Archive for ‘Adoption’

June 1, 2013

Three Years Ago {Mayer’s Homecoming}

Three years ago, after months in Uganda, I posted this picture and announced to the world that I was finally bringing our beautiful son home.   (How cute is my baby?!) 

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I will never forget picking up that visa and realizing that I was really, truly going to be able to take him home, to OUR home, to see his daddy for the first time in 3 months and meet the rest of his family for the first time ever!

 He fit in perfectly, like his spot in our family had always just been there, waiting for him to fill it. Image

Mayer has brought such joy to our family.  He is the funniest, most creative little boy.
He loves his family fiercely and we love him more than we can begin to explain.

We are so, so thankful and blessed to have him in our family.  We love you Mayer!

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Read about Mayer’s homecoming:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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April 26, 2013

Eichhorn Family Follow-Up

This is a follow up post to “Special Needs Adoption {Eichhorn Family}” .

Several of you submitted your questions for the Eichhorn family and I was happy to get these answers for you.   While what works for the Eichhorn family may not be possible or work for all of us, one thing they prove to us is that with determination and creativity typical families just like yours and mine can provide homes for waiting children with special needs.

Question:  How do you afford the medical costs that come with children with special needs?

Answer:  “Our first 5 adoptions were USA adoptions from Ohio. With Ohio adoptions Medicaid insurance is part of the deal when you adopt through the county foster care/adoption system. Your children have most medical needs paid for until they are 18.”

Question:  What has been the hardest part of being a parent of special needs children?

Answer:  “Our hardest part of parenting special needs children is getting time away together. Date nights or date days are few and far between, typical babysitters aren’t trained to watch medical needs children and paying for or even finding someone is not easy. Trained family is a good option for time away together. For us as individuals we help each other out by one of us watching the kids so the other can get out of the house for a while.”

Question: Do you plan to adopt more children?

Answer:  “Eventually we probably will adopt more children. For the time being our family is enjoying the children we have and are taking a break from the constant flow of social workers and paperwork. Also with recruiting efforts hopefully there will be no more special needs children around to adopt.”

Question: How do you transport your family?

Answer:  “For our family’s transportation we have purchased a giant ford van with two sets of wheelchair tie downs and a wheelchair lift. If or when we add more children we will then have to take two vehicles when we all go together as a family.”

Question: What is your day to day schedule like?  Do you have a lot of appointments outside the home?

Answer:  “Our day to day schedule includes katie working overnight as elijah’s nurse 5 nights a week. Everybody is up at 6 and we both work together to get all six kids up and fed by seven when I take them to school. Katie stays home and finishes getting the other three ready for the day including starting elijah’s daily therapy routines. I am home by 8 and either hang out with the kids, run errands, do handyman projects around our home or other people’s homes. Elijah has a nurse who comes for 5 hours three days a week which gives katie a break from his medical and therapy needs. I pick kids up at 2 and then do homework and playtime until dinner at 5. Five of six are in bed by 7 and elijah is finished with his procedures by 8 which gives us two hours to unwind before bedtime. Though plans often change, such as when one of the kids has an emergency and ends up needing to stay in the hospital for a couple weeks in which case katie usually stays at the hospital and I take on full charge of everybody else!”

Question: “I’m a mom of three biological children.  We are hoping to adopt and have been thinking about adopting a child with special needs but I’m already so busy and I’m afraid I won’t have time to care for the child the way they need.”

Answer:  “Appointments are crazy when you first get a child. They have to have so many initial specialist visits and tons of therapy to start in. Elijah now gets all of his weekly therapy in the home since he is immunocompromised. Manny and Gideon both graduated from therapy in December so we only have medical appointments no therapy outside the home (until we get it set up for Zahara!) But even at that we still have three or so appointments a week in which case one of us takes the child/children to the doctor and the other stays home with whoever is not going. It makes it really nice to be able to have two parents at home in these situations.”

Question: “Were you scared when you adopted your first child with special needs?  I dont have any experience with special needs and am afraid I wouldn’t know what to do!”

Answer:  “I was definitely scared with my first adoption, but I feel it was a healthy fear. Uncertainty was assured with that whole process. At that point we had no children it was just deciding that life would be different forever. You give up free time as a married couple, certain outings, retirement… I don’t regret it one bit and would make the same choice many times over. With God guiding us into that process we knew He could come up with better life plans than we could anyway. Special needs children do take special time and attention. You can always learn special needs as you go, how much time you have could be difficult depending on your support system and the severity of needs of the child.”

Question:  How old are your children now?

Answer:  “Our most recent child is 15 nearly 16 her adoption will be final in july, she is from Uganda. The rest in order received are: Elijah 5, Kimora 5, Aidric 3, Manny 4, Gideon 3.”

Question: Did you have to modify your house to make it wheelchair accessible?

Answer:  “So that we could afford a modified handicapped house when elijah (our wheelchair bound son) was 2, we purchased a $20,000 multifamily home. And with my carpentry home remodeling skills I built a handicap accessible single family home with 7 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, elevator, and therapy room. So after two years of work we had an affordable custom made castle.”

Thank you to the Eichhorn family for being willing to be so open about their family and adoptions!  If you have additional questions about special needs adoption leave a comment on this blog post or send me a message and I’ll do my best to get them answered!

Zahara

April 3, 2013

Communicating with Benjamin

I feel like we’ve finally hit a long awaited breakthrough with Benja.  He’s trying to communicate with us so much more than he used to!

For example, this afternoon he waved “hi” at me when I went into get him up from his nap.

As I was changing his diaper he signed “eat” and “said” yes (this sounds like a grunt but we know what he means) when I asked if he wanted a snack.

When he was done eating he signed “all done”.

He then signed the word socks” and crawled over and sat by his socks and shoes signing “socks”.

After I put them on he went to the TV and signed “Yo Gabba Gabba” and then pointed at the TV.  He started squeeling and laughing when I turned it on.  I asked him if he was happy and he signed happy!

He’s changing so much!  Actually seeing him tell us what he wants instead of tears and frustration…I can’t tell you how good that feels.

Go, Benji, go!!!

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March 13, 2013

Special Needs Adoption {Eichhorn Family}

I want to introduce you to the Eichhorn family.

I first started talking to this family last year when they contacted me for information on adoption from Uganda.   They had met and fallen in love with an older child with significant special needs they had met in an orphanage during a missions trip.  They were interested in adopting her.  I was overjoyed to help.  Happily, a few months ago they came home with their new daughter Jennifer and sent me this beautiful family photo.  Jennifer not only now has a family but is a big sister to five younger siblings!

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The Eichhorn family is now parenting six children with special needs!  I can’t help but marvel at what a beautiful family they have.

I asked the Eichhorn family if they might be interested in answering some questions about special needs adoption for my friends and readers.   Many of you are interested in special needs adoption but have questions about what life looks like parenting children (or multiple children) with special needs.

The Eichhorn family has graciously agreed to answer YOUR questions about special needs adoption.

What do you want to know about special needs adoption?   I want to get your questions answered!  Send them in and I will try my best to get them answered.

This family is living out such a beautiful example of stepping out of your comfort zone and providing a loving family for children desperately in need.

Please watch their video.   Share it.   And send in your questions!  This is a great opportunity to learn from someone who has “been there” and who has a lot of experience.

February 20, 2013

Back to Shriners {Jovia Update}

Last week Jovie and I loaded her wheelchair into the bus (oh my goodness, what a blessing this bus has been!) and took a girls only road trip to Kentucky to see the folks at Shriners hospital.

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The goal of this appointment was to have our yearly check up with the orthopedic specialists, talk to the prosthetics department about what our local prosthetics clinic wanted to do and to have some adjustments made to her wheelchair.

The drive is about 4.5 – 5 hours depending on traffic and if you stop.   We made it down there in time for dinner and decided to hit up the mall and have dinner at PF Chang after we checked into our hotel.

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The next morning we headed to Shriners.  We met with the wheelchair folks and PT first.   They were all excited to see how well Jovie is now driving her wheelchair.   Some small adjustments were made on various issues that have popped up now that she’s driving it more.  They are going to be moving a few buttons she’s having trouble reaching, removing a couple all together that she doesn’t use, making the seat bigger and removing the foot rest she doesn’t need.   The battery will also be replaced since something is wrong with it and it won’t hold a charge very long.   J. was happy to show off her driving skills and drove around the playroom for a while so we could all watch and chat about how well she’s doing.

After that we headed down to meet with the doctor and the prosthetics clinic.  I was excited for the doctor to see Jovia – especially because she (the doctor) was the one who first told me last year that we should never expect Jovie to stand or walk on her own.   I couldn’t wait for her to see how much she’d changed!   Everyone came into the room together and they were all very excited to see how well she was walking and figuring out how do things.   The doctor didn’t mention her earlier predictions (and neither did I) but I’m so glad she was able to see all that Jovie can do now.

The prostethics folks were eager to chat with us particularly because we were scheduled by our prosthetics clinic here in Ohio to get Jovie fitted for stubbies this week.  We’ve been struggling with the decision of stubbies vs no stubbies for a while now.  Several people have really pushed us to try them (mostly PT’s and prosthetics folks) but at the same time I’ve seen/read about/spoken to adult congenital amputees who were all pushed into prosthetics as a child but never got much use out of them and do not use them.  The prosthetics folks at Shriners helped me decide that we are going to hold off on prosthetics for now.   There is no real benefit for her at this point to have them.  We all agreed that they might in fact harm her walking more than they would help.  She’s doing so amazingly well now that we don’t want to do anything to cause frustration or set her back.  If at some point she decides she wants them for cosmetic reasons or an issue comes up that they become a necessity we will re-evaluate then.

One other exciting thing we learned during that appointment was that there is a woman who lives a few hours away from us who was born with the same amputations as Jovia.  The folks at Shriners said their limbs/body shapes are very similar (almost identical one doctor said) and they were going to try to get us in touch with this young woman.  I’m excited and hopeful about possibly having the chance to connect Jovia with an adult who is “just like her”.   They were telling us about all the things that this young woman does on her own (apparently she is learning to drive!) and I would love for J. to have that connection.  So we’ll see.  :)

Jovia is growing up and changing so much.  She’s almost potty trained now, talking like crazy, walking everywhere, hopping (which is so cute to watch) drawing well with markers/pencils, building towers with blocks (the physical therapists love that!), helping to clean up her toys, eating almost all of her meals on her own, driving her own wheelchair into church and appointments, helping to buckle her own carseat (she can snap the chest strap!) working on climbing up stairs (ohh, so scary for this mama!) and so much more.   She and Mayer have been playing really well together – playing pretend (restaurant is a current favorite), playing with cars, hiding in forts and whispering.  It is so adorable to see their relationship changing and maturing.  She’s recently taken on a “big sister” role with Benjamin too – comforting him when he cries, watching out for him and sounding the alert when he’s into something he isn’t supposed to be (which happens a lot now a days!) and in general acting very motherly towards him.

{Side story!  Yesterday we were sitting in the living room when I heard Jovia say “I help you Benji….” she rolled over to him and put out her arm like we do when we go to help him stand up (he can’t yet stand without holding onto something or someone).  So you have to picture this –  Jovia laying on the floor on her stomach.  Benjamin taking her arm and standing up beside her, but of course he’s all bent over because he’s holding her arm which, even when she reaches it up, is beside his ankle because she’s on her stomach.    At this point Jovie says “come on, Benj” and she tries to roll, while he tries to walk, bent over, beside her.  They fall down.  At this point I jump up, racing to find my camera as they attempt it again.  I can’t find my phone anywhere.  Finally I find it and run back to the living room where the whole thing was over.  It was so adorable and funny and sweet.   If it happens again I will try so hard to get it on video. :) }

We are so proud of our sweet girl!

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February 19, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday Finn!

Our sweet Finn is 8 years old!!

I will never forget picking him up from Haiti when he was a tiny little 10 month old guy.

I stood outside the airport in Port-au-Prince and they handed him to me over the fence so I could turn right around and make my return flight home.  Just like that, I had my first brother!

He’s grown so quickly, too quickly.  The time has just flown by!

Happy birthday Finn!  We love you!!!!

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January 7, 2013

and still he waits….

Two years ago I walked into an orphanage in Africa and met a precious baby boy.

Elias* was about a year old.  I was told he had seizures and low muscle tone.  He had reflux and was considered “failure to thrive”.  His caregivers asked me if I might be able to find a family for this precious baby boy.

Of course, I answered.  Of course this precious, adorable baby boy would find a forever family.

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Two years later…Elias is still waiting.

His chances in Africa aren’t good.  If he survives he will spend the rest of his life in an institution.  He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and they have a hard time controlling his seizures with the limited medical care available to him.   He is being fed through an NG tube (in his nose) because he aspirates his food.  While the orphanage he is in is a great one, it is still an orphanage and Elias NEEDS a family.  There is nothing that can replace a loving family.

Last time I was at his orphanage I went looking for him.  I had been warned that he looked a lot different.  “Like a holocaust victim” is how a friend who works at the orphanage described him.  Apparently he had been sent to the hospital and came back to the orphanage is worse shape than he was in before.  I was heartbroken.  He had changed so much.  He smiled at me as I held him and I smiled back with tears in my eyes knowing how much harder it would be for him to find a family now.  Now that he was older, gaunt, stiff and spastic.  I was heartbroken that this little boy with SO much potential is wasting away without a family or the medical attention he so desperately needs.  Wasting away because no one will step out and say YES that they will rescue this precious child.

Elias is a beautiful, innocent 3 year old boy who needs and DESERVES a forever family.

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I know it’s scary.  I know.  Elias needs someone willing to take a leap of faith.  Someone who see’s what I see:  a sweet little boy who longs to connect with you but who is stuck in a body that is working against him.

Parenting Elias isn’t going to easy.  Especially at first.  There is no doubt about that.   But I can tell you, this little boy is WORTH IT.  He will make the most amazing son for someone willing to step out of their comfort zone and bring him home.

Please friends, won’t you consider if you are this sweet boy’s family?  

Elias has waited far too long.

*name changed to protect privacy

Little E from sister haiti on Vimeo.

December 18, 2012

Beautiful family…

New Film Premiere – I Like Adoption. from ILikeGiving.com on Vimeo.

November 3, 2012

Concentrating on the “Can Do’s” instead of the “Can Not’s”

An older, grandmotherly type lady approached me at preschool pick up a few weeks ago.   She had been eyeing Jovia as she sat in her stroller, watching the other toddlers as we waiting for the preschoolers to file in for the last story of the day.   She gave me a sad smile and said “Isn’t there anything anyone can do for her?  It just breaks my heart to think about all the things she will never be able to do…”

I was momentarily startled because most people approach us shocked at Jovia’s abilities and how she adapts and figures out how to do the things she wants to do.

But then I remembered, I know how easy it is to take a quick look at Jovie and feel sorry for her, to automatically start imaging what she won’t ever do.

There was a time when I did just that.  Before she came home I spent a lot of time thinking through dozens of different activities in my head and checking off invisible boxes…”can do this”…”can’t do that”.

But not anymore.

We are no longer focusing on what she can’t do….now it’s all about being amazed at what she can.

Jovia has already so far exceeded our expectations (and her doctors and therapists!) that there are few things we dare imagine she won’t be able to do.   Sure, no one expects her to be a concert pianist or run a marathon.   But there are so many things that we are now sure she’ll be able conquer.  Things I never dared to imagine when we first committed to adopt her.  God has blessed Jovia with an amazingly determined spirit.   This girl doesn’t stop trying. 

In the past couple of weeks Jovia has decided to start walking.   Yes, walking.  On her own.  Not holding onto anything.  These are short distances but none-the-less, walking.  We.  Are.  Amazed.   Remember, doctors told us to never expect her to stand alone!

We are currently exploring different options to help her expand her walking abilities.  We are looking for something to help make walking easier so she can walk longer distances.  In particular we are exploring the idea of finding someone to design and build a small walker for her.  We envision something that she can stand in front of and push to walk behind.  Something she can get herself into and out of.  Her wheelchair is WONDERFUL and gives her freedom she’s never had before.   But it isn’t practical for really interacting with other children her age, something she wants to do desperately.   I will keep you all updated when we come up with something.

Thank you all for continuing to cheer Jovia on and pray for us as we navigate these rarely chartered territories.  We continue to look for new and creative ways to help Jovie be as independent as possible.  We are overjoyed with her progress and can’t wait to see what she does next!  It’s like watching miracles unfold one after another in our own home!  :)

 

September 28, 2012

It’s Official!

It’s official!

Jovia & Benja’s adoptions were finalized in the US yesterday morning!!  

It was almost exactly a year ago we were in Ugandan courts asking for guardianship of these babies.

Now they are ours forever!

Happy, happy, happy day!

Picture from yesterday at court with the judge.

A year ago in Uganda.   My goodness how they have changed!