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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Still nothing

For those who are wondering, there is still no signature today, and today is done here in Serbia. If we get a signature tomorrow, the absolute SOONEST we can get home is Wednesday the 7th. Glad I didn't book our tickets yet. :-(

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

He's been holding out!

This morning when I picked up Asher from his room, he came RUNNING (well his version of it) with a huge smile, but he was looking at one of the caregivers as if to say, "Haha, you're staying here!" and ran smack into a cabinet with his forehead. Poor baby! He's sporting a nice bruise, but like many orphans, he barely flinched. No reason to waste tears when they won't be responded to. Soon enough he'll learn that Mom and Papa, and even Angela and Axel will comfort him when he gets hurt.

We went to the playroom where he quickly dug out his favorite ball.
It fits perfectly in his hand, and is great for learning cause and effect. Tap it hard a couple of times and it starts flashing. It's also great for a little boy who likes to touch new textures to his mouth. ;-)

He took the ball out of the backpack then wanted me to pick him up. I turned on the signing time music then sat down on the big exercise ball because I can "dance" with him on the ball, rocking all kinds of different ways, all while saving my back! We danced this way for a good 1/2 hour. Sometimes he would bang the ball on my shoulder to get it flashing, sometimes on his own hand, and then other times on my hand. When we were done dancing it was time for some yogurt. This time he knew exactly what we were doing so he beat me to the little couch and got himself ready. Reminded me of a little bird waiting to be fed. We worked on keeping his tongue in, and it was a very neat and tidy snack. Better than yesterday. He will learn very quickly.

I told him we were going outside and started putting the toy back in the bag when my little man started in with, "Babababababababa." This is the first he's made ANY sounds for me other than an occasional grunt! He was very happy and chattery. As we walked down the hall to find him a coat he was making even more sounds. Outside in the swing there was lots of laughing and giggling, along with playing coy. He did a couple "catch me if you can" games on the playground. As much as these are a normal developmental stage and very fun for him, I'm not really interested in getting THAT habit started! Right now he's easy to catch because he's barely walking, but in a few months that will all change.

When it was time to go he CRIED. He did not want me to leave just yet. Hopefully this afternoon will be just as fun!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Yogurt

Today was the day. I *finally* got to give Asher the yogurt. Funny how life can hang on such a simple thing, isn't it?

The staff person said, "He may not like it. In all his 7 years he has never had yogurt before."

That made me just a little bit sad, but only for a second when I realized *I* get to be the one to give it to him. *I* get to see his face as he tastes and feels it's creamy smoothness for the first time. I do need to be careful to allow Dean some firsts too! LOL

Now you may remember my telling you that his tongue is always out of his mouth. Now if I click my tongue he will put his away. Also, when he uses a spoon he puts it way back in his mouth, and does not use his lips at all. This was going to be interesting.

The first bite, I put it back in his mouth where he usually does, and somehow....in a way that was invisible to both the staff person and myself....he got it off the spoon. Interesting! We watched his face, his eyes cast off to the side as he thought about this flavor, then sucked on his tongue for a second. Then he got a HUGE grin and opened his mouth wide!

Then I had a lightbulb moment. You know the kind where someone smacks you in the head with the lightbulb? Yeah, one of those. I clicked my tongue so he would bring his in his mouth, then put the spoon in, and BOOM! Lips closed on the spoon! It didn't work on the second try but after several bites he was trying to do it on his own without prompting. I think that was pretty good success for just a 4 oz yogurt.

He was NOT happy when that tiny cup of yogurt was gone. Not only that, but it was now about 9:45 with lunch not until 11:30 or so. That was it for his snack because he is not allowed "double snacks". For now I will bite my tongue, because I must follow the rules. The important thing is to get Asher out of the orphanage and home to his forever family.

Later I took Asher outside and we played with a rocking toy. I would sit directly in front of it, rocking it while he tried not to look at me. Once in awhile he'd catch my eye and give me a shy grin. I would sing part of a song then stop singing AND rocking the toy right in the middle of the song. Then I would say/sign "more", and use his hands to do it too. We must have done this for a good 7-8  minutes when he start squinting his eyes shut just before I was going to hand-over-hand sign with him. Not like it was overwhelming for him, but like a silly face. We kept on with the game, and at about the 10 minute mark he STARTED to sign it himself, but I got a little eager with the "BRAVO!" and startled him so he stopped. LOL Tomorrow we'll play our game again and see if he remembers. I'm thinking he does. ;-)

A sliver of light

There is a sliver of light at the end of our tunnel!

Tomorrow the social worker will be sending the final report to Axel's social center. That center will sign it, then fax it to the Ministry. There it will sit waiting for a signature from the head minister. I was told on Friday that the Minister's schedule is very busy right now with business trips so they hope to get a signature as soon as possible.

From the day of the signature, we need three full business days to get everything done. It's *possible* if we get a signature tomorrow that we could be on a plane on Saturday. If not, then Tuesday! Oh, I cannot WAIT!

Better!

Thank you everyone for your prayers! On Saturday I was able to start antibiotics, and by yesterday afternoon was feeling much better. I went back to the orphanage to see Asher for a short visit. His caregiver said he had missed me on Saturday when I didn't visit. We had fun last night and Asher blessed me with several smiles.

This morning he was ready to see me. When I arrived at the door of his room he was laying on a bed facing away from the door, dangling a stuffed animal off the edge. His caregiver said in Serbian, "Lazar, Mamo is here." He jumped off that bed SO FAST and came running! He barely stopped for a hug, just wanted to get down that hallway to the playroom as fast as possible.

When we got to the playroom he wanted me to pick him up. I turned on some music and he just sat in my arms while we swayed with the music. It was lovely.

Next we went outside to the playground. It's beautiful here today and there were lots of kids taking their turn coming out to play. Asher wanted to go by them but he didn't really know what to do with them. It almost seemed like  he was looking for a kid he knew but didn't' see anyone.

When our time for the morning was done I walked him back to his room the caregiver had to carry him in as he did NOT want to go back. Usually I can stand outside the glass and watch him for a few minutes and all is well. Not today. Today if he saw me he wanted to be with me.

Soon son. Soon you'll leave with me.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shoes n clothes

Yesterday I brought Asher's new shoes to see if they fit. My 7 year old little man wears a size 10 toddler perfectly. The day I spring him from the orphanage he will be going with us to the adoption ceremony.

For those who've been here before me, there is a new international law that says any child over age 7 must be fingerprinted in order to get a passport. The great thing for us is this gets Asher out of the orphanage one day earlier than expected. Anyway, all that was to say I have one outfit that I think will fit him. Size 4T. The pants might be a little long, but his caregiver showed me the tag on his shirt. It's a Children's Place shirt! LOL It has been washed about 50,000 times I'm sure. Good thing the only clothes I have to fit him are a bit on the nicer side for his special day!

Suggestions?

I need to get a babyfood grinder for Asher so we can slowly increase the level of texture in his food. Yes, I can google them and pull up several, but I'd rather have suggestions from people who've used them. ;-)

Got drugs

My friend took me to the pharmacy to get some antibiotics this morning. I hope they kick in quickly. Little Johnny cannot get this so I am trying to stay away from the family upstairs. It is easy enough to do since this place is really like two apartments, just with a shared kitchen. Now, back to bed for me!

Friday, November 25, 2011

I'm open for business again!

This blog has now been re-opened for anyone to read. That means I had to remove the pictures from it, but I'll add them back in later!
Ah screw it! Tomorrow he's mine, today you get pictures! These were taken on about day 3 or 4, when he still was only excited to see me because it meant leaving his room.

I'll look at you sideways

And sideways again...

I will even contemplate smiling

Ok done with that! (this was a wind-up to squawking at me. LOL) the next frame is a full-out scream.

Finding Asher

Asher has had his entire 7 years behind institutional walls. Through the glass partitions I watch him in his group.  Sometimes toys are scattered on the floor, like miscellaneous blocks that don't go together. Nobody has taught the children how to play with them so they are nothing but objects with which to hit themselves in the head or tap on the wall. When a patch of sunlight hits the floor, all the children rush to lay in it's warmth. When the hot water radiator kicks in they rush to put their cheeks against it, eager for any kind of sensory input. I have yet to find a way to describe walking into a room full of 12 children that is absolutely silent. Eerie silence. They move about the room without interacting with one another. Each alone in a crowded room.

Asher stands in the middle of the room or lays on the floor, eyes cold and distant, unfocused, lost in his own world. His world, the one in the institution, has nothing for him so he has disconnected to find somewhere better in his mind. He doesn't rock like many of his roommates. Instead he stands frozen as if a statue. If he lays on the floor he is still. Silent. Sometimes he finds a thread from someone's clothes, or a stuffed animal that still has it's tag, and dangles it before his eyes, occasionally using his other hand to give it a twirl. This is Asher's day....every day....for every waking moment.

And then this woman the caregivers call "Mama" comes. Me. I appear in the door of his room. He has learned that my appearance means a change of environment. He runs to me with a half grin, his head turned away but watching where he's going out of the corner of his eye. He wraps his arms around my neck for a hug as I pick him up, then squirms to get down again, taking my hand to guide me down the hall to the playroom.

But don't be fooled by his eagerness! Asher isn't connecting to me yet. I am but a tool to get him out of that prison of monotony. He will gladly take the hand of any caregiver if it will get him the same thing. He's indiscriminate.

Little by little, I see neuron's firing in his brain. I let him have the dangly toy I brought, but only for a minute. He has to give me something first: a flash of eye contact, a smile...anything, no matter how brief...and then he can have his dangler back. We take turns, him learning about give and take, me learning what makes him tick.

As much as his room is his hell, it is also his safe place. The caregivers he knows and can predict their movements and reactions, the routine that is always the same every day. He wants to go back there. Back to the people who know how to talk, unlike this "Mama" person who does crazy talk and doesn't make any sense at all. He goes to the doorway again and again, stands and looks out, his face pressed against the glass; his way of telling me he should be going back. Sorry Buddy, I've only been here five minutes and we have 85 left to go. 85 minutes of trying to convince you it's ok to be away from your room that is both hell and comfort.



The other day I saw him get the fastest, roughest, "bath" I have ever seen. The hand of the caregiver holding his arm up in the air so he couldn't sit in the water. He desperately tried to get his fingers under the faucet to play with the running water but it wasn't allowed. I willed him to hear my thoughts, "Soon Son...soon you will get in a tub full of warm water and be allowed to soak and splash until you shrivel up into a prune. Someday we'll add bubbles to it and you will be in heaven. I promise. I promise you son. Glorious days are ahead."

When that bath was done, he was quickly slathered with lotion and powder. There was no pleasure in it. It was fast and gruff. They're not trying to be uncaring. This is but a task that must be completed, Asher being just one in an assembly line of many.

Yesterday he took my hand and we went to the playroom. He has learned by routine to look in the backpack and pull out what's in there. The dangler is always at the bottom, his fingers searching around until he finds it. He chuckles a little at his success. Then I reach in and pull out a tiny bottle and lead him to the beanbag chair.

I sit him on my lap facing me. He looks away, anywhere but at my face. Eye contact is something he's never experienced before and like many things it is scary for him. I sing to him and notice him quickly glance at me out of the corner of his eye. Just for a second. He stops shaking the dangler, frozen as he listens to me talking in hushed tones about the wonderful life that's ahead. Words in a language he cannot understand, but the rhythm of my voice I know is stirring an instinct deep within him. I can see it happening. He leans into me, puts his head on my shoulder, his hand on my chest, feeling my heart beat against his hand, the vibration of my voice. We sit that way for a few minutes, alternating between singing and talking.

I sit Asher up. He goes back to dangling while I turn the iPad to Signing Time music (might as well create another addict to join Axel!) I open the bottle of lotion and put it beneath his nose so he can smell it, the scent of green apple, and he freezes once again; processing this new sensation. I take his tiny free hand in mine and deposit a dollop of lotion.  His head is turned away from me, but he watches my hands out of the corner of his eye as I massage first his hand, then up his arm. I find a dry spot on his elbow and he grins a half-grin as I rub the lotion into the spot. He lets out a big sigh and I feel him relax a bit. I repeat this with his other hand, all the while his dangler is still as I watch his face contemplating what is happening. Only occasionally does he actually look at what I'm doing, but his mind is searching, processing it all. I can see it.

I put a drop of lotion on my arm, then use his hand to rub it in.

There it is! He looks me right in the eye for the briefest of moments! I let go of his hand and he gently pats where the lotion was, flashes me that half-grin, then goes back to dangling...detaching.

When our time is done I bring him back to his room. He protests ever-so-slightly. The playroom is better than this. His caregiver takes his hand and leads him in then closes the door. I watch through the glass as he moves to the center of the room. I watch as his eyes turn cold and he becomes a statue once again.

I have to work so hard to get eye contact with him. And once we get home, the danglers will disappear.

Strep

I was told Asher just finished antibiotics for strep throat. This afternoon my throat started hurting just a tiny bit. Nothing to get excited about at all. Tonight...well...different story! So I did what any good, traveling, self-diagnosing person would do and downloaded a flashlight app on my phone.

My throat is covered in white. Lovely. I'm going to need to call the orphanage tomorrow to say I'm not coming. My friend (a dentist) is bringing me to get antibiotics. I wish they had Z-pak here, but they do have Erythromycin (Z-pack its just a fast-acting, long lasting version of erythromycin.)

I'm sharing this place with another family (little Johnny!) and he is very vulnerable so I'm going to keep myself isolated until the antibiotics kick in. At least in this apartment that is easy to do.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Eating with Asher

I was happy to find out that Asher is able to feed himself, but to be honest I wish he wasn't. If he wasn't it would be easier to teach him how rather than now when I have to break habits.

First, what he's eating: Nothing with chunks, per an invisible nurse's orders. The first time I met him he was eating lunch which consisted of a brown paste, then a caregiver plopped some carrot pudding on top of that. He was given a cup to drink from that looked like thickened apple juice. I would put it about honey consistency.

What he's using: He never has a consistently sized spoon. Sometimes it's a giant tablespoon, other times a teaspoon or even a really slim but long handled spoon like we might have for an ice-cream sundae.

How he's eating: Here's why I wish we were starting from scratch. First of all, his tongue is always out, and because his foods are pureed so thin he has no reason to use his tongue to move food around in his mouth. He takes a GIANT scoop of whatever, and puts the spoon about 1/2 way back in his mouth. He creates some suction against his (very high and possibly small-clefted) palate to get the food off the spoon. He looses a lot of the food this way! I would say about 1/2 of his meal ends up on his bib. During one meal I made the mistake of scooping some off his bib and into his mouth and by the reaction of his caregivers you would have thought I scraped it off the floor.

Interestingly, when he's drinking his tongue is not out as far as it is when he's eating. Still, he has a tendency to gulp and there's no real lip usage to speak of. I've only seen him get something to "drink" twice, and he's clearly dehydrated like most kids in orphanages are.

We are definitely going to need the services of a feeding clinic to work on his skills as I think they're a bit beyond my ability/knowledge level. It's one thing to teach a child  how to eat, it's another to break long-standing habits.

So that first meal he was eating was some kind of bean puree (looked a lot like baked beans) carrot "pudding" made with carrots that I'm sure were boiled so long they had no nutritional value at that point. The next day I asked if I could bring him a snack of yogurt or pudding. They agreed hesitantly. (outside food is not normally allowed and they're pretty strict about this since the entire place had salmonella poisoning back in May.) So I bring some yogurt and am told two things. 1) I brought the kind with fruit chunks and he will choke and 2) no yogurt allowed since he just finished antibiotics and has diarrhea from them. They agreed he could have a mashed banana instead.

Along comes snack time and they tell me his banana is ready. (there were no other kids eating at this time.) It is in a cup and apparently mixed with water and mashed. I notice it has chunks slightly bigger (and firmer) that what would be in the yogurt. Interesting. So that was at 10:00 a.m. and it only took him a minute to eat it, scraping every last bit from the cup. His nurse later told me he will eat as long as you keep putting food in front of him. I soon found out why.....

At 11:30 it was time for lunch. All the other kids were given a plate that had mashed potatoes, what appeared to be boiled hamburger, and some kind of gravy that had tiny chunks of green in it. (like maybe ground peas or something?) They also had a cup with something to drink that appeared to be thickened apple juice. Asher was given a cup with an brownish-orange pudding consistency substance. While the other kids had probably 2 measuring cups of food, Ashe had maybe 8 oz at the most. (and remember, a good portion of that ends up on his bib.)  Since they usually only give him one dish at a time, when he had finished I asked if he had anything else. "No. He had a banana earlier so this is all he gets." There was nothing for him to drink, and he was clearly not satisfied. The social worker who speaks English was sitting with us, and I asked what it was he'd had. She asked the caregivers who said it was the same as the other kids, just pureed. Hmmm...I don't know how hamburger/mashed potatoes purees into and orange-tinged puree, but whatever. All I know is he was still hungry.

Today I had a meeting with his doctor for the first time to get his medical history. (which is pretty un-complicated. So was Axel's and we all know where that got us. LOL) Asher was sitting on my lap with the dangly toy and I had my hands on his belly. I could feel his little tummy growling under my hands and I knew it was still a couple of hours before lunch. Lucky for him, not long after our meeting was done the nurse came and said it was time for him to eat. (this was about 3:30) We went to the table and they handed him a cup of what looked and smelled like cocoa maltomeal. It was thinned to about honey consistency and he guzzled it down in a matter of seconds, but he had a good 8 ounces worth so it was a decent sized snack for him. Oops! Did I say snack? When I left at 4:30 the other kids were having the same thing, but it was their dinner. Asher had his at 10:00 and would now have to wait until until tomorrow morning to eat again. :-(

Tomorrow (which is already today for me!) I'm going to ask if I can give him the yogurt now. They acidophilus cultures are only going to help his antibiotic-affected intestines. If I must, I won't feed  him those dangerous fruit chunks.

Can't wait to get our boy out of there! This weekend I have a couple things on my agenda to find in stores. One of them is something similar to Pediasure that I can give him by cup during the trip home. It will keep him hydrated and satisfied when it will be difficult to have a puree with us. I don't know what I'm going to feed him when I get him out of the orphanage. I really don't want to try to make changes until we can get home and I have more tools at my disposal. For now it might just be malt meal or oatmeal with some canned fruit mixed in with it so he doesn't get too constipated. Should be interesting, I'm sure!

Psst....Asher...C'mere

Today when I went to visit Asher, although it's a little cold and damp, a nurse who only spoke Serbian (and didn't say a word) came into the playroom with a coat and hat. I guess that was my cue to take Asher outside. As I zipped him up I slipped my phone into my back pocket. ;-)

Oh, this boy was excited to go out! He LOVES the death-trap elevator. Anything that vibrates goes to the side of his face and ear, including the wall of the elevator. He leans against it with his check and laughs his grunty laugh when he feels it.

For the first time I was able to see how he manages steps. You may remember how Axel had such a tough time with steps since he'd never seen them before. Fortunately Asher does well holding the railing and one hand, though he has such low muscle tone that he's very wobbly. He reminds me of one of these toys:


When we got out the doors and were walking to the playground I noticed the social worker watching us out the window so no pictures for us! Then all of a sudden a bus full of do-gooders from a local church pulled up and people started piling off the bus carrying boxes of donated items such as fruit and clothing. The social worker went to deal with them so I had my chance!

First we went over to the swings. He really likes the swing and and he obviously has experienced it many times before. (unlike Axel who had never seen one before April of this year!) While I was pushing him I noticed some bushes with another small play area behind it.
(photo removed until adoption is final)

To give you an idea of his size, this ride-on toy is a typical first-timer's ride on, so sized for an 18-24 month old. (He was not thrilled and trying to get off it in this picture.)



A toddler-sized playhouse. He is the tiniest 7 year old I've ever met! LOL

We continue to work on his tongue. Now all I have to do is say "ne ne ne" and he pulls it right in. His caregivers are also prompting him, and I showed them things they can do to help the other kids with their tongues. Today he went to the magic toy bag and the first thing he pulled out was the toothbrush which he promptly put against his face. He knows what needs to be pushed to make it go but doesn't have the muscle strength to do it. He also wants to put it in his ear because..well..he LOVES vibrations on/in his hears! LOL When I took these pictures I was more concerned with getting him in the lens while watching my back than I was telling him to pull his tongue in.

Later in the day when I came for my afternoon visit he was laying on the floor chilling out (read bored out of  his mind and stimming with a thread from his shirt.) As soon as he saw me he hopped up and ran for a hug. He just wanted a quick one though because he squirmed to get down then promptly grabbed my finger and pulled me over to the elevator and pointed out the button that makes it go. LOL So we took a ride downstairs and he headed straight for the steps and the door to outside. He knows what he wants, but doesn't usually get too upset when he doesn't get his way. The only times he's gotten mad are when he has a stimmy object that I want to take away without having something better to trade. I will be clearing our rented apartment of all dangly items before I spring him from the orphanage. LOL I have a really fun dangly thing along with me that Axel loves, but Axel is not a dangler, he just likes all the different objects on it. Asher gets lost in the dangling and doesn't engage in the rest of the world if he has something, so I'll reserve this toy for those times when I need him quiet and occupied...like the very long flight home!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A day with Asher

There are some really good things Asher has going for himself, like the fact he is very well bonded to one caregiver in particular, and he does show reservation with strangers, especially strangers who don't know how to talk! LOL

That same attachment is what makes our visits difficult. He can see his caregivers through the glass walls and he wants to be with them. Today I had a 3 hour visit with him and it's just too long. All he really wants to do is dangle stuff. This afternoon I'm only going for an hour and a half.

So what do we do with our visits? For the most part he cuddles and I sing. While this is great and a good bonding thing, it is also indiscriminate. He does it with everyone and it his way to escape having to do anything. Because he's very cuddly and sweet, he gets away with a lot and there are no demands put upon him. He does like music, and if I give him my phone with music on he will hold it up to his ear to rock.

He is a dangler (of objects) but very quickly becomes absorbed in that activity so now before we enter the play room I do a quick scan of objects he likes to dangle and put them out of reach. I do have a dangly thing that he LOVES but I'm saving that for many hours in an airplane. LOL

He LOVES LOVES LOVES the spinning toothbrush I brought for him!!! Just like Axel, Asher loves the vibration. We played with it in his mouth this morning, with no pressure at all against his teeth, and his mouth bled like crazy! I was able to use the toothbrush to move his cheeks so I could get a look in his mouth. Oh man...poor baby! His gums are badly receded around most of his teeth, exposing the roots. Like Axel, I can't believe Asher let me put the toothbrush in his mouth! At tonight's visit I was rubbing the backside of it all over  his cheeks and lips. Then I stopped and he wanted more, so I first tapped his tongue and said, "Ne ne ne" (Serbian for no) until he put is tongue back in his mouth. As soon as he did I put the toothbrush back where he liked it on his lips. I repeated this several times, and by the time we were done playing with it he was putting his tongue back in his mouth for my cue to start the toothbrush again. Smart little guy! When we were done with that it was time to bring him back to his group. As we were walking I looked down and saw his tongue out. I said "ne ne ne" and went to tap it, but he pulled it in on his own quick while laughing and slapping his hand over his mouth. (like HE was pushing it back in.) It was very cute, and gives me hope we can work with the tongue issue when we get home!

This is one of the first walks I took with Asher. Watch what happens when I try prompting him about his tongue for the 3,000th time. OH how he can SQUACK! Guess I would too if some lady kept sticking her finger at my tongue.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

INTRODUCING

Asher Lazar Spring
Genesis 30:13 Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.[a

Asher is a tiny little man! He turned 7 in October, but is closer to the size of a typical 3 year old. I think ALL the clothes I brought are too big for him. 

Now for technicalities. I'm NOT supposed to have ANY pictures of him yet! The orphanage social worker took these pictures for me, then came back and said I wasn't supposed to have them. Last year when all the problems arose around Serbian adoptions and kids photos being illegally listed on websites, they banned all picture taking of orphan children, and certainly no emailing allowed! But I nabbed these two. I just don't know if I'll be able to post any more until after I have custody of him.

I'll post more info later after I've had a nap!

Today is the day!

You, my lovely family and friends, are tucked into bed dreaming of sugar plums. Well, you're supposed to be! I know a few of you night owls are are up. LOL I just a couple of hours I will be leaving for my meeting with the ministry, then off to meet our son!

I've been looking through my bag of toys I brought, trying to decide which to bring along for our first meeting. I know exactly which will be the most favorite toy of all. Many of you will recognize it because your children love it too!

It also happens to be the toy I will NOT be bringing along this morning! This toy, while well-loved among kids, tends to cause them to get lost in it's light and makes interaction a little more difficult. I'll save it to use as a "rescue toy" when I'm getting desperate from boredom! LOL

Instead, today for our first visit I've chosen these:

First there is the very fun toddler backpack on wheels which is a great toy to pull around. Then, when a little boy is ready to investigate a bit, there are zippers to open, revealing a super-cool and very soft ball, a matchbox car, that little light-up flashy ball, and I will add a banana and cheerios too.

Now, I'm off to shower and get ready for my day! Please pray for a safe arrival to the meeting, clear and warm communication between myself and all officials involved, and a wonderful first meeting with L! Also, I want to get that first moment on video for Dean and the kids at home to watch, so hopefully my friend Jovica can work my camera and catch it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Welcome everyone

I could start this first private post out as pure sewage, telling you all that has gone on the past few days, but it would serve no purpose. I want to give all the glory to God!!!!!!!

So...I AM HERE!!!! I arrived in Belgrade at 12:30 Saturday afternoon. I hit the ground running with the Schlorf family and we did some shopping, then came back to the apartment I'm sharing with the Schlorfs and slept the entire night. One would think the next day would have gone well since I slept all night but that would have been wishful thinking. The Schlorfs had orphanage visits to make so I was here alone and ended up sleeping most of the day. That was a huge mistake of course, because now my days and nights are completely turned around!

Today I went with the Schlorfs to take pictures of their adoption ceremony, which was wonderful and of course the photographer was sobbing behind the camera. LOL

Tomorrow is MY big day! I will meet with the Ministry to go over L's history, then we will all go to the orphanage right here in Belgrade where I will see our boy's face for the very first time. I keep going over in my head which of the many children I have already met that this could be. but really I have no idea.

I don't expect tomorrow's meeting to be completely smooth. This needs much prayer because the social center (which is like a county in the US) has been under the influence of one evil person. The reason I haven't ever gotten a picture of L is because of that influence. I am hoping it's because they're worried about getting in trouble like before and just don't want to release a picture of a child due to caution and not outside influences.

So please, sit back and relax, and enjoy the ride on my blog as our family enters into this new phase!

Going Private

Starting tonight and for the next few days my blog will be set to private access only. The Serbian ministry is being ever-so-careful to follow the laws of adoption in the country, and are now preparing to prosecute the former Serbia adoption facilitator on several charges.

Because of all that has happened recently it is necessary for me to go private for a few days. HOWEVER...I know many of you, and would love to add you to the private reader list. Once my adoption is complete (and possibly sooner) I will be able to open the blog back up and any posts made will be visible to you. If you would like access, please email me at deanleah at comcast.net  I will need your email address, first and last name in order to add you to the list. Please know that if I don't know you well, I cannot add you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Our "Prenatal Diagnosis"

When I was pregnant with Angela, although I had 16 ultrasounds due to many complications, we didn't know she had Down syndrome until she was born. Over the years, whenever a family who was expecting a baby with DS contacted me, I would refer them to friends who had themselves experienced a prenatal diagnosis and all the emotions that go with it. Although our kids are born with the same syndrome, getting a prenatal diagnosis is a very different emotional experience from finding out at birth.

Of course, with Axel he was chosen for two reasons. First because he had DS, and second because we knew he would fit well in our family. We CHOSE Down syndrome.

And now here we are. We have gone from deciding weather or not to get pregnant...or in this case adopt again...and we have gone through the stages of pregnancy in the form of paper documents. When we committed to L, it was like touring the birthing center for the first time. When I toured the hospital while pregnant with my second and third babies it suddenly hit me. "OMG I'm having another baby!" The memory of the pain of childbirth and those first sleepless nights came flooding back to me. Committing to L, and knowing it was really happening brought back the memories of those first few days with Axel; struggling through the language barrier, the shock for him at having a whole new set of expectations put upon him by a woman he couldn't understand, me learning his signals for hungry, thirsty...or sad.

But this adoption has a new component. The "prenatal diagnosis". We know that L has Down syndrome, but we really don't know anything else. We don't know where his functioning level is, and we still don't know what he looks like. Everything will be a surprise the day I finally meet him.

But we do know this: With L, we chose LIFE. No matter what he looks like or what his needs may be, we have chosen HIM. We have chosen to bring him into our family and love him as one of our own. He deserves nothing less than that. God Himself knows best the child who best suits our family, and we trust HIM to orchestrate it all. Just like He knew Angela and Axel before they were a glimmer in our eyes, so too does he know L.

In a few days I will go into labor (the long plane rides to get there! LOL) The hard labor stage of pushing will begin when I sit down to a table-full of officials to go over L's history and medical reports. Then I will make one last mighty push (travel to where L is located)  he will be placed on my belly for me to see and touch for the very first time. I won't be shocked by his diagnosis. I've known for months that he has DS. Still, we chose to give him life.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A story of two mice

Let me tell you a story of a two mice; a smart mouse who is very very smart and another who is no so smart at all.

One day a human noticed mouse droppings in the house and knew there was a mouse infestation that needed to be taken care of. The two mice were lurking in the shadows watching as the human put food out out in the open and walked away. The smart mouse knew it was a trap. He was suspicious about the person, and why food would be put out in the open. He didn't want to get caught. He knew where there was more food, safer food, so he left what was out in the open alone.

But the other mouse, the one who is not so smart, couldn't stand to wait. Even though the smart mouse warned him, the not so smart mouse just couldn't stand to leave that free food alone. He scurried out of the shadows to get the food.

Now, even the smart mouse would have taken the prize and run back to the shadows with it, but remember, this mouse is not so smart! He stood out in the open with his prize and gloated, "Look! See? I got it! I got the free food the human left!" He sat with his prize right in the open and ate it for all the others to see. The human stood and watched as the mouse slowly became sleepy, and eventually curled up in a ball right there. The mouse never woke up again.

Sometimes it is smart to leave the bait alone. Sometimes BLOGS have bait too, and stupid mice have taken the bait. The have made it obvious and those who are watching closely now know just how stupid they are. Sometimes PEOPLE you have trusted in the past have become the bait.

For those who have been concerned about my safety from stupid mice when I return to Serbia, let me assure you the Ministry, Embassy AND ORPHANAGE staff have watched the mouse take the bait. She has run into the open with it, allowing all of us to confirm we have an infestation. Now EVERYONE knows there are mice in the house. ( and sometimes mice forget there are IP addresses attached to computer, and that they show up on hits to blog sites along with the internet service provider, which are cross checked with emails to other people, all information that was turned over to police.)  Now, because the mouse is stupid, I have 24 hour protection when I'm in-country. The stupidity of the mouse was exactly what was needed to confirm I needed protection. 

To my friends and family, I am safe when I travel to Serbia. The Embassy, Ministry and local police department are all well aware of the threats that have been made. Because of all the problems that have been caused by this woman, the Ministry assures me I will be able to complete my adoption swiftly and that all services including translation (which is normally paid by the families) is being provided completely free of charge.

To the mouse, go ahead and run into the open with the bait again. We're waiting for you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

iPad2 anyone?

So, you didn't win the camera, but maybe you're interested in trying your hand at winning an iPad2? The Burmans, who brought home Princess Carrington last spring are ready to do it again! They're bringing two boys home this time, one of them is 11 years old and using an INFANT baby walker! There is a ransom that goes with getting these kids out and into the loving arms of family. If you'd like to contribute, please visit their blog here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

And the Winner Is.....

I know you've been waiting all day for this! I could go on and on about all the things I had to get done today, but I'll save it for another post. Thank you again SO MUCH to everyone who contributed to help us get L home. You're in for a wild ride of blog reading here over the next few weeks. Right now, you just want to know if you've won a camera or not, right! Here it is, using Random.org!


Angie Christopherson, you are the winner of this AWESOME camera!!!

This is why

Little Bird Katie. She is just but one story of many in this world of orphan neglect. She is now in the arms of her mother and father. Never again to be left alone in a crib. Another family is facing a similar situation right now. Like Axel when he came home, Little L is not "tiny" because he has Down syndrome. There is a reason Axel has grown 6 inches and 20 lbs in the year he has been home.

We are moving as quickly as we can. Quickly to get Little L home. With a mom and papa, a sister and many brothers. Quickly.

Our Tiny Little Man

Today I received measurements for L. At 7 years old (I don't know when his birthday is, so he could be almost 8 for all I know.) He is 40.6 inches tall (about the 20% on the DS growth chart) 31.9 lbs (not on the DS growth chart) and wears a size 8 toddler shoe.

Tiny, tiny little man. Because his height an weight are disproportionate, it's clear he's underweight.

Angela was never on the growth charts until she was 9. Thats when she shot up. Now at 15 1/2  years and 4'8" she is just under the 50% for height and the 25% for weight.

Axel when we got him a year ago was not on the growth charts at all. Now at 11 years is 49" which is just under the 25%. His weight of 59 lbs puts him at about the 23%.

So....tiny I'm used to! LOL It will be interesting to see how L shoots up once we get him home.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To Do List and Postponing

Well, because of Axel's neck issues and trying to get a CT scan squeezed in, it looks like I won't be able to leave until next week. Dean only has a few vacation days and we want him to be able to take a couple days off to make a long weekend when we get  home. We're trying to get Axel's CT scan scheduled for Friday, then I'll fly out on Tuesday or Weds (whichever has better prices) and have my ministry meeting on Friday next week.

My emotions are ALL OVER the place! I'm bummed that I can't leave this week. I so hate waiting. LOL I'm also really worried about Axel and what is going on with his neck and what the possibilities mean. If the screws holding the vertebrae together have come loose, he will need surgery to have them removed. It is very rare this happens, but if you've been reading any of my three (or 4? ...wait there are 5) blogs for awhile, you know that "rare" is pretty normal around here. Our house is like Central Park full of zebras.

I'm always one to find the good in all things. The good in this is I have more time to get things in order around here. I've been trying to find a bed for L. on craigslist. I've got my eyes on a couple matching beds which would be great since the two boys are going to share a room. But I know L won't care what his bed looks like. Whatever bed he has will be HIS bed, with HIS bedding, and HIS OWN pillow. I'm so excited to show him a life where he has things to call his own, including a Mama and Papa!

There is packing to be done, busy toys to find for a little boy, clothing to purchase in the right size, which I still don't know! I found some great cups, utensils and suction-bottom bowls for a little boy who hasn't yet learned to feed himself. Pullups, and wipes (for just in case), tiny bathtub toys, makers and paper.

Have I mentioned we're also starting a kitchen remodel? Thankfully it's not torn up yet, but I suspect by the time I get back that may have started. Chaos....a good word to describe where my inner thoughts are right now. But it's good chaos, exciting chaos. The type of energy that keeps my adrenaline flowing!

Don't forget tonight is the last chance to enter the camera giveaway!

TADA!

I have a name! I know my new son's name, and the city he where was born! For Serbian adoptions you must go to the birth city to finalize the adoption, get a new birth certificate and order the passport. One of my favorite parts is I will have the opportunity to meet with Axel's birth family again.

Oh, the name? HA! Can't share it with you just yet. I still have not seen a picture. I know, I can't believe it either. But I don't care. Really, I don't.

I really want to share his birth name with you, but I can't until I meet him, which will be happening VERY SOON! In fact, I'm booking my flights now.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pregnancy Dreams

During each of my pregnancies I had the strangest dreams. This started up again when we were "expecting" Axel. I dreamed things like flying all the way to Serbia, adopting a child only to find out he was really a cat, but I kept dressing him up anyway. Crazy dreams, all stress induced

They have started again.

Two nights ago I dreamed I was kidnapped by Amish people so they could convince me to change something in our lifestyle. (can't remember what though. Probably something goofy like buying bread from a store instead of making it myself.)

Last night I dreamed the pilot couldn't find the airport, or any airport for that matter, and we just flew around for hours while he tried to find an airport...any airport...from the cockpit window.

For my fellow adoptive parents, what were your crazy paper pregnancy dreams?

$1000

With only 24 hours to go we are still $1000 short. Please help us reach our goal. We are so very grateful to each and every one of you who have contributed not only to this adoption, but to Axel's as well. We have received some amazing emails and cards from some of you, and together we stand in awe of what God has done.

I do need to say just one thing:

Psalm 118:6

1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
3Let the house of Aaron say:
“His love endures forever.”
4Let those who fear the LORD say:
“His love endures forever.”
5In my anguish I cried to the LORD,
and he answered by setting me free.
6The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
7The LORD is with me; he is my helper.
I will look in triumph on my enemies.

Two days left

There are just two days left to get your name in the cyber hat to win a Nikon D3100! This is a $700-$900 value!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Prayers Please!

For a couple of weeks Axel has been having problems with his neck. For those who are new here, Axel had cervical spinal fusion in May. He now has a neck full of titanium, and sometimes that hardware can come loose. A CT scan has been ordered and we're going to try to squeeze that in before I leave. Because Axel needs to be under anesthesia for this, it will be difficult to get it scheduled quickly. Of all things to have happen now....ugh!!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blog Header

I finally got around to making a new blog header. It really couldn't be any more simple, could it? If you're on reader, come take a look.

A special thank you

As each day goes by and we watch L's fund increase little by little, we continue to be amazed by God's grace. I see the names that come in the notifications: teacher's, therapists, friends we haven't seen in years, fellow adoptive parents trying to raise their own funds, total strangers who we've never talked to much less met. I just keep saying, "God is so good!" I stand in awe of Him and the love He shows us every day.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have contributed to L's adoption fund. I can't believe that in just a few days I'll be on a plane to get our boy.

If you haven't already

If you haven't already visited the Schlorf family blog, please do so. This is the plight of orphans around the world. Please God sustain Johnny until his parents get custody of him and can feed him REAL food. Please Lord, care for our son who is in the same facility, and likely hungry.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Letters

Here are the names we have in our family:

Robbie (an R by the temple)
Noah (think of a salute with a letter N near the eyebrow)
Tyler (letter T down the chest like a man's tie)
Bryon (letter B inside the elbow)
Aaron (letter A running the hairline just above the ear)
Angela (letter A on the left side of the chest)
Axel (letter A at the temple)
New little guy  ( letter...?)

I knew what letter our new son's name would NOT start with. Can you guess what letter I'm tired of coming up with name signs for? Funny the jokes that God plays. Because sometimes a name is thrown at you and you KNOW that's what it's supposed to be. You just KNOW...especially when you find it while looking for a bible verse for someone else! Thanks God. VERY FUNNY!

How to Induce Panic

If you've ever wondered how to make an expectant adoptive parent panic and/or sweat, here are some ideas:

1) With just four business days before the parent is to board a plane, tell them several of their documents  have *just* expired (last week) and they should bring new ones along. If you they are documents that took weeks to get the first time around, panic, sweating, and an increased heart rate will ensue.

2) Make sure some of those documents have to be signed by government agencies, who are all closed for a federal holiday.

3) If you are a medical provider who would need to sign the documents listed in item #2, now would be a good time to go on vacation.

4) Airline prices increase each day closer to flight time they are purchased, (or each minute depending upon the airline!) In order to purchase the child's ticket to the U.S. the adoptive parent needs the child's name. If you forget to give the child's name, you're sure to cause them some level of anxiety.

This is just part of adopting, and I'm sure if I read back to Axel's adoption there were moments here and there when it happened. There are a few adoptive parents reading here. What things sent YOU into a panic?

Please Pray

Please pray for little Johnny. His parents met him for the first time yesterday, and of course have visits today as well. I cannot give you details, because they are not mine to tell, but Johnny needs to get home quickly!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Camera Giveaway!: Nikon D3100!!!

Tomorrow I get  my travel date to bring L home. I have a tentative meeting set in Belgrade for November 21st so I will likely leave a week from tomorrow!! Yes, that fast! We have just a few more days to come up with the last of the money we need. $1500...we only need $1500 more!!!!!
Here's what we're giving a way:

Nikon D3100 Digital SLR Camera Kit

Included in this package:
14.2 Megapixel D3100 Digital SLR Camera
2 Zoom-Nikkor VR Image Stabilize Lenses
System Case
4GB SD Memory Card
Nikon School Guide to Digital SLR photography
2 Nikon School DVD's

Here's the rules: Click on the "Donate" button below to enter. Each $20 contribution gives you one entry into the cyber hat. (so $40 is two entries, etc. and you can enter as many times as you like!) Leave a comment here with a link to your blog post about the giveaway and/or tag me in a Facebook post and you will get one additional entry. You have until midnight November 15th to enter. On November 16th the winner will be chosen using Random.org.

That is just SIX DAYS to raise the last of the money we need to get L home! (THIS IS NOW CLOSED)


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oh getting so close!

Today I received word from the Serbian Ministry that that L's social center has my dossier and are reviewing for final approval. We should know by Friday when I'll be traveling, but the ministry asked me about the 21st. A week from Monday!  AND AND AND....We will hopefully have a picture on Friday as well!

Oh, I can hardly stand the wait! What does our little guy look like?

Blog writer fail!

I didn't realize that the donation button on the camera give away wouldn't allow people to give an amount other than $20. That button is now fixed!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

See that thermometer?

Do you see the thermometer on the right sidebar? We're almost there!!! We are 1/4 of the way to our current goal.

I have to tell you the story about the camera:

Last spring another adoptive family was doing a camera giveaway. An expensive kit (valued at somewhere around $700-$900!) I was DETERMINED to win that camera, because I WANTED it. I NEEDED it. (Ok, need/want sometimes gets confused in my mind. LOL)

When I found out I had won the camera I was so excited. Then almost instantly I heard God's voice: "Hang onto it, you will need it later." Aw c'mon! Really??? So I stuck the box up in my closet and pretended to forget about it. Many times I was tempted by that bright yellow box. Many times. Those tutorial CD's have information I want. I have no doubt they could teach me how to use my camera the way it was meant to be used. But I resisted...I left them alone knowing a time was coming that I would need them for more than my own selfish wishes.

And here we are just a few months later. A fundraiser for our OWN adoption.   Please help me pass the word around about this giveaway. It really is an incredibly sweet deal and we need all the help we can get right now getting the word out. We're not going through any big-named non-profit where word spreads like wildfire. You who are reading are the only ones who can help us spread the word. Thank you everyone for all you're doing to help us get L home.

Another Serbian Prince is coming home!!!!

I would love to say this is OUR Serbian prince coming home, but it's not. That doesn't stop my excitement however!

In about 2 hours Ken and Tina Schlorf will board a plane to bring their son home from Serbia. For MONTHS I have watched this family gracefully and prayerfully deal with the confusion and frustration surrounding Serbian adoption as the country dealt with some legal issues. Thankfully those problems have been addressed and the program is once again running smoothly! Last week on Friday they were asked, "When do you want to come to get him?" Yeah...they're leaving today! LOL They will meet with the Serbian ministry on Thursday morning and should get to meet their new son the same day. This will be a whirlwind trip, that's for sure!

Please go to their blog and give them some bloggy love! Their little guy needs to get home quickly and with as little problem as possible. He is in need of medical care that will start as soon as they get home. You won't see pictures of their little guy for a few more days yet, since it's against Serbian rules to post pictures of children who are not yet yours. But, I have had the pleasure of meeting their little guy and I can  hardly wait to see him in the arms of his parents! Stay tuned and watch for the big reveal!!!

You can find their blog here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How Did We Get Here? (Pt 1)

Let me tell you the story....

A couple years ago...well two years to be exact, a friend of mine was planning her first of two trips to Bulgaria to get her new son. At the time I didn't know her other than through the net. I had sent them the adaptive stroller Angela outgrew a few months before, and that was about it! One day on her blog she *jokingly* asked who wanted to go along with her to Bulgaria.

I did.

You see, although I'd been advocating for the orphans and adoptive families for awhile at that point, I still didn't feel right. I felt called by God to see for myself, with my own eyes, the conditions the children were living in. The sights, smells ands sounds of the orphanages and institutions. I had no idea why God wanted me to see such things, but I was determined to see to it I got there.

Somewhere along the way, we decided to add a stop in Serbia to our trip. The overnight bag in this picture is my clothes, the rest are orphanage donations! But these are just my bags. My friend had several of her own full of donations as well.

Dean was not happy I was going on this trip. We were NOT in agreement, but he didn't have a reason for me to not go other than he didn't want my heart to be hurt. He knew this was going to be a difficult trip. Besides, I'd been talking to him about adoption for 18 months at that point and he was feeling pressured. I had stopped talking to him about it months before this trip, but I didn't stop praying about it. Asking God to either remove this longing of mine or change Dean's heart. Only God could do it. The morning Dean brought me to the airport, he dropped me off with these words, "Don't even THINK of falling in love with some kid. We are NOT adopting. I am THIS CLOSE to retiring and I like my life right now."

Famous last words....

Once in Serbia we first went to an orphanage in Belgrade. This is where I met "Ianna", the child who's name is at the top of this blog. The person guiding our tour introduced us to her and begged us to find a family for her. I vowed to God to never forge this child, and I KNEW I needed to find her a family. My heart ached. She was beautiful...perfectly made in his image! Oh she needed facial surgeries and stuff, but who cared about that? What I cared about was getting her out!

I blogged about her.

And on the other side of the ocean, reading from the comfort of our living room, Dean fell in love with her.

To be continued.....

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nikon D3100 CAMERA GIVEAWAY!!!!

Next week I'll get my travel date to bring L home. I will very likely be traveling two weeks from now! Yes, that fast! We have just two weeks to come up with the last of the money we need. $2,000. We only need to raise $2000!!!!!

Here's what we're giving a way:

Nikon D3100 Digital SLR Camera Kit


Included in this package: 
14.2 Megapixel D3100 Digital SLR Camera
2 Zoom-Nikkor VR Image Stabilize Lenses
System Case
4GB SD Memory Card
Nikon School Guide to Digital SLR photography
2 Nikon School DVD's


Here's the rules: Click on the "Donate" button below to enter. Each $20 contribution gives you one entry into the cyber hat. (so $40 is two entries, etc. and you can enter as many times as you like!) Leave a comment here with a link to your blog post about the giveaway and/or tag me in a Facebook post and you will get one additional entry. You have until midnight November 15th to enter. On November 16th the winner will be chosen using Random.org.

That is just TEN DAYS to raise the last of the money we need to get L home! (this is now closed!)



Friday, November 4, 2011

A little about "L"

I can't wait until we have a name for our new son! We're waiting to hear what his Serbian name is before we decide weather or not we'll be changing it. Axel's Serbian name was Djordje, which would NEVER get pronounced correctly here in the U.S, so we gave him Axel, my grandfather's name. Djordje became his middle name. Like Djordje, most of the Serbian names I find that begin with an "L" are not names that would be easily pronounced here in the U.S, so we will just have to wait and see.

"L" currently resides in a large orphanage in Belgrade that is, by Serbian standards, a good facility. It is clean, the children are fed and clothed. Depending upon his group there could be 3-5 or 12-15 children in a group with rotating caregivers. (smaller groups are for those with many children with significant needs, larger groups are those with more "typical" children.) Each group has it's own room and this is where the children spend their day.  Even though it is a "good"orphanage, it is just that....an orphanage.  There are no parents. It is like a child living in a center-based daycare all the time.

In the orphanage there are "good groups" and "not so good groups". The variable is the caregivers assigned to the room. I have seen rooms in which the caregivers are very attentive to the children, they go on field trips, outside to the playground, etc. I have seen other groups where the door is locked from the outside and the caregivers go in at regular intervals throughout the day, tending instead to watch through the glass. Rooms just like this picture.

(If you have not yet read "The Boy from Baby House 10", I highly recommend it, and you will understand a bit more what I'm talking about.) During one visit, after nearly and hour spent playing with the children from this room, or standing in the hallway visiting with staff, only for a few minutes did a caregiver enter the room, unlocking the door to enter.  It is very possible, based on the age of L, that he is coming from this very room.

But I met many little boys around L's age during my recent trips, and really he could be any of them, in any room. Some of them stick in my mind more than others, and I spend my nights wondering which of the many faces is our son. It is much like being pregnant. I have no picture to create an image in my mind of what our son looks like. So many parents start their adoption process based on a picture. By the time they arrive in country and actually meet their child they have created in their mind a child based on hopes, dreams and fantasy. Sometimes those things play out, but more often than not the child they bring home is very different from the fantasy child created while they waited. Some parents do great with this, others go through a big of adjustment as the come to the realization what they thought was not true.

So what DO  we know about L?

We know that he is 7, and that like Axel and Angela he has DS.

Motor skills:  We know that he can walk on flat surfaces but needs help on stairs. I have to laugh at this a bit since Axel was PETRIFIED of stairs when I got him. He overcame this very quickly since we were living in a hotel on the third floor! Axel learned very quickly to not be afraid of stairs, though he still is a bit slow on them.

Eating: I do know, based on the description I was given, that I will have my work cut out for me teaching L to eat independently. My first job will be teaching him to chew....sigh...7 years old and nobody has had the time to teach him to chew yet, nor does he feed himself.

Medical: At this point I know nothing. I don't know about his heart, his neck (remember our surprise with Axel?) or his GI system. I know nothing except that Angela and Axel have gotten me well acquainted with every medical specialty commonly accessed by patients who have DS!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On Renaming

Pondering this evening.... well this post is about renaming the blog. It tears my heart out to take Ianna's name off it. The reality is we will probably never be able to adopt her, but it is because of her that we have Axel, and that "L" will soon be joining us. It is because of her our lives were forever changed, and we never, ever stop praying for her.

Questions already!

I should have just started this post before the questions even started, knowing they were going to be coming. LOL

About the cost.....

Up until a year ago, Serbian adoptions were approximately $18,500. However, approximately $4,500 of that was taken off the top by the facilitator as her profit. That facilitator was also a state employee who had access to the files of children. Serbia has laws regarding state employees profiting off adoptions, and this facilitator is no longer allowed to have anything to do with adoptions.

So, that brings the cost of Serbian adoptions down to approximately $13,500, from start to finish. That's starting from scratch with a brand new homestudy, background checks, etc.

This adoption is not "from scratch". On my left sidebar you can see what we've paid so far and what's left to be paid. Also on the left sidebar is what we paid for Axel's adoption. You can also see the timeline for both adoptions, and as you can see, we're running just about the same timeline as we did for Axel's adoption, which puts us home before Christmas! WOOT WOOT!

Oh, I cannot wait to get a picture, or even a NAME! Right now he is just "L" to us.

The Details

We've actually been working on this for some time. We updated our home study back in May, and when I traveled to Serbia and met with the Ministry on May 9th I had the rare opportunity to hand deliver my translated home study.

Then we waited to hear word about Ianna, and the word we heard was not good. We have known this will be our last adoption, (but if it happened that we learned Ianna ever became available, we would go get her in a heartbeat!)

In September we learned of the other children on the Serbian registry who fit our criteria, and we have sat with that information, slowly turning it over and over through many discussions. But there was one problem...my school! I have had several issues come up with school since it started in September, and it did NOT feel right to be where I was, but I really didn't know what I could do about it. Maybe I was just second-guessing myself? I kept plugging along, unsettled spirit and all.

All this time Dean and I were discussing kids, options, schedules, the logistics of it all, there was just no way it would work with me in school. Well God once again intervened and removed the obstacle. I am now officially out of school.

I know, I know, you just want to know who we're bringing home!!!! I will tell you this is Serbia's first TRUE "blind adoption" to the U.S. We know we are bringing home a 7 year old boy with DS who is currently in Belgrade. We know a bit about his motor skills, and that he communicates his wants and needs with gestures and that's IT! We don't even have a picture.

While some people think this has happened really fast, it really hasn't happened any faster than Axel's adoption. In fact, we're on the exact same timeline as Axel's adoption! (Axel's timeline is on the left sidebar) What IS different is the cost. This adoption will total around $8,000. Yes, you read that right. 

There is only about $6,000 left to pay.  (airfare and in-country expenses) We already have $4,000 set aside and a VERY short time to come up with an additional $2,000 which I am confident we can do.

So there we go....adopting again. We're so excited!

Just in case you didn't know.....


(If I'd had time, I would have ordered this t-shirt by Adoptionbug.)  

More details coming soon!