Friday, December 4, 2009

Welcome to Holland Poem

This is a poem that explains much of what special needs feel at some point in time.  Hope you enjoy it.  We totally relate to this poem.

 

WELCOME TO HOLLAND

by
Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

limitations/ new news

Oh my goodness what a day of ups & downs on the adoption roller coaster!  Gosh, do I wish I could share all the details with you.  Some day for sure.  Okay, I need to start out w/ something I said I would address.  And that is limitations in adoption.  Especially, special needs adoptions.   Most go into adoption on a leap of faith.  I truly believe every single adoption is a leap of faith.  Has to be.  No one would willingly go into this process without at least a little faith in something or some higher power.  I know there are many religions out there so I will speak more in vague & not just about our religion.  You have to have faith that the child/children you are getting are meant to be yours.  You have to have that feeling.  I have personally not been pregnant but am on enough adoption boards where women who have both been pregnant & adopted share the similiarities in the process.  Many of us adoptive parents refer to this stage as being paper pregnant.  Right now, we are in the first finding out what you're having stage.  Now, what some of you don't realize, is most our kids came to us via pictures on the internet.  I know, I know, it's not supposed to work that way.  Those kids are never available.  Umm, yes they are.  You just have to have a trusty agency and we do.  Well, I had contacted our agency a few months back saying what we were interested in this one last time.  Sent me info on a few different children.  it works a little differently for us.  See, for most countries you'll wait for a referral.  That is if you are bringing home a healthy infant/ child.  We on the other hand tend to adopt the harder to place children, all dx'd as special needs.  Never started out on that path but that is the road we are on so that is where we are comfortable now.  With that comfort level however does come limitations.  With special needs adoptions, you need to be honest with yourself.  If not, you will not help your current children or the ones coming into your home.  Warren and I are very good at knowing what we can and can't handle and are absolutely honest with the agency upfront.  Recently, we had accepted the fact that we were adopting 3 children, all considered special needs.  Knew what their needs were or so we thought.  This week, we received a video showing a sib group.  We both looked at each other w/ grave concerned looks on our faces.  It was not the physical disabilities at all that worried us.  There were significant mental disabilities.  Now, we have children with mild to moderate mental challenges & delays.  One of these children was beyond anything we have seen and right then & there we both instantly knew we had reached our limitations and would not be able to proceed with these two children.  Since sibs always have to be adopted together, there was no way to accept this referral.  Reluctantly, we declined  being able to proceed.  However, have faith that things always happen for a reason.  We were later sent another video w/ two more siblings.  They are in the same country.  They are a bit older but will fit in perfectly with this family.  We both watched the video and had smiles and knew then, these are our kids.  We just knew it.  Have watched it several times since then.  So, though I can't release info, just know these children are awesome!  I think they will just gel w/ this bunch.  I can picture them all in the pool playing, picture them playing ball in the yard, argueing conversing at the table, etc.  Feels right.  So, that is still 3 children.  We will have 10 kids...5 girls/ 5 boys.  4 sets of virtual twins!  That is correct.  4 sets of kids that will be the same age.  How crazy is that?!  And then the oldest & the youngest will be w/out someone their age. 

In adoption, you really need to be honest.  If you are not, it can jeopardize the family dynamics.  We saw this week what our limitations are.  This decision will allow an easier transition.  It will also allow me more time w/ "Little Bit."  She is the youngest we will have ever adopted.  While the other 9 are at school, she can have one on one time with me and any therapies she may need.  This also will allow us to travel more as a family and do some additional things with the 10 kids we'll have.  With the other situation, I don't think that would have been as feasible.  We have always wanted our family to stay strong and stay together.  But, I also don't think it would be fair to them to deal with a situation that would have taken away their time and their needs.  If some of you considering adoption already have a family, please do be honest with yourself what you can and can't handle.  We have always been.  Always.  Yes, there is one of the new kids that has a disorder we are not familiar with.  However, it is one we know we can handle.  We are SO incredibly excited to be adding these 3 children to our family.  I wish I could describe them but know the rules.  Just know, they will fit into the boyd bunch like a glove.  That, I have no doubt.  Now, the best news is, these children come with a grant.  That's right, a grant.  So, I think we will lower our money needed bar.  We just need $10,000 to complete these upcoming adoptions.  That is NOT much!  Think about it for a moment.  That is just 100 people giving a one time donation of $100.  Or 400 people giving just a one time donation of $25!  We can do this.  I know we can.  I am more confident than ever that we will indeed be able to raise the $10K needed to complete this adoption.  I will post the fundraisers soon.  2 of them.  Maybe 3.  I would love to start a facebook campaign next week.  A mission to a miracle.  A mission to raise $10K in a week!  Believe it or not, we need to get these children out of there soon & so money will need to be raised fairly quickly.  But I know we can do it.  I only need 390 people more to give just one time $25 to save the lives of three children in an orphanage.  Or, just 98 people giving $100.  I can not give details but it is vital one of these children get out ASAP.  Yes, all three are special needs.  Yes, all will be adopted at the same time.  Yes, it will be tough at first.  Don't think this decision was easy.  It was not.  We had extreme guilt, or at least I did, in the beginning for declining these children.  I have to do what is best for our entire family.  It would also not be fair to the children that really need a smaller family to thrive.  These two children needed what we could not give them.  Many say just take the children and go with it.  Some say that is what you would do if you gave birth to a child.  Sort of.  see, when you give birth here in America, you have access to many early intervention services.  These children have already had years at an orphanage with no such services.  Had I given birth to them, they would have had that extra love and attention needed int eh earlier years.  Though I would have loved to have brought them home, we are just not the right family for these children.  I will advocate very hard for them, trust me on that one.  For now though, we had to unfortunately experience what our limitations are and be honest with ourselves.  Please do so if you are adopting.  Please.  It makes your famliy stronger for sure.  And please do not misinterpret what I am saying.  I am not saying don't adopt special needs.  I am saying know what you can and can't handle.  I know for a fact we could not have a child w/ OI in this house.  Not b/c of brittle bones but b/c of the sheer rough & toughness in this home w/ boys and kids w/ FAS/ RAD.  It would not be fair to the child or the children at home.  Same w/ this child we were considering.  It justwould not have worked w/ our current family situations.  I hope that made sense and didn't come off wrong.  I just wanted to give a few examples.  It is never an easy decision on whether or not you will adopt again, especially from another country.  It is an even harder decision trying to decide what special needs you can and can't handle as a parent.  It does not make you a bad parent when you say to an agency I can not handle this.  They would rather hear that BEFORE you bring the child home rather than later.  Now, some special needs are a suprise to some families and you deal with that as you go along.  That is what we did with Nik and Alyona.  Yes, we knew Alyona had FAS and strabismus.  But did we knwo about her ONH(optic nerve hypoplasia) or the probable dwarfism or radial articulation or sensory integration or microcephaly or the other stuff?  no.  We dealt with the diagnosis as we went along and tried to find new ways to help her.  Same with Nik.  we did not know he was deaf/ possibly blind.  Nor the other stuff with him.  Again, we dealt with it as we went along.  I'm sure these next children coming home will have suprise dx's as well.  They usually do.  We will deal with it as we go along.  But this is what we are doing, examining what may and may not be to the best of our abilities.  Seeing what we can and can't handle, especially, with three children coming home.  This will be the first tiem we ever adopt three at once.  We know this.  We know it will not be an easy plane ride home.  Hence, why we plan on taking IRina to help us.  We know with older kids that they have to grieve the loss they experience as soon as they're home.  This is a natural transition and all part of the adoption process. 

That was a very long-winded write up on knowing your limitations in the adoption process.  Long story short, I think we do.  we are very, very confident that the children we have decided to bring home are without a doubt our children.  They will fit in wonderful here.  Will we have issues at first?  I sure hope so!  Why do I say that?  because if they didn't, it would mean it wasn't a natural transition.  Thanks for listening today and know that we are just thrilled about the decision we made today to add three wonderful kids to our family.  For those considering adoption, please do think about the impact it will have on your current family dynamics.  consider all the suprise dx's that may come with some of these children that have been in an institution.  Once all is said and done, when they are home, they are your children to raise and love.  Do what is in their best interest.  Thus concludes my lecture on adoption limitations--LOL.  Gee, if I were a student, I would have never sat through this.  BTW, Warren is going to be retrieving all my pictures later this weekend since our computer crashed.  Though I can't share pics of the new kids with you all, I can definitely share our pictures of the children that have been home.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  I will write more later, have more pictures up and more fundraisers up.  Busy blog weekend. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Upcoming items...

Some things I'll be sharing soon I thought I'd put out there. That way, I won't forget.  And, you can kindly remind me when I do--LOL.  Why we decided to adopt again and why 3 more.  Oh, I'm sure I'll get comments on that post--LOL.  What's involved in a homestudy, Max's transformation, why does it cost so much, and what if there is tension amongst relatives on your adoption.  A post regarding us doing a documentary of sorts on the adoption process & our adoption in general.  The good, the bad & the ugly of adoption on video tape.  Wished I had done it w/ my other adoptions.  Well, we did video tape Max & Irina  but Max came home & erased it with 2 hours of golf when he was 4yo!  I will also do a post on limitations and expectations.  That is very important in the adoption world...to know your limitations.  On that note, I've reached mine tonight w/ my kids--LOL.  I have no idea what has gotten a hold of them this evening but it is not a pretty site.  Must be a full moon or something.  I still swear if I survive the teen years, I should be knighted for acts of parental bravery & courage.   Yep, knighted.  What do you think?  Is there a way to skip the teen years???  It comes with ups and downs.  Isn't that what parenting always is...ups & downs?  Talk later.

Computer died/ sacrifices

Sorry I have not written for awhile.  Computer finally died.  See, Warren works in the computer industry and loves to fix things.  We have had (our ONLY computer mind you) the same computer for well over 11 years now.  Warren was given the computer bysomeone who was going to throw it away after it had been hit by lightening.  Yes, my husband loves a challenge so I guess that's why we're going for the three kids this time--LOL.  Anyhow, over the years he has done his best to keep the thing running.  My parents were generous to give us their old monitor which we used till we couldn't see it anymore.  Finally in the spring, we bought a monitor...new.  First time ever.  Love it.  It's big & we can actually see the screen clearly w/out going blind.  Now, we eventually had to get a new mouse as Warren had repaired thatthing for years too.  Another freebie.   So, thought we could make the computer last awhile but we were wrong.  Finally crashed.  Lost it all.  Warren backs it up at tax time.  Trouble was, lots of recent stuff on there.  You know, videos of the new kids, pics, etc.  Stuff I have to now ask the agency for again.  As an adoptive parent, you tend to look at those things all the time.  Okay, at least I do.  My kids do too.  The hard drive failed.  Our computer is SO old, none of the new stuff is compatible anymore.  The new hard drive purchased yesterday was way too big for it as far as memory goes.  We know, we know we desperately need a new computer but it will have to wait.  This is a temporary repair.  Hoping to get a new one at tax time.  Warren uses the computer for work too so we have to have one.  I do a bunch ofadoption work on here as well.  It is a necessity in this household.  We don't have cell phones or cable or any of those extras but do need the computer.  Those new to this blog & new to adoption will soon realize sacrifices have to be made in order to adopt.  Just the way it goes.  When we adopt, we try to save every penny we can.  No extras, no going out, none of that stuff.  We feel the sacrifice we are making is nothing compared to the sacrifice our children have made over the young years of their life.  Many of ours have been malnourished, sick, needing surgery, without family, without basic life necessities.  That is a true sacrifice.  Us not being able to go out & get a new computer right away as we're trying to bring our kids home...inconvenience, NOT sacrifice. So, as I learn to type on this new keyboard, I remember that this is just different, it is NOT in any way, shape or form a bit of sacrifice.  I have a warm house, good food, and a family that loves me.  This is whatwe want for our new children coming home.  We want them to have to sacrifice nothing when they get home.  They've been through enough. 

Since computer is now temporarily fixed, I should be able to get the fundraisers up tonight.  One is one we've done before & will be nice for Christmas.  The other is something new & going to try it.  Then, I may try to do something big in the way of word of mouth campaign.  wE'll see.  Getting things together.  Life does happen so you have to fit adoption blogging & adoption paperwork in between normal life happenings.  Balance of adoption and family.  Hard at times, but doable.  I will be back later.  Obviously, there might not be any pictures on here for a few days till all computer stuff is fixed.   Lucky I have a husband that can fix just about anything. 

Our kids at home are doing very well.  Have to brag on two of them this week, just b/c that's what moms do.  Max is out of self-contained classroom for english and now in just a resource class.  Very proud of that.  Looks like soon he may be able to get out of self-contained altogether.  yeah.  Alyona is learning howto read!  Something that they never thought possible w/ her cognitive disabilities and her vision issues.  She is so proud of herself and excited.  She's sounding out words.  Wonderful to see.  So, you can indeed take severely disabled children,give them care and they in many cases can make a full recovery and turn around.   Not only am I an adoption advocate, but an adoption advocate for special needs and older orphans.  They need a voice.  There is SO much potential these children have.  Just look at what some of mine have accomplished since they've been home.  Talk soon and have fundraisers up very soon.  Thanks for your patience. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Next step...homestudy

Made the call today to get the homestudy underway.  Yep, big step.  For those of you new to adoption, the homestudy is vital.  For us, even more so.  Bigger families do tend to get a thorough homestudy to make sure they can provide for the children.  Understandable for sure & glad they're keeping the kids safe.  We love our social worker & she knows us.  She was here just last month so won't be too bad.  Most people fear their first homestudy.  I know we did.  Cleaned, scrubbed, organized, etc.  After doing this so many times, you don't get so paniced.  As long as they know the children are provided for, well-cared for and loved, they are okay with things maybe being a little, well, out of sorts she'll we say--LOL.  No matter how much you clean this house, 10  5 minutes later I swear it is covered in bookbags, toys or clothes.  Don't mind though.  Long as the kids are healthy, happy, learning in life, I will not sweat the small stuff or worry that my house is not an example of Martha Stewart--LOL.  I'll let you know how the homestudy progresses.  Nowadays, you have to do footwork.  So, we will have to get copies of birthcerts, marriage certs and references.   Finding out what all is needed & how many copies of each.  Thankfully, I have practice in this & it does not take me long to obtain these documents.  And, believe it or not, I have some references because not everyone thinks we are nuts.  Seriously though, I am looking forward to getting this homestudy underway and ready to go.  Once that is done, things seem to fly by and first trip will be here before you know it!  Think positive, think positive.  We have some more fundraising to do and I will get another fundraiser up today just in time for Christmas shopping.  Maybe even two fundraisers up tonight.  Just starting to get really excited about it all.  So are the kids.  Keep you all posted on how it progresses.  Below is a picture of the super 7 when we went hiking.  Girls were not thrilled as they had a sleepover & stayed up all night.  These are the great things we'll be able to share with our future children as well.  When you can picture your children here with the family and doing fun things together, that's when you know it will all be okay and with time, the children will find their way home to their forever family here. 



Anyhow, homestudy is next & once approved, we would then be able to apply for much needed grants to get the children home.  Very excited about this part of the process.  We love talking about our kids, our life so really a homestudy visit is something to look forward to for us.  Thanks for letting me share once again.  More later tonight.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Yana's transformation

Wow, this is one kiddo that I thought I'd never survive--LOL!  I'm just keeping things real.  I hate reading just cheery, rosy, adoption blogs.  Life naturally has ups & downs and if you are speaking of your life, you should tell of some of the downs as well.  So, this will be an honest post, as they all are.  Be prepared.  You have heard of RAD in the adoption world, I'm sure.  It is a diagnosis that every adoptive parent fears and dreads.  We ended up with not just one, but two "RADishes."  One was Alex, whom I've already written about and one was Yana. 

Yana came home at 8.5 years old.  Her life before here was not the best it could have been.  She was at a home for older children.  Once children hit this home, there is very little hope ever of them being adopted.  In fact, once children hit 4 years old, the chances of an older child being adopted is slim to none.  I thought I heard 5% chance but that was so long ago.  So, once they reach the orphanage there, their hope has faded of ever having a family.  Therefore, the orphanages have their own little culture, own set of rules.  They know when they age out, they will have no skills, no family, no money and nowhere to go.  The boys typically end up in the army or on the streets.  The girls end up on the streets doing the world's "oldest profession."  When we picked Yana up, we knew she had witnessed more in that short year than many of the adults combined reading this have.  Truly sad to have the days of baby dolls & barbies go by so fast & be forced to grow up due to those around you.  This little bit of orphanage history is to help you all understand what we were contending with in Yana when she first arrived home. 

When first home, there was nothing but anger in her.  She had left every bit of the life she had ever known.  Her friends, her language, her food, her culture, her life was ultimately gone with one plane ride home.  We battled much when first home.  We had to deal with her extreme grief she was experiencing.  Only her grief came out in the form of anger.  She had rages.  These are not temper tantrums but full fledge rages.  We had to literally sit on top of her so she would not harm herself or us.  What we didn't know at the time is just how deep our daughter's wounds were.  She has been diagnosed with RAD(reactive attachment disorder), FAE(fetal alcohol effects), PTSD, CAPD(central auditory processing disorder) and even ODD(oppositional defiance disorder).  Whew, quite a mouthful.  One day, I will give a quick lesson on what all these different dx's and disorders mean in the grand scheme of things.  Anyhow, when first home, she did not know how to fit in with a family.  A few months later we brought Bojan home, she wanted nothing whatsoever to do with him.  Took us awhile to figure that one out but in Russia they are essentially taught to hate those with disabilities.  Bojan was missing his leg and she thought that was gross.  It was interesting to say the least.  Tonight, they were talking back & forth at the dinner table to each other as if attached at the hip.  They are very close nowadays and are SO much alike it's not even funny. 

When first home, Yana was not the most easy going child to be around.  It has taken years of struggles for her to find her place.  But boy has she ever!   WithYana, we took a different approach in her healing and did it with NO meds whatsoever.  She could have gone on mood stabilizers, etc.  We chose not to.  We are not against meds as 2 of our boys are on antipyschotics & have been for years.  It was just we thought she could heal without them.  Gutsy move for sure.  It has been well over a year since Yana's last RAD rage.  We are at the point where those are gone.  She now has empathy for others and shows genuine concern.  Her total disdain for her brothers & sisters has now turned into love and adoration.   Yana's schooling has done a 180 and she made A/B honor roll this past grading period.  VERY proud of her accomplishments.  Yana is extremely motivated to learn.  Though not athletically inclined, she has found her talents elsewhere.  She is a gifted artist.  She loves drawing scenes of nature.  Yana has a loving personality.  Though she is testing us on limits during these teen years.  However, I'm hearing from neighbors this is very NORMAL behavior for a teenager and we are taking it as such. Though, she does get grounded when necessary.  I'll take caught on the phone late at night versus out on the streets anyday!  She likes listening to music and hanging out with friends.  Typical teenager for sure.  Clearly, she has some deep scars that will take years to heal.  However, she is doing just beautifully.  She has mutured into a wonderful young lady and did it all on her own.  Very proud of how far she has come & what an amazing transformation this has been for her. 




The above photo is the one we received of Yana right before we hosted her.  Again, that blank orphanage stare.  No hope, no future, no family.




This was recently shot this past week over Thanksgiving break.  Notice the sparkle in her eyes.  And no, it is not just because she received makeup--LOL.  She is truly thriving.  Yes, we still battle some.  Mostly though over her style of clothes or the way she wants to wear her hair.  It was hard work but definitely well worth seeing your daughter transform into a beautiful young lady full of hope, pride, self-worth and ambition.  I have no fear now that her life will be just fine and she will be successful in whatever she pursues.  Some of the more difficult children are some of the more rewarding ones to witness a transformation in. 

Not much happening, yet a lot happening

In adoption, you have parts of a process.  We are obviously at the beginning stages once again.  But hey, you have to start somewhere, right?  We have managed to fill out passport apps, get pics, & they are ready to go since it is just a renewal & we have our old ones.  We are also going to get Irina's done soon.  Hers has to be done in order for her to work this next semester.  L-O-N-G story & hoping not to involve immigration.  Don't ask as I've already spoken w/ immigration & we're trying to resolve this the simplist way.  Yeah, right--LOL.  This is only w/ Irina & Max that things got a little weird.  They are indeed legal so please don't worry about that.  American citizens through & through.  Just their social security cards are messed up and have them basically as green carded Americans.  So, she has to have a passport to straighten out the immigration issue & we'd like to take Irina w/ us on our second trip to pick up the kids.  Will do her a lot of good to see an orphanage again.  One thing some of you young adoptive parents might want to know is what happens when your children do become teenagers and ask the hard questions.  For Irina, knowing where she once lived is a huge thing for her.  Though Bulgaria is not Russia, it IS an orphanage she would be visiting and give her some idea of what her life was like in the past. 

I'm calling the homestudy agency tomorrow and asking some questions and get the ball rolling.  Once a homestudy is done, grant applications can take place and that will be huge for us.  We desperately need a grant to do this adoption.  Please pray for some grants for sure.  2 grants are the reason Alyona and Nik are with us to this day.  Makes a difference for sure.  These will be three special needs children we will be adopting just as all of our other adoptions have been special needs.  I will tell more details of their needs once our adoptions are further in the process & I would be able to release more information.  Just know that it is nothing that we are not used to.  We have a variety of special needs & have dealt with just about every diagnosis under the son.  From deafness to FAS to RAD to missing limbs, to eye disorder to every mental diagnosis of the alphabet.  Some of these issues we were aware of right up front and many were a suprise to us.  However, you deal with each diagnosis as it comes in and form a plan of action.  We pretty much have it down to a science now--LOL.  Our social worker tells us we should have our medical license by now.  I agree.  We definitely can handle the next set of children coming home.  Our social worker already knew back in October when she came that we were contemplating more children.  She said we definitely have plenty of room in this house.  Her mom came from a family w/ 10 kids so she "gets it."  Thank goodness.  Many question why we would want so many kids.  Frankly, I did not see 4 or 5 or 7 as that many kids.  I do consider 10 kids as a big family but all that is relative.  I know families that have 15, 20, 24 kids or more.  I know for a fact, I could not do that.  I am comfortable with the number 10 and that will be it.  I am getting older--LOL. 

We have always said for adoption you need to be ready mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  If one of those is out of place, it will not work.  There will be too much strife.  You need to be ready in adoption in the above areas so that when the children get home, all your focus can be on them and them blending w/ the current family dynamics.  Thisis vital to a successful transition in my opinion.  This has to be true of not just the parents but of the children already in the family. Though we wanted to adopt last year, Alex still needed more help & our teens were entering that akward age that we wanted to make sure we could be there for them.  And, we were.  There are also 3 rules one must follow when in the process of adoption.  Here they are:

1.  You are NEVER in control.
2.  ALWAYS expect the unexpected.
3.  Be flexible.  It can & will change.

If you accept these rules, you can have a successful adoption for sure.  NO adoption is without hiccups.  There is always something no matter how big or small.  There will always be something.  We are used to rolling with the punches and do not freak out now.  Right now, our only obstacle is money.  That will come with some good old fashioned hardwork and ingenuity.  I will not give up on my kids, that is for sure.  Never gave up on the other 7.  My sacrifice is nothing compared to what my kids have been through at their orphanages and past lives.  All my kids have a story to tell.  I can tell you I am very excited about this journey.  There is no fear this go around.  We know what we are getting into and know the kids will fit in really well with this family.  Our kids are very excited & unlike other adoptions, we have included them in from the get go.  They were even looking at photos and giving their thoughts.  I showed them what they looked like when we picked them out & committed to them.  Some were shocked that we still wanted them given what their pictures looked like.  Some were quite ghastly--LOL.  But, a mother knows when it is their child.  These three are definitely part of the Boyd Bunch.  Sorry there is nothign much more exciting to report.  I'll let you know how the homestudy call goes tomorrow.  Ready for that to get underway.  A homestudy lets you know that you are capable, willing and able to adopt.   I know this will not be a problem as this lady knows us and knows are family.  She has followed us for a few years now.  She knows how we raise our kids and they are themselves when she is here.   Once this homestudy is done, our next step will be sending off documents to the US government.  They then scrutinize everything and make sure we are able to provide for three more children.  You have to be a certain amount (I believe 125%) about the poverty level in order to adopt.  Your homestudy goes over your back records, work records, psych evals, etc. to make sure you are okay.  We have enough experience and I know they take that into consideration as well.  Burgers are almost ready so need to go.  Even in adoption, normal life does go on.  We still plan where we are taking the kids over the next few months, what activities they'll be involved in.  life does not stop just because you decide to adopt.  When it comes time to travel, then you make arrangements for the kids.  Until that time, everything goes on as planned.  So, as planned, we are going to go eat dinner--LOL.  Burgers fresh off the grill.  We got tired of turkey.  I will finish Yana's transformation post tonight with pictures.  After that, just Irina & Max's to go.  Let me know what all your thoughts are on the adoption process.  How does it affect you?  Any suprises?  Any regrets?  Anything out of the ordinary?  I'd love to hear it.