Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

Of course we've all heard the saying "Hurry up and wait," and it is especially familiar to those who have adopted. This being my first adoption, I am certainly feeling what it's like to be frantic and still all at once, and I cannot say that I really like the experience. It's not just the physical hurrying followed by a period of physical waiting. It's the constant sense of urgency to save Katya combined with the knowledge that I am completely helpless to do it quickly. I think maybe this relates to our "fight or flight" instincts that get us all revved up and full of adrenaline when there is an imminent situation at hand. "Katya NEEDS to be rescued right NOW," says my autonomic nervous system, but my brain says, "There is no way you can move faster. Your actions can't make this go any faster." But the constant "fight" mode my body is in is draining. A normal "fight" or rescue may take hours at best, and then the body and mind can rest and rejuvenate. But this could take much, much longer.

When I was expecting to have Katya in September, my body was in super adrenaline mode, and I was thinking non-stop about every detail that needed taken care of. Now that things are so sticky and chances of getting her anytime soon are slim, I feel like my adrenaline cycle has gotten thrown out of whack. And I don't know if I should spend 4 hours a day learning Russian, start preparing Sara for a sister to arrive, start buying furniture for Katya's (shared) room, and raise funds ceaselessly OR if I can do all these things as they are needed but also just have some time to relax and prepare myself mentally and emotionally. It truly is a crazy experience, this not knowing when Katya may be able to come home.

Not too much new news otherwise. We are pretty set on most of our home study paperwork. Our Ohio background checks, which I requested well over a month ago have not been received yet, though. I don't think it was supposed to take this long. We have a fire inspection and two vet appointments Friday. Then Tuesday is our home study visit, and Wednesday is our Immigration Services fingerprints appointment.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I am feeling really sad about the news I posted yesterday. I don't want Katya to have to wait any longer for a family; every month is such a long time when you've only lived for 4 years. When I thought we'd get her in September, there was so much to prepare so quickly that I had very little time to think about Katya being in the orphanage. But now that it may be what seems like forever until we can go to her, I feel so helpless and so sad for her. And somehow she has become much more real to me, and I feel like she is already a part of our family. And I just want to get to her before her development is any further delayed or before any more psychological damage is done. But I know that it is not in my control.

But we're praying for her and thinking of her all of the time. Even Sara is pretending to write her letters. Yesterday, she spoke as she scribbled, "For Katya- Love you." It is amazing to me that my 20 month old comprehends so much of this process. And I can't wait for her to have a sister.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Some "Not So Good" News (But Also an Exciting Opportunity)

Apparently, back in February a new policy in Katya's country reduced the number of diseases that allow for an expedited dossier submission. The new list has only 12 conditions on it, and Katya's is not one of them. What this basically means it that, where Katya did have a chance of being adopted before her transfer to the institution and before her country (possibly) halts adoptions for awhile, there is now a much smaller chance that this will happen. If we do not somehow get around the new policy, we are probably looking at something like February, 2010 to bring Katya home instead of September, 2009 like we originally thought. So this is really bad news for Katya. We are hoping that a new policy will be passed soon (supposedly one is in the works) and that the orphanage director at the "baby house" where Katya now lives will hold her there for us and not allow her to be transferred to an institution when she turns 5. Please pray for this and for Katya's health and psychological well-being in the meantime.

On a positive note, I have been meaning to talk about a very special medical missions trip for quite a while now. It is called Little Loaves and Fishes and has been coordinated by a wonderful woman name Hope Anne who has prayed for Katya for quite sometime. Inspired by Katya's situation, she has recruited 2 doctor to travel to Katya's orphanage and to help with the medical needs of the children there! She is hoping to travel as soon as possible but is still trying to raise all of the funds needed to send the 2 doctors and a helper. I think that she needs to raise about $3500 still. You can donate at using Paypal and can read more about the trip there.

I am personally very excited about the trip now more than ever. I am hoping that Hope Anne can talk to the orphanage director to assure him that family is coming for Katya. I am also hoping that the doctors can do something to help with any pain that Katya is experiencing. And, of course, the doctors and Hope Anne can give Katya a lot of love and pray over her. That will be very comforting to me. And maybe this medical trip will be the first of many that can really help these kids!

Friday, May 15, 2009

I realize that a few people who read the blog don't know me or my family in "real life," so thought I'd give a quick introduction. I really appreciate the fact that some people are following the adoption because they knew about, loved, and prayed for Katya even before we had committed to adopting her. There is one very special story that involved someone praying for Katya well before I had even thought about adopting, but I am going to save that story for it's own post because it is really awesome.

Anyways, Jon and I have been married for 6 years. We have lived in quite a few places around Ohio (and a brief stint in Pennsylvania) since getting married. Jon went to Penn State and is a loyal fan. I went to Liberty in Virginia and just loved the beautiful mountains and the slightly more laid back lifestyle. I HATE driving in snow and didn't have to deal with snow very much in Virginia, but for some reason we can't seem to move out of Ohio (though we've tried many times!). Jon's degree was in Hotel and Restaurant Mngt, and he worked in that for awhile and didn't really like it. Now he drives around all day and inspects properties, which he likes a lot. I have an M.Ed. in Counseling and currently work part-time as a therapist for kids with Asperger's or Autism. Jon and I also have an amazing, silly, active and very talkative daughter. She is 20 months old, and we love her beyond words. We have so much love for her, in fact, that we knew it was just too much love not to be shared with another child. That is a big part of why we want to adopt Katya. And she will add even MORE love.

I think I covered all the basics. And I do thank everyone who takes the time to read this and those who have offered such wonderful words of encouragement to us in this journey.

Oh, by the way, we received out finger print appt dates today in the mail. The appt will be May 27, the day after our one and only in-home social worker visit. Once the homestudy and fingerprints are turned into the Immigration Services office, we will be well on our way to getting the form we need from Immigration Services, and then all we have to do is submit the dossier!

I found these pictures at the Life 2 Orphans website. They were taken in January 2007 during a medical outreach trip. Isn't she so precious?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I neglected to provide an update about Katya's adoption earlier so I will now. Just the nitty gritty details.

Tomorrow is Jon's doctor's appointment to get needed papers signed. The requirements for Katya's country are very strange, and Jon's doctor acted taken aback when he described them to her. So we're hoping she'll cooperate tomorrow. We're also hoping to apply for our passports tomorrow.

My brother has volunteered to help with fundraising and is going to make some calls to his football and music friends to see what he can get them to donate. Then we're planning to sell what he collects on e-bay. I have a few other fundraising ideas, too. Some friends from Facebook have already generously donated, which was really unexpected and made me feel good. I also found out that the state has a $1500 tax credit on top of the federal tax credit; it may take a couple of years to collect the money back from our taxes, but that makes taking a loan feel a little less risky. So money stuff is looking pretty good, relatievly speaking, I'd say. And thanks to everyone who has already helped out!

Also, I have been doing lots of "researching" about Katya's medical issues ("researching" means "googling"). And I really feel that Katya may not have Crouzon's Syndrome at all, which is her given diagnosis. From looking at lots of pictures and making connections between lots of articles and websites I've perused, I actually think she might have plagiocephaly with torticollis and possibly hip-joint dysplasia. Overall, this is GREAT news. It means that her brain growth has probably not been affected. Also, she can probably have a very simple neck surgery to correct the torticollis (sideways neck), which probably caused the plagiocephay (misshapen head). The sad thing is that this all would have been very likely correctable when she was an infant without any surgery at all had she received appropriate therapies.

So that's it. And we are just praying all will go smoothly and quickly.

Sweet Reality

I am enjoying a perfect hour, lounging on my parents' couch on the porch while Sara sleeps, feeling the wind sweep past me, and savoring dark chocolate and coffee with real, full-fat cream. Close to perfection.

Although whenever Sara sleeps, I have this slight anxiety that something will interrupt her sleep too early and that the enjoyment will come to an abrupt halt with no gentle segue back to reality. I need a transition and nothing irritates me more than when moments I have looked forward to and allowed to become larger than life in my mind are unpleasantly disturbed by the things I can't control.

It's hard to decide sometimes if the wonderful experience of savoring a moment so much that I can't bear to see it part (as well as thinking over and over again ahead of time just how wonderful I expect the experience to be) is worth anxiety of trying to control my everything and the utter disappointment when (of course!) each and every time I cannot. Over the years, I have decided more and more to trade the feelings of excitement for those of a relaxed and laissez faire lifestyle. I have missed my time romanticizing but have not missed the anxiety one bit.

Sorry for that 3 paragraph tangent. It kind of ties into the adoption, though. I guess that anything can. I have tried not to overly romanticize the forthcoming experience of meeting Katya for the first time, so as not to have to suffer the anxiety of over planning and acting rigid and uptight trying to make things go my way while I'm overseas. I am figuring that if I don't expect much, I'll be better able to just go with flow. But I do long for that moment that I can hug and hold Katya and just let her know that finally she has a family who will love her and take care of her. I worry about her medical needs and her emotional needs and worry that she might be in pain all the time because of her neck being to one side all of the time. But I just don't let myself think about it too much.

Well, the phone rang and the dogs started barking. My perfection has come to an end. Back to sweet reality.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day! I was able to spend my day with both my mother and my grandmother, and it was a wonderful day. My brother grilled pizzas and really good turkey burgers for an early dinner. It was awesome food, and my brother is a great cook. I really just have a great family overall, and I cannot imagine life without them. Honestly, one of the reasons that I feel so comfortable adopting is because of the amazing people that I know will love my future child. My parents and grandmother have given so much love and time to Sara, and I know that they will do the same for Katya. They have sacrificed their time, money, emotional and physical energy in order to show their love to my daughter (and to me, my brother, and my husband). They are incredibly generous, full of life and laughter, flexible and inexhaustible, talented educators, and just amazing people! But most important, they have so much love and freely give it away. And I feel that there is just too much love to keep it all to ourselves. There is plenty more for another family member. And I am so excited for Katya to be able to be a part of our family. I am truly blessed.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Well, we haven't been at this adoption adventure for too long yet, but I would say that the past week has been the most difficult so far. We've been running into a couple of minor obstacles, such as having difficulty getting the medical paperwork we need for the country we are adopting from, but these all seem to be easily resolvable with a little extra effort. Our notification came today from Immigration Services, and it had boxes that were supposed to be checked to tell us what we need to do, but nothing was checked. We are not allowed to call the Immigration office without an appointment, and the letter stated that we should not try to contact them until it has been at least 45 days since they have received everything needed to complete the I-1600 A petition (but without the check boxes we don't even know what more we need.) It cost us $830 to have their office process our application (which is a whopping 2 pages long!), so the stringent requirements NOT to contact the office seem a bit crazy. And I am a bit of an over-jealous rule followe. Maybe Jon can break the rules and e-mail the office...?

But like I said, all the little paperwork things have been pretty minor, and I think we'll get through it all. What has been really hard has been balancing the adoption paperwork demands with the normal craziness of our everyday lives. And it was an abnormally crazy week. Jon started a new aspect of his job, which kept him away from home a lot. My brother came in from RI to visit for the weekend. I had some problems at work, which still have not been resolved and have been stressing me out a bit.

On top of all that, we've been telling a lot more people about the adoption lately. And we've gotten a strange mix of causal support, excitement, and aggressive lines of questioning...each response from different sets of people, of course. And honestly, that's been a bit hard. It is already difficult for us to stay the course and follow through on doing something that we know full well will make our lives much more challenging in many ways, but it has become extremely hard to keep myself on course and defend against concerns from well-meaning people. We didn't get any of this when I was pregnant, just lots of well wishes and cute pink baby outfits! :)

Also, I sent out a kind of anouncement about the adoption to some people via e-mail and facebook. I didn't want to just suddenly have a 5 year old in 3 months with everyone totally confused about how that happened, but it seemed wierd to send out this general announcement. Also, I took the chance to let people know that we could really use any donations to help make getting Katya home a reality. Until today, I wasn' sure if I would mention the money part of it at all to people, but I did, and I feel kind of wierd about it. But the truth is, we really want to save Katya from a horrible future and possibly even death at an institution, and though humbling to make our financial need know, it will be worth it for Katya.

So that's the long and short of it (I'm not really sure if that saying applies here, but I like the way it sounds). Now I am off to do some more paperwork. Fun.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Working in Slow Motion

Have you ever had a day where your brain and body seem to be literally moving in slow motion? That's how I'm feeling today. And Jon, too. It really stinks when both spouses have a slow day on the same day. We have been attempting to clean up the house since 8:30 this morning, and it is nowhere near cleaned up. Of course, it doesn't help that Sara likes to "help" us clean up by dumping water on the floor, unfolding clothes we've just folded, etc. And she's reached a new stage where she wants either Jon or I with her all of the time. She takes our hands and drags us with her to play, and we cannot resist because she is so precious. When she wants us to stop what we're doing so that she can sit in our lap, she says, "Hold ya." It is so cute and a constant and irresistible temptation to stop working and just be with Sara.

I talked with the home study worker last night. She just went over the checklist of all that we need to do for the home study, and we're well on our way. There were a couple of random things I had forgotten about or didn't know about, such as having a fire extinguisher in our kitchen, calling the fire department to do an inspection of our home, drawing out an evacuation plan, getting our pets' shots updated. But there was nothing too overwhelming. The person I talked to last night said that the social worker will probably come for our one and only home visit in mid-May. So from there, we will just have to submit the home study to USCIS and wait for approval. Then we'll compile and submit our dossier, and then we'll hopefully get a travel date.

I was looking at someone's blog yesterday, the blog of a family who is adopting from the same country that we are. They recently sent their dossier and received word from the country that it would be officially submitted in September. I was perplexed since we were lead to believe that it would only take 3-6 months to bring Katya home total, so I e-mailed the coordinator we're working with at Reece's Rainbow. She said that for most of the special needs kids who they help to find homes, there is no wait for the dossier to be submitted, but there is a long wait when adopting typical kids. We are not completely sure if Katya's condition (Crouzon Syndrome) falls on the "official list" that would qualify her for quick submission. Apparently, this "official list" is not published, so we have no way of finding out. The coordinator did say that she will have the facilitator (the in country contact who first found and referred Katya) submit a picture of Katya with the dossier to clarify that she does indeed have a special need. Anyways, this is something we need to pray about. The extra time to prepare would actually be a good thing for us, BUT it would not be a good thing for Katya since she is scheduled to be institutionalized soon and since intercountry adoptions have an unstable future in her country right now. Because of these factors, we hope to get her fast! So we will pray that God's will be done in all of this.

By the way, you may have noticed that we never mention Katya's country of origin. We are not supposed to due to privacy laws in that country, so we will definitely respect that. When we travel, we will set our blog to private so that we can discuss more specifics about where we are. And we can invite anyone interested to be able to follow the blog while we are away.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sara an I have had a great morning at the library and the park. At the park, we got totally wet going in puddles and sliding down dirty, wet slides. My back side was completed soaked, and I realized that I honestly didn't care if anyone saw my wet behind. And since we took my car, I didn't have to worry about getting Jon's car muddy (which he is not a fan of!). So that was fun. I love this time of year in Ohio.

Jon set up his doctor's appt for next week and is going to get his blood drawn and his fingers printed today. Our checklist is dwindling, and I think we have gotten mostly everything I had hoped to get done this week completed. I have a phone appt with the homestudy social worker tonight, and then there is only one actual home visit.

I also started to think about how we will set up the girls' room since we only have a 2 bedroom condo. I am deciding if we should transition Sara into a bed before or after Katya arrives and how and where we will fit everything. I am not the best at matching and decorating, so I am hoping that my mom will help me this summer. She's great at that kind of thing.

At the library