Friday, January 22, 2010

Flabulous to Fabulous Friday

Honestly don't know what I reported last Friday.  Long story short version.  Lost 7 lbs. before Christmas and then gained it all back during the holidays.  On my way to losing it again forever!  Lost a few more this week.  So, I've lost 6 lbs. since starting this all again.  1 more lb. and I'm back to where I started.  Phew.  I feel better when I do the cardio so keeping up with that.  I've also been great about stretching and doing a little weightlifting 3X a week.  Now, the yoga.  Well, it just hasn't happened yet.  With 7 kids, I try, but sometimes I just can't fit it all in.  So, hoping this coming week I can add that in.  For now, just keeping up w/ the cardio, stretching, and weightlifting is a job.  Doing it though and loving it.  my kids do cheer me on so that helps.  I told Alex tomorrow I will attempt to start running w/ him.  LOL.  Better have that ambulance ready.  Or, at least an ice pack.  I've been watching what I eat more all most of the time.  Irina was bored eysterday and made a cake.  I couldn't let her feel bad by not eating her cake--LOL.  I am really making an attempt and happy about all of it.  Just need to do a little more.  Next week, I'll report my weight & by all accounts, I SHOULD be out of the 190's forever!  Should be is key word here. 

BTW, Warren has agreed to jump on the health bandwagon with me.  That is awesome & so proud of him.  By the time we get these children home, we should look like new parents!  Not much else going on today.  We have 9 kids here today.  Need to get used to that so no big deal.  Another dreary day here so they're inside again.  They hate that as mine are such outdoors kids.  We've been organizing and i'm getting adoption folders ready.  I color code folders w/ every adoption.  Helps me stay organized and easy to grab something then when I'm in the car or need something to send off real quick.  This is crucial when it comes to dossier prep & hope I can do that soon.  Need to raise funds for the contract fee so working on that all weekend.  Need a small miracle but I'm sure we can find one.  More about that in another post.  Off to get some work done with the kids.  Enjoy your weekend.  I'm sure we'll have photos to share this weekend.  Trying to decide if we want to suprise the kids w/ a outing somewhere or just stay put this weekend.  Photos will tell the tale. 

Just had to show you my flowers that Warren got me for my birthday last week.  They're still alive.  I usually can keep my flowers alive for about 3 to 4 weeks after I get them.  I change the water though and cut the stems frequently.  Lots of little "tricks" I learned but hey, at least they pay off.  I love the color during such gray days.  Enjoy your weekend everyone.  I'll have pictures of whatever we do this weekend.  also, hoping to have at least one post on FAS or RAD.  Again, NOT an expert nor do I  claim to be.  Just sharing what I"ve learned over the years by having 7 special needs children, all post institutionalized as well.  I have made some mistakes and hoping maybe others can learn from them.  Or,maybe something that has worked for our kids may work for another family that is struggle with one of many of the issues that come with adopting children from orphanages.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday

Okay, it is Thursday.  I thought I'd do something on Thursday called thoughtful Thursday.  If one of my kids does something nice or says something nice, I'd love to share about it.  Many times children with certain labels and dx's get a bad stereotype about them. I want to change that and show the good that is in every kid.  FASers and RADishes too!  So, here goes nothing. 

Nik-- just this morning, he crawled into bed with Warren and I and decided to cuddle up with us.  Very sweet.  He also is signing I love you to me more and more and actually knows what it means. 

Alex-- was trying to teach Alyona basketball this week b/c they started playing at Upwards.  Remember, Alyona is quite mentally challenged and things are not easy for her to learn.  It is also very hard on the people teaching her things.  So, for Alex to take time out and do this, was very nice.  I appreciated that.

Alyona-- helped Irina willingly clean.  Alyona is well, shall we say...lazy.  So, for her to want to help Irina clean, it was a big deal.

Bojan-- wanted to donate his money to Dribbling for Drew.  I will let him for sure.  For a great cause.  He hasn't told me how much yet but I'll leave that for Bojan to decide.  It is his birthday money after all.  The church we play basketball at is collecting funds for a very sick child. 

Yana-- spent a l-o-n-g time doing Alyona's hair.  Now, understand that these two are like fire and gasoline when together.  So, for them to actually sit together and have peaceful sister time, it was a miracle in itself.  Yana sat there and braided Alyona's hair for the longest time. 

Max-- helping Yana with her drawing lessons.  Both Max and Yana can draw.  I will show pictures of Yana's drawings one day as well.  However, Max is more experienced.  So, Max was taking his time teaching Yana some techniques to improve her artwork.  Very thoughtful. 

Irina-- was going to go fundraising to get home her three new siblings.  Very thoughtful.  We went to a consignment shop this week and she said "we need to get these kids home NOW!"  When can the social worker come?  Soon, I told her.  She knows it is a long process as she's been through this before with us.  Irina has really been thinking of the kids left behind in orphanages lately and don't know if it is b/c she is so excited about them coming home or b/c she is getting older and realizes the life she would have had if she stayed.  Either way, still very thoughtful for her to think of the children in the orphanages.

I think some of the above are some very thoughtful moments my kids showed.  I know some of you out there have children with FAS and RAD and see rages.  Trust me, I for one know about the rages.  Geez.  I could deal without them for sure.  But then there are the above moments and it makes all the work and effort you put into these children and their issues all worthwhile.  It really does.  We haven't had to deal with a rage in well over a year.  But trust me, always fresh in my mind.  So when the kids are playing nice, doing things for each other and just simply being thoughtful, I like to recognize that. 

Now,in complete contrast, last night at the dinner table started with completely red faces from laughing so hard and having one of the best times at the dinner table.  That turned into a screaming and fighting match between the three girls over something that hasn't even happened yet!  (Yana was telling Irina how she would discipline her children if they got D's and F's on their report cards).  Alyona got into the arguement and it just was not pretty.  So, I see both sides.  The good and the bad.  I just wanted you to see the goodness that my kids have.  I get compliments all the time on their behavior if we go places.  I get compliments on behavior at school.  So, for those who think it is impossible to get good behavior out of kids with severe behavioral issues, it's not.  It CAN be done and the kids are better for it.  Trust me, there are times when I didn't think we'd make it.  But, then you have a week like this and all the thoughtful things they are doing.  amazes me.  They are thinking of others first.  They are showing empathy. They care about each other.  Shh, don't tell the teens that, they'll die of embarassment!  LOL.  I think my kids show great kindness and truly have a kind heart.  I know all kids have their moments of not so good sometimes, but for the most part, mine are pretty well behaved and I am very proud of them for that.  Thanks for letting me share some things.  I know they're not a big deal but it indeed shows how far they've come and reassures me that into adulthood, they will be just fine.  We are determined to beat those odds of adults living with FAS.  Post on FAS in the next few days as it is such a big part of our life and I want people to know what it is.  That kids with it can live a normal life and do okay.  Enjoy your evening everyone. 

Waiting child Wednesday!!!

Well, it is a day late but it is definitely Waiting Child Wednesday.  I posted last week about a very special boy.  Well, he is still searching for his forever family.  Could you be his mom or dad?? He is a very special recently turned 7yo little boy that is really deserving of a family.  No issues.  Minor strabismus but very healthy now.  In the past, he had a devastating dx when he was much younger but has been cleared of that by all docs.  Completely healthy now and very ready for his forever family.  He is located in EE and has a two trip process involved in his adoption.  Two very short trips compared to most countries.  His international fee is VERY reduced.  This child will do well in a family.  Please help me to spread the word about Harry.  This kid's smile is just one that makes you want to smile too.  Please help me spread the word about Harry.  Just seems like an all around great kid from what I hear.  And for a child that is healthy now, this is the chance of a lifetime for a family.  Anyone you know, please let them know about Harry.  We need a home for Harry.  This kid would make any parents proud to call him their son.  Sweet personality.  And did I mention that smile?!  Again, fees are VERY low and country does accept singles.  Feel free to contact me at for more information about Harry.  Thanks.  I'd love for him to have a home by the end of January.  I just think he is very deserving of a loving family. 

Some quick pics

Some of you have already read about the whole camera incident on our Christmas Vacation.  Long story short, I have my camera back again but nothing is set on it yet.  I'm practicing so thought I'd give you all some practice shots.  All the kids are downstairs watching Karate Kid.  All of them.  Dreary day out so just relaxing and making cookies maybe later.  Kids are out of school.  Not in a crafty mood so just basically hanging out.  We're good at that.  I may actually attempt to go for a run w/ Alex later.  He's my 9 year old nicknamed 'Dash' from the Incredibles movie.  Won the Presidential Fitness Award every year I think.  He is the epitome of athleticism.  I'm hoping he can help motivate me into shape.  I promised him I'd run a 5K with him in the spring.  Should be interesting.  Back to topic.  Rough picture shots.  Breaks up the long posts though.  Here goes:

A rare teenager shot.  Yana playing w/ both Nik and Alyona.  I'm really suprised queen of sulking came out of her room.  Seriously.  She is shall we say...MAD... at us right now.  Yes, mad at the thought of moving away from this house and this community.  I said in my last post about the emotional trauma.  Yana's RAD is under control but you can't erase a past life in a kid no matter how much love you give them.  Just what comes with the territory of adopting older children.  We roll with the punches and yes, she'll get over this.  It is part of life...change.  And a move is something we want to do before all of them are in high school.  We don't want to move during a high school year.  Though it would be for Irina, it is different for her as she's moving to a new school anyhow whether we stay or go.  Yana doesn't want to talk about it.  Like I said, she's mad.  She told us we should vote on this decision about moving.  Warren said that would be fine but mom and dad have final say.  It played out like that scene from Cheaper by the Dozen.  Oh well.  We'll get there sooner or later.  For now, she's fine.  Yana is watching Karate Kid w/ the rest of them.  Nice, a movie about change and moving on.  Yeh, that should help the situation. 

Okay, this one's a little weird.  Irina & I were at the post office yesterday mailing the FBI fingerprints off.  Hooray!  Well, they have this bin of stuff that you can look through that is deeply discounted.  $1 or $3 an item.  We were looking and both saw this one.  As some of you know, Max is the artist in our family and does both prints and carves.  I thought he and Bojan would get a kick out of this hand carved face for their room.  It reminded Irina and I from a character on Night of the Museum.  Irina and I both thought it looked a little like Atila the Hun.  Ummm, no.  that is the response we got from everyone else.  Some of the kids said it was a President, some said it was St. Nicholas(santa) and some had no clue.  It literally is no one.  Just a carving.  Neat to see their responses though, huh?  Gets them thinking.  And carving is an art.  I like my kids to see different forms of artwork.  So, it is now in Bojan and Max's room.  Reminds them of explorers of years past.

This is the back part of our dining room.  Notice anything out of place?  Anything at all??  Could it be the Christmas Tree?  Yes indeed.  I have asked since we came home from vacation for this box to be put away.  I won't even say anything else.  Max took the tree down.  Great having a teenage boy sometimes.  In all fairness though, Warren has so much to do when he gets home that this is definitely last on the list.  I totally understand.  I am fortunate enough to have a husband who gives his family 120% all the time.  I can't complain about a stupid tree in a box. 

I asked Nik to show me what was behind his back.  I knew I had heard something from the other room.  He was bouncing it all over the place.  What a turkey.  He is a sneaky little thing sometimes.  Nik has been asking for the past week if he can have 2 implants.  I think even at 7 years old, he has noticed the difference it can make.  I will post one day about his particular deafness and disorder. It's complicated.  There are SO many stupid guidelines though in place, it takes quite awhile to get the second implant.  Don't even know if it would be possible at this point.  But, being that he's asking for it and seeing for himself he can actually hear more with it, says a lot.  He has a follow up at the end of February.  Asking questions then.

Those were just a few quick practice pictures.  I have to set the camera more tonight.  Warren will do that actually.  He's much better mechanically inclined then I am.  Today we are hanging out like I said.  Have to get more scripts filled.  Keeping up with the kids' meds is a job in itself.  Have to be vilgilent and even more frightening when you sometimes know more than the pharmacist!  Our kids came with more complicated issues than originally thought in some cases.  With adoption, this is to be expected.  My job is to stay on top of their medical and mental health.  This includes all medication, appointments and medication changes.  I took Irina for her blood draw this morning.  Bojan has a prosthetic appointment tomorrow.  I think Warren is going to take him to that though.  All the kids are home tomorrow so don't want to tote all of them there.  Bojan has to get an AFO for his clubfoot.  Wear it for a month and then get surgery.  Our surgeon is extra cautious due to what happened to Alyona years ago.  she got a botched surgery job and has permanent damage to her right arm.  I'd show the pictures of her arm we took but I am afraid some would not be able to stomach seeing it.  Seriously, it was that bad.  Hoping for no surgeries this year but looks like Bojan will need another clubfoot surgery for sure.  It's all a process and again, you just go with it.  We have a great team of doctors and specialists in place for all the kids and they treat them very well.  Some of my kids have quite a few sensory issues.  Finding docs who understand PI kids is key.  I was truly worried about what they'd say about Irina the one day.  Since she can't really feel pain, she acts like nothing is wrong.  Even w/ a gaping head would or a nail in the knee.  Most docs would be suspicious.  However, ours see her all the time and have gotten to know her very well enough to know it truly is who she is and she has no control over it.  On top of that, she is very scarred up on her legs.  I keep asking what I can do to help that but her neurologist said all her severe OCD patients have the same scarring.  Doesn't make me feel any better b/c as a parent you want to help your children.  Sometimes, you just can't fix it all.  I take expert advice, mix a little of my own and try hard to make it all work.  Again, medication and love can only fix so much.  Good news is she is very healthy and mentally in tact.  She has a very compassionate side and helps out immensely around here.  Yes, she has her regular teenage issues but all kids do...adopted or not.  Just the teen years.  Today, she's making a cake.  She is our resident baker.  When I homeschooled her, we mixed in a lot of baking w/ history lessons.  Even got a history lesson cookbook.  Some great recipes.  She learned some fractions as well.  so, she loves to bake.  Max loves to grill.  The rest, well, they all love to eat.  Need to cut this off for today.  Later, I'll do a thoughtful Thursday post and a Waiting Child Wednesday post that I did not do yesterday.  Enjoy your day everyone. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dilemma-- house

Okay, I know I haven't been writing as much as usual but honestly have been trying to get organized in this home and Warren had to do some installs on the computer since our computer crashed in December.  Have to do Turbo Tax!  That will hopefully help some with costs of the adoption.  Umm, no we are NOT getting $20K back from the government though so still have to fundraise--LOL.  Wishful thinking right?  I am going to copy & paste something I wrote on a local board so that I may get opinions from some of you maybe.  I can tell you this, Warren and I never thought or dreamed in a million years we would have 10 children.  never.  And after that first plane ride home when my exact words were, "I'm NEVER doing this again!," we surely didn't think we'd end up here.  But, we are.  We have to move forward and make sure the decisions we make today are the right ones for our entire family.  Not just one or two kids.  There is much to think about and I don't think some adoptive families think of the future but the here and now.  Well, we are not like that.  Again, we have 6 that have FAS/FAE.  7 kids, all with some form of disabilities.  It is one thing fighting for them in school, it is another once they reach adulthood.  A few of ours we already know will not be able to live independently.  Some that can, will need supervision.  For this very reason, we have contemplated moving for the past 2 years.  Yes, 2 years.  You all know though what the markets in America have been like.  Not the best.  So, we have now reached a more than critical dilemma.  Let me copy here what I wrote somewhere else:

Okay, this is definitely the place to get opinions--LOL. I know some on here know us personally and some do not. For those who don't, we are a family of 9 people currently, later this year, to be a family of 12. This is where I need the opinions. We moved into this home originally when we had 2 children knowing we'd eventually adopt more. Okay, the house we moved into orginally had 1900 sq. ft. w/ a 1000 unfinished upstairs. It was sized for a family of four as far as all systems go. We now have approximately 3100 sq. ft. finished. We did finish out upstairs, and added a back area onto the house that serves as our dining hall. Now, dilemma. We need to make a decision and rather soon. We have to add on for the other kids coming home. What we would do is lose the garage we have and convert it into bedrooms. we are contemplating whether it would serve better to sell and move or to stay and finish all the work. Here are some concerns if we stay: 1) septic system load (it was originally sized for family of 4. How will it handle 12?!) 2) No hot water (don't have any now as it is. Need to add a second tank. Largest we can have is a 38 gal. lowboy due to location of tank) 3) electrical system overload. 4) we would be "stuck" for the rest of our lives as it would be too "customized" that it would not sell.
or the rest of our lives as it would be too "customized" that it would not sell.

Has anyone ever made a house too large for the systems? We would have to add another panel for sure to the house. We just think it is going to be too much system overload as it is now. Let alone, adding 3 more people in the home. In addition, my sister in-law stays a few days a week b/c her husband is out of work & we're helping them out. So, would you add on? Our main concern is indeed the septic system. County has inspected it & it is fine and we get it pumped every 2 years versus the recommended 3 years. The hot water is huge problem now and trying to solve it is maddening. I'm looking at suggestions of what others may have done. I know there are probably not that many big families but maybe some of you added more than you thought you would, etc. or work in the industry and have a good grasp of whether it wood even be feasible to do this. We are going to get estimates but do all work ourselves (except plumbing & roofing) to save money. DH used to work on houses. Anyhow, ideas as we have gone back & forth on what to do. My biggest fear is adding on and having a major system failure. A house that is originally sized for 4 people and will soon house 12, is worrisome to me. Trouble is, we LOVE our neighborhood and location. Thoughts?

Okay, this picture is NOT where I had the cursor.  This is a partial view of our house nonetheless.

Costs would be a wash either way.  We stay here, we can most likely refi a bit into it to cover & yet still have the same payments(possibly less) than we do now as our fixed rate is currently higher than the going rate.  However, homes are selling much cheaper now than they were around here.  We could get a much larger house & awesome deal.  Selling ours is where I'd be concerned.  7 kids and a dog equals one chaotic mess most of the time.  Emotionally, the kids would be totally distraught if we moved.   They are already prostesting.  Ever seen the movie 'Moving' w/ Richard Pryor??  It would be totally like that.   URGHH.  Decisions are tough as parents, aren't they?  We really love our home.  We've made it what it is today.  Not many homes nowadays can seat a family of 12.  I know many say do not move during an adoption process.  Yes, we know that but don't listen. We moved into this home just a few weeks shy of getting Yana and Alex.  It was not planned.  We had 2 days to find a home AND be in court in Russia that same week.  So, yes, we know it can end up crazy.  We would love to build our own home but given our bunch, it is not humanly possible.  I swear someone would end up messing w/ some nail gun and off to the ER we would go.  Being that IRina can't feel pain, this is all too possible folks.  I'd show the picture of a nail in her knee from the summer but feel you would not appreciate it.  Anyhow, this is a huge decision.  We'd love to move out of state.  It is not at the moment possible to start a new career with the current economy.  So, we must stay put.  Warren has a great job and a stable one.  He has a wonderful company he works for that has FANTASTIC employee benefits AND health insurance.  So, we know we'd stay in the area.  We are currently looking at land & some options.   Keep in mind, we don't really want to move.  Frustrating at best.   As a parent, you have to make the tough decisions.  This will be one of the toughest as it will be permanent.  Has to be done though.  So, trying.  I'll see if I can find some shots of our house.  We love the fact that we have a path worn down to nothing but dirt from where the kids walk to school up the hill.  We love how it smells like honeysuckles in the spring.  All the flowers that bloom in the spring and summer.  I have endless bouquets....literally.  I love being able to sit at the table working while I watch the kids swim outside.  I love that my kids can make weaponry(swords, knives, arrows, etc.) from sticks right in our own yard.  I love seeing the trees change during all the seasons.  We love being able to see our kids at the bus our own driveway.  We love the community we live in.  I mean, I could go on forever here.  You get the picture.  It would be difficult to leave.  Right now though, we are finding it near impossible to stay.  I used to say nothing is impossible unless you try shampooing a porcupine.  So, it is possible to stay.  Well, we are looking into it.  System upkeep is top priority on our list.  Last thing you want is a septic or electrical failure. 

This is a view of the swingset.  They are always on it.  Notice how our entire backyard is surrounded by trees?  They hike and explore in there, they really enjoy the outdoors.  This is part of the yard we'd miss.  Some more views:

Took this when we were going to have a summer like meal.  Notice this is our dining room table and how it overlooks the pool outside.  We can watch the kids swim.  Those hydrangea flowers on the table come from our yard.  I have a never ending supply all summer long.   Also, notice the entire backyard is surrounded by trees.  Very private for swimming & kids playing.

This is a picture of part of our front yard.  Grass hadn't come in quite yet.  We let the kids romp & play all over the yard.  Ask our neighbors, we could careless about how the yard looks--LOL.  We keep it mowed.  Okay, well, Max keeps it mowed.  There are no limits for the kids as to what they can play or how.  Only rule is don't mess w/mom's flowers!   Kids have lots of space here to play as you can see.  Would be hard to leave that.  Of course, there are other houses and  yards to play in that I'm sure are just as great as this one. 

In the front yard again.  We had made "foamerators" this summer.  All the kids had fun w/ it.  Again, lots of green, lots of room.

Entrance to Chaos Manor.  Looks friendly, calm and simple, right?  It is our home, we love it and are now faced with the decision if it is best to leave it and start a new in another home.  Whatever we decide, we really want done before the kids come home.  PLain and simple.  So, this post is long enough.  Any ideas or suggestions, do let me know.  We're very open.  Which reminds me, anytime anyone is in NC, do stop by.  It is always loud, always something going on, always something to do, and always something on the floor.

Ooh, guess what?!  New camera is ready.  More pics in the next few days I'm sure.  Kids are off school tomorrow and Friday.  Supposed to rain.  Lovely.  I'm sure we'll think of something to do.  More pics tomorrow and at least 3 mroe posts tomorrow to play catch up for the last few days.  Okay, hoping for that many posts.  Kids will be home remember.  New fundraising info.  Enjoy your evening. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Picking an agency

I thought since some people who are new to adoption read this, I might do some topics that everyone in the adoption world can relate to.  I will try to do a variety of topics.  So, let's get started.  In adoption,you have to first decide if you are doing domestic, foster care or international adoption.  Well, domestic can be either private or foster care.  International is my forte so to speak.  When originally looking into adoption, we were going to do foster care.  However, we only wanted to adopt,not foster.  In NC, you can not adopt unless you foster first.  Many have asked us why we don't adopt children in the US who need a family.  Everyone is different.  For us, we originally looked into doing that.  We went as far as going to a group home in Wilmington to visit a few children not too long before we went to Russia.  So, yes we did explore our options.  Just international seemed more for us.  There is nothing right or wrong about going international or domestic.  Every child deserves a home.  We could not afford a private adoption of about $50K to $60K back in 1999 when we first looked into it.  Have no idea the costs now.  Can only imagine.  We even looked back into foster care this go around when we were thinking of adopting again.  Called social services and they do not want to adopt to someone with more than 5 children in the home.   My neighbor in a subdivision across the street wanted to add just one more child.  They had 4 bio children w/ one of them having special needs.  They wanted to adopt one more child w/ special needs to complete their family.  Social services told them they had a special needs child at home and could not get any more.  What?!  And they wonder why more don't adopt from foster care.  Geez.  Here, you had two willing families in this area wanting to adopt children out of foster care and were told no.  The neighbor ended up going abroad as well for 1 more child and their family is complete.  For us, it is 3 more and our family is complete.

Once you decide on international or domestic, you have to find an agency that does either.  Finding the right agency is key.  It really is.  I have seen tons of couples heartbroken, broke and emotionally distraught over the years b/c of choosing the wrong agency.  It happens.  It is hard to trust an agency once deception has happened.  Hard to recover from and I don't think you ever recover from it.  Key to picking a good agency...get a dart board.  LOL.  I'm just kidding.  Really, ask questions to people.  Don't rely solely on the references that the agency gives you.  They will be helpful indeed.  However, you need to search out info yourself as well.  Be proactive.  Not reactive.  An agency is not going to give you bad references just as you would not put down bad references on your homestudy.  Just doesn't do anyone any good.  So, do accept the references the agency gives you as they help immensely.  But also find some of your own references.  Easy to do with forums out there now discussing things.  And do NOT be afraid to ask about bad cases.  Okay, here's an example.  For Bojan, we used Life Adoptions out of CA.  Great btw.  But, in the beginning, I was having some reservations.  1) I'd never heard of adoptions from Serbia.  At the time, there had only ever been 11 adoptions in 13 years.  So rarity was an understatement.  More nowadays.  2) The director was associated with Orson Mozes.  For those who don't know who he is, he has been convicted as a scam artist and caused many to lose their adoptions, hope and faith.  Not to mention scammed them out of millions of dollars over the years.  At the time, we were talking of adopting Bojan, Orson Mozes was NOT on the media.  It was hearsay I had heard at the time from many others on the web.  So, I asked the director bluntly about him.  She defended him, which as fine.  But, she also gave me peace of mind.  We went ahead with Bojan.  So, bottom line, you have an uneasiness, ASK QUESTIONS!!!!  Put your mind at ease.   A good agency will never refuse to answer your questions.  Mine always have.  Despite some of the stupid questions I've asked. LOL.  (Thanks Sandy & Jeny!)

Now, another way to find a great agency is to go by someone else's recommendation.   Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.  And remember, I told you to treat the agencies as a business.  Yes, they are non-profit but they are indeed a business.  They are providing you a service in return for payment.  They have deadlines too.  Right now, my agency is desperately needing my contract.  It is done, just waiting for funding.  They expect you to cooperate and you need to expect the same of them.   A good agency will do this.  We have a wonderful agency.  In case any of you are wondering, we use Kids To Adopt out of WA state.  We used them w/ alyona and Nik and are using them again to adopt the 3 from Bulgaria.  Again, sign of a good agency is repeat business. BTW, there is good and bad w/ every single agency.  I don't care if you think they are the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Somewhere along the lines, there will be someone that has not had a good experience.  Adoption is just that way.  Not all cases are 100% rosy.  Just doesn't work out that way as adoption is so variable.  You need an agency that will roll with the punches.  Mine does.  I trust them w/ everything.  Know there will be bumps.  I don't know of very many adoptions that happen w/ at least one little "hiccup."  It's all par for the course. 

We have personally used Frank Adoption Center, Kids To Adopt, Life Adoptions, Mandala(no longer in business), and Carolina Adoption Services.  We have lucked out I must say.  The places we have done business with have been superb.  Simply superb.  We've been through 4 homestudies(thus far), and 28 post placement reports.  Having a good agency makes life easier.  Anything easier during an adoption process definitely helps!  Do the research.  We did.  It is not coincidence that we have had great agencies thus far.  I chose Kids To Adopt originally b/c my friend Teresea had used them and recommended them.  I had used FAC b/c of recommendation from friends AND I had attended one of their seminars.  So, in review, choosing an agency should be based on:

1)  Recommendations from others
2)  Repeat business from previous adoptive parents
3)  Cooperation of the agency
4)  Ask questions (willingness of agency answering the questions)
5)  Gut feeling (yes, some of it is just pure instincts)
6)  Being proactive
7)  Make sure they have a program you want

If you do the above, you will have a peace of mind that you have chosen the right agency to have an intense relationship over the next few months to few years.  It is very important.  Start early in looking.  It helps. I can tell you I wouldn't trade our agencies for the world.  They are very supportive.  That is important to.  I am not just another person to them and that means something.  It means that they are invested in this adoption as well and will work hard to make it happen.  Now, that is a sign of a good agency.  Hope I put some ideas out there to some trying to choose agencies right now.  Choosing the wrong agency will cause so many issues and the cost of switching agencies in the middle of an adoption is beyond expensive.  Good news is that if you do your research and ask questions, you will do just fine at picking out an agency.  Good luck to all those on their adoption journey.  Will try to have Tuesday's Tallies later today. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Yep, it's a Monday

I know I haven't wrote anything since Friday.  Sometimes, life just happens here.  It was my birthday Saturday so we just kept things mellow here.  We have not bought any Christmas presents, anniversary or birthday gifts for each other.  Our children coming home we see as a much better gift so any penny that would have been spent on each other, goes towards the adoption fund.  However, Warren did find ways to break the rules this weekend.  He took just Irina with him to grab a few things at the store and came back with these for me:

Beatiful flowers being held by a beautiful girl.  Warren knows I LOVE color!  Especially, spring flowers.  Don't ever get me roses and he knows this.  After working a few years in a florist shop, you never want to see another rose again--LOL.  Valentine's day and Mothers' Day were nightmares for roses.  So, I began to dispise them.  These are perfect and sit in a vase on the dining room table for all to see.

And cheesecake!  I rarely make cheesecake so Warren & Irina decided this would be awesome for an after dinner treat on Saturday.  The kids love the option of picking their favorite piece though I think there is no way you could go wrong here.  All were just as good as they look.  Nik demanded I put a candle in the cake or it wasn't my birthday.  Fine.

Nik had speech therapy in the morning and therapist(Carol...she's the best!) could definitely tell a difference in him.  She hadn't seen him for weeks.  So nice to have others notice progress in him.  Though he will always be deaf(deafness does not go away), it would be nice if he'd be able to "talk" some too.  It's highly unlikely but we are giving it a shot for sure.  He's preferred method of communication is sign and that is what we stick with here.  Irina had a checkup this weekend as well.  No problems.  We'll do bloodwork sometime this week but expect nothing wrong w/that either.  She got 3 shots on Saturday and is still sore.  So, the entire family has had checkups, deemed healthy, and caught up on immunizations.  Yeh, medical stuff for homestudy done.  Excited about that.  That and the fact that everyone is healthy.  We are extremely fortunate that we have healthy children and have not had problems as some other families.  Our kids do see specialists for a variety of things,but overall, very healthy indeed.  After we came home, we watched League of Extrodinary Gentlemen.  We had never seen that movie before.  We all enjoyed it.  Different a bit.  Kids played w/ their friends and I worked outside some.  We had a relaxing day and then were able to enjoy this for dinner:

Turkey, it's not just for Thanksgiving when you have a big family.  LOL.  We are able to find great deals on turkey throughout the year and fortunate enough to have a big freezer in the garage.  Plus, having everyone in the family like turkey helps.  Just a nice relaxing day for us on my birthday.

Warren did attempt to send of the fingerprints.  Ahh, nothing can go easy.  The post office here does not have the "official" security stamp for what we needed to do.  She said the other place closed already that we could do this at.  So, first thing tomorrow, since today's a holiday, we will make our second attempt to send our packet off to the FBI.  Hoping to be able to mail that with the homestudy packet.  We are still way off our mark but confident funds will find a way.  Since it poured down rain yesterday, we're going out tonight to do some more fundraising by selling flower bulbs.  With the weather this beautiful, I'm ready to buy some.  You know me and flowers.  Flowers brighten up any dreary day.  So, please do keep passing our blog address along, magazine link too.  We have now set up a paypal button as we were asked that quite often.  I'm going to speak with Chick Filet probably tomorrow and find out about a possible fundraiser night there.

Nothing too much on tap for January except for the Upwards Basketball season.  Oh, and a wonderful bonfire we go to every year at a friend's farm.  They have all kinds of animals and great place for everyone to run around.  My kids have spent time at Mary's farm and they love it.  I think their website is  . Fun place to go.  2 of her children used to be in the same orphanage with Alex and Yana.  They all came here on a hosting program and we went through the adoption process together.  Great to see the changes in all the kids through the years.  I haven't told the kids yet we are going b/c it is on Jan. 30th.  If you tell our kids too early, it is a mess.  FAS children have no concept of time.  They really just don't understand it too well.  So, we usually tell them a day or two before.  Works for us and here the motto is "you do what works."

Sunday, we just cleaned up a bit and took it easy.  This was the first weekend in a long time where we could just veg out.  So, that's what we did.  See:

I'd say Irina has the hang of vegging out.  Looks comfy to me.  It's pretty hard to capture a picture of your teenager.  You know, "mom, don't take a picture!" comes out of their mouths far too often. So, when I get a chance to take a picture, I do it.  The bonus was getting a smile too.

Oh, the things sisters can convince their brothers to do.  Geez.  Okay, Alyona loves to play baby dolls.  She somehow managed to convince Nik to play with her.  And even got him to wear a pink kimono.  LOL.  But, Nik went right along with it.  I think Nik is going to make an awesome big brother for his new sisters, what do you think?

I for one like an uneventful weekend every once in awhile.  So far this morning, it has not been quiet.  Yana has been feeling a bit under the weather, smoke alarm wouldn't quit going off so we had to dismantle it and Alex was being a terror.  So, I did enjoy the quiet while it lasted.  Maybe it was bad parenting to just veg out all weekend with the kids, nothing planned.  If so, don't care.  We did enjoy it.  Though I must say, we had no idea Nik hadn't taken a bath for a few days.  Horrible to admit but said I'd be honest when writing.  Seriously, none of us thought about it.  We all thought he had.  Umm, nope.  Younger kids always get a bath at night.  Easier for school that way.  So, Nik had a bath Thursday night. bath.  Saturday, we realized he didn't get his bath the day before.  By this time, too late for a bath.  First thing Sunday the tub.  I now have 7 clean children and will be more vigilent.  However, it was just great to have a very, very lazy weekned for everyone all around.  I think every once in awhile, we need to break from everything and just hang out together.  No events, no school functions, no friend sleepovers, just hanging out at home watching movies and eating popcorn.  For us, it is great to be a bad parent every once in awhile.  No schedules, no rushing, no thinking required.  Just some stupid jokes and ideas coming from the kids.   Got to go.  Yana is doing Alyona's hair.  I know, miracle.  Irina is going to spend the night at a friend's tonight.  High schoolers here dont' have school due to exams.  Bojan gets fitted for his new AFO(ankle-foot orthotic...hate these stupid things!) this Friday.  Once he has it on for a month, then they will recheck and do surgery again.  He is missing his right leg and wears a prosthetic and then on the left is a severe clubfoot that has given us tons of trouble.  Bojan hates it and I hate it for him.  Bojan has even requested that foot be amputated.  That is always a last resort but can see that as being a huge possibility in the future.  Time will tell.  Other than that, I can simply concentrate on fundraising.  Kids are out of school today, Thursday and Friday.  Got to get moving here.  Enjoy your week and keep you posted on progress.  I want this homestudy to go out tomorrow.  I really, really do.  Thanks once again for all the generous support but emotionally and financially.  It really does mean a lot to our family.  I'll write another post later about picking an agency.