Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Status update and Explaining the Process

A lot of people have a lot of questions about the process of international adoption. I have heard them all. "Why not adopt from here?" "Why is it so expensive?" "Why would you say yes if you don't have the money to complete the adoption in your hands?" With all these questions, I thought I would take the time to answer some of them and explain a little about international special needs adoption.

First off, to adopt a healthy baby in the United States, the average costs is around $35,000.00 if no complications arise, etc. The average costs to adopt internationally is around $25,000.00, so technically it is much cheaper to adopt overseas. I will break down the cost for the adoption of the country we are adopting from at present time:

  • $14,500 in agency fees (translation, court representation, all things "in country")
  • $1500 for homestudy fees
  • $500 for homestudy prep (physicals, records, fingerprinting, birth certificates, etc.)
  • $4000 for airfare (2 trips)
  • $1500 for hotel/food while in country
  • $890 for immigration application
  • $230 for visa application
  • $250 (approximately) for child's medical exam
  • $220 for FBI clearance
  • $77 for TBI clearance
And that is just the major stuff. There are a lot of small fees, such as notary fees, apostille fees, shipping costs, etc. that I did not include. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, doing it more than once takes a toll on your savings. So, that is the breakdown of where the money goes for everyone that is curious. Valid question.

Why don't I adopt a child from here?? Well, children with Down syndrome are what I feel like I am called to adopt. There are not a lot of domestic adoptions with kids with DS, believe it or not. America has about a 90% abortion rate for DS babies, so we basically kill them instead of giving them up for adoption. In Eastern Europe, they don't have the same ability to diagnose DS prenatally like we do (they have the ability, but most people can't afford the testing), so most are unaware they are having a baby with DS until they are born. As soon as they are born, they are told that the child will never walk, talk, or do anything and needs to be institutionalized immediately. They are shamed as if they did something to deserve this. Most don't tell their family and friends that they had a child with DS. They tell them the child died. The baby is taken to the orphanage and stays in a baby house until they are 4-6 years old. They are then transferred to an adult mental institution where they have about an 20% chance of survival in the first year after transfer. So, we kill them before they are born here in the U.S and they kill them slowly after they are born in EE. Of note, we have been on the registry to adopt a child with DS in the U.S. for many years and we would absolutely adopt from here if the opportunity presented itself. Does that answer your question?

Why not wait until I have the $25,000 laying around and are completely ready to adopt? Well, if that were the case, I would not have any of my boys here with me. I will try to fundraise as much as possible of the needed money and then I will move to plan B if I have to (which I really pray that I don't have to). I hate fundraising. Hate it. I feel like I am begging people for money (which I basically am) and it is not a fun place to be. It makes me get way out of my comfort zone. I read a comment last night about people not wanting to donate to some people that adopt because they have a nice house or nice cars, so people are very judgmental about people who fundraise. I think this is one of the ways God is growing me. He wants to see if he asks me to do something that I don't want to do if I will, in fact, do it. I am trying, but I am horrible at it and I have swallowed my pride and have done the best that I can do so far.

Why add another? Isn't three (actually five, but the other two are supposedly grown) enough? YES...YES, three is plenty. More than enough. We are not adopting because we desire to have more children. We are not sitting around trying to find another child to add to our family. The reason we adopt special needs children from very hard places is very simple: if not us, who? How can we say no when we have an empty room, an extra place at the table, the ability to provide for one more? Who is going to say yes if we say no? You? Your cousin? Your friend at church? Who? We adopt because our hearts are broken for the way these children are treated and we have the room and the ability to care for them. Do I love Noah? Am I in love with his picture? No. He is a stranger to me. I don't "love" him the way I do my other children. BUT I will. I will leave the comforts of my home, travel thousands of miles to meet a tiny stranger that I have no connection to and make him my son because I truly believe that I am suppose to do this. I am suppose to work overtime (ha-mostly Sean doing this), sell everything I can, cash in retirement accounts, and do everything I can do to bring home a stranger that will have no idea why we are taking him from the only horrible place he has ever known BECAUSE it is the right thing to do.

We have raised and worked/earned almost $10,000 of the $25,000 we will need to complete this. We will not be deterred by rude comments, rude questions, doubts, naysayers, nonsupport or anything else. For all the people that support us, we REALLY appreciate it and are so very thankful for everything anyone has done to help us. For the people that don't, that is ok. I realize that it is a complicated thing to understand and I really don't expect people to understand if you don't have the capacity to do so. I hope that our story awakens something inside of those people and that a little understanding and compassion for others that can never do anything to repay you takes place.

We are having another fundraiser June 20th. It is a spaghetti dinner, singing and silent auction. I hope that it is a success! We should by then have a better grasp on how much we will need to finish the adoption.

Hope this gives a little insight on the "whys" of adoption.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Car Wash and Good Eats!

This Saturday, May 9th, is our local car wash at Wendy's on Clinton Highway from 10 am-1230pm! Tell all your friends to come and get their car washed and hang out with the DS Mafia!

Next Saturday, May 16th, is our Ruby Tuesday Fundraiser at the three local restaurants (Emory Road,  Northshore at Pellissippi and Fountain City). Bring the flyer in and we will get a donation on the net funds from all meals that presented the flyer!!


Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Hi, all! I have been asked (demanded:) to update the blog. It has been a little while. We have been a little busy here. Let me update you all: we are adopting another babe with Down syndrome! He lives in a different European country and the process is a little different than Ukraine. We are knee deep in fundraising and trying to complete the state side part of the adoption. The home study is complete. The USCIS application was mailed today! We should get a fingerprint appointment and then hopefully, we will get our government's approval to adopt internationally. 

Our biggest hurdle this time around is funds! We had saved the money upfront for Caden and Cole's adoption. Cooper had a full grant, so we didn't need a lot of money. This time around...we are starting from scratch. We are working hard and progressing, so I am trying not to panic, but trusting that thousands of dollars will come is really hard for me. 

Update on the boys: 

Cole is 8 years old and HUGE! He is taller than his typical peers, has a 6 pack abs and has an athletic build. He is sweet, funny and laid back. His nickname is sneaky Pete! He waits until you aren't looking and goes for a toy that one of the others have. He is potty trained and very independent. He can write his name, knows all his numbers and letters and loves school. He is still a loner and needs extra encouragement to engage with others.

Cooper is also 8 years old. He does NOT have an athletic build. He weighed around 15 pounds when he came home. He now weighs 60! He is quite the chunkster. He loves to eat. He still can't chew very well and still requires thickened liquids. He goes 100 miles an hour as soon as his feet hit the ground until he passes out at night. He says a few words, signs some and his favorite activity is to play on the iPad. He is not a fan of school. He would rather hang out at home. He is extremely loving now and greets us with kisses and joy! He is so different than what he was and is definitely a man on a destruction mission. He requires a set of eyes on him at all times!

Caden is 6 years old now and is a tiny dictator. He seriously thinks that he is in charge of the world. He tells people where to sit, what toy to play with, everything. He is VERY smart and loves school. He is a jokester and will hide your stuff from you and then crack up watching you look for it! He currently carries a plastic spoon and cup around everywhere he goes and even sleeps with it. Sean keeps extra cups and spoons in the house at all times because he panics without one! I have said that God made him extra cute so we would get mad at him for being the dictator he is. He is a little tiny thing still. Some days he eats like a man and then he might just snack only for several days, but he is healthy and growing!

Danielle is now 22 and just graduated from nursing school. She works full time and is on the go all the time. She is planning on going back to school at some point, but unsure when. All I can add here is...thank God the village helped raise her:)

Cody is the last man standing. He is 20 years old and in nursing school. He works full time also. He is laid back and doesn't really have a concrete plan of what he wants to do right now. Believe it or not, he still plays Runescape! Yes, 10 years later!! 

Sean and I are still the same;) no big changes here, except he has lost weight and I have gained it!!!

Well, that catches you all up and I will try to add some pics!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Update on Cooper!

 This is Cooper today at the DSAG picnic in the park celebrating World Down Sydrome Day-look how good and healthy he looks....beautiful! (and he just got a hair cut)

 This is him a couple of days after we got home from the hospital. His stomach is still a little bloated here. I wish that was flab...but it is gas/air. When he wakes up in the morning his stomach is completely flat, almost concave.
 Trying out our new adidas...He wasn't quite sure of it, but tolerates standing for small time increments.
Finally had a bath with NO tears. He hasn't quite got the "it's fun" attitude, but no shivering, shaking, screaming, so he is making progress in that area.

Cooper is doing tremendous. He is now so mobile that we have had to go to Home Depot and buy gates to gate everything off. He can navigate the entire upstairs with zero help. He knows when it is time to eat and scoots to his chair. He is hilarious. He is sleeping about 10 hours a night with a 2 hour nap during the day, so he is getting plenty of rest. He is still eating pureed foods with thickened liquids, but so far has not refused anything. He now weighs about 20 pounds, so he has gained 6 pounds since coming home. He is off all the tummy bug meds and we will have him rechecked to make sure that his belly is ok. He is now just on Synthroid for his low thyroid and he is changing every.single.day. He is quite vocal and his laugh is this rip roaring loud "HA-HA". It doesn't even sound real and it is hysterical. He doesn't yet play with the other boys, but he is much more interested in what they are doing. He likes to be near them, but not right with them. Caden is getting better with him, too. He no longer cries when we hold Cooper and he is back to feeding himself. He still doesn't quite like the idea of us holding/rocking him and he climbs up on your lap with him and you end up holding/rocking both, which is totally fine by me.

I never dreamed that adding one more (especially one that is so easy to care for) would be so exhausting, but it has literally kicked my butt. I have never been this tired in my life. I have to make myself bathe, brush my own teeth, etc. because by the time that I bathe/brush 3 sets of teeth, I am usually done and just want to fall in the bed. This past week seems a lot better. I have slept every night and I feel a lot better. I hope we are getting into more of a routine now that we have most of our medical stuff taken care of. Oh yeah, Cooper will have eye surgery sometime in May to realign the muscles in his eyes to help him be able to control his eye muscles better. Other than than, everything is going really well. He seems like he has been here forever. I am getting use to having a "baby". I have only forgot the diaper bag and extra set of clothes once and I learned my lesson the hard way and I can guarantee you that I won't forget that anytime soon!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Size comparison!

Cooper and Cole (in the middle in the red shirt) are 10 weeks apart in age. Cole is 50% on the DS growth chart for both height and weight....and Cooper is a wee bit behind!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cooper Update

Cooper has been home now for 2 full days (sorry for the lack of posts...been just a wee bit busy). He is doing well so far. He was admitted into the hospital with severe malnutrition with possible refeeding syndrome, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, bowel obstruction, h. pylori, giaridia and dehydration. Wow!! That is a lot of stuff for such a little guy. His bowels finally moved (without surgery-thank God) and he is now eating anything and everything that we will give him. He does not chew at all, so all of his foods must be mushy/pureed and his liquids must be thickened. He has gained 2 pounds since we arrived in the states. He will continue to be on antibiotics for 14 days for the infections in his gut. He started his thyroid medicine and we will keep an eye on that. His blood sugar has stabilized with consistent food intake. So, all in all....after all that, he is going very well.

Cole (5) and Caden (3) don't know quite what to make of him, but it has gotten better and better each day. Caden doesn't really allow personal time with Cooper, so I have them on different schedules right now so that when Caden is napping, Cooper is awake and I can hold/rock/love on him without someone crying holding on to my pants leg. I know it is hard on my little guy, but he is getting used to sharing the attention. Cole really doesn't care one way or another, unless Cooper touches one of his 3 favorite toys, then it is war!

I am EXHAUSTED!!!! I have always heard and thought that adding just one more would be no big deal! HAHAHAHA! Getting three fed, dressed, down the stairs, into the car and to the grocery store almost killed me! I was literally too tired to shop once I got there, but it will get easier (I hope). I go back to work tomorrow and it will be daddy's first day alone with all three littles. It will be interesting to see how that pans out!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Poor Coop!

Cooper is in the hospital. He was admitted with dehydration, acute renal failure, bowel obstruction and electrolyte imbalances. He is doing much better this morning. His bowels have moved after 3 enemas and he is perking up a little. Try to update soon!