International Adoption Book

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

IEP's and New Schools

Today took a turn for the worse and for the better... Yesterday morning I received a phone call from the local school district. C would no longer be attending her initial school and would now be attending a more local school. She will be integrated in the school system and will now be mainstreemed...YIKES. This is something I totally did NOT want for C! She has a limited start in her language skills and she deserves to have peers who will be able to interact with her. Oh My Gosh was I mad. Especially when I was told they would have Oral Communication... NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! That, in my opinion, is a horrendous way to teach a deaf child (not that I think it is wrong for a parent to do that with their own child, it is just not right for my child and I refuse to allow that to happen to my daughter)... Anyway, off my soap box...

I went to the school this morning and we took care of the situation: C is going to the new program in our own schools and will be mainstreemed. I lost, but I won... They will not do Oral communication but will enhance lessons with oral communication while signing. They will use ASL for everyday "Let's go do..." things and SEE for specific lessons. This will be a total communication program that my child will be pioneering. But, next year she will be going back to her original school and be in a self-contained deaf class.

A few special key points about attending this new school: She and M will be in the same kindergarten class, M will have further exposure to sign language, C will learn how to use an interpreter (which is a vital asset for her later in life) and transportation will be door to door drop off and pick up for both kids! In addition, it has been proven that kids who are mainstreamed tend to have a higher education than those who are in a self-contained classroom. So, this might be a good thing... I'm keeping an open mind!

Ethiopian Connections

Monday was an extremely busy day for my gang. First, we had to drop Matt off at work so that the kids and I would have the van. We followed this little jaunt with a trip to M's doctor. We completed the morning and early afternoon with a drive to Seattle to visit C's Dr.

Dr. K, M's physician, is a very nice lady. She's tiny in weight and height with about the same stature as our 6 year old son, making M feel far more comfortable than another more robust Dr might do. The appointment seemed to go well, though she adamantly requested we see her again as a couple (without M) next week. Talk about nerve-wracking... She wants to evaluate some documents we completed. Ugh!

C's appointment with her Dr. is always and hour and a half long. M did well keeping quiet and maintaining good behavior, but C didn't want to cooperate for her testing. Since these regular screenings are for mapping (adjusting her Cochlear Implant through computer technologies to give C more listening abilities) it is imperative that she cooperates. Meg had to up the interior volume whereas last visit the volume was lowered. I think this was, in part, due to us not making her wear the device for several weeks. But, she's getting back into her routine of wearing it, so maybe it will make a difference for the next visit (in 3 months).

Now to the point of this story: While we were initially waiting to check in at the Children's Hospital there was an Arab/African family (mother and daughter) sitting in the waiting area. A somewhat older gentleman (about the age of my parents... Not that your age is astronomical, Ma) who walked up and stood in front of the mother and child. They were sitting right next to M, C and I, so I stood up to offer the gentleman my seat. He politely refused, but I explained that I had just driven and hour and a half and so would be more than happy to stand. At this point I turned to C and M and really didn't give him an opportunity to reply. This was not done to be rude, by any means, but rather the kids needed my attention.

Shortly after my second offer the family was called back for their appointment. Before leaving the gentleman came up to me and politely explained his reason for not taking a seat. It surprised me and was such a wonderful occurance. He gave me his card before leaving and included an offer to help.

What was his reason? In his country it is illegal for a man to take a seat while a woman is standing. What country is he from? Ethiopia! That's right, Ethiopia... Where we hope our next child is waiting. Tears immediately began to pour down my cheeks and I blubbered our intent to adopt a beautiful baby from his amazing country. It was a swift but rewarding conversation, for which I feel extremely lucky!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Children Of Huang Shi

The movie entitled "The Children Of Huang Shi" seemed extremely intriguing to me, most likely due to the fact that it took place in China. Because my daughter is Chinese, I tend to gravitate towards most things Chinese, just as I tend to gravitate towards most things Japanese and Korean in honor of my son. Well, this movie has since become even more interesting after I found this article posted to a blog for the film in a post dated March 13, 2008. It indicates that the actual events took place in Shaanxi Province, which is the province from which C was adopted, rather than Hubei Province as the film indicate! How interesting is that?!? Obviously, the feeling of the movie won't change, but it's neat to know this information for when I actually am able to watch the movie.

Follow this link to read the full text:

THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI
Jonathan Rhys Meyers - Chow Yun-Fat - Radha Mitchell - Michelle Yeoh

Change # 8,993,576

So, after the disasterous results of our latest attempt to bring home a child, Matt and I began researching other options. Our hearts weren't into this adoption as it had been with Chynna's and Matthew's adoptions. Oh, we desperately wanted to bring our 4-year-old little man home, but even before that we were bouncing back and forth between agencies and special need/non-special need programs. Just ask my parents: By now they're dizzy with the tornado of changes we've continuously placed upon them during the past year and a half. So, here's what we've decided to do for our family:

WE'RE ADOPTING FROM ETHIOPIA (God willing)

Ethiopia is an ancient civilization with the Queen of Sheba being a huge part of their history. Famine, war and sickness has left families in dire need of care for their beautiful children. From the beginning of this adoption journey, nearly a year and a half ago, I had hoped to adopt from Ethiopia, but Matt just wasn't open to the idea. With all the trials that have been thrown our way, combined with our own lack of enthusiasm, Matt has slowly come to love the idea of making the journey to adopt one of these precious children. After researching the health, age and needs of the children we are hoping to bring home, we have decided to apply for a healthy infant. The children being referred are as young as 4, 5 or 6 months and as old as 3 years. The Ethiopian government prefers the youngest parent (that would be Matt) to be no more than 40 years older than the adopted child, so we definitely qualify for a much younger child.

Below is our expected timeline. As with any other adoption this is only a guestimate and nothing is guaranteed. We could be denied for any number of reasons or our finances simply don't work out (this is a shorter program which means we'll have to figure out how to earn the money swiftly. Mom has been working on a hand-made lace table cloth which we will auction on Ebay and I will make more jelly this fall, both of which we hope will sell well). The program is gaining lots of interest, with more families traveling down this path. This means that the wait could lengthen considerably, so please take the following with a grain of salt!

Homestudy: 1 month (our SW is nearly done so it could be less)
Review Homestudy: 1 month (looking for accuracy before going to USCIS)
USCIS: 2-4 months (Washington is a lengthy process)
Dossier To Ethiopia: 1 month (for translation/verification of packet)
Wait to referral: 4-10 months (for non-special needs infant)
Wait to travel: 2-4 months (for a scheduled court date)
Length of stay in Ethiopia: 5-7 days
Total: 11 months 5 days- 21 months 7 days

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Specialty Jewelry

Do you have Arthritic Joints that don't allow you to wear your jewelry? Do your fingers and toes swell during travel? Well, Phat Phingers is a fabulous place to shop for jewelry that can adjust to your fluxuating size. Phat Phingers is an amazing new business dealing in specialty, hand-made jewelry. Click on the link at the left to view some of the fabulous pieces currently available, and check back often for exciting new sets that are simply devine!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sad News

Most people were not aware of the fact that we had found a handsome 4 year old deaf boy waiting in China whom we wanted to adopt. We applied to the CCAA almost 2 weeks ago and were beginning to prepare our home for this special addition.

We arrived home from vacation late yesterday afternoon, around 7:00pm, to a few messages. The most important one was from WACAP (the agency that is helping us to adopt our next child). Our case worker left a message requesting we call her back ASAP. So, this morning I made the call, fully expecting to receive news that we received PA (Pre-Approval) already. We were not so fortunate: "Our Son" was recently adopted by a Chinese family meaning he was lost to us. Though we are crushed at the thought of loosing the child whom we were beginning to think of as our own, Matt and I are thrilled that he is now living with a family who will love and cherish him as much as we would have. He will be given an intimate knowledge of his heritage and will be educated fully in sign language and will become a very successful member of Chinese society.

To be honest, I don't truly know what will happen to him, but I like the life I have described and will continue to think of him living in this manner.

Now that my tears have dried we will begin to move forward (again) with our next adoption. It may take anywhere from 1 to 5 years depending on whether or not we find another special needs child who will fit within our family.

Sending you all our love,
Manette & the gang

"Our house is a very, very, very fine house...."

I just had to share some photos of our house... We wish we could just pick it up and move it to wherever we decide to retire. Enjoy!

What a Ride

We left late on July 14th to visit Matt's famiy in Southern Missouri. We took a Red-Eye flight and have since decided that we will NEVER do that again since it effected us just as badly as driving over night does. I slept about an hour or two on the long flight and most of the short, one-hour flight while Matt slept much of the long flight and none of the short flight. I also slept almost the entire 5 hour drive from Kansas City to south MO (Matt slept about 45 minutes) AND still went to sleep by 9:00pm and slept all night... I was worn out and hadn't even done anything!

Gas was super cheap ($3.69/gal) and the weather was super hot (ranging from 99-104). Matt's family was doing well. We thoroughly enjoyed the visit. M and C played with their cousin, Little Miss E, so very well, though towards the end of the trip they were all getting a bit grumpy (but who wasn't). I was so very proud of how well all three of them played, especially since Little Miss E and M have pretty much been only children until just this past year. Matt and I were able to help his mom out with a new (small) a/c from Wal-Mart. We're on the prowl for a new heater because hers is at least from the 70's, though I wouldn't be surprised if it was actually from the 60's. We'd like to get one installed for her before winter starts in the hopes that it will save her a bit of money on Natural Gas.

We added 2 extra days to our trip so that we could swing by our house in North-Eastern Kansas and meet our new Property Managers. They seemed like very nice people and we're hoping for a bit better communication from them (our previous guy got "short-timer's syndrome," since he was preparing to move, and began neglecting to share vital information). Our tenants had a verbal agreement with us that they would buy our house in 3 to 5 years, but after speaking with our manager it sounds like that won't be happening, which is actually fine. The family has indicated their desire to remain in the house for the next two years, but that once their youngest finishes his stint at the school he is in they would like to move closer to their jobs (which are a significant distance away)

Matt went to see some old friends while we were in town. He got some fabulous job offers while we were there. They would be awfully hard to turn down, especially since the location of our house puts C (and our new child?) in a good position to attend the Kansas School for the Deaf. So, loosing the tenants in a couple of years might work out well for us.

The house looks fabulous! The tenants have a couple of complaints (with easy fixes), but for the most part the house is doing well.

While we were in the KC area, we took the kids to T-Rex (a restaraunt/store similar to Rain Forest Cafe but with dinosaurs). They had a blast and each got to build a dinosaur. M picked out "Friar Tuck" (as per Jurasic Park 2) while C picked out a Pteradactyl. We had to go back the next day to allow the kids to play in the "Dino Dig" area (which is so very cool) because we closed out the place the first day. What was even more special was the fact that while we were there the KS School for the Deaf has a small field trip there, so C (and all of us) were exposed to tons of sign language. It was fabulous and made us truly appreciate the distinct education possibilities available in the area for C.

Our flight home was interesting. We flew Northwest who gave us 4 seats in completely different areas of the plane on all of our flights. The flights going to Missouri were fixed quickly and easily, while the flights returning home were not so pretty. We checked in 3 hours early so we could save $30 on the rental car but the guy checking us in could only fix the short Minneapolis flight. And, because we only had a 35 minute layover in Minneapolis there wouldn't be enough time to fix the problem there. The guy had the nerve to tell us in a rather haughty tone (with his nose stuck so high in the air that it could have been used as a telescope to view the moon) that we had better hurry to our gate so we could attempt to fix the problem because he couldn't fix it 5 hours BEFORE the scheduled departure. Well, needless to say, I was pissed and made it VERY clear. I'm surprised they didn't kick me off the plane for my obnoxious behavior (oh was I hoping because I had my lawsuit planned out... I'm so tired of the airlines holding us all hostage for their convenience, though I truly apprciate all the hard work and good attitudes of most of the flight attendants we've met through the years).

Well, we were being watched over because there was an earlier flight to Minneapolis that we were able to get on (and we are ever so grateful to the gate attendant for arranging this for us). And since we arrived in Minnesota two hours early we were able to get our seats for the second leg of our return trip squared away. This was a great thing because there were numerous other families whose children were spread all across the plane with no adult supervision. Very poor planning on Northwest's part (especially when they completely blew off the seats we requested when we purchased the tickets). One nice thing about Minneapolis' airport: They have a play area for kids! It was fabulous with an airplane, traffic control tower, tram and suitecases that the kids could climb in and around. It was a great way for them to let off steam! THANKS MUCH, Minnesota, FOR THIS GREAT TREAT!!!

All in all, the trip was wonderful. Our family was fabulous, our house was amazing (reminding me why I fell in love with it 3-1/2 years ago), our kids had fun and our flights were safe!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

FOR POP!

video

M insisted on doing a "Rock Song For Pop" rather than a "Love Song For Mom". I did get an adorable "Happy Birthday Love Song" (see my b-day post below) earlier, so I guess I cannot complain. Note M's back-up dancer... C was, quite obviously, enjoying the music M was making. So, Pop, hope you enjoyed the show!!!

Happy B-Day, Manette!!!

Today is my b-day. I am 37 years old (woo-hoo)! The kids let Matt and I sleep in this morning (which was NOT planned) and we were surprised at the time when they came into our room at 7:50am. M, speaking loudly, said, "Good Morning, Mom and Dad!" C just stood in the doorway waiting to see if we would wake up. When we were able to open our eyes, both kids ran over to our bed and jumped on us giving hugs and kisses (I love these kinds of "good morning" rituals).

At all this racket att dove out of bed and tried to usher the kids out of our room. I wanted to snooze a bit more, but I really didn't mind the kids being around. So, Matt happily left the room only to come back a few moments later bearing a gift... (Surprise!!!)

The bag was heavy and the card was large. Both things were absolutely perfect and solely from the kids! I read the card, which had the most beautiful sentiments about how wonderful I am as a mother and how much they would miss in life if they didn't have me! I cried the entire time I read it. The tears flowed even more when I opened my gift...

I was given a DIGITAL PHOTO FRAME!!! I have some photos on it already, but will be adding and removing photos over the next few weeks in order to have a complete collection of photos depicting the amazing life I've had! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU, lovely family... This was the best gift you could have gotten for me!!!
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Friday, July 11, 2008

OH NO....

As I was editting my last post (about rude people) I heard the front door close. I immediately thought Matt had come home for lunch, but got up to double check anyway since the kids were down stairs watching a cartoon. Just as I reached the bedroom doorway I heard M yell, "MOM, C JUST WENT OUTSIDE BY HERSELF!!!" This has been a huge concern sincewe brought C home, especially since she has absolutely no idea she cannot simply wander where she will (she has a hugely strong personality and feels that she can do what she wants, whenever she desires).

Needless to say, there was no more moseying down the stairs to greet my hubby... I RACED down the steps and dove out the front door. I was terrified, but thankfully C was standing just outside the door talking to our neighbors. She's in serious trouble and I'm doing all I can to ensure she doesn't do that again!!! She's been restricted from playing outside today and is being told every time she asks why she cannot go out to play with her friends that she cannot just go outside whenever she wants to. She spent almost 10 minutes in time out just to make sure the point was driven home. Yelling in sign language is a lot easier than many would think... The body language tells all!!! Our poor neighbor thought I was angry with her, but it wasn't her fault. C just went off!!! This was the first time she made it out the door, though she's tried to go play with her friends without telling me about 4 times now.

Hopefully, next time she'll think twice before doing that again! And from now on I'm locking the screen door!!! Oh My Gosh!!!

How Rude!

We get looks all the time from strangers. Usually it is because we are such a unique family. For the most part, we simply ignore those stares from strangers, though every once in a while they look for such a long time it is hard to ignore, at which point I will make a point of talking to them.
Yesterday was a different situation entirely... M, C and I went to the aquarium again (we have a season pass for that and the zoo). We arrived in the Dome at the center of the property and it was crowded. Unfortunately, the adults were worse than the kids. M and C wanted to sit down, but with such minimal space I chose to stand up in the center behind them. As C was making her way down the steps (a difficult and slow process for her since she has no balance) a middle-aged woman barged her way past C to lay claim to the seats M and C were headed towards. Then, this lady turned to her hubby (who was carrying his 2 year old son/grandson) and egged him on to get down there before the seats were taken. I was so mad about this situation, but I want to teach my kids that this is truly not a big deal. But, when the man tried to get past my daughter but couldn't, he started mumbling under his breath about her not moving. First, I was angry that they were shoving my children around, second I was upset that they took the seats my kids were trying to use but this last thing was the final straw. I reached in front of the man and (very nicely) said, "She's trying to go down to see the fish, too. But, she can't move out of your way when you ask her to because she can't hear you. She's deaf!" Then I pull C back up the steps and told both kids we would move to a different spot. The man was so utterly embarrassed about his behavior that he stepped back and blubbered incoherantly about his what he had done.

GOOD... He deserved it! People shouldn't be so rude and in such a hurry to beat a 5-year-old to see some fish. Kids are rude now-a-days, but their parents are the ones who have taught them to be this way!
On a side note... I've embedded several photos (photos removed). C loves the touching pools. M really enjoys playing make-believe (especially with the octopus tentacles). And, in the phot with both kids posing as a diver and an eel, M put his head through the hole and was a tad bit stuck (though not so badly he wasn't able to get out, but you could see the uncertainty in his face).

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fourth of July Full of Family and Fun

What a weekend... We left our house on Thursday afternoon on a 13 hour drive to visit my family in California. We arrived early Friday morning and immediately decided that we were way too old for those types of trips. What made it even worse was the idea that we would be repeating it on Sunday night.

But, the drive was well worth it... We were able to enjoy all the love that my family has to offer (minus by brother and his family, who were missed greatly). Several aunts, uncles, and cousins showed up for M's birthday along with my two grandfathers, a dear family friend, and Nonno's girlfriend. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, especially M and C. We did absolutely no work (odd since my dad is a work-a-holic) the entire weekend and simply lounged around enjoying the "cool" weather and the company.

On our drive home, sadly, we saw so many deer carcasses. It was as if the deer had decided to become kamikaze pilots sacrificing themselves in order to destroy the rolling metal death traps that vehicles are known for among the deer population. In fact, as we rounded a corner, Matt exclaimed "This is going to hurt" right before I heard the sickening crunch of bone and meat as it was ground into mush. As we rounded a sharp corner, our Mazda MPV struck a dead deer that had been struck down earlier in the night. The corner was sharp enough that it prevented Matt from taking evasive action leaving momentos in the form of bone, hide, and meat attached to the underbelly of our van.

Overall, the trip was a success and we can hardly wait until the family reunion in August.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, M!!!
You are 6 years old today!


Today, M turned 6 years old! My twins are no longer twins, at least for another 6 months and 13 days. M woke up this morning to find a birthday gift waiting for him... He now has his own scooter!!! We let him ride it in the house this morning (since it was only 6:30am), but it will be outside in the future. He was so excited to have this gift and I'm glad we decided to make the last minute purchase.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, M!!!
You are 6 years old today

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Black Bear, Black Bear...

This evening was so enjoyable. M had a doctor's appointment so that he could get a sports physical (in the hopes of getting him enrolled in Karate, swimming, basketball and/or soccer. C's turn will come shortly; as soon as I can get her an appointment). We also needed to verify his shots were up to date for school next year.

I dropped Matt off at work this afternoon and took off to the hospital. We had to wait a very lengthy time because the physician was running extremely late (kind of unusual in this location... They seem to do very well maintaining their appointment times). We finished with the doctor at around 3:20pm and headed home.

After chatting with Mike (I was trying to reach my sister and instead got her other half) for about 30 minutes and then my mom for another swift 30 minutes, I headed off to pick up Matt.

On my way there, I decided I didn't want to cook! So, I took Matt home to change before we headed out to Denny's (it's "Kids Eat Free Tuesday" dinner night). The meal was nice and, considering it was actually payday, the restaraunt was quiet.

We headed home after our delicious meal. As we headed through the North Gate of post I told Matt that there was a movie I wanted to buy, though I couldn't, for the life of me, recall what it was. So, he pulled into the shopette to purchase the movie there.

The cool thing was that as we pulled in, Matt slammed on the brakes and just stared towards back side of the building. Moseying down the dirt path was a big black bear!!! It wasn't more than 20 yards in front of our van. I'm scrambling to point the bear out to the kids and it suddenly dawns on me that I should have brought our camera. I mention the thought out loud and Matt says, "Use the phone!"

I grabbed the phone and, in a dither about how to get a quick shot, I clicked the button. Unfortunately, right about that time, some young soldiers, who had pulled in behind us, started yelling at the bear and chased it off. They followed it down the path in their car. I'm not sure why they did that, but it kind of ruined the moment for me.

I must admit, though, I pulled a REALLY stupid move in photographing the bear: I got out of the van in an attempt to walk towards it! Yes... I was very dumb at that particular moment in my life. I was just so excited to see a bear roaming free in the wild. That is one of the most amazing things about the military: They are very cautious about encouraging nature and regularly replant trees, build safe havens for birds, and ensure the wildlife on post is protected.

This is the photograph I got of the bear... It's the little black speck in the middle of the picture!!!