Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Reality for Older Orphanage Boys

This is a post I contemplated whether to write or not.  Decided that others probably would like to know as well.  Know what?  What it is like when older boys adopted from an orphanage come home.  How is it to leave their "pack."  I call it a pack b/c they tend to be more like wild animals at times.  Now, that may sound harsh or rude but I will explain the why of it all.  This is going to be one of those blatantly honest posts so watch out.  You've been warned.

This all stemmed from the other day at Sam's.  We were in the check out line and the kids notice the video cameras.  Alex was explaining about stealing and how the police would come, etc.  Video cameras are how they catch you.  Logan pipes up and says he's not afraid of the police.  Reni then informs us that in Shumen Logan used to steal all the time.  Steal from stores.  She told us how he did it.  Reni then made sure we knew she did not steal.  We explained to him what would happen to him here if he stole.  See, over there, it is pure survival that kicks in in an older kids' home.

Once the kids are transferred to the older kids homes, different things happen w/ the genders.  We have adopted Yana out of an older home as well as Logan and Reni.  All the rest were at childrens' homes.  When they hit the older kids' homes, the chances of ever being adopted are pretty much nill.  Even less for an older boy.  This causes a sense of lost hope.  Lost hope that someone will care for you.  Lost hope that you are wanted.  Lost hope that you'll have a life outside those orphanage walls.  Just lost hope in general.  Lost dreams.  These kids, yes they are indeed kids at ages 7 & 8yo, are then forced into older thinking of survival mode.  What do I do to survive here.  What do I do to be accepted.  The girls once they leave an older kids orphanage will go into prostitution.  Really, they don't have a choice.  they are kicked out at age 16.  No money, no family to live with, no job skills, what exactly are you supposed to do to survive?  It's the reality of orphanage life.  So, when they come at tender young years, they are witnesses to many things kids should not see.  Things that most of us I'm sure have not seen till college years.  Not saying every single orphanage is this way but trust me, a vast majority of them are.  Talked to enough parents over the years as well as heard the tales from my kids.

Now boys.  Boys can go into the military.  Though most, most will end up on the streets.  I can't remember the stats but I believe most orphanage kids die w/in two years of being released from the orphanage gates.  Sad reality.  Living on the streets doing drugs.  It's the reality for older orphanage boys most of the time.  I think Logan was setting up for this reality.  We trust him a point.  In the beginning, we knew this may be the case.  We knew he may have been exposed but we did not know to what extent.  Now we do.  Our job as parents is to mold him into a respectable young man.  It is a process.  First, they must know they are safe.  Second, they must know they are loved.  No matter what they do.  Yes, sometimes this one can be hard for adoptive parents.  There is no quick fix.  No on/ off button.

I know Logan drank coffee.  He also tried to order alcohol when at a restaurant in Sofia.  I have not asked him if he smoked.  But, an older orphanage boy in EE is likely to.  Though, he did not at all smell like smoke when we picked him up.  They are taught to lie.  Having two RADishes and many with FAS, I can spot a lie a mile away.  I AM a polygraph test.  Police departments should hire me.  Logan is no different.  It's learned behavior over there.  They must un-learn it once home.  That's what we are doing.  Logan's life was not headed in the right direction over there.  Not a bit.  I know that sounds horrible to say about your own son but it is the reality of orphanage life for older boys.  This is why it is critical they be adopted.  Critical they see what real family life is like and real love.  Otherwise, as adults, they will not be able to give it.

I know many talk about what it would be like in institutions when kids are transferred.  Some of my kids were headed to those mental institutions.  Nik was to be transferred to one in the very same month we went on our first trip to see him.  But I feel it is also important to talk about what happens to the older boys and girls of orphanages if they move on to a 'typical' orphanage.  Their life is hard.  They are to fend for themselves most of the time.  For the girls, this is when you have someone in the group step up and take on the roll of 'mother.'  At 15yo.  They enter these homes around age 7yo.  Not nearly ready to experience adult life but that my friends is what they are exposed to.  Imagine, your 7yo, first grader, exposed to smoking, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.  Can  you just imagine it?!  It's something many don't talk about.  I think we should.  It has a dramatic effect on the kids.  Trust me.  It's life long. The boys go into a "pack."  They stick together and typical challenge each other to do not so safe or legal things. There is a sense of safety in numbers.  That's pure speculation on my part.  I think they feel like they belong.  They don't have family so they have to get that attention/ love from somewhere, some how. 

Do you know what Yana's "group mother" (14yo) said to us when we came to pick up Yana?  She was in tears and said " you gave us hope.  Hope that someone will love us.  Someone would want us."  They were all in tears.  Yana was the 8th girl adopted from that 30 years.  This was back in 2004.  They were all standing around crying, directors, kids, caretakers alike.  Us too.  It was deep raw emotion.  Hope.  That's all these kids want.  It's what you can give them.  So many sit and wait for families. Healthy kids, just older.  Need love more than anything else in the world.  Family life. 

Wanted people to know the reality for older orphanage boys.  Not saying it's a cake walk once home but it is a life worth living, that's for sure.  When considering kids, consider the older ones.  Boys wait longer. They may seem super duper tough on that exterior but trust me, once inside, they are truly just little boys wanting to be loved by parents.  On the first trip in Bulgaria, all Logan wanted to do was hold one of our hands the entire time.  Something my other 11yo now would never be caught dead doing. LOL.  But to an older orphanage boy who was never given that experience, it is a deep desire to feel a mom or dad's touch. 

There are many, many older orphanage boys available for adoption.  Many.  Waiting for the opportunity to say good night to mom and dad.  To not have to look over their shoulder at night to see if someone would slap them in the middle of the night.  This happened to Reni and Logan.  She told me in the middle of the night, the older kids would randomly come in and slap them.  They both sleep peacefully here.  As a child should.  They won't have to worry when they are 16 where their next meal will come from or where they will sleep at night.  They will have skills and become productive members of society.  They will have place in a family forever.  They will go to the doctor when needed.  They will have dreams.  They will have hope.  They will have love.  Please, please consider adopting an older child from an orphanage.  Many wait.  He waited for 11 years.  11 years:

11 years he waited.  Surely headed for a life of crime.  Trust me, he did a lot of not so good things over there.  Now look.  A life redeemed.  He is now in a family.  Braiding his sister's hair.  He is not stealing.  He is not doing mean things.  He is playing with his brothers and sisters daily, participating in a soccer team(starts March 3!), changing his attitude and not throwing things any more, and so much more.  There is a lot to be said for the last 3 months for Logan.  Tons of changes.  To do this, we have completely cut off his old life for right now.  He will be re-connected but not till we feel he can do it without regressing into old habits.  He is in a good place now.  He's safe, he's loved.  He is full of hope.  Just as every 11 year old boy should be.  He has a future, full of possibilities.  Please consider giving an older orphanage child a future.  No child should go through life without hope.  I know there are many, many fears about adopting an older child.  I had them too.  However, the good far outweighs the bad.  Every time.  There are thousands to choose from.  I'm sure just one is right for your family. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Camera hogs

Okay, it is no secret that I have two camera hogs in the house.  Happens to be my two youngest...Nik and Summer.  Nik is way worse than Summer, but she is catching on quickly.  Nik even has the nerve to jump in front of someone's cake when they are about to blow out the candles...URGHH!!!  Summer hasn't gotten that bad yet but she's close. 

Camera hog Nik wanted in the shot.  I took it as Summer was yelling at Nik to move.  

This was the sweetest thing.  Summer went and picked these flowers herself.  no one told her.  Brought them to me w/ the biggest smile on her face.  Love it!  More to come.  Very late dinner.  Chicken wasn't thawed so it's spaghetti & meatballs w/ homemade marinara.  Yum.  Dessert is cake.  Can't wait to get things done tomorrow.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone. 

Calling, corn & Cindy-Lou-Hoo

Time for a little picture post I think.  It's a Friday today.  Thankfully, we are staying home this evening and all weekend long.  That may sound boring to some but it honestly has been a long week.  We need to focus on fixing up the house and getting organized.  Or should I say reorganized?  Told kids they can hang out w/ friends.  But will be expected to help out w/ the house in between friend hanging out.  It's give and take around here.  Tonight, a simple dinner w/ grilled barbecue chicken, sweet potatoes and bake beans.  Followed by a movie I do believe.  Simple.  We need to keep it simple this weekend.  Some of the older kids are having a tough time right now w/ some school issues.  Will be working on them next week for sure.  Let's just put it this way, 2 of the 4 that go to public school have now asked to be homeschooled as well.  It's weighing heavy on my mind.  I will explain a bit further down the road.  There are a lot of big decisions we need to make in regards to our kids and not just schooling issues.  My brain is fried this week from so much thinking.  So, I need a picture post as distraction. 

Summer and Nik deciding that they need to call each other.  With the dry vac hose no less.  Yuck.  In their defense, it is a really new shop vac.  

There is just something funny about a kid that can't talk right trying to speak to a deaf child.  Neither can understand the other.  That's why Summer is learning sign.  Well, for that and many other reasons.  

Nothing like fresh corn in the middle of winter.  That's right.  Fresh corn from FL.  Did not cost us any more than it does in the summer time.  Think the dogs think they're getting some?

Reni and Logan getting right down to business and shucking the corn.

My oldest and youngest working together on the corn.  Why they shuck it on the floor, I don't quite get.  But, I will not turn down help either.  So floor it is!

I know it's a bit blurry but you got to love her style.  She is just working so hard on that corn cob.  She put her jeans on inside out and all.  

Alyona and Logan.  Logan is working on Alyona's hair.  He braids great and now has requests from the girls.  LOL.  

And, here is Cindy-Lou- Hoo.  She did get all those pieces out of there, btw.  

Needed those pictures.  Kids really are adjusting and bonding to each other.  It happened much sooner than I thought.  That's a good thing.  It feels 'right.'  Feels like they've always been here.  They are reading cues really well too.  I'll have a post on everything soon too.  I am determined to catch up on the many a started posts and also on that home organizing.  As you can see, I'm avoiding it like the plague right now.  So blog posts first it is!  LOL.  put off today what you can do tomorrow. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Okay, time to catch up

It truly has been a very busy week.  Guess I thought I'd catch up on a few things.  So, here goes nothing.

Medical Front-- Only medical appointment this week was Summer at the Devel. ped. neurologist.  Same one we go to for our kids w/ FASD.  We don't have to go back for another 9 months so that is wonderful.  I am told to most likely expect learning delays and such.  Already knew that part so no surprise.  It is vital we get her to an endocrinologist and pediatric ophthalmologist.  That I know too and do have referrals.  She is not worried about the cardiologist at this time.  So, neither am I.  Kids w/ ACC are at quite a higher risk she told me for hormonal problems and things of that nature.  Anything related to the pituitary she told me.  In addition, she said growth can be effected.  Told me to look out for seizures as well.  Okie dokie.  Will make those appointments tomorrow. I was bragging in the doc office at just how much Summer talks non-stop.  I was so mad that she did not say not one blessed word while in there.  URGHHH!!!  Kids.

Bojan and Alyona will go next week to the ortho at Duke.  Bojan really wants his foot amputated.  At this point, I'm tempted.  It is swollen badly, tons of scar tissue, toes crossed over one another, heal can't touch the ground, extremely painful and can't walk.  He's tired of this.  I would be too at this point.  He's lived like this for years and to be honest, no clubfoot surgery has corrected it.  It will be interesting to hear what they say are options this time.  Alyona may have to get her plates out.  We'll see.  I have more appointments to make for the kids but haven't had the chance yet. Irina needs to go to the ENT to see if she needs another sinus surgery.

Nik's glasses have been ordered.  Just waiting for them to come in.

Paper work front-- Okay, we've reached the limit.  No, seriously, we have.  See, we need to file insurance claims for our vision.  However, their system boots it out b/c all our kids can't be on there at the same time as there are too many of them.  So, we've been assigned a specialist to handle as they put it 'our unique situation.'  Hey, I'm just thrilled we have one person to deal w/ and won't get the run around now.  See, we are owed nearly $700 and it's really needed right now.  Much is coming due such as Camp Cheerio and Upwards Soccer.  Hoping it is sorted out quickly for sure.

Need to get guardianship papers filled out and handed in for Irina.  This is new territory for us so treading lightly.  It was told to me yesterday at neuro to make this a priority.  She said trust me, she needs this.  So, guardianship paperwork is on the docket for this weekend.  Maybe denial is still there a bit?

IEP paperwork.  Need I say more?  Well, I was sick for this week's meetings.  So, need a new date for the three meetings.  Mean time, I have piles of old IEP papers I am currently filing in my IEP binder. I have it separated by sections.  Had my kids been accurately reported on, it would have been known that they did NOT meet those goals.  Sorry, but if you read the stupid book as a group as well as answer questions as a group, how do you know if the individual child is progressing?  This happened to Alex.  I was told last year how great he was doing and what he could read.  I was skeptical.  This year, he's struggling and yelled at me numerous time that they always worked as a group and he never had to know the answers.  Lovely son.  Well, here, you must learn the info so you, yourself, know the answers.  It's a lesson in patience for both of us.  How can you have a child doing 4th grade work (last year) when she can't even read!  I've come to realize it is only important how people look on paper.  This is not in the best interest of the kids.  I am reminded quite a bit that this was the right decision to pull them from school.  Alyona btw is not on a 5th grade level, she is working out of 1st grade books this year.

Birth parent search-- Not sure if we are going to do this but looking into it.  Waiting on costs of it all.  We'll see. My kids are from 3 different regions in Russia and 2 different regions in Bulgaria.  Time will tell.  I'd do the older kids first.  It is more important to them at this point in their lives.  Still all new to me so I am learning as I go.  I know this is a hot topic for some.

The house-- we are in the process still of fixing up the house.  hoping to list soon but trying to first find out a solution for where the lost money will come from.  As most in Americans are aware, houses don't sell for what they used to nowadays and doubtful we can get what we owe on it.  They will not longer allow you to use instant equity to finance in new home purchase or when you build one.  There has to be a way and we are working on finding that way.  Our goals on the house plans are way bigger than just selling.  I will explain in another post very soon. 

Extracurricular activities-- Well, track has started.  As much as I'd like to say I'm thrilled with it ( I am for her) but it is hard when majority of the stuff lies on the parents.  See, when I was in school, I could walk home from my activities.  We lived on base.  Events were there.  Now with track for Yana, she has practice every single day until like the 3rd week in May.  She has meets on Saturdays.  I'm glad that she's doing it but in the same token, after week one, it proves a little on the annoying side.  See, she tells me to pick her up at a certain time and then is late.  Yesterday, by about 15 minutes.  Now, to most that is no big deal.  However, have you ever left a couple of kids alone to run out for something?  did they have FASD? The other day it became clear I'll have to load everyone up & drag them to pick her up.  I'm working on finding a carpool.  I have found one person thus far and may have another.  That would definitely help.  Now, if  I could get her better at giving me proper times.  This was the biggest issue I had w/ cross country.  I honestly just need schedules so I can make sure I fit everyone in.  If you don't tell me till the last minute, I might not be able to make it.  This happened w/ staying out of town last year.  Trying to stay positive b/c it is great that she's doing this.  Just hope it's more organized. 

Now, we have Upwards Soccer starting in March.  Seriously can't wait.  It is fun watching them practice.  We'll have practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Games are on Saturdays and we'll have to coordinate that w/ track meets.  Kids have been practicing soccer like crazy.  We want to go to Yana's track meets that are at home.  So, working on schedules.

Homeschool-- Still homeschooling.  Trying different things here and there.  We'll be completely done w/ history in March.  That way, I'll double up on science stuff.  Kids are working on math.  Reni finally got the carry over concept.  Logan and Alex are rather behind compared to grade level.  Have a multiplication lap book I think I am going to start them on.  visual stuff is what they need right now.  All are still enjoying the homeschool academy classes on Fridays. Nik and I are working on more signs.  Just don't know how I'm going to teach him to read.  Yes, despite them saying last year he could read and write sentences, he can not.  He could read basic sight words in a story but that was about it.  Trying to figure out what is best for each child.  Hard, very hard.  Baby steps.  Baby steps. 

Research Study-- Two of my kids participated in a research study on FASD.  Alyona didn't qualify last minute due to her bad eyes.  Bummer. They did fine and the best part is parents will get eval results and we can use these at schools.  Definite plus.  Over the years, I've had various kids participate in studies. 

Taxes-- taxes are done.  Not as much back as hoped but hey, better than owing!  Had an accountant do it this year and she even checked w/ the IRS on a few of our items so feel we're good to go.  Refund will help paying down the adoption expenses we incurred, Deaf Camp, Upwards Soccer, and repairs to the house.  Wish one year we could be frivolous but we're not those kind of people.  Secretly wish we were at times.  LOL.  Suggestions to new adopting parents, keep a sheet w/ expenses and what it was for.  Helps.  Mailed them off this week.  We have to paper file.  

ESL-- English is coming along.  Summer still speaks gibberish but is clear when you have her repeat words.  Told by neuro expect her speech to be slow.  No biggie.  We'll go at her pace.  Reni is really, really speaking English so much now that she is quickly losing the ability to communicate w/ Logan when he speaks Bulgarian.  He, on the other hand, is still trying to hang onto the Bulgarian.  He'll get there.  Just trying to push him along really.  It's time for him to let go.  That includes the language.  Doesn't help that I have Alex teaching him Neanderthal English.  Alex has major language processing issues.  So it all comes out as me no do this.  Ridiculous!  We're bringing the grammar jar back b/c I can't take it any more.  Grammar jar is putting .10 in for every grammatical error you make.  Okay, when speaking.  Don't look at this blog.  I'd owe a fortune.

Much more is going on than this but wanted to try to give a brief run down.   Been really, really busy here lately.  We'll catch up though.  Buried in paperwork for sure.  Many things need to be sorted out.  Getting there piece by piece.  Need some picture posts soon for sure.  More to come.  Lots of posts started but not finished.  Typical of me lately. 

Attn: Parents of Deaf or HOH children!

It is that time of year again.  Time to get up and thinking about Camp Cheerio!  What is Camp Cheerio you ask?  It is a wonderful, wonderful place where you can learn AND have fun.  What better combo?  It is sponsored by the National Cued Speech Association.  They do an awesome job of putting this together each year.  There are actually many sponsors but that's the main one.  You do not have to cue to come here.  This is for all forms of communication.  All forms.  It gives kids the chance to meet other kids like them.  Siblings have a blast as well.  Great for parents and grandparents.  Kids go to little adventures and crafts while parents go to workshops of their choosing.  I seriously learn something new there every single year.  Love it.  Connecting w/ other parents is priceless as well.  We rarely see our kids except in the evenings for bed.  Meals are fantastic as well.  I can not tell you how relaxing it is as well to go here.  Peaceful mountain views, quiet, gorgeous.  You will see people using cue, using sign language, using speech.  All methods are accepted and no one is left out.  No one.  I feel there is such comaradiere there as well.  Teens will be going on a canoe trip this year.  Irina is getting older so she will actually be allowed to volunteer.  They incorporate all ages, all abilities at this camp.  Parents get the opportunity to learn from other parents.  Love it.  I know I have said that before but if you haven't experienced camp Cheerio, please consider it.  It is from May 18th to May 20th this year.  Promise, you won't regret it.  I love seeing the grandparents that come to learn and help their grandchildren.  Just warms the heart that they are that dedicated to helping their grandkids.  I thank them every time.  Will make a difference in their lives for sure. 

We stay in bunks.  They come w/ bathrooms which is great.  They were all just redone last year. 

This is the bunkhouse where we stay due to the sheer # of us.  Others can stay in the lodge w/ smaller rooms.  

Awesome new bathrooms in the bunkhouse.  3 sinks to boot.

They have 2 sets of showers which is nice.  

 I take a picture of my kids here every year.  This was back in 2008. 

They have a giant waterslide on the first evening there.  This is Alex taking his turn.  You must be brave for the ice cold water!

that's one of the bunk houses.  There are two sides to it.  We use one side of it.  The family from Russia w/ 5 kids, stays on the side next door.  Very interesting getting to connect with them.  And yes, the grass is always that green there.  Just beautiful.  You park your car and don't use it for the rest of the weekend.  Paved pathways everywhere. 

 Last year in 2011.  First day of camp.  Happy to just be there & the fun hasn't even started yet.  That says a lot about this camp.

Alyona, just chillin'.  This is outside the cafeteria.  Beautiful views.  

Nik, playing out in the field.  What a great view, great time.  You should see it at night.  Just as beautiful.  

What is even more beautiful though is the people.  All kinds.  All together for one purpose.  If you'd like more information on this great opportunity, please go here.  It will give you all the info you need.  In addition, you can ask me any questions you'd like.  I may have the answer.  If not, I know who to contact to get you the answers.  I do hope to see some new faces here this year.  Camp Cheerio is near and dear to our heart.  Roaring Gap, NC is where we'll be this May.  Can't wait! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Demon Barber of Fleet St.

Anyone remember Sweeney Todd??  A play.  I never forgot the music to it nor the people sliding down to become 'meat pies.'   Well, the other day Bojan really needed a haircut and Warren was deadbeat tired.  Max volunteered. 

I think it was pretty brave of Bojan to be quite honest.  I think the funniest part was when Max came to show us and Bojan turned around to show us the back of his head.  A bit lopsided so Warren touched it up a bit.  For his very first time, Max did an awesome job.  At this point though, don't let him give you a shave.  LOL.  Just goes to show you how much trust these two have for each other.

Been a really busy day today.  Much more to chat about but more paperwork to gather.  Must sign papers tomorrow w/ our accountant...taxes.  Summer has a neuro appointment at 10:30.  Warren took half a day tomorrow.  One day the poor guy will actually get a real vacation day not filled w/ medical appointments or something of that nature.  This weekend it is going to be filled w/ fixing up the house a bit more.  Need to list it SOON.  Lots of little things going on here and even more bigger things.  Should be a catch up post probably.   Well, got to go.  Kids get out of school early tomorrow. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Manic Monday

Where did my weekend go?!  Oh wait, I remember.  We were fixing up the house all weekend to put it on the market very, very soon.  The piddly stuff that needs to be done.  Painting trim work, cleaning like it's spring and things of that nature.  Got a lot done but still so much more to do.  will be worth it though.  Irina and Yana worked on Saturday.  Came home and went to the movies w/ a friend.  Came home and then had a friend spend the night as did the younger boys.  No one settled down till like 1:30.  Then, the friend that came over puked her guts out.  Poor thing.  All over the room.  And I mean all over.  It's since been sanitized but we lost a comforter, rug, and a chair in the process.  Hoping none of the rest of us get it.

Rest of the weekend was a blur really.  Just working a bunch.  Making lists.  Today is Monday.  Let's see what is going on this week.  3 of my kids are participating in an FASD research study.  One is at testing now and Warren will bring her home.  It's near his work.  It's a great opportunity we feel.  2 more kids will go tomorrow morning as well.  I have 3 IEP meetings for Max, Irina and Yana on Tuesday morning.  Yana has alive at 25.  Some driver's ed course.  Yet, she doesn't recall the details.  Lovely.  Speech therapy is all week for Nik of course.  Valentine's Day is tomorrow but we really aren't doing anything special.  Summer has a neurology appointment on Wednesday. Tried to get Nik in at the same time as I canceled Logan's.  He doesn't need it.  Nik does.  Now, you would think that they, being competent adults, could do a simplistic schedule change such as this.  Umm, nope.  They can not.  As of now, Nik is not going to neurology and I'm thoroughly disappointed in it.  He needs to be 'officially' dx'd w/ FAS and ADHD.  He will need meds.  I've avoided them for way too long.  I tried to let him 'out grow' the ADHD.  Not happening.  If it will help him achieve success in life, we will do it.  Meds are a hard decision for every parent to make.  Some of our kids have succeeded w/ out the use of meds.  Some have not.  It's a balancing act for sure.

We are fixing up the house this week and hoping to put it on the market some time in the next week or so.  Ready or not, time to sell. Kids have mixed feelings as do we all.  Dogs are doing fine.  Kids are ready to start soccer in March.  Yana has already started track.  It is quite the commitment and I can already see we are going to have issues of pick up.  Hoping I can find another family to carpool w/.  I mean really, having to pick her up and then run over to soccer for the rest of the bunch will be interesting.  It will all work out though, it always does.

I'm having to make all sorts of plans for the next few months.  I have to be careful though as I don't know when surgeries are happening for the kids.  Bojan must have surgery and then Alyona possibly.  Have to wait to see how much she grew but the plates in her arm are bothering her.  Irina will also need some type of sinus surgery.  Would be great if we could get all surgeries done in March.  Time will tell.  Well, actually the doc will tell us.  Nik goes back to doc to get a new headpiece for the implant.  Apparently all AB users but still haven't gotten a reason as to why. His work fine so not sure why.  Nik is desperate for those Neptune implants.  I will be contacting AB in the future and see the exact cost.  Maybe we could do some type of fundraiser for him.  They really would change things for him.  Ideal for his activity level and love for the outdoors and swimming.  So, plans for lots of things.  Deaf camp being one of them in May.  The Bulgarian reunion in June in Ohio.  4th of July here, Alex's b-day on July 5th here, a family reunion here in July.  I think August we will just do day trips to the beach.  We don't live that far for a day trip.  The church has a retreat in August so who knows.  We've never been.  Considered going last year.  Time will tell. 

Lots going on for a Monday.  Now, Warren just came home w/ 6 booklets for us to fill out for this research study.  Got to love it.  Life goes on.  Ever just feel like it was Groundhog Day?  That is my day today.  More picture posts.  Well, if I finish my booklets. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bulgarian Reunion

Well, now that we are home from Bulgaria, it's time to start thinking about keeping them connected to their culture.  What better way than a Bulgarian Reunion!  I honestly can say I can barely stand the wait to go.  Meeting other families that have adopted or are in process or who are considering it will be fantastic.  We are all meeting out in a campground in Ohio.  Oh yes, we are taking a road trip folks!  All the way to Ohio and back.  We do this too for Irina and Max.  We don't go every year but we have gone many times for the Orenburg Reunion.  It is the region in Russia that they are from.  It's a great time to connect w/ other families and for the kids to meet others like them.  Swap stories at times.  I am looking forward to the same thing with the Bulgarian Reunion.  It will be so very nice to finally put a face to some of the cyber emails.  And to see in person just how much the kids have changed.  It will be wonderful!

We weren't able to get the deluxe cabins which kind of stinks as when you have kids w/ urological issues, trekking down the campground trail at night to the bathroom is no fun.  Trust me, done it before.  LOL.  But, not bad either.  Worth it to get to see everyone.  We are in the cabins which do have air conditioning so I feel spoiled already.  There is so much to do at this campground.  My kids were oohing and ahhing over it.  The committee also has activities planned throughout the weekend as well.  I know we will all have a blast.  Please consider joining us.  I believe last count I heard was 14 families & quite a few more considering going. I have been to these types of reunions in the past and we've always walked away w/ new friendships and a sense of camaraderie.  The kids have never been disappointed.  I know they won't be disappointed this year either.  It is our first big vacation as a family of 12.  Can't wait to meet some of you out in cyberspace.  Also, really can't wait to see my friend Viviane again.  We spent our second trip together and her kids are just too adorable for words.  I know some of you may be hesitant as maybe your kids aren't quite home yet or you're between trips.  No problems.  This is also a great opportunity if you are considering adopting from Bulgaria.  Hands on experience is always the best.

For more info, go to this blog.  I really do hope to meet many of you & all the kiddos in just a few short months.  Hard to believe that last year at reunion time I was in Bulgaria on trip one.  Time has flown by.  See you all in Ohio!

Random pictures

I have a few pictures that are just laying around.  So, thought it was high time to post a few of them.  Enjoy. 

I help a class in homeschool academy.   That class is Summer's.  The other day we made hearts w/ tissue paper flowers for Valentine's Day.  Had my camera so decided to take pictures of all the kids and email to their parents.  Umm, dummy me forgot to get the emails last week for the surprise.  Oh well, it will be a belated surprise.  This is one of Summer.  Proud of her heart and flower.

 My girl and her smile.  She already needs her hair cut again. 

Bojan, remind me again how you practice your trumpet while on the phone.  

 Don't know why the pics wouldn't separate.  Top is Alyona very proud that she can now ride a big bike.  Bottom  is our Digby. He loves to watch the kids play.  Yet is smart enough to stay away from the soccer ball.  

Alex, waiting for Reni to kick the ball to him.  I have about given up on grass ever growing here again.  

 Reni, ready to show off some of her skills.  Really need to put new soccer balls on our wish list.  They go through soccer balls like crazy because they literally play with them every single day.  It's nuts!  but, pays off when they play ball.

Logan, riding a bike.  Love the jacket w/ shorts?  I promise you my kids do own winter clothing.  Thankfully, we live in the south.  Otherwise, I don't think they'd make it all winter long.  Hey, they get mad b/c I take the flip flops away.  

Nik and Summer love this thing.  It's a pedal car.  Nik wishes it were a go cart.

Summer, Reni, Alyona and a "little" playing on the hammock yet again.  Why kids get so much pleasure out of falling on their faces, I'll never know.  But they do it over and over again.  Laughing harder each and every time.  

Nik...caught in the act.  He took Max's mp-3 player.  Max was not happy.  Nik's broke and he really does miss his...a lot.  

Well, that was a random pictures post.  Next post will be about the Bulgarian Reunion.  Hey, I'll probably get to 4 or 5 posts tonight.  Wahoo.  Progress.  Been a long weekend which involved a lot of vomit and NOT from any of my family.  Got to love when kids come to spend the night.  LOL.  It was crazy to say the least. Everyone is so, so tired, all are in bed asleep except for bojan and Max.  And it's only 9:12!  Much more to come.  Lots to say.  Bulgarian Reunion post next.  Hope your weekend was relaxing. 

They need each other

Originally, we went into this last set of adoptions with the intentions of bringing home a very young child.  We do this every single time.  We have yet to adopt a very young child.  Youngest ever adopted was 3yo.  So, as usual, we ended up adopting older children this time.  However, it worked out for the best again.  These sisters need each other.  They really and truly do.  FASD can be a lonely world for people.  Very lonely.  People w/ FASD do not quite fit in w/ what folks call the "typical" world or with what folks call the "special ed" world.  I have kids in both of those worlds and many in between.  (and I'm not worried about being politically correct w/ terminology)  As the children age, friendships are harder to come by because people around them do not understand their quirks.  FASD I feel is such a cruel dx as it tends to leave many feeling isolated.  Which brings me to my kids.   Some of my kids will not be able to live independently.  We've known this for some time now.  Well, at least had a good guess.  We knew adopting children a certain age may help some of our other kids.  I had no idea just how much it would help.  The bond 2 of them have developed is closer than anything I've known.  It is as though they are attached at the hip.  It was crystal clear to me the past few weeks just how much they needed each other.  One, to get out of her shell and walls she had built up around her and the other to have a deep relationship with someone who truly cares about her.  By having this close relationship, it has also helped a few of the others in the house.  Irina now helps three of her sisters that really need it at times.  Even if just for something small. 

Reni, getting her hair done w/ Irina.  Something simple for her but has so much meaning for her as well.  When she first came home, it was hard to even brush her hair as you couldn't get near her head.

Alyona,making sure everything is just right on her sister.  Reni, not minding at all that she is messing w/ her hair.

Sisters through and through.  I know they will take care of each other for years to come.  That's a given.  I have absolutely no regrets of adopting an older sibling group.  You'd be shocked at just how much these children need parents.  I am indeed saying that the older kids will need you more than you realize.  More than you can imagine.  Some of them, the hurt runs deep.  It can be healed though.  Trust me on that statement.  After 2 RADishes, I've seen it firsthand.   No, these two do not have RAD. 

Braided hair.  So different these two yet so much of the same.  They have so much love for each other.  Yes, they fight.  It's not all roses. It's reality.  But, the love they have for one another can not be denied.  For all those during our adoption journey that said it wasn't a good idea to add to our family that it would somehow 'hurt' our kids we have, I want them to see the kids now.  See how they are true sisters.  How love has helped both of them heal.  Alyona was lonely and mad most of the time before Reni came home.  Reni was frightened and hurt.  Now, both are thriving and loving.  Yes, both still have some issues.  But, both can work through them so much more easily with each other. 

I just had to share how two sisters found each other oceans away.  How two kids desperately needed each other and we didn't even no it at the time.  I see clearly now why we had to turn down the referral of the twins when we first went into this.  I did not understand why completely but now I do.  These two were meant for each other.  Sisters for life.  You know because I wrote this today, tomorrow they're going to drive me absolutely batty, right?  LOL.  I just think it is amazing how far these two girls have come in three months time.