles of the children. For every smile you see, there are 5 who were not. These are the children who have never felt the love of a mother or father. They go to bed each night alone. They have never had anyone sing them a lullaby, or read them a bedtime story. When they cry out in the dark, "I'm thirsty, I need a drink", there is nobody to answer the call. There is nobody to stroke their hair, or brush a tear off their cheek when they are afraid in the night.  Don't let the smiling faces fool you. They are alone in the world. I saw what I saw and I can't forget it. Will you forget it? Will you turn away?


How did this all start, anyway?

Pull up a chair, and let me tell you a story.....

In 2007, as Reece's Rainbow was just starting to take off, and a few families were blogging their journeys, it was easy to get hooked on their their stories. You felt like an expectant aunt as you followed the family through their frustrations of their paper pregnancy. You danced with eager anticipation as you viewed pictures of them boarding the plane to far away places to meet their child for the first time. You cried crocodile tears at the pictures of them meeting their child for the first time, and tears of anguish when they posted stories about some of the horrible things they saw while they were there.

One of the families I started following was Robert and Shelley Bedford who were adopting Xander from Ukraine, and in 2008 came Grifyn from Serbia. In 2009 they started the process to bring home Kullen from Bulgaria. One of the reasons they chose Bulgaria was the fact that only one parent was required to travel, meaning one of them would be able to stay home with their 5 kids. Bulgaria requires two trips, and early in their adoption process (which took a VERY long time!) Shelley jokingly said, "so who wants to go with me to Bulgaria? LOL" They were supposed to be adopting two boys, and needless to say she was a bit nervous about the thought of traveling home alone with both boys. (sadly, they ended up bring home only one of the boys, something they are heartbroken about.)

Anyone who knows me, knows that while I do have a sense of humor, I also am also an opportunist! Shelley and I had been in contact several times over the previous couple of years, and I had helped her with some fundraising things. I emailed her and said something to the effect of, "You know how you were joking about someone going to Bulgaria with you? Ummm...I know you only know me from emails but...ummm...I would go with you." Yes, I'm sure she thought I was crazy. She wouldn't be the first one! But who's more crazy? Me, or her for allowing me to come along?

Shelley ended up making the first trip to Bulgaria alone, which ended up working out quite well. That was the trip where she was meeting her son, while I was in Boston with Angela who was having esophageal surgery.

A couple weeks later, when we were both back in our homes, we were talking about our upcoming trip together. In the course of a phone call, Connecting The Rainbow was born. As we planned our upcoming trip to Bularia for Shelley to complete their adoption and pick up their newest son, we also made arrangements to meet with the families of Sofia, Bulgaria who had chosen to keep their children. You can read about that trip here

But we also made another stop along the way, in Belgrade, Serbia. Our purpose was to meet some children who had been newly registered for adoption, along with bringing some much needed supplies to the orphan care center there. This was the same place Shelley and her husband had adopted Grifyn from, so she was very familiar with the staff people there, and I was able to meet them and get to know them as well. We also met many of the children who are waiting for families, and got updated pictures of some of the children.  My favorite part was being able to send pictures to the families who had already been matched to a couple of the kids, or to those who had been THINKING about some of the kids and who were thinking about certain children but waiting for updates and have since brought those children home!

You can read all about my trip by clicking here. Everything from April 5th-April 26th is from that trip. There are some funny posts, like the post about European toilets, or the things that can be found in Bulgarian hotels when you're trapped there due to Icelandic Volcanos, the gold-plated tweezers I bought by accident due to translation issues,  and who can forget the GIANT PIZZA the size of a twin bed?

Hmmmm

Can you feel it? It's like a burning, itching, scratching kind of feeling. NO!!!! It's not fleas! It's almost like I feel a count down coming on! A countdown to what? I don't even know yet, but I can feel it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Do-di-doooo

Just sitting here, doing nothing, watching the leaves drop from the trees and maybe tiny changes happen little by little on my blog header. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sitting on my hands

That's what I'm doing tonight, sitting on my hands! Yes, I got some news today, but it was only PARTIAL news! The news was, "We'll have an answer for you early next week."

Seriously. And I can't even tell what it's about.

I can tell you this though: See that header up there, at the top of the blog where the pretty flowers are, and the beautiful name Ianna? (which, by the way, I happen to love how the name Ianna comes out of the mouth like a breath of fresh air straight from God!) Anyway, keep an eye on that header over the next few days. It might have your first clues!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stickers!

I feel a little like Charlie, visiting Willie Wonka's factory today. Who ever thought there would come a day that I'd be willing to shell out a chunk of money just to get a bunch of golden stickers?



Well, that is just what I did today! (and actually, I have to do again tomorrow as I realized I have two documents that are missing notarizations) These golden stickers, purchased at the Secretary of State's office, certify that the notaries who who witnessed my signatures on said documents are indeed authorized to do just that. Their notary registration numbers have been checked, and their expiration dates verified. They are, in fact, all certified, verified, notaries, and I am who I say I am, and these documents are FOR REAL MAN!!!!

So now what? Now, if a country were to request our "dossier", this is it! This IS our dossier. This bundle of golden stickerfied documents are what gets fed-exed to to whatever country gives us the approval to do so.

And, it's very possible that we'll have that very approval one of these days. And when we get it, we will be ready!

An empty room

Remember these?



They are now gone, and we are left with an empty bedroom. Whatever shall we do with an empty room?


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Father's Heart

I've never done this before but I think it is about time I do. People ask me why are you adopting and what made you want to adopt, now. Well, I told Leah,what ever you do when you go to Eastern Europe, don't fall in love with any children over there because I'm not to far from retiring and I like to play and do things like golf, fish, ride motorcycles and putz around the house.

It wasn't until I saw my Love (Leah) with those children interacting and playing and seeing the smiles that came from those children just from a single touch that had changed my heart. I suddenly got a feeling in my heart that told me, you know what Dean, I know we could give one or more of those children the love that I think every child should have. ( A person will never run out of love from the heart.)

In one picture that Leah sent to me melted my heart, so I started asking questions about this little girl, in my heart I knew it really didn't matter what was wrong with her. I found out a lot about her syndrome and contacted a couple families who had children with the same thing and asked questions, knowing it really didn't matter.

I will tell you, I prayed a whole lot before I talked to Leah again, and the feelings that filled my heart and body were totally awesome. So, I have to say that if anyone reading this is contemplating adopting just ask and pray if this is what I/we should be doing. You will know what the answer is in just a split second, and if you don't feel it is just right for you now, don't stop praying about it. I know not all prayers are answered in a spilt second like mine was, but don't stop praying.

At the moment, we can not go and get that lovely little girl because of things that have to be worked out, but I know, in my heart and what I was told from my prayers that she will be home soon with Leah and myself. (But our families know that Leah and I are always full of surprises.) I think that anyone who has an empty bedroom or a place at your table should really open your heart (remember,you can never give to much love) and think about all of Gods children who only need and want a Mom and Dad to hold them and tuck them in at night.

Meet Anne Marie

This is Anne Marie.



It is because of children like her that  I went to Eastern Europe last spring, and the reason Dean and I have begged to and pleaded for Ianna for the past 6 months. She is the reason we continue to plead the case for other children who are at risk of being transferred to the institutions of Eastern Europe.

Today the community of Reece's Rainbow is saddened to learn that Anne Marie, a child who was waiting for a family, has passed away in the orphanage. She was alone. She never knew the love of a family. She did not die in the loving arms of a mother or a father. But she is now in the loving arms of THE Father. Never again will she know hunger, cold, fear or loneliness.

These children are REAL, and they are fighting REAL battles! The families who are fighting for them are REAL families who are fighting against the clock to get them out before they loose that battle! As you see me advocate for these families here, know that I am not trying to be dramatic just to help them drum up some money. This is VERY REAL! I saw, with my own eyes, children who were stick thin. Children who were in "good" facilities, who still were not getting all the care they need, weather it be medical, nutritional, or the fact that HELLO! They are living in an ORPHANAGE and not in a FAMILY! Some of the children are living in "good" places but face the very real risk of being transferred any day to much worse conditions.

When you came to my blog, you probably thought you were just going to follow along on our journey. How many of you have learned about a part of the world you never knew existed? How many of you wished you didn't know? Believe me, these children wish they didn't know this side of reality too! Please don't turn your back on them. Even if you are never in the position to adopt, can you help a family who is? Some of you may be thinking, "Are we? Are WE in a position to adopt?" Dean will tell you that a year ago, he did not think we were. In fact, six months ago he did not think we were. Maybe you have some questions for him about what changed his mind?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I can hardly STAND IT

Oh, I am having to sit on my hands to stop myself from spilling the beans here folks! It is all I can do keep my little fingers from cutting loose!

Just SAY'IN!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Q & A take two

When I first started this blog back in April, lots of people had questions. Interestingly, this past week it seems I've answered those questions all over again to several people in real life. Ok, who am I kidding? People ask us these same questions every single day!


My email box has been flooded with questions. I'll answer what I've gotten via email so far, and then feel free to ask more in the comments. I'll answer what I can, o.k.?

Is Ianna from Bulgaria? No, she's not from Bulgaria. And really, I can't say where she's from just yet. I can tell you she's somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Why no pictures? First of all, we haven't formally committed to adopting her yet. We're just waiting for some legal stuff to get done in her country so we can get that done. I *think* once that's done we're allowed to post pictures as long as we don't give identifying information. But, if you read my other blog, it's possible you've seen her face a time or two.

How old is she? Ianna is 10, and shares her birthday with my dad. Physically she is very small for her age, some of this is part of her diagnosis, and partly due to living in an institutional setting, the first 8 years of which were in awful conditions. Right now she's in a place where people care about her, and she's made great progress while there. We're praying she can stay there until we can go get her, because right now she's at serious risk of being transferred to a much worse situation. She should have been transferred at her birthday, but-praise God-that facility doesn't have any open beds.

Does Ianna have Down syndrome? No, she doesn't. Ianna has Apert syndrome. In the past I've worked with a few kids who have Apert syndrome, but I just worked with them, then they went home. I have a lot to learn! She will come home needing some surgeries, particularly craniofacial, and on her hands. We live in the perfect place for this, with 5 different children's hospitals very close by, and an awesome craniofacial clinic just 15 minutes away. I don't yet have her full medical report, but hope to have it soon! Then we'll have a better idea what we need to be planning for as far as medical check-ups. Angela has had so many surgeries that I have lost count, so that doesn't really bother me. It's new for Dean, but he's preparing himself by doing lots of reading, and has contacted other families who have children with AS and is asking lots of questions.

Are you guys nuts? You're not seriously asking this, are you? Like, have you been reading my other blog for the past 5 years? Of course I'm nuts, and Dean is right there with me. LOL But really, Dean and I have given this a lot of thought and prayer. We're not just jumping into this, and no, I have not pushed Dean into it. He had to come to his own decision, and if that decision was influenced by reading my blog posts while I was out of the country, that's not my fault. My family is 100% in support of our decision. Some of you know that my family is full of adoption, and we know it from every perspective.  I'm not really sure where Dean's family is with it. I'm thinking "shocked" is an understatement. So if you're asking us why, be prepared to answer "Why not?"

How much will this adoption cost? This adoption will cost somewhere between $18-20K, which includes travel expenses.

That's a lot of money! Do you have that? Ummm...no. Is that a problem? We're not worried about it, so you won't need to worry about it either. We'll pull it together, and God will make sure the money is there each step of the way, weather that be through fundraisers, or just plain 'ole, garden variety divine acts... like money falling from the sky. It could happen.  As long as we're following His lead, He'll make sure we have what we need. I'm always amazed when people claim to be church-going, God believing people, yet they have no faith in Him. And because THEY don't, apparently we shouldn't either! Sorry, but we have faith, so you can too! K?

What does Angela think of this? Now THAT's a really good question. We're not really sure. When we first showed her a picture, she got very serious, and in a compassionate voice said, "Oh...what happened? She got hurt?" We explained that just like she has Down syndrome, and sometimes has needed surgeries to fix this or that, Ianna has some things that need fixing too, while other things will stay the same. Angela was fine with that explanation.

Angela has actually been asking for a sister for quite some time. If strangers ask her if she has brothers and sisters, she says she has 4 brothers and 2 sisters!! Still, I don't think she understands the serious threat on her position in the household. No longer will she be the center of attention, and no longer will Dean and I be the only playmates! Dang! Life will not revolve around her and her schedule. There will be one more birthday to celebrate (this will be a bonus in her eyes!) She might have to play girl games like dolls or house, instead of "jail" or "Dog the Bounty Hunter". insert angels singing here. She might actually have to USE the very cool climber we built for her two summers ago. Really, she's been on it twice since we built it, and that's because I made her eat lunch in the tree fort part. Go ahead, call me horrible.

Aren't there kids here in the U.S. who need homes? Yes, there absolutely are! What are YOU doing to help them? How about your home? Do you have a spot for another bed? A place at your table? Room in your car? If you answered yes to even ONE of these things, then I hope you're taking some action! If you've answered no, then don't even bother going there with me. That said, the children in the U.S. foster care system have things far better than the orphans of Eastern Europe. When US orphans age out of the system, there are resources for them. Not so for the orphan of Eastern Europe, who ages out of the system between 14-16 years old, with the clothes on his back and a boot out the door that WILL hit him in the rear end on the way out!  Have you seen the conditions of EE orphanages? If you haven't, then go do some reading on my other blog, then we'll talk more. God doesn't say to rescue the orphans in your back yard. He doesn't designate county or international boundaries. He just says rescue them. Like he rescued you and me. Imagine if God only rescued people from one country and all the rest  were S.O.L! See? No boundaries in God's eyes.

So for now, I can pretend that this will be easy, and choose to only think about the really cool stuff happening in our family right now. Hey, I can be in denial if I want to! It's my blog! I know there will be days when Dean and I will be reminding ourselves that this was God ordained, and we were following what we were told to do. I'm pretty sure there might be times when one of us will try to say it's all too much, at which point the other will direct him or her back to the original story (I'll post it in a little bit) for a little reminder as to how we got here.

If you have more questions, feel free to post them in the comments!

Another room to clean out

We are reclaiming our office as a bedroom. I know I posted about this months ago, but really...we're doing it this time! We ended up deciding to get the larger of the two spare bedrooms ready for Ianna and leave the office alone. But, really don't NEED this office space, and we certainly don't need these two large desks. All they do is collect papers that should have been thrown away in the first place and office supplies that could be condensed into a much smaller space. I have them listed on craigslist, so if you're in the area, and looking for an executive desk, I happen to have two of them for sale CHEAP!

 The side cabinets on the larger desk are file drawers. The surface of this desk is LARGE at 3x6 ft! Both desks have glass tops.

This smaller desk is a computer desk. In the center cabinet is a slide-out keyboard tray, and a larger slide-out shelf for a printer or office supplies, or whatever else you want to hide in there.
Once these desks are gone, we'll have one empty bedroom. Then there is painting to be done, and a bed to find. (anyone have a maple or oak twin bed? Just the frame/headboard.) Once that's done, whoever will we put in here? 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blogging Adoption

The adoption blogging community is full of families who are in various steps in the process of their adoptions, blogging as they go. Some are compiling their dossier like us, some are in country meeting their children for the first time, others are getting ready to come home, and others who have completed their adoption and are home loving their children. 

When we choose to blog such a life-changing experience, we're opening ourselves to the comments and opinions of others. I know from following the journeys of others, and from watching my own family members adopt, that not everyone is going to be supportive of us. The comments left on other people's blogs are shocking, really. People who clearly have no idea how the process works (and that it works different in every country!) making nasty, horrid and judgmental statements. 

Adopting is not easy, but if you're adopting an older child out of an institution, the process up until you bring your child home is a piece of cake compared to some of what can be expected once you get your child home. It is not a "happily ever after" kind of experience. These are children who have been abandoned, often abused, and need a lot of healing before they can be whole. Some never get there! But that is a chance those of us choosing to adopt these kids make. Sadly, parents who have chosen to blog about the difficult times with their newly added family members open themselves up to the opinions of total strangers. I've never allowed anonymous comments, and all my comments are moderated for this very reason. 

I intend to keep it real when talking about our adoption experiences (as much as I can while still maintaining a certain level of privacy for the child we bring home!) We fully expect to run into "issues" bringing home a child who has spent her entire life in an institution, and we have our support system in place so we can (hopefully) act proactively instead of reactively when those issues do arise...and they will. I want you, my readers, to feel free to ask questions rather than make assumptions that are based on misconceptions or inaccurate information.  And I am sure we will have plenty of questions for those who are reading who have gone before us! 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

SIX MONTHS!

Six months ago today, I found myself on the other side of the world, looking into they eyes of the most beautiful little girl. At that very moment there was a shift in the universe as God performed simultaneous miracles on opposite sides of the world.

Done


Our homestudy is finally done. That process took f.o.r.e.v.e.r.! Some go so fast, and others...not so much! Ours was one of them, mostly because we're a complicated family. But then, I knew that going into this! LOL

Today I am bringing another large check to the homestudy agency, and then our homestudy will be sent off to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) From there they will send another notice to the US embassy in the country we specified, giving approval for us to adopt. This gives the Embassy the ability to issue a visa to our new child. Without that form...no visa...no adoption.

Dean and I agreed several weeks ago that once our homestudy is on its way to USCIS, we would have to make some tough decisions about who we're bringing home. It's a money game, one that is controlled by timing. In this world of adoption, the lives of children are intertwined with our bank accounts and the calendar. Of course God is in control of ALL of those things...it's up to us to make decisions about them and trust that we're making the right ones.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Under Pressure

Just cuz I like the song for where I'm at today!