Archive for ‘special needs adoption’

August 2, 2013

Uganda/Zambia Trip – Part 3

Our time in Uganda was a flurry of activity so instead of sharing day-by-day I’ll just share some stories, highlights and pictures.

One of the highlights, for me personally, was the chance to see a family that is very special to me.  I won’t go into details here how we are connected to this beautiful family, but we are.   We were in the neighborhood anyway (as close as you can get to being in the neighborhood!) so we decided to swing by and see how they were doing.  They were very excited to hear that we were coming.

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The red dirt of Uganda.

We were told it wasn’t far.  I’m not sure what standards these folks are going by, because it was far!  To get to their home we took a small, dirt road.  We bumped and bounced down that road past tiny little villages until we reached smaller dirt roads where we bounced and bumped some more.  Finally we got to the end of the road where we stopped and started walking on a path through some coffee beans into the middle of a field.  There was a clearing in front of us and then, the most darling little home.  This is where the mother of this family and her three children (and one nephew) live.

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The home.

The home is one room.  There is a  bed with a mosquito net over top.  The children sleep on mats on the floor.  All cooking/bathing/socializing is done outside.   There are few other small homes like this scattered around the clearing.  This is their community.  While we were talking the girls came back from fetching water at the well.  This is how they get all of their water.  There are no sinks or bathtubs, there is no electricity.  But their little home is beautiful and they clearly take pride in it.

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The children who live in this small community.

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Carrying water from the well.

It was such a blessing to see their family and home.

One of my favorite parts of these trips is checking on the kids who wait for families and trying to find ways to show all of YOU just how amazing they are.  I had the privilege of visiting with some absolutely adorable kids – of all ages and abilities – who are waiting for families.   One of them was this little guy.  He just couldn’t stop giggling!  He has the most infectious and beautiful smile.  Can you imagine how much a family would have with him?  He really needs to be adopted!

Collin from sister haiti on Vimeo.

Collin

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July 29, 2013

Uganda/Zambia Trip – Part 1

I am headed to Africa today!  I’m going to miss my kids so, so much!  But I know this is going to be an incredible trip.  I’m excited!

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My flight to Detroit was delayed.  Looks like I may miss my flight to Amsterdam.

Well, I made it to Detroit and after a record setting stop in a Detroit bathroom I ran to my gate and found that they were still boarding.  Thank the Lord my gate was in the same terminal!  Otherwise I wouldn’t have made it.  7 house to Amsterdam, here we go!

The flight to Amsterdam wasn’t bad.  I saw next to a nice Dutch man going home.  Food was decent.  Read and watched movies for a few house then fell asleep for two hours before we landed.

Hello from Amsterdam!  I had a quick breakfast at McDonalds then headed to my gate.  I decided to stand the whole time I was in Amsterdam since I had been sitting for most of the last 8 hours and will be sitting again for the next 10 hours.  Just waiting to board now.

We are in Harare.  Man that was a long 10 hours.  We have an hour here and then we’ll be headed to Lusaka.  Interesting fact – on my flight to Harare I sat next to a professor of psychology who did her master degree on the effects of institutionalization on children in Lusaka’s orphanages.  We had some great conversations and exchanged contact info.  Headed to Zambia now!

Hello from Zambia.  Oh my goodness, there was a lot of drama getting to my hotel.  We got to the airport at 10:30pm but because immigration took so long (long!) it was after midnight by time I got my bags.  I was the last person to go through immigration (boo) so by time I got outside the airport to find my ride I was one of the last people there.  My hotel shuttle wasn’t there.  I turned on my phone to call the hotel but my phone wouldn’t work.  There were a couple of porter type guys milling about and I asked one of them if I could use his phone to call the hotel.  He said yes.  I got a hold of the hotel and the man at the desk said he would call the shuttle and then call me back.  No one called back.  I tried the hotel again and he said he was sorry but the shuttle was no longer running and I should get a taxi.
I asked the men standing around about taxis.  Of course, every one of them claimed to be a taxi driver or knew a taxi driver and offered to drive me or call their friend.  I felt weird about getting in a car with a strange guy from the airport – it was at this point 1am in a city I had never been in.  I was alone at the airport and was nervous.   A man with a uniform from another hotel came up and said his shuttle could drop me at my hotel (for the right price of course).  It seemed like the safest option so I agreed.   I was still a little nervous but we finally got to the hotel safe and sound.

My room at the hotel is nice – it’s modern and clean.  But you know what else it is?  COLD.  Oh my, I didn’t realize it would be this cold here!   I went to bed with ALL my layers on.

Good morning from Lusaka!  I’m here a day early so I’ll just be exploring a little today and then will have dinner with some new friends tonight.

Lusaka reminds me of Kampala in some ways but is also quite different.  It seems strange and familiar at the same time, if that makes sense.  It seems more developed in some ways – lots of shopping malls and the streets aren’t as crowded.  I got my money changed to Zambian Kwacha and got airtime for my phone (my Ugandan sim works in Zambia!).  I got a few groceries and then headed back to the hotel to nap before dinner.

I had dinner tonight with my new friend Beth and her adorable son!  I’m excited to see what this week brings, we have a lot of meeting scheduled for the next few days.  Our goal is to determine whether to government will be willing/able to have a special needs adoption program to the United States.  We are praying that everyone is receptive and the path is made clear!

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Part 2 coming soon.

 

June 21, 2013

Jovia feeding Benjamin

Jovia is such a good big sister!  She’s so motherly with Benjamin – comforting him when he cries, scolding him when he’s doing something he isn’t supposed to, yelling for help when he’s fallen down or needs something, trying to help dress him and now…. feeding him.  :)

(It’s melting ice cream cake, in case you wonder what kind of green goo we feed our children!) 

Jovia feeding Benjamin from sister haiti on Vimeo.

June 19, 2013

Benja loves his “Signing Time”

As many of you know, Benjamin has hearing loss.  He is deaf in one ear (the ear with microtia) and has moderately severe hearing loss in his other ear.  He wears a Cochlear Baha hearing aid with headband.  When he’s about 5 or so they will surgically insert a cochlear implant.

In addition to having hearing loss, Benjamin has a craniofacial condition that essentially “locks” his jaw shut.  He can open his jaw a few centimeters.  He also has a large un-repaired cleft palate.  These things combined means that Benjamin is mostly non-verbal. He attempts to speak (makes sounds) but no words actually come out.

We began introducing ASL to Benja in the form on baby signs shortly after he came home.   We did this through the book and DVD system “Signing Time”.   I can’t recommend this program enough.  The videos are so informative while at the same time very entertaining.  Benjamin happily sits and signs along during his daily Signing Time.  He loves it!   He now has a vocabulary of about 10 signs he does regularly on his own and a handful more he does when prompted.  Believe me, the difference between no language and being able to “say” 10 different things is huge!  We have seen such a decrease in his frustration level now that he’s able to tell us what he wants.  And the best part is, he really WANTS to sign!  He makes up signs constantly (babbling in sign, so cute!)  and seems eager to participate when we try learning new words.

I wanted to share our success so far with Signing Time and recommend it to anyone who is looking for an easy and fun way to introduce ASL to your young child.  We couldn’t be happier with it.

Benja signing time from sister haiti on Vimeo.

June 5, 2013

Waiting Child Alert!

This adorable young man is Barry. 

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Barry is 8 years old and has cerebral palsy.  He is described as very, very sweet and very cognitively aware.  He seems to understand most things when you are talking to him, can answer questions with “yes” and shake his head for no.  He will move his limbs when asked but because of his cerebral palsy is not able to do much else without help.  He isn’t yet sitting independently.  Barry has a few more words and can let his foster mom know when he wants to walk, when he wants to eat, and when he wants a drink.

A volunteer who knows Barry says this: 

“I consider myself very blessed to have a bond with him that I can’t explain. His foster mom will let him know I’m coming, and he starts smiling and laughing and want’s his “ma.” He and I both light up when we see each other! This little boy has so much love to give, he is always smiling! He loves to play and interact, but most especially practice walking. He is still so small for his age, still easy to carry and transfer into his wheelchair. His foster home is doing a lot of things to try and get him stronger and moving more on his own. Barry has so much potential in his movements, his verbal skills, and his communication! He needs a family now!  He does really well with relaxing massage and being stretched, and can move so much more after these exercises. We all want to see Barry get a family of his own that is committed to his care. Barry is one of the sweetest, happiest children I have known. I care deeply for this little boy and want to see him adopted as soon as possible. He is going to bless a family tremendously!!”

Barry lives in West Africa.  His country program has flexible requirements for families adopting children with special needs.  Families interested in Barry or with further questions should contact me using the form below and I will email you contact information for the agency/program.

PLEASE help us spread the word about Barry!

This sweet boy has so much potential.

I can’t wait to hear how he flourishes under the love of family.

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 20, 2013

Walking!

If you’ve ever wondered what a living, breathing, WALKING miracle looks like….well, here he is! 

Benjamin took his first unassisted steps today!

No walker, no braces.  Just walking.

Two years ago very few people thought this would ever be possible.

God has done such amazing things in this little boys life. We are so, so grateful.

He’s going to be running all over the place soon!

Go, Benji, go!

Benji Walking from sister haiti on Vimeo.

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.

March 5, 2013

Jovia Climbs

Determined.  

When I think of how to describe Jovia that is one of the first words that comes to mind.

Our sweet girl isn’t going to let the fact that she doesn’t have limbs hold her back.

If she wants to go down the slide, by golly, she’s going down that slide!  :)

I just love watching her figure out how to do things.

She’s so amazing!

Jovie climbing from sister haiti on Vimeo.