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:


Friday, November 14, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Constant Source Of Joy And Worry

This week has been a bit of a rough week.  In part because we've been very busy.  I don't do well with being overly busy, it aggravates me.  On top of our regular schedule, we've had several doctors/therapist appointments, school projects, Enoch's birthday to celebrate, Parent-Teacher Conferences, a baby shower, a family Halloween party and family pictures... as well as a boy keeping us at night with a high fever, another boy with Pink Eye, and a broken toilet due to someone's beloved toy cars being flushed down it.  With all of these things keeping us running around, I feel like I'm falling further and further behind on my list of things to do, which further exasperates me, but ultimately, the building stress of Jordan not eating well is what is really getting to me.  This is his fourth week on his appetite stimulant and I was hoping that by now we would be seeing some improvement.  We're not.  Our GI told us that his current intake qualifies as malnourishment and that we need to be getting more volume into Jordan... instead of 3- 5oz bottles a day, like he was regularly getting in China, he wants us to get him to take 5- 8oz bottles.  Much easier said than done.  As we've attempted to increase the volume of food we get into Jordan, it's becoming more and more obvious that his stomach is not emptying like it should and he has started vomiting like Mason used to.  *Huge sigh*  Few things can be more maddening than putting your heart and soul into getting a kid to eat, only to have him puke it all back up.  We know from past experience that an appetite stimulant won't work if the last meal is just sitting in the stomach, and putting more into an already full stomach just backfires.  Thankfully I was able to get in touch with the GI who was willing to listen to me and prescribed the Delayed Gastric Emptying medication without making us go in for another visit, but our insurance requires us to use a mail order pharmacy, so actually getting the medication is a process and we've had several hang-ups in getting it sent out... another frustration for the week.  But I think we finally have it all worked out so, hopefully, we'll have the medication next week and get the little guy's digestive track working a little bit better.

All of this has made me think back to when Mason's GI issues were at their worst.  I've gone back and re-read some of the blog posts I wrote at the time and recalling how hard it was brought tears to my eyes.  I guess I was just feeling a great deal of empathy for my old self.  We went through some rough times without the luxury of the knowledge and experience we have now.  Before we figured out what was going on with Mason, I wrote that he was "a constant source of joy and worry".  The same can be said of Jordan now.  I worry a lot about getting him the nutrition he needs to grow but he is such an incredible joy too and the more he relaxes, the more of his fun personality we get to see.  I love his scrunched up "cheese" face and the way he nods, smiles and raises his eyebrows like we're sharing an inside secret whenever we reach an understating, and I adore his little obsession with cars and how he says c-aaah-r all day long in his funny little voice.  The kid makes us smile.  We're going through a stressful period with his eating, but we know that things can get better.  I'm just feeling a bit impatient.  But look at this kid... he is so worth it!!




 

  




P.S.  I'm going to start phasing my knitting blog back into a knitting blog and just use our private family blog for family posts.  If we actually know you "in real life", and you'd like an invite, just leave a comment with your email address and I'll add you to that blog :)