Saturday, November 10, 2012

A few more tidbits from today (best for last)

So distracted lately.  i think I'm tired.  Or kid tired.  You moms out there know what that means.  To follow up w/ things breaking around here due to my boys, thought I'd share another that happened this week.  Logan and Alex raced to the mailbox, ran into it and broke it off completely.  So today Warren & Max fixed the mailbox after watching the poor mailman think he may have done it b/c they simply set it back up on the post.  Hey, good news is this repair didn't cost us anything but time.  But, time is money as the expression goes.  They could have been working on fence posts.  Which btw have gone up since the last week we bought them!  By $2 more a post!  Crazy.

Dining room dish this evening.  Reni asked us "how many dicks there are."  We said what?!  You know, how many dicks.  What do you mean Reni?  And then she pointed to the dvd's.  Oh, d-i-s-k-s.  Yes, we're still learning English and yes, proof positive one letter can make a dramatic difference.

Last thing I wanted to share was about Nik today.  He and I actually had our first real conversation.  He and I were sitting on the van seats on the sidewalk.  He was looking at the trees and said he wanted to be a monkey.  I said no, you'll fall if you climb up the tree.  Our high Oak.  He looked at me and said in his voice "me no fall.  Me no hurt.  Me strong."  He is trying to put sentences together w/ his words!  And sign at the same time!  It's awesome.  Well, I think it is.  I know most won't see this as a big deal but just the fact that he WANTS to communicate is a gigantic step in the right direction.  Don't care if it's w/voice or sign.  He wants to communicate.  And normal conversation.  Not just something he wants to eat.  For just a moment in time, it felt like a normal conversation with my son.  It really did.  Wanted to share it with you all.  He was also proud at Walmart today b/c I yelled at Summer for baby talking again and not saying the word touch right.  Nik proudly piped up correctly saying the word touch w/ the ch on the end!  His speech therapist is going to be so happy come Monday.  Can't wait to share it all. 

More tomorrow.  Busy day tomorrow for sure.  Lots going on.  Hope everyone is having an awesome weekend.

Happenings around the house

I know I'm working on the year home posts but thought I'd say what's going on around here this week as well.  Between last week and this week, it's been an expensive week and an emotionally draining one on a few levels.  As for the expensive part.  You other parents will appreciate these things.  Okay, first the boys, Nik and Logan, broke my back van window.  I will have a write up on the glass company that fixes our stuff as we are unfortunately frequent customers.  Then, we of course had to put Kota down so that was a little bit of a vet bill.

And trouble in our little laundry closet.  Yes, it's literally a closet.  This house was originally 1900 sq. ft.  it's now around 3100 sq.ft.  Big families weren't in the original floor plans.

This is what he found in the pipe.  He said he could keep pulling it out for hours or cut the wall.  I said bring on the saw. 

She's happy no matter what is happening. 

And some moreof the pins from the needle art that got washed.  Along w/ the broken mirror.  Somehow, the broken mirror pieces didn't show up.   makes me wonder when they will.

 Alex, just hanging out w/ Dad in the kitchen.

 Summer saying she wants a tablet like Nik's for her birthday.  It's one of those v-tech innotabs.  Pretty cool and he's practicing words on it.

 The barber, getting frustrated w/ his client moving around.

Max, finishing up his work.  

Next up...Bojan.  And, you best be nice to Max or that haircut may not turn out too well.

Well, started this yesterday and today is Saturday.  We worked on the fence today and went to Wally World.  I broke down & finally bought Reni a spare pair of glasses.  She is rough on glasses and our insurance coverage is only good for a pair every 2 years.  Yeh, lots of out of pocket w/ that deal.  Anyhow, feel better that she'll have a spare pair soon.  Shopped w/ some of the kids and Warren went too.  So, divide and conquer the store.  Warren and Logan went and I got the rest of the kids who went.  Found turkeys on sale.  Score!  And that would be why we have a freezer.  A turkey for us is a normal meal.  I know most just eat it Thanksgiving but we can use it at any meal.

We found some cleaning supplies.  We're making more and more of our own products and finding what works and what doesn't.  Finding what doesn't is important.  Very important.  We tried making our own dishwasher detergent.  Epic fail.  Used citric acid.  Wondering if anyone has a recipe that works and that they like.  We hate the one we used.  But, in the same token need to save a few dollars where we can.  So, looking for ideas.

I think I should stop while I'm ahead.  I've started this post 3 times today.  CAlling it a night and I'll do some more year in review posts tomorrow.  They are due for sure.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Is three a crowd?

Okay, after our first horrible night in Sofia w/ Summer, it was time for Warren to bring home Logan and Reni.  Again, not rehashing everything from last year.  Just filling in stuff that I think others should know b/c we are NOT the only ones things happen to.  Oh this child is so sweet or this child slept through the night or whatever happy thing you had going on.  First night we took Summer out to the restaurant as our apartment was roach infested and I couldn't cook w/ the roaches.  Went out and it was like you put a board straight down her back.  She sat there so straight and was almost comatose.  Kind of scary to look at.  But, we got through it and so did she.

Anyhow, back to Logan and Reni coming home.  The drive for Warren was 6.5 hours one way.  Yikes! 

Getting ready to go.

Finishing up last details and gathering bags of stuff.  Papers from school and awards and things of that nature.  One day, I'll actually get them translated.  This orphanage cared and saved many things of theirs.  I can't thank them enough for that.  It's a sweet thought & shows they cared about the children there.  

 A little more nervous as they know it's all about to change forever.

 One last goodbye.  

Now, they headed outside and we have a photo of them just sobbing and overcome w/ grief.  However, I can't get it to post.  Going to try again as you need to see the sheer emotion of this experience for older children that get adopted.  It's like you're ripping out their heart.  You are indeed taking it all away from them forever.  It's extremely difficult for them no matter what the situation.  

After all that, they came back to Sofia.  We were hoping that would help Summer a bit more.  Familiar language and such.  Umm, nope!  Wishful thinking.  And let the nightmare of the next few days begin.  I know it's not glamorous and all roses like many describe but it wasn't for us.   Not one bit.  Questioning if we even did the right thing at some points.  At one point, one of us said it's not too late to send him back.  Now, before you all think that is the most horrific thing to say in the world, let me tell you a little of what went on.  Summer was a nightmare.  Emotionally checked out and not wanting anything to do w/ us.  Thank God for Viviane.  LOL.  She loved Viviane and would calm down for her.  I will never forget the day Summer finally chose to have me hold her.  Sweet.  Very sweet moment.  But that took a little time.

Then, we had Reni who was sick of Summer screaming and crying she kept telling her to shut up.  Really, I couldn't blame her.  We all felt the same way but Reni vocalized it the most.  Reni was terrified of her brother.  You could tell her hit her....a lot.  Obviously, that was not allowed w/ us.  Also, I told Reni, when we get home, you never have to worry about Logan.  Yana & Irina will take care of him for you.  She smiled so big and the relief in her tense shoulders was amazing.  

So, here we are.  Small apartment trying to keep Summer quiet, Reni and Logan separated as to not spar on a WWF match, and keep Logan contained from lashing out and running away.  Honest to goodness, it would be hard for most adoptive families to handle this situation.  I am NOT bragging or trying to say yes, we can do it.  That's not it at all.  I think the only reason and I mean only reason we survived this was b/c of all our FAS experience and experience w/ RADishes. 

I'll give you idea of what all Logan did while we were there.  And mind you, this is not the whole list.  Besides trying to beat his sister and argue w/ everything that moved, Logan kicked a cane out from an elderly gentleman, yelled at protesters, tried to steal on numerous occasions, tried to steal hospital donations, ran away from the apartment twice, peed, pulled out his own tooth(not loose) out of pure spite, tried to order beer and vodka, kicked people, cussed like a sailor, tried to stab his sister in the restaurant, went to gambling sites on the computer, and the list could go on forever.  He lied constantly.  Was very aggressive, etc.  The only outlet I had was to my agency back home who understood what I was going through.  Crazy, crazy stuff.  Really was.  Didn't think we'd make it till the end of the week.  But, we did.  Then, it was time to go home.  OMG!  Wanted to leave Logan on the tarmac.  I was assigned the two girls and the bags.  We needed one person and one only on Logan.  Period.  That would be Warren.  We knew we'd get a run for our money & boy did we ever.  That is a story for another post.  A brief story about coming home and adjustments the first few hours home.  After that, I'll tell of the year transformations we've had.  Also, I'll be writing about the medical reports.  I'll tell what my kids have told me they've endured over their time spent at the orphanage.  I am not stunned but some of you may be.  I think though it's important to know about older kids & the life they lived in order to move forward with them.  Also, to help prepare other adoptive parents.  The abuse and aggression you may see w/ your kids.  Is it normal?  Will you ever get them straightened out?  Will you ever be able to relax again in your life?  I'll be honest with you.  Sorry this posts aren't all sugar coated.  They can't be.  This is real.  it's real life.  It's our life.  I also want to share what we did and how we did it to get them from then to now in just a year. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Time for some honesty

It's been a year since we went to Bulgaria.  This day last year, we were indeed on a plane headed to Sofia to change our lives forever.  And what a change it would be.  Though we had 7 kids, all internationally adopted, this is the first time we were adopting 3 at once, first time adopting siblings, first time going to two different regions, first time adopting from Bulgaria, etc.  Lots of firsts.  Now, I will be sharing things on here that I have never shared before.  One, I think the "secrecy" in the adoption world is a bit ridiculous frankly.  I know there are laws regarding each country and I respect those laws.  However, I think it is totally stupid for one agency to allow you to post pictures and another not to.  From the same country mind you.  But, I follow as I agree to abide by the country's laws.  And with our complicated case, we could not risk it.

Let me share a few things.  Some of you will not like what I have to say and that is perfectly fine w/ me.  But I've held a lot in over the years.  We were threatened by our NGO if we did not submit at such a time, then the kids would not be available.  Okay, first off, let me say I've done this before and I will tell you this, our kids' medicals looked so rotten, no one would want them!  I don't say that to be mean.   Shoot, they were passed over time and time and time again already.  Older sibs, boy had epilepsy, both mentally challenged, etc., etc. (more on medicals later).  Another missing part of her brain.  From a place I'd never heard before...Pleven.  Now, everyone knows about it.  Summer was transferred from Pleven at 3yo and taken to Kardzhali.  Anyhow, even the agency said Logan's was one of the worst medicals they'd ever seen.  You can not imagine.  Again, more later on that.  Point I'm making, don't be rushed into anything.  The kids are not going to be given to someone else or whisked away.  I told my agency that if the kids are available, it's meant to be.  However, some things are out of my control and nothing I could do about it.  Bottom line.  We also had an issue w/ our NGO (and NO, I am NOT giving names on here) on what not only us, but the agency, US State Dept., etc. deemed as corruption.  Hey, I told you all it was a miracle we even got these kids home.  The problem was solved before trip one.  There was no one we could come up w/ thousands extra even after signing a contract of a set fee.  BTW, our agency was extremely behind us AND worked well over time getting all this sorted.  I can not speak higher of them.  And this money issue is not only regarding us.  I personally know of a few others w/ various agencies who also had issues.  Our NGO also accused us of looking at other kids after we had already committed to our 3.  Now, originally, we committed to a set of twins and Summer.  That changed of course.  However, after we committed to our kids, we didn't look at any other kids.  Not sure where that statement came from.  This is the kind of garbage that went on during the whole adoption process.  Enough to make you want to throw in the towel for sure.  But, we didn't obviously.

We pressed on.  I won't go into everything.  Trust me, it's a good made for tv type of movie stuff.  LOL.  This is about last year and getting them home to where they belonged.  Like I said, first one to get home was Summer. 

No matter what they are going to or how their lives are about to change, it is traumatic.  They are leaving the ONLY home they've ever known.  Period.  You have to be calm, can't cry yourself as it will not help the situation, and keep pressing forward.  

Forgive the jet lag look here as I'd been up for I think 2 days at that point.  Summer is just not having any of this.  Keep in mind, we haven't even gotten to the point of dressing her yet and we're on a time limit.  Had to get back to Sofia to get ready to go to Shumen the next day.  

Love that everyone went out with her to say goodbye.

Mom, I'm not having any of this I tell you.  Stubborn then, stubborn now.  LOL.

You want to make the hurt go away but you can't.  You are in a rough position as a mother.  

Not a good one of me but want you to see the emotion of the caretakers.  They CARED about her.  They loved her.  It's a bittersweet goodbye to be sure.  Summer was given a sedative though I was reamed for using those words.  I was told it was NOT a sedative but anti nausea medicine.  Okie dokie then.  Hey, I call it like I see it.  It was to help her sleep for the long ride back to Sofia which we greatly appreciated them giving her.  We were told this was the first time she was in a car other than the ride from Pleven to here.  Hard to imagine. 

I won't go through all the pics.  You can look on the blog in Nov. 2011 to see more.  Just wanted to share how hard it is to say goodbye.  Summer was litheness back at the apartment.  She was distraught, scared, sad, grief stricken, etc.  It was not a night to remember as being a good one.  Had to let her cry herself to sleep.  There was no other way.  It was determined that she would not be going to Shumen.  So, Warren went to Shumen alone to pick up Logan and Reni.  I stayed at the apartment with screaming demon.  Yes, the screams were that bad.  As you know, I have some experience at being a parent.  Also, I watched 4 toddlers at the time.  I can entertain, distract, comfort, etc.  She wanted none of that.  And I mean none of it.  

We were told to call for help if we needed it.  I needed Summer to calm.  I needed help.  I called for help.  I was told "you have 7 kids and you can't handle 1?"  Yes, that was indeed said to me.  Look, what doesn't help that we know now but not then, is the trouble w/ c-ACC kids and regulating emotion.  At least for Summer.  Each kid is effected differently.  When she starts crying, she literally can't stop.  I have to snap in front of her eyes now or do some other loud sound to break  her cycle.  Just how it is w/ her.  Back then, did not know that.  All I knew was I was desperate for help and being made to feel bad for asking for it.  This is not the way things are supposed to go.  It was only day 2 and I wanted to go home.  I did receive help.  I needed something familiar to break her crying cycle and that was native Bulgarian.  A familiar sound to her.  It helped.  Next, was trying to get her to eat.  Now, can't get the kid to stop.  

Feed her.  Okay.  Everyone eats chocolate, right?  I tried everything from bananas to crackers to chocolate even.  That shirt is a size 3T btw.  

Yes, this was a child traumatized.  And I could not help her at this moment in time.  Crushing to both of us.  It was not for a lack of trying.  

I have never seen this face again.  Tell me this is not pitiful looking.  Poor kid.  As a parent in this position, you MUST remain strong and MUST understand this is a temporary situation.  It will get better.  Just need to get home.  We thought that once Logan & Reni arrived that things would change.  Little did I know that that in itself would bring its own set of problems.  For the record, we honestly should have traveled w/ 3 adults, not just two.  

I do hope that this post goes across the right way.  I wanted to be fully honest of how things really were.  Last year, as you can imagine, a tad nervous to post what really happened just b/c of what all transpired in the last few months prior to our trip.  But w/ the kids thriving and doing so well, I feel I owe it to future adoptive parents to tell the truth.  We'll see how it all turns out.  I personally believe more openness and truthfulness needs to be in the adoption world.  Just my opinion folks. 

More to come on how Logan and Reni did at the apartment w/ Summer. 

OMG! This time last year!

This time last year, we were on a plane.  Yes, we left last year on November 8th, 2011 to head to Sofia, Bulgaria to go and pick up our kids. 

Now, it's been a year.  None of you know everything that transpired to get us to that point.  Trust me, you don't want to know all of it.  LOL.  I told you all of the CPS fiasco.  What I have not shared till now is what someone did to us right after we got back from trip one.  Or , shortly thereafter.  We were waiting for our Article 5 letter.  However, ours got complicated.  Why?  Because someone decided they should report us to the Bulgarian Authorities at the Embassy to try to stop that letter!  Yep, you read that correctly.  It was said this family is 1) trying to run an orphanage in the US  2) is poor and 3) has ALL the children in the same room to sleep.  To say us & our agency were ticked off would be an understatement.  We tried to determine if it was the same person as the CPS people or what.  IT was maddening!  Our agency knows us very well.  In addition, ALL those things are proven in the homestudy.  And, our NGO met us while over there and said this is NOT this family.  We met them, they are normal, etc.  Saw pictures of our home and where the kids would sleep even.  So everyone knew.  Yet, it was a complaint that had to be dealt with and proven and more paperwork, etc.  Pain in the butt but our kids were waiting for us and we weren't going to let yet something else stand in our way.  We'd been through the wringer already.  We were the epitome of resilience at this point in time.  Why some people are downright evil is beyond me. 

Was worked out.  Had court.  Didn't find out till 5days later.  Then, told we needed to leave in 11 days!  That got changed as well.  Finally, November 8th was the day we left.  Ready for it all.  Or so we thought.  Over the next few days, I'll share more of what all happened.  I'll share before and after and how they've progressed after an entire year of being home.  Night and day.  I'll share about older kids homes.  I'll share quite a bit.  I won't hold back so be prepared.   I will tell all or at least most of it.  Can not believe we were on a plane last year.  Seems like forever ago.  So hang on, next few days is story time for sure.  Adjustments, what to expect, etc.  I had to be cautious as to what to say before.  Well, not any more.  I for one think folks should know the truth.  This you can't do this, you can't say this, etc. is just garbage.  Adopting families NEED to know what to expect as to not panic when it happens to them.  Just my two cents.  Be ready for some truth in adoption.  And many, many other topics.  That camping trip gave me the little break to get the gusto up to post a bit more.  So, more to come in a few more posts over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What we CRAVE

Well, that time of month again.  Time for our Cravebox! 

 Nik, disappointed it is not a birthday gift for him.

Very sturdy box.  Cooking Light was the theme!  Love it.

Way more organized than my pantry.

Irina, very happy w/ one of the selections of crisps by Dole.  We tried these today and they are indeed yummy.

IRina & Reni seeing what else was in the box.

 Alyona and Summer disappointed there is no chocolate in this box this month.

Waiting to see if we're finished yet.

 He looks a little too happy w/ that coffee syrup.

And our haul!  Cool stuff for sure and well more than the $10 a month.  Though I think I paid $12 or $13 for this box this month.  Worth it as we'll use those herbs and kids will use the coffee and the snacks will get eaten and the coffee syrup is a big hit already.

Reading all the recipes inside.  Cool that they do send recipes with things.

And no, Nik is not getting coffee.  NO way!  We enjoyed our Cravebox this month for sure.  Can't wait to see what the Thanksgiving box brings us. 

Family Camping Trip part 5-- heading home

After sleeping, or not, we were ready for breakfast.  Nothing fancy.  Just cereal, juice and oranges.  Oh, and let's not forget another glass of hot cocoa.  We love hot cocoa.  And, I had extra chocolate chips leftover along w/ marshmallows.  Awesome to have on a very cold morning.

Breakfast time and he's wide awake.  Loves this Innotab.  He got it for his birthday.  You can put learning games on it and pretty much indestructible.  Sucks up batteries but we just use rechargeables for it.  

Bojan and Reni warming up w/ hot cocoa.

Yes, I do believe they need to wake up a bit more.

Reni helping Summer tie her shoes.

Getting ready to break it all down to pack it up.

Putting out the fire. 3 youngest thought it would be cool to restart the fire.  

Working together without fighting which is great.

C-MOW almost packed up.  Kids do great at breaking things down fast & cooperating.

Nik, happy about the fire going out.  

They wanted one more time on the bounce pillow.  We said fine.

Sisters for life.  They've also become closer lately.

Alex and Alyona playing around.

And I wonder sometimes where the bruises come from.  Geez.  Land on your head.

Logan loved this as well.  He really got some height on his jumps too.

Max, looking on.  His shoulder was a bit too sore that morning to jump.

My nature girls.  Found a caterpillar.

Still loving the jumping.  And Max did decide to go back on it.

Ready to head out.  Funny as all our kids now know the class of rv's, type, etc.  Too funny.  And, at every single campground, they meet new people and chat up a storm.

Summer, not happy.  She loves going on trips on the bus as she calls it.  She did not want to leave.

Time to get mellow for the trip home.  Fun times.  Simple but fun.  Can't wait till our next trip!