Friday, May 30, 2014

Overdue update

This should be a very long post, but it will be short. We are doing very well as a family. Stefan is very well adjusted. He can now walk completely on his own, though he is slower than other children his age and still walks with his hands out to help him balance. He also can get up from the ground by himself as well. He's very determined and making great progress. 

His language skills are awesome. I would say he's fairly fluent in English for a 3 year old, but regrettably has lost a lot of his Serbian. 

We are just so happy he is with us. We can't remember what life was like without him, and couldn't be happier. 

Lastly, we have decided to start saving up for the costs of our next adoption. So far we have $386 saved up! I will be posting fundraisers soon. We will be selling t-shirts again and Dove Chocolate Discoveries, and of course many other things as time moves on. I don't have the option of using my 401k this time, so we have a long road ahead of us. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Don't be afraid.

My little guy in Ukraine died.  When we thought we were going to adopt from Ukraine we were seriously considering adopting him. He finally had a family in process for him. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Eric and I made the right choice by choosing Serbia, but my heart still breaks for him. At least he is no longer suffering. 

PLEASE I beg all of you, when a family is asking for help with their Adoption, help them. Adoption is not a fairy tale, it's hard and it's messy and it's expensive. Most (not all of the kids, but most) of the kids are living in hell while they wait for their families to raise the money. Every day a child waits in an institution brings them one day closer to death.

I don't think most people understand the severity of the situation. There are MILLIONS of children, waiting for someone to get the guts to say "Yes" to them. There are millions of children waiting for help. Some of us are not called to adopt, some of us are called to support those adopting. There are TONS of ways you can support the families that are adopting, it doesn't have to be just through money. 

Do not be afraid to help. Do not be afraid to speak out. There are children dying and you, YES YOU, can make a difference. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Things not to say to adoptive parents.

I have been wanting to write this post for a while. Many others already have, but I wanted to put in my two cents. These are things I have actually heard from people, even from my family. Some things come from friends who have also adopted, yes we adoptive parents talk about the crazy things people ask us.

I want to also say, though I was "offended/hurt" by what was said, I understand where it's coming from. People who are not around adoption don't always get it, and other people just have trouble expressing their concerns. I experienced it with both my brothers and my dad. They want to say that they are concerned for us and our child, but because they love me so much, it comes out wrong. I get that. I just wish they would have listened to it in their head before actually saying. I really thought I was going to be more emotionally sensitive during the pre-adoption time, and I amazed myself! Instead of blowing up at friends and family members, I handled it fairly gracefully.

Hopefully I am not hurting anyone in return for posting this, that is not my intention. I just want to help more people understand that when congratulating a family on a new addition or asking legitimate questions we should all pause and think before we blurt it out.

1. Your child isn't going to speak English, how are you going to raise him/her?

  •     A: Well, your biological kid didn't start off speaking English either, and you seem to have done just fine. I will admit though, now that I'm home and actually raising a child who speaks very little English, it is harder than I anticipated; but we manage. We are very lucky and have an extremely intelligent son who understands a lot of what we say, even if he can't always speak it back. 
2. (In reference to adopting a child with special needs, before we knew the extent of his needs -- not that it would have mattered to either Eric or I.) Why would you want a child like that? He/She is going to need 24 hour care. 
  • A: I am pretty sure all two-year-olds need 24 hour care. Most kids up into the pre-teen age need to be watched for most of the time they are awake. WE DECIDED at the BEGINNING of our process that we would be adopting a child with special needs, and really most kids have some sort of need, it's just that some need more. Technically, I was a special needs child because I had physical limitations due to my arthritis. I also had bladder control issues because of the medicine I was on. As adoptive parents, we got to make a choice to let someone very special into our lives, but just like biological parents, once we know what we are dealing with, we take that information and run with it, and get the BEST CARE we can find/afford. Why would I want "a kid like that?" Because God chose him for us!
3. In a congratulations card do not write: Congrats on your new "Son" or "Daughter"/Congrats "mom" and "dad" or anything like that. 
  • He is not my "son". He exists and he is my REAL SON. I have "adopted" sons and daughters at work, because that is my pretend family. If you want to refer to them as my "sons" and "daughters" that is fine and correct because most of them are older than I am. Stefan is part of my REAL family, so please drop the quotes. 
  • Along with this, asking me about his "real" mom is also wrong. I am his "real" mom. Stefan is lucky he had a biological mom who was strong enough to realize she couldn't care for him, and a foster mom who took EXTREMELY good care of him until I could get to him. He is lucky enough to have two other moms who did what they could to help give him the best possible life. I just hope I can live up to that. Lord knows I'm trying. Not all orphans have the good start that Stefan had, but I imagine all other adoptive moms would agree that we are real.
4. While you are over there, you should bring a few extra kids home and sell them so you can pay for this one.
  • Do I even have to point out everything that is wrong with that statement? And yes, someone actually told me me this. 
  • FIRST OF ALL, I am not buying and selling children. That's called child trafficking, and though I think that some agencies/governments (not Serbia, that's why I picked them. I love Serbia and respect them fully for their view on adoption)  charge outrageous amounts for their "services provided", that does not mean I am buying my child, nor would I EVER EVER EVER think of selling any child. If I bring home more than one child, I am keeping however many I bring home. END OF STORY. 
5. How much are you paying for your child?
  • I think I covered this in #4, but I am not paying for my child. I am paying for services provided:
    • background check, home study, visa application, travel, birth certificates, passport, translation fees etc.
6. He or she better not speak their native language around me! 
  • Well, no one can be fluent in a new language in 3 weeks, ok maybe a genius could I guess I don't know. Little kids speak their own language all the time. They babble and you don't care then, so can't you just give my kid some time to adjust and pretend he's just babbling like most other 2 year olds?
    • Happy to report the person who said this, really loves Stefan and doesn't mind that I have to translate sometimes.
There are many more and I plan to add them, but I'm publishing this now because it's been waiting for me to finish it for 2 weeks now! 

Appointments Galore!

Stefan has been a busy boy! We've gone to probably 6 different appointments for Stefan, next week alone he has 4. So far everything is coming back good. They are very impressed with Stefan and see a ton of potential. We are so lucky to have him in our lives.

 His English is getting better and better, but we see his Serbian slipping away. This is bittersweet for us. I wish he would be able to keep some of his Serbian skills. 

I think things are going well, we still have some trouble when mama leaves the room/house, but we are working on that too. The time has sped by crazy fast!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

One Month Home

Stefan has been home for one month. Well, he's been in the United States for one month. Thanks to some trouble at O'Hare we were still trying to get home on the 12 of January. This time has gone by so fast.

Friday we went to the doctor and got a good plan in place. Some of his results came back and the doctor called yesterday and Stefan is good and healthy. He is going to stay on his medication for his seizures for now, and he is going to get braces to help his legs get stronger. The only other thing we have to add aside from PT is some Vitamin D. Good news for now!

How is Stefan doing? Pretty fantastic all things considering. He seems very happy. I know it's got to be hard on him still. He laughs a lot, keeps us laughing too. He is such a joy. My mom and I were discussing today how much he is like my Grandma Kitty (the orphan Grandma from previous posts). She was always happy and laughing, loved to sing and dance and had leg braces. Stefan seems to be always happy, loves to sing and dance and is going to get leg braces. Grandma was nice to everyone and loved everyone, Stefan loves everyone he meets, except for men with beards. People were always enamored with my Grandma Kitty, no one could ever hate her because of the wonderful person she was, she spread joy and it was impossible to be upset when she was around, we see the same thing in Stefan. Since being home, even on the plane ride home, all he has done is spread joy to others. I have random people coming up to me all the time telling me how sweet he looks, and how his laughter made their day.

Other big news with Stefan? He's FINALLY SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT. Well almost he whimpers a few times during the night, and I help him find his sippy cup or snuggle him a little tighter. (Yes, he is sleeping in our bed, and he's going to stay there until he's ready for his.)

How are mom and dad? We are just peachy! Eric is working a lot, and figuring out how to be dad. Stefan is finally figuring out that dad is fun! Mom is tired, I've been a little sick this week, so that makes it a little harder. I don't sleep much because I'm in "oh no I have to be awake if he wakes mode" still, but we are happy. Very happy.

And now to make you smile, a picture from Christmas of our darling Sweety Petey. (My nickname for him)
Shortly before coming home. 
Adoption Day

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Baby Registries

Well, my sisters-in-law and my mother-in-law are planning adoption showers for us. Although, it's a combination of adoption shower/welcome home Stefan. We are very excited.

Because we are inviting like, I dunno ... everyone we know, I'm registering Stefan for things he likes as well as things we still need or that we think will make life a little easier. My choices are wedding registry or baby registry.

Now, I'm not one to complain about fairness very often, and Stefan is only 2 so he can still pass as a "baby," but what if he was 4 or 8 or 12? Surely I'm not the only one to have an adoption shower? I think of myself as original, but I can't be that original, that I'm the only on on the face of the planet to have an adoption shower?

This frustrates me, because we adoptive families are so often looked at like we are second class. A lot of the time you get asked about your son or daughters "real family" or the child gets put in a different category than your biological ones. I understand that it's going to happen, I've accepted that I will have to explain my family situation for the rest of my life, but does it have to be a battle everyday? Can't just once, the world around us treat us equally? Wouldn't it be nice to go to the registry section online and see "adoption registry". Do people who adopt older children just not need anything? You're just ready for it no questions asked. If you're giving birth you are totally unprepared, but if your adopting you're just on the ball and have NOT ONLY the money it takes to complete the adoption, but the money for all the stuff you will need?

Ok. I'm done ranting. It's a little annoyance and lets face it, I've got bigger fish to fry. Although, I think I am going to send out some e-mails to some of the places we've registered at and just let them know, it wouldn't hurt for them to consider those of us who build our families through adoption. Who knows what kind of support they would get from the adoption community if they would be the first to offer it?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Coming home, Christmas and the New Year!

So, coming home was busy. Way busier than I thought it would be, and that's why I am just now getting to this.

Coming home from Serbia went so well. Stefan did amazing! He laughed the whole way, except when he was sleeping. We did get up and walk in the plane a little, but only when we just couldn't take it anymore. He loved it though. He blew kisses to everyone around us, and said hello to all the "Grandmas" he could see. Several passengers told us what a good job we did raising our son! I said "Thanks! We've only known him for 3 weeks!" They were all amazed that he wasn't our biological son. He impressed them even more with his very limited English. Everything was going perfectly until we landed in Chicago. 

Let me tell you. WE WILL NEVER COME HOME THROUGH CHICAGO O'HARE when adopting. NOT EVER EVER AGAIN! Customs was fine, they directed us to the wrong line, but that was an easy enough fix. The guy said here is your pink folder, let them know you adopted they will move you to the top of the pile. So that's what we did. There were probably 50 or 60 other people waiting in the immigration line, all with pink folders. For adoptive families, there was us, and a mother who was bringing home her little girl from China. Her family was on adoption number 8 and this was their first time through Chicago. We told them we had adopted and that we needed to get to our next flight asap. "Don't worry we're the best of the best" they said. 

Yeah... I get that it was busy. I get that technically you shouldn't cut the lines, but we were the only ones with little children... heck the only ones with kids at all, and both kids had been up for 24+ hours. Needless to say we missed our flight, thanks to "the best of the best". When they did finally call us Stefan finally had fallen asleep. Then they tell me they need another picture for his application, because the dumb @$$ was in such a hurry to open the documents he ripped the picture. "I don't know what you're going to do if you don't have another picture." he tells me. 

Well, luckily I had one, but I had to search through everything to find it, all while our plane was taking off with out us. I WAS FURIOUS. I was so angry when I found the picture I threw it at him and said "You're f***ing lucky I had this. I suggest next time you be more careful, especially since you had no intention to get us to our plane on time." 

Then the next guy says, "You're going to have to wake him up I need to see his face."

Wait. What? Wake him up? F*** that. "We're not waking him up." I informed the guy, "You're just going to have to look from there." So Eric turned enough so the guy could see part of Stefan's face. 
"Ok you're all set. Have a nice flight." They said with a smirk.

I glared back. "No, now I get to go find a new flight, or I have to drive 8 hours home (Eric tells me it's actually 6 but close enough) with a child I barely know, and who I am sure has had enough. If I thought I could have gotten away with punching them both, I might have done it, they both deserved it. 

So we go to see if there is another flight to Minneapolis that night. Nope, not on our airline, and we couldn't afford to switch. Ok, what to do? Take a bus? No that didn't sound appealing. So we asked for a list of rental car places. We could have spent the night and gone out in the morning, but it turns out they were cancelling flights the next morning.

We had every intention of driving the rest of the way. We got about an hour out of Chicago (after like 2 or 3 thanks to rush hour) and Eric had enough. We called his mom to see if she could call his uncle so we could crash at their place for a few hours. Took off around 4 the next morning and that was that. We had a few melt downs on the way home, but who could blame Stefan? Even Eric and I wanted to cry.

I will keep the rest of this short for now. Stefan should be waking from his nap soon so, I won't have time to finish anyway. 


We had a very nice Christmas until it was time for Stefan to have a moment to himself. Poor guy got overloaded with people and gifts. We tried to help him stay separate from the group, but he really wanted to play with the other kids, so we let him. (I know we are terrible for not isolating, but he loved it)

Christmas morning we opened presents just with our little family, and then the meltdown came. He cried ALL DAY after the gifts were done. He decided he hated Eric and anytime Eric looked at him he cried. So we let him cry. We tried to console him if we could, but the fact was, he just wanted to cry. The hatred for Eric continued for the next few days, despite our best attempts to get it to stop. Strangely enough, Eric decided to feel chocolate pudding to Stefan, and all was good after that. They have no problems any more, at least for now. 

New Years!

Eric went to bed at 8, Stefan stayed up until 10. Mama got insomnia and didn't sleep that night. We've been having mostly happy days. Stefan is starting to test us A LOT. He has also decided he doesn't have to listen to anyone unless he wants to. He is absolutely adorable when he does it, but we are working on it. My favorite is when you can see he is ready to drop over from being tired and says, "neću go to sleep Mama" (I will not go to sleep Mama) He is starting to tell me no a lot, but he is also learning that Mama is the Boss. I was very frustrated with him one day, so I put him in the corner and sat near him. He laughed into the corner, that of course made me more mad, but after a little bit of his laughter, I was laughing too. This boy will be a challenge, I can tell already! He is way too smart for his own good!