Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our newest additions....

I still can't believe I'm writing this post.  Well, before I even explain what all transpired today, here you go:

Yep, these are the two newest members of the Boyd Bunch.  Yes, you are seeing that correctly.  There are not one but two puppies!  I'm still in awe of it all.  We honestly didn't think we'd be able to get a dog for quite some time.  Our hearts were really missing Bear.  In addition, Bear was a therapy for some of our children.  This past week, Alex has had a particularly difficult time.  We knew we would eventually need to bring home another dog.  Just honestly did not think it would be today.  

Okay, so this morning my cousin called us asking if we might want to consider adopting her dog as they have a daughter that can not be around dogs.  Severely, severely allergic.  I didn't want to say yes just b/c we were so wishy washy whether or not we'd be able to do it.  Just weren't sure.  Her dog was a little older as well though still very much a puppy.  VERY cute and a very well-mannered dog.  Great with kids.  Yet, still didn't want to commit as they had to find her a home fast & I wasn't sure if we could do it.  

So, decided to go get the boys shoes.  We stopped by Petsmart first.  Well, they were having a dog/cat adoption event.  We got out of the van and a lady was holding a dog I had seen online but it had adopted by it's name.  (sounds like Alyona, doesn't it?).  She yelled to us this one needs a family.  Well of course we had to go say hello.  LOL.  Warren said he couldn't pet her or he'd take her home.  Needless to say, I held her all the way back into the store.  She was available as the other person decided not to adopt her but adopt a different one instead.  

This little pup I could not put down.  It was a female and we had wanted a male.  But, I was smittened.  Went into the store and there were cages full of dogs.  These were from an animal rescue group for adoption so fees were NOT store fees.  Wanted for Warren to hold some but he was still a bit unsure of it.  Not quite ready yet.  that's when I for sure thought that this was not going to happen or not the best place for us.  Then Warren saw him.  Wanted to hold this pup.  That was IT.   He did not put that dog down.  Though I held a few others and the boys did as well, we all were pulled to these two dogs.  Then without hesitation, Warren turns to me and says "so which two dogs are we bringing home?"  Never thought we would be bringing two puppies home.  Never.  But these two just had our hearts.  Signed papers and pushed them around in a cart for awhile.  Obviously, we never got the boys their shoes.  Came home w/ the puppies to introduce them to the rest of the family and the house.  

This dog has already started to follow Warren around.  LOL.  This one is such a playful pup full and I mean full, of energy.  thank goodness we have a yard for them to romp around in.  

This little girl is a sweetheart.  She's very mild mannered.  I even got to speak with the foster family of these two.  They both believe it or not come from the same litter.  Alex held her at the store & started bawling his eyes out.  The people took him aside and let him sit by himself with the dog.  They were crying as well.  I told you, Bear was therapy for our kids and well, they've missed that attachment and connection.  It was coming back.  They were happy tears no need to worry.  Nice that the Pawprints people did that for him though.  

He is just going to be trouble.  I just feel it.  He's a chewer.  Going to be interesting these next few weeks puppy training.  Like I said, wasn't sure it was a good idea at first.  didn't go out intending to buy a puppy, let alone two.  We went out to buy shoes!  Never intended to bring home Aspen or Bear either.  So I guess these two will be just as cherished as the last two.  

Just another view of our cutie pie.   The dog, not Yana... LOL.  Max, Alex & Nik were with us to help pick them out.  

How could you not bring him home???  He is totally zonked from today.  

How on earth could we not bring her home???  The epitome of sweetness.  Both dogs I do believe are quite the welcomed addition to this family.  We have yet to decide on a name for either though quite a few have been tossed around.  

Many will say the plate is already full.  I say better full than empty!  It will take a few weeks but we'll have them trained.  Plus, we have a few weeks now since immigration is throwing us that curve ball.  See, everything does happen for a reason. 

Watching Bear deteriorate for so many months was gut wrenching.  It was even harder with the event of having to put him down.  It feels already like there is more life in this house again.  I know most people say they're just dogs.  For us though, it is much more than that.  We look forward to a long life together playing, exploring new places, and just enjoying life.  Locals, feel free to come on over.  I assure you, they are too cuddly to resist.  Okay, got to go play with the pups.  I will write the second thing to the Murmansk Adoption journey but got sidetracked by two little pups.  See, this family really takes National Adoption Day seriously.  LOL.  Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Murmansk Adoption Journey

Okay, I wrote this a few years ago so bear with me.  I still have to write the second half of it which I'll do later tonight or tomorrow.  I had never finished this story.  This is Nik & Alyona from Murmansk, Russia.  Hope you enjoy their story.  I'll post pictures later of them.  BTW, tomorrow is their Gotcha Day! 

Adoption Journey

Part 1—So the adventure begins….

So , last year at this time I was once again surfing the web. We had been home w/Bojan for almost a year when I started “looking” at photo listings. Yes, Warren says he’s going to dismantle the computer soon. Found a little girl on there but she had hold on her photo. 

This was Alyona's Russian data base photo.  Not the clearest thing.   

I assumed she had found a family. Well, a few months later, I was looking again at the same site in March and found her again except this time, no hold by her photo. I figured what harm would it do to ask, right??? Live and learn—LOL. Called the agency and sure enough, Alyona was available again as the family that had traveled on their first trip and met her, had decided not to proceed with the adoption due to medical family circumstances at home. Okay, this was the end of March, and we literally had just days to decide b/c they were going to be raising their fees. Not by their doing but by a foundation they umbrellaed under. As long as papers were dated March 31st, we were a-okay. So, time to talk to hubby. Sent pics and said she’s the one. After MUCH discussion, we decided to proceed with the adoption. Paperwork was sent in late but graciously was backdated (shh). So, time to get things together again. We first sent off the I-600A and filled out for 2 kids. This was not because we had planned to get two from Russia but originally planned to get one from Russia and one more from Serbia. Long story and tell you all later one day. Plans change as you are well aware folks. Anyhow, we were told if we could have our dossier in by the end of May, we could travel in June to meet her. Since I'd already done so many dossiers, I figured, no problem. However, this was already May and events at school and home were kicking up. Needless to say, didn't get it done and over there in time. Actually, things happen for a reason and you'll find this out later in the story.

In the meantime, we were able to speak to the family that had originally turned her down on trip one and turns out they only live 45 minutes from us. In addition, they had a video of her, which we watched over and over and over again! Yes, we knew she had FAS but we also saw how intelligent she was to figure out the puzzles and how she was always smiling. Just a winning combination altogether.

Summer came and went and dossier and documents slowly got done. Won't bore you all w/ all the paperwork nightmares as we have all been down that road before. It is never ending. The summer spent in the pool you can just imagine your new children with you and how they'll all interact. That's when you know you made the right decision. Decisions for us to adopt have to be made extra carefully just due to the extreme special needs we have. Have to make sure that all are getting adequate attention and care.

Part II-- The BIG Decision......

If some of you recall, we had previously put on our I-600A approval for 2 kids. Not expecting to use it this time around but in Serbia a bit later. Well, some times plans change. And so the change started. It started with a call in September from the agency. They said they have a little boy that they need to find a home for ASAP. They were told they needed a family traveling to Murmansk soon and prefer a big family. The agency thought of us. Wonder why---LOL. I said send it on over. The information, that is. She sent only a picture and said medicals are to follow they have no idea what his special need is. Just told he was headed to the mental institution if he doesn't find a family in a matter of weeks. The picture she sent was so innocent and sweet looking. 

Definitely NOT a typical referral picture. I was hooked and knew Warren would be too. 

I didn't care what the need was at the time. The picture was worth a thousand words. 
It's as if the picture said “mom, please come and get me.” I know that sounds nuts but it was in his eyes. A day later we received the medical info. They told me he was mute due to trauma. Said are you sure he's not deaf??? No, was what I was told. I was told he didn't utter a sound, just mute and that it happened when the birth mother came back to get him for six months. So, came on this board and looked up selective mutism and asked many questions. Sounded like something we could handle. So, we told the agency yes. Didn't even have to do another dossier---hooray. Now, this was in September. He was being moved from the baby home to the children's home. As soon as he arrived at the children's home, he was taken to the hospital for bronchitis, which he stayed in the hospital 3 weeks for.

Agency had us on notice saying we'd be traveling soon. Not holding my breath but okay. In the meantime, I had to adjust the 5 kids to the idea of having 2 more sibs, instead of just one. Also, had to explain the possibility of Nik not being able to speak. We bought sign language books and videos to help the kids prepare. They made us do what they always do when we are thinking of bringing home a new child or children. They make us print out multiple copies of their pictures. Hang them up all over the house, in picture frames, show them to everyone, etc. We never let them do this until we are positive they will come home. But it does help them get used to the idea. Our kids were able to let us know what they thought over dinner. Decided on assigned seats in the van and at the dinner table. They were very much a part of the whole adoption process.

In addition to all this happening and school starting back up, I posted a request on the Murmansk board. Won't tell exactly what I said but what transpired next was nothing less than a miracle. A woman contacted me w/ information on our son. Not only that, but she was his brother's mother! Following that?! Long story short, she lives in Maine now w/ his bio brother who was adopted in March of 2006. Not long ago either. This was his younger brother. What was even more invaluable was I was able to receive court proceedings of Nik's relinquishment and ALL the details of birth family and history. Nik has 5 siblings. That's right, there are 6 of them!!!! Well, Nik is obviously w/ us, Dima and Elena are also stateside. So half in US and half in Russia, all w/ different families. I knew at the time, the oldest child was living with the grandmother in Russia. His other two sibs were supposedly at the orphanage. I decided to call the agency and explain part of what I knew. Always remember folks, in adoption, ignorance is bliss! Anyhow, long story short, told yes, but they are NOT available b/c grandmother has decided to “guide” the baby throughout the orphanage. What?! Is that supposed to mean? The other child was supposedly still w/ the mother. Okay fine. Baby was 9 months old and other brother in question was 6 years old. Knowing full well we'd take them IF we knew they were available. Keep this in your head for later in the story. Gets even more interesting in court!

So, then we get the call to go.....This part, for another day.

Part III—The Call, The Chaos, & Trip One Thus Begins.....

The call comes on any other hectic chaotic day here at Chaos Manor. I have usually around 10 to 14 appointments on any one given week between doctor stuff and school stuff. So, you reorganize and delegate orders as to what has to happen. It is as though you are on a war mission and this is command central. Seriously, it has to be that thought out and intense. First order of business, airline tickets and a sitter. The two vitals that you want. You all know how the airline ticket ordeal is so I won't even bother w/ the glitches or anything else that happens w/ that. Now, the sitter is a different story. Since we really don't have family that will help out too often with the kids, we had to locate a sitter that was willing to take on 5 special needs kids. Easier said than done. Felt like that scene on Cheaper By the Dozen.....”how many kids???” I had several services try to talk me into paying for 2 nannies. I said if I can do this job than so can a PROFESSIONAL nanny! I was getting ready to call JoJo from the SuperNanny---LOL. We finally lucked out and found a wonderful young nanny who was right between jobs. I mean she was to start her new job the day after we got back. Talk about luck. She came over and spent 3 hours w/ the kids. They liked her, she liked them, we liked her and papers were signed. Main mission accomplished. Then it's time to reschedule all those appointments, make POA's, find money where there is none and pack for the trip of a life time. Remember, we had never ever had to make two trips before this for any of our other adoptions. This was uncharted territory for us. And not knowing the full extent of what was wrong w/ Nik was honestly a little scary. We knew these were our kids, just still a little nervous. I must say this, I have looked at hundreds of photos, probably about 30 medicals on children, etc. and I have always known from day one which children are ours. Amazing. I can look and say, hey, that's MY kid! Back to the story. Made the links of love for the kids, wrote notes to stick in their lunch boxes the day we left and cards for the time we were gone. Also have to make lists, phone numbers, and medicine dispensing charts. So much goes into us being gone and I never really realized until I left just how much happens at this house in any one given week.

And now.... the trip of a lifetime. Got everything ready, suitcases packed, visas in hand and off to the airport. We are ready to leave on yep, Friday, Oct. 13th. Anyone superstitious??? Get to RDU and told the flight is overbooked. Anyone want to change to a later flight. Though tempting, we weren't budging. It all worked out, which was great. Pretty decent flight and all went as expected. We landed and waited for the driver to meet us. He forgot. Said he was tied up in traffic. Got to the Novotel and settled in. Ate a great chicken fahita dinner for more than I would have paid for our whole family to go out to dinner. But enjoyed it nonetheless. Tried to sleep that night but w/ time change, it never seems to happen, does it. We got up and it was off to Murmansk. Had to wait and meet the kids the next day...Sunday. The wait kills you when you are in the same town. I just wanted to walk to the orphanage myself. But patience. Next day it is off to the MOE to be “referred” officially the children. I love playing pretend—LOL. Oh, yeh, those kids look great, how about them??? Nik was so new, they didn't even have his photo on the database. Won't even get into that one. Remember, they were ready to send him off to the mental institution. I feel personally, a lot of exceptions were made in our case.

Anyhow, on pins and needles just waiting to get to the orphanage. Stomach in knots. Been through this drill so many times before but each experience is new and exciting. Snow was still on the ground. We go up and down bumpy streets in the snow.  We get up to a run down building and I knew this was it. We put on the mandatory plastic booties to cover up our shoes and get directed to the director's office. We get acquainted and then the moment to bring the children in arrives. She brought them in. 

Oh, how different from the photos. Warren and I just stared at each other and didn't know what to say. What was standing in front of us was a skeleton of a child. We were afraid we'd break her if we hugged her. Literally afraid we'd break her. 

Nik was plump and small but healthy looking. Alyona was sickly and had a yellowish coloring to her. She was as thin as could be. I put my thumb and middle finger around her leg and slid it up to her knee. Yep, that tiny. Beyond FAS petite. There was something drastically wrong and we knew something had to be done. She tired pretty easily. To this day, I think she had dangerous hormone levels. But nothing you can say or do at the moment. You have to just go w/ the flow and know in the back of your mind, she will be safe once home. They like how we interacted w/ the kids and didn't just sit there. We weren't afraid to do stuff w/ them, to them or even yell at them if need be. Yes, we yelled at her in front of them and they didn't mind. We do the same stuff there that we would at home. We don't put on a “show” for anyone. They knew we loved these kids but also could see we weren't going to let them get away w/ everything. We told Alyona we'd be back. She's always on edge b/c remember there was a family that promised to come back and never did. Poor kid asked to go w/ us. The next day we also got to visit and on the way were asked if we decided. We said yes. They said w/ a surprised voice...”Both of them??” And we said of course! So, signed the petition to adopt. 

When we got to the orphanage and got out of the car, Nik left his group and ran as fast as he could in that snowsuit to us. Sweetest thing. Scooped him up and didn't want to let go. 
I knew this day would hurt. And it was so bittersweet. Fun to play but hard to leave at the end of the day not knowing when I'd see them again. 

Showed no tears b/c I couldn't have Alyona see us like that. She'd never understand. Orphanage staff said the last time someone visited and didn't come back, she went into a deep depression. I looked and her and promised we'd be back as soon as possible. She was ours and we would not let her think otherwise. She seemed okay w/ that. It was even harder to leave my baby that didn't understand. He couldn't even understand the words I love you. Sad but at least I could give him my love until I could teach him how to understand. Hope that makes sense. A final goodbye and away we'd have to go.

Next day was the airport dash. Started snowing when we left and was just gorgeous. However, I started really feeling bad. Got to Murmansk airport and really felt nausiated. But knew we needed to get home for the kids. Made it to Moscow.

Enter the Delta flight back to JFK. Felt really sick, felt like a panic attack and then I hear “she's going down!” Yep, collapsed on the plane right after they had shut the cabin doors. I had all kinds of people trying to hand me stuff. One guy handed me his zantac and another Russian guy handed me something. I was numb, hands and arms had gone paralyzed but was still semi-aware enough to yell Americanish Clinic! I knew I was headed to some hospital but was not about to go to a Russian Hospital. Well, they took me indoors to a waiting medical area behind the Delta center. Kept saying Americanish Clinic. They got the picture. They tried to give me a concoction that smelled like pure Vodka---thinking it probably was. Told me it was a sedative, yeh, right. Didn't take it. Finally, the ambulance arrived. I do have to tell you the manager of Delta was absolutely phenominal!!! He took care of everything and re-booked our tickets, took care of visas, etc. Wonderful. Back to what was called an ambulance. You have NO idea just how good we have medical care in America until you take a ride in a Russian ambulance. It is pretty much an old work van. Bumpy roads, no shocks I assume and medical workers ride up front. I was so nauseous, that I wanted to vomit. What confirmed it even more is my husband said whatever you do, don't look at the gurney (you know, the one I was laying on!). It was covered and I mean literally covered in old bodily fluids from urine, to blood to vomit. I thought I'd lose it right there. My husband was desperately searching for some type of bag for me. Asked the driver in Russian for one and they stopped the ambulance. He came back w/ what looked like a fishing tackle box and wanted to inject me w/ something. I blatantly refused and kindly asked for a bag instead. Found some old bag but fortunately was able to hold it in. Still have no idea how as DH said he almost lost it too! We played chicken w/ trolley buses and military vehicles. It took well over an hour to get to the clinic. Thank God I wasn't dying! Got to the clinic and they were absolutely the best. I mean wonderful people, well taken care of, etc. Blood work was all out of whack due to dehydration and exhaustion. I told him I drank water constantly. He said that WAS the problem. I essentially flushed all the nutrients I had in my system out. Hint for next trip....bring on the Gatorade and don't be afraid to drink soda, juice, etc. I said I can go home but they said stay here, it's cheaper than a hotel in Moscow and insurance will pay for it. That was it. And my goodness, the hospital room was like a luxury hotel w/ hospital beds. Beautiful shower, TV w/ ALL channels, and even a menu to choose from. Great food and a good nights' sleep. The next day, we were going home.

Got to the airport and all details were taken care of. Once on the plane, apparently everyone on Delta heard of my incident and greeted me w/ a huge bottle of water to keep w/ me. Offered me any food I wanted. I felt relieved and knew the kids at home were a-okay. They were well taken care of by a neighbor. They were not told why we were delayed b/c we didn't want to worry them. The flight home was non eventful. Thank goodness. Made it home safe and sound. Kids were thrilled to see us as we were them. Time to get life back in order. That and time to wait for the next call. And it would come even sooner than we thought.....

Part IV-- Preparation for a trip of a life time.....

Well, we were back in America and ready to get back to life. Had to get our annual Halloween Party organized and try to get the five kiddos at home prepped for a new sibling. Remember, a good many have several severe mental and behavioral issues. You have to do things in advance and get them used to the ideas of new things, including siblings. This is especially hard for RADishes to accept as you may well know. Alex has always been our most severely affected child w/ several issues. Approaching a new sibling would be tough. Well, at least that's what I thought. However, after speaking w/ his teacher, I realized he was not going to have much trouble. He was telling everyone at school about becoming a new big brother and how he was having to learn to tie his shoes soon so that he could teach Nik. I was thrilled. Yana had even turned herself completely around. She was failing almost everything in school, poor self-esteem, etc. Lots of problems. Well, she then was learning sign language so that she'd be able to communicate w/ Nik when he got home. She then taught her entire class some basic sign! And told them all about her new siblings coming home. Yana has since been receiving all a's and b's since her sibs came home. Amazing that the two “RADishes” seemed to be adjusting before the new ones even came home.

Besides trying to prepare all the kiddos, I was trying to arrange all the medical stuff and things of that nature. Okay, while on trip one, we obviously took lots of pictures. Sent them to the agency but their computer was down for a few days. When they finally saw the photos they called me immediately and the foundation. In addition, they called the grant committee. The pics were that different from when they first had seen her. It was horrific for us to see her as a skeleton and so sick. But when they saw the pictures and compared them to the original photos and video of her, they saw such a dramatic deterioration that they seriously thought her life was in danger. And so did we. We knew she had a heart problem and if it was indeed her heart, knew she was in trouble. Our agency even suggested we life flight her home. Yikes! Couldn't believe they thought it was that bad. Yet, after seeing her, we knew there was something drastically wrong. Just couldn't put our finger on it at the time. We arrived home from trip one on October 19th by the way. We were home a total of 6 days and got the call to return to Murmansk. The date was set to leave November 23rd...Thanksgiving Day. That was the day we were to fly out. Okay, we can get it together by then. No problem. Make all the arrangements but hold off on booking the apartment b/c our agency's foundation is notarious at changing dates. Well, while we were arranging all this, our agency was trying to intervene & tell the foundation that this is a serious case and if our daughter stays there much longer, she may not make it. Their response and I quote: “Well, she's not dead yet.” What?! The agency and us were outraged but knew we had to hold it together to get our daughter and son home. Well, apparently the bugging them worked b/c then we get a call a week later that we are now leaving on November 15th! So, reshuffle everything and then have to hunt down a nanny. Got all the little stuff down and rearranging of appointments. Alyona was to arrive home late Sat. Nov. 25th and first thing Monday morning end up at UNC Cardiology. We were told IF the heart condition is the cause of her problem, then she would be admitted on the spot. Tried to prepare ourselves for that as well. Crazy stuff.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday

Haven't done thoughtful Thursday for awhile.  And though I usually do each of the kids, I am doing it a little differently this week. I think there have been some really thoughtful things happen the last few days that I wanted to mention.  So, need to get started.

A few days ago we had a wonderful neighbor drop off an entire box of sweet potatoes!  These are the ones picked by the farmers that get shipped to NY and NJ area.  Yum.  Fresh NC sweet potatoes.  This box is big and will feed us for quite awhile.  Thanks a bunch Jason!  Did I ever mention we live in the best neighborhood?  Everyone helps each other out when they can.  

That brings me to another thoughtful Thursday reminder.  I have a friend that has recently come on very, very hard times.  I won't go into details on here at all.  I decided it's Thanksgiving time and I have a full meal.  The least I can do is make sure her and her family are taken care of for the next few weeks.  So, I got a mini food drive going.  2 people are donating turkeys, many have dropped off the basic supplies, canned goods, etc.  I can not explain how grateful this family will be.  They do so much for their community.  The family has no idea we're doing this.  So, I decided to maybe surprise them on Thanksgiving Day or the day before.  Already have a box full and expect more.  If you are local, I'm taking donations up until Wednesday.  Some have given gift cards to grocery stores which is awesome.  This really will save a few lives close to home.  My goal is to be able to feed this family for about 3 weeks.  They are needing the basics desperately.  I greatly, greatly appreciate all that is being done to help this family in their time of need.  I just could not think about eating a Thanksgiving meal and having a friend of mine literally go hungry.  It just hurt to think about it.  So, you know what they say.  Get off the couch and DO something.  I did.  I plan on buying a lot of fresh fruit the day before as they have gone w/out that as fruit is so expensive.  Thanks again everyone who so graciously gave.

Last week we went to an adoption event at my husband's work.  Kids had a good time and made quite a few crafts.  Most made very sweet cards for us.  

Bojan made this card for us.  You can click on it to read it better.  This was even before we knew we'd have to put Bear down that week.  This looked exactly like Bear as a puppy.  Very thoughtful of Bojan and the other kids to think of Warren and I.  BTW, Max made a card for Warren and I and put a $1 in each.  He said "thank you for making all the changes."  I haven't asked him what that meant exactly but pretty sure he's referring to the new kids coming home.  Just was really thoughtful of all the kids to make us cards.  They didn't have to at all. 

Another thoughtful thing this week was from the vet.  I can't write it on here or I'll cry.  Just was very sweet of them to think of us.  They cared for both Bear and Aspen all these years.  Meant a lot to us.  

Those are some of the thoughtful Thursday items I could think of.  There were many more this week actually.  But, these are the ones that stuck out.  Thanks for letting me share.

Little updates & silly stuff

Figured I'd update on a little on the adoption front.  Not a whole lot to report.  As you all know, our curveball was thrown when USCIS decided to invoke the right to declare Irina as another adult living in our household.  Shh, don't tell her they think of her as an adult or it will go to her head.  LOL.  So, it's a rush to get it all done.  Social worker came out on Monday to re-interview Irina.  SW is writing up the addendum.  That will be sent w/ the pink form & the supplemental I form of the I-800A back to USCIS for official approval.  Have yet to know if they will make her go through biometrics as well.  If so, we will go over to Durham USCIS office & sit & wait for a day.  We are on a time crunch so that will have to be done.  We won't have time to wait for an appointment.  I noticed last time we went, it was not crowded at all.  If it is, we should be able to get a walk-in appointment.  Again, all speculation at this point in time.  All we're waiting on is approval from USCIS to have everything take place.

Readoption front.  Irina had to go re-sign stuff yesterday.  Waiting on a call from DSS this week to have their social worker come out here.  That should be interesting.  Chaos Manor & all its happenings.  Once DSS comes out, Irina's readoption can be pushed through the courts.

Leaks.  We had 3 leaks this past week alone.  2 from the sinks in the kitchen.  1 from our bathroom where Warren drilled through the wall & hit the pipe from upstairs.  All leaks from that are fixed.  Windows are still rotting.  We've replaced the upstairs dormer window recently as we had no choice.

Repairs.  These are the new dormer windows.  The rot before was bad to the point of effecting the structure.  So, had to do it though money really wasn't there for it.  The other windows all need replacing.  Not happening any time soon.  Condensation is horrible with them & you can feel the breeze coming through in the winter time.  Hoping a possibility of refinancing will help take care of some of these repairs that we have to do. 

Driving.  Irina has to take her test by December 4th in order to get her permit.  She is very nervous which is normal I told her.  She is not quite as steady behind the wheel as Max is but I think she'll get there.  Max has one more driving class to take for driver's ed part.  After that, he'll apply for his permit as well.  Not sure when Irina will get her license.   Time will tell.  Yana will take the class this coming summer. 

Clutter.  Our house has become slowly over run by it.  Part of the problem is our lack of storage.  I don't want to waste money & buy new clothes so I save all their clothes for hand me downs.  However, we have no attic, basement or the like to store stuff in.  Doing the best I can to sell what we don't use, which is not much.  But, every little piece gone helps w/ the room situation.  My kids really have hardly any toys.  Okay, before anyone jumps on that one, it's just who they are.  They all came from orphanages where they didn't have much.  Haven't too much causes them too much stimulation which leads to other issues.  Hence, why they have the bigger outdoor toys instead.  Skateboards, bicycles, trampoline, pool, swingset, etc.  works for us.  So, toys are not the clutter issue.  It's mostly clothes.  working on a solution. 

Glasses.  Warren needs new glasses.  Alyona & Nik will need new glasses as well but need to get their exams done first.  Of course they have to go to specialists due to their eye disorders.  Alyona has ONH(optic nerve hypoplasia) and Nik has very bad eyes.  Though, we don't feel that he has RP(retinitis pigmentosa).  We won't know definitively until he is a teenager.  But, it looks good so far so no blindness in his future would be awesome for sure.  Anyhow, took Max today to get his glasses fixed.  Unfortunately, they can not be fixed.  URGHH!!!  So, new glasses for him.  BTW, our insurance pays for glasses only once every 2 years and it is a $200 deal.  They always cost more than that though.  And the every two years thing really sucks when you have kids that go through glasses so much.  We get them at Walmart to help offset the cost & repairs.  I know there are many online shops that are cheap but having someone local be able to adjust them as often as many as we need adjusting is worth it.  I think we've kept the optical shop in business.  The guy today said "you know, I was just commenting on how I haven't seen your family in here for awhile."  

Silly things here & there.  Well, as you know, I'm a bargin hunter no matter what time of year.  Well, we were at Sam's the other day for some supplies and came across Halloween items.  We'll have fruit snacks & popcorn for months now. LOL.  Also found these:

Halloween lollipops.  Different flavors.  We all had the best time trying to guess the flavors.  It was hilarious.

Love Max's face here.  We just had eaten beef & broccoli stir fry.  They had lemon, grape, orange, sour apple, banana and wild cherry.  None of the flavors were labeled.  We guessed them all.  Taking turns trying to guess.  

thought it was cute that Nik is trying to read.  One of my magazines no less.  Monopoly game left on the floor of course.  No one playing.  I refuse to pick up their messes.  It did get cleaned up...eventually.  Nik is so ready to read.  He is trying so hard.  Love it.  Can't wait till he can read.  

Well, more to come later I'm sure.  Been so busy here lately that my posts have dwindled.  You know, life happenings. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bojan post surgery pics

Thought I'd share some post surgery pics for those who are going through the same type of thing right now.  They are graphic so there's you're warning. 

This is Bojan from last night before he had his cast cut off today.  His prosthetic is WAY too small.  BTW, he is now taller than Irina!  She's not happy but he is.  He grew that much in the last two months in that chair.  It's so weird seeing him upright lately.  One day, I will take a photo & the kitchen counters will not be cluttered.  

This is Bojan right after he got home.  He has that look of being sore on his face.  Was told to keep it elevated for the next few days.  

Bojan trying to walk with the walker.  I swear he looks like a giant since out of that chair.  Nik is observing cautiously.  

This is a side view of his foot.  He likes it b/c it has a "Harry Potter" scar.  Notice the swelling??

Another view.  Those two holes that are bleeding are from where his leg literally popped open.  Stitches were pulled so tight.  He had very, very little usable skin to work with during the surgery.  

Why there is toilet paper on the floor, I'll never know.  Nor will I understand why Nik's plaid shorts are laying there from yesterday.  URGHH!!!  I also notice from this picture my son took the nice white towel to clean the blood off his leg.  Boys.  Anyhow, this is Bojan's leg now.  Can you see why another surgery is in order?  The knee is straight up.  The rest of the leg is turned outward.  The bones will next need to be rotated as his previous surgeon did not do such good work.  Many of you may remember Alyona's botched surgery job.  Well, this was the same guy.  So, the surgeon at Duke is going to fix this issue next.  We agreed to wait until spring.  Originally, it was going to be about a month after this one.  Glad it's not.  

Well, those are the gross post surgery pictures.  Next set of pictures will have to pretty, right?  LOL.  Can't wait to see Bojan run again!  Still in the wheelchair a bit longer.  I don't need surgery which was great news.  Irina is going to need another major sinus/ nose surgery.  Not sure when to do that though.  More to come tomorrow. 

Bojan post surgery update

You know, this kid can never be cut & dry with things, can he?  Alright, Warren took off today to take Bojan to Duke for the removal of the cast from his ortho surgery a few months back.  They were very surprised when they took the cast off.  As soon as they took the cast off, Bojan's leg swelled up big and turned purple!  then, it starts bleeding.  Yes, his leg swelled up so much it literally popped!  The surgeon was concerned as that is very unusual apparently after all this heal time.  X-rays were okay so that was good.  Bojan will definitely need another surgery & though they were thinking a month after this one, we are all waiting.  We want him to heal from all this and get to walking again before we have him wheelchair bound again.  Plus, with travel impending (fingers all crossed here), we feel a surgery in the midst of adoption is just not a good idea right now.  Surgeon agreed waiting till maybe February or March would be just fine.  Relief.  For us and Bojan.  Anyhow, cast is off, he's all bandaged up b/c of the bleeding and a brace is on the foot as well.  He has a walker but surgeon wants him in a wheelchair & the next few days it's vital to have the leg elevated.  The turning purple thing apparently scared everyone a bit.  So, wheelchair for at least another two weeks....bummer.  Bojan is disappointed but happy the big cast is off.  His next surgery will have a full length cast we are told.  Good news is he can bathe.  Wahoo!  Clean leg finally.  Warren was told to watch things.  We will tonight but want nothing out of the ordinary to happen.  Please, nothing happen.  LOL.  Those who followed his surgery know that the unusual tends to happen in this house.  I'll post pics in another post. 

Now, other items on the agenda today.  Called and sorted out all kinds of medical bills I keep getting.  All taken care of thank goodness.  I will not get into politics too much on this blog b/c 1) I hate politics & 2) people get really opinionated when it comes to such topics.  I will say this though, due to that new healthcare bill, our insurance in the new year will double.  Our copays are all going up w/ regular docs & specialists.  For us, it means a HUGE increase.  Our kids go to a ton of specialists & this will really take away a lot.  Hate it and that's all I'm going to say about that topic. 

Warren just got home, the "littles" left, waiting for speech therapist and Warren just took Irina to sign more papers at the lawyers office.  busy.  Social worker is working on our homestudy addendum for Irina's Supplemental I form.  Just very ready to go.  May have guests the first weekend in December.  Have to wait and see though.  Everything is happening like lightening speed around here.  Warren was up till 1:30 fixing yet another leak of ours.  Poor guy.  So far, he has fixed 2 leaking sinks and a hole in water pipes in our bathroom wall.  Crazy, huh?  Much more to say but need to get my kids ready for bed.  It's almost 8.  I know, I start & stop these posts sometimes so that's why they may be so jumpy at times.  Missed our FAS support group meeting as Alex was throwing up all morning.  Nice, huh?  He's fine now thank goodness.  Enjoy your week. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

A picture, puppet, & a paw

We were able to get our family portrait done last weekend.  Not crowded & kids did great.  I took a picture of the picture.  This one is  a gift for a family member.  Most of us are smiling real smiles. 

Bad shot but you get the idea.  Some years we get dressed up for the Christmas picture, some years are very casual w/ Santa hats.  I think there is definitely room for three more on here.  

Nik came to Yana asking her to make a puppet.  

This is what she came up with.  A few kinex pieces and yarn and you have a puppet.  Clever of the two of them really.  That huge binder a couple of inches think on the counter, well that's my IEP folder for the kids.  I'm reviewing them to see some things that need changing.  Anyhow, I thought the puppet idea was really cute.  

The vet we used to go to gave us a paw print of Bear.  Still SO hard to not have him around.  Paw print was very sweet of them I thought.  Kids miss him too.  Alyona's spelling word this week was miss.  Her sentence says it all:  I miss Bear.  We all do.  

More happening at Chaos Manor. Social worker came & went today after interviewing Irina.  She'll have it done ASAP and then we'll get that sent off to USCIS.  It is the piece they need to give us approval.  Well that & the Supplemental I form for another adult living in the house.  Remember, USCIS has decided to count our daughter as an adult even though she's not yet classified as such.  She's 17yo.  But, we're following the instructions so we can get our approval and get moving onto Bulgaria where we belong.  So ready to go.  The wait as any adoptive parent will tell you is the hardest part of the adoption journey.  Keep you posted on the progress.  If we can get this to USCIS this week, I don't see why we couldn't have approval next week.  That's what we're shooting for anyhow.  

Need to get going.  Enjoy your week everyone.  We have an FAS support group meeting tomorrow evening.  The kids actually like going & hanging out w/ other kids.  More posts coming on FAS soon.  And next week, Alyona & Nik's adoption journey home.  See if I can remember it all.  LOL.  Bojan gets his cast off tomorrow.  Wahoo!!!  His prosthetic is beyond to small so need to get him a new socket asap.  We'll find out tomorrow when his next surgery will be.  He is so excited.  Oh, we're going to the zoo this coming weekend.  More to come on here soon.

What would have happened??

Since it is National Adoption Month, I figured I'd write a brief post regarding what would have most likely become of our children had we not adopted them.  Ever wonder?  Ever wonder where your kids would have ended up or what they would have ended up doing had they not been rescued???  I can give you some ideas based on what we know about their particular orphanage and situations.  This will be raw and honest so if you can't stomach it, I would not read further.  I just think sometimes the real stories need to be told.  So, here goes.

Max and Irina came from a very, very remote village.  It was four hours away from center of the city & they used donkeys as the main mode of transportation still.  Grew their own food.  Very, very poor village.  We asked lots of questions.  Well, their orphanage only went up to age 13 years old.  I specifically asked what happens to them once they reach 13.  She said they are on their own.  Yikes!  I know I couldn't have survived.  IF the boys are lucky, they get to go into the military at that age.  If the girls are "lucky," they get to prostitute.  Not exaggerating.  At 13 yo, they are released on their own.  No money, no job skills, limited education, no place to go (& boy does it get cold there!), and no family.  Very few I'm told survive long.  Irina and Max would have been dead for years by now had we not adopted them.  That is the honest truth.  Especially, since both take medication.  No one would have fixed Irina's nose w/ surgery.  No one would have helped Max with medication.  No one would have helped them get educated.  No one would have helped them learn how to drive.  no one would have gone with them to apply for jobs.  No one.  Why?  Because they would have been dead had we not adopted them.  Irina wasn't supposed to be allowed to be adopted.  She was abandoned.  No parents signed off on anything.  It pains me to think that the other children there that were the same age as them...4 yo's and younger would be dead most likely by now too.  No one came for them.  From this orphanage, there have only ever been 5 children adopted from there b/c it is such a remote village to get to.  2 of my children came home from there.  2 of the others live in CA and are extremely intelligent and successful young adults.  They will make a difference in the world for sure.  Another little boy lives near us as well.  That's it.  That's who made it out.  As far as we all know, they said we'd be it b/c it was just too far to travel to any more.  And, on the boards I had never ever found anyone else during these 10 years go here.  So, guessing it was true what we were told.  Can you imagine if we hadn't adopted Max and Irina??

Yana and Alex.  What would have happened had we not adopted them??  For Yana, I fear she would have been a prostitute.  I don't say that lightly or just to throw it around.  When we got there, she was 8yo.  That's what they were "training" her to do.  She witnessed much in her young life as most orphans do once they get to the older homes.  Plus, her biological sister we are told took this route and was also hooked on drugs.  (found this out from another one of the adopted children stateside).  Can't confirm it but since the orphanage director spoke so poorly of Yana's bio sister, I am guessing it is true.  That too would have been Yana's fate most likely had we not adopted her.  Alex.  Alex would have been in serious trouble by now.  Without his meds, he literally can not function in daily life.  I am guessing by now, they would have sent him to a mental facility.  Just a guess but a fairly educated one. 

Next is Bojan.  We were told they were "hiding" him away and not transferring him to a different institution.  If none of you have seen a video of the Serbian institutions, please watch it.  It will shine some light on what goes on.  NOT all are like the one in the movie but it is definitely not the only one.  Anyhow, Bojan was fortunate enough to have people care about him enough to keep him at the baby home.  He just turned 6yo when we picked him up.  Bojan was 6yo.  He had no self- care about him.  Did not feed himself, use the restroom himself or dress himself.  Think infant.  Just a big one.  Now, once home, he dropped these behaviors in 4 days.  However, what do you think would have happened to him had he been transferred to an institution?  Bojan would have never gotten all his surgeries on his clubfoot that he's had here.  He would have never gotten all the new prosthetics that like he's gotten here.  Had he been transferred, I doubt education would ahve been at the top of their list.  Now, he's student of the month this month.  He's doing very well in school.  Interested in Egypt.  Reads all the time.  SO much potential for sure!  What would have happened had we not adopted him?

Alyona and Nik.  Wow.  They for sure would have been in awful, awful shape by now if not dead.  Most likely the latter.  Alyona was 7 yo when we brought her home.  Health in horrible shape.  The only reason they kept her at the childrens' home and did not send her onto the internat is b/c she was so frail.  The orphanage director was afraid they would have beat Alyona to death.  Her words.  In other words, she wouldn't have survived the transfer.  Not a bit.  Now Nik.  We were told if we did not get him that week, he too was to be transferred to a Russian Mental Institution.  You know, the kind where the kids are not taught a thing.  They are tied down to cribs all day long.  The "lucky" ones die with in two years.  I can NOT, can NOT phathom this active little boy living that life.  He is so dog gone smart and will have plenty to contribute to society once he's older.  Who would have given him the gift of hearing?  Who would have made sure his asthma was under control?  Who would have watched his miraculous turn around from an 18 month old developmentally into a thriving growing little boy?  What would have happened to Nik and Alyona had we not adopted them? 

Bottom line is had we not adopted all our kids, there would have been no future for them.  No family to love.  No hope.  No love.  No life.  I know we can not save them all nor do we even want to try.  We just know the kids that are meant to be in our lives and our family.  We don't discuss the "what ifs" here often.  Just don't do it.  It comes up every once in a blue moon.  What if we didn't adopt them?  It's not just our lives or their lives that have been affected.  Others have been adopted too b/c of their stories.  Other programs have been started b/c we got the ball rolling.  One person touches the lives of so many others.  Many, many have been touched and changed for the better b/c we decided to adopt them.  We took that leap of faith.  We didn't wait for more money, or a few years down the road, or when one of the kids gets older, or for a raise or for whatever other reason keeps so many people from saying yes to adopting.  Let's put it this way, there is ,much better timing for us than now to adopt.  I mean really.  We need a new roof, we need a new HVAC system, we need new windows, we need so many repairs done, the teens are starting to drive--$$$, etc., etc.  So many reasons why we could say no this time around.  Yet, we feel as though we did with our other kids.  BTW, Bojan was NOT the best timing at all.  We had just gotten home w/ Yana and Alex at the end of May & started his paperwork in August.  Not only that, Yana and Alex were both dealing with RAD.  Timing was horrible.  Yet, we really felt he belonged.  And, he does.  Honestly, if Bojan hadn't come home, I don't think Max would have made it through so many rough times.  Those two are stuck together like glue.  Right now, not the best timing for us for the other 3 coming home.  Yet, we feel they belong.  I mean really, the house needs repairs and the US economy is weak as ever.  We ask ourselves though "what would happen if..."   Read above & read again what would have happened had we said no.  No one else was coming along for these children.  They'd been passed over and over. 

So, are you waiting?  Don't wait.  As Nike says Just do it.  Details tend to work themselves out.  I just know I don't like thinking about what would have happened to my kids if we had not adopted them.  It is National Adoption Month.  Just think for a moment where these kids may be destined to go.  They have SO, SO much potential to change not only their lives but the people around them.  Their dreams and potential are limitless.  They just need someone to give them the chance.  Be that chance.  Take that leap.  These are definitely our last set of adoptions.  But, I will continue to advocate for the ones left behind.  Always.  they can not be forgotten.  Someone took the time to advocate for MY kids.  I can at least do the same for the ones left behind.  So that their families may find them.