Friday, September 28, 2012

Having a tough time....

It's inevitable that there will be times of discouragement, and I am in one. There have been several sad events in the lives of those around us that have intensified my discouraged state.

We are currently in the paper chase. All of our paper work is in and we are simply waiting for the approval and a phone call from our social worker. I have trouble with this waiting, and I think my discouragement comes from knowing that the waiting I'm experiencing now is only the tip of the iceberg.

The reality of my wait time is sinking in - 18-24 months......once I submit the Dossier. However, it's looking like wait times are increasing and so 24 months to referral can be more like 30 months. Keep in mind that is not even to bring our child home; that is just to the referral. Add about 4 months from referral to bringing the child home.

I hate to be a real downer, but this space is here to share the ups and the downs. Please pray that God comforts and encourages us during this time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chocolate hair, Vanilla Care

I love this blog. She has amazing tips about how to care for your child's hair. Check out this post:

5 Natural Hair Tips for New Parents

If you are a new parent, via adoption or birth, and you're not sure what to do when it comes to hair, this post is for you. Not all children find their forever families at birth, so we not only address concerns that people might have with babies, but also the older children that come to us later in their young live...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wisdom from our orientation

First of all, the AWAA office is beautiful. It's warm, inviting, and we immediately felt more at ease upon entering. I teared up when passing the cubicals (prettiest cubicals I've ever seen) because there were groupings of pictures of adopted children pinned to the wall. I look forward to sending such a picture to our family coordinator in the future.

Our orientation was splits into 3 sessions- home study tips, trans-racial parenting and attachment, and discipline and behavior.

Home Study tips
We learned that our orientation counts as our first of 3 (possibly 4) home study visits, and that our social worker should contact us shortly to set up our appointments since we have handed in all of our paperwork (pray it's soon!). One visit will be both Evan & I together and the 2nd one will be each of us separately. After the visits are done, our social worker will write up the Home Study. This is the big piece that goes in the Dossier and enables us to get necessary paperwork from US immigration.

We also learned about re-adoption. Re-adoption is not mandatory for Ethiopia, but it good to do because: you can legally change your child's name, get a U.S. birth certificate and U.S. passport. In Ethiopia the child is named with their Ethiopian first name, adoptive father's first name and our last name....kind of funny for a girl.

Trans-racial parenting and attachment
This session was very helpful because it walked us through different scenarios and possible comments so that we can think through how we would respond graciously rather than out of defensiveness. This is going to be a toughy for me. For example: After adopting your child, someone asks "When will you have one of your own?" I realize that a person probably means "biological, " but saying "your own" implies that your adopted child is not your child. Can you imagine the little ears hearing that? Another scenario is when a family goes to the costume store for Halloween and their adopted child from China chooses a cowboy outfit and their Caucasian brother chooses a ninja costume. The person ringing them up says to the Chinese son, "Shouldn't you be the ninja?" Wow, I would really have to fight back a smart comment here. The recommendation was "It's Halloween, he can be whatever he wants."

As far as attachment goes, there were some great tips as to how to encourage healthy attachment including limiting visitors upon return. If you think about it, the child is used to a lot of people caring for them and so they need to learn who are the parents.

Scary term- RAD- reactive attachment disorder. While adopted children struggle with attachment to varying degrees, RAD is a very severe diagnosis. They are now starting to look at RAD on a spectrum (like autism) instead of a cut and dry diagnosis.

Discipline and behavior

What I learned and need my friends and family to know:  parenting an adopted child is completely different. Tried and true parenting techniques (time outs, etc) often don't work with adopted kids because of living in an institution. Also, we signed an agreement not to use spanking, and will not be using that as method of discipline.

Also, for these children food is a big thing. We build trust and attachment by making sure they are fed on time and enough. A lot of adopted children have great anxiety about food because of their past experiences. The idea of waiting 10 minutes for food, is not the same for an adopted child because there is a lot of fear and trust tied up in it. A simple granola bar in hand can build trust that we will not let them go hungry.

All in all it was a great and informative meeting!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ten things not to say....

I really enjoy reading the blog Rage Against the Minvan, and recently the author has featured some guest bloggers. Her friend Karen is an author and an adoptive mother, and I found the post very amusing. I can only imagine the questions/comments that I will receive once we bring our child home since I have already gotten some really interesting ones. Here is what Karen has to say:

Top Ten Annoying Things People Say To Adoptive Parents That, Even Though They Mean Well, Drive Adoptive Parents Up A Tree

My friend Karen Walrond is an adoptive mom, and also a  writer, photographer and author of the gorgeous and soul-nurturing book The Beauty of Different.  A couple weeks ago she sent me this post she wrote when  her daughter was young, to commiserate on the questions we often get as adoptive families. I asked if I could repost it here, and she agreed.  I think she is pretty spot-on in hitting the observations that come a little too frequently for adoptive families. I read this nodding my head in agreement . . . and giggling at Karen’s moxie.  Karen did tell me that 8-1/2 years later, she’s not nearly as angry. “For the most part, boneheaded comments have stopped,” Karen says. Can I dare to dream? 
Okay, people, listen up: I know adoption is not an issue you run into every day. I know this. But this should not be an excuse to keep you from educating yourselves on how to behave when you come face-to-face with a real live adoptive family. ‘Cause some of you, and you know who you are, just ain’t right.
karenwalrondfambymaile[photo by Maile Wilson]
Now, don’t get me wrong: we adoptive parents have no problem with being asked about adoption – frankly, sometimes it’s our favorite topic of conversation. It’s how you ask these questions and make these comments that make us twitch. So, ever the giver, for today’s public service announcement I thought I’d present to you the Top Ten Annoying Things People Say to Adoptive Parents That, Even Though They Mean Well, Drive Adoptive Parents Up a Tree. When appropriate, I’ll even present the right way to say these things – if even (with all due respect) it’s not your place to say these things at all. Please pay close attention. Feel free to take notes if you have to. But, on behalf of adoptive families everywhere, the boneheadedness must stop.
To wit:
10. “You look like you could be her real mother.” Newsflash, people: I am her real mother. Not only that, in about 6 weeks I’m going to have in my hot little hands actual real-live, no-foolin’ court papers that say so. Nonetheless, the phrase I believe you’re looking for is “biological mother” or “birthmother.” And to respond to your comment – yes, I agree – I think she looks like Marcus and me as well.
9. “Did you get to meet her father?” Yup. In fact, I married him.
Please see Number 10, above, and re-word your question appropriately.
8. “That’s such a kind, charitable thing you did, adopting Alex.” Well, that’s sweet that you think Marcus and I are such angels (and funny you should mention it, we’re having our wings dry-cleaned as I type), but make no mistake: the primary reason we adopted Alex is because we wanted a child. It was not an act of charity.
So, now that we’ve admitted this, you think we’re selfish little pigs, don’t you?
7. “Oh, you had your baby the easy way.” Well, if by “easy way” you mean filling out enough paperwork to make “War and Peace” look like a comic book, undergoing background checks, home checks and some very personal interview questions in the hope that the social worker will actually fall for the ruse that Marcus and I are sane enough to raise a family, nervously meeting the birthmother, and then waiting while she gives birth, hoping against hope that she’s taking care of herself well enough so as not to hurt the unborn child, fixing up a nursery and picking out names, but then finally enduring 48 hours from the bowels of hell in complete and abject panic as we fervently expect that since the birthmother has now seen the beautiful little girl who came out of her body, there is no way on God's creation she’s going to place her child with Paranoid Me and My Crazy Husband, rendering Paranoid Me and My Crazy Husband helpless and powerless and back to square one again, then yes, I suppose we did get our daughter the “easy way.”
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve never given birth to a child, so I would never presume to believe that adoption is harder than childbirth. But don’t believe that adoption is “easy” – it was, in fact, the most excruciatingly emotional process that Marcus and I have ever been through in our collective lives, albeit with an unbelievably happy ending. And, relatively speaking, we were pretty lucky – I don’t even want to think of what adoptive families who deal with the nightmare of infertility on top of all of this must endure.
And speaking of birthmothers:
6. “You know the birthmother?! Wow. Aren’t you afraid she’s going to stalk you?” Wow indeed – you’ve obviously been watching waaaay too many after-school specials. No, we’re not afraid. Yes, we have a relationship with Alex’s birthmother – we speak on the phone, and I send her family photos of Marcus, Alex and I. And, surprise, surprise, the more we get to know her, the more comfortable she feels about her decision to place Alex with us. And this comfort, you’ll be relieved to know, has been scientifically proven to be one of the main suppressors of the Stalking Reflex. See how that works?
5. “Aren’t you afraid that your daughter may have inherited some of her birthparents’ less desirable traits?” No. Aren’t you afraid yours has?
Sorry, got a little bitter, there. But you get my point.
4. “So what’s wrong with her birthmother? Why did she get pregnant if she wasn’t going to keep her?” This question REALLY fries my egg. I have no idea why Alex’s birthmother makes the life decisions she does, but you know what? It’s SO not my place to judge her, nor is it really any of my business. All I do know is that Alex’s birthmother is a good person, and is trying to make her way through life the best way she knows how – pretty much like the rest of us on this planet are.
And that’s really all I have to say about that.
3. “Are you going to let Alex meet her birthmother?” Alex is adopted, she’s not in prison. We wouldn’t think of keeping Alex from learning anything about her life, including meeting her birthmother, if that’s what she wants.
2. “Are you going to tell Alex she’s adopted?” Nah, we thought we’d keep it a secret.
Of COURSE, we’re going to tell her. We’re going to tell her that we chose to adopt because we knew that her little soul was out there waiting for us to be her parents. And that we were there in the delivery room, desperately waiting to welcome her to the world and our family on the day she was born. And because she has the undying love that she has from Marcus, me and her birthmother, she’s a pretty extra-special kid.
Besides, if we weren’t going to tell her, why would we tell you?
And the Number One Annoying Thing People Say to Adoptive Parents:
1. “She’s so lucky.” Please. Not a day goes by when I don’t thank the Lord above for my amazing husband and our incredible daughter. Marcus and I are so-very-much-more the lucky ones.
And I bet if you ask her that when she’s about 13, she’ll agree.
You can check out more from Karen at her blog Chookooloonks.

Poker Night

Full House! Pocket Aces! Straight! Trip Jacks! Ante Up! Go all in!

On September 29th starting at 3:00pm, we will have our first adoption fundraiser. We are holding a Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament. There is a $20 donated buy-in, and we have several fabulous donated prizes from Bull & Bones Restaurant in Blacksburg. Jimmy John's has also graciously donated some of their delicious subs for the event. Evan will also be raffling off a car detail from Gloss Boss Streetailing for additional donations.

This event is not to be missed! Guys and girls are welcome! The only requirement is that you know the rules of Texas Hold'em and show good sportsmanship:)

Again the details are:

What: Texas Hold'em Tournament ($20 buy-in)
When: Saturday, September 29th starting at 3:00pm
Where: 130 Jackson Street Blacksburg

All donations go directly to the Oster Family Adoption Fund

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Adoption terms (PC)

I've learned that certain words, comments and phrases that seem similar can have very different implications and so I wanted to post about PC (politically correct) adoption terms.

Adopted- it's important to emphasize the past tense. It is an important event, but in the past. The child is now a part of a forever family.

biological child- this is the better choice than "natural child" because it implies that the adoptive child is "unnatural" in some way. Also saying one child is your own (meaning biological) has the same negative effects.

Any I'm missing??

Monday, September 17, 2012

Home Study milestone!

This past weekend Evan and I went to our home study orientation in Mclean, VA. Since we live in Virgina, AWAA is our home study agency and our first "visit" was our orientation. At the meeting we handed in all of our home study documents. It was such a relief! We have been crazy busy collecting paper work over the past month. Evan and I both had an audible sigh of relief.

We met some other families that are pursing adopting older Ethiopian children a hosting program that AWAA started. There were some testimonials that were real tear jerkers! We also were blessed to have our friends Tom & Whitney there. They are also pursuing adoption of an older child. Check out their blog here We had a great time connecting with them and enjoying some stress relieving laughs over lunch. What a blessing they are!

This week Evan & I decided to take a break from paper work (yes, there is still more for the Dossier), and for the first week in a long time, there is no to-do list on the fridge! I'll share more this week about some specific things we learned at our orientation.

Prayer requests:
-That this week we can enjoy some down time.
-For good attendance for our first fundraiser- our Poker Tournament on September 29th.
-That all of our Home Study paperwork is approved and we get matched with a social worker soon

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Where are we now?

What's been happening recently in our adoption story? Lots of paperwork. We are busy, busy collecting, filling out, and getting many things notarized. This weekend we are headed to our agency's Home Study Orientation which begins our Home Study process.

While there are things in our control such as: completing certain forms, making appointments and getting our paperwork notarized, there are many things that are not in our control. Once we start the Home Study process, we will be waiting for our social worker to contact us and begin the visits and the write-up. Please pray that this process goes smoothly and quickly! Our Dossier submission date hinges on the speed in which the Home Study is completed, and the speed of the U.S. Immigration paperwork getting processed and returned to us.