Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Your Questions Answered

I asked on my facebook if people had questions they've been dying to have answered.  I only got a few but they are all pretty good ones:

But have you ever had a moment of panic and been like, what have I done? Can I really do this? Aaaaaah?
Yes.  For sure!  I had a lot of those thoughts during the process.  Usually, as I was falling asleep at night, I'd have those thoughts.  After all, I knew that my life was going to COMPLETELY change.  
The entire trip to Colombia is a blur to me.  I know that every time I took the next step, I had to take deep breaths and make myself relax.  I don't think I even spoke to the friend that took me to the airport.  Each time I boarded a new plane, I had to calm myself down again.  I wondered if I was ruining my life and if it was too late to back out.  
The biggest panic moment was the morning that I was going to meet Sara.  I had a dream the night before that I found out she was HIV positive and it freaked me out. I know that some people are more than willing to adopt a child with HIV.  It's just not something I'm comfortable with.  I honestly thought about backing out that morning.  
I will say, that since I've had Sara with me, I haven't had those thoughts.  I had moments in Colombia where I wondered if I could go home and come back for her when the paperwork was done.  (Moments. I wouldn't have left her there.)  Since we've been home, though, I've had no doubts.  None.  

Single mom becomes parent for the first time and choose special needs adoption...that sounds like Lifetime more than real life...Does it look/feel like you thought it would?  Harder?  Easier? 
I love this question because it never seemed like a "dramatic" choice to me.  I have 2 brothers with special needs and I've been teaching Special Ed for longer than I want to admit here.  I've said for years that if God blessed me with a child with DS, I wouldn't be sad.  I just didn't know at the time that this would be how he would bless me.  A few years ago, I did all kinds of research trying to figure out how to adopt a child with DS domestically.  I got frustrated with dead ends.  Not until I discovered Reece's Rainbow did I start to understand how God will fulfill my desire for a child with DS.  
I would probably say that overall it's easier than I thought I would be.  I teach at a private special education school.  I work with kids whose disabilities are significant enough that they can't be served in the public school.  Because of that, I tend to lose sight of typical development and the fact that all disabilities have a spectrum of ability.  Sara is smart.  She can do things that I've been trying to teach my 20 year old students for years.  She sees something once and she gets it.  She's so much more independent than I thought she would be.  She's so incredibly sweet and loving.  She's more amazing than I ever would have imagined.  
I think the part that is harder than I thought it would be is leaving her.  I hate going to work.  I hate dropping her off at the babysitter.  (She has a couple of GREAT sitters!)  I hate that she goes to school every day and I'm not there to see it.  I've been surprised how much I genuinely miss her when I'm at work.  I'm so glad she loves people and loves school but it breaks my heart a little bit each day when she gives me a kiss and shuts the door at the sitter's house.  I've never been so glad to be a teacher.  Is it summer yet?  

How is she going to learn English?  
She only hears English at the babysitter, church and school.  She's getting speech and ESL services at school.  I still mostly speak Spanish to her but she hears me speak English to others all the time.  I've gone back and forth with whether or not I will try to maintain her Spanish.  I'd like her to be bilingual and keep that part of her heritage but I'm not sure how realistic that is since Speech is her biggest struggle.  

How on target is she developmentally?  
That's a great question and something I'm still wondering myself.  I know that she's developing very well for a little girl who has had very limited services and no parenting.  She is very independent and physically developing very well for a 4 year old with DS.  She has very limited basic knowledge, though.  I'm not sure if anyone ever sat down with her and tried to teach her things like shapes and colors.  
Language is her biggest struggle---both the English piece and just speech in general.  She has about 20 words/phrases in Spanish.  A lot of kids with DS develop speech later than their typical peers so I'm not worried by that number.  I can't wait to see where she is when she learns English and has had some intensive therapy.   She's been talking so much more since she started school.  The problem right now is that it's not in English or Spanish.  I think she's still trying to figure this multiple language thing out.  
She also has some pretty significant vision issues.  I can't help but wonder if she doesn't know things like letters, numbers, colors, and shapes because she just can't see the differences with her vision problems.  I'm hoping her glasses will increase her development drastically!  
So, ask me this question again in a month or two.

Do you feel like she knows who you are?  Obviously she calls you "mama" but do you think she's emotionally attaching to you and is aware that "this person loves me and is going to be here for the rest of my life?"
Good question.  She doesn't actually call me "mama."  M is one of the sounds that she struggles with.  (They are working on it in speech.)   She calls me Papa or Tia.  
I do think she is attaching to me.  She is excited to see me when I pick her up at the sitter or from church.  If she's in a group, she will run and play but comes back and checks in every few minutes.  If she's hurt or upset, I'm the one she seeks out.  
I hope she knows that I love her.   I tell her multiple times a day in both English and Spanish.  Even if she doesn't understand that, I do think she understands I'm a secure place for her.  
I don't think she knows that I will be here for the rest of her life.  I don't know that she grasps that concept.  I am her fifth "placement" in her 4 1/2 years of life.  How could you develop a concept of forever when nothing in your life has lasted more than a year?  

The last question was a Day in Our Lives.  I'll save that one for the next post.

If you have other questions, post them here and I'll answer them in another post.  I really want this blog to be a good resource for other families.  I'm willing to answer the tough questions if it helps another family be prepared for life after adoption.  (I will not, however, entertain mean spirited or hurtful questions.) 

And just for the fun of it---a whole bunch of pictures of Sara sleeping.