Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What will my son look like?

I share the above picture with a bit of trepidation. I took that picture from a photolisting in my son's birth country. I can't link to it for obvious reasons, but if it's on the Internet then it's free game I think. Zoink! :)

He's in a pink blanket. It's blurry. It's outdated. And it's priceless.

I've been wondering what my son looks like. I only have the two pictures of him--the one at the top of the blog is the only other one I have! Both were taken when he was only a few weeks old. I wonder if the stork bite across his face has already faded like it did with my daughter. I wonder if his little strawberry kiss (the hemangioma) on his cheek has faded. He apparently has them on his back too. Maybe his backside? (Hi Roland's future girlfriends!) :)

I wonder what color his eyes are. Right now they're baby grey, but did they turn blue like mine or brown like the rest of my family? Or a color in between?

I wonder what orphanage life has done to him. I wonder what not having a mommy has done to him. I'm friends with a mom who just brought her son home from the same country. Her son also has arthrogryposis. Let's just say he's experiencing things my daughter never has, but my son will. There's a difference between having arthrogryposis and having arthrogryposis while an orphan without daily medical attention.

So my mind runs to happy places and then dark places and then back again.

I've never seen you smile. Sometimes AMC affects the jaw. Does it with you?

What do you look like, little guy? Part of me tries to imagine you just so I'm not surprised when I meet the two year old and have only know the baby. I just wish I had more pictures.

And Lord help you when you get home as you'll be blinded by all the flashes. Knowing me I will make up this picture deficit!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Already in a family!

There are kids everywhere who wait for families. Then there are those lucky enough to be adopted into loving ones.

Meet Landri

Little Landri is already part of a family. She has arthrogryposis like my son.  

She is home. She is loved. The end.

Only not the end. Because domestic adoption is expensive. Ridiculously expensive.

Lawyers and the adoption agency are expecting another $4,000 in facilitation fees and they're expecting it NOW.

Landri's parents are desperately trying to raise it for them.

Life with an AMC'er in the early years is already a bit stressful. This should NOT be how it's stressful

A little fund has been set up. Nothing fancy. Just trying to raise the money.

I was thinking... let's help them! Why not! We could raise that!

Even if all my AMC friends and family gave $5, we could shower this family (one of our own) in that small bit of encouragement.

Whadda you say?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Waiting sucks

People have been asking for updates, but the problem is that this process is really slow. It's all paperwork and waiting. Boooooooooooooooooooooooring.

One of my friends called this stage "paper pregnancy." It seems fitting. (I hated waiting during my pregnancy pregnancy too.)

Lately all we've been doing is paperwork. Now don't read "doing paperwork," and get visions of me actually writing stuff on paper. It's more like chasing down government employees and making them perform miraculous changes to documents they haven't changed in 50 years. Then wanting them to notarize them in house and getting laughed at. Then requesting more documents from several places. (There are more phone calls and waiting in lines than actual paper.) Then once we know all our toy soldiers are heading towards their final destinations, we wait. And wait. And wait. And pull out our hair. And call for updates. And wait. That kind of paperwork. When I thought about doing paperwork when we started this process I saw myself being the go-getter who got it all done super fast. That's when I was under the mistaken impression that any of this waits on me. It ALL waits on other people.

Our home study needed changes so that's one more wait in the grand scheme of waiting. It just happens to be what we're waiting on right now. We didn't realize it would cost us more time and money to have those changes made, none of which we planned for. But I should get the updated, notarized home study in my hot little hand by Thursday. The only other document I need is from our doctor. Hopefully it will be done by Thursday as well. Then we can submit our United States Citizenship And Immigration Services application before the end of this week! Woohoo!

If you want to hurt your brain you can click on this link to see the whole process. After we mail out the USCIS application we'll be on step 12. And if you think we've all about waited long enough for this adoption, we've only begun to wait! Note that step 12 requires waiting two to three weeks before they allow you to do it. Then step 13 says, "After what seems like forever...," step 14 is "really quite ridiculous," step 15 is just mailing it all off and waiting for it to be translated and step 16 is just simply, "Wait." Step 16 can take months. It better not.

Step 17 is traveling. When our wait is over we'll receive word from Roland's birth country that we are welcome to travel. We'll be in our son's birth country for several weeks, maybe a month, just waiting and visiting him when allowed. We will meet before a judge (with an interpreter) and plead our case. Then, pass court or not, we have to go home WITHOUT our son. There's a mandatory wait period (I know! More waiting! Our favorite! *sarcasm*) before one of us boards another plane to go back and get him. Right now the plan is for me (Mommy) to do that second trip alone. *gulp* If all goes well he will come home this summer.

So there you have it. Lots of waiting. But seeing our way through each adoption hurdle is also rewarding--like when I get a document in my hand that's been through two revisions and is finally done and notarized. Ahhh. Nothing quite like it. It makes me want to blast the Rocky theme while running up a mountain while holding that document over my head while screaming in triumph while on fire.

Now you'll probably get the artwork above. :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

What if I told you that we were going to save 12 orphans together? Would you help me?


For the last couple of months a few friends and I have been brainstorming how to help orphans facing terrible situations. Today I am thrilled to announce that we are launching a new project: Bring Hope to 12 in 2012!

Check out our website here. Or Google "arthrogryposis adoption" and you'll find us easily.

Each month we feature one orphan with arthrogryposis who is in need of a family, or who has a family newly committed to them and are in need of funds. January was Roland's (Joel's) month. Done and done. February is Laurel's month. She has yet to find a family and her situation is dire.  I've written about her here.

Here's where you come in. Please consider a $12 donation to Laurel. Click here to donate. (All donations are tax deductible.)

Then please share this link (http://arthrogryposisadoption.blogspot.com/) on Facebook or Twitter or as a cause on Pinterest or on your blog (anywhere, everywhere!) to raise awareness for our grassroots effort!

If everyone shared then maybe we could find Laurel the rescue she needs immediately. And if all our friends and family gave just $12 to Laurel for the two weeks remaining in this month, she'd have enough for rescue!

And that's it! Fast and easy. If you cannot afford $12 but want to help, I can get you in touch with someone else willing to donate $6. Together you can make $12. I know finances are tight right now, and unfortunately it takes more money than love to make these rescues possible. But even a small amount will help. Even two mites make a world of difference!

Please consider joining us!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The story of how we decided we were adopting. (Kinda.)

People have asked us how we knew that Roland was "the one." How we knew he was our son and we were his parents. How we finally decided to adopt him out of a sea of orphans. Well, now our secret is revealed! (Oh but don't go here, that story is boring.)

We went to the store and got an adoption test. It's near the pregnancy tests, but one aisle over next to the books on becoming Mother Teresa Duggar. Since it's true that biological kids come from your plumbing (ewww), but adopted ones come from your heart (awww), you just simply place the test over your heart and wait two minutes.

It's really simple. Two triple vertical lines mean you're thinking about adoption, but other people don't think you should. Six backwards upside-down lines mean you're adopting internationally because American children are not good enough for you. Ten loopty-loops mean you'll adopt twenty kids... and forty cats. The test itself turns pink or blue (or green?) depending on gender. It's very nice to finally know this stuff, but it still wasn't good enough. I had to know more. Then my friend recommended the ClearResponseEasyAdoption test for the best results. 

So there you have it. Mystery solved! But we still weren't sure about this. We wanted to make sure this was part of God's master calling. We don't as much douse a fire or pay our taxes unless it's over obvious it's part of God's unique and perfectly clear future plan for our eternal souls. So we asked God for a sign. Something simple yet solid. And woke up with this on our doorstep. 

It just seemed too simple. "God, don't you have something better? Maybe a tad Old Testament with a side of awesome?"


Roland's sister

The last thirteen days have been rough. My daughter got sick before flying to Philadelphia for her knee surgery. Each day we expected to fly the 3,000 miles back home. But against the odds her stubborn cough cleared just enough (after four solid days of stressing over it) to be eligable for surgery. We went through a week of hard recovery after that. Now we're finally back to a good sleeping/eating/physical therapy pattern. Exhausting.

Now I'm stressing over the thirteen days we lost. I knew surgery and recovery would be hard and long, and I thought I'd given myself permission not to stress over adoption paperwork after it was over. But I'm just looking at everything that needs done and stressing away.

When Laelia woke up from surgery one of the first things she said was, "When my baby brother has surgery, I'm going to hold his hand." As the nurse came in with yucky medicine Laelia then said, "And I'm gonna give Roland lots of medicine!" Since her tone went gleeful at that thought I shot her a look. She quickly added, "Because I love him." :)

We have now seen the movie Tangled almost forty times in the last two weeks. It was set on replay throughout the nights and days of Laelia's hospital stay. She can now quote most of the movie and her favorite character is Mother Gothel. She loves to sing the Mother Knows Best song too. It's pretty hilarious. But it wasn't until one late night conversation that I realized this movie is really terrible when teaching your kid about adoption! Haha! The conversation we had was full of pitfalls.

Laelia: "Why was Rapunzel sad when the bad lady died?"
Me: "Because it was her mother."
Laelia: "No it wasn't her real mother!"

Okay, one of the first pitfalls people fall into when talking about adoption is asking, "But who's your real mom?" You never say "real mom" when referring to someone's biological mom. Your adoptive mom AND your biological mom are BOTH your real mom! In some cases the biological mom would not be referred to as the "real" mom at all. In our case I have to believe Roland's birth mom is a lovely woman giving us (and her son) an opportunity to be a beautiful family. I have to believe that because otherwise it makes no sense to me. She's his real mom. I'm his real mom. Clear as mud? Anyway...

But with Mother Gothel... well okay Laelia has me there. Mother Gothel is not Rapunzel's real mom--not biologically and not legally and not honestly. But she loved her like a mom. Now Roland will be our son legally and honestly. The difference is that he needs a family and we get the privilege of following all of the $#*&$% rules to get him. Mother Gothel just stole her baby. That was wrong.

I think Laelia understood that. It's hard with four year olds. Sometimes I think she understands something and I'm mistaken. For instance, tonight Laelia and I were praying for the orphans in Roland's part of the world who have arthrogryposis like he does. We were especially praying for Laurel who you can see at the side of this blog. She will age out soon and needs a family quickly and desperately. (I have written about her on Laelia's blog.) Then Laelia started praying with the same urgency for Joel. "Please God help his family find him. Please God let him be 'dopted. God, he needs a mommy and daddy! Please hurry!"

Me (interrupting prayer time): "Honey, Joel has a family. We're his family."
Laelia: "I get TWO brothers?!"
Me: "No, Joel is a pretend name so we can call him something. His real name is secret. When we adopt him then his new name will be Roland."

Poor little thing thought Joel was without hope because she didn't quite get that Joel and Roland were the same person. I know I've explained that to her before, but it's been quite some time. She probably forgot. Or she was confused and I only thought she understood.

She's now so bubbly and talking about how Joel gets a family! "Joel's getting 'dopted!" Poor thing was truly worried about him!

Well I'm thirteen days behind on adoption paperwork. It's midnight right now, but I'm rolling up my sleeves and diving back in. Let's get that kid 'dopted!