Thursday, July 17, 2014

special needs adoption

As many of you know, we are pursuing a special needs adoption for two reasons:
  1. In China, the wait for a "healthy" child is currently running 5-6+ years.
  2. In the international adoption realm, the term special needs has a different meaning.  Here, I think we tend to think of more severe, lifelong needs.  While those needs fall into the definition of special needs in the adoption world, special needs can also cover easily manageable or treatable issues.  Depending on the country, age and being in a sibling group can automatically label a child as "special needs," even if nothing else physically, emotionally, mentally, etc. is wrong.

One of the crummiest parts of the process so far has been completing the special needs questionnaires.  These documents are anywhere from 3-5 pages long and cover a wide variety of needs.  As I mentioned in my last post, I'm not sure if we plan to disclose any of our child's needs once we've been matched.  But for now, I'm okay sharing some of the items we have considered:

  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Thalassemia (a blood disorder which in the minor form, appears to be quite manageable)
  • Cleft lip/palate
  • Ear deformity with hearing
  • Vision impairment corrected with glasses
  • Hearing deficit with some hearing
  • Deaf in one ear
  • Burns/scars on arms or legs
  • Minor/correctible heart conditions
  • Club feet
  • Missing limb
  • Webbed or missing toes and/or fingers
  • Additional fingers and/or toes
  • Limb deformity

Going through this list the first time was tough.  I beat myself up over it, because every child deserves a home and parents.  And then I beat myself up over it again, because biological parents don't get these choices and it's really probably not fair that I "get to," right?  Going through the list the second time, although not fun, was slightly easier.  We've had to become objective about this part of the process.  It's about educating ourselves and selecting the needs that we can reasonably manage.  In the end, we believe that God already knows which child is ours and it won't really matter which "special needs" we mark or don't mark.

Monday, July 14, 2014

on asking questions

We've received a few questions about what a special needs adoption is and I suspect many more of you have questions but may be afraid to ask.  I'm open to most any question right now.  Please don't hesitate to ask.  Obviously I don't want to talk adoption 100% of the time, but it's nice to know people are interested.  Plus, part of this process really is about educating others, either just for their own knowledge or because they might be interested in adopting themselves.

That said, when we're matched with a child or children, I'm probably not going to answer as many questions.  One, there will be parts of our child's life that will be her story to tell if she wishes.  Was our child abandoned?  Does she remember her biological family?  That information will remain private, for sure.  If our daughter wants to share that information when she's older and informed, then that's her decision.

I'm not sure where we'll stand on answering questions about our child's health.  On one hand, I don't want to violate my child's privacy.  But on the other hand, I have read many adoption blogs where the parents discuss their child's medical issues within reason.  Those blogs have been a great source of encouragement and learning for me.  Some issues I thought were big turned out to be manageable, at least for those kids.  So if my child's story can help another child find their family, then maybe some information is worth sharing?  I don't know.  I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

So.  What questions do you have that you have been too afraid to ask??

Thursday, July 10, 2014

ten hours down....twenty to go.

As part of our adoption process, we are required to have thirty hours of educational training.  Of the thirty hours, we have already knocked out ten of those hours through an online training module:

  • Adopting the Older Child -- We don't have it in our plans to adopt an older child, at least not right now, if ever, but it's still required training.

  • Conspicuous Families -- How to face racial stereotypes, handle intrusive comments, and embrace our child's or children's racial and ethnic backgrounds.

  • Finding the Missing Pieces:  Helping Adopted Children Cope with Grief and Loss -- Factors that affect loss, signs of grief in children at different developmental stages, situations that may trigger grief, strategies to help children grieve their losses, and resources to support children and their families

  • Medical Issues in International Adoption -- The effects of institutionalization, how to evaluate a referral, provided advice on choosing a physician and the medical evaluations our child will need prior to and after adoption, and travel tips.

  • The Journey of Attachment - How to identify factors that affect attachment, how to recognize signs of attachment, and how to understand when professional assistance might be necessary.

Here's what I learned:

  • I learned didn't need a webinar to tell me how I'll handle intrusive comments.  It'll go down one of two ways.  Here's an example question from the webinar: "If someone asks you if that is your real daughter, how will you respond?"  One of the responses was, "No, that's my fake daughter."  And that's the one I chose.  So I'll either be sarcastic....or just look at the person like they're dumb.  I don't mean to do this - honestly, truly I don't - but when someone asks me a question that I think is so basic or shouldn't even be asked in the first place, I give them a blank look.  I'm honestly trying to come up with an appropriate response, but unfortunately, the look on my face says otherwise.  So maybe I need to work on that.  Or maybe we're all so culturally advanced now that I won't have to answer any awkward questions.  Ha.

  • Medical Issues - Obviously I understand our child will come home with some (hopefully fixable) medical issues.  I'm thankful I married a former paramedic and nurse - someone who is good under pressure and understands lots of medical jargon.  I'll let him handle a majority of that.  Even though this shows how shallow I am, full disclosure here -- what I took away is the info about lice, scabies, and parasites.  That stuff really freaks me out.  Like a lot.  My charge now is to travel armed with the best, most expensive medicine the western world can provide me so I nip these problems right in the bud.

  • Attachment - Sarcasm and shallowness aside, I did pick up some good tips about attachment.   I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to discuss this more in the future, but attachment really is a big deal and luckily, I took away some nice little tips that we plan to use.  For instance, I hope our daughter or children have one special item in the orphanage that we can take and replace with a newer item, the idea being that that item will have a familiar, comforting scent.  Another tip was to purchase a CD of lullabies in our child's native language.  Great idea.  Another suggestion was to purchase and use a baby carrier both in country and at home.  Bottom line, we need to find ways to make our transition as smooth as possible so our child attaches to us quickly, learns that we aren't going away, and learns who mom and dad are.

Monday, July 7, 2014

paperwork...just the start

My mom's most frequently asked question about our adoption is whether we're done with the paperwork yet.

Nope.  The fun's just starting!

I had to take over my sewing table a few days ago to get the home study-related paperwork completed and thankfully, I got the biggest chunk of it mailed off to our agency - finally.  While I know we're nowhere close to being done, it's nice having a chunk of it off my to do list even if it's in the short-term.


For those of you who are interested, here's the sort of paperwork we had to send in for the home study:
  • Affidavit of health insurance coverage
  • Criminal background checks from each city and county we have each lived in for the past five years
  • Financial statement
  • Parental discipline policy
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage license
  • Special needs placement questionnaire (more on that another day)
  • Education documentation (more on that another day too)
  • A bunch of other random disclosures and documents
Our caseworker will then take her notes from our four in-person visits and put them together with these documents and will write up the formal home study.  We're not done with the paperwork after that by any means, but it's kind of a door that unlocks everything else -- starting the dossier (the official portfolio per se that will travel to China) and applying for most grants.
The time frame we're still looking at to complete the home study is another 6-8 weeks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

is it time for june's photos already?

Does anyone know where June went?

On the adoption front, we moved forward just a bit.  We had our fourth and final visit with our caseworker, in our home this time.  Next steps are for us to get some additional documentation submitted (more on that later this week) and for our caseworker to actually write the home study.  Estimated time for completion and then to move on from there:  6-8 weeks.

We set up shop at the Danville Handmade Market again in June.  Although it's clearly not going to be a big moneymaker for us, we were still more successful in June than we were in May.

Here is CJ hard at work making new items to sell.  We still have some alligator and camel puzzles and some wine vases for sale if you're interested!  (Email me - chasingpaperairplanes13 @ 

I found that I had much more success after last month's handmade market selling to people I know, so I decided to take the plunge and to try to set up an online presence.  I did a giveaway to kick things off.  It's over now and that llama pouch has a new home, but I'd still love for you to follow along.  Head on over to Instagram and search for @chasingpaperairplanes.  This will be the primary way we keep everyone in touch with our journey - at least through real-time pictures - so you'll want to be sure to follow along!
When I haven't been busy creating items to sell, I have been working on one of three quilts that I desperately need to finish in like the next week.  And then I've been taking a break from that by sewing up some string blocks for the Indy Modern Quilt Guild, of which I'm a member.  The other members are making string blocks as well and those will be sewn together in a quilt to benefit the Julian Center here in town.  Those string blocks are kind of fun though...I may need to start making a string quilt for know, once I finish those other 10 quilts I have started.

In an effort to regain some balance in my life, I've decided that Sundays are now my days to sew for myself for enjoyment only.  So this past Sunday, I knocked one item off my to-make list, this leather and lace clutch.  The fabric behind it is also the lining.  Now I just need someone to take me out on a nice date.

And finally, on a personal note, we did take some time for ourselves this month.  We enjoyed a nice meal on Eagle Creek, set up our (FREE!) fire pit and used it once before the temperature hit ninety degrees, and CJ also ran a 4K a few weekends ago.

All in all, it was a good month.  July looks like it'll probably be a bit slower on the adoption front, but we can still use your prayers for an even more financially successful market on the 12th!