Monday, December 31, 2012

Manic Monday

Gosh, can't believe it is the last day of 2012.  Where did it all go?!  No, not doing a recap as too much went on over the last year.  But, will do a Manic Monday post. 

  • Catching up on old leftover posts never finished
  • trying to figure out homeschool this semester
  • called Advanced Bionics as Nik's battery broke.  AB closed till Wed.
  • Called neuro to reschedule Alex's appt.
  • Not going anywhere today
  • Organizing and catch up today
  • Selling stuff on Craigslist
  • Nervous about this coming year financially w/ all the political crap going on
  • Looking forward to snow tubing birthday bash trip
  • Bojan's birthday is Saturday
  • Warren's birthday is Saturday
  • Haven't heard back yet from the football people for the boys
  • Thinking of putting younger girls in a dance class
  • Homeschool academy starts on Friday
  • Kids are making a winter wonderland picture downstairs
  • Warren and Max have been checking out the rv
  • We seem to have lost the rv registration card...URGHH!!!
  • Our loan company never received the original rv title from the state.  We did however, fax them a copy
  • Waiting to hear from our contractor on the room remodel for the girls
  • Yana will have her new bed built soon
  • House needs an overhaul.  Actually we really need to move
  • Warren's car needs repair
  • Speech therapy starts again this week
  • Looking into going to Shriners for Bojan's amputation he needs
  • Can't believe no one commented on that disruption post yet
  • looking forward to a new year
  • on a quest to lose weight and get healthy
  • Our yard is eroding away in the back
  • Our front yard needs a big truck load of dirt as the leach field is wasting away.  Well, where the leach field is.
  • Max fixed some screens this weekend
More than that going on but really want to spend the day getting organized and working on a few things.  Hope you all have a very Happy New Year.

8 years ago this month

Has it been that long since we went to Stavropol, Russia?  Yes, it has.  It was a long, rough, surprising journey but we made it.  I know not everyone knows the corruption we encountered in this region or the unbelieveable things that happened to us but trust me, you couldn't make that stuff up.  Long story short.  We hosted Yana, Zhenya, & Alex in summer of 2003.  Applied to the agency the 1st of August to start the process.  Started it the day after I put them in the van to go back to Russia.  Was expecting to travel in October.  Bam!  They never put Yana on the Russian database.  Umm, you MUST do that in order to make them available for international adoption.  So, we wait.  Told us to go ahead and get Alex in December.  I refused.  We couldn't afford it & somehow knew we had to get both together or they'd never let us take Yana.  Call it instinct.  Gut feeling.  Whatever.  I just knew.  Said we get them BOTH or not at all.  More and more paperwork.  To the tune of $4K extra!  That much paperwork.  It was insane.  You wanted to throw in the towel.  Yet knew you couldn't.  Two kids were waiting for us.  Children #3 and #4 for us.  Long story short...we got the kids home in May.  Thought I'd share a few pics from the trip.  And from home of course.  You can read the story of this adoption on the blog.  I'll have to find the link tonight.  For now, some pictures.


Alex and I in the playroom.  He was 3yo. 


Yana w/ Warren.  She was 8.5.  Does she look "sick" to you??  She was in an isolation ward btw.  URGHH!!!

Yana w/ her group.  They were a close group of girls that really looked out for each other.  Her best fried was in the red outfit.  

Alex and Yana goofing off in our apartment in Moscow.


The view from our apartment.  I think the yellow building was the Spainish Embassy if I recall right.


Waiting at the airport.


Waiting at another airport.  I think this one was in the US.  Not sure.  I just know that damn elephant caused us more issues than anything else on that stupid trip.  They were ready to cavity search the elephant.  Was ridiculous after awhile.  We all took it in stride though.  These two were fairly easy to deal w/ on the plane ride home.  I know most people put their kids in cool outfits, etc. when they come home.  Me, I'm happy they're dressed and picked out their own clothes. 

Okay, started this post back in May.  LOL.  I guess I can copy and paste here as well what I wrote on the forum boards so many years ago.  Here ya go: 

URGHH!!!  Can't get it to copy.  Maybe later I"ll try again. 

5 years HOME!!!

Still can't believe it myself.  Yes, I'm interrupting the Bulgarian posts momentarily to share about Nik and Alyona.  Both were declared ours this time 5 years ago.  Hard to believe for sure.  Nik was a tiny little thing.  Size 18 month clothes and he was 4yo.  Alyona was in a 3T and was 7yo.

Okay, so I started this back in November.  It was Alyona & Nik's 5 year Gotcha Day mark.  Though in this house, we don't really celebrate Gotcha Day as there really are just too many to celebrate along w/ birthdays and everything else.  Alyona and Nik's adoption was a bit crazy but aren't all adoptions?  We did NOT start off getting two though approved for two.  We wanted young as possible.  Geez, don't even know why I bother saying that anymore.  Never works out that way.  Alyona was 6yo at the time.  Turning 7yo soon.  The coordinator over there told our agency they had the perfect little boy for us though he wasn't young.  Yuri had found us Nik.  They said if he was not adopted this month, he was going to be transferred.  In other words, it was us, or no one.  When the agency sent me his picture, the email read, "I'm not sure what is wrong with him but here is a picture."  I wrote back that day and said I don't care what is wrong with him, he's our son.  Never thought twice, not even without a medical.  I just knew by looking at Nik he was meant to be ours.


My referral picture of Nik.


Isn't he just a doll?!  I just fell in love right then and there.  Didn't care what his needs were.

He still does this smirky look.  LOL.

We got these pictures at the end of September and left roughly two weeks later on our first trip to meet them.  That was my experience in a Russian ambulance ride trip.  Oy!  They kept trying to convince me at the orphanage that Nik could talk.  He couldn't.  After clapping right next to his ears and him not flinching, I knew he was hard of hearing at the least.  Why for the last 4 years they couldn't figure it out, I'm not sure.  He followed the other kids like sheep.

Wow!  I"m going through all old unfinished posts I did.  This was one I started...back in 2011!  I'm not going to finish it.  They hit the 6yo mark.  I'll do another one at 7yo mark home.  Just too much to write.

I actually started something years ago on an adoption forum.  I'm copying and pasting what I had written back then.  NOt sure what's w/ the funky lettering.  Looks weird  but you can figure it out I'm sure.  Here goes:

Adoption Journey

Part 1o 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. 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 shethe 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 om, 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 uidethe 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 IIIhe 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, 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.....ow 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 fajita 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 pretendOL. 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 (this is true w/ her SOD disorder悠罵l explain later). 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 nauseated. 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 he'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 phenomenal!!! 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 ADishes 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. They 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 notorious 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: ell, 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.

Part V-- We're leaving on a jet plane

The part that every adoptive parent waits to do... bring their child home. We were packing all the gifts we had to take. And donations. You all know how that goes.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Disruption

Do I have your attention now?  This topic sends chills up everyone's spine.  A dreaded word in the adoption community.  Dreaded so much, now they've come up w/ a new more 'politically correct' term....rehoming.  Either way, it's the same thing no matter what you call it.  I am going to be open, frank, honest, raw, emotional, and may step on a few toes by doing so.  However, the time has come as I've had enough of people not saying something.  So, hang on tight this is going to be one of those posts. 

Why am I writing about disruption?  Because someone has to.  Too much is going on all around me and I'm tired of people being so hush-hush.  It is NOT something to be ashamed of.  Period.  Here we go.  Years and years ago, I tried to get help for one of my sons.  He was 5yo at the time or almost 5.  I personally called well over 100 psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, etc. in the triangle/RTP area.  NOT ONE wanted to take his case.  He's going to be a sociopath.  He's not going to be able to be healed.   You should have heard what I heard.  Despair.  No hope for our family.  Get rid of him.  Yes, I was told to do that.  I was also told to dissolve the adoption.  I obviously chose a different path.  I went to the school that day, yanked him out of kindergarten and regressed him.  Will this work for every kid? Heck NO!!!  Thankfully, it worked for us.  But, I will be the first to tell you it was not easy going it on my own w/ no help.  That brings me to this conversation. 

I am not going to give out names nor countries of the many folks I've spoken with these last few months regarding possibility of respite, disruption, etc.  Just know it is not just one family.  I have personally met w/ some of these people in our home as well.  Most these folks find us either by agency recommendations to call us or through the grapevine on various FAS boards or adoption boards.  We make it clear to folks right off the bat however that we are not experts or people licensed w/ any degree whatsoever.  That is always made perfectly clear.  We are parents who've had a great deal of experience over the last 13 years w/ very difficult cases though.  FAS, RAD, PTSD, ODD(not officially dx'd-- well just on one kid officially), ADHD, OCD, anxiety, sensory issues, etc.  You name that alphabet, we have probably dealt w/ it in some capacity or another.  But the two most familiar to us and the ones people come to us for is FASD and RAD.  We have 6 w/ FASD and 2 of those also have RAD.  We have been through the ringer and back.  We have dealt w/ behaviors that should be made for tv movies.  Really, they should.  I mean who wants to deal w/ vomit b/c one of hteir kids is refusing to eat?  Who wants to deal w/ someone smearing poop on the walls?  Who wants to deal w/ someone wetting the bed and wetting themselves every night?  I could go on but you get  the picture. 

Behaviors are why folks come to ask us questions majority of the time.  That or the FASD dx.  Recently, we agreed to do respite for a family.  Again, I will not give names, countries, ages, dx's, states, etc.  It is all private information.  However, I feel it imperative to tell a few of these stories in a round about way because there are so, so many more reaching out for help but I think too afraid to say something.  And we as an adoption community do not need to downgrade them but assist them w/ resources or help.  Anyhow, we reached out and recently offered to provide respite for a family going through a difficult time of a child home for a couple of months.  Turns out we could talk them through a lot of things and things are now turning around for the family.  They do know we are there for them though if they need us in whatever capacity they decide.  I think what is important to realize here though is not every case can end happily.  I'm just being real here people. 

There are many, many reasons why a child can not or should not stay with the original family that adopted them.  Many times there is a bonding issue sometimes as severe as RAD that can present itself in a variety of ways.  I also had a family new to adoption come to us w/ an FASD dx that they were not expecting.  They did not know if they could handle it.  They were unaware of what to expect.  I knew how they felt.  We'd been there.  However, if you are a new parent, you just do not understand what it all means and that can be overwhelming.  It really can.  These are the folks that we can reach out to.  Some just need a few weeks of respite to clear their heads, get things together of how they can help their child, etc.  Some are looking for something deeper such as a new family.  I know some of you are thinking how on earth can anyone want to rehome a child.  Let me tell you this, they do not WANT to do it.  They are in pain of having to make that life altering decision.   Many times though it is the ONLY option for the well being of not only  the child but the family as a whole.  Sometimes, the child w/ a myriad of dx's may do better in a family that has experience to help them heal.  Sometimes, family life is not conducive to an environment to improve the health of that child.  Say if both parents work and the child would thrive better w/ a SAH parent.  Sometimes, the child is dangerous and the new family has other children to think of.  Sometimes, there is past abuse from the orphanage that comes out in various ways and the  new family is not sure if that will ever go away.  And sometimes it does and sometimes, it doesn't.  Really, there are numerous reasons why a family has to make that gut wrenching decision to disrupt.  Please, please do not judge them.  Help them.  Reach out to them.  We were open to adoption again.  I know, I know, I said ten was IT.  And it may be.  However, we know now we are willing to provide respite and if an opportunity presents itself and we feel we are a good fit for the child, I think we'd leave our options open to adoption. 

Point is, I think maybe the reason we have so many with mental health issues and have learned so much over the years is to give back to others who may need help.  Whether it is talking to them or providing respite for them or even possibly an adoption.  Again, you just never know.  I just know I have to do something.  I want others to understand if they need help, they need to ask other adoptive families.  There are plenty of us out there and I know I'm not the only one who's gone through various challenges.  I want those who've come home and are struggling to NOT be ashamed to ask for help.  Call the agency.  Call your social worker.  Get on an adoption board.  Find some help.  I can guarantee you you are not alone.  I know this to be FACT as I have had quite a few families the last few weeks reach out and ask for help on various things.  We have all been at low points.  I am not saying all things will be rosy all the time.  And fact is, not all children that come home will thrive w/ the first family.  Sometimes, rehoming is in the best interest of the child.  Keep in mind, each situation is totally different.  You can not compare one kid to the next situational wise.  that is oranges to apples.  I want you all to listen to someone who is asking questions on a board or their blog.  Let them know where to find help or who to contact.  Offer an ear. 

Many of the families simply need a little guidance.  A buddy system of sorts would be great.  I want new families to know you are not alone for #1.  There are many in the same boat.  I want new families to know there is help out here.  People are willing to share their experiences of what has worked for them.  Goal is to get the families that need help, help.  Rehoming should be a last thought.  And I can tell you the families I have spoken to have literally exhausted ALL OTHER resources under the sun before even considering rehoming.  I know it should be a last resort and I truly believe it is.  I see the pain in their faces and in their voices.  It is so, so hard for others to ask for help.  Remember, I asked for help years ago and no one was willing to do so. I do not want that to happen to others.  I want the adoption community to lift these folks up, lend an ear, a helping hand, some guidance, resources, etc.  I am by far not saying all adoptions are this way.  But the ones that are can be turned around. 

Disclaimer here.  These are my feelings.  Each person has their own opinion regarding rehoming.  I know that. But after you personally talk to these families that are considering it, you know they are out of options and most have exhausted every outlet they can think of.  In your heart, you know it is best for the child.  And sometimes you can see some hope w/ the original family and try to give them additional resources to help w/ that.  Whatever the end result is, bottom line is we should at least try to help the adoptive families that are asking for help or needing assistance to make their new child able to heal and bond w/ the family.  Give them hope.  Give them help.  I guess what I'm trying to say, whatever your knowledge is in the adoption community, I'm sure there is someone else out there that can take a piece of it and help their situation. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Polar Express Party

After school was out, we had a Polar Express Party at our house.  Let the kids invite who they wanted, all ages.  Even though I knew the teens would probably hang out and play pool.  We had I think 20 or so kids here that day.  So just about ten extra.  Kept it very simple.  Cocoa and cookies and a batch of meatballs.  It was pleasant.  Loud, but pleasant.


Not sure why they're hanging out on the stairs.  Later they all did scatter.  Most played pool upstairs.  Some went for a walk here and there.  All had hot cocoa.


This poor girl on the left.  She is so sweet.  This is the first time she'd ever been to Chaos Manor.  I think we may have overwhelmed here but she came back! 


Everyone checking to see how the meatballs are coming along.


Max.  No idea what he's doing.  Or going for that matter.


Many played board games.  Scattergories was a huge hit.


Summer sharing her Innotab w/ a friend.


Nik doing his own thing.  Trying to put together mousetrap.  Too many missing pieces.  He was actually watching all of Polar Express.  He loves that movie.


More board games later that evening.  This time, Monopoly.

All in all, we all had a good time, despite a call from t he sheriff saying someone dialed 911.  Umm, nope.  NOT this time.  See, NC recently made everyone go to 10 digit dialing.  Well, our area code is 919.  You can see the easy slip up, right?  Took months for all of us to get it right across the state.  During the time the sheriff called us though, literally ALL of us were in the dining room sipping hot cocoa.  No one had the phones at all.  Was just weird.  Other than though, great time was had by all.  Kids all got to hang out w/ friends and was just a relaxing day for all of us.  Way to kick off the school break and we may have to do this again next year.

I am SO mad.  I made an entire post w/ a video and can't find it now.  Was from this summer but posted it tonight and it went to never never land.  Try to find it tomorrow I guess.  Enjoy your Sunday everyone. 

My little 'Santas'

A friend of mine took some pictures of the kiddos one day.  Rebecca is super sweet like that.  I didn't even know she took some till she sent them to me!  So, wanted to share a few with you.


Alyona.  so hard to believe she is 13yo now.


Bojan.  Not hard to believe he is 13yo now.  His attitude says it all!


He'll probably kill me for putting this picture up but oh well, mother's purgative.

Reni is 10 yo.  She too is growing up quickly.  Feels like she's been home longer than a year though.  

Those are some of the Santa shots we got to see.  Thanks for taking the pictures Rebecca.  More to share with you all.  A topic I'd like to discuss more is issues when the kids come home.  Orphanage kids in general.  Not just my kiddos.  For now though, need to just relax a bit.  Meatballs are on.  Cupcakes made.  Need to make a cake next.

Reni, the goalie

Soccer season is over.  I take my camera but many times hard to get any shots b/c I'm usually having to watch more than one game at once.  Or, they are simply moving too fast.  Well, the other day the coach sent me pictures of Reni as goalie!  Too cool, huh?  Thanks a bunch Chris!  Thought I'd share them.


Reni, watching very closely for the ball to come her way.


Don't tell me I'm a girl and can't play soccer!  I'll show you.  For those new, in Bulgaria, they didn't let the girls play on teams in Shumen.  Only the boys.


Reni was very quick and had a good eye on the ball.


Look at her go.  She was such an awesome goalie though she prefers to run the field.  Not sure if she wants to play this year or not.  Need to ask them all again. 

Miscellaneous pictures

I've been on facebook catching up so now time to catch up on here.  Kids are all scattered playing around so now's my chance.  I also have to go make meatballs for tomorrow so I may want to hurry up on here.  LOL.  Ahh, you all know I procrastinate so no big deal anyhow. 


Ahh, sweetness.  When they're asleep, they are most definitely sweet.  Summer was zonked out. 


Do you think Irina liked the stuffed dog Yana got her??  Was really sweet of Yana to think of her sister on her birthday.


The kids love Monopoly!  Still playing it.  Though they're banking skills have much to be desired.  Bojan was trying to set them straight.  Logan's cheating habits from his old orphanage life are still so hard to break sometimes even in a game.

Yes, this one is going to be trouble!


Summer being silly for sure.  Love the pig tails now.  She is growing up way to fast for me though.


Warren trying to calm Reni down.  Sometimes her emotions just get the best of her still.  She broke down b/c I told her to try not to do that fake smile.  Just give me a real smile.  Her and Nik do the same thing when taking pictures.  Drives me nuts.  ALL My kids went through this funky smile stage.  I wasn't yelling at her but some times, some things will just break her.  Doesn't take long to get back to normal any more but at times I forget she's only been home a year.

More pics and posts to come.  But first, need to go put on some meatballs. 

Yana's gift

I'm slow doing posts, I know.  I am so tired today.  Not sure why but my guess is the whole week is catching up with me.  So, trying to get a few posts in.  Thought I'd share the gift Yana gave Warren and I. 


Thought it was very, very sweet of her to do that for us.  I'd love to get it framed. 

She put this poem with it.  Not sure where she got it from but very lovely poem.  Very grateful for the gift she gave us.  A sample of a 'healed' child.   Have to go it it framed somehow.  Don't want to have it ruined.  

Today is Saturday.  We had a late start.  Trying to sell a bunch on Craigslist to clear the clutter.  And to make a few extra dollars.  Gas is going up.  Got to love it.  Max fixed some screens today and tightened the dining room chairs.  Bojan and Yana painted some trim work.  We got a part to fix Nik's bike.  Had to drive to a bike shop in Cary.  We took just Nik.  Every once in awhile, nice to do....take one kid.  Had to go to Wally World and pick up a few items.  Got Wendy's chilli for the kids and came home.  Nice night for chilli.  Already had other fixings at home.  Now, cleaning up and watching a movie.  Tomorrow, we'll be going to Warren's parents to celebrate Christmas.  Kids are excited to go.  More posts to come.  Just wanted to start off with this great gift from Yana. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Russian adoption ban

Okay, unless you've been living under a rock lately, this will be old news but thought I'd share how I feel on it.  We've been in the adoption world now for well over 13 years.  We've seen quite a bit including many, many, many threats to shut down Russian adoptions.  Happens every so often.  Typically, it ends in stricter rules, more trips and much more paperwork for ever determined families to bring their children home. This time though, it seems to be sounding more like what happened in Romania.  Years ago, it all just stopped.  Families left w/ no children, children left w/ no future.  Sad, but true.  What will happen this time?  No one knows for sure.  I do know there was a bilateral treaty signed last year.  So I do believe there may be hope for those that are in process and would be grandfathered in.  Read it somewhere on the Joint Council of Adoption website I think.  Can't remember.

All I know is this.  There are well over 700,000 orphans in Russia.  I think it is actually closer to 800,000.  The Russian mentality to adopt orphans is different than Americans.  Think America in the 50's & 60's or older when we as Americans would also send the disabled away.  I know many don't talk about it now but it did happen in the US.  The thinking is the same over there still.  The bottom line is the Russian people are not going to adopt these children.  Shoot, they didn't do it even when there was monetary incentive.  Yes, the Russians offered their citizens money to adopt the children.  Someone on here remembers the #, I'm sure.  Can't remember if it was around 10K rubles a child or what.  Honestly, can't remember.  But even with incentive such as money, they did not really flock to adopt.  Yet foreigners kept adopting.  Though Russian adoptions have gone down dramatically in years.

Russian adoption is so much more paper intensive and so much more expensive than it was years ago.  Put it this way.  In 1999, we paid $19,700 for BOTH the adoption of Irina and Max.  That was every penny counted such as travel, gifts, fees, lodging, stamps, etc.  All.  It was ONE trip back then.  We had a judge crack jokes in Orenburg and had the worst heat wave on record.  Compare that to 2004 when we went to Stavropol.  And I won't even get into the corruption with that region on here.  It was one trip ONLY b/c we had hosted them and they let us do that.  Nearly $40K for both Yana and Alex.  Crazy!  Our dossier alone for them was $4,000!  The Russians kept changing what they needed.  Compare it to our adoptions of Alyona and Nik in 2006.  TWO trips.  And now, people have to do 3 and 4 trips.  Airfare alone for a Russian adoption is about as much as our first set of adoptions for 2 kids!  Yet, parents keep doing it.  Why?  Because they love the kids.  It is NOT about the money.  It is about the kids.  Period.

Our Russian kiddos would most likely not be alive today.  Max and Irina's orphanage let them out at 13yo.  No family, no money, no job skills at 13yo.  Alex would not have survived.  Without medication, he is not the same.  He needs his medication and that would not have come about at the orphanage.  Nik, was headed to a Russian mental institution.  We were told that.  All b/c he couldn't talk.  4yo and headed to a mental institution for being...DEAF.  Why?!  We were told they kept Alyona at the childrens' home and didn't send her to the internat b/c they were afraid of what would happen to her.  She was fragile and they were afraid she'd get beat up and die.  Yes, they told us that. Life is not a bed of roses for orphanage kids.  Max used to get picked up by his ears.  He had bread taken away from him.  Think that's why we call him bread boy still to this day.  He loves bread.  Yana got in trouble at her orphanage.  Why?  Because she tried to snag real toilet paper.  At her orphanage, they used newspaper.  True.  Max wore girls' tights b/c they all shared clothes.  No clothes of their own.  None.  I won't even discuss what happened at Alex's orphanage while we were there.  Put it this way, even our translator at the time said " we have to get him the **ll out of there."  When you adopt older children, you get to listen to the stories.  Some will rip your heart out.  They all share beds.  And not big beds.  Think two to three kids to a small twin/ toddler type sized bed.  No wonder why my kids want to be star fish in bed now.  LOL.  The stories though are hard to hear.  But true.

I've never gone into adoption thinking "I'm rescuing these kids."  Or "I'm saving this child."  That is NOT what it's about.  I'm forming my family.  That's it.  Plain and simple.  I have Russian heritage in my family.  Russian Orthodox faith as well.  My kids know they came from Russia.  They've spoken at school about the culture, showed them things that came from there, etc.  I've never been ashamed of where they came from and neither have they.  But lately, I don't think they're all too proud of what the Russians are doing in regards to adoption.  My six Russian kids would have had a much different fate had they not been adopted.  That is a fact.  They are in a family now.  They have proper medical care.  Proper housing.  Proper clothing.  But it is what you can't see that they have now that they did NOT have in a Russian orphanage.  They have determination, motivation, hope, joy, and above all else, love.  They were given these things because they were given a family.  We did nothing special.  We adopted kids from Russia b/c we love the kids.  Give other parents this chance as well.  Give the kids a chance at a life.  We may not be the best parents in the world.  I know that.  We make mistakes.  We learn from them and press on.  We love our kids.  We don't care where they came from.  Whether it's Russia, Bulgaria or Serbia.  We don't care.  We just love our kids.  Plain and simple.  Putting a ban on adoptions would be detrimental to so many kids in the Russian orphanage system.  I look at my kids and always think of the ones left behind.  Many can have a future but only if the Russian people can see the good in adoption.  Have your older Russian adoptees write letters.  Sign petitions.  Contact the media to share your story.  Anything to try to help these kids.  Please.  I can not imagine my life without them as I'm sure it is the same for other parents. 

Sweetness, Smencils, and Santa's helpers

Oh, still so, so many pictures to share and so many more posts to write.  I will get there.  Doing a couple posts a day in between other things happening around here.  Today, we went out for Irina's birthday for Chinese.  Went to the bank to make a deposit and then to Wally World to pick up Logan's new glasses.  And to of course find a few odds and ends.  Nothing fancy.  Yana is staying at a friend's house this evening.  Everyone else is just chilling out.  Nik is watching Madagascar upstairs, some of the kids are playing pool, some playing Monopoly (thanks again Dee!...huge hit), and some watching the Mummy downstairs.  We were going to go to the movies this evening but some children were being not so nice in the car so I said forget.  And, once you say something here, you must, must stick w/ it or it has no effect.  Bummed b/c I wanted to see the movie at the cheap seats too.  Maybe tomorrow.  So, up here doing a few posts.


Bojan opening up a package we received in the mail.  Notice the donuts?  Those were given to us by a neighbor for Summer's birthday.  Thank you Tonya!

 
Everyone anxiously awaiting to see what's inside.


Bojan reading the note inside from our dear friends Craig and Viviene.

 

Can you guess what was inside that my children are shovelling in their mouths?


You guessed it!  Homemade fudge.  It was our very first of the season.  In fact, it was the only fudge we got all Christmas season long!  Bojan kept commenting how come we don't make fudge.  It was delicious fudge and gone in less than five minutes.  Kid you not.  We loved it!  Thank you so much for that sweet treat.


Another box was also there that evening.  Alyona & Irina were opening this one.


Kids were stunned by what was inside.


An entire box of candy!  Being that we were practically already in a sugar coma, I took this one to my room for them to eat over the next couple of days.


Also in the box were a bunch of pencils called Smencils.  I had never heard of them before.  They are pencils that are scented and boy do they smell good.  Really cool thing.  

Nik was smelling them all and picking out his favorite flavors.  LOL.  Thanks to Katherine and Maria for making cool candy sleds and the Smencils.  Definitely went to great use.  

A picture of one my helpers.....elf Reni.


Elf Summer is a cutie for sure.


And, here's the angry elf!  Max.  Really wanting to say thanks mom for making me wear this stupid hat.  Hey could have been worse.  Could have been elf ears.


For some reason, Alex decided to sweep on his own.  Was really happy about that.  Usually though when he does these things, he has an ulterior motive.  LOL.  This time though, he just wanted to help out.


Alex, sweeping off the front porch.  Cute elf too.  

Going to go try and get a few things organized this evening.  We'll see if that actually happens.  Tomorrow, it's clean up time, take down some Christmas decorations and prep for homeschool stuff.  Took this week off.  Enjoy your weekend and much more to come.  Slowly but surely, I'll get more posts done.

Birthday Girl-- Irina

Can you believe it is her birthday today?!  Yes, my first baby turned 20 years old.  Truly, I am not old enough to have a 20 yo daughter.  Just keep that in mind.  Irina came to us at 6.5yo.  She and Max have been home the longest.  She was our first adopted little girl.  6.5yo and weighing 25 lbs.  Grew 12" the first year we had her.  Amazing.  She is now entering young adulthood which is unreal to me.  Really, you always see them as so fragile, so innocent and so dependent.  Not any more.  A lot has changed over the years.


This was Irina's referral picture.  I don't really have any other photos as they'd have to be scanned in.  Blogs really weren't around back then.  LOL.  This was taken in Ireland where she was being hosted.  We brought her home at 6.5.  She wore a size 2T.  Tiny little thing.  Was so...far....behind.  Incredibly behind.  So much so that the head of special ed of Johnston County looked me in the face and said "she'll never pass a second grade level."  I will never forget that b/c that was the day I would swear to prove them wrong that there was something inside her.  Determination, motivation, and joy.  Stuff that you couldn't measure of how far life could take you.  No, no measure for it and the special education system needs to be very aware of that fact.  We would become her advocate and push her.  Show her she'd be able to do more than she ever imagined.  But, she'd need help with that.

Irina grew up in the orphanage as a big sister it seemed and fell into the role naturally.  See, at age 5 & 6 in the orphanage, she was responsible for the 2yo group.  Can you imagine?!  We brought her and Max home together.  Had to de-program her mother role.  Then, we brought Yana and Alex home.  She became the big sister all over again & did just fine helping keep them in line. 


Shortly after, we brought Bojan home.  At first, her and Bojan didn't quite hit it off.  LOL.  She still had a tad bit of that Russian mentality and their thinking on physical disabilities.  She quickly over came that.  Irina loved exploring new places with us.  

Irina was very comfortable with her big sister role and played it well.  She was a second mother to them and took care of them.  She still does to this day.  Though now her brothers are teens and she can easily tell them off.  It wasn't too long after Bojan came home, that we were off to Russia again for 2 more siblings for Irina and the rest of the bunch.  Irina was always the one helping me look at pictures of new kids and bios.  Oh, why can't we bring 2 home?  Or 3?  She always had such a tender heart and wanted to help as many orphans as possible.  She was always the one wanting to organize our fundraisers to help bring her siblings home.


For years, Irina was content being the big sister to all 6 of her brothers and sisters.


A redneck snow man.  Irina would find ways to make things work no matter what.  She wanted something bad enough, she'd find a way to make it happen.  Even a snowman in the dusting.


Though sometimes she'd ask for help.  She's signing help here at Tweetsie Railroad at the mock jail.  Irina picked up sign very quickly once Nik came home.  So much so, that this coming semester, she is the assistant at the homeschool academy ASL class.  Beginning class but this was the daughter that we were told would never learn and now she's teaching others sign!  


Irina always embraced any new children that were brought home.  She was accepting of the changes.  Even when  we added Alyona and Nik who in the beginning had a lot of challenges facing them till we figured it all out.  But Irina was right there beside us willing to help.


Irina has always been athletic when she was younger.  Loved the water no matter what.  Flipped in the pool and could out swim many.  She also loved gymnastics that we had her in when she was younger.  Another outdoor kiddo we have here.

Irina running her heart out at the Special Olympics.  That determination again.
 

She took first t hat day and we were SO proud of her.  Was wonderful to experience together.  


And when we wanted to add yet another 3 kids?  Do you think Irina would say NO WAY!  Nope.  She welcomed them w/ open arms.  This was like the second week home at Meadow Lights last year.  I think Irina was taking well to them.  And Summer was soaking up big sis' love.


So now, Irina is big sister to 9 brothers and sisters.  Would she be someone they look up to?  Would she be able to help them out despite the FAS and other dx's?  Would she be able to be a leader of the bunch?


Yes, she would.  No, they don't always get along this well, we're not kidding ourselves.  They are in fact brothers and sisters and they will indeed fight.  It's not all roses.  But, Irina remains strong in her role as leader of the bunch.  Though sometimes she can be just as childish as they are.  They do have fun together.  Not all the time, but definitely a lot of the time.


Irina has a few friends.  Unfortunately, some have moved away over the years and she misses them dearly.  This is a friend though that has been around for quite a few years.  We call her our "11th child."  She's been our "6th" child, 8th child and now 11th over the years.  LOL. 


This is a picture of Irina just the other day.  She is now 20 years old.  Nervous about being an adult but at a good place in her life.  She has so much potential and I'm sure will do fine in life.  She does very well as the big sister.  Can clean a house like nobody's business.  Can bake goodies for everyone and really enjoys doing it.  Takes care of the younger kids with me.  Is learning many important life skills.  Is currently looking for a job.  She had one last year and did love to work.  This is all coming from the child that we were given very little hope for.  And look at her now!  A young adult today.  Have a very Happy Birthday Irina Taylor!  We love you.  

If anyone sees her or feels like calling today, please feel free.  We're going out for Chinese today per her request.  She loves Chinese food.   Irina is also our animal lover.  Still can't convince her to get rid of that guinea pig.  Adores the dogs and was heartbroken to let go of our Aspen, Bear and King Kota.  Irina has a very good heart and I'm positive will do well in life.  Happy Birthday Irina.