May 17, 2013

Waiting Baby Boys!

AAI has a couple of SUPER cute baby boys waiting for a family. 

Baby boy 1 and baby boy 2 are both in W. Africa.  Their country requires parents be over age 30, have a “small family” and married 5+ years.  

Baby boy 1 is a year old.  He has developmental delays and suspected cerebral palsy.  
Baby boy 2 is 7 months old.  He has multiple special needs. 

Families interested in inquiring about baby boy 1 and/or baby boy 2 should email gay@adoptionadvocates.org 

Baby boy 3 is in E. Africa.  His country has somewhat flexible requirements for children with special needs. 

Baby boy 3 is also a year old and has been diagnosed with craniosynostosis and other special needs.  There is video available of this little guy and he is CUTE!  

Families interested in baby boy 3 should email marquita@adoptionadvocates.org

Thank you for spreading the word and helping us find families for these precious baby boys! 

April 27, 2013

A Trip to the Dentist

Some kids enjoy the dentist more than others….
Mayer happens to think the dentist is great fun!  :) 

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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 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 25, 2013

Three Years Old!!

Three years ago, in two different parts of Uganda, two precious babies were born.

Both babies ended up making their way into the life of an incredible woman in Uganda named Annie.

Annie introduced me to these precious babies – Benjamin when he was about three months old, Jovia about ten months. 

{Some of the first baby pictures I received of J & B.  These are the pictures I stared at for months and months as we waited for them.}

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I can’t believe they are three years old!  

We are filled with joy that these two amazing little ones joined our family.  I just can’t imagine life without either one of them.  

Happy 3rd birthdays Jovia & Benjamin.  You are so, so loved!!!!

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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.

February 23, 2013

Benja Medical Update {Learning about Seizures}

Oh my, where to even start!

I haven’t posted a Benja medical update in a while, but if you’ve been following me on Facebook you’ll have seen some of the drama.

Backing up a little, Benja had one seizure shortly after he came home from Uganda.  We took him up to Children’s hospital where he had an MRI, EEG & CT scan.  Everything looks “normal”  so they sent us home and said it was likely febrile (because of a fever).  An entire year went by with no seizures so we decided that it was febrile and didn’t think a lot more about it.

Then, out of the blue, a few months ago he had an “episode”.   I wasn’t sure exactly what it was but his arm was twitching a little bit and he was super tired.  (Now I know it was likely a seizure).  Then, Benja had his first, real seizure in a year.  We were playing in the living room when he started acting weird and then started seizing.  But it seemed like a weird seizure – he screamed and cried through the whole thing.   It lasted for about 11 minutes.  We decided to head up to the hospital.   They checked him out and then just sent us home with diastat (to stop a long seizure) and with a referral to go back to neurology for a follow up.

Neurology scheduled us for several weeks out.  We took him home and a week later he had another seizure.  This one lasted 13 minutes and did not stop when we gave him the diastat.  So we headed back to the ER, this one in our home town (the closest ER to us).   They checked him out and gave us a referral for another neurologist so we could get a second opinion.  That neurologist couldn’t get us in until after the appointment with our current neurologist but we went ahead and scheduled the second opinion anyway.

Finally it was time for the neurology appointment with his regular neurologist.  We shared everything that had been happening and the neurologist scheduled another EEG (for a month away!) and told us to start him on seizure medicine.   He gave us a script for Keppra.

A few days later he had two seizures in one day – they definitely  seemed like they were increasing.  These two were scary because the entire right side of his body seemed paralyzed after the seizure.  His face was drooping, arm/leg were like a wet noodle.  It took an hour or so for him to get back to normal.   I debated whether to take him back to the ER (I was concerned about a stroke!) but we finally got a hold of someone in the neurologists office who said it sounded like Todd’s Paralysis – a period of paralysis following a seizure.   It was scary!

Benja’s been on Keppra for 2 full weeks now and hasn’t had another seizure since.  They started him on a really low dose and we’ve been slowly upping it.  Today was the first time he had the full dose.  We’re hoping it continues to work and he won’t have to have it increased.   The Keppra seems to make him moody and uncoordinated for a few days after we up the dose but then it seems like his body gets used to it.

His second opinion neurology appointment is scheduled for next week and his EEG scheduled for the week after that.   I don’t know if we’ll find out any more than we did before but we want to cover all bases and make sure our little guy is getting the best medical care possible.  I’ll keep everyone updated!   Thank for praying for our little guy!

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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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