Friday, April 25, 2008

His will, not mine.

It's not to be. The door has closed to Ukraine for me. April 12 the Ukrainian Parliment passed a law that single people cannot adopt from Ukraine. And to add insult to injury, they threw in that the adoptive parent can't be more than 45 years older than the child they want to adopt.

So, even if I could convince a male friend to marry me for a few months, I can't change my age. It's just not gonna happen.

My very first reaction was denial...for the next 10 days I kept thinking that they didn't mean me, that they would make an exception, surely with me being this close they wouldn't make me give them up. But the final NO came in an e-mail on Wednesday night.

"Sorry, Ladies, It's time to grieve and move on." That was the message from our fearless leader, Andrea. Amy and I, both single moms were hoping to go to our separate corners of Ukraine this summer and bring our children home.

So now what? Andrea had gently sown seeds about going to another country the first day we all heard about the impending law. But I swept them aside in my arrogance thinking that surely the law would be bent for me. After all I love these girls who are to be my daughters. They can't possibly mean for ME to not come.

By the time Andrea's final words came, I knew they meant me too. No possible stone left unturned. Andrea had contacted many of her colleagues and had gotten the same story. No more adoptions to single people in Ukraine.

I had not really grieved the loss of the girls over that two weeks, because I wasn't willing to let go of the idea that it wasn't going to happen. I had tried on denial, I got angry, I got depressed, I got numb, but the grief started seeping in and by the time the final word came I was ready to break.

Now it's Friday and I'm beginning to feel things other than grief, saddness, helpless, If they call this process of adoption the "paper pregnancy", then this must be what a miscarriage feels like.

So, I'm starting the climb back. Today I started the paperwork for another country. As it is with foster care here in the States, there is always a tidal wave of children needing a home.

This time the country is farther north - in the Baltic States, the country of Latvia. There are several little girls with Down Syndrome in orphanages there and according to Andrea there are very few adoptions from this country because they are truly blind referrals. Absolutely no pictures.

And so it goes, that I leave more daughters in institutions. The reason for this journey is Coleen - that I couldn't get her out of the institution 40 years ago, and so I wanted to save Margarita and Katerina from the same life she had, and now there are three little girls I love who move me on to try to give a home to a little girl or two who someone thinks is a hopeless, unworthy child.

It's time to shut up and listen to God. I thought I was listening, but I think my arrogance got in the way and I took over the mission instead of letting Him guide me to where I need to be. My strong will is useful at times, but when it's a God thing, I need to let Him lead.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

And the little one too!

I love that I was asked, about the second child that I have committed to. (Thank You Lisa!) I love that she isn't a forgotten child.

I wrote first about Margarita because of the immediate impact she had on me. Katerina (Katya) is also at the same institution that Margarita is and she is a child that I've had to use my brain first about. That's not usually my reaction to a child, but when I have a whole baseball team worth of kids already at home, I have to throw some experience and widsom into the mix when bringing new children into our home!

In order to understand why I had to slow down with regards to Katya we have to go back 7 years to when my first child with Down Syndrome (Jacob) came into our family and the impact he had on all of us.

Jacob was a love at first sight child for me. In fact, I didn't even need a picture. The moment I knew of his existence I knew he was my baby.

He had only been out of the hospital for two months of his 6 months and was in the foster home of a retired PICU nurse. She was married to a minister and he was opening a church in Hawaii and their entire family was moving. They couldn't take Jacob. She had only taken him from the hospital on the condition that by December 15, a Friday, he would have to have another place to go because they were leaving that Saturday morning.

The State had been looking for months for a foster home for him. They had done first a State wide search and then opened the search to the US. No one wanted a child with DS and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. In addition, he was not legally free and his father was putting up a fight to get him. They had finally decided they would have to institutionalize him in a medical facility.

Although I was a foster home and did have a contract to take medically fragile infants and toddlers, my beds were full so I was not called about him. There was a waiting list for kids to get into my home and that's where a child's name would be put until I had an opening. Then the gate keeper (a social worker from the State) for my home and I would look at the list and the kids files and discuss the kids on the list to choose a child that would be appropriate for my home.

At that time I had one adopted child and 4 "Beds" . All the Placements desk could see was that I was full. What they didn't see was that I was just 6 weeks away from adopting Katie and that would open a bed. (At that time the capacity rules for our State were that you could have 2 of your own kids and 4 beds but no more than 4 beds) So although I only had 5 kids in my home, once I adopted Katie I could take in another child.

So, God works in wonderful ways! One day, our speech therapist, who was also a foster parent, was working with one of my kids and she mentioned that she was surprised I didn't take the little baby with DS and FAS. She had been called because she had a bed, but couldn't take such a fragile child because she worked full time. But she knew I had a special spot in my heart for kids with DS and lots of experience with FAS, so immediately she gave me the social workers info and I called.

I explained that I wasn't called because the right hand of the State doesn't know what the left hand was doing and that I would be adopting Katie and then I would have a bed.

I spent the next 10 days at the nurse's home training with her. At that time he had an N-G tube and he was scheduled to get his Mic-key button on Dec. 12. that was the 11th day. She took him to the hospital, and it was there that he was "officially" transfered to my care.

In the miraculous timing of God, he was released from the hospital on the 15th which was Adoption Day for Katie! I picked him up at the hospital in the morning and we went to court to adopt Katie at 2pm the same day. (The 15th being also the day the previous foster family had to have him gone!)

So that's how he came into our lives, but how he forever changed us is yet to be told. And I will make this part shorter. We spent the next three years wondering IF he was going to live. He had reflux so severely that he even had to be on a wedge to change his diapers. He was on the feeding pump for 23 hours a day because he couldn't tolerate more than 33ml/hour (about 1 oz) or he would reflux. That was true even after his fundoplication. He had never taken anything by mouth. He had no suck.

He was a silent aspirator. We watched in horror on the swallow study that the entire amount of barium went down his airway and he didn't even blink. No gag reflex, no sign at all that he was aspirating. He was hospitalized 4 times for aspiration pneumonia. He finally had a Nissan fundoplication.

He had tracheal and laryngeal malacia. He was on O2 as he couldn't breathe deep enough to keep his sats up. He had patent Foraman Ovale (hole in his heart that didn't close) Right ventricluar hypertropy, Severe sleep apnea.

He is classified as deaf/blind (although he is neither), has atlanto axial instability, has a severe latex allergy.

One of the times we had to 911 him I couldn't go with the aid car because I didn't have anyone who could watch the other kids. My parents are only 20 minutes away and they were ususally at the house on the other times he was transported and then I could go with him. But this time I had to wait for them to show up. So I was at the hospital about 30 minutes after he arrived. I raced through the doors to find which room he was in and there was a whole team working on him. One of the Doctors came out and pulled me aside and asked, "There's no code designation on his chart. Do you want us to save him?" WHAT?????????

"If I didn't want you to save him, I would have let him die in my arms at home! - Get in there and save him!"

This is just a smattering of issues and situations that Jacob brought to our life. And my other children suffered a lot because of it. My son Jonathan 13, especially, was traumatized by Jacob being taken by aid car multiple times, and the many hospitalizations in the three years where each surgery was life threatening. For example, to try to help with his breathing he had his tonsils and adnoids removed. Many kids even with DS are home same day with that procedure...Jacob was in ICU for three days with a tonsilectomy. His airway collasped one time when they just did conscious sedation to do an MRI.

I can't bring another child into my family that would require that much medical intervention and that much time of mine away from my existing family. That's not to say that any of them at any time might develop something that would cast us straight back into that experience again. But I cannot purposefully bring a child in that will need that amount of medical intervention.

From Katya's picture it appears that she may have a heart issue. She is extremely malnourished or not absorbing. She has severe strabismus in both eyes. The strabismus is not an issue to me as I worked for years with Eye Surgeons and know that's correctable and even if she is blind for no treatment for 8 years, I have two children who are visually impaired.

So I've kept my heart at arms' length with Katya, at least until recently. God is working on my fear. I feel it melting away and I believe that He will reveal to me when I meet her and see her records if I can bring her home. And if not her, then maybe another child is the second child I'm supposed to gather on my trip around the world.

As I said in my e-mail to Lisa. I have no concern over whether I will love her if I bring her home. I've had more than 50 children in my home over the past 15 years and it wasn't love at first sight with most of them. But within a short time there is no difference between the ones who were and those that weren't.

So, for now my plans include the little one too.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Getting Ready

I'm almost there...I just keep thinking that. If I really stopped to think of all the things that could go wrong between now and my girls coming home, I just might go crazy.

The Fed Ex man got the file there - It's getting translated. The next step is for my facilitator to submit it and then more waiting to get an appointment. An appointment. How much work could that be for someone to look at their calendar and find a few minutes for me to come in to pick up paperwork? Why does it have to take so much time? It's another day at work for them and a signifcant event in my life, in her life, in my children's lives, in the awareness of a thousand people and the universe will move a little more harmoniously with her here where she belongs.

How did she get there so far away, when I know so surely that she is my child? Why did the Father who knows His plan, decide to drop her 1/2 way around the world from where she belongs. What faith He must have in me that I would figure it out and drop everything in my life and go get her and bring her home!

How do you fall in love with a child that you've never met? How can you look at a picture - one picture and know that child belongs to you? How can you pick that one child out of the million little faces that you've looked through on the internet and know that child was meant to be yours? How can you find her on this huge planet with billions of people? One picture and I knew she was mine. One instant and I said yes to all the things I said I would never do...leave these kids here, fly in an airplane, pay thousands of dollars when in the past "they've" paid me to take a child. I could have done it again that way. Taken a child through the foster system. Taken a child that "they" would deliver to my door. With a complete medical history, baby pictures, family history.

But none of them were my child. She is my child. She is part of my heart, part of my soul, part of my past and future. I know this child like I know my bio child. It's there in her eyes, when I look at her picture I see into her soul and I recognize the reflection like it's a mirror into the center of me.

I didn't think that anything would jump start this drive in me again. With a house full of kids already, it doesn't make sense that I would feel this pull to do what only four months ago seemed impossible. That's why I know I have to go get her. It's like the story of the lost lamb and the shepherd leaving his flock to go find the one lost sheep. Now that I know she exists I can't leave her out there all the way around the world without a home, without a family, without the love.