Friday, May 22, 2015

A Jo-Jo Update

Jordan, aka Joe, Jo-Jo, Joege, or George has been home with us for over 9 months now.  He has grown and changed so much.  He's gained 5 pounds and grown 4 inches since joining our family!  Considering he was only 14 pounds when we met him... this is crazy, huge growth and I'm going to go ahead and pat myself (and Ryan) on the back for this.  Getting Jordan to eat has been by far our biggest challenge with him.  We've spent hours upon hours during the day coaxing him to eat and many a late nights feeding him extra bottles.  So it's pretty great to see it's paying off.  Jordan's language comprehension is amazing and his vocabulary is starting to explode.  He's starting to learn the alphabet and can identify about 1/2 the letters now.  He loves cars, Legos, books, jumping on the trampoline, playing outside, and doing anything his older siblings are doing.  Jordan knows what he wants and gives us some two-year-old attitude when he doesn't get it, but his tantrums are really pretty mild and kind of make me laugh.  He is really such a fun kid who is adored everywhere he goes.  I mean, look at the kid... he is darling!


"Where's Jordan?"

"Where's Mama?"

Now stop taking pictures so I can play.

And this is becoming our new normal.  Jordan will most likely be diagnosed with asthma, but the doctor is holding off a little bit longer before making it official.  (It's usually not diagnosed until a child is 5 years old)  I am still so new to the asthma world and trying to understand the ins and outs of it.  All I know for sure is that asthma attacks in the movies are NOT helpful with knowing what to watch for in real life.  Also, Jordan does NOT like his cute dragon mask and flicks it during his neubulizer treatments to prove his disdain.  Bless this child for being cranky, yet compliant.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Oh What A Week!

This week has been a rough one.  It all started with Enoch, Mason and Jordan who have had a cough that just doesn't want to quit, and have all been coughing so hard, they've thrown up several times.  Then, Enoch added to that an earache that turned into a double ear infection, which resulted in a miserable boy with a ruptured eardrum and an ear that has oozed for several days.  Also, Jordan, who has had wheezing issues in the past, was having a harder than normal time breathing, and ended up at the insta-care on Thursday night.  After responding well to a breathing treatment, the doctor suspects Jordan may have asthma, something his caretakers in China told us he might have, but I had hoped was just an anxiety response that was slowly going away.  Friday and Saturday, Mason and Jordan kicked the vomiting up a notch and both came down with fevers.  (I hate fevers)  I'm still not sure if they have a stomach bug, in addition to the cough, or if the cough has just come back with a vengeance.  But, any time they throw up, it's nerve racking for me because they both have the potential to have a hypoglycemic episode if they don't keep food down for very long, and that means a trip to the ER, which we really try our best to avoid and have actually been pretty good at doing.  Just when it seemed like everything was starting to calm down, Mason started throwing up again and Jordan had another wheezy spell, but this time, a breathing treatment at home wasn't able to help him.  So we broke down and Ryan took Jordan to the ER.  Where they are now.  Hopefully helping Jordan breath a little easier and figuring things out.

Amidst all of this craziness, I'm reading "North and South" by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, and loving it.  One line, in particular keeps coming back to me... "Looking back upon the year's accumulated heap of troubles, Margaret wondered how they had been borne.  If she could have anticipated them, how she would have shrunk away and hid herself from the coming time!  And yet, day by day had, of itself, and by itself, been very endurable - small, keen, bright little spots of positive enjoyment having come sparkling in the very middle of sorrows."

This is so true to life in general.  I doubt many of us would happily agree to take on our challenges, and once we get through them we may wonder,  "How?" But little bits of happiness sprinkled throughout every day, are exactly what get us through.

Even when they are sick, these kids of mine provide "keen, bright little spots of positive enjoyment".  


Exhausted, Jordan passed out on the floor.  He sweetness overwhelms me.

This guy has thrown up in his bed, on the couch, on the carpet, on a rug, and on the garage floor.  Pretty much everywhere except the toilet.  For such a little thing, he can make some big messes and I am sick to death of cleaning them up.  But his smile makes up for all of it.  Oh how I love him!

Now to be really honest.  I have to admit there are moments when I think, "What are we doing, adopting Hallie?  We already have so much on our plate and life would be so much easier if we didn't add her medical issues, possible emotional issues, and the financial burden of another adoption to everything we're already dealing with."  But I know that even if I am tempted to "hide myself from the coming troubles" that the joy she'll bring into our home will get us through.  And I am excited to meet her, get to know her, and to love her.

Monday, April 20, 2015

DTC and A Smile

We've reached a major milestone in Hallie's adoption.  DTC!  Our dossier (all the paperwork we've been working on) is complete and has been reviewed by our agency and sent to China.  Now... we wait some more.  Based on Jordan's timeline, we think we'll travel at the end of August.  Some approvals are coming faster than they were a year ago, so it might be sooner, but you really never know with international adoption. 

There have been a few sweet adoptive families that have taken their time to try to meet Hallie and take some pictures of her for us.  It means more than you can imagine to get these little photo updates.  Last week, a family adopting a boy who shared a room with Hallie, actually got a picture of Hallie smiling.  It's not a huge cheeser smile, but we will take it and be content with the fact that she is actually capable of smiling.  I am so excited to meet this girl and see her smile in person! 


Hallie's adoption funder Page:

https://www.adoptionfunder.org/projects/andersen-family-hallie-jade/

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hallie's AdoptionFunder Page

For those who keep asking, we still haven't decided if we're going to do a fundraiser like the Jog for Jordan for Hallie's adoption. The only fundraiser we have going on right now is through an Adoption Funder page that one of the grant organizations that helped us with Jordan's adoption has set up for Hallie. Donations are tax deductible. Here is the link:

https://www.adoptionfunder.org/projects/andersen-family-hallie-jade/

A Hallie Update

We have finished our home study update and submitted our immigration paperwork, so for now we are waiting for a fingerprinting appointment with USCIS... because, I guess we didn't get fingerprinted enough with Jordan's adoption.  Luckily, because we are reusing our dossier, these will be the only fingerprints we have to do this time around and we don't have to pay $890 to repeat them.  That's how much we paid for these fingerprints, (yep fingerprints!) a year ago, so even if it's annoying to have to go through the process again, I am grateful we don't have to pay for them again. 

Since being matched to Hallie, I've made friends with a few families who, when there adopting their own children from Hallie's orphanage, have taken pictures of Hallie.  Every picture is a gift.  Jordan came with hundreds of pictures.  With Hallie, we started with only a handful of pictures and have worked our way up to a few handfuls of pictures.   We still haven't seen a smile on her face, but we now have a picture or two with near smiles.  From what those who have met her have said, she is a quiet, very observant girl.  Some say she seems sad, others say not sad, but very shy and gentle.  I really can't wait to meet her for myself!  Waiting is hard.  Hard because I know she needs a Mama and a Baba.  When Jordan came out surgery and went into respiratory distress, machines were beeping and it was a bit chaotic... but when I held him, everything settled down.  I was his Mama, and I was able to comfort to him in a way that the nurses couldn't.  Since then, I keep thinking about the surgeries, and hospitalizations Hallie has had to face alone.  No one was there, just for her, to hold her and comfort her.  It makes me terribly sad when I think about it.  Waiting is also hard because of where Hallie is.  It's no where near as good as the situation Jordan was in.  As I read accounts of the punishments and abuse that children from Hallie's orphanage have reported after being adopted, I sat at my computer and cried.  Generally the children Hallie's age and younger are spared from abuse, but that doesn't comfort me, because whether or not Hallie has been mistreated, the children around her have been.  And there is nothing I can do to undo that and nothing I can do to get Hallie home any sooner.   We just pray like crazy for Hallie as well as for her nannies. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

All Things Considered

Today an adoptive mom said how hard it is to see pictures of adoptive families polished and gushing while she is completely stressed and overwhelmed.  I hope I'm not guilty of painting a perfect picture for others.  All things considered, I am truly happy.  But that doesn't mean we don't deal with crying, whining, screaming and fighting on a DAILY basis.  Between staying up late to feed Jordan an extra bottle and my thyroid not wanting to work, I am tired.  Really, really tired.  I mean, I fell asleep at my last Girl's Night out.  Lame.  Doctors appointments are stressful, especially when you have children with a rare condition and you have to continually educate them.  There is always a huge pile of clean clothes waiting to be folded while the dirty clothes pile up and just for good measure, when we're the most behind, someone will wet the bed or throw up, just to add insult to laundry injury.  It's hard to find the time to cross things off of my never ending "to do" list when hours a day are spent trying to feed children who struggle to feel hungry, helping kids with homework and cleaning up the same messes over and over.  But there are so many happy moments amidst all of our craziness that, most of the time, I don't let it all get to me.  And then there are the times when I do let it get to me and they aren't my proudest moments, but I do have them. I document our good times because I treasure them.  I love to look back at them knowing we have created some pretty great memories together.  They are what I like to give the most consideration to. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Back To An Adoption Blog

Well, here we go again.  We are adopting a daughter from China.  Whoa!  I know!  Crazy, right?  We actually had a feeling there might be one more (a girl) while we were in the process of adopting Jordan but didn't think it would happen quite so soon.  Here's how it all went down....  If you send a Letter of Intent for another child (commit to adopting) within 1 year of adopting your first child, you can do what's called re-using your dossier.  Basically that means much less paperwork and slightly reduced/fewer fees.  We thought, if we were going to adopt again, that might be the way to go, but wait until summer to think about it to give us more time.  That, or wait 3-4 years and adopt a slightly older girl so there wouldn't be a large age gap.  But I belong to a few advocacy groups now (have I mentioned that once your eyes are opened to all the children who need homes, your heart will never be the same?) and was frequently seeing the faces of these children popping up in my facebook news feed. In fact, I saw Hallie's picture (that's what we're naming her) pretty soon after we were home with Jordan and I went right on past it.  Then, in September, an adoptive mom was looking at Hallie's file and asked if any other adoptive moms have experience with orthopedic issues... shorter limbs on one side, and hip dysplasia.  "Hmmmm...", I thought, "It sounds like Russell-Silver Syndrome".  So I talked to this woman about Hallie and I recommended she contact the MAGIC Foundation to have her file evaluated for the likelihood of her having RSS.  Well, she didn't get that far before knowing that Hallie was not her daughter and moved on.  And I moved on too.  Kind of.  Except Hallie kept coming back to my mind.  Finally I requested to see her file, out of curiosity, but we found out that because her file was designated "LID-only" we couldn't get her file.  When re-using a dossier, you can only request a "Special Focus" file.  That settled that, so again, I brushed her aside. 

After thinking of her on and off for nearly three months, I started asking around to see if she had a family yet.  If not, I thought I really should try to get someone to get her file looked at by the MAGIC Foundation, just to see if my hunch might be right.  It would, after all, be very helpful for her future family to have a lead on a diagnosis.  I found out that she still didn't have a family and that her file status had been changed to Special Focus.  Dun, dun duuun... I was torn between requesting her file so I could advocate to find Hallie a family and requesting the file for Ryan and I to consider.  Ryan and I had A LOT of conversations over the next few days about whether or not we really wanted to adopt again, especially so soon.  The decision would have been easier if adoption weren't so gosh dang expensive.  We were truly blessed with a lot of support for Jordan's adoption, but this time we would have adoption fees, plus have to upgrade to a vehicle with more seats.  A double-whammy.  And we started thinking of all the things we could do with the money those two things would take.... we could finally build our deck... convert our loft into an extra bedroom... remodel and expand the kids tiny bathroom... convert our front room into an office... travel!  The thing is, that kind of thinking just left us feeling selfish and we both agreed that the joy that adopting Jordan has brought to our family had been so much more meaningful than any of those plans could ever be.  Sooooo... we requested Hallie's file, still not sure if it was for us or to help another family find her.

I started digging for any additional information I could find on Hallie.  It's amazing what you can find out about a child on the other side of the earth by simply asking a few questions on a Facebook adoption group.  With everything we learned, we were more convinced she likely has RSS and an evaluation done by the MAGIC Foundation supports that likelihood, but ultimately, what all that digging really did was break my heart for Hallie.  She has been through so much in her short lifetime.  She has had hip dislocation surgery and casting, plus an unnecessary and very painful surgery to disrupt the growth plate in her longer leg, she is not in a fantastic foster care organization like Jordan was, she is in an orphanage known for being a little rough around the edges, of all the pictures we've seen of her, she is not smiling in a single one of them and I found other adoptive parents who met her while they were in China and said she was always quiet and serious.  All of this made me ache for this somber faced little girl who has experienced all of this without a family.  But we also had to question, what if she didn't actually have RSS?  Though I'd like to think I'm right, I'm no doctor and I'm making an assumption on limited information.  Could we handle another medical mystery if it's not RSS?  Could we handle a child with the potential for more severe emotional wounds?  What if she has a different genetic condition that is associated severe cogitative issues?  Could we take that on?  Everything in me wants to care for this child, to hold her, hug her and tell her everything will be okay but as much as I wanted to do that for Hallie, I was also terrified.  I worried and worried about what to do for several days then one day I finally felt at peace about it.  Ryan did too, well actually I think he skipped the worrying and felt okay about it much sooner than I did.  It was so unlike the experience with Jordan, where we just knew... but like with Jordan, once we knew, I was able to relax and know that everything would be okay.  So, we decided to have her file transferred to our agency that following Monday.  But we had taken too long to make a decision and another family, one already signed with that particular agency therefore taking precedence, requested her file that Monday, so the only thing we could do was wait for them to study her file and decide if they wanted to make her their daughter.  Instead of worrying and lamenting like I can imagine myself doing, I was calm and knew it would work out.  Either way Hallie would get a family, and that was what we really wanted, but if it wasn't going to be us, I was ready to beg that other family to send me the first picture they took of her with a smile on her face.  I need to see her smiling.

You can guess the rest of this story from here.  Yes, that family decided not to pursue Hallie, so we had her file transferred to our agency and submitted our Letter Of Intent on December 23 and had Pre-Approval by December 26th.  Now that we are committed, we are going to do everything we can to get Hallie home as quickly as possible.  And with that... here's Hallie: