Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Trying to catch up with posts

On www.journeytome.com
Adoption Stories: Journey to Shepherd

Monday, August 10, 2009

We made it, but our trip has been quite the adventure from the very beginning. For starters, we started out more than five hours late. The plan was that we would leave directly after my mom got off from work at 4:30 PM. That didn’t work out as I was still circling the Cape trying to find the dog boarders. I finally got Daisy and my mom’s dog, Bosley, dropped off for boarding around 5 pm. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that Regan didn’t understand that we were leaving the dogs and so she became quite upset that we left without the dogs. I ran home and then I still had to finish packing and finish up last minute things.

I ended up packing and repacking as we were trying to keep our weight and suitcases to the minimum. Somehow it still ended up beign way too much luggage. We also had to figure out the car packing as we had to take two cars to my grandmother's house. Between luggage, three car seats, five people, a great dane, springer spaniel and another third dog, we were packed! We finally headed out and I stopped to make final copies of some paperwork I had just received from my HS social worker. As I am going through the paperwork checklist making copies I realized I had forgotten my original birth certificate!!! I almost broke down in tears as we were forty five minutes away from home. Nothing we could do but load up and head home. I got my birth certificate and we headed out on the road again. By this time it is 10 pm and we haven't eaten dinner. We stop and grab some fast food and finally hit interstate at 11 pm. By midnight, we were pulling into my HS adoption agency where they had taped to the door my updated homestudy. She had just finished another update as at the last minute I had to have all background clearances redone. Luckily, my SW is a paperwork rock star and got it done in record time! Things were going as well as expected until my brother decided he was too tired to drive. At this time, we are only in Tampa and have three more hours of travel ahead of us. I could have wrung his neck!! More car reshuffling and my mom who had only had about 3 hours of sleep the night before and myself were driving the cars while my brother slept. My mom had to work overtime until 1:30 in the morning the previous day in order to prepare for being able to take off from work.

At about 2:30, the 16 year old springer spaniel fell off the back seat and couldn't get back up. I had to pull over to the side of the road to boost him up and then he continued to bark for about 45 minutes. Do you now how ear piercing a deaf dogs bark is when you are enclosed in a small, cramped space?!?! At least it kept me awake for the drive! Then my nephew woke up and decided he had to go to the bathroom. Three thirty in the morning and I locate a rest area in the nick of time!! But of course once the car stops, every dog feels the need to use the restroom and so nothing like a little stroll in the middle of the night in a pitch black rest area.
We finally arrive in Interlachen to my grandparent's house at 5:30 am. So much for being well rested for the trip. We woke up at 7:30 am to begin the drive back south to the Tampa airport. We had my grandparents watch the three dogs as my great dane is a big wimp and doesn't handle seperation well, the springer spaniel is old and not the healthiest and the little mutt has seizures. I really hope everything is going well.

We reach Tampa in good time to catch our flights and Regan and Konnor are soooo excited at this point!! We receive our tickets and notice that the five of us are separated with the three adults sitting together and the two kids sitting together all the way in the back of the plane. We got that fixed and headed out to find something for lunch. Regan was so precious being excited with all of the planes and airport activities. She loves her carry on and insists on pulling it herself.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Adopting An Older Child

The second set of pictures I received in the fall of 2008. I also received a DVD where he recites a fairy tale in Hindi and sings a little Bollywood song. The purple sweater you see on the left is the same sweater that the other little boy was wearing in the pictures that Katie had sent me when I first inquired about the children waiting for a family. That little boy has a family now and I really hope I get to see him when we travel to India because I will always think about him and how he is doing.

When thinking about adopting for a second time, I automatically thought about adopting as young as possible. Once Vietnam fell through, I readjusted my thinking about the age of a child at time of adoption and felt that I wanted to adopt an older child. Several reasons led me to this decision. First of all, there are so many waiting children on lists that are waiting to find a family. I also was so happy that I got to experience all of the "baby" experiences such as bottle feeding, baby food, diapers, crawling, etc and yet I didn't feel the need to do that all over again. If I hadn't experienced it once I think I may have felt I was missing out on something but there were many stages that once they were over, I was glad! Diapers being the number one experience I don't feel the need to repeat! This may sound silly, but I am also glad I"m not having to deal with a diaper bag, and sippy cups, and packing bibs and all that stuff. Now I'll be dealing with a "let's keep you occupied bag" that will be filled with cars, crayons, and other busy work!

Going into a second adoption, I didn't have a set thought as to an age, country, etc, I just knew when he found me that he was my son.
Isn't it funny the road that life takes you? With Regan, I knew from the time I was nineteen that I wanted to adopt a little girl from China. Beyond that, I had no idea that just a couple of years later I would be adopting a little boy her same age from India. Life is an amazing journey!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Making a Decision

The next 24 hours told me without a doubt that I was meant to be this little boy's mama.

I had entered a contest from somebody's blog to win a Bible verse plaque. Amazingly, I won!! I never win anything and so I was so excited! My favorite Bible verse is Psalm 23 - The Lord is my Shepherd. This little boy has a name that is not so flattering in it's translation to English. I felt that if I were to adopt him I could not keep his Indian name. I was so bummed, because I love Regan's middle name: NanZiYun and was hoping to keep his Indian name as I had kept her Chinese name. When thinking about adopting from Vietnam, I thought I would name a little boy Gabriel. This little boy from India was not a Gabriel. I couldn't keep calling him little boy and I knew with winning this plaque that I was going to name him Shepherd. It just fit! I still couldn't decide on a middle name and I so wanted to keep something that had a connection to his Indian name. After alot of research, I found that his Indian name means "Joyful". After more research, I discovered that Asher meant "joyful, happy" and that was it, he was to be named Asher Shepherd. My happy shepherd.
I was flipping through blogs as I am prone to do when a blog caught my eye. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that she had two sons; one was named Shepherd and one was named Asher! It just felt like a sign!! I don't know why, but these two things falling into place just sealed my knowledge that this adoption was meant to be. In my heart, I just knew it.
I thought about little Shepherd all weekend. On Monday, I made an appointment to drop off the child study report to an orthopedic surgeon to discuss his special need. When I dropped off the paperwork, I felt that I might hear something later that week. Within forty minutes I received a phone call from the surgeon himself. I remember knowing that there were two surgical options for his special need and praying that one of the options not be necessary. The surgeon felt that the option I was so worried about was probably the route we would have to take. It's funny, but once I heard the worst case scenario, I just thought "no big deal, I can deal with that!". I just accepted it and it didn't become a big roadblock.

The only other concern I had was about a special need that was not previously mentioned to me, but showed up several times in his child study report. It is of a personal nature and so I won't be sharing it on the blog. It was actually a bigger roadblock to me in officially accepting his referral. Because of this need, he has a tremendous risk of cancer in his later life. Fortunately, it is one of the more treatable cancers. It was hinted in his report that this need had been addressed, but we had no official report on this. Katie tried to contact the orphanage for more information, but I knew he was my son and accepted his referral on March 16, 9 days after first seeing his picture!! And finally the pictures that stole my heart!!

So not happy to be photographed!!!
Look how tiny he looks!!

My absolute favorite picture. This was THE picture that did it for me!! He was tired of getting his picture taken and so he hid behind this toy and wouldn't come out!! What a little stinker!!! What a little personality!!

Love at First Sight

I love my social worker from Regan's adoption and she has been such a huge help to me through both adoptions,,,,,I love her, but sometimes you have to follow your gut.

On March 6, 2008 I received a return email from Katie at Journeys of the Heart. She apologized for not returning my earlier email, but she had been in India and was not able to access the internet. She told me that one of the three children I had inquired about was no longer available. She told me that she could email me a "Child Study Report" of the other two children if I was interested. I emailed her back and told her I would love to view the two children. We had some technical difficulties (I know this surprises no one who knows me!) and my computer would not accept her emails as they were too big to open. That same day, I also attended my employee processing to become an employee for the school district. I had worked there for 7 years, but as a contractor with no benefits. I now had access to benefits and insurance. I was so relieved because private insurance was a fortune and I could not switch as Regan had a pre-exisiting condition following her hospitilization. On March 7, I went home that afternoon to find an email from Katie. She could not forward the Child Study Reports, but had attached pictures of the two boys I had inquired about. I didn't know which child was which and knew they both had special needs, but wasn't sure what their special needs were.

I opened up the first email and saw a cute little boy dressed in a purple sweater. He had the curliest hair! Just a little cutie. But, I didn't feel anything deep inside. I had several pictures of this little guy and felt like I did with so many of the other children I had reviewed through different agencies. They were adorable children, but they weren't MY child.

I then opened up the second email and clicked on the first picture. Oh my gosh!!! That was him! That was my son!! I knew it the moment I looked at his picture. He was a sullen looking little boy who was staring at the camera with a warning look in his eyes!!! The email stated that he was nervous that the women who were from the adoption agency were visiting and that he refused to smile for the camera. The pictures were less than a week old! Katie also put that he was a darling boy and very active. I immediately forwarded the emails to my mom and drove to her work. I asked her what she thought and she thought that both children were cute although she thought the first email was of a girl! That purple sweater fooled her! I told her that I thought that the second child was my son and she was 1000% supportive.

I went home and received another email from Katie that included the Child Study Report for the second child. I never did see a report for the little boy in the purple sweater. I opened up the attachment and read a couple of pages about him and his special need. I told Katie that I was interested in learning more about this little boy and consulting a doctor about his special need. After reading his report, I was nervous about whether I was prepared to deal with his special need.

The next 24 hours showed me that this was truly my son!!!

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In the Beginning

This might be a rambling post, but it will hopefully bring everybody up to speed since I have been sitting on this "secret" for over a year! I also plan on using this blog as a memory book for Shepherd.

I first started looking into a second adoption before Regan even came home! We got stuck in the early stages of the slow down in China and there were many times I thought our adoption would never happen. I researched countries and decided that Vietnam was the best fit for me. Fast forward to Regan coming home and then being hospitalized. That hospital experience was the scariest, biggest learning experience of my life. I realized that I was strong enough to handle special needs (with the support of family) and I also sat in the hospital and knew that my engagement would probably never result in a marriage as I felt I had very little support on that end of things.

I had my first post placement visit with my social worker and I discussed the possibility of adopting from Vietnam. I knew I would have to wait a year to begin the process as the rule was there had to be a one year gap between each adoption. We then discussed Joel's and my upcoming marriage and how that would probably make a second adoption difficult (due to many different reasons, # of children in the home, waiting three years past marriage, Joel had a previous divorce, etc). I wanted a little boy so bad, but resigned to put it on the back burner.

In September of 2007, Joel and I were no longer together and my social worker and I had another post placement visit which we also counted towards my first home study visit for an adoption from Vietnam. I had decided to move forward in my pursuit of a second adoption! I rushed through all of the paperwork because it was determined it could be a several year wait. By February of 2008, I had the dossier complete and ready to mail to my agency to then be forwarded to Vietnam. During this entire time, there was a lot of rumbling about the possibility that the adoption agreement between the US and Vietnam was going to expire and not be renewed. The current agreement was set to expire in September 2008. The US State Department issued a warning to not begin new adoptions as they could not promise the adoptions could be completed. I had many phone calls with my social worker who thought that I would be grandfathered in and would be able to complete the adoption even if the agreement expired. She did give me the disclaimer that there was no guarantee. I would have had to take a huge leap of faith and also put up front a huge amount of money that would not be refunded should the adoption not happen. Something told me not to do it.......I could not send my dossier.

I began researching different options and came upon several roadblocks because I am single. I narrowed it down to India, Nepal, Kazakhstan, and Ethiopia. India had a long wait time and my social worker discouraged me from this program as she felt it was a rocky road to completion. Nepal wasn't open to adoptions yet, although my social worker really felt that would be a good fit for me. Ethiopia was quickly gaining popularity and becoming a longer wait, and Kazakhstan required two trips with one lasting a month. I also scoured waiting children lists and emailed many different agencies about different children. For many reasons, I felt that none of those situations was working for me. I emailed an adoption agency, Journeys of the Heart about three of their waiting children. They gave very little information, just three or four lines about the basics of the children. I didn't hear back from them and I promptly forgot I emailed them as I had been contacting so many people at that time.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Need to Catch Up!!

I have been a bad, bad blogger! So much has happened the past couple of months! The biggest news is that I finished my dossier and sent if off to the adoption agency. Yeah!!! After a big homestudy hold up, it was finally completed! They are now waiting for three more of my reference letters to arrive and then my paperwork will officially head to India. I'm going to try to be better about updating the process and updating my time line. I always have the best of intentions, but then time sneaks up on me!