Friday, May 28, 2010

Course 2 and 3 done

We have completed the Behavioral and Mental Disorders course as well as the Culture and Identity course. We didn’t really find anything overly interesting to share. Of course these are important topics, but we didn’t learn anything new and nothing stood out to us.

We are looking forward to the Memorial Day weekend. Justin and I are taking a short train trip up to Chicago on Sunday morning to see college friends and attend a Rooftop Party for the Cubs vs. Cardinals game and will return on the morning train on Monday. It will be a quick trip but fun. Hopefully I will get some good pictures to post on our other blog this weekend.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

First Course Done

We have the Attachment and Bonding course completed. Although we knew the following information, to see it in writing with numbers attached is sad. “In one study, it was estimated that by the age of 2 years, the child in a well-staffed orphanage has encountered 20 different caregivers; by 4 years, 40 caregivers and by 8 years, 80 different caregivers.” Keep in mind those statistics are for a well-staffed orphanage, not ones with high turnover rate which would be even worse.

The other topic of interest in this course that we have known about, but we still find relevant to us right now was the section on Indiscriminate Friendliness. “Indiscriminate friendliness is common among post-institutionalized children. Indiscriminate friendliness must be differentiated from sociability or gregariousness, also common in post-institutionalized children. Indiscriminately friendly children respond to any adult as long as their needs and wishes are met: one person can easily replace another. For children living in institutional care, indiscriminate friendliness has adaptive advantages. Seventy-one percent of parents of longer-institutionalized children described them as overly friendly; 90% reported little or no improvement in this behavior with time. It is possible that this behavior may have been reinforced by both parents and strangers early after the adoption. Children with more signs of indiscriminate friendliness were more likely to have been favorites in the orphanage, which suggests the adaptive nature of this behavior.” (information taken from the course)

We have been working with Blake on knowing the difference between the relationship he has with us vs. his relationship other adults. The text above is correct that early on when returning home this indiscriminate friendly behavior is reinforced. People love how friendly Blake is and they are drawn to him because he returns their friendliness. It is weird for us to have to be deliberate about teaching a child not to be so friendly. We usually spend so much time telling them to be nice, be kind, etc… Thankfully Justin and I have seen some breakthroughs lately with Blake, but there are moments still when he is overly friendly with some people and it makes us uncomfortable. We talk a lot about the difference between love and like. Early on there was an instance where we were walking through a parking lot. Blake asked a lady we do not know, “What are you doing?” Being kind the lady stopped and talked with us. Then Blake followed up with more questions that I can’t remember. When we had walked away, I simply asked Blake, “Why were you asking that lady so many questions?” His response was, "Because I love her." From that moment on, we have been much more intentional about dealing with the issue of ‘indiscriminate friendliness’. While it is counterintuitive for us to encourage him to put up barriers we know that this is in everyone’s best interest in the long run. We continue to make progress and this is positive. Of course this leads to another blog post for the future…. Apprehensions about adoption number two – trip number two – more about that later.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

10 more hours – we won’t be dumber I guess!

(I apologize now if this gets confusing. Welcome to the world of Russian adoptions.)

So after our homestudy was sent to DCFS for approval last week, we thought we would not work on any of the adoption ‘stuff’ for a bit. From the timeline we had in our head, our papers (aka dossier) wouldn’t be sent to Russia anyway until after we got our immigration approval back. And we can’t get immigration approval until we have our biometric fingerprints taken. And we can’t have our fingerprints taken until they schedule our appointment. And they can’t schedule our appointment until they have our homestudy which is sitting on someone’s desk for approval. Makes perfect sense right?!?

Well that timeline was used by our previous agency. Apparently our dossier will be sent over to Russia as soon as the homestudy is approved. The immigration approval just has to be done before trip number 2. Keep in mind the last time our dossier was sent to Russia we had Blake’s referral within one week. We know that was God’s timing and not the norm. We fully expect that wait to be much longer this go around. BUT we better be prepared to expect the unexpected as well. DCFS is averaging 4-6 weeks to approve homestudies plus there will be a little time to get everything sent to World Links. It is possible that we could get a referral as early as August! Wow - that is a huge wakeup call. Exciting but we have a lot to do to get everything in order. Of course there are a million and one things that can go wrong in all of this and that is the NORM, but we better get our rears in gear!

The other thing we learned yesterday is that we have to have 10 more education hours. My initial reaction was complete annoyance. We went through all of the information less than two years ago and the majority of the online classes we will have to take are 3 or more years old! But as a good friend of mine says “we won’t be dumber” for rereading the information. I actually decided it may even be interesting to reread some of it and see how it applied to Blake now that we have been through some of the stages. (Wow – look at that attitude change! I highly recommend the book Lord, Change My Attitude!)

So instead of taking a break, Justin and I will spend late nights in front of our laptops completing our online course and playing the never-ending what if game. You would think by now that we would learn our lesson that we can’t predict what God’s timing is going to be. For some reason we still feel the need to try to stay one step ahead of Him. Nothing like setting yourself up for failure!

Overall we are super excited about what lies ahead!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Answer to readoption question.

I wish I had more time to blog. I have lots I’d like to catch everyone up on. But I did want to reply to a question that we got. Unfortunately when people leave a comment you can’t just reply to the comment through here. Anyway the question was whether or not readoption waives the post placement reports that Russia requires. The answer to that is no. The post placement reports are still required regardless of the readoption process.

We have already been assigned a judge and Blake was assigned an attorney. To be honest, I don’t even know if he has to actually ‘meet’ the attorney. They have a right to meet him, but I think it is just a formality. I don’t have a real good handle on this process yet. But we did also get notice that our current homestudy is acceptable for the court hearing so it is still looking promising that we won’t have to provide a whole slew of new documents.

Perhaps tomorrow I will have a second to update you on a few items we have learned regarding our current process. It is nothing too exciting, but movement in the right direction.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Well we have one week down of waiting for approval of our homestudy.

In other news, we finally got our act together to go through the process of re-adopting Blake. Our petition for the court was filed today and we will be served the official notice this afternoon. It is my understanding that the process ‘should’ be rather simple, but we have learned to expect the unexpected. If we are assigned a judge that wants to make this difficult we could have lots of paperwork to complete. Readoption is not required in Illinois as it is in some other states. There a few reasons for going through the process. The number one reason for us is to obtain a U.S. birth certificate aka “A Record of Foreign Birth”. This is desirable because if we lose the foreign birth certificate we would have to travel back to Russia to get a new one. Once they get a Record of Foreign birth we can always get another one. Additionally it is easier to deal with schools when you have the English Record of Foreign birth and are not handing them copies of documents from Russia or divulging personal information that Blake may not want shared with the public. Plus think of all of the reasons you need to provide a certified copy of your birth certificate. We need to make this easy for him. Another reason is jurisdiction. In the very unlikely event there is a problem with the foreign judgment a U.S. court is now involved and would have some jurisdiction over the matter. A third reason is Full Faith and Credit: Not all states recognize foreign adoption judgments but they would have to recognize an Illinois one and give it full faith and credit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Joint Body? hmmmm

Moscow, Russia (CNN) -- A draft agreement on international adoptions between the United States and Russia will be finalized by Friday, Moscow's children's rights commissioner said Wednesday.

After it is finalized, the agreement will be forwarded to the Russian Health and Education ministries and the Cabinet of Ministers, said the commissioner, Pavel Astakhov. If approved by the Cabinet, a signing date will be scheduled, he said. The final copy would be signed by Russia's Education Ministry and the U.S. State Department or Department of Justice, he said.
Under the proposed agreement, the number of U.S. adoption agencies dealing with Russian children will be reduced, he said.

"We will reduce the number of U.S. adoption agencies accredited in Russia," Astakhov said. Only those agencies that are accredited in the United States and compliant with the requirements of the Hague Convention on international adoptions will be allowed to continue working in Russia, he said.

In addition, he said, "independent adoptions" will be abolished altogether. The draft agreement envisions setting up a joint Russian-American body with the authority to check out any U.S. family adopting a Russian child, Astakhov said.

High-level meetings between the two nations on adoptions followed an uproar after a Tennessee woman sent the young Russian boy she had recently adopted back to Russia unaccompanied.

Any comments on what we may possibly think of a "joint Russian-American body with the authority to check out any U.S. family adopting a Russian child"?!?!  I kinda thought that was what we are going through now. We have never been fingerprinted more, had more pictures taken of our home, seen our doctor while feeling perfectly healthy, etc... etc...  I am willing to jump through hoops, but I fear how high the hoops will be placed and how many more we will be challenged with.  ~Perserverance! ~

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Now what happens?

Here's the timeline for the next few weeks -- Homestudy is sent to us the first part of next week for our review and feedback. After that, it is signed and sent to the Lifelink director in Chicago. Then it will probably take about a week to get it there, have the director review it, and send it on to DCFS. DCFS has been taking approximately 4-6 weeks to add their letter of endorsement. It will then be sent back to Carole in Peoria. At that point, Carole can have World Links take a look at the homestudy to make sure there are no major changes (DCFS requires that their letter of endorsement be issued before the placing agency may view the study, even as a rough draft). After World Links approves the homestudy, it will be ready to go to immigration. At this point, we would guess 6-8 weeks for all of this???

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I just knew it!!!

Today, May 6th, marks the one year anniversary of Blake becoming a US citizen. We landed in Atlanta, Georgia one year ago and after a three hour delay finally made it to the Moline, IL airport where Blake finally met Brady and Madison face to face! Also today is the national day of prayer. I had on my calendar to call and check on our FBI fingerprint clearances today. I told myself this morning that I should just wait until tomorrow to call because I had a good feeling today was going to be another special day for us. And guess what?!?!? Justin and I both got our FBI fingerprint clearances back today! I love how God likes to give us little surprises to keep us on the right path and energize us for the next phase of hurdles!
So what does this mean? Our homestudy will now be able to be sent to the state to be made officially official. I plan to find out tomorrow what the average ‘wait’ time is for that. Then another slew of paperwork can be done. We learned long ago to celebrate each successful step of this journey and that is what we are doing this evening!

One step closer….

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Another interesting article

This is an interesting article.  Also within the article there is a link to a segment on the Today Show which is interesting.  I find the beginning minute or so of that segment completely maddening!! 

NYT: Russia orphanage offers love, not families - The New York Times-

Perhaps an insightful comment from the article is this quote from an advocacy group chairman...

“The system has one goal, which is to preserve itself,” said Boris L. Altshuler, chairman of Right of the Child, an advocacy group in Moscow, and a member of a Kremlin advisory group.

That is why the process of adoption in Russia is like going through the circles of hell,” he said. “The system wants these children to remain orphans.”