Saturday, January 5, 2013

The New Year

We did not do anything.  Seriously, we didn't do anything.  We never do on New Years.  We all stay up and watch a movie.  That's about as fancy as it gets here.  We did go over what all we did this year though.


We started a jar this past year.  $6 at Walmart.  When we go somewhere, we get a little reminder souvenir.  Like a postcard or something.  We have a mini cannon in there to remind us of Fort Macon.  our camping wristband to remind us of the year we really started to rv and camp.  Soccer ball to remind us of soccer season.  You get the picture.  Then, make a list at the end of the year of all the places you went or the things you did.  What you enjoyed the most.  We plan on doing this from here on out.  Kind of disappointed we didn't do it sooner.  I know it's not fancy but we think it's cool.  

Anyhow, went over the jar and what all we did this year.  Then, discussed resolutions a bit.  Mine will be the same...to lose weight and get healthy.  I will report on here every Friday like I used to.  When I did that, I felt I had some sort of accountability.  When I stopped, so did the losing weight.  Holiday goodies did not help me any.  So, it is back to a routine and regime.  I truly feel ready to go at it.  For the past 2 weeks, I've been doing light weight lifting and stretching every morning and night.  I know that is hardly anything but it was the fact I started and am still sticking to it.  I will be adding yoga this week 4X a week.  The cardio will come the following week.  I know I could start of w/ cardio.  However, this gives me a sense of accomplishment, albeit small.  I am more apt to stick to the big cardio workouts IF I can get the stretching, weight lifting and yoga into habit and consistent.  So far, 2 of those for 2 weeks have been.  I'm adding yoga this coming week.  If I stick to that for two weeks, I'll be on my way to cardio 3X a week.  That's when the pounds will come off.  For now, I want to build up my endurance so I won't quit later.  I hope that made sense.  The kids broke my bike I had since college awhile back.  Got many years out of that.  I used to absolutely love, love, love biking.  I'd bike to and from work.  Put many, many miles on that bike.  Thinking of borrowing the girls' bike here and there.  Our neighborhood has awesome hills and makes for an awesome workout.  Once, Warren and I biked the MS 150 to Atlantic Beach.  Though, I didn't quite make it all the way.  Way overheated.  It was one of the scorcher days we did this.  Heat wave.  Anyhow, I'd love to do something of that nature again.  I'm ready to do something.  Need my life back in order.  Yes, I can keep up w/ the kids but I am tired of being that fat mom to 10 kids.  I want to be that mom that runs 5K's or bikes to the store.  That mom that can beat her kids in a race.  LOL.  That mom who looks young enough to be one of her kids!  I want to go to the Bulgarian Reunion this summer and none of you recognize me other than the kids w/ me.  :)  Yes, I want to be that mom.  Just had my yearly check up and blood work is fine though need to work on cholesterol. Frankly, I think they tell everyone that.  Mammogram was great and cardiology was great last year(don't have to go for 2 years!  They follow me b/c of family history).  But I want to WOW them at this year's cardiology appointment in the summer.  Can you imagine if I go back there and have dropped 50 lbs.?!  The cardiologist himself did that a few years ago. 

Also, I have a friend who has lost 36 lbs. already!  She wants to lose some more and do it together.  I do think the two of us could conquer it and having someone to rely on would help.  Keeping things in perspective.  Time will tell.  So, flabulous to fabulous Fridays will re-enter this blog.  Hope you don't mind.  Feel free to hound me if I've had an awful week.  I don't want to hear it will be better next time.  I'm one who needs the discipline to do this.  My goal is to drop 50 lbs. all together.  I know once I get my first ten down, the rest will follow suit.  The first ones for me are always the hardest.  So, this is my year to shine and accomplish things I have not.  I'm ready. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gingerbread Epic Fail

Once again, we try and we fail.  Must be a running theme here.  Decided this year not even to do a gingerbread house.  Instead, we found a gingerbread train kit.  How hard can that be?  It's a kit for pete's sake!  I have heard tips from friend to hot glue the pieces together but not going that route as I'm sure my kids would eat it.  We tried something different this year.



Opening up all the stuff to see how this is going to work.


Alex inspecting the candy while Logan looks at directions.  Not sure why.  He never reads directions anyhow.


Okay, her face here is priceless.  LOL.  She then said "it's good."


Logan loves his new glasses.  First time ever he's had glasses.  When he came home, he didn't need them but did this year.  He keeps saying he can see now.


Getting ready to spread some serious icing.


Alex is rather meticulous on where the little candies go.  Nik just glops it on.


Irina coming over to help out a bit.


Nik having plenty a good time with all that icing.


Nik and Logan rather proud of their designs and creations.  Do you think they have enough sugar there for twelve people combined?


Reni wanted to wait till the boys were done making a mess.  LOL.  Probably a good idea.

Though not a train, think they enjoyed each having a piece to decorate anyway they wanted to.  Next year I promised we'd search for a good recipe for a gingerbread house.  Next year will indeed be our year.  Just getting one to stand up will be an accomplishment.

What we CRAVE or....not

Well, this is the first time that I've received a CRAVEBOX that I wasn't all that impressed w/ the contents.  This was a dog lovers CRAVEBOX.  It's a subscription box and comes once a box.  Awhile back I tried a few out.  This is the one we all agreed to keep. 


Not sure why these went out of sequence but oh well.  This was the inside.


Alyona  bringing in the blue box we've all come to know and love.


Alaska took one sniff and walked away.  Literally.


Okay, this is what was in it.  All natural True Chews the dogs LOVED and we will definitely get them again if they aren't terribly expensive.  It has a calming color which we'll use for Alaska yet I think is bogus.  LOL.  A book and spot cleaner.  And the all natural 'wholesome' dog food in the middle box there.


Honest to goodness, it looks and most definitely smells like vomit.  Isn't this horrible?!  Wonder how the dogs would like it.


Alaska was not too keened on trying this slop of dog food.  Don't blame her.


She finally did eat some but it was obvious she did not like it. Digby wouldn't even go near it.  Really, he didn't.  He knew better.  LOL.  So, that is a no go on the natural dog food. We'll stick with Pedigree thank you very much.  The true chews though we must find out how much they are.  The dogs went crazy for those things.  Calming color we're going to give a shot.

Not a bad box just not one we found as useful as previous boxes.  But, out of all of them thus far, that has been the only one like that.  

Burgers on the grill tonight w/ veggies in a cream sauce.  Yum.  House guest still here and will be throughout Wednesday.  Bojan has a friend visiting now as well.  Bojan and Warren's birthdays are tomorrow.  Time is just flying.  Well, they can't stay young forever.  More in a bit. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sidewalk surfing, snowflakes & sunglasses

I'd say I'd catch up this weekend on things but let's get real, that's not going to happen.  tomorrow we have homeschool academy.  Currently, I have two girls doing punishment chores downstairs, a broken pair of Logan's glasses and 2 boys fighting over a comforter.  Did I mention we have a linen closet FULL of blankets and comforters?  But these two want the same one of course.  Been one of those nights.  I think they're finally settling down which is great.  Since I need to workout, this will be a short post more or less. 


For homeschool I had them make winter wonderland pictures just for fun.  On the right hand side top to bottom, it is Reni, Alex and Logan(poor color blind kiddo.  Tried to tell him it's blue but he'll have none of it).  Left side is Alyona, Nik and Summer.  I thought they were all pretty dog gone cute. 


Logan showing off one of the snow flakes he cut.  Reni was carefully working on hers.  We did a few of them.  They were harder than they looked.


Some of our snowflakes hanging up.  


Nik having a not so great idea.  And no the child isn't wearing shoes.  I make him put them on when he goes outside and he takes them off when he starts playing.  Why?!  I have heard from the deaf/blind folks that came to visit our house about him years ago tell me it's normal as they are seeking sensory input since not getting it as much from two of their senses.  Okay, but how does he not freeze??  All that perma frost from when he was younger I guess.  For those that don't know, Murmansk is located above the Arctic Circle.  It's on perma frost.  Thank goodness NC dirt isn't all that cold.  LOL.


We have 3 skateboards and this is what he chose to ride down on.


Summer was mad that a pair of her sunglasses broke.  Went in my closet to the secret stash.  She was pleased as punch.  Movie star status for Ms. Summer. 

Russian video

Someone recently posted a before and after as a celebration of children and young adults who were adopted from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Romania.  They are sharing the photos w/ the world so the world will know how much the children are loved here.  I didn't send pics in but plan to send some in for the next video Karen is working on.  She did an awesome job with this one for sure.  Thought you'd all enjoy it.  It' on Youtube.  Here's the link.  Flowers of Life.  I think what more countries need to see and hear are the success stories of all these children adopted.  What happens to them years down the road.  Do they stay connected to their homeland?  I know many cultures are afraid once the kids are adopted they lose those connections.  Not true.  Shoot, we go to the Bulgarian Reunion and plan to continue to do so.  We used to go to the Orenburg Reunion as well.  We connect with other Russian kids in the area as well.  They have cultural events in Raleigh if one wishes to attend.  So, many opportunities and we do make sure our kids know which country they are from, where it's located, etc.  Still stay in touch with some folks from the various countries they were adopted from.  Anyhow, I think this video opens eyes that yes, the kids do thrive once home and yes, they DO have a future here.  Hope you enjoy it. 

More later.  We're having ham for dinner.  Have a house guest through the weekend and possibly some next week.  Homeschool Academy starts tomorrow.  Definitely NOT ready but trying.  Anyone w/ great experiments that don't take long, send them my way.  I'm teaching 3rd to 5th graders on Fridays.  My kids are excited as well to take some new classes and learn a few things.  Bojan has after school band practice tomorrow night.  Other than that, not much happening. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Visit to Nana & Papa's!!!

This past weekend we celebrated Christmas with Nana Pat and Papa.  It's Warren's parents.  They live in NC as well. 


Okay, what do you see wrong with this picture?  No, it's not the Halloween sticker still on his implants.  It's the glass and crystal everywhere.  It's beautiful but scares teh heck out of me every time we go.  Why?  they can never resist its beauty.

Alyona, growing up way too fast.  Can you believe she's 13yo?!  She wore black feather earrings of Yana's.  Some have thought she dyed her hair.  No, just earrings w/ the hair.


Every time we go, there is never ever a shortage of food or desserts.  Kids eye those first of course.  

Some of the kids hanging out enjoying a meal together.  Actually, all a little miffed b/c I told them they had to eat something first before they ate desserts.


Alyona and Logan admiring Nana's art.  She is an artist and VERY talented.  I know I've showed her work before.  She also teaches are kids when they come to visit.
 

Nosy Nik.  Snooping for his Name on the presents.  He was teaching Summer how to do it as well.  Hey determination will pay off some day, right?


Reni enjoying a snack before opening gifts.   I'll finish part 2 up tomorrow.  Really do need to hit the hay.  Been a long day and lots to do.  Nothing more than usual though.  Ready for the weekend.  We're definitely going to make the movies...finally.  Tried 3X already.  I'm thinking it will be on dvd before we actually get to see it.  Hope your New Year is filled with joy and peace.  Ours is going to be filled with big changes I have a feeling.  Not sure what, just know changes are coming. 

Things are happening so fast

Things are truly at warp speed lately as we try to get back into the swing of things with school.  Been crazy.  We also have a house guest for a few days or however long.  A tragedy struck their family and the child is staying with us for a bit.  I don't want to go into a lot but just know we really care about the family and are praying for them during such a difficult time. 

I have tons to catch up on.  I even have a comment that I haven't posted yet.  Don't worry, I will as I intend to defend what was said.  I know I've been very open lately about our previous Russian adoptions.  That was b/c of all the media attention lately out there.  Wanted folks to know that these kids DO GREAT once home.  But again, more on that in the next few days. 

Warren and I went grocery shopping tonight.  Think BJ's is cheaper than Sam's.  For most things anyways.  Went to Hallmark.  75% off if you're wondering folks.  While there, ended up talking to a lady.  HOnestly, just casual conversation and I was asking her what it was like to have kids out of the house & married, in college, etc.  Just pleasant conversation really.  She said she really wanted to give me a gift.  I refused but she insisted.  She said she felt blessed today.  I was just taken back.  It was a gift card to Hallmark.  Thank you Maria!  Made my day and honestly, it was just fun talking to her and what it was like having kids out of the house.  You know, the next stage of our lives eventually.  Just had to share that moment. 

More going on around here for sure.  I will most definitely be calling Shriners tomorrow.  Was hoping for today but we really got into our studies.   Hey, they're paying attention, you go with it.  Leave you with a picture of some playing with a race track.  I think this and Monopoly seem to be the biggest hits.  Next post is our trip to the Grandparents (Warren's parents).  Much more to come.  For now, focusing on a few things around here.  You know  you can never totally catch up on blog posts, right?

 


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.