Thursday, October 30, 2008

Adoption (and Parenting) Require Persistence and Stamina

Anyone who says adopting is the 'easy' way to have a child has obviously never tried it. (And no, I'm not trying to start a discussion on the relative difficulties of pregnancy versus adoption. Smile) Take the seemingly simple task of wiring money internationally. Wednesday morning I went to the bank and requested a print-out of our account activity since the last statement. I wanted to make absolutely sure there were sufficient funds to cover a rather large withdrawal. So I was sitting there in the parking lot adding and subtracting away when I realized it was almost 11:00 am-time for Caleb to be out of preschool. Thankfully, we only live 3 or 4 miles away.

At 11:30 I had an appointment with Stephanie, the new director of the company that provides developmental therapy for our oldest son who is 14 with an autistic spectrum disorder. It was time to re-do a questionnaire that seems like it has about 20 categories with a couple zillion questions in each one that must individually be rated with a 3 (my child does this all the time), 2 (my child does this about 75% of the time), 1 (my child does this about 25% of the time) or 0 (my child never/almost never does this.) And for those of you who have never had the opportunity to fill out this glorious form, the questions cover everything from whether your child gazes at objects to whether he can fill out a job application and keep a budget. Then in each section you identify what you child's strengths are and what areas need to be worked on. Well, about 2-2 1/2 hours later, both Stephanie and I looked at each other with glazed eyes and decided we were too fried to do the individual plan at that moment. We scheduled again for Tuesday morning.

After everyone got home from school I loaded them up in the car and we headed back over to the bank to withdraw the funds to be wired. And we scurried off toward Twin Falls only to discover we didn't have time to make it to Kmart which has a Western Union office so went to Ridley's in Kimberly instead. We went to the desk and found out the fee to SEND the funds has to be in cash as well. So I drove to the ATM to withdraw that money.

Then hurried to the elementary (and was a bit late) for J's parent-teacher conference at 4:40, T's at 5:00, Caleb's at 5:20. By the time I got everyone rounded up from the gym and down the hall and outside it was nearly 6:00 p.m., the time that conferences began at the Junior High for S and B. Their conferences are not at set times; instead, you pick up the report cards in the school office and then just wander around from classroom to classroom to find a teacher who isn't talking to someone else already and chat about how your kiddo is performing in whatever subject. It was enlightening but exhausting. We stumbled out of there at nearly 8:00 p.m. Needless to say, we missed Bible study and ate at Arctic Circle.

Right here I really want to put in a public plug for our school system and the FANTASTIC way they have worked with B. Last year he had around 5 of his subjects in the resource room and 2 in the regular classroom. This year they were trying to almost reverse that. So in one subject he goes to the regular classroom but has a one-on-one aid. In Social Studies he works in the resource room preparing presentations on subjects such as US presidents, the judicial system and the Revolutionary War. Then he goes to the regular classroom and presents in front of everyone as a way of introducing them to their new chapter. His teacher said the students are very supportive of him and that he does quality research. And you could tell B was very excited about the posters he had made for these presentations.

Early Thursday I drove J to Gooding to the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind to have an auditory processing test. The test took a little over 2 hours followed by showing me the results, though not the actual scoring. Oh, that is a 'mean' test!! In one sub test you listen to a series of numbers and have to repeat it back in REVERSE order. And of course, the number of digits increases each time you do it correctly. I really hope that all this testing will result in a plan to make school much less of a struggle for J. I got him back to school at 2:00 p.m.

Then--back to the persistence story-- zipped back over to Ridley's, filled out the necessary paperwork for wiring money and the gentleman behind the desk asked if I had TWO pieces of ID. Well, I had my driver's license--which was good--and at least 30 other cards--but none of them would suffice. Back home, get passport, back in car, back to Ridley's, back to Western Union counter, back to paperwork, and finally, finally, FINALLY got to hand the man the 2 pieces of ID, the cash money, the fee money and get a receipt!! Just one piece of the adoption puzzle.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Congratulations to my 2 friends on Reece's Rainbow who had their dossiers submitted to the SDA in Ukraine today. I am so excited for them. (You girls know who you are :) :) :) Here's hoping you get to travel soon to bring those daughters HOME.

Now I don't have to feel guilty for earnestly and sincerely hoping and praying that ours can be submitted next Monday or Tuesday. Did I mention our stateside facilitator thinks we might be able to travel in December?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What's Up With Our Dossier?

I just got word from our translator that he hopes to pick up our dossier from the translator on Wednesday (29th) and plans to TRY to submit it the first Monday or Tuesday (3rd or 4th) of November to the SDA. I have other friends who have waited weeks for their dossiers to be submitted so I hope theirs are submitted Monday the 27th. I would love it if we could meet there in Kiev.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Well, our dossier is in Kiev, Ukraine and has cleared customs. I wonder how in the world it could have ended up there??!! LOL. I'm sure most of you have already guessed that Ukraine is the country in Eastern Europe that we are hoping to visit again SOON. (How is it that we in the adoption world want everything to happen 'soon'?)

THANK YOU, GOD for hearing our earnest prayers for our paper baby's safe arrival. Now Lord, please oversee its translation and its submission to the SDA. You know so many people have dossiers awaiting submission. So many children are waiting for a mommy and daddy of their very own. Some of these children are sick. Some are at risk of aging out. You who are the father of the fatherless, the defender of orphans, the one who said, "Let the little children come to me and forbid them not"--YOU be Lord and Master of this situation.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Trip to Paris/Caleb is just too cute

It is so fun to see that our dossier is in Paris already. It is actually moving faster than I was expecting which is such a wonderful change.

At preschool Caleb's teacher remarked again just yesterday how well he is doing with language. (He doesn't cry anymore when we leave him at school, by the way) Today Caleb was looking at a book and actually pointed at the kitty and said "kitty" and signed it all on his own--without me saying it first. He has been mimicking this word a long time and calling our cat 'kitty' on his own once in a while, but this was the first time I remember him identifying the picture from a book. And tonight he saw yogurt in the fridge and asked for some by name (his own version of the name) and for the first time ever said and signed please without being prompted. Also this evening when I asked him whether he'd rather wear a diaper or a pull-up he actually pointed to the pull-up. Usually when presented with a choice he just says 'yeah.' I am so pleased with his progress.

Today I finally upgraded my camera phone. The one I had was mysteriously broken without being touched by human hand or foot (?????) on August 25, the first day of school. I am looking forward to taking some pictures of our kiddos--once I read the 10,000 page manual.

This and That

Our paper baby has made it to Salt Lake City. I'm excited to see the progress.

Every now and then I like to stick my stomach WWAAYY out and joke that I'm pregnant with a 5-year-old. My kids are horrified at the sight and say, "Mom, don't do that."

Little R's country took a break from accepting dossiers for a couple weeks but seem to be back in business as of yesterday.

Some of you are probably wondering why I always call our new son Little R and have tried really hard not to specify his country of origin. The fact is we haven't decided on a new name yet and I'm just trying to be extra careful to protect his identity so I don't offend anyone there in Eastern Europe.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baby Moses in the Ark

That last necessary apostilled paper from the Commonwealth of Virginia was delivered by the man in the brown truck at about 3:15 this afternoon!!! I'm feeling a little like Jochebed must have felt when she laid her precious bundle in the treacherous Nile. After all the kids got home from school we drove over to Twin Falls. There I carefully, nervously, excitedly slid about 57 sheets of paper accumulated over the last 4 1/2 months into a stiff -cardboard Fed Ex envelope and addressed it to a certain far away city in Eastern Europe!! Our dossier--the paper baby--is totally in God's hands now and is supposed to reach its destination in 3-5 days. The count-down doesn't actually start until 3:45 p.m. tomorrow which is the time of the next Fed-Ex pickup.

Let me tell you, the kids and I seriously prayed over that stack of paperwork that God will hold it in his hands and get it safely to its destination. My concern is even greater than the last time around because earlier this year the shipping company accidentally lost an extremely important adoption-related original document--namely Caleb's birth certificate. I know they are human and I'm sure their overall percentage of completed deliveries is great--but I will be so relieved to hear that our precious package has not fallen prey to any crocodiles and is safe in our facilitator's hands.

Monday, October 13, 2008

En route

I just checked UPS tracking and that sweet letter from Virginia is in transit on its way back to us. I cannot believe we are actually almost done with the dossier paperwork. The interesting thing is that we sent the paperwork for Caleb overseas October twenty-something of 2007, got our travel date on Dec 26 and had SDA appointment on Jan 25. Of course, this time I'm hoping for travel to Eastern Europe in November or December :) One can always dream!

Jesus, please keep little R. safe. You know my concern about whether he's getting enough to eat, what negative behaviors he could be learning in order to survive, whether he's healthy. Jesus, please help at least one worker to have a particular interest in his well-being. Please keep his heart open to affection and his mind open to learning. And help the other kids there as well.

And Lord, thank you that our pastor mentioned in his sermon this morning that every child with Down syndrome has value. Absolutely. I so appreciated that validation.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I am advocating for the adoption of a little boy named Ruslan. Ruslan is very cute, has Down syndrome and was described to me by the SDA of Ukraine as 'a very good boy.' I know their description had nothing to do with behavior but I think with his level of functioning. He is only 5 years of age just like little R whom we are in the process of adopting.

In addition to DS, Ruslan has the diagnosis of Hepatitis B. When we were told about him at the SDA (which is something like Ukraine's State Dept of Adoption), I did not want to accept his referral partially because I was afraid this disease would put my other very impulsive children at risk (since they might not always remember to use universal precautions.) I had totally forgotten they have all been immunized for Hep B. (And truthfully, we didn't feel able to adopt two at once anyway) Now Ruslan has been transferred to an institution but adoption is still possible. Interestingly enough, it does not seem that he has been segregated from other children as I understand is usually the case with children with infectious diseases. Some have even questioned whether he just tested positive for Hep B because his birth mother had it.

If you'd like to see a picture of him please follow this link and scroll down until you get to his name.

I am in the process of learning more about hepatitis B. There is good information at a website listed at the link above as well as another site specific to adoption and Hep B which urges parents not to let Hep B keep them from adopting a particular child. I have an online friend who has a child with this diagnosis and she has assured us that the disease is very manageable.

Please pray with me that this little boy has a forever family soon.

Wrong AGAIN but God is at work

No, the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia does NOT process requests for authentication the same day they receive them. I'm sure they would if I was a walk-in but it's a rather long walk :) I just checked the return tracking number (we supplied the return postage) and the package with that last piece of paper we need for our dossier has not yet been sent on its merry way toward our household.

And wouldn't you know it, when we finally got that verification of employment from Kevin's job last Friday, I noticed the notary's commission expires Feb 2009. For those not familiar with adoption from Eastern Europe, all the dates on every form are supposed to be valid for at least 8 or 9 months when you submit the dossier. So . . . unless there's a miracle and we get a travel date in November or EARLY December I am going to have to do this lovely letter all over yet again.

But the exciting news is that when we submit the dossier we are also supposed to wire $2000. At the start of this week that was not exciting news--it was rather terrifying because at this second of our lives we just don't have that much cash lying around and the only solution I could come up with was going further into debt on our credit card. I finally got up the nerve to tell Kevin about the $2000 on Tuesday because I was afraid he'd freak out. But he absolutely did not. He began telling me about a Christian radio program he'd heard that day of a person needing a large amount of money for some ministry and how people just began supplying the need. (Let me say here how wonderful it is to have Kevin so absolutely on board with this adoption.) Then Kevin started remembering how we have money coming from several different things. For instance, his part time job in a nearby town pays $65 for each time he mows their city park and they pay it in one lump sum. Their fiscal year just 'happened' to end the last of September and they owe him for 20 mowing. The same town reimburses him for money paid to get the various licenses he needs to manage their water/waste water systems. That's 4 X $45. We picked up a copy machine for the church and never got around to turning in the receipt: that's over $300! I don't know about you but I think I'm seeing God at work here.

So please, to any reader who might possibly be considering the adoption of a child with Down syndrome--or any child, for that matter--please know that if GOD is calling you to do it, He will make it possible.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Day at the Zoo

I hope no one will be offended by that title. I not refering at all to furry creatures such as lions or tigers or bears (oh my!) It's just that life at my house is sometimes rather crazy. We have five children because I have very seriously considered the adoption option and I love it! I love children. I love being a Mommy. Without adoption I would be childless.

Mostly our kids are just kids but you get a few diagnoses like 4 kids with ADHD, 1 of those with PDD as well, some sensory integration difficulties and auditory processing challenges and attachment concerns and fetal alcohol exposure and mild cerebral palsy and most recently Down syndrome tossed into the mixture and things are rarely dull. Don't get excited--it's not NEARLY as bad as all those words sound--but it's not boring either :) Oh, there ARE actually two furry creatures who reside here-a dog and a cat and I really think the dog has ADHD, too.

Last night I took the kids with me to Bible study as usual. Kevin had a City Council meeting so could not be there. Of course I gave everyone a stern "Now I don't have to remind you how we are supposed to act here, right?" before they streamed out of the car. In Bible study our crew sits on the back two benches with children spaced widely apart to try to minimize how distracting we are to everyone else. Also everyone else sits in the middle of the auditorium while we sit in the section to the pastor's right. My oldest who is 14 bought time-out within a few minutes (his misbehavior was already well in motion before we ever got to church) so I put him in a side room that has a big window to the auditorium and told him to stay there. I went back into the service and sat down. The daughter beside me was scribbling all over her notepaper, flipping it loudly back and forth, laying on the bench, patting me, reaching behind me to Caleb, etc. The daughter in front of me and to the left was gesturing rather wildly that she had some kind of problem. Unbeknownst to me she had a DEAD KITTEN wrapped up in the pocket of her sweatshirt and it was stinking. (please roll your eyes here!) My middle son James arrived from football practice and sat down directly in front of me with pads and cleats still in place. About that time the oldest son showed up beside me and told me he wanted to try again. I told him that I'd told him to stay there. He didn't budge so I again got up to escort him back to his bench in the side room. Back to Bible study. Not too long later I notice the lights going off and on in said side room. Back to side room. Correct son. Back to Bible study. And where is Caleb all this time? the one with Down Syndrome whom we were warned about that would be such a wild horror of a child? He was quietly sitting in his place on the pew looking at his Bible story book, and writing on some paper even with me getting up and down so many times.

Thankfully God gave everyone at the zoo a good night's sleep and I woke up this morning feeling much less stressed. OK, so I did find an open can of peaches sitting neatly on the cupboard shelf in front of my Total Raisin Bran this morning. Thankfully, they were freshly opened and still tasty and thankfully they were IN the can and not decoratively, stickily poured on anything. Wow! I had 3 servings of fruit in one meal--peaches, raisins in cereal and apple juice. Not bad for a new day at the zoo.

A Tale of Three Moms

Within the last week I have had the privilege of meeting two other moms of boys with Down syndrome in Twin Falls. The first was a mom I have known for quite some time. She and her husband have an adorable son with DS who is now in kindergarten (and other sweet children as well.) She had heard of our adoption plans but we hadn't seen each other since our trip to Ukraine. She was absolutely delighted to meet Caleb and I reminded her that her family was an inspiration to me as we were facing so many negative reactions to our plans to adopt a child with Down syndrome. Her comment that "every family should have one" rings in my heart.

The second encounter came just 2 days ago as Caleb and I were meeting my parents for lunch at Burger King. A young lady was helping several small children out of a car and asked me how old Caleb was. She told me that she also had a son with DS who is just 6 months old and mentioned what a surprise he was since she is only 21. She and the children with her sat right next to us though the restaurant was certainly not crowded. I got the feeling she was observing Caleb. Of course, he was hungrily scooping mac and cheese into his mouth, chatting happily with Papa and Grandma who just dote on him, and overall just being his cheery little self. I kind of purposely talked about the form I have been trying to fill out for Caleb's speech therapist (trying to identify words Caleb seems to understand as well as those he says totally on his own) and the special needs support group we attend monthly. And I very warmly and wholeheartedly congratulated her on her son and remarked how cute he is. No pity. No 'bless his little heart' I'm HAPPY for her. As she was preparing to leave, she came over and told Caleb good-bye. I hope we were as much a blessing to her as my friend and her family were to us earlier in our DS journey.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Virginia Paper

As many of you already know, one particular piece of paper mailed from Richmond,VA was in our mailbox on Friday!! I turned around and UPS'd it back to Virginia to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office. It is supposed to arrive there on Tuesday morning and be back to us by Thursday or Friday with an apostille in place. This is the spot where the letter came up missing last time around so I am praying history does not repeat itself. I so hope to mail out the dossier by Friday evening.

October, by the way, is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. I feel like such a newcomer to the world of DS but I would love to invite any of the readers of this blog to where you can learn valuable information, read mind-boggling statistics and have your eyes opened to the needs of orphans around the world who just happen to have an extra chromosome.