Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Revaluating again...

After learning about RAD, and being a firm believer in keeping siblings together at all costs, I stumbled across an article where a social worker adopted 3 siblings all with serious attachment disorders.  From what more I’ve read on dealing with siblings groups with RAD, they often undermine each other as well as the parents.  It is a constant battle of trying to make progress and damage being done which interrupts or even prevents the healing process. 
If we could be guaranteed two sisters with healthy attachments, it would help us ease our misgivings, but as some of you with an adopted RADical child know, it doesn’t always work out the way you hope. 
If you have one healthy child, or even two, parenting can be a little chaotic, parenting 3 children keeps your head spinning.   Fortunately for me I thrive on being kept on my toes, and I enjoy the adventures children bring into our lives.
So there is it is in black and white, while I live in a world of grey.   We’ve changed our minds and are planning on adopting a single child.  My heart weeps a little for I longed to have two daughters, but there is nothing stopping us from going through this again.  So the dream isn’t gone, just altered, and with this in mind, we’re signing up for the Ukraine hosting program this summer, while we work to get our home study under way.
  I’ve already contacted two adoption practitioners.  One can’t take us on, and the other hasn’t gotten back to us after two days now, so I’ve crossed her off my list.   

Monday, 28 March 2011

(Canada) Ukraine Hosting Program...

I just thought I would put this out there.
Terre Des Homes is offering its second summer hosting program and is looking for families to host orphaned children from the Ukraine.
This program is common in other countries but is new to Canada.   Please check out their website  for further information.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

On The Blackboard...

After posting “The Language Barrier” I have to say I was still unable to draw from my own mind the phrases I felt would be most important, so I threw it to my friends and family on Facebook.  I was hoping that more people would have responded but it doesn’t matter.  The ones who did have uncemeted my feet and I can now step back and see what I needed.

Help me understand.
Stop.  Danger.
Stay close.
Are you sick?
Hold my hand, please.
You are safe now.
What hurts?
Brush your teeth,
Wash your hands and face.

            You are important to me.
What do you like? Or Which one do you want?
Let’s do this together.
Good job.
Can I help you...? (blanks to be filled in with words or gestures)
Time for bed.
Story time
Bath time

I am sorry.
It is okay to be sad, or feel upset.
Did you have fun?
I am not perfect but I promise be the best I can be.  (I take this one very seriously)
Would you like a hug?
You are going to be okay.
I love you.

“Help me understand,” made the top of my list, (not that the list is in any order) but those three words say so much.  Reading between the lines of “Help me understand” also says:  I’m trying, what you say matters to me, and therefore you matter to me, and I want to help you. 
Obviously there is a lot more that can be added to this list, and if you have some suggestions feel free to throw them in a comment.   Seeing we are just starting to learn the language I think this is a pretty good baseline to start from, but I never say no to another person's insight. 

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Language Barrier...

Can I start off this blog by saying that I am completely stumped?  I’ve been practicing Russian using a software program I purchased online.  I’ve hire a tutor who will be coming by once a week to aid us in this.  But for the life of me I cannot think of what phrases I want to learn to speak to the girls. 
I want to tell them are safe, that we love them, and think they are wonderful.  But in terms of useful phrases I can only think of “Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Bedtime,” and “You are going to be okay, I am here, and you are safe.”
I feel like I’m standing too close to a chalkboard with all the answers written on it, and to see them I have to make myself take few steps back.  I figuratively have my feet cemented to the floor.
I've tried to think of what I say to my own boys, and well, the only thing that comes to mind that I ask them often is:  Are you happy? And if they aren’t we talk about it.
So I am throwing this question out there to the world.  If you have (in real life or not) a child who doesn’t speak your language come and live with you, what three phrases would you learn (other than the ones above I’ve mentioned)?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The R.A.D. Factor...

 (Reactive Attachment Disorder)

“With complete honesty I’ve had to ask myself can we deal with this?”
I’ve been immersing myself into the nightmarish world that some adopted children and parents find themselves living a in a day to day struggle of wanting to be understood, wanting to be loved, accepted and uncertain how to achieve it.  It seems to be magnetic poles of parent and child trying to connect and neither one able to bond with the other, and it is not for lack of trying.
My own ignorance of this factor has put me into a spin where I’ve had to take a step back and ask myself can I deal with this?  More importantly can my family deal with this?
In my heart I know this is right, that going forward is what we are suppose to do, however, I plan on going into this with as much knowledge and insight as I can.  Putting it in plain terms the adopted child is a hurt child, who may have a lot of unresolved issues.  I thought that a couple of months home would be fine, however after reading and more reading I realized that a couple of months won’t be fine.  These kids need time to heal, to adapt and to bond though the bonding may not happen until adulthood. 
I laughed at the idea of wrapping a twelve year old in a blanket and feeding him a bottle.  (Okay, I will admit the idea of feeding such an older child with a bottle makes me cringe even still, I am open to a cup of warm milk though.) After reading about children with an attachment disorder I realized that the authors have a point.  If a child was never held in such a way, they are missing out on a lot of personal closeness.  I think about my own sons and how I carried them around in my arms for years.  I remember holding Preston in the hospital after he was born prematurely and how I just had the feeling if I stroked his nose he’d fall asleep and he did.  It was in those early moments I learned to read my children. I was able to pick on up their emotions, understand their needs, and then anticipate their needs. 
So with this in mind and a mountain more of reading to do, we will go forward.  The girls will stay home with me for a year, so we can get to know each other; they can be angry and upset and hopefully start the healing process that they will so desperately need.  It does reaffirm that we should adopt sisters, despite that fact we will be parenting two hurt children, I know I will not be enough to help them through the pain and loss, nor can I fully understand their life pre adoption where all the hurt comes from.  I can sympathize, and try to understand but it is not the same as having someone else who went through their experiences with them.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Point Launch...

Last night after discussing things with Dale, we’ve decided to move forward.  So it’s time to bite back my own insecurities and face our first hurdled of being judged.   I know people say that the adoption practitioner isn’t a judge, but really they are.  No one who gives birth needs to have a home study done to see if they will be fit parents, and yet to adopt a child everything is exposed, from back ground childhood tragedies, to your parenting style to what goes in the bedroom.   
 After going through the Children’s Aid, where everything was exposed, the social worker brought up concerns about my abusive past among other things, as to which other than being ignorant or a victim, I had no part in.  She left me with the feeling of somehow my parent’s actions reflected on me, and therefore I was unfit.
But that was then, and never one to take being down in the dumps for long, I dusted myself off, looked into parenting courses and signed myself up.   I’ve put into practise some of the ideas the course I offered.  We’ve hold family meetings often in our house hold, making plans with the kids, but the idea of a more formal meeting with the breakdown the instructor offered was brilliant, and can be found in his parenting books "Practical Parenting" & "Parent Talk".   
The household itself seems to run more smoothly, the kids are aware of what was decided in the meeting and refer to it often.   The bickering between the boys is less, not gone, but hey they worked together at putting the groceries away without a fuss.   
With this in mind I am ready to face the judge.  Okay honestly, I’m nervous, but if I can just be me, as I am now, I’ll be fine.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

When Fear Comes Calling...

I cannot escape the feeling of dread of all the “what ifs” that could block our path.   I know we have some family support in this venture, and I know others cringe with fear that we may bring home some unholy terrors.   To me, a child is a child, and with our children there were never any guarantees that they’d be healthily, have kind hearts, and gentle souls.   My middle son I call my wild child because of his impulsive nature.  I have to keep a sharp eye on him, and remind him often of what is appropriate and what is not.  He is a person, with a nature that is all his own, and I love him for it.   I accept that there maybe challenges, (and most likely will be,) as the honey moon period ends and the girls’ true nature starts to shine through. 
It isn’t these “What if’s” around the children that scares me.  It is the home study aspect.  My childhood held one of violence, and constant emotional abuse.   I was lead to believe (because of my own learning disabilities) I would never amount to anything.  The standard my parents often snapped was, “don’t think, just do it.”  They undermined my achievements, my nickname was "good for nothing", and they showed no interest in school.  Everyone has their grievances, their own set of challenges to overcome, mine is my childhood.
I am a great mom, I spend time with my kids and encourage them to do and try new things, listen to them when they're upset, we do things together as a family, both as a group and as parent and child.  We are a strong family and still beneath the surface lies that little girl who was told she couldn’t be a waitress because I’d never get the orders right, or couldn’t be a cashier because the machine was too hard to work.  You can shake your head and think “how lame is that”, however these words came from my parents, the people I trusted most in this world, and I believed them.  Growing up I would often be pushed into situations I had never done before without any instructions, and then ridiculed because I did it wrong. 
So the thought of going through the home study fills me with dread, what if he/she thinks I’m unfit.  What if because my father hit me, they’ll assume I’ll hit the kids too?  Or I’ll slip into my mother’s vicious nature and tear every ounce of dignity my children have to shreds. 
                The feeling of not measuring up lurks so close to the surface, it doesn’t matter that my kids are happy, and well adjusted with good self esteem, and that I have had some successes as a writer. I should be able to face the adoption practitioner with confidence instead of fear, be proud of my achievements, and yet even still... failure is what I know best.

Saturday, 12 March 2011


When it’s money that makes the world go round.

I have to say that this has been the hardest aspect to overcome.  With the purchase of a larger home, and meeting the needs of our children, the amount of money we need to do this is staggering.  Adopting from the Ukraine costs about $35,000 and that is if EVERYTHING goes well.  The stay in the Ukraine is about 2 months minimum, going through an agency (which I recommend) offers a driver/translator, and living arrangements.
The cost for us because we are planning on taking our children with us I’m guessing maybe closer to $50,000.  Yikes!  We’ve had to put off our plan to hire an adoption practitioner for a couple of months due to unforeseen and yet necessary expenses.  However, in the meantime I’ve started doing after school daycare, which goes straight into our adoption bank.  Really it is a tall wine bottle tin with a hole cut in the top and the lid glued on. 
We’ve revaluated our budget several times to see what we can muster up and put into savings, and even then we aren’t sure it will be enough. 
With this in mind, and the fact that my youngest child hasn’t reached the age of 10 (leaving a child younger than 10 years old home alone can result in a social worker knocking on our front door) I’ve been looking for more ways to bring in money. 
True, I write but my successes have been small with payments that fall into the single digit realm.  I delight in the fact that some people out there acknowledge that I have talent.  I just wish I could break through the small time barriers and enter into the world of mainstream writers.   However, until then I write when I have something to add to my novel, or work on this blog, and spend most of my energy trying to do what I can to place money into our adoption bank.
It was after reading Power Spending that I started to put together some other ideas on how to save money.  Stretch our dollar more, and bring in more money.   I’m not going to give you all the tips and tells, but after reading the book I managed to cut down our grocery build by one third.   And using my talents and hobbies I’m hoping to put a bit of a dent into the $50,000. 
Putting the tips about earning extra money into practice is taking time for me.  I’ve been taking clothes to consignment stories instead of donating them.  When family and friends, even strangers heard I was doing this they’ve offered me some of their clothes to try to sell.  I’ve been running back and forth to consignment stores with a little success.  It’s a lot of work, and clothes that I think that will be picked up are often returned.  I have learned from my first attempt to make sure the clothes besides being clean which is obvious are ironed, including the T-shirts and jeans.  I’ve worked it out so that every bag of clothes I get maybe brings about $6.00, and that is only if they sell.  I have yet to receive a payment.
As for my other fundraising projects, it’s easier said than done.  The spaghetti dinner was pretty much a bust, my dad and his girl friend showed up, however everyone else was a no show. 
We’ve had some people donate; I caught one of my friends slipping money into the adoption bank.  I have to say seeing her do that made the burden feel a little lighter.  A dollar earned, or donated is so much more than just a dollar.  It is a prayer answered, that maybe just, just maybe we can do this. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

The Readings...

Instead of giving a long and oh so boring run down of my book list I put the ones I thought were worth buying in "My Favourites" with a little brief clip as to why I like them.   
The absolute must buy of the books is Power Spending, and I say this because it is a money saving book for the everyday person/family.  It has some new takes on how to stretch your dollar further as well as what you can do to bring in a bit more money (other than daycare).  I’ll get into this later.
Another book in my "you must absolutely buy this book" list is the Complete Book of International Adoption, it covers everything from questions to ask yourself/partner, the agencies,  travel tips, documents, (granted it refers to American adoptions rather than Canadians) recommending readings for children as well as adults.   There is a reason why COMPLETE is in the title. 
The other two I listed I’m going to say they are must reads rather than must buys, but please if you are expecting an adopted child into your family and especially your extended family please read “CROSS CULTURAL ADOPTION: how to answer questions from family, friends and strangers
There are faux pas in the world of adoption that non adopted people are not aware of.  The word adoption is thrown around so much with newspapers labelling famous people’s offspring as “adopted” what people don’t see is how the word impacts the child they are referring to.  This book is a preventive measure to avoid hurting (however unintentionally) an already hurting adopted child.
But be forewarned...introducing any child as adopted such as “This is Mary and her adopted daughter Suzy,” can be hurtful.  And if anyone introduces my daughters as adopted I will be forced to introduce your child as “vaginally delivered.
So please leave off the adoption tag, it’s no one business but our own.
And as for “Parenting your Older Adopted Child,” I think the title speaks for itself.  Older Children do have issues and this book covers most of them.  I have purchased it for myself, but I think if you can get it at your local library it is worth checking out a few times.

There are more readings I have done and will do,
But other books I’ve read so far are:
Parenting Your Adoptive Child ~ Practical tips for dealing with issues dealing with adoption.  I'd put it in "my buy list" if I were adopting a younger child.
Twenty Things Adoptive Children Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew ~ I think it is a worthwhile read but if you are expecting humour from this book, you will be disappointed.   (I kind of wish there was a book Titled “Twenty things adoptive Parents wish their Adoptive Children Knew)
Labour of Love: Canadians speak about adoption.”  Interviews with families who’ve adopted.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

In the Beginning....

Let me first start off this blog by saying "Thank You" to all the others who shared their stories, which helped us set our sights on the course of adoption from the Ukraine.  This Blog starts off at the very beginning as we navigate our way through this process.  We are in the pre adoption stage right now, or better yet maybe the pre of pre adoption stage, where the idea of adoption is just pushing the brink of becoming reality.

The idea entered our lives after the birth of our third son, Cyrus.  With difficulties in all three pregnancies Dale and I knew we had to stop.  However, I wanted more children and when the time came for Cyrus to be borne by C-Section and make the decision to have my tubes tied, I hesitated.  I couldn’t bring myself to say it, I still remember the surge of tears filling up my eyes, and those who know me best, know I positively hate to cry.

Dale leaned in, gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “we can adopt.”  Our eyes met, and he smiled at me holding face tenderly between his hands.  “We can adopt,” he repeated and I smiled back and nodded.   My heart stopped aching and somehow I knew that this was meant to be.

As the years passed I played with the idea of adopting internationally, (never actually believing we would do it) knowing the cost of adopting from another country was expensive it just didn’t seem possible.  My sister was adopted and she had made the comment that she liked the fact that she looked more like our mother than we did.  With her comments in mind we decided to have a girl who would look more like us.

In doing my research (and yes I was still playing with the idea) about which countries to adopt from my first instinct was to adopt from Russia.  My Grandfather’s family I knew came from there, but after reading more about it, the feeling that Russia wasn’t for us pressed in on me. 

So I looked to the Ukraine, and the more I read about it the more I felt it was right for us.  I contacted agencies, trying to get their feedback and at the time the Ukraine had limited adoptions due to families not filing progress reports on time or at all.  We weren’t in any position to adopt at that time, so it didn’t affect us, but I certainly realized for all those families wanting to adopt and couldn’t it was a nasty wrench thrown in their plans that could have been easily prevented.

The Ukraine always held a special place in my heart.  I can remember as a child I thought it was the most magical of cultures.  My mother and one of her friends had taken my sisters and I to the Ukrainian pavilion during a week of international festivities put on by the community.  The way they dances and the outfit the girls wore were something out of a fairytale to me.  Ever since that moment I fell in love with things Ukraine.  In my high school home study class I made Ukrainian dishes for a class project, and the thought of adopting from just felt right, even though I couldn't see it happening.

Ever since that moment just over 9 years ago, adoption has been in our hearts, and it took us a long time to get to where we are now, which is here, between the tides of what was and may come to pass.

We live in a house suitable for a large, though we are only a family of five at present.  It took a lot of work to get here, especially since we are a single income family.  Dale and I looked into fostering and completed the homestudy process along with the PRIDE training classes, with the intent to adopt, however we both decided that open adoptions weren’t for us.  (I am NOT saying they are wrong, or bad, because I do believe a lot of good can come from them.  I am just saying that they are not for us.)

After deciding not to adopt within Canada we took a break, and pondered our options which I already knew I wanted to adopt from the Ukraine.  Everything I had read up on it, stories and blogs shared by others touched my heart and I knew that this is where I knew we’d find the missing pieces of our family.

Of course there is a glitch that we must overcome and I am nervous as to how it will go over with the adoption practitioner.  The last I heard, and feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but adopting a child over the age of 3, let alone sibling groups, is frowned upon within Ontario. 

I have to say that I don’t want another infant or toddler.  I love them dearly, but after six years of being diaper free, and no longer stressed out over everything, I don’t want to go back to it.  Babies are a lot of work, and I didn’t feel back to my normal until my boys reached the age of five and I felt like I could finally breathe.

With this in mind, Dale and I discussed adopting an older girl, somewhere between the age of 6-9.  With the room all painted up and ready for its unknown occupant a discerning thought crept into my mind.   Here we are, taking a child from everything and everyone she knows, to an unknown and strange land with people who are strangers.  Even in our family she would be the only girl surround by three active boys, the odd one out always.  So instead of one child now, we are hoping to adopt sisters. 

Some adjustments will need to happen in the yellow room, but I think we can do it.

In May we will be hiring an adoption practitioner.