International Adoption Book

Friday, June 25, 2010

Johnson Family Tries To Bring Home Russian Daughter

"Friday, June 25, 2010
Portrait Giveaway by National Portrait Artist!!!

We have our first Giveaway to announce!!! This is a HUGE Giveaway!!! Patricia McMahon Rice, a National Portrait Artist ( ) has donated a portrait to help us bring our daughter home!!! This artist's portraits can cost up to $3,400 depending on the style and size of the portrait!!!

Anyone donating a minimum of $20 will be entered once in the giveway!! Anyone making a donation of $50 or more will be entered in the giveaway THREE times!!! Anyone who donates $100 or more will be entered into the giveaway TEN times!!!

Anyone who has entered the drawing but also posts a link to the giveaway on their blog, website or Facebook will automatically have one additional entry in the drawing!! If you post a link to the giveaway let me know by emailing me at with the link to your blog, website or Facebook!! As soon as we're able to verify that someone who has entered the giveaway has posted a link to our giveaway we'll add an additional entry to the giveaway in your name!!!

I'm picking my favorite type of portrait for the giveaway!!! The winner of the giveaway will receive a pastel head and shoulders portrait of anyone they choose!! The artist will do the portrait off of photos chosen by the winner or if the winner is local to the artist (she is located in Northern Virginia just outside of Washington DC) they can arrange for a photo shoot with the artist!! This means you don't have to live in the local area to enter the giveaway!! The winner of the giveaway will have the option to upgrade their portrait to another style of portrait (oil, black and white charcoal etc) or to add addition people to the portrait or increase the size of the portrait. However they will have to make arrangements with the artist to pay the difference in price between the portrait they have won and the added people/size/style.

For more information on the artist check out her bio: .

For families who are local to Virginia, Maryland or Washington DC the artist has also donated a semester of classes in her private home studio in Northern Virginia. This will be offered as our second giveaway!! This giveaway will last for 8 weeks!! The winner will be announced by the end of August!! Classes are offered for both kids and adults in many different art styles including: pastels, oils, charcoal, graphite, clay, photography and more. Classes are offered in the fall, winter and spring and compressed classes which run all day for a week are offered during the summer.
For more information on this artists classes check out her class information at: .
All funds raised by this giveaway will go towards final travel costs to bring our daughter home from Russia!! Our daughter is currently in the hospital following spinal surgery. Please help us bring our daughter home!!"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Daughter Is Missing!

This afternoon I went through about 40 minutes of pure terror. I now have a brief glimpse into what mothers of missing children endure every day. I couldn't imagine having that kind of grief and horror in my world for days, weeks, months or even years. God help me, but I could barely think of the two kids who were at my side. I knew MJ needed to eat and M needed to help me babysit so I could focus my attention where it needed to be, but I couldn't make myself accomplish any of that. All I could do was watch out the window for my daughter as I waited for the police to arrive.

Okay, that all sounds a bit melodramtic, so I had best explain...

C went on a field trip today to the state School For The Deaf. It is nearly 2 hours away. Yesterday morning C's busdriver asked if C would need transportation today or if I would provide transportation. I explained that Matt was out of the area because he was attending his mother's funeral (sending much love and many prayers with her soul) so I was not in a position to provide transportation. She said that it would be no problem, but that C would be picked up about an hour earlier.

So, 7:00am comes rolling around and here comes the bus. C gets on and I followed to buckle her up (as I do every other time I put her on the bus). As I was departing, I asked her driver when I could expext C to be dropped off. She said, "I don't know, but I'll just honk as I drive by." Every day, the bus passes our house in order to make a u-turn at the end of the block and drops C off on the return route (a 2 minute trip during which time I can see the bus).

4:10pm comes and goes... Okay, so she'll be a bit later than usual. 4:30pm... Hmmmm, they're going to be really late. 5:00 hits and my heart stars beating... I had better call Transportation. I took my time, thinking that nothing could be wrong. By the time I got around to phoning it was 5:11pm.

As soon as the operator answered the phone I explained that I was just checking on my daughter's status. I just wanted to know when I could expect the bus and if they were still on their way back from the southern school. "What do you mean? All our busses are back." This, of course, made me panic instantly (as I don't do well with someone misplacing my kids). She said, "Let me check with a few people and I'll call you back."

Nearly 10 minutes later she finally calls me back and says, "C never got on the bus so we don't know where she is."

WHAT THE F*^@?!?! And yes, that did come out of my mouth! At this point I began screaming and demanded that they find my child. The lady kept telling me, "Calm down ma'am or I can't help you." Calm down my rear! This is my child we are talking about and she's missing! I explained that they needed to find my daughter or I would need to call 911!!! What else was I going to do? She then suggested I call her school and find out if they knew where my daughter was. The lady asked if I wanted the phone number. Since that was FAR more expedient than looking it up myself I said, "Yes.... And don't you leave that office until I call you back!" So, did she give me the number? Nope.... The B*#&% hung up on me!!! SERIOUSLY?!?

I, of course called back and demanded to speak to her supervisor (who then repeated teh "Calm down or I won't help you" phrase). I got the phone number, repeated my "Don't you dare leave" demand and called the school... Was there an answer? Nope. Just the recording that tells the school hours of opperation. So, I called Transportation back again. And do you want to know what that woman said?

"I think you should call 911!"

OH CRAP!!! Needless to say, I totally lost it. I, yet again, told them not to leave until my daughter was found as I was hanging up the phone.

In the next instant I'm screaming on the phone to the post dispatcher. She was telling me to calm down and all I wanted to do was scream that she had to be joking... My daughter is missing and she wants me to calm down? How insane is that?

Suffice it to say, I'm suprised I didn't have the entire block outside looking at me or seeing what was going on because I was screaming so loudly that my throat is still aching (and it's been nearly 4 hours).

I paced to different windows wondering if C would be able to find her way home on the off chance that she did get on a bus and got dropped off somewhere. As I stood outside waiting for the patrol car to pull up I was praying for C's safety and hoping against all hope that someone didn't kidnap her and yet hoping against hope that someone find her and would be able to understand her signing.

The feelings of pure helplessness that I endured for those short but long lasting moments of my day were so overwhelming that even now I can't seem to shake this overwhelming feeling of nausea and sadness.

Thankfully, at nearly the same instant (around 5:45pm) the school Transportation officed and 911 called back to tell me that C was still on her way home from the school for the deaf and would be arriving at her school around 6:00pm where I needed to pick her up.

WHAT?!? Seriously? I don't recall reading that on the permission slip. And I still had every right to be upset and angry because I was asked if I needed transportation provided ("Yes, please"), I asked what time she would be dropped off ("I'll honk as I drive by"), which indicated that they would bring her home, if they weren't then they should have called since the bus driver verified that she would bring her home, and the Transportation office should always know which students they are picking up/dropping off and which of their regular students they are not picking up/dropping off and why. Had Transportation had this information available and told me that I was supposed to pick her up at the school then that would have solved half of the problem.

Dare I say that when Transportation called me back for the final time and told me that they had found my daughter (which they should have done in the first place instead of telling me to call 911 because they didn't know where my kid was) then there would have been no problem... Because this whole thing started because I was calling to verify where C was at and what time I could expect her back... And guess what? That's the information that they gave me on that final call... My reply? "I F'ing HATE YOU PEOPLE!" with a swift hang-up!

The 911 operator? "Thank you sooooo much and I am soooo sorry for all of this." She gave a swift laugh of relief and, with a smile in her tone, said, "No problem. It's my job." She then worried about whether or not I would be mentally stable to drive. What else could I do? I had to pick up my daughter and I had to drive, so I called my parents to vent, pulled it together and drove my scared rear into town!

C is home, safe and sound... And I'm so relieved (though Matt laughed at me like I was an idot, but hey... what can I say?). Sigh........

Friday, May 7, 2010

Update... Has it really been that long since the last post?

Okay, so it's been a looooong time since I posted any sort of real update (not including the update regarding C tonight).

MJ is growing like crazy-cakes! He is easily wearing 12 month clothes and 18 month jammies. He learned how to walk using the furniture about 2 weeks ago and M and C are both helping him walk about the house (it's absolutely adorable). It was fabulous because one day he sort of figured out how to walk. I had been infrequently attempting to teach him how to walk since March. But suddenly he figured it out. Now he wants to walk around the house and will actually try to let go and take off by himself. Of course, he instantly falls down and cries out of pure frustration. But at least he tries. His two top teeth came in just a week or two ago and both within a week of each other. They were a long time coming, but now that they're through we have peace in the house again (for the most part). MJ is eating table food infrequently. He likes it a little bit, but he definitely prefers the jars of baby food. He sucks on the bottle like a professional but he has trouble learning how to chew. So, needless to say, he doesn't eat too much table food. He does love his Num-Nums, though! ;)

M is doing GREAT! He earned an award yesterday for making good choices. He got "caught" applogizing! So, Matt went to work and told his co-workers what M received his award for. They were really smart... "Hmmm... So, a kid can beat up another kid and if he appologizes without being told to he can get an award?" LOL! Of course, I don't know what M did that he would need to appologize, but I'm glad he did say sorry.

On the other hand, M pulled a good one on us today! We arrived home today from our walk home from school and stood outside chatting with our neighbor. As she and I chatted our two kiddos played. Just as I was getting ready to go inside her daughter came up and showed her mom what M had just given her. Mom said, "He gave you $20?!?" Of course, this startled me because, heavens, where does a 7-year-old get $20? After much interogation (on our drive to my hair appointment... A Mother's Day gift from my beloved husband) I learned he stole the money! Not that it makes it any better, but, he stole it from C who had been saving it from her birthday (to my surprise, since I thought I had deposited all of her money months ago). I tried to get Matt to cancel my appoinment so we could take M to the police station. I thought it would be good for him to have the living crap scared out of him for stealing! But, Matt said no and we are still discussing what we are going to do to punish M.

C is doing very well. She's bursting into tears at school and, on the bus, is being rude by calling her fellow students names and such. Of course, tonight, as part of my Mother's Day gift, we went out to Olive Garden where C proceeded to make fun of and be obnoxious to a very overweight lady. And I mean she was rude! She actually signed, "That lady is FAT! That's bad. She doesn't need to be so FAT!" And she kept going on and on, no matter how much I was telling her to stop! I was doing my best not to turn beat red from embarrassment as she totally ignored my demands. But, I finally figured out (once my brain started working) to take C to the bathroom and get onto her there. I think I got her to understand that she was awful and mean to that lady, but I just know it will happen again because this is not the first time she has said things of this nature.

So, what a Mother's Day gift... A son who steals money and a daughter who is rude and obnoxious to overweight people! God help me!!! Please!!! ;)

Anual Opthamology Appointment

C had a fun and semi-interesting, though confusing, doctor's appointment this morning. She saw an Opthamologist who took one look at her records and said, as she blanched, "I think your daughter needs to see the Pediatric Opthamologist. I'll put that referral in today!"

Great! :( There goes another 2 or 3 months of waiting to see another eye doctor. But, such is life, right!?!

In the mean time, the doctor did give C a quick exam and found that, though her eyes did deteriorate, they did not have significant issues (at least prescription wise). C went from a +2.50 and a +2.75 (with each eye having a .50 astigmatism) to a +4.00. She said that C's current glasses would be fine until she can get a more accurate assessment from the Pediatric Specialist.

I also explained that C is complaining about it being "dark" a lot. The doctor said that this was a direct result of the Retinitis Pigmentosa and that the specialist would need to check the degree of deterioration at his appointment. So, though the prescription didn't change dramatically, the RP could have.

For example, on Wednesday morning at 7:30-ish, I was signing to C in the livingroom. The curtains were all open, but the lights were off. It was overcast, so it wasn't as bright in the room as it would normally have been, but it wasn't dark enough to warrant the use of lights. But as I was signing to C, she complained about not being able to see me, so I had to turn on the lights in order for her to be able to effectively understand my signing. Talk about hitting home! If I had any doubts before that C was loosing her eye-sight this totally threw that out the window.

What's fun, though, is that C came home from school yesterday with "fun homework". It wasn't a requirement, but her teacher sent home a little project with his students. He explained that there was a student in the class who had to learn braille and that he thought it would be "fun" for everyone to get involved. I burst into tears as soon as I read that, both from gratitude that he would involve his class like that and at the realization that C would soon need to utilize Braille to read.

When the VI specialist (in California) told me C was learning "Braille" she explained that she was only going to start teaching how to find the beginning and ending of lines and that she wouldn't be learning actual Braille for quite some time (though I could have totally misunderstood what she was explaining). Here they have chosen to take a more direct route and actually teach Braille itself. I was surprised when I read C homework because when the VI teacher and I spoke I understood that she would teach the same things C had been learning previously rather than learning actual braille... But, hey, at the rate things seem to be going with C this might be a better route!

And, yes, it seems C might actually become legally blind by her late teens/early twenties (according to several people who work closely with people who have Usher Syndrome). I had, for some reason, had it in my head that C would have her sight until she was 40 or 50 years old. It's still a possibility, but the way things look to be progressing that's not too likely.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Come on... Really? Has it come to this?

I read the following ( on It is a story about two guys who were fired for trying to capture an alleged shoplifter. The article also sites a few other stores who also fired folks for chasing shoplifters. Come on... Really? Has this what it has come to in America? When a person can get fired for doing a good deed? When a person can get sued for trying using CPR to help save a life? When a person can go to jail for protecting his family? Give me a break!!! I am so tired of all the political correctness and the sue happy people we live with. What happened to the "Land Of The Free"? I guess Sprint has the "freedom" to fire employees who are attempting to do a good deed... Those guys need to be given a raise!!! They should have been honored as heroes instead of fired as if THEY had been the ones to lift merchandise. And we wonder why our youth are getting away with so much bad behavior? We are modeling this behavior by letting criminals go free for lack of evidence and butchering a man's life for doing a good deed. What a sad state our country is in if this is what we are going to teach our children!!! Shame on you Sprint, Walmart and Best-Buy!!!

Two retail employees say they were fired last week after they chased down a suspected shoplifter.

Wait: The tale gets even loopier. The men – Paul Shoemaker and Mike McGee – apparently were on their break and chasing an alleged store shoplifter not in their store, but in an adjacent Apple Store.

The pair were heading out of the Sprint store where they used to work in Denver's Cherry Creek Mall when they came upon a frantic security guard in the hall. "[He] came right basically in front of us, and was like, 'Help me, Help me.' Out of breath. You could totally hear he was distraught," Shoemaker told Denver's 7News.

The pair pitched in to help capture the alleged shoplifter.

"It's the way I was raised as a kid," McGee said. "You see something that's going on wrong you step in and try to help whatever way you can."

The trouble started after the suspect was carted off. Sprint's corporate policy states that employees should not chase shoplifters, though the men argue they were on break and it wasn't even Sprint's merchandise they were seeking to retrieve. Sprint declined to comment, citing privacy concerns.

The firing isn't without precedent. In October Walmart fired an Ocala branch's loss prevention officer for chasing a man allegedly trying to steal golf balls. And in August 2009, two college-age Best Buy employees were fired from a Broomfield, Colorado Best Buy after tackling an alleged shoplifter. A Best Buy spokeswoman said all employees "are aware, and trained, on the standard operating procedures for dealing with shoplifting or theft – which includes ceasing pursuit of a suspected shoplifter once they exit the store." This, she said, was for the safety of employees.

So should you fire an employee for pursuing a thief? Only you can decide the "should," but legally you are able to do so.

Employment lawyer Frank Steinberg blogged about the Walmart case that the chain "was clearly within its rights to set a policy on how shoplifting incidents were to be handled and to decide that the guard's violation of that policy warranted termination."

In fact, having a policy about how employees should handle shoplifting or any crime they witness on the job is seen as a smart move legally, because it can protect you from liability in the event someone is hurt. Judgments in these cases are rare, but can reach into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

In Texas, for example, a shoplifter – his lawyer says he admits to the crime – is suing Walmart for $100,000 over the dislocated shoulder he claims employees inflicted on him.

Separately, the Houston Chronicle reported the company paid nearly $750,000 as part of a settlement to the family of a 30-year-old alleged shoplifter who died of a heart attack as employees tried to stop him. (The items he was accused of stealing: a package of diapers, a pair of sunglasses, a BB gun, and a package of BBs.)

Whether the good Samaritans in Denver deserved to be terminated is another question; how you train your staff to handle loss prevention is one of those tricky matters you probably never considered when you first started your business.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Fallout Spreads...

I copied the following article from Rainbow Kids. It was written by adoption advocate Martha Osborne and clearly and concisely expresses the fine line that adoptive families must walk...

"Sad, sad news over the last week. There has been great outrage, anger, blame and finger pointing over the disrupted adoption of a 7-year-old Russian child and his abrupt return to Russia over this last week. Today it has been announced that Russia will suspend adoptions to the USA. During this time, I have wondered, "where is the outrage for the thousands of children who are housed in hopeless institutions with minimal care and daily abuse from the other children?"

The exact conditions that may have traumatized this young child and greatly contributed to this situation, are barely mentioned. No one absolves the mother.She had options and chose to do something outrageous and selfish. But her actions are only one part of this. The unspoken rule is that those of us who work to find homes for these children must never, never criticize the governments that allow these wretched institutions to continue. Adoptive parents must be grateful...and silent, to insure that international adoption continues, and a few lucky children find peace in a family of their own. Volunteers must quietly work to make changes in the orphanages, for fear of offending those in power. Yes, this story makes me very upset, and sad for all of the children who will now continue to suffer. And for the families who have waited, longingly, to give their love to these children.

And now we wait, with our only hope once again in the hands of government policy makers. I suggest that the meeting scheduled for the 20th take place in the largest, most rural orphanage that can be found in Russia. Let our governments meet, and come to their decision, surrounded by the children's lives and futures that hang in the balance. --Martha Osborne"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Political Posts

Okay, so I'm doing something I rarely do... I'm posting a few political posts. So, this is your forewarning; if you don't want to read political crap, then I suggest you not scroll down, do not read the following posts and stop reading now! ;)

I am not a Repulican and I am not a Democrat... But I am an AMERICAN and I am so tired of all the bickering and anti-work-together attitude that has been plaguing our politicians for the last 20 or 30 years. I am seriously tired of our politicians NOT listening to their constituants and moving forward with bills and plans that go against what we elected them to do.

And yes, before you ask... I am Anti-Obama! I just seriously cannot stand his views (personal or public). He's a fabulous speaker, as is his wife, but that's where my admiration ends. He's a scary man. And though I can't say that I believe all the rumors that are running rampant about him, there are many FACTS that have been (and continue to be) put out there for us to see (like his Health Care Bill that he just completely ignored dang near EVERY AMERICAN about) that SCREAM at us to take him out of office! And I don't care if I'm suddenly on a watch list. It's my job, as an AMERICAN CITIZEN to monitor all that our elected officials do and to voice my thoughts, concerns and opinions to all who will listen, especially to those elected officials.

I want my children to grow up in a FREE COUNTRY, and I'm truly afraid that those freedoms that our forefathers died for and that our men and women of the Armed Forces continue to die for are slowly being taken away from us. It's truly sad when my cousins in Italy tell us that this President is taking us down the same road they traveled years earlier when they became a communistic/socialistic country. And we aren't even noticing it's happening!

I am just TIRED of all the backstabbling politics; the inclusion of crappy laws inside bills that are meant to be great. A bill is 50,000 pages long (ok, so I don't know the true number of pages, but I've seen pictures of politicians reading the stacks of paper in just 1 bill). What is in all those pages? Well, let's see... It's promises to this Senator or that Representative for something specific for their state so they will vote for the bill. It's Bribery!!! It's passing a seatbelt law that also has an abortion law attached (okay, so that might be an exaggeration, but you get the idea)! Seriously... I'm tired of all the back-door politics that are slowly robbing our people of the rights that our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, brothers and sisters all fought and continue to fight for.

This next election I want a plain Joe/Jane to be my President. I want someone who will be honest and caring. I want someone who doesn't have specific political ties to a particular group and who will work willingly with congress and who CONGRESS will work willing with, too. I want someone who can put our country and our needs before his/her own ambitions. I want someone who will pay for his/her own vacations and who will do the job he/she is paid to do. I want someone who will pull out of a war zone if that's what he/she promises and who will demolish our enemies when necessary (no matter the cost) if that's what it takes. I want a TRUE LEADER who will follow through with his/her promises! Who is our next President?!?

Come on America... Show us what you've got!!!