Thursday, July 14, 2011

I-800 approval!!!

Officially, we have it!  Well, I don't have it in my hot little hands but our agency does so we are good.  We were told Saturday we were approved.  Waited to say something until either us or the agency had something in our hands.  Agency told me today they did.  So, next step... Article 5 letter from the Embassy.  After that, it goes to the MOJ for a few signatures.  Then, it is submitted for a court date!  So...very...excited.  Just had to share.  Know it's a short post but know others are right behind me in the process & we're all working on this time line.  BTW, this did NOT take long at all. They received our paperwork on June 27th and approved this past July 9th.  About two weeks.  Let you all know how long the next step takes.  We have ALL updated docs for court.  Hand carried new medical that was done in June.  Waiting on the FBI for my fingerprints since mine "expired."  Hate that.  Called the other week, shortly after week #4 (don't do that, they HATE it & you w/ a passion), & being told FULL 8 weeks. Should be soon we get ours b/c I know for a fact I submitted them BEFORE we left for Bulgaria.  I think that would be the only thing they need for court but someone please, please let me know if you know of other stuff.  Good day. 

Thoughtful Thursday

It's been awhile since a thoughtful Thursday post.  For those new here, it is when I post at least one thoughtful thing my kids did throughout the week.  I do this to remind myself that things are not always as bad as they seem.  LOL.  See, we do have many children w/ severe behavioral issues.  It is important when you have children w/ these type of mental health disorders to always find the good in them as well.  So, some thoughtful posts I hope.

Irina--  Now, this was a shocker for me.  You all know the reason that Irina and Yana have their own rooms is to keep the peace in this home b/c 'Oscar' and 'Felix' could no longer live together.  Well, since Kyle is staying with us, Irina offered Yana to stay w/her versus Alyona.  Thoughtful of Irina to think of Yana. 

Max-- Max was actually teaching Yana to drive the lawnmower.  I didn't take a picture b/c frankly, I couldn't watch.  She did okay.  Not bad for the first time but has no idea how to handle our hills.  I for sure thought the mower deck was gone at one point.  But, Max was very thoughtful for helping her through the learning stages.  I've always said he'll make a great dad one day.

Yana-- Yana knows how much her brother loves to go bike riding.  Trouble is, not everyone wants to go when Nik wants to go.  Yana on many occasions this past week took Nik for a bike ride.  Very thoughtful of her to do.

Bojan-- Well, Bojan has asked several times this week is there anything he can do to help out.  I was very appreciative. 

Alex--  Alex on many days has been doing puppy retrieval despite what a pain it is. He has volunteered on several occassions.  Lately, Alex has really stepped up to the plate on many occasions. 

Alyona-- collected money to give to the church ministry for Africa.  It was pennies but everyone knows every little bit helps.

Nik-- When I'm watching the "littles,"  Nik takes it upon himself to help me out by playing w/ one of them.  I know he's not really being thoughtful but just being a kid by playing w/ another kid, but in my eyes it's thoughtful for sure.  He's also very sweet to him.  Shows me he is very ready for a younger sibling.  Years ago, he would be SO jealous when I held another child or played w/ someone else.  Now, he's okay.  Nik is ready and even keeps asking when they're coming home.  He calls Summer his baby.  LOL.  Don't think she's going to go for that. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ask me anything

I thought I'm always the one writing stuff on here, time for others to write something.  Well, ask something.  We're pretty much an open book in this home.  Shoot, after adopting 10 kids internationally, your life becomes an open book.  At least to your social workers it does.  LOL.  I know quite a few have asked me questions off line.  And that's fine.  But, I also know that many may have the same questions.  I'll take questions on here, off line, wherever.  I thought once I get a few questions, I'll post the answers.  Whether it's something goofy you wanted to know about us or something serious, we're open.  Something about FAS, RAD, PTSD, OCD, Anxiety, Developmental delays, AN(auditory neuropathy), speech, ADHD, limb differences, CAPD, or the many other gamet of dx's our kids have.  I know I don't talk much about individual dx's on this blog.  More as a group or mostly as just my kids being kids.  Our thing is trying to separate adoption behavior, versus regular kid behavior, versus FAS behaviors, etc.  Sometimes easier said then done.  Anyhow, ask me anything.  Dogs, kids, house, moving, food, anything.  I'm game.  Wow, three posts in one day. 

100 degrees out....

and how do you entertain 12 to 15 kids every single day at home?

Why bring out a box of good humor bars & set them down on the coffee table.  

When you reach a certain #of kids, you can care less where they eat.  Do you think leaving the piles of adoption paperwork on the coffee table is the best idea ever?  

I think they enjoyed their ice cream break for sure.  Hey, at only 100 calories for a fudge bar, not too bad for me either.  

Or, you can have them take naps.  Well, I didn't ask but the teens in this house seem to be able to take a nap on a whim.  Must be nice.  URGHH!!!  Even Alaska doesn't mind.  That dog thinks she's human.  

Kids are entertained by the trampoline any time of the year.  And, water makes it more slippery.   Now, had told Bojan not to wear his leg when jumping or he can get hurt or really hurt someone else w/ it.  He knows this. I think he is taking the whole teen defiance level a bit early don't you??  And, you should see him jump on one leg, flip, and land on the same one leg.  Amazing.  

Or, they can relax in the pool like Max is doing here.  On a hot day.  

Right now, all my kids are inside.  We have 13 kids here today.  They're all watching Spongebob right now eating popcorn.  Well, older kids are chit chatting in their rooms. Not into Spongebob so much.  Told them all we must clean up before we watch much of anything else.  

We have VBS tonight.  While there, Warren and I will go to the store and get a few things for the kids' b-days this coming weekend.  Keeping it simple for sure.  Then, Alex & Alyona will have a friend spend the night too.  After their party, we have a church softball game and cookout.  Sunday, church and hopefully put up the rest of that fence to keep the pups in.  Keeping busy this weekend for sure.  I think I finally have somewhat of a handle on the homeschool front.  We'll see.  Step by step.  Next, working on a bunch of grants.  Got to go.  Got to get cooking.  Have VBS this evening but need to cook before I go.  Kids are still hungry when we get home.  Making baked meatballs this evening I think.  Yum.  

Serving time...punishment

Notice anything different about this picture:

Besides the fact that it's blurry, it is Bojan doing his chore.  No big deal, right?  Look closer.  He is not standing up on two legs.  Why?  Because he got the other leg confiscated.  Why?  Because I got tired of the boys trashing this house and not caring where they leave stuff.  

Let me start from the beginning so it makes more sense.  We as a family, are sick and tired of the boys trashing the house and thinking it is okay to live like a pig. It's not.  So, one night, I only took a small portion of the house to pick up.  Just the upstairs hallway and the boys' bathroom.  You literally could not see the floor.  Dead serious.  Health department would have issued a citation, no doubt.  So, Yana(hey, she volunteered) scooped up anything on the ground and put it in a garbage bag.  We had three garbage bags FULL of stuff.  Including Bojan's leg left in the middle of the hallway.

Next morning, I dumped all three bags in the living room floor.  Divided them into piles of who they belonged to.  Made a separate pile for all the "not mine's" I got.  Told them all every item was a quarter.  If they did not have the cash, they could earn it back by a $1 an hour.  Now, Alex had $6 bucks worth of stuff.  In fact, most boys had $6 to $7 worth of stuff.  I told them next time they did this, I would charge .50 an item.  

Alex learned his lesson quickly.  Every night since, he said I'm not getting in trouble again.  It's too much work!  I'm kind of following Nik as explaining it all is a little more complicated.  Now, Bojan and Max, still a mess.  Tonight, I'll be scooping up the floors again for sure.  This time, .50 an item and being real hard on it.  I am determined to end this habit.  I know a mess will happen, especially here.  However, theirs goes beyond a mess.  It truly does.  It's frankly embarrassing.  The boys are like rats dropping stuff as they walk.  where it lands is where it lands.  

So, this is to be our lesson of the summer.  To keep our things relatively picked up.  Again, a little mess, fine.  But they had an explosion of mess where you couldn't even see the floor.  That's just insane.  So far, half success with this process.  We'll see in the next week how it goes.  What got me was I was going to give Bojan back his leg but he kept being a smart mouth about it all.  I said "How's it feel to crawl around?"  He said " I don't care."  URGHH!!!  Bojan was not getting the point of it all.  Just was trying to one up me the whole time.  yes, he got his leg back.  I told him next time though, I wasn't going to be so nice.  Told him had there been a fire, someone could have really gotten hurt by tripping over his leg in the middle of the hall.  

I feel confident the boys will eventually learn a lesson. It will however, take more than one time doing this.  Though Alex & Nik I think seem to have gotten it.  The two that I honestly didn't think would.  I think Max and Bojan are too deep into the lazy teen mentality that they don't think I"m serious.  BTW, when you see my boys wearing the same outfit for a few days, ask them why.  Maybe they'll fess up.  All I know is we are not going back to the old ways.  DOn't care how long this lesson takes, it will be worth it.  The loft area & hallway have remained clean.  Next focus...their room.  Anyone else out there have to take drastic measures w/ their kids?  I've heard of parents removing all possessions but a mattress.  Would love to do that but we have nowhere else to put the items. Thought this was a great alternative.  Thought I'd share and get ideas from others w/ what they've done.  And, this is only the boys.  Girls,I don't have an issue w/.  Used to be Alyona but she doesn't do it any more.  One day, I hope to say that about the boys.  Time will tell. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Birdhouse making

Some have asked what we do all day in the hot days of summer.  Finding projects here and there helps.  So, the one day we went and made birdhouses out of old gourds.  A neighbor had dropped off a garbage bag full of old gourds.  Go to Lowes and buy the leftover "oops" paint cans that are cheap.  You know, colors that no one wants.  So, we decided to make birdhouses one day. 

 We started off by sanding all the gourds.  Sun was bright this day so ignore all the faces on the kids. 

We took much needed slushie breaks.  Actually, this was Alyona's leftover from the night before.  Look at the size of those drinks for just .69!  I think she was quite delighted w/ her drink, how about you?

Then we had Max & Kyle help drill holes in all the birdhouses.  Not as easy as it looks. they do have round bottoms remember.

After the holes are drilled, empty all contents from inside the birdhouse.  Sure wish I could just shake that garage free of contents.  LOL.  Yes, it is indeed on the to do list. 

 Nik, getting ready to stir a very full can of paint.  May not have been my brightest idea.

 Irina, Yana and Nik working on their paint job.  At first, we didn't think the color would turn out okay.  Once on, we really liked it.

 Alyona took a bit of a short cut w/ a spray paint can. 

These are two of the finished products drying.  We still need to put hooks in them and tie them up.  I think they turned out pretty good.  Gave us something to do, something that all ages can do and something that kept us all busy for a little while.  Now, to hang them up and let the birds come a knocking on their new houses.  Now maybe they won't make nests in our grill any more. 

Flowers in bloom

I'm collecting some wildflowers.  Not just here at the house, but from across the ocean as well.  Let me explain.  The other day, I tried an experiment w/ those wildflower seed packets.  Looked like a bunch of weeds had grown.  The post is a few posts back if you want to see pictures of said weeds.  But, look through all that "junk" and see what I see:

 A beautiful pink flower waiting to be picked.

 A gorgeous yellow flower waiting to be picked.

A precious orange flower, waiting to be picked.  

So many beautiful flowers that alone, don't look all that appealing.  Yet, they longed to be picked.  For someone, just one person to come along that wildflower field and scoop them up.  I know when they stand alone, their problems may stand out more.  A broken leaf here or there, not so long a stem, different colorings on them, what have you.  Yet, once you put them with other flowers, they tend to take on a transformation all their own.  

Separately, the flowers don't seem that big of deal.  Yet together, they're imperfections are gone.  they are simply perfect.  They belong together.  The flowers make a wonderful bouquet together.   Doesn't matter what may be wrong or different about that one flower, together, they have a huge impact on people.  They are beautiful, amazing, and stand out.  Yes, my wildflower garden may have been a mess but it taught me something along the way too.  Always, always look for the beauty in things.  Especially, if you don't see it at first.  Those weren't a bunch of weeds growing but a beautiful bouquet of flowers. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Woodshop & wizzards

Well, sometimes you just need to get creative as the lazy days of summer progress.  Thought I'd share some pictures of some of that recent creativity. 

 All the boys wanted to make stuff.  One made a crib, one made a beyblade stadium, some made wands, etc.  Lots of makings going on.  We unfortunately, really don't have a great place for them to work.  We found this workbench table on the side of the road a few months ago.  Everyone uses it.  I let the boys have at it that day.  No power tools except for a power drill.  This was hammer, nails, kind of day.  Old fashioned way.  Imagination at work.  All from scrap wood.  Loved it and so did they.

Alex showing off what he created.  A beyblade stadium.  This required a lot of sweat & patience form Alex.  I'm really proud he completed it.  

 During the wood working workshop, Nik made a wand.  Can you tell the new Harry Potter movie is coming out??  Though we can never go to the theater when it comes out (cost), we try on big movies to go to the cheap seats a few weeks later.  So, as soon as it is available, we'll be leaving to see it.  

Meantime, boys are getting back into Harry Potter even coming up w/ some spells.  Hilarious!  They each painted their own wands.  Nik used marker on his.  I think it shows quite the imagination of the boys.  

Many more summer pics to come.  I've been slow I know.  We have VBS this week so not here most nights.  Tonight, I think Warren and I may actually go out to dinner. It will have to be quick but think we can make it.  My parents gave us a gift cert to Red Lobster not too long ago.   We may actually enjoy a night out with no kids.  Probably the quietest dinner ever despite being in a restaurant.  Let you know how it goes. 

Manic Monday

Okay, it was an FAS weekend to a tee!  URGHH!!!  I'm actually glad it's Monday.  Many were in rare form.  Argumentative, fighting, disobedient, etc.  You name it, they did it.  One of the girls even ripped my shirt.  And not an old shirt either.  I come out Sunday morning and Alyona is on top of Alaska screaming calm down. Now, Alaska was doing NOTHING but eating a chewie.  That's it.  I was really, really not happy with Alyona.  She knew better.  But, this is part of FAS.  They do stupid things for no reason whatsoever.  Those who have kids with FAS know exactly what I'm talking about. It is not easy.  And for us this past weekend, it was just simply bad.  We did not go to the carnival we were planning on going to.  Why?  Because the boys had to learn a lesson at some point.  Boys room was beyond a mess.  The hallway upstairs and the upstairs bathroom.  So, I picked up the hallway & bathroom.  Next morning brought them to the living room & dumped all 3 bags out of items.  Charged them .25 an item. If they didn't have money or didn't want to part w/ their money, they could earn it back at $1 an hour by doing labor.  Alex has done his time.  The other 3 boys have not.  Max will later today.  Bojan worked some yesterday.  So, Alex was the ONLY one who learned his lesson thus far.  He's been picking up before bed every night since saying he doesn't want to have to pay money again or do work.  Ahh, lesson learned.  Working on the other 3.  I think Bojan actually learned a bit as well but his attitude. is horrifying still.  Working on it.  So, long story short, no carnival. 

Irina and Yana got into a battle.  They are over it now but gee whiz.  It was one thing after another this weekend.  Definitely an FAS kind of weekend and one I don't care to repeat.  homeschool conference, w/ blantant signs saying don't sit on the stage, I turn to find Nik and Alex on the stage.  These same two kids were throwing airplanes across the room.  Yes, at that point I pretended NOT to know my own kids.  Ran out of meds for one of the kids.  Like I said, it was not a banner weekend.

But, we survived.  Kids went to VBS last night.  They're going through Thursday.  Praying this week goes better.  Kids are watching Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 right now.  All 13 of them.  Max is cooking hot dogs on the grill.  Today is a better day.  Trying to get organized for Alex & Alyona's b-day party.  It's this Saturday at 1 to 4pm.  Cookout/ pool party.  Hope it will be fun.  Not much going on this week.  Going to be super hot so lots of indoor stuff.  Alyona and a "little" were playing w/ paper dolls earlier today.  Trying to think of more indoor activities to do.  We've played games and baked a bit. 

More to come.  A picture post soon.  Need some pictures to break up all the words.  Just been busy getting ready for home school.  Got to go.  Enjoy your week. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011



Okay, I know I posted this before but feel it is in the childrens' best interest to post again.  There is a very young sibling set available in a country that I am familiar with.  They are in EE.  The little girl is almost 2 years old.  The little boy recently turned 3yo.  Such a young, sweet sib set!  Very precious.  Cute as cute can be.  The reason these children need a family to commit to them quickly is because they have CF(cystic fibrosis).  CF is a terminal illness but so, so much has been done as far as research goes.  Do any of you remember those wonderful sisters singing on America's Got Talent last year?  They had CF as well.  Yet, they were living a very fulfilling life for sure.  I have a friend who adopted her first little girl from EE when she was 4yo.  She has CF.  Tammy recently wrote about her experiences about adopting a child with cystic fibrosis.  Please read it here .  These children have very low fees as they are trying to find them a home quickly.  Their country does take large families.  It is a two trip process. Each trip is about 5 days.  Beautiful country. 

the children are currently healthy at the orphanage they are in.  However, we know with this illness that staying healthy is critical and an orphanage is not the best place for that.  They would truly thrive in a family with the right medical interventions.  Please help spread the word.  Pray for these two little ones.  It is vital they find a family. 

Bulgarian Process

Okay, I figured others might want to know how the Bulgarian adoption process works.  Keep in mind, we are very much newbies to this as every single country does things differently.  Now, Russia, we could probably do in our sleep again. Bulgaria, I'm learning as I go.  Following others and trying to give out correct info and correct it if I'm wrong. Please correct me if I'm wrong, b/c that helps future parents. 

I'll start from the beginning.  We originally were looking for another child that was a bit younger than Nik and was Deaf.  I was shocked at the time just how hard they are to find.  See, w/ our family size, we are indeed limited to where we can adopt from.  We can not adopt from Ukraine as the stay in country is too long w/ the special needs kids we have at home.  Just wouldn't work for our family dynamics.  So once I narrowed down a country that fit our criteria, we then started looking for kids.  There really are not very young kids from Bulgaria.  Most are at the very least over 2yo.  I also wanted a child who was deaf or HOH.  A sibling for Nik to relate to.  Well, there was one but he was spoken for very quickly.  Remember, I had a spouse afflicted w/ what many in the adoption community call RSS.  Reluctant Spouse Syndrome.  It's not the easiest thing to recover from but can indeed be recovered from.  BTW, Warren has suffered from this w/ every single one of our adoptions.  Yet, here we are again, bringing home #8, 9 & 10.  Go figure.  One day I'll write a post just on RSS.  I know there are others out there that can relate.

Anyhow, once we decided to proceed, we looked at a few files via our agency.  Now, our Bulgarian process will be a little different than those waiting for referrals as we always choose waiting children.  We had chosen a set of 4yo twins at the time and then Summer.  We committed to these three children.  Well, more information came to light about one of the twins.  We knew w/ our family dynamics, we could not care for a child that would without a doubt need 24 hour care. She needed a smaller family to be able to meet the needs she had.  It was with a very heavy heart we declined the twins and were searching for 2 other children.  Well, one or two.  Truly, we had no idea how many we would end up with.  Warren even said if we end up with just one, than that was the way it was meant to be.  Just didn't want you to think that we intentionally sought out two more children.  No.  We sought out what we thought would be our children.  No matter the number of them.  We were told of a much older sibling set.  Laid eyes on them, listened to them and that was it.  We were hooked!  We knew.  Those were indeed our kids.  Didn't care how old they were though they are the oldest kids we will have ever adopted.  Our next step, since these were waiting children, was to submit what they called a mini dossier.  This includes your homestudy.  Again, one day after court I will explain all the details of what happened throughout our journey.  It is not for the faint of heart.  Trust me.  Long story & will be saved for after our adoption journey is complete. For now, just want to tell you a little of our process. It should have been much faster but we hit every single glitch known to man.  Homestudy was completed, mini dossier submitted and waiting on I-800A approval.  Yeh, that didn't come.  LOL.  For those "oldies" on here, you'll know why.  Yep, Irina turned 18 during this process & despite here being our daughter and mentally challenged, she still had to be treated as if she were another adult in the home.  Eventually, I-800 approval was given and dossier was submitted.  Big dossier w/ everything in it.  It was submitted to the MOJ in Bulgaria.  MOJ stands for Ministry of Justice.  Bulgaria has a long waiting list for referrals.  However, it is different if you pick a child that has been waiting forever for a family, is older, and is special needs.  They tend to go a little faster.

After we were accepted and received what are called "official" referrals of our kids, a month later, we were due to travel.  This was back in April we were supposed to travel.  Our official referrals came on March 18th (it's listed on the official MOJ website that anyone has access to) and travel was scheduled I believe for April 13th or somewhere close to that.  We however, were held up by that investigation.  Lovely.  Remember, the false one?  Once all cleared up on our end, we ended up traveling in June.  We come back, and sent in the I-800 forms and I-864W forms.  We have to do 3 of everything as we are adopting three children.  Yes, it is as paperwork painful as it sounds.  We also have to fill out the DS230 forms.  Now, we put in our I-800 forms and received notice that it'd been received on June 27th, I believe.  Just yesterday, July 9th, it was approved.  Given you all a time line here. After this, it gets sent to the US Embassy in Sofia.  From there, the Bulgarian adoption team gets an Article 5 letter.  This then must go to the MOJ for some signatures.  After all this, then you can be submitted to get your court date.

Court is held in Bulgaria without you present.  I know in most other countries, we must be present to go to court.  This is a nice change for us.  Hey, no new dress clothes.  LOL.  After court, most families travel within a month to go pick up the children.  I hope this is the case with us as well.  Our kids are located in two different regions. 

I really can't wait to get the I-800 approval notice in my hot little hands.  Not sure exactly how long it takes for the team in Bulgaria to get the Article 5 letter from the Embassy.  Praying not long.  It would be nice to have a court date w/in the next 2 to 3 weeks.  It really would.  I know summer vacation for judges is the entire month of August & told some of them spill into vacation into September as well.  So, would be great if we'd be allowed an October court date.  Praying it will be then.  You know me and being patient.  I'm just NOT patient.  This has gone long enough.  Kids are anxious to come home and we're really ready for them to come home.  I do know that the team in Bulgaria after court has to get them visas and passports.  That I know.   They also will need medical exit exams if I'm not mistaken.  Again, new country for us but believe most embassy rules are the same. 

So that about does it.  Oh, why you don't see pictures of the kids that we are adopting up on our blog.  This area is kind of fuzzy as I do know that some people do post pictures.  We just feel it is better to be safe than sorry.  That, and many agencies ask you to agree not to post them until after court...when they are officially yours.  I'm dying to post pictures.  I'd love to share w/ you as they are so dog gone cute.  Their personalities are beaming w/ spirit.  Can't wait for you to meet them on here and then for some of you, to meet them in person.  The first trip I can tell you all is well worth the wait.  Try not to get mad at your agencies for taking so long.  Trust me, it is not them making you wait.  However, stick it out.  Your kids will be well worth any wait.  The wait now to bring them home is hard.  Not going to lie.  I just want them home.  But, adoption is a process.  You must follow the rules.  You must wait your turn.  You must be patient.  Geez, it's like kindergarten all over again.  LOL.  Seriously though, I know many of you have been waiting forever.  It is well worth any time you have to spend waiting.  Once home, you will vaguely remember how long the process took.  For me, it is really hard.  Irina and Max--- 6 months total start to finish.  Yana and Alex-- 10 months total.  Bojan-- 6 months total.  ( could have been 4 months but we pushed it back).  Alyona and Nik-- 7 months total.  So, having waited over a year and a half thus far, it does seem like forever for us.  I know, we were "spoiled" a bit by such wait times before. 

Okay, got to go.  Hope that cleared up some things about how the process works.  Maybe it did, maybe it didn't.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Bulgaria is a Hague Country.  There are NGO(non-governmental organizations) that work in tandem w/ your American Agency.  I can't remember if there are 2 or 3 NGO's.  Shoot, I may be wrong on that # but not sure.  Please, please write and tell me if I've said something wrong.  I know a few have asked me offline about how this process works so figured I'd finally write something about it.  More to come tomorrow, along w/ picture post I believe.  Time to break up all this writing lately.