International Adoption Book

Friday, January 30, 2009

Report Card Day

Today was a spectacular day for both of our little angels. They brought home their report cards and boy were we pleasantly surprised!!! C made some improvements to her report card (although she does so well in school it's difficult for her to have improvements at all, thereby making the improvements all the more wonderful)! And M made DRASTIC improvements. He got almost ALL "S's" with a few "S+'s" and several "N's". Last quarter, his report card was nearly all "N's" with a few "S's" spattered around. The remarks from the teachers were spectacular. And, although he is in the lowest reading group, he has made huge improvements there, too. The only subject he is truly having problems in is Math (although he still struggles with Reading, too).

To top it all off, M brought home yet another note telling me he passed ANOTHER reading test!!! THAT MAKES 3 IN A ROW!!!

Both kids are getting the opportunity of picking a toy for a reward!!! How much more proud can a parent be?!? They Did GREAT!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saint Theresa

Okay... So I received this from a very special lady in my life and, though I tend not to forward too many things, I really felt touched by this prayer. As I read it I thought about my life and all that had happened in it; the good things, the bad things and the things that I never thought would matter. And it dawned on me that all these things combined has given me a most precious gift: My Wonderful Life! I have a family who loves me, children I couldn't live without and a husband who means the world to me. I have faith in myself, faith in my world and faith in those around me. Most importantly, I FIRMLY believe that everything that has happened throughout my life has given me something to be proud of: LOVE and ACCEPTANCE! So, I wanted to share this with each of you, because there are so many special people out there who have given me something to look forward to, dream of and goals to achieve, especially within the world of adoption and with my own family. So, thank you and I wish each of you a wonderful, peaceful and fulfilled life that is full of love and acceptance!

In case anyone is not aware, Saint Theresa is known as the Saint of the Little Ways. Meaning she believed in doing the little things in life well and with great love. She is also the patron Saint of flower growers and florists. She is represented by roses.

St. Theresa's Prayer:
'May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.'

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yet Another IEP Meeting

I attended C's IEP meeting this morning. I was really rather pleased with how the IEP was written. C's Deaf/HoH teacher was able to include some of my needs for C, albeit in a manner more fitting to what can be included in an IEP rather than my specific demands. I must admit that I was quite worried that my desires (more importantly, what I felt was best for my daughter) wouldn't be addressed as clearly as their desire to see her speak/use her cochlear implant. So, to say that I was pleasantly surprised that my concerns were addressed as best they could is an understatement.

Oh, I know that they've listened to me all year long (they really do) but they can only do so much with the program that they started within the school district. Especially when they have parents clammoring for so many different communication instructions (most of whom wanted an oral based Total Communication while a select few, okay... Only me, wanted an ASL based program). I actually feel very sorry for C's Deaf/HoH team because of this very reason. And, to be perfectly honest, I'm the biggest culprit.

Knowing how difficult I made their world, I was certain that my concerns would have been brushed over with minimal effort. Oh me of little faith... That trust that I have in Mr. K (who has been my guiding force since moving here) should have seeped over onto everyone else.

Needless to say, each and every one of my desires for C's education were placed in the IEP in the best manner Mrs. H could possibly add them. So, my sincerest thanks to her and her team for listening to my concerns.

I do have to admit, before anyone reading this thinks that this school has done anything to the contrary, that Mrs. H and Mr. K have both completely understood and empathsized with me regarding C's education. In a nutshell, C was removed from an amazing deaf/hoh Total Communication program that was well established with an emphasis on ASL and SEE (for reading) and had numerous children her age who all signed as their main corm of communication and placed in a new Total Communication program that was Oral Based and designed for preschoolers. This means that she's been mainstreamed for Kindergarten and goes to the Self-Contained Deaf/HoH classroom in the afternoon. The initial school gave C the social ability to interact with her peers (and by peers I FIRMLY mean other DEAF children within her own age range). She completely lost this ability since the students she got put with are her HEARING peers. Though C can interact well with anyone, she does best in a situation where she is able to interact with those who are most like her (just as the rest of humanity does).

So, though the program C is currently in is doing very well (and is expanding tremendously), it just was not what I felt was right for C. Seriously, would you willingly move your child from a school where they are getting A's and excelling at everything they do to a school where nobody was like them and where your child had to rely on a select few adults to interact with their peers? This would be the same as taking your child from an English speaking school and placing them in a Deaf school with an interpreter and expecting them to do well and socialize with the other kids. It's not fair to do that to a hearing child, so why do that to a deaf child?

This is my philosophy and I fought for this change for the majority of the school year. Obviously, I had to conceed and it's turned out fine (not as good as if she were in the other program, but I've been fairly content with her progress). It's been great to hear that she's in the top of her class for reading! And she's so smart and able to adjust to whatever environment she is put into, so I rarely worry. I just want the absolute BEST for my children!

And, I think that Mrs. H was able to accommodate most of my concerns, while leaving the IEP open just enough to be able to work more fuildy within C's perameters (since she's so swift at picking up new tools).

In fact, Mrs. Kinder-H (C's Kindergarten teacher) validated my concerns by stating that her students want to interact with C but always needed the interpreters help to talk with her. In so doing, they loose the one-on-one interaction, though they would try. In addition, Mrs. Kinder-H felt that C never connected with her. It wasn't until yesterday while I was waiting to pick M up from school that C acknowledged her with a huge wave and a smile, the first time C has acknoweldged her without prompting.

So, with a hearty thanks to Mrs. H, Mrs. Kinder-H, Mr. K (especially) and the ENTIRE team who worked with C, Thank You for all you have done this year and for putting up with a demanding parent!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Can IVF Really Work?

As most of you know, I am super passionate about adoption. I think it is a miracle to be able to raise a family through adoption. Even so, Matt and I have tried off and on for more than 15 years to become pregnant through minor fertility treatments.

When we first realized we were not going to get pregnant (shortly after we were married 15-1/2 years ago) we thought about trying IVF (invitro fertilization). With the prices being so high, though, we nixed the idea almost as swiftly as it came into our wee-little heads.

This past April, though, we decided to give "it" one more shot. We went to our primary doctor for a referral to the Fertility Specialist, which we got instantly.

We saw Dr. C for the first time in June. The first thing he said was, "After reviewing your past treatments and your health history, I truly believe you are a perfect candidate for IVF."

Needless to say, Matt and I were stunned. This was never a possibility, at least, not since the first year or two, so we didn't know what to say (or do). But with a glance at each other we both instantly got excited and said, "HELL YAH!" So, he put us on the list and here we are today... More than 7 weeks pregnant with a healthy embryo whose heart is beating 150 times per minute.

I have another blog, which I started in September or October (can't remember exactly when... Apparently a side effect of pregnancy). I just opened it up for public viewing, so feel free to go on over and browse. I am about to update it with the ultra sound photo I got today. Enjoy... And yes, IVF can and does work!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009


We're back to having twins, again. Today was C's 6th birthday. And though we only had a very small intimate family gathering, her little party turned out nice. My parents mailed several gifts (and my dad picked out her birthday card, which she loved). A close family, who lives in Texas, sent C up a tons of gifts (which totally overwhelmed her). And our precious neighbor brought her a birthday present earlier today. Matt, M and I gave C our own little gift, too.

So, what did she get? A TON of Hello Kitty products (from drawing paper to pencils, nail polish, hair barettes, a very cute outfit and the list goes on and on and on) from our Texas friends, a Nintendo DS Kung Fu Panda video game from our neighbor (to go with the DS's Santa brought to the kids at Christmas), two small squishy dolls from Matt, M and I and a couple of precious moment statues and a cute teddy bear that came with it's own clothes for C to dress from my parents. She hit the jackpot!

Hope you enjoy the photos of her special day!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why Don't You Adopt From Foster Care?

This question was posed to one of my Yahoo! groups. People ask me this all the time and I tend to give the same answer (a much more brief response than what is found below), but I thought I would post it here so that anyone else who is curious may be able to better understand the choices an adoptive faimly makes and why. Though this by no means covers every one's reasons, it does tend to cover a majority. Plus, this gives the public a great opportunity to know some point that they can make to their own givernment agencies to help fix a broken system! Enjoy the read. I hope it stirs up your emotions and makes you think about the life of an adoptive family and the lives of the children they love:

Dear Ma'am,

You touched on a subject that is close to my heart. Our son was adopted from foster care and we attempted to adopt two more beautiful little boys through foster care, as well. Unfortunately, those precious boys went to their bio-aunt who, after being legally free and placed with our family for 9 months specifically for adoption, suddenly decided she wanted them. Needless to say, we were heartbroken to such a degree that we felt as if our children died. We turned to International Adoption (China) and brought home our beautiful deaf daughter.

Having said that, I will express a personal opinion that I tell everyone who asks me this very same question: There are millions of children around the world who need loving homes and families. Each country and adoption program is unique with their own draw-backs, hurdles and rewards. Each individual family must consider what they can handle and make the choices that best fit their needs.

I can tell you that it can be extremely difficult to adopt children from with in our own country, far more so than through most other countries. Family members show up and decide they want the kids we, as adoptive families, have cared for and grown to love or birth parents suddenly change their minds after we've faithfully paid expenses and put our hearts on the line. Granted, these things can happen with any adoption, but it seems (in my experience) that those of us who want to adopt from within our own borders experience it far more. In addition, we are being shut out and dealt with as secondary entities by social workers, governments and biofamilies. Granted, the children must be their first priority, but somewhere we should have rights to be protected and be allowed to raise the children we've grown to love so much.

To make another point, families tend to adopt from locations that they feel drawn to. Our next adoption will most likely happen in Ethiopia, though that's not set in stone, because we feel that our next child is waiting there. We have to follow where our hearts lead. I don't question those who refuse to adopt or those who can't adopt. They have to follow their hearts and what is right for them just as we do.

With all that being said, I firmly believe that the foster and adoption laws in the US need to be changed and/or ammended to better protect adoptive families and the children they are adopting. I advocate for that to happen with letters to my congressmen/women and voicing my concerns to those who ask why I "don't adopt from the US foster care system". One day, children will be far better protected and adoptive families will be better represented, uniting two groups of people who dearly desire to be a family.

I realize that foster parents see the foster care system in a different light than those of us who have tried adopting these very special children. But, they don't see the hurt and the pain adoptive families go through due to the loss of a foster child who was placed with them for the purpose of adoption. We'll adopt again from foster care, but we're not ready to risk our hearts and souls like that again, yet.

The children in the US foster care system remain in my heart. But the government needs to take action to fix a very broken system! To give you an example, there was a 2 year old little girl in our local area who had been placed in foster care. Her maternal grandparents attempted to adopt her but the little girl's social worker decided they were "meddling" into her affairs and so advocated for them to not get her. They fought for a year to get her back and, finally, the judge allowed them to adopt her (because the reason for the social worker's denial was petty, unrealistic and done for personal reasons).

I hope this has given you some insight as to how a family chooses where to adopt a child from. And, I also hope it gives you, and others who want to help the children of our beautiful country, some good points to make with your own congressmen/women in order to help change the lives of these precious children.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Happy School Days

Today was a fabulous day. First, both kids were at school today leaving Matt and I at home for our second ever "Adult Day" (since he has a four-day weekend thanks to MLK). We, along with our neighbor, went to a fabulous little fish market in downtown Tacoma and ate a wonderful clam chowder (the best I've ever eaten). Matt packed his personal gear that he'll be shipping to Iraq in short period and I took a much needed nearly two-hour nap!

The day got better because Miss C was sent home with some very nice notes from her kindergarten teacher and the school's PTA wishing her a very happy birthday (her sixth birthday is on Monday and we'll be back to having twins for another five-and-a-half months).

It didn't stop there, though... Mr. M passed yet another reading test!!! Yep, that's right!!! He passed ANOTHER reading test!!! That's TWO IN A ROW!!! An amazing feat for him since he just passed his second (out of nine) reading test last week!!! What a GREAT way to start the weekend!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

6 More Weekends

With only six weekends left living in Washington State we're working up a storm packing up our house. Since this move is our choice while Matt is deployed we are required to do all the work ourselves.

So, for the past several weekends, Matt has cleaned out the garage and we've begun working on the indoors. The garage was so full of our stuff that we couldn't get the van parked inside. In fact, it was so crowded in there that we had to walk a specific trail just to get to the stand-up freezer. We couldn't even store the garbage cans in there... They just wouldn't fit!

Needless to say, our van is now able to park inside the garage... With TONS of room to spare! I LOVE it and will enjoy the remaining six weeks of getting from the house to the van without getting soaked from sprinting through the rain.

In the mean time, I have boxes just waiting to be filled. Oh we'll need lots more, but at least I have stuff that I can work with for the next week or two.

We also scheduled our housing pre-inspection and final out inspection. On February 3rd, between 8:00am and 12:00pm the inspector will come out and see what we need to repair and clean (I'm hoping he won't have us clean the carpets, but I have a feeling he will since we have pets). And on February 23rd, between 9:00 and 11:00am another inspector will come out to ensure we did everything that was on the list to do (properly, of course), at which time we will turn in all the keys we were issued along with the garage door openers (which we are now able to use) and then we will be on our merry little way to California.

So... The busy little bees that we are: We have lots of work to do and only six weeks left to do it in!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Talk About "Thank God"...

I received a FABULOUS phone call this morning from M's reading teacher, Mrs. V. She sounded a bit concerned when I initially answered, so I was preparing myself for a much needed "mother-moment".... You know, that's one of those phone calls where the teacher says, "Mrs. So-And-So, your child is misbehaving and you need to talk to him or I will have to send him home." Okay, well, maybe you don't know what those phone calls are like, but I can tell you from personal experience that my son abhors those phone calls. You see... I don't just sit at home and yell over the phone. I drive myself down to the school, fling myself dramatically into the classroom like a tornado and proceed to make his life a living hell. Thank God I've only had to do that once. Afterwards, all they must do is ask if he needs them to call me into the classroom and his behavior changes like a catepillar changes into a butterfly. It's dramatic to say the least.

But, I digress. This morning's phone call was specatular and had me cryin tears of joy. We had spent the three weeks of winter break (two weeks for winter break and the week prior were snow days here in Washington) playing and just having fun. We didn't study or read or do anything remotely close to what would be considered studying. This was not my intention at all as I had their things set out ready to be read and studied for a brilliant day back at school. This information is vital because it makes the news so much more brilliant!

Young Mr. M PASSED his Chapter 13 reading test! Albiet he did not get a 100%, but he did score enough points to pass. This is so amazing because he has only ever passed one other test after the first month of school! What a pure joy it was to hear this news. Even better? Mrs. V actually cried from joy once she learned that he didn't study at all while he was on Christmas Break!

Needless to say, we're so extremely proud of him and we are giving him a very nice reward: He's having his first sleepover and pizza party (granted, it is with only one friend, but he'll be thrilled)!!! We're even going to allow him to stay awake until 9:00 (his usual bed time is 7:00-7:30). Little Ms. C won't get the extra reward and will still have to follow bedtime rules since she didn't get all of her points this week (making M's reward that much sweeter, of course)!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Oh, Thank God!!!

It makes one feel almost joyous when a long school break is over. The kids have both been out of school now for more than three weeks, making this one of the longest holiday vacations I have ever endured... Ooops, I mean, enjoyed!

The break was long due to winter weather that hit our area so hard the week before the Christmas break. The kids enjoyed the decent amounts of snow, as did Matt and I (to some extent).

Unfortunately, though, the days kept getting longer and longer. M even started acting out from shear boredom, I'm sure. He has enjoyed having his new toys and was saddened when we tossed most of his old ones (although he felt some relief knowing that some other child would be able to enjoy them in the future just as much as he has enjoyed them in the past). But, three plus weeks of nothing to stimulate his (and C's) growing mind (because I utterly failed in the education department during this long break) was ultimately too much for him.

So, it was with pure relief for all four of us that the kids went back to school today. I know it will be rough getting back in the groove of school for M (and a pure joy for little miss C), but it will be well worth every minute!

Finally... I get some much needed peace and quiet! Woo-Hoo!!!

Friday, January 2, 2009

It's A New Year Already?

Wow has this year flown by. So much has happend that I am thankful for and so much has happened that I wish hadn't. But, as I sit here typing this post I bear in mind that each fall from dreamland gives us something new to learn from and something unique to look forward to. Whether it be a new life or a new car, getting rid of old things or saving old memories, or simply seeing out an old year and being able to rejoice in the new I try to remember that everything has it's purpose in my world.

These last several months have seen friends who have waited for years for their children are finally bringing their little ones home. And they've also seen friends hurt and devastated by the loss of children they had fallen in love with and hoped to adopt. Even Matt and I have experienced this type of loss this year, with the loss of a beautiful 4 year old little deaf boy whom we had applied to adopt from China. But, he was adopted within his own country and we are thrilled for him. He is such a doll and he deserves to have a beautiful life with people who will love him just as we would have.

We've also attempted to help our family grow through other methods. Adoption through foster care is finally back on our plate. We are more ready to take on that risk of heartbreak again.

Matt's father has slowly begun having contact with us again. this has been a huge surprise, but welcome. I'm sure it's been just as difficult for him as it has been for us. We can easily forgive, though it's often difficult to forget actions and words that have been done and said (by both sides). We sincerely hope we are all able to continue to work through these early days of a renewed relationship and are hopeful that, one day, we will be able to be closer. Although we have no clue where Matt's sisters or step-mother and the rest of their family stands on the issue of a renewed relationship, we are grateful that J has taken this huge first step in opening communication. If I had to pick the single greatest surprise of 2008, this moment would be it! Thankfully it was a pleasant surprise.

Speaking of Matt's father, this past year Little M has been interested in learning about his extended family (both biological and adoptive). He, in fact, now tells me that he's going to tell my mom, his Nana, when I do something he doesn't like. He often asks about Matt's family and doesn't quite understand why his daddy's daddy isn't known.

I completed writing two books this year. One is titled "Adopting An Angel" (the link is at the top of the homepage) while the other is entitled simply "Honu". Adopting An Angel has two versions. The first version (completed late 2007) is a private version that is a detailed account of C's journey into our world, while the public version (completed in 2008) is less personal with names of our guides and coordinators changed for privacy, though it contains all other non-personal details as the original. Honu, on the other hand, is a personal book written solely for our son and is mainly a photographic history of his first years. They were both such fun and worthy projects and I've decided to do one for each of my children in the future.

C has also grown by leaps and bounds. The progress she has made both in her education and her personal abilities (such as bonding/attachment abilities) has been tremendous. At the beginning of the year, when Matt returned from his one-year hardship tour in Korea, C was obnoxious, telling Matt to leave and she didn't like him, every day. But now she sleeps in his arms and cuddles out of the blue... It's such a precious sight to see! In addition, she has grown so much taller and has thinned out, lossing much of her baby-fat. Her hair is luxurious and lays all the way to the center of her back. She's so beautiful! I can't stop looking at her!!!

M, too, has grown emotionally (and physically). He's made such huge strides in school, though he'll still repeat 1st grade this upcoming school year (which will give us two 1st graders). He's better able to focus and is less angry and touchy with his peers. He's able to follow directions and complete tasks. I am so proud of him. In addition, he's grown so tall that, at just 6-1/2 years old, he stands at the top of my breasts (and I'm no slouch at 5' 7"). He's so skinny that I worry about his health, though I know he's perfectly fine. He's in 8 slim pants, though he's growing out of those so quickly we're going to have to buy him 9 slims before too long. He's a weed that I just can't control!!! And he, too, is so beautiful that I can't stop looking at him.

I love my kids and can hardly wait for next year when we can begin the process of adopting another child again.

2009 holds many trials for our family... Matt will deploy in March and the kids and I will be moving home to be with family for support. But, we'll be as strong and as willing to make this sacrifice as our many predecessors, for whom we are hugely grateful.

Wishing each and every one of you a Happy New Year, a peaceful resolution to all of your dillemmas and many huge thanks to all of our men and women in uniform and their families who, too, must sacrifice so much!