Friday, June 25, 2010

Like a positive test.

This week I kinda feel like we just took a pregnancy test and it was positive! Getting word that we have an approved homestudy has created a whole flurry of activity and excitement. It is like when you find out you are pregnant for the first time and you feel overwhelmed with all you have to do and get in order. Shortly after the chaos and excitement dies down a bit you realize you have 9 months to wait and that the baby isn’t coming tomorrow. That is how I feel inside right now. Like we have so much to do and so little time when in reality this is just one step in the process.

Justin keeps telling everyone that he feels we will be traveling to meet our son/daughter in August. I can’t imagine that things will move that quickly. It would be exciting if he was right, but I just can’t see that being the case.  I think a lot of folks in Russia take July and August off of work too. Not to mention that August for me (at work) is like Justin’s harvest and planting season – or like a tax season for an accountant. We also don’t want to fall into the trap of putting life off while we wait for ‘the call’. I think we need to just relax for a bit and see how this set of documents comes together. I think there is a letter of good standing for our homestudy agency that we will be waiting on so we’ll see how fast that comes in.

We have finished all of our courses now. I guess there were 11 and not 10 of them. Malnutrition was course 7. Eight was Prenatal Exposure to Drugs and Maternal Smoking. Sensory Integration Disorder was course 9. I found this statistic from a research study interesting. “Auditory and language exposure is greatly reduced in orphanages compared with families: during 4 hours of observation time, orphanage children were spoken to for 13.2 minutes vs. 166.2 minutes for family children.” And the last two courses were about Travel and Transition and Russia Specific information.

Justin and I are headed to Denver tomorrow. I have a national tech conference for work (ISTE) and Justin is going to tag along.  We are very excited to see Ryan and Sandy True on Sunday! Brady, Madison, and Blake are going to be with their grandparents until we return on Thursday. They have so many fun activities planned and their cousin Sydney is going to join them for the week. It is going to be like Grandma/Nana Camp for them. This will be a good experience for Blake to prepare him for the months to come. We will check in regularly and will miss them tons! Ok off to get the packing done and attempt to get the house in order!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Unofficially official!

My eyes are burning and I just want to lay my head down on a pillow, but a lot of exciting things happened today that I wanted to document/share.

Today I started the day with an unexpected root canal! We are now at Fun City in Burlington for two nights. Everyone is having a blast. Of course because we are away from home I am not connect to either my phone or computer all of the time and we have had a flurry of activity that I would have appreciated internet access. First we received Blake’s readoption court hearing date – July 6th. Our case worker, Carole, called and said that she received an email from DCFS. As of June 11th there was a new requirement for homestudies (just IL I think). If you have a water hazard you have to make a statement about it in the homestudy I guess. We have a pond on our property. Carole called and needed to know how many feet the pond was from our house. I of course had to call Justin as I had nooo clue how to answer the question. Turns out the ponds is at least 500 feet from the house. Carole emailed DCFS back with that information and they accepted the statement and (drum roll please….) they had no other questions!! We still have to wait for the official notification letter, but essentially today our homestudy was made unofficially official! Now there will be a flurry of paperwork for us to complete and emails back and forth between us, our homestudy agency, and placement agency. We are doing our best to stay on top of everything.

Ok my head is seriously doing the nodding thing and my eyes have fluttered a few times. I am calling it a night. We praise God for progress today!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Aren’t you excited?

A couple of different people have asked us this question in a couple of different ways. People wonder why we don’t seem as excited about this adoption as we did with Blake’s. Or why my blog entries are not as heartfelt and full of emotion. Or why we aren’t talking about it all of the time (like we did the last time). You know the phrase “ignorance is bliss.” I believe for us that is true. With Blake’s adoption we had absolutely no idea what to expect. Each and every step was a new adventure – a new hurdle. We had no idea what was ahead of us so with each hurdle we felt like the finish line what right around the corner. We eventually learned that the hurdles and hoops just keep coming and coming. Now that we have lived through that process, we are cautious to get our hopes up. There is no possible way we can function in our day to day lives if we get consumed by the emotions of this process already. We are very excited. We can’t wait to lay our eyes on the little one God is preparing for our family. But our guard is up – and it will probably stay up until we receive our referral. And even then – it will be tempting to leave the guard up because we remember all too well the heartache that comes with waiting between trips one and two.

As an example here is a blog entry from last week that I read. Now this situation may have happened before but I have never heard of this happening. This couple is adopting from a different region that we are, but still… I just can’t imagine.

Our Stories of Day-to-Day Life

Sorry for being absent for a while! Things were crazy as we appeared in court Tuesday and then had to prepare to be picked up very early on Wednesday to travel home. Essentially, we have a bit more waiting time ahead.

The judge declined to issue a final decision in our appeal to adopt. She decided she would like us to come back in a few weeks in July to meet with the girls again and for a final court date. While it was a somewhat surprising turn of events, we fully understand that things remain very sensitive and in flux with relations between the two countries because of recent events. An incredibly tough process is informally now even tougher and we have no choice but to accept the court's mandates and do whatever we need to do.

So this couple went back for their court date after months of waiting to bring their two girls home and they are told they will have to wait a bit longer. Ok I can feel my blood pressure beginning to rise as I have so much I would like to say along these lines, but now is not the time.

We have complete 5 weeks of waiting for DCFS approval of our homestudy. Perhaps another 2 weeks left for that piece. We have completed course 5 (Effects of Stress in Early Life) and course 6 (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) so that means we have 4 more to go (for now).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Let the emotions begin…

I hesitate to start this entry. I know that I am not going to be able to explain today in a way that every person reading this will understand. Lately I have shied away from real heartfelt entries because I haven’t had the time I need to sit and really try to put my feelings into words. Today is not much different, but it is important for us to document today in our adoption journey. Some of you will get it, and some of you will not. But I’ll do my best to explain.

This second adoption process so far has been just that – a process. We have been going through the paperwork motions and emotionally disconnected from what is happening thus far. We had several conversations leading up to making our decision to go through this one more time. We spent several late nights wondering about the fourth child in our family. Will it be a boy or girl? Will he/she be so open to affection like Blake? Will he/she have more attachment issues than Blake? Will he/she fit in so well to the family like Blake? Etc… Lots of wondering about the child. Once we decided to move forward, it is kind of like the focus shifted from the child to the process. I know that a HUGE part of that is a defense mechanism. We remember all too well what it was like between trip one and two and the horribleness of being separated from your child. It is easier to not let your heart begin to open up to a child you have never met. If your heart isn’t open then you don’t get sad at random times during the day wondering if he/she has had enough to eat; if he/she is rocking themselves to sleep; if the caregiver is having a good day or a bad day while caring for YOUR child. It hurts your heart when you allow yourself to open up to the idea that this whole process is about a child and not about the paperwork. With all that is going on in the business of our lives and to avoid dealing with the emotions lately, we have been thinking very little about the end result of this adoption.

Well last night we had friends over for dinner. They had not seen any of the pictures from our trip to Russia and they had asked if we would share them with them. Of course we love to do this. So we began going through the pictures. I have looked at the pictures tons of times – even recently - and have enjoyed sharing them, but I have not been emotional about them. Last night was a bit different. As I was sharing pictures of Blake with his group mates and Blake saying goodbye to his little friends, I could feel the lump in my throat developing. My heart was hurting for the little ones that were in those pictures. Thankfully once we were done with the pictures, I was able to push those feelings aside and enjoy the rest of the night.

Fast forward to today at church. The sermon today was good, but nothing specifically moving that directly correlated to the adoption or anything. But at one point toward the end I could feel myself disconnecting from what was happening around me and entering into my own little ‘world’. A peace came over me and then BAM my heart and gut just got a feeling that will be with me for some time to come. It will be here to stay until we bring our child home. It was as if God was telling me that He is ready now. I feel with 100% of my being that He has reached a decision as to what little one He has picked for our family. He is ready for us to open our hearts and begin to soften them to the idea of who this little person is. This special moment I had lasted probably less than one minute but it was very moving. Justin and I then had to go to the back of the church to get ready to help serve communion. I just had to tell him what happened. Of course I could barely get any words out as I was crying. But I summed it up by saying, I think God is ready for us now. He has the little one chosen for our family. I somewhat expected Justin to just give me a hug and a look like “yeah, ok dear whatever”. But instead he replied with “I know exactly what you mean. I can feel it too.” I absolutely love that we get to go through this journey together and that I have him as such a support.

So I must say, I am excited for this change of heart. We feel now that we will be praying each day specifically for OUR child. That we are already developing a connection that will help us get through the trying times that are to come. There is still the selfish part of me that isn’t ready for the emotions that go with getting to this stage of the adoption. This is when the waiting begins to get unbearable; when the patience for paperwork process is almost non-existent; when the wondering about the emotional and physical well being of OUR child can be enough to push me to tears at any given time.

God is good though and He knows us better than we even know ourselves. His timing will be impeccable and for some reason today is important to Him and to us in this journey. Let the emotions begin!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Crazy Busy

We have been so busy lately.  I hope to have time soon to update our private blog with great pictures.  We have wrapped up another school year, Blake has started summer speech therapy, we co-hosted my mom's family reunion, we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary, I started a woman's bible study, etc... We have been waiting for DCFS approval on our homestudy for just over three weeks now so in theory in the next two weeks or so we should have our approval....

Course 4 of 10 complete.  It was entitled "Effects of Institutionalization"  and here is a little exerpt from the course. Something to think about....
"Even children in clean, well-kept orphanages with lots of toys and games suffer from a scarcity of experiences of the outside world. Most have never been off the grounds of the orphanages (except perhaps for frightening trips to the hospital where they may be abandoned without familiar caregivers for weeks or months). Children lack the experience of going to parks, stores and different homes and of the life of their village or town. Indeed, many exist as virtual prisoners of the orphanage.Perhaps the most critical risk faced by institutionalized children is emotional neglect. Caregivers of young infants may all wear masks, depriving children of the experience of seeing human faces. Depression is common in orphanages. In virtually all institutional settings, children lack a one-to-one or 'primary' caretaker. A common schedule for caregivers is a 24-hour shift every 3 or 4 days. Thus, each day the child is faced with a different caregiver's style of feeding, baths, bedtime and emotional responses. As a result, the child experiences inconsistent responses to his or her needs. The problem is exacerbated by the common practice in most orphanages of moving children from group to group, depending on age and developmental skills. Thus, when the child learns to sit, he is taken from caregivers he has known and loved for many months. When the child walks, he is moved again."