Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Prayer for Children


A Prayer for Children
Written By: Ina J. Hughs

"We pray for children
Who give us sticky kisses,
who hop on rocks and chase butterflies,
Who stomp in puddles and ruin their math workbooks,
Who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those
Who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who've never squeaked across the floor in new sneakers,
Who've never ‘counted potatoes,'
who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead,
Who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children
Who bring us fistfuls of dandelions and sing off key, who have goldfish funerals, build card-table forts, Who slurp their cereal on purpose, who put gum in their hair, put sugar in their milk, Who spit toothpaste all over the sink, who hug us for no reason, who bless us each night.

And we pray for those
Who never get dessert,
who watch their parents watch them die,
Who have no safe blanket to drag behind,
who can not find any bread to steal,
Who don't have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
Whose monsters are real.

We pray for those
Who spend all of their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store,
and pick at their food,
Who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
And never rinse out the tub,
who get quarters from the tooth fairy,
Who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
who squirm in church and scream on the phone,
Whose tears we sometimes laugh at,
and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those
Whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
Who have never seen a dentist,
who aren't spoiled by anybody,
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move,
but have no being.

We pray for children
Who want to be carried,
and for those who must,
For those we never give up on,
and for those who don't have a chance,
And we pray for those who will grab the hand of anybody
kind enough to offer."


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Being given a chance

Today we went to the opthamologist to determine what's going on with M's eyes. 

The baby pic we saw of her at the SDA showed her with a severely inturned eye.  When we met her, it was noticeable but much better than the baby picture.  By the time we took her to the pediatrician once we were home, it was detectable but only by a professional or someone who knew what to look for.

After the first visit at the opthomologist, he sent us home with a symbol chart for M to learn the names of the shapes and symbols so she could say what she was seeing on the eye chart.  He told me her eye muscles were overactive and were causing a misalignment but we'd wait and see what she could really see after she learned English better and knew the names of the pictures on the chart.

Today, she sounded off like a pro.  "Telephone" "Chicken" "Man on a Horse" "Glove"

She read all the way to the 20/40 line with one eye and the 20/50 line with another. 

The Dr. was clearly surprised she could see so well.   He told me that about 90% of kids with CP need corrective lenses.

She does have a weak eye and needs to patch to make it stronger, but that's no biggie.  She will also need a minor surgery to relax her overactive eye muscles.  It won't be a big deal and will take about 30 minutes.  The Dr. doesn't want to do that right now anyways as we're going back in a month to see how succuessful patching is.

We also went to the orthotics dept at Kluges today to have her AFOs looked at.  She has been fussin' that the backs of her legs hurt.  Well, it turns out that when you gain weight and actually grow some muscles, your AFOs get tight.  Thankfully the guy was able to re-heat them and flare the backs out away from her legs some so that they are nice and comfortable again. 

He also told me that Mariah would probably be a good candidate for a brace with a hinge in it which would allow her more range of movement in her ankles.  Right now its like she doesn't have an ankle joint because of the solid brace.  She needs the support, but she has improved SO SO much in the past 4 months of wearing her AFOs that she may actually get the hinged braces before Christmas.

No glasses and hinged AFOs so she can walk with a more natural gait. 

Wow.

Are we talking about MY M?

This is the same child who couldn't sit up without falling over on a couch.  She couldn't sit up on the floor AT ALL.  She had never stood up on her own.  Ever.  She couldn't walk.  She felt like a board when you picked her up.  We had to pry her legs apart just so she could sit on a toilet or to put her carseat belt on. 

Just a few months ago I was told she may NEVER walk on her own.  Now she is taking up to 20 steps at a time ALL.BY.HERSELF.

If I'd had time to sit and think over all of the "What ifs" and all of the medical lables that M had attached to her in Ukraine, I might not have been strong enough to say yes.  I'll be honest.  Adoption isn't easy.  It makes faith a verb.  But just LOOK at her now! 

Adoption is such a great picture of salvation.  I never understood just how much God loved me until we adopted Mariah.  Adoption isn't for everyone, I know... but if you don't, oh you are so missing out on understanding the fullness of what God did for us. 

He gave us a new life.  What are you doing with yours?

Reusing Disposable Diapers

There is a couple who are in Eastern Europe adopting their daughter right now. The orphanage like most in Eastern Europe never has enough money to take adequate care of the children, but this one is so desperate that they are reusing disposable diapers. Yes, they are REUSING disposable diapers on the babies there. They are hanging them up on clotheslines to dry out and putting them back on the babies. This couple who is there adopting their daughter wants to buy the orphanage as many diapers as possible for the children there so a fundraiser has been set up via ChipIn. They have already used several hundred dollars of their own money to purchase diapers but they are hoping to purchase $1000 more. Please consider donating! Diapers are expensive in Eastern Europe but no child should have to wear a dirty diaper....twice.



Friday, June 24, 2011

Six Months

Its been a crazy six months. We've all had to do a lot of adjusting. Some of it has been really hard, and some was just figuring each other out.

To be honest, its probably been the most trying 6 months of my life and for me, that is saying quite a bit! I never expected the emotional and psychological toll adoption would take on me. I expected the physically exhausted part but the feeling of being completely drained was a new one on me. Even being up 6 times a night with a new baby doesn't compare.

I also never expected not to love the child we adopted. Everyone tells you about how hard it might be for your child to attach to you but there is not much out there about parents having a hard time attaching to their kids. Love isn't always instant, but that is ok! It does grow :)

In retrospect I think me trying to keep our routine the same for the boys was so important to me that I exhausted myself. If I'd had the time to just hang out with Mariah and the boys and just "be" instead of cleaning, cooking, and catching up on everything that didn't get done while we were gone, I think the adjustment would have been easier.

I felt like I was compltely isolated from the rest of the world for a while to be honest. I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I didn't expect to be having and not having the ones I thought I should. I thought maybe I was going a little crazy.

Trying to be supermom after spending a month away from your kids and bringing another child home is probably not the recommended way to handle things LOL!

But like they say, time marches on and the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months and things started feeling normal again.

Mariah learned English and gave us some insight into what was going on in her little head. We got to know her better and she figured out that we weren't taking her back.

Home is forever.

She has improved so much in the past six months!

She really has become a part of our family now and I think we ALL feel that way. I didn't expect it to take so long because I wanted it to be an "instant" fit, but that really wasn't fair to expect of any of us.

So here we are! Six months home today! I can honestly say that I'd do it all over again for her. Even knowing how hard it would be and not having stars in my eyes about mushy feelings and instant bonding, I'd still do it all over again.

Happy Six Months Home little girl! God has some big plans for your life that I can't wait to watch unfold and I'm greatful and humbled every day that God asked me to be your mama.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who wants some free steaks?

I've started doing some "extreme" couponing of my own here recently and I've started following a lot of deal sites on facebook that share the best deals on the internet. Here is a GREAT deal for today only. I just have to share it on my blog because who doesn't need to save a few bucks??

Click Here to buy $130 worth of steaks for $40.50 shipped!

Use code "sizzling" to get an extra 30% off and if you're new to Plum District (who the deal is through) you'll get a $5 credit when you sign up.

After you buy the steaks, if you share your link with your friends on facebook, email or hey even your blog, and THREE people purchase the deal through your link then your steaks are FREE.

Free steaks. Sweet! Act fast though cause the deal is only good for today!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

IEP

I know many of you have been waiting to hear if we got Mariah's IEP written and the answer is yes! We are going to be sending her to special-ed pre-k for 4 mornings a week. She will have a 30 minute block each day in the regular pre-k room and will be evaluated for PT and OT when she starts school in August. That means we'll have to modify the IEP to include therapy as right now her IEP only focuses on goals in areas she was tested in. She is really excited! After this year we'll re-evaluate to see if she can attend regular kindergarten. They want her in special-ed right now so they can focus on more one on one work with her and because she is behind in a lot of skills.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ukraine Time

I bet you didn't know that time passes at a slower rate in Ukraine. Its true. Two, three, even four days can go by in the U.S. while in Ukraine its only been one. Ok... so not really but it feels like it when you're there and it really feels like it when you are trying to get something done in a timely fashion.

Ukraine will speed up for an expediting fee but waits for no one when it decide to do something.

When we were waiting for our second SDA appointment, we tried to update our clearance for older children. We contacted our social worker who (finally) agreed to approve us for up to 7 years old. Our facilitator had to get the paperwork translated and notarized in Ukraine before the SDA would accept it. The paperwork got FedExed but no one at our agency sent us the tracking number.

They forgot.

Ukraine is 7 hours ahead of EST. Our agency finally sent us the tracking number after we had our second SDA appointment where the paperwork was refused because our facilitator hadn't had time to get it translated and notarized because he had no idea when it was being delivered thanks to no tracking number. After having to wait 8 months from when we submitted our homestudy to the day we got to sit in that office, we were down to a few hours and no tracking number. Such is life in Ukraine!

(of course this ultimately led to us adopting Mariah so I'm not necessarily complaining!)

Our facilitator operates well on this slower time. I'll email him a question and four days later he'll get back to me. I'll hammer off another email within 10 minutes of receiving his and not hear back for another 4 days or so.

It drives me nuts.

We just move at a faster pace here in the U.S. Some call it breakneck.

We expect things instantly. We expect do-overs.

I am currently waiting to hear back from him about something rather important and as usual, he'll probably email me back once he'd done it instead of letting me know he's doing it.

Its just the way Ukrainians are. I know this, but here I sit at the computer willing my inbox to produce an email from him and remembering radom events that happened while we were in Ukraine that really have nothing to do with what I'm worrying about now.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Consular Registration - The Frustration!!

Hello,


Unfortunately, I can't send the damaged passport back to you. We have the legislation that requires this passport to be send to Ukraine (to the authority where it was issued) for further destroying.


We mailed Mariah's registration documents (all of the documents they requested in the form they requested them on the form provided in Ukraine) in January.

We didn't hear anything until March when they called asking us for her original court decree, which I begrudingly sent because I wondered if I'd ever get it back.

I heard nothing for a month so I tried to call them...about 20 times. I emailed the consular office multiple times and never heard a peep.

Finally someone gave me the personal phone number of a lady who worked in the consular office. I called and left her a message asking why my documents had not been returned (Mariah's original passport and court decree).

She called me back and told me that they could not register Mariah because her passport was damaged. Yep, well I washed it by accident because it was left in Phillip's pants pocket. It wasn't bad at all and I sent a note with it asking them to call if it was a problem IN JANUARY.

So in typical EE fashion I was told that for the price of $15 she could be issued a new passport in 2-3 weeks. For $30 she could have it in 2 days. It had to be a money order as well. No cash, no checks. I sent them a $15 money order and a new passport photo.

Today I finally got her registration documents and the new passport, but NOT the original passport that was issued in Kharkov. Ya know the one with the sentimental value? The one with the U.S. visa? Yeah that one. So I emailed the woman about it and what she told me is quoted above and is just laughable. I mean really... what else can I do but laugh? Who sits around and thinks up those things? I just wanted my daughter's passport to keep as a momento and now its gone.

Oh and the best part is that they are now requesting a copy of her birth certificate! Yes, I sent that along with the rest of the stuff in January. No, I am not sending it again.

I know that adoptive parents have caused problems by not registering their children and not completeing the yearly reports, but THIS might be why. For one thing, if I had not gone above and beyond the call of duty to find out why Mariah was not registered, she still would not be. It wasn't our fault though. I sent the documents in the form they requested but they never did anything with them.

Has anyone else had this problem? I just wonder why if they want to make sure that the children are registered that they would make it so nearly impossible to do so. I am really frustrated with how this whole registration process went because I know if people do not register their adoptive children, Ukraine may decide to close international adoptions so it was something I really wanted to do, and do right!

Moving and Shakin'

I think this video really illustrates how far Mariah has come with her movement and walking :)


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Taking that step...

The last several days I have been organizing pictures of Mariah and taking a few new ones. She really loved her friends and 2 caretakers at the orphanage and she was super excited about sending them pictures of her walking! She posed at the park, the pool, and stood in the yard by herself so she could show "Lula" how BIIIG and STROOONG she is now.

Today we mailed the package of pictures (and other documents that shall remain a secret for now!) to a friend who is traveling to Kyiv in one week for their SDA appointment.

This saves me like $80 on FedEx!

I took the time to use google translate and handwrote captions in Russian on the back of some of the photos for Mariah's friends and for "Lula."

Mariah at the park.

Mariah standing by herself saying "Look Lula!"

Mariah with her brothers.

Mariah's special shoes! (AFOs)

Mariah bowling.

Mariah riding in the van wearing purple sunglasses.




The other documents that were included in that package are our newest leap of faith. I rather like going up against all odds because that way when the impossible happens, you know its God and you know its what you're supposed to do.

Faith isn't something you just have. Its something that you DO.

Don't expect miracles if you don't place yourself in need of one.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ta-Da!

Its not exactly pretty.









She may not be able to do it for long.







She falls down a lot still.









BUT...











She can stand by herself!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

What to do...

We have been trying to track down some information in Ukraine for several months. Its kind of hard to find information half way around the world!

We finally may have figured out a way to do it, but it will come at a price. So we're trying to decide if its worth the cost since nothing is guaranteed and we may go to great lengths to try to obtain something that just can't be had.

At the same time, I don't see how we can't try.

I think I will go my whole life wondering "what if?" if we don't.

Prayers are appreciated as we try to decide what to do, and how to go about it.

I'm done worrying about the cost. I know if God wants us to do it, he'll provide the money but there are other things involved as well...

Sorry to be so vague but I just can't say what it is exactly that we're trying to do.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fingerpainting.

Its too hot for even the pool today so...

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Videos





Someone's feet are growing

The orthodics guy made Mariah's AFOs with room to spare at the end for her feet to grow.  She had about 1/4-1/2 inch at the ends that was visible even with socks on. 

Well, you can see that someone is growing!

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My new maid

Wes has been driving Phillip and I nuts about taking the Swivel Sweeper I got for Christmas out of its box so he can use it.  We finally relented even though I have a vaccuum, and so far he has cleaned the ENTIRE house this morning!  He thinks its some sort of privledge lol

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

When life hands you lemons...

The IRS is STILL holding our tax refund hostage. They *might* look at it within the next oh...30-60 days. Hah!

I do hope they decide to pay us interest on it since they've had it since February!

We had been really counting on that money to help us pay back stuff from our adoption of Mariah and help with her medical bills but hey, the IRS had other plans. Or maybe they didn't have a plan at all. I think THAT was the problem.

I was TICKED off about it... but trying to keep living within our budget when our budget is umm... being held up has proven a little tricky.

So in an effort to make our money go farther, I've started couponing. I follow all of the coupon sites I can find on facebook. I bought the Sunday paper for the first time today and I print off coupons from the internet.

Today I saved over $80 at Walgreens and got $7 in register rewards. Whoo hoo!
I saved $22 at Food Lion and spent $20. Got $1 back to use next time.
I saved $28 at CVS and spent $38.

By far I got the most stuff at Walgreens :)

Thanks Uncle Sam for an important life lesson, but ya know... I'd like my money now please!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ya Mishka Gummy Bear Video - Hilarious



The English Version



Mariah likes watching Russian cartoons on youtube so I spend more time than most people surfing through Russian youtube videos. I found this and am a little ashamed to admit that I have watched it at least 10 times. Its hilarious!

Video of Mariah Singing



Gotta love that little raspy singer's voice she has! We joke about her having a "deep" voice sometimes :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Natasha...

I really don't go a day without thinking about her. Some days she is always on my mind. Today when I was fixing Mariah's hair that has finally gotten long enough to do something with, she mentioned that Susanna and Natasha had "beeg hair."

Natasha had beautiful long hair. One day she had double french braids that had been doubled back up and clipped somehow so that the pigtails were looped around on the back of her head. So cute!! I think maybe they did her hair up because her grandmother was coming to see her. Another day I caught a glimpse of her in the grouppa with all of her hair down and it was still so pretty...

What happens to beautiful girls who graduate to detsky doms and internats and then out into the cruel world in their mid teens just makes me so sad. I know what her future is if she is not adopted. Mariah was able to be adopted because of her special needs. I don't know about Natasha. Being healthy and pretty shouldn't be a life sentence to an orphanage just like having special needs shouldn't be a ticket to a mental institute... I find myself wishing she'd show up on a photolisting somewhere with a health problem that makes her available for international adoption.

And again I ask God, "Why?" Why did I have to see her?

I really feel like I left part of my heart there.

Side jobs have their perks

Daddy has lots of helpers!

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IEP

We had the follow-up meeting with the school last week. This one was to go over the evaluations and determine if Mariah was eligible for special-ed. Phillip took off from work early so he could attend. I was at home with the sleeping kiddos (naptime) so I couldn't go, but I have the reports. We were pretty pleased overall with the assessment results. I feel like several people really did take the time to understand Mariah and try to "get" where she has been to understand why she is where she is now.

She was found to have a 46% delay in fine motor manipulation, a 29% delay in fine motor writing, a 45% delay in fine motor matching, a 30% delay in cognitive counting, and a 63% delay in gross-motor object movement. This puts her on average at about a 30 month level with some things being higher and some being lower but this is exactly where the OT at the Kluge Center said she was so I feel its fairly accurate.

Her cognitive and early academic skills are below average as well. She actually placed in the bottom 5% on the YCAT for her age though which makes me happy because that means that there are other kids who were born in this country with English as a first language that she actually scored on a chart with! I find that a great indicator for her future!

Of course she had no idea how to answer a question like "Why should you be careful around fire?" She just has not had the exposure to the language and the environment enough to put that particular phrase together in English. In Russian, she may have been able too... but right now her reasoning probably exceeds her vocabulary. She has lost Russian, the language she knew how to express feelings, thoughts, memories and experiences in and now only has English which is coming along great, but is not to the conversational level she had in Russian.

The social worker wrote up a report that really was just the information that Phillip gave her the day she came out. Everything says "Per her father" or "According to Mr. Johnson" which kind of cracks me up... what if Phillip was a blatent liar?? Obviously, he's not lol! A lot of it is actually incorrect anyways (she wrote it down wrong), but it doesn't really matter. I was worried about her, but she really didn't give any input. Our social worker from our homestudy agency told us that the school social worker was supposed to be THE person advocating for the child in this situation, but umm... yeah... I am just so not sure what exactly the purpose of the social worker here was. We were told that she was making sure our home environment wasn't contributing to Mariah's delays. I guess that is exactly what she did LOL Her tone certainly put us on edge for what could have been a much less stressful process!

We will have a meeting with the school this month to write an IEP for Pre-K. I think making sure that we put out there what we want for Mariah really was a good decision. I wasn't sure we knew what we wanted, but I know what we didn't so after doing some research and reading other people's blogs (where I learn SO much!) we came up with a game plan for what we think will work. We will see how the IEP gets written and if we are ok with it, Mariah will start school in the fall. If we're not happy with it, then we have other options available :) We definitely want her in PRE-K, not Kindergarten. The cutoff date is Sept. 30 and Mariah's BD is Sept. 7 so technically she is old enough for kindy, but absolutely not ready. I think we will be allowed to start her a year back though.

It really does help to see test results on paper that show where she is behind. Some things I know are a direct result of losing a language and not being exposed to things a homegrown 4 year old would have been; and the psychologist did say that Mariah had a greater potential than the results indicated because she has been so understimulated her entire life. Its obvious when people meet her that she is quite bright, but just clueless about things she hasn't seen before. So its good to know that people realize her background has caused most of her delays.

Whew! So its been a process and its not over yet. Some of it has been very stressful for Mariah and that was hard for us to see. We want the best for her but its hard to have to subject her to things that make her uncomfortable. I think our school system has not had much experience with internationally adopted, previously institutionlized children; but most people did make an effort to understand even if it was after meeting Mariah, and I can see that in the evaluations they wrote.

Tips for making it through the IEP process:

Do not freak out over a snippy social worker. We've all been through every background check on the planet and issued a favorable homestudy by a licensed agency. Its the social worker's loss if they don't take the time to educate themselves and further develop their talents as an advocate for ALL children.

Write your child's bio and send it to the school WITH the request for evaluations. Request that a copy be given to everyone involved BEFORE they meet with you and your child.

Don't sweat the things your kid has no idea about, even if (like us) you feel like they probably did know some of them in Russian but were not tested in time to actually know for sure. It doesn't mean they aren't capable of learning them later on (or picking it up in English) and if you have a competent person doing the testing, they will realize this as well.

Be FIRM about what you and your child are comfortable with doing and do NOT let anyone persuade you otherwise. It is in everyone's best interest that you and your child are comfortable with the enviroment and circumstances of the evaluations.

Be nice even if you feel like you just got accused of being a bad parent. Good parents bite their tongue and explain their story for the 19579475th time and then go blog about their frustrations to the rest of the internet :)

Pwerty Hair

Its not quite long enough for a french braid so we improvised.  Mariah LOVES her "Pwerty hair!" 

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Triple digits = Pool Time

We went to the pool today and my van temp gauge said 106 degrees when we left!  Whew!  This was the first time for me taking the three of them by myself!  The kids were great.  Wyatt is so mellow and just floats around most of the time.  Wes is always nuts so I'm used to that!   Mariah absolutely freaked out when we went to the pool this past weekend with Phillip, and she cried, went completely rigid and kept face planting the water even in her float.  I was surprised because she loves water!  Yet as soon as we left, she wanted to go back lol!  Today she begged all morning to "go swim in biiig pool!" So we did and she splashed around like a pro.  Turns out she was upset about getting her hair wet ,so after I explained you are SUPPOSED to, she was fine.  Girl drama. Wow. I never got to experience it before with 4 brothers and 2 sons.  We played in the kiddie pool and both big pools.  Wes screeches at me the whole time he swims (MAMA! Mama! You're too far away!) but he took off his float and got in with just water wings today! Yay!    We had fun and didn't come home till nearly 3pm so the kids are having super late naps.

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We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson

 

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