Sunday, June 30, 2013


I found out a few weeks ago that Sara's orphanage closed.  It made me really sad but I couldn't figure out why.  I visited the orphanage briefly but I didn't really have any emotional connection to it.  Sara hadn't been there very long.  It's not like she had spent most of her young life there.  But still, it made me sad.

I touched on the history of adoption in Colombia here.  Basically, during the 80s and 90s (and into this century), Colombia was a baby factory for families in Europe (and some in the US) seeking to adopt infants.  Private adoption houses were created.  Pregnant young and/or poor women could come to the house and receive room, board, and medical treatment.  Their babies were then adopted out to foreign families.  These adoption houses could conduct private adoptions separate from the social service agency.  Most of them had (and still have) private foundations that support them.  

While I won't get into Sara's social history here (some things are only for her mama to know and be heartbroken over), I will say that she was moved to one of these private adoption houses in order to find her a family.  (It worked!)   In the middle of my process, her house lost its license due to some financial indiscretions.  I was able to complete her adoption through social services but her house was not allowed to complete any more private adoptions.   I was told at the time that social services was taking over the house and children in their care would continue to reside there and be placed there.  

A few weeks ago, I asked the agency about another little boy with Down Syndrome that was in Sara's orphanage.  They told me that the orphanage had been closed and that all the children had been moved.  They no longer have his file so they are not sure where he was transferred.  I didn't make a big deal about the closing but it did make me really sad.  We were at my parents at the time so I didn't really have time to figure it out.  

A few days later, Sara and I attended a fundraiser for a great grant organization that helped us out with travel expenses.  (I could write a whole post about that.  They kept thanking us for coming.  I went to thank THEM!)  One of the questions they asked was about the timing of the adoption.  What would it have meant to Sara if the adoption had been stalled because of a lack of funds?  I hadn't thought about it until then but it suddenly came to me:  She would have moved AGAIN.  The orphanage closed 3 months after we got home.  If I had hit any more snags; If I had waited to commit; If I had to wait for grant funds; If I had to wait for loan approval; If, if if....  If the timing had been a little different, my poor baby would have moved again.  She would have left behind everything and everyone she knew days or weeks or months before leaving it all again to move in with her mom.  

Sara is very adaptable.  She will go anywhere with anyone.  I used to think this was a good thing.  (It's great that your child gets on the bus and doesn't cry or stays with a baby sitter, right?)  Now, I'm realizing it's another sign of her young life.  She has moved a lot.  A lot for a four year old.  She is used to going with new people to new places.  

I had to list all the addresses I've lived at in the last 25 years for part of the adoption process.  The list was so long.  It was almost embarrassing.  The difference is that I always moved with my family.  She has moved alone from place to place.  She has given up everything she knows countless times.  I am so glad to know that if she ever moves again, she will move with her family.

I'm so grateful that Sara came home before the orphanage closed.  My heart breaks for all those other children that had to move again.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Our Week in Western New York

Now that I know that I can get my blog printed in a book, I'm determined to update more.  I haven't scrapbooked in forever.  Maybe this will be a good way to document our lives.  

We got back yesterday from a week in NY.  The original plan was to fly in on Father's Day and surprise my dad and then stay through my brother's graduation.  The surprise element got ruined the day before we arrived which was kind of okay since we had just been there about 3 days before.  Talk about anti-climactic!

I always seem to think that 7AM flights are a good idea when I book them.  

Sunday evening we went to see Uncle Rob and Uncle George play baseball.  

Nana and Grandpa are always good for some ice cream.

Monday night we went to see a local community theater group put on Charlotte's Web.  Sara did a really good job.  She clapped and laughed with everyone else.  (She thinks that the chairs are just for decoration but she stays in her spot in front of her seat.)  She really wanted go on stage and dance with the cast at the end.  I was so happy when the goose came and danced with her as the cast was leaving.  

None of the fun things we wanted to do were open early in the week so we ended up killing some time at the mall.  She didn't want any help with her lunch.  She's so independent!!  It takes her absolutely forever to eat, though.  She usually does her best eating in the car on the way home.

On Wednesday we went to Hidden Valley Animal Adventure.  (It was fun to do something I haven't done before.)   
She wasn't scared of the big animals at all.  
The petting zoo was another story.  I ended up carrying her through most of it.  
If there is music, she has to dance--even if you happen to be in the middle of a restaurant.

On Thursday, Sara got to hang out with her cousins at the Strong Museum of Play.  
Grace tried to show Sara all her favorite spots.  Sara really prefers to explore on her own terms.  
Her first carousel ride.  She loved it.  She giggled the entire time.  Too bad she wouldn't let mom touch the horse!

On Friday, we went to The Sandbox to play with our friend Claudia and her mommy.  
The girls both loved it but tended to keep a safe distance between each other.
I've been on a mission to get a good pic of the two since they met in Bogota.  I don't think it's ever going to happen.  Maybe when they are 10.

My Dad's company was holding a Kids N Calves photo contest.  We thought we could get a pretty good picture of Sara so we set off to a farm that had a red holstein calf.  She was really excited until she actually got near the calves.  Then, we learned how fast she can run.  (Maybe we don't need all those PT minutes after all!)  
This ended up being the best picture we could get after a lot of coaxing.  We entered it anyway with a little blurb about her story.  I found out today that we were one of the winners!  (I kind of think everyone won.)  

Saturday was my little brother's graduation.  I cannot believe that he is 18 and a high school graduate!  I am so glad I was there to see him walk across the stage.  (He pretended he didn't care but we all know the truth.)  
I don't even want to think about this!  I can't even bring myself to send her to kindergarten.  I may never let her graduate.

Sunday morning brought another early morning flight back home.  Sara travels really, really well.  However, traveling alone with her confirms my decision to keep to one kid right now.  I struggle to manage a stroller and a suitcase.  (And she will be staying in the stroller for some time.  The TSA people in the stroller/wheelchair line are so much nicer than the other lines!)

Now it's time to unpack and do laundry so we can be ready for our next adventure.  Summer vacation is exhausting!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

FAQs from Single Women Considering Adoption

Can I just start by saying that I think it's absolutely crazy that people read this blog.  I am not an expert by any means.  I never set out to be.  I started the blog to keep my friends and family updated on my process.  (I'm pretty sure that my mom was the only one that read it for quite a while.)  I just wanted to get my feelings and thoughts out "on paper" so I could look back later.  Somewhere along the way, people started caring what I had to say.  Not tons of people but enough strangers that it puzzles me.  

I have no education related to adoption or attachment or single parenting.  I don't even really read that much about such things.  I just know what my experience has been.  And I know that I spend a lot of time thinking about things and sometimes I just have to get it out.  

I'm sure there are people that don't agree with anything I have to say.  I know that there are people out there that think they know what I will do or say in a certain situation.  (Hi to those at the anti-adoption sites that think they know me!)  I also know that I don't have all the answers and that I'm not always right.  Sometimes, I write things that I really believe.  Then, people push back and I change my mind.  I welcome intelligent dialog.  (I don't welcome bullying or mean-spirited-ness.)  I hope that the posts that I write about what I believe and think will cause others to think about what they believe---whether or not we agree!  

I've been getting emails and questions from single women who are considering adoption for quite a while now.  This week alone, I've been emailing with two women who have followed the blog.  I love this part of the process!  I didn't really know anyone in my exact situation when I was going through the process.  I love that I can be a resource to these women.  I also love the blunt posts I've written so they know it isn't all fun and games.    Just in case there are more of you out there, here are the FAQs I've been getting.  

What you wish you would have known? 
I wish I had known that mothers of small children were not exaggerating about how hard it is.  I always thought they were kind of silly when they got excited about going to Target alone or whined about not being able to go to the bathroom alone.  Sara does not leave my side.  Tonight, I was trying to put away laundry up stairs.  I put a movie in for Sara down stairs.  She wouldn't stay down there.  She followed me around with the DVD case asking to watch a movie.  Parenting is hard.  Single parenting is even harder.  

I know you can make choices for good odds that you've chosen a child who can attach over time, who can transition into school, whose medical conditions are somewhat stable but how do you get over the fear of something devastating and unexpected? Something about their behavior or health that will make it impossible for you to both parent this child and earn an income? Something that really requires a SAHP.  How do you work through that fear when you absolutely, positively must have a paying career in order to feed and clothe your new child?
Well that is a super-loaded question.  Wow.  I'm not sure I honestly thought about things that way.  I did intentionally choose a child that did not have significant medical issues.  I knew that after the process and travel, I wouldn't have sick time left for a long hospital stay.  (I also wasn't sure my child's open heart surgery was something I could survive alone.)  I have a job that has been very understanding.  (My supervisor is great and my staff have really stepped up and covered for me over the last year.)  I know that if I really, really had to, I could move back in with my parents.  (I'm sure my mom will attest to that in the comment section.)   I'm not one to think about the worst case scenario.  I am a realist but I don't sit around thinking about things like "what if my kids gets cancer."  Any child could end up in a really hard situation that required a parent to quit their job--adopted or biological.  This is where my faith comes in. I believe that God will provide for my child and I in one way or another.  

 I want to know how you deal with other kids at home when you're travelling? And when the new child/ren come home? In a 2 parent home, you can share one-on-one time with each child by having the other parent watch the rest; that's not an option when it's just you.
I don't have a great answer for this one.  Right now, I just have Sara.  I have toyed with the idea of adopting another one right away but I know that wouldn't be fair to Sara.  (I so have my eye on one, though.)  I know that I wouldn't be able to give Sara and another child the attention that they need right now.  Not until Sara is more settled and mature.  I need her to be secure in her position in this family before I introduce anyone else.  
When/if the time comes, I would take Sara with me.  I would most likely adopt from Colombia or another Latin American country again.  I would only consider a country that would allow me to take Sara with me.  I feel like that would be very important for both Sara and the potential new child.  

Which countries are ok with single mom's adopting? 
I've looked for an official list of countries and I can't find one.  This is my favorite website for current programs.  Obviously, Colombia is okay with it.  I also know that Peru, Bulgaria and China are open to single women.    

What other restrictions do they put on single mom's? 

The process is the same for single women and couples.  It might even be a little easier single and definitely cheaper.  I only had to get one birth certificate, no marriage certificate, one set of background clearances, one psych eval, etc.  Those things all add up!  Oh, and only one plane ticket! 

Are the income guidelines the same? 

The income guidelines are the same except you have one less person in the home.  So, a single woman working full time actually has to make less than a two parent family where only one parent works.  So, with Sara, there are two of us in the household so I needed to make more than $19,388.  If I was married, there would be 3 of us so we would need an income of $24,413.  I got those numbers here.  

What if you are divorced or have other children at home? Does that have any effect on adoping internationally as a single mom?

Each country has their own rules about the number of children and divorce history.  Neither of those things will disqualify you completely but they may limit the countries you can choose.  (I know that Colombia only allows one divorce.)  

When did you decide that you were "ready" to adopt? This has been the hardest question for me to answer as a single mom, so I would be interested to hear your take on it. 
For years, I have said that if I had a child with Down syndrome, I would not be sad at all.  The older I got, the more I thought that might be a reality.  I looked into domestic adoption quite a few times throughout the years.  My internet bookmarks were full of adoption listings, agencies, and information.  I had written off international adoption as being too expensive.  When I found Reece's Rainbow in December 2011, it was the answer I was looking for.  I committed in January 2012.  I had thought about it for years; I owned a home; I had worked at the same place for years; I had tried living in a foreign country; I had done almost every thing I wanted to do except be a mom.  (That's how I tend to do things.  I make a decision and act.)

I know that there are a lot of young women out there that want to adopt as soon as they turn 25.  I'm going to say something right now that you might now want to hear:  WAIT!  Live a little first.  Yes.  You can still have a life with a child but it's not the same.  Experience things.  Live!  You'll be a much better mom if you've traveled and explored and experienced as much as possible.  Make sure you've "sown your wild oats" (whatever that looks like for you) so you don't regret your decision later.  For me, that meant moving to Mexico.  It didn't work out but I'm so glad I did it before I had my child.  Now I know!  

When you first starting looking at children, did you have certain "qualifications" or "characteristics" you were searching for or did you see Sara and just know she was yours? 
I almost feel bad to answer this but I did have some criteria.  
*I was looking for a child that was at least 3 so they could be in school at least part time.  (I was quite worried about child care.)  
*I only looked at girls.  (I can teach a girl to be a woman.  I don't know how to teach a boy how to be a man.)  
*I wanted a child without heart conditions.  I knew that I wouldn't have the sick time or the stamina to deal with an open heart surgery on my own after an adoption.  
*I speak Spanish so I wanted a child from Latin America.  I have traveled and lived in LA so I wasn't worried about the travel and I thought my knowledge of Spanish would make the transition easier for both of us.  
I know that some people see pictures and just know that this is their child.  It wasn't like that for me.  I inquired about another child but she had a family about to commit to her.  (I know her family and love them!)  RR was just getting ready to post Sara and sent me her info.  I read through her file and thought that she sounded like what I was looking for but I wasn't completely convinced based just on her picture.  It took me a little while to "fall in love" with her.  (Maybe it was because she didn't look like the Latin American child I had pictured in my head?)  The more I read about her and got to know about her, the more I loved her and figured out she was perfect for me.  

As a single mom, any advice/tips on not letting the doubts/what ifs take over?
I will definitely say that I thought of all the "what ifs" probably 6 nights a week.  I thought about it when I would go to bed at night. As long as I stayed busy, I was ok. When it got quite and dark at night, I really, really doubted myself.
The biggest thing that kept me going was the fact that I had so much support. All of my friends and family were convinced I was doing the right thing. No one ever told me the things that I was thinking in my head. 
I still have the occasional day when I wonder if I have ruined my life---usually it's when I'm tired and she's crabby. I wouldn't change a thing.  My life completely and utterly changed.  That's very different from ruined.  I think the biggest encouragement to me is the fact that when I express doubts, I get so many comments from my friends that they feel the same way. Every mom has her own doubts. Every mom has days she wishes she could escape.  Those thoughts aren't exclusive to single moms or adoptive moms.  Those are mom thoughts. 

A specific question I had during my last home study was about the child care plan. While I have sufficient income for a babysitter, after school program, etc...I was wondering about the logistics of arranging care for a special needs child and how easy/or not this is in reality?
This was definitely one of my biggest concerns going in.  I had no idea how to arrange day care for any child.  I looked into some day cares around my house a little bit before committing.  (Mostly checked out websites and reviews.)  The day care issues was one of the reasons that I was only looking into children at least 3 years old.  Then I knew they would be in school at least half of the day.
I don't really have a good answer to this question because I have been very blessed with child care.  I have a friend who is a former special education teacher who now stays home with her own sons.  She came to my house and OFFERED to watch Sara about a week after I committed to adopt her.  We live in the same suburb so the bus picks Sara up at her house for school and everything.  It's the perfect situation.  I even have another former special ed teacher who lives in the same town and does back-up babysitting when the regular sitter can't.
I know that not everyone has this situation.  I would suggest looking into family or friends.  I don't know how welcoming day care centers are to children with special needs.  There are also respite situations available to families of children with special needs but that won't cover day-to-day care.

I am wondering how people responded to your decision to adopt?  How did you deal with the negative comments? 

I started by sharing my idea with other moms who had adopted and other single moms.  I wanted to get their perspectives.  They all said it was incredibly hard but worth it.  I then talked to my closest friends and family.  Other than one person, they were all very positive.  (That one person seems to have come around now.)  I honestly thought they would all say I was crazy and then I would let the idea go.  It kind of freaked me out that they didn't think I was crazy.  I then went "public."  I got one nasty anonymous blog comment and I worked through the other persons's concerns.  

I have 3 brothers that are adopted---2 have special needs.  I'm a sped teacher.  I've worked in Mexico with kids with SN.  While I thought I was crazy, everyone else seemed to think it was natural.  I would suggest you talk to those closest to you.  If they all respond negatively, it might not be the right time for you or you might want to reconsider.  If everyone around you is supportive, that might be a sign to move forward.  

Did you do a lot of fundraising? 
I worked summer school last year which allowed me to earn some extra income and I had some savings.  I paid about $10,000 out of my pocket.  I fund raised about $10k.  I did auctions, give aways, yard sales, different sales, everything.  I had a fund raiser going constantly for almost a year.  I'm sure people were sick of me but no one ever said they were.  I also got about 10K in grants.  There is something about my story that compelled people.  I don't know if it's the sped teacher thing, the single thing, the adopted brothers with SN, the Spanish thing.  Not sure but I ended up receiving some very generous grants.  I would greatly encourage you to apply for every one you find.  

How do you let go of the guilt of knowing your child may never have a father? I wonder if I didn't adopt my yet unknown son would a two parent family come along and adopt him? And then he'd have a daddy.   Of course I haven't given up on marriage at all so that's still a possibility. And obviously a mommy is better than an orphanage or mental institution.  When you see kids with their dads do you feel a little bit sad for Sara? 
That's a pretty loaded and personal question.  I'll probably just scratch the surface of this one.  
Like the questioner, I haven't completely given up on the idea of marriage.  I would love for Sara to have an amazing father.  I would love for her to grow up in a stable, two-parent family.  Isn't that what everyone wants for their child?  Unfortunately, we live in a very imperfect world.  (If it was perfect, we wouldn't need adoption at all.)  A lot of children these days don't grow up in two-parent families.  A lot of children grow up with parents that are uninvolved in their lives.  I agree that a mom is better than an orphanage but I think it's more than that.  Sara may only have one parent but she has one parent that is completely devoted to her.  I'd say that's better than two mediocre parents any day!  
(And, if I'm being completely honest, I hated Father's Day this year.  We got to celebrate with my dad but it did highlight what Sara doesn't have.)  

Would you or are you considering adopting again? 
I would consider adopting again.  I definitely have my eye on another little one but I wouldn't start anything until I know Sara is settled.  I don't think it would be fair to start another process or bring another one home until she is ready.  I know there are a lot more children that need homes but I have committed to care for and raise this one and that needs to be my first priority.  Maybe in another year or two....

I know you teach, but what do you do on the days you have to be at school and Sara doesn't (basically what kind of day to day support system do you have)?

I addressed the basic child care issue above.  I do have a great support system outside of that as well.  Because I teach special education, my friends aren't intimidated by Sara's extra chromosome.  I take her almost everywhere with me.  When I have to do things like chaperone prom, I have a great network of babysitters.  

When did you go back to work?
I took off 11 weeks.  I had 7 weeks of paid sick time and then I took 4 weeks of unpaid time.  We were in Colombia for 7 1/2 weeks so I didn't have as much time at home as I would have liked.  (But we had been together 24/7 during the time in country.)  I could have taken an additional week of unpaid times but it made sense to me to go back when Spring Break was over.  The timing of the adoption was nice, though.  I went back to work for 10 weeks and now I have an 11 week summer break.  

I'd like to know how adopting has changed your social life. That might sound shallow, but I'm really thinking in terms of spending time with others as a way to take care of yourself/recharge/take a break, not in terms of partying, per say.
I think that every mother gives up the majority of her free time when she has children.  It's probably a little more intense for a single mom but not much.  Sara still naps and goes to bed early which gives me a daily "break" of sorts.  I have just now gotten to the point that I will leave her for a few hours to go out with friends.  (I think I've done it twice!)  My friends are so great with her that it isn't really a problem just to take her with.  This summer, she is in school for 3 1/2 hours in the morning.  I've gotten so much done during that time!  It seems odd to not have her with me, though.  
In some ways, Sara has increased my social life.  I was in a weird social situation before her.  I was single but not interested in going out and partying with single 22-25 year olds.  Everyone my age is married and/or has kids.  I didn't really fit in anywhere.  Now, that I officially have a Mom Card, we get invited to do things with other moms and families.  

I wonder if being a single adopting parent feels lonely sometimes - you have so much in common with other single parents and so much in common with the adoption community...but your day-to-day experience has so many differences from both groups. It must be so important to have support and community around you.

It does feel lonely some times but I think that parenting is bonding.  You just don't get it until you do it.  I have the same struggles and battles any mother of a preschooler does  Yes, Sara is adopted.  Yes, I'm a single mother.  Yes, she has a disability.  But, those things aren't as important as the fact that I am parenting a 4 year old.  I can sit and talk to a mother of a child between 2 and 5 and her kid is doing the same crazy things mine is.  
I don't really struggle with loneliness when I'm working.  I work with some amazing people that have been a huge support to me.  I struggle more when I'm not working.  I don't think I would be a very good stay-at-home mom.  I think that could be lonelier than the single mom thing.

My worry, as a single mom...where would the child(ren) go when I die.
Another loaded question.   And another question that all parents have to think about.  I had to name a guardian as part of my homestudy.  While I don't have a will, my sister has agreed to take Sara if anything would happen to me.  (I know, I know.  I need to make it legal.)  This decision is a little more stressful for children with special needs.  My sister loves Sara but doesn't really know anything about IEPs anything like that but I know she'd learn.

Lots of questions and lots of my personal opinions.  Single parenting isn't for everyone.  Adoption isn't for everyone.  Parenting a child with special needs isn't for everyone.  But, it's not impossible.  Think about it.  If you decide it's not for you, pick another single woman to support and encourage.  Find a single mom to help.  Being a single woman is hard---whether or not you are a parent.  Let's find ways to be there for each other!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Meet Mark

Mark's picture breaks my heart every time.  He looks so sad in that first picture.  His updated picture makes him look older but not any happier.  

Here is the description of him on his Reece's Rainbow page:

Boy, Born August 2006
UPDATE December 2012:   It has been determined that sweet Mark is also battling leukemia.  We are waiting for additional medical testing and details, but PLEASE pray for him and help us find his forever family!  THANK GOD for a new photo, he has grown so much!   Trying to get his new photo in a larger size, but SO glad to finally have one!   Mark is up and walking and doing SO well!   Updated info coming soon!
609-02 This gentle boy has smooth, baby soft skin. He has dark skin and dark hair, potentially from an African/black parent. He is just darling, with a round chubby face. He was born on 8/2006. He enjoys playing with toys and with other children. His legs are rather weak so he scoots around quickly to reach his destination. He smiles brightly when he is spoken to. He waits for his loving family because he has Down syndrome. His family will be so lucky to be able to help this angel reach his fullest potential!
Yes.  You read that right.  He has Leukemia.  He is battling Leukemia without the love of a mom.   No one should go through that without a mom to hold their hand.  This poor little guy needs a family to help him fight for his life.  
I'm not naive.  I know that it would take a very special family to pursue the adoption of a child with Leukemia.   I also know that there are parents out there that would take on this challenge.   Mark has been listed for so long.  I pray daily that he finds a family before it's too late.  
If you've followed the blog and thought, I could do that or I want to do that or I'd like to help someone else do that, now is your chance.  
*Mark has $10,523.40 in her grant currently.  This is almost half of the cost of his adoption!!!  If you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can do so here.  
*If you order something during the month of June from my Scarves and Skirts for Sara page, you can choose for 50% of the sale price to go to Mark's grant.  
*If you are interested in adopting Mark, or another child with special needs, you can find out more at Reece's Rainbow New Family Info page.    The specific requirements to adopt Mark's country are:  (He is also in Latin America.) 
  • Single heterosexual parents may adopt
  • No family size restrictions
  • Both parents must travel to the country and stay until completion of adoption — approx 5-7 weeks (one parent may leave after a week or two)
  • Estimated total cost $21,000-24,500

Join me in praying that Mark will experience the love of a family before it's too late!

Bare Toes

Bare toes.  Big deal, right?  Who makes a big deal about bare toes? 

This momma makes a big deal about it.  When Sara first came to stay in the hotel with me, she insisted on having shoes on all the time.  She would put them on when she got out of bed in the morning.   She would put them on after she put on her pajamas.  She wouldn't brush her teeth without them.  When we came home, she would not take them off in the house.  About a month ago, she started taking them off in the house on her own.  Then flipflop weather came and she found herself in the house bare foot.  She will still occasionally put shoes on in the house but she's ok with being barefoot in the house. 

Tonight, she went outside at my parents house barefoot!   She stayed on the porch but it's huge progress.  She realized after she was out there that she didn't have shoes on but she didn't go back in.  She stayed outside barefoot!  (Tomorrow, I'm going to try to get her in the grass shoeless.) 

It's not really about the shoes.  It's about the changes they represent.  It's easy to see the physical changes in pictures.  She's growing like crazy.  It's harder to see the other changes.  I've noticed tons of them in the last week---I think because I've been with her so much more. 

*She is learning new words daily.  Literally one or two a day.  Today it was "star," "book" and "Becky."  (Not sure where she learned my mom's first name but she's said it twice.)  In the last two weeks she's learned Mom, Porque, Mon (Come on), Yep, and A Ver.  (Yep.  It's a mix of Spanish and English.)

*She is understanding so much English.  She still tends to answer in Spanish but she understands almost everything. 

*She will sit and read a book.  She turns one page at a time from left to right.  She follows the words with her finger and "reads" with expression. 

*She has started to answer "Sara" when asked what her name is. 

*She calls me Mom and will stake out her territory if I talk to any other children.

*She gets nervous when I'm not around.  This might sound like a step back but it's such a good sign. 

*She runs faster than I do.

She still has her moments and will still hit when she doesn't get her way.  But, she's come so far in such a short amount of time.  I can't wait to see where she is at the end of the summer.  I doubt the teacher and speech pathologist will even recognize her.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Gotcha Day? Metcha Day? What????

There is some discussion in adoption circles about what day to celebrate.  Do you celebrate Gotcha Day?  Metcha Day?  The day the adoption was finalized?  The day you came home?  I seriously stressed about this before I left for Colombia.  Sometimes I laugh at the things that I worried about.

Here are my thoughts on something that really isn't that important.  I've probably put way too much thought into this but sometimes my brain just goes to weird places.  

I think that it's possible that people celebrate different days depending on why they adopted.  (Again, these are just my crazy theories.)  

Metcha Day
I think maybe people that adopt because they found a picture and fell in love with a child celebrate Metcha Day.  They love this child and the day they met them was the day their lives were change.  
Sara's Metcha Day was January 14th.  We went to the social services office and chatted with the social worker and the case manager for about 15 minutes.  I had already seen Sara in the parking lot so I was not really paying tons of attention to the conversation.  (I had already told my mom that she had to pay attention because I wouldn't.)  After our conversation, they hurried Sara into the room and left us alone.  

January 14th was definitely a huge day in our lives.  Our lives changed forever that day.  However, that isn't the day I choose to "celebrate" with Sara for a couple of reasons.  January 14th is my niece's birthday.  I didn't want to take away from Grace's day and I also wanted Sara to have her own special day.  (It is pretty cool that my sister-in-law both became moms on the same day, though.  Just three years apart.)  

Gotcha Day
I think that maybe people who adopt to rescue a child celebrate Gotcha Day.  The most important day for them is the day their child leaves the orphanage or institution.
Sara's Gotcha Day was also June 14th.  After we visited with her in the room for about 15 minutes, they let me take her to the hotel.  It seemed like they were just giving me this child.  I had to keep reminding myself that I had been through countless interviews, background checks, and processes.  They weren't just randomly handing her to me. 

That day was very surreal to me.  I was finally meeting my child.  I was a mom.  It was real but didn't feel that way.  I felt like I was babysitting or playing house or something.  It felt like someone could still come and take her away.  

Integration Day
In Colombia you have Integration Day.  About a week after you get your child, you go back in for an interview.  You talk about how things are going and how you are both adjusting.  I remember thinking that it was pretty short for something so significant.  Integration Day felt pretty important to me---kind of like it was my last chance to back out.  

Adoption Day
I think when people adopt because they can't have children, Adoption Day becomes very important.  After all, it's the day your child official has your last name.
In all my thinking and planning, I had thought we would celebrate Adoption Day.  After all the drama I went through getting the Sentencia signed, the actual signature was incredibly anticlimactic.  In all honesty, I don't even know what day the adoption was official.  I signed a blank piece of paper that was later attached to the corrected decree.  Because I don't know when it was official and it wasn't a momentous occasion, we don't celebrate adoption day.    

It's possible that people who adopt to share their life with a child celebrate HOME!
March 7, 2013.  The day we came home and started our lives together!  (Poor baby was so tired!)  This was the day it all became real to me.  When we walked through customs and boarded a plane, it was real.  I kept expecting someone to stop us or check our paperwork or make me prove that she was my daughter.  Even when we arrived in the US, the processed our paperwork but never asked me anything.  I really thought they would question me or my motives or something.  Nope.  Everyone just accepted that she was with me because she was my daughter.  

We landed on the plane and were greeted by friends and family.  It was real.  We were home.  This little girl was my responsibility and was living in my house!  

Like I said in the beginning, it's possible that I've put way too much thought into this and that I'm totally off with my reasoning.  Maybe people just pick the day that feels most significant to them.  Maybe other families don't put nearly as much thought into this as I did.  Maybe I have too much time on my hands while Sara is at school.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

3 Months Home

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  

The pic on the left was taken two days after we got home.  The one on the right was taken today.  


Everyone loves a good road trip, right?  How about an impromptu road trip?

I'm pretty sure little Missy has never been on a road trip.  We have lots of them planned this summer.  (I've learned how quickly airfare adds up when you start multiplying by two.)  I decided to start with a short trip to see how she did.  (I had no back up plan if she didn't travel well.)  I finished working on Friday so we packed up and headed out on Saturday morning for a 2 and a half hour drive to see Tia Anna.  We had plans to spend a couple of days with Jamie after our visit with Anna.
A snack and a DVD player.  She's all set.

We got about an hour and a half from home when I got a text from my mom that my grandmother was in the hospital.  After talking to my mom, we decided to head east to her house instead of south to see our friends. (We turned around in the Fair Oaks Farm parking lot which made me kind of sad.  I love that place and can't wait to take Sara there.)  My GPS insisted the only way to get there was to go an hour back north on the highway we had just come down.  BOO!  Since I don't have a map in my car, I listened to it and headed back the way we came with the clothes we had for four days and no idea how long we'd be gone or how far we were going.

Sara was an absolute trooper.  She only slept for about 45 minutes which really surprised me.  She was perfectly content to watch her movies and eat the occasional snacks I passed back to her.  She had no problem running in for pit stops and coming right back to the car.  I was shocked that she never resisted getting back into her car seat.  Thank goodness I had 4 movies with us!  

Silly girl went into a rest stop this way.  

The drive was very uneventful but LONG.  Because of all the back tracking and pit stops, it took us almost 12 hours to get there.  I spent most of the afternoon regretting staying up so late the night before and wishing I had an audiobook to pass the time.   

Sara got her 3rd, 4th, and 5th US state on this trip.  She'll have quite a few more by the end of summer.  (I have 40!)  

For a variety of reasons, we didn't end up making the 12 hour drive to my grandmother's house.  So, we spent a few days hanging out with my family.  I feel like we are always busy there but we don't really seem to do a ton of monumental things.  Sometimes, it's nice not to!

Sara LOVES to trace people's hands.  

Getting read to Face Time with her grandpa who was with his mom.  (And looking very grown up!)  

She and Uncle Rob played very well together the first couple of days.  

She loves Grandpa's cows but Tom is not a fan of her!

She made her first trip to the Charcoal Corral.  (Pretty much the only thing to do in the town I grew up in.) 

She was sitting with me until Nana gave her a piece of her salad shell.  Then she moved to the other side of the booth for better access.  

The drive home was miserable.  I kept hearing about these terrible storms that were coming to Chicago.  We were on track to get home just before they hit.  Then, about 80 miles from home, we hit a stand still on the highway.  We sat and crawled for an hour and a half.  It was horrible.  (I love my GPS but watching the arrival time grow later and later probably wasn't healthy for me.)  

I hadn't planned to stop for dinner.  So I started passing Sara all the snacks I had.  

Sara didn't seem to notice that we weren't moving but I was starting to panic.  From everything I heard, the coming storms were going to be horrible and we weren't going to make it home in time.  

Well, they were pretty bad.  At one point, I tried to wait it out under an overpass but I was very nervous that someone would slide off the road and hit us.  I just felt like a sitting duck under there.  Once the car in front of us moved, I got back on the road.  I did not like being under there at all.  (I'm not a big believer in premonitions but I had a really bad feeling about sitting there.)  I spent about half an hour driving through pouring rain, thunder, lightening, and hail with a four year old in the back seat yelling, "Mom!  Agua!"  Poor girl was convinced I should turn around and see the rain out her window.  As if I couldn't see it out the windshield!  

We made it home and unloaded all of our stuff in between two storm fronts.  About ten minutes after we got into the house, it started pouring again and our street started flooding.  I don't think I've ever been so glad to be safely home.  

Just another ridiculous travel story in a long line of ridiculousness.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Dismuke Family

Meet the Dismuke family.  I "met" Heather in an online group of adopting families.  She agreed to make some Red Sox bows for me so we instantly became "friends."  Heather's adoption originally started about the same time as mine.  Because her family got caught up in a political shutdown, they had to change countries and essentially start over.  It is now looking like they will travel to meet their new daughters in January 2014.  

Here is what their Reece's Rainbow profile has to say about the Dismukes:

Michael and Heather have been married for almost 8 years (has it really been that long?). They have two wonderful little girls who we cherish with all their hearts (R and S). In 2008, Heather started hinting to Michael that she wanted to adopt but Michael had many misconceptions of adoption (ex: only people who cant have children adopt). So, Heather prayed and hinted A LOT that she wanted more children and she wanted them through adoption. You see, Heather has had adoption on her heart for years. She wanted a child from every continent if God would allow her (well that is what she thought when she was a teenager). Heather prayed daily that God would open Michael’s heart to adoption. Then, the craziest thing happened, He put families who had adopted in he’s path. He saw what adoption really looks like. He saw children who had possibilities because they had a loving family. One night, while surfing the web, Heather got on the this advocacy website, Reece’s Rainbow, because one of those families that God was using to soften Michael’s heart where adopting two beautiful little ones. We identified a little girl in a country in Eastern Europe and we began the process.
As the months went on, they found themselves done with the home study and own to the dossier stage. They where moving right along and it felt great. Then road bumps started to occur but no bump is to big for God so they continued with faithful hearts. Then one day, the door was slammed shut, and our adoption was put into limbo. They lived on a roller coaster; with good days and very bad days. They continued because they new this was what God wanted. Then one night with tears in her eyes, Heather prayed that God would give them a yes or no….Heather needed a direct answer…no maybe. The next morning, He gave her that answer and while it was not the answer she was hoping for, it was the answer they would except.
So, here they are, starting again, not from the start but close to it. They have gone from the red bear and have chosen to go the red thread journey. While it is not the journey they started out on, it is the journey God intended them to go on.

Heather and her family have worked tirelessly to complete all the mountains of paperwork and meet all the requirements required--twice!!  They currently have preapproval for Johanna and are hoping to get preapproval for another little girl very soon.  

Can we encourage this wonderful family?  Even if you can't make a donation, head over to their blog and leave an ENCOURAGING comment.  Adoption is hard.  It's exhausting.  Encouragement and support are crucial---even when they come from complete strangers.

If you love adoption blogs like I do, you can follow their journey  here.    
If you feel led to donate to this amazing family, you can make a tax-deductible donation here.   They have a matching grant.  Any donations made through Lifesong will be doubled!  (All the information you need to donate is on their blog.)  

If you want to purchase a hand-knit item to help with adoption costs, you can do that on my Scarves and Skirts for Sara's Friends page.  (50% of the price of the item will go to the Dismuke family.)

The Dismuke family currently has an Adoption Bug Tshirt sale and Just Love Coffee sale going on.  A percentage of each purchase goes to their adoption fund.  

Can you find a way to support and encourage this great family?