Friday, May 14, 2010

Mixed News

The Good News: we have been formally accepted by our chosen adoption agency.  We received conditional approval earlier this week but needed to get a letter from the agency we had previously signed up with for Russia.  This all happened today.

The Other News: our 6 year old was diagnosed a few months ago with something called Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (HEDS) at the Connective Tissue Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).  This is an inherited soft tissue disorder which, in our son's case, causes joint instability, fatigue and pain.  We returned to CHOP yesterday for a full evaluation with physical and occupational therapy, and it turns out he's got some skin issues also, namely his skin is very stretchy and doesn't heal well. He also needs to wear custom braces (instead of the inserts he's wearing currently) that will come up over his ankles.  Actually, I think he's going to love them - he cinches his shoes so tightly that he wrecks them all and these orthotics are designed to fit very tightly.  They also come in cool colors and designs. 

The biggest problem, for him, is that there are certain activities that are restricted - his favorite being gymnastics which, being so flexible, he's extremely good at.  But we need to protect his joints and take care not to stretch out his ligaments any more than they already are.  He was upset during the appointment, largely because he felt a little scared, then cried at home because, in his own words, "I wish I didn't have these problems." 

Reaching this diagnosis has been a long journey for our family, where we've picked up various other diagnosis (some accurate, others not) along the way.  The good news, I think, is that the various symptoms and behaviors we've experienced over Thomas' 6 years are all interwoven with EDS.  Having this diagnosis gives us knowledge and knowledge is power.  Plus, we now have a professional support system at CHOP (1 hour from home) that we can call upon at any time. 

Back to the school district we go, probably for a 504 plan...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

I was privileged to witness something very special on Friday at my son's school. The children put on a Mother's Day celebration and watching my son smiling at me, wanting me to watch his every move, brought tears to my eyes and set me up for a very moving moment - watching my friend and her adopted daughter. This little girl, adopted from Russia, was singing directly to her Mom with her hand on her heart, while the Mom wore her heart on her sleeve. Things can so easily be very different for all these children brought home from institutions.

"We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands." Kristi Larson

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bulgarian Adoption - Early Process

Here's where we're at: Our doctor needs to sign approval letters for our new adoption agency - hopefully we'll get these later today. The letters are required as part of the pre-application. Once we're confident that the agency will accept us as clients, we'll complete the application form. Our expected time line, in as much detail as facts allow, looks something like this:

Completion of Home Study and Dossier: 3 Months (we've made a good start here)
National Benefit Center Approval to Adopt: 3 Months
Dossier to Bulgaria for Translation: A few weeks
Registry with Bulgarian Ministry of Justice: Who Knows?
Referral: Around the length of 2 or 3 back-to-back pregnancies.

The key is to be very, very patient! And perhaps enjoy looking at photos of Bulgaria, as in the above street scene.

I'm optimistic that we might be registered prior to the end of this year. The good news is that time is on our side, as it would be helpful to have both our children (ages 6 and 4) in full time school when we bring our new child(ren) home.

This is so exciting!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Now to tell the boys...

The time came to tell the boys of our decision, and hopefully, enthuse them about the prospect of adopting. We'd do it sensitively, gradually, bit by bit, I told myself. Instead, I sat down at the dinner table and blurted it right out. Chris grinned at the boys in the way one might after winning the lottery. "Adopt what?" Matthew the four year old asked. Thomas didn't say anything. We explained that as we already have two boys in the house, it would be fun to have a little girl. "A girl!" Matthew spluttered. Thomas, aged six and Alpha Child, announced that he'd rather have a puppy. "Yeah," Matthew said, "but you have to have a fence for a puppy!" We agreed that we'd need a fence for a puppy and I suggested that we might need some gates in the house for a baby girl.

"A baby," Thomas groaned, as though he was sucking a lemon. "You've got to be kidding me. Come on!" His eyes met mine with a wild kind of desperation and I said we're not kidding. Then I smiled because this could be going an awful lot worse.

"I like playing with kidth," Matthew conceded through his lisp. "But not girlth. Maria'th a girl as she'th adopted and she dwiveth me cwazy." Matthew adores his Russian adopted friend just two houses up from us. We explained a little about some children not have parents and living in orphanages. Matthew couldn't comprehend life without a Mommy and Daddy but said, "Well, maybe we could get a girl and a puppy dog."

"Okay," Thomas sighed, visibly shaken by the concept of not having parents and living in a noisy orphanage with lots of other kids running around. "I guess it would be good to adopt a little girl - but not a baby!" He quietly finished his meal while his 4 year old brother climbed all over me, wiping rice and beans on my clothes. "Oh, Mom," Thomas said, getting up to put his plate by the sink. "We need to ask Santa to bring another remote for the Wii."

"Why?" I asked, waiting for a story about what Matthew did wrong while Thomas tried to stop him, but couldn't because Matthew doesn't listen and he was bouncing around and standing on his toes like he shouldn't.

"For the girl," Thomas said.

We're going to adopt from Bulgaria

After several months of intermittent discussions, we have decided to adopt. Our first plan was to adopt from Russia, and I spent hours brainstorming titles for our new Russian Adoption Blog. We started the home study and even signed up with an agency. Then, on the very day the first draft of our home study was forwarded to us, a US mother sent her 7 year old adopted son back to Moscow unaccompanied. I cried off and on for several days while we came up with a Plan B. We researched various countries and decided that Bulgaria is a very attractive option for us. We're in the process of signing up with a different agency (our original agency operated only in Russia). Our home study will need to be re-written, incurring additional fees, but we feel very optimistic about our decision. Bulgaria, here we come... (eventually, as the process can take an awfully long time, but patience is a virtue)