Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010!

It has been interesting, to say the least! I'm so tired. After the week of the adoption roller coaster I didn't feel completely ready for Christmas and didn't get everything done that I wanted. The show must go on though! It all came together in the end :)

Christmas eve we celebrated with my side of the family. It is tradition with us that we have fruit crepes with whip cream for Christmas morning breakfast. Since we were celebrating in the evening I did them for anyone who could be there by 3pm. We did Livi and Maggy's presents around 5, hoping that Vanessa's husband would be able to join us for adult gifts after supper. I love seeing Livi and Maggy so excited! They have such wonder for everything. It is so precious. As usual, Livi got spoiled by her Marmee and Aunties. I think her favorite gifts were her baby doll and stroller from Auntie Sessa, her purse where she is now keeping all her jewelry from Auntie Liz, and the tea set from her Marmee! I have already enjoyed many delicious cups of make-believe tea :)
Loving her tea set. 
Apparently I carried a tea set around with me when I was a kid.

 Auntie Sessa brought Disney Princess Christmas Crackers.

We went to my mom's church's Christmas eve service. The most perfect part of that experience was when Livi was feeling left out from not being able to be on stage with the other kids and not knowing any of the songs they were singing, during a silent, somber part of the service she yelled out at the top of her lungs "LET'S SING POKER FACE!" People on the other side of the auditorium heard her. It was hilarious! I laughed so hard I was crying!

We went home and put our exhausted child to bed then went upstairs for our Turkey dinner! Delicious as usual! We were still holding out hope that Josh, Vanessa's RCMP husband would get there but apparently he was in the middle of an arrest and couldn't get away early as he was hoping. Lame! The life of a cops family though :( So, we opened the adult presents with out him and since we couldn't get a hold of Sean on skype from China, he wasn't there either. For the first time in three Christmases my sister Liz was there though! It felt really nice to finally have her for a Christmas with Livi. I'm so thankful that we are all starting to heal. It felt right to have her there again :)

 Vanessa made the Martha Stewart-esque Turkey!

After a long evening we finally went to bed only to be woken up by Livi having her first official asthma attack! Jon's never seen an asthma attack so he was pretty nervous. Livi was scared too. She kept wheezing and crying which scared her more and made her wheeze more. Thankfully, we had some asthma puffers on hand, even though we've never used them. The aero-chamber just made Livi more upset though... and she then threw up. Poor baby! Even through her screams we did get some of the medicine in her and she started breathing better and settled down. It was a rough night though. I think Jon and I were on edge that she'd have another attack and Livi was over tired and feeling crumby herself so we were all up about four or five more times. Christmas day night wasn't any better. She had a few asthma episodes that night. I lost count of how many times we were up. We tried to have her sleep in our bed, we took turns sleeping with her. Livi was more aware that crying made her breathing worse though and tried to calm herself and called us before she got too scared.

Christmas Day was very busy, all the more on no sleep! Jon and I had exchanged presents the night before (I got a pair of designer jeans that I love but could never bring myself to buy and Jon got a DVD series of the old BBC Sherlock Holmes that he had mentioned he wanted.) We just watched Livi open her gifts; a dump truck and bull dozer/digger (we got two so the girls could take them outside in the summer and each have one), and the "prized" gift of a microphone! It has a disco ball on the stand with buttons for applause and drums! She has carried it anywhere we will let her since.
 Seeing the presents!

Playing with the microphone

As soon as we could get ready, we hit the road! Our first stop was the Abbotsford Hospital to welcome baby Iris! Our friends the BK's had a baby sister for Jude! Livi was so cute and concerned for the baby. I can't wait to see her as a big sister! It was so fun seeing little Iris. She looks so much like Jude did as a new born... only a little plumper. It brought back so many great memories too and even Jon said it made him want to have another birth child!
Livi's newest soon-to-be play mate!

We then went on to celebrate Christmas with Jon's family. We opened presents in the morning. Livi got a ton of various art supplies which she is really excited to use... although she may not know it yet :)  We tried to put Livi down for a nap, but I guess her stomach was a little upset from the change in routine and all the extra food she's been eating. She had a pretty amazing diaper surprise for me after only an hour of sleeping. She wouldn't go back to sleep, so we played and visited for a little while until I took her back upstairs to try for another nap. I slept with her this time and we both got an hour of rest in. We both REALLY needed it. We had yet another delicious meal and made it home before it got too late.
Livi was trying to help with the family tradition of 
reading the Christmas Story before presents.

Opening a Christmas magnet for her knew magnetic art board!
On Boxing day, we had one more family gathering. My Mom's side of the family got together for food and fun! Livi was so tired by this point and had big bags under her eyes, so we just stayed for over two hours. It was good that we did go though because my Grandpa, Livi's Opa, was able to come and was in really good spirits. It was nice to see! His health has been really deteriorating and very unpredictable.

Christmas is over and we are thinking of taking down the tree as soon as possible because of Livi's asthma attacks. We are thinking that maybe that will help. We are very tired and hoping Livi sleeps better tonight! It was a great weekend though and we can't wait for next year when we'll have two little ones to enjoy!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Not For the Weak of Heart!

I've heard it joked about that adoption is the easy way out... HA! That is sooo very wrong! What a roller coaster!

I'll start with updating you on our Citizenship issue. We got word from our MP office on Tuesday that our application was found, had not been lost, and been approved! We should receive the confirmation in the mail soon! Fabulous! This feels slightly bittersweet. I'm so relieved that everything worked out but we shouldn't have been put through that worry in the first place. An 8 week wait jumping to a 27 week wait without notice is absurd, then to be told our file doesn't exist was ridiculous! I shouldn't have been told that to begin with. I should have just received the approval on time. The Citizenship office gave the MP the excuse of poor workers with a high turn over rate at the call center where I got my information. This is completely unacceptable! If they have people working for them, they need to train them properly and put in some sort of process to talk with a superior or complaint center!

The same day we got the phone call about our good citizenship news, we also got a picture of Sofie! We were so excited! I had to hold my emotions back a little bit because there were some in-discrepancies with the birth date and age of the child in the picture.

Originally, when we first got the two mini-referrals of two little girls in November, we were told we could review both files without pictures and choose from there. The next day we were told we had to choose one girl to adopt from the small amount of info provided on the mini-referrals. I was happy to not have to read both files. Making that kind of choice is just so difficult! From the minimal info we had, we chose to go ahead with the girl that we had more info on and trust that we would get the girl we were meant to get. On Tuesday we got her picture... but it wasn't for the girl we had originally requested. This didn't deter us at all... It doesn't matter which  little girl is ours, we just want to make sure that there are no issues with the paper work. We want to ensure the paper work matches the child we bring home.

After a few phone calls and emails between our agency and the Bulgarian agency, we found out what's going on. Basically the Bulgarian MOJ and agency think we are crazy for doing a blind adoption for a child with Down syndrome. They also found out we are planning to skip the first trip to meet our daughter, which is extra crazy to them! The first trip is only put in place for the parents protection. The MOJ wants the parents to feel as confident as possible that they know what child they are adopting, in hopes to avoid adoption disruptions. We feel very confident that we are in for some really amazing and difficult times with our new daughter and we know this is what we should be doing. Adoption disruption is not an option, so the first trip seems like an emotional (because we'd have to leave her in the orphanage), expensive, and unnecessary trip that we can avoid.

Because they don't understand how we can blindly want this child, they want us to thoroughly review all the information they can get us on both girls and choose from that. They are sending us both files, all the pictures they can get, past and present, and updated videos. They want us to read and watch everything before with actually commit. I'm really excited to get so much information on my daughter before I meet her but how do we take one child over the other?! We wouldn't get to pick if she was our birth child! This is crazy. Plus, it pushes our time line back a little bit. We won't have all the information on both girls until mid January. Which means we can't commit until the end of January, which means we can't start all the paperwork until after that. I was hoping to have started it all by now. I'm still hoping to bring her home in the spring but it will probably be the end of spring now, instead of the beginning.

The girl who we have the pictures and video of right now is already working her way in to my heart. I don't know exactly how this is going to play out but right now we are thinking that she is our Sofie. Before we found out all about this, we announced her in our Christmas cards as our daughter. She very likely is our daughter... this is just very confusing. I'm trusting that God knows how this is supposed to work out and will get Sofie to us soon, even with all this little bumps in the road. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Privatizing Until She is Ours

Now that we have Sofie's picture we've been warned not to share any info on her as to not cause any "scandals". International adoption is so political. We don't want to create any un-needed problems with anything I write in here. I think we are going to privatize our blog just until she is legally ours. You'll need an invitation from me to continue reading this for the next few months... but I'll make it public as soon as she is legally ours!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Damn the Citizenship Office! - Update.

So, Tuesday I had faxed the info I had to the Sydney office and we had a meeting to explain our story to a representative at the MP office. I think I mentioned that in my last post. Wednesday I wrote and tried to call the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Today, I found a different email for the Minister and sent the email to that address as well. I got a generic emailed response from  that, which said I could expect a response in 10-30 days! Ummm... that wasn't flying with me. So, I sent an email to CBC :)

I got a response from CBC quite quickly and they are interested in our story :) I got scared then. I don't want to go public and piss off anyone making the decisions! I decided to call the CIC call center again, just to clarify what they were telling me my options were and apparently she found my file but was confused by it. Hmmm... Still not very reassuring. I asked her if she was personally looking at the submitted documents and all she kept saying was that she was personally looking at my file (did that mean that they had just made a file for us or that they actually had our application) and that they weren't asking for any further documentation at this time. She said that as of Tuesday (the same day I had faxed and gone to our MP) a special unit was looking after our case. She didn't know any more than that. I still did not feel overly confident.

About an hour later, I got a call from the rep. at the MP office and she said that they had a file for us... still unclear about whether that meant they had all our documents or not... and that our case was put in the URGENT category and would be assigned shortly. I'm cautiously feeling better with this news but I'm still going to be on guard until I have the approval in my hand and don't

I'm thankful that I got heard, or am getting heard. It sure pays to go to the MP! I knew adoption would be a roller coaster but I don't how much of these lows I can take! If anyone thinks that adoption is the easy way out they are EXTREMELY mistaken! We are not going to let CBC have our story quite yet. I will only go there if I think it will help again. We might be interested in giving them our story with CIC once we have Sofie, safe at home. Maybe that will help them get in shape for the future!

We are still painfully waiting on her picture. I called my agency about that today too and they are going to send another email. I asked for the picture even it the file hasn't been translated yet. I don't care. She is ours!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Damn the Citizenship Office!

Back in May we decided to apply for direct Citizenship for our daughter, instead of applying her Permanent Resident Visa first and then applying for Citizenship once she is in Canada. We were told that taking the citizenship route we would be saving money, less paper work and it would be much more straight forward.

We sent in the Part 1 application to be approved as adoptive parents and received an acknowledgement letter,dated June 2, that told us we would be assessed in 8 weeks. Since the citizenship office is notorious for long waits I wasn't too worried when I didn't hear anything at 8 weeks. I called the only public number there, which is only a call center, at week 16. They couldn't find our file based on the reference numbers I had, nor my name or birth date. The operator wasn't at all concerned and just stalked it up to the fact that my case hadn't been assessed yet. She also told me the wait time had jumped to 27 weeks and there was nothing for me to do but wait.

When we received our proposals I called again. That was week 22. They again couldn't find my file but it wasn't concerning to them. They just said I'd have to wait until week 27. I contacted my MP and asked them to make an inquiry on our behalf. They were told the same thing... we just have to wait.

Now we are at week 28. I called again and the operator couldn't find our file. He said the client ID and receipt numbers that were on my acknowledgement letter and payment receipt did not match up with their system. The client ID number had letters that it shouldn't and the receipt number didn't have enough numbers. There was nothing he could do. I started crying at this point. He apparently felt sorry for me and gave me the non-public fax number to the Nova Scotia office, where our file is supposed to be. He told me to fax all the documentation I have along with a letter telling them what has happened and hope for the best.

Immediately, through tears I wrote the letter and immediately faxed it. Jon was livid. We also contacted our MP office, who was angry for us. She also prepared a fax to send to the number that they have and hopefully they take note of one of us and can figure this out. Jon says the next step is the Minister's office! He is not going to accept anything that is going to keep Sofie in her orphanage longer than is needed. I love my husband!

This is potentially a huge set back. Sofie will not be allowed in country unless we have her citizenship, a PR visa or emergency Visa. To get the emergency Visa we'd have to go to Romania, where the closest Canadian Embassy is, with all the paperwork from Bulgaria before we can take Sofie home. Starting the PR route now would set our adoption back a few months and restarting the Citizenship route is looking at 9 months! I'm feeling distraught, frantic, angry, etc... The thought of Sofie having to stay alone in a orphanage that doesn't have all the bare essentials because some stupid government agent screwed up is heart-breaking! I feel helpless.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

So Impatient

It seems like everyone and their dog is pregnant or has just had a baby. I am so ready to join that club. I feel very over due. I need patience... or Sofie. I could do without patience :) It looks like our Christmas cards will be a little late. I'm hoping to put her picture on our Christmas photo card so I'm holding out for it :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Brag-fest on Livi!

With all this adoption stuff taking off I've neglected gushing about my 5 year old... I mean 2 year old :) Some one commented on one of my facebook pictures that Livi is quite mature. I know I have a really easy child. I probably don't know how easy I have it but I've never really thought of Livi as mature. People are always surprised when I tell them, or Livi tells them herself, that she is two. I don't really have anything to compare her too so I don't really think of her as exceptionally advanced or mature. She is just normal to me. Smart, yes, but not mature.. big kids can be mature, not my baby :) Aren't all two year olds like her?

When I do stop to think about it and compare her to other kids she is doing really well and I can see how people are surprised that she is only two. She is big for her age... around the 80th percentile for height and weight I think. She talks really well and very clearly. She can carry a pretty good conversation even. She is very interested in having me explain everything to her. The most recent series of questions has been around where babies come from. I did not think I'd be having this conversation this early. She saw a woman in labor on TV and her Auntie Danielle is due any day now with her second baby. She wanted to know how the baby came out of her tummy! I just said the mommy pushes the baby out of her vagina and that seemed to satisfy her.

Livi plays really well too... most of the time. She is still a two year old. She's always been really good at sharing and wants to play with kids, not just beside them. Because she always wants to be close to other kids, holding their hands and interacting with them we have really had to work on using her words and asking before she invades other kids personal space. I'm afraid she is going to get really hurt from a kid swiping at her... it has happened before.

At the beginning of November Livi had her first hair cut! In case you hadn't noticed, she has a lot of hair. The curls were getting beyond crazy so we needed to add some layers and try to tame them.... I don't think they can be tamed though. She did amazing! She was excited to be in the big chair, sat completely still and didn't even need to hold my hand or anything. Some times I get a little sad for how independent she is. It would be nice for her to need me a little bit!

This week she went to the dentist for the first time too! She was beyond awesome! The secretary was all "We'll probably just give her a ride on the chair and maybe take a peak in her mouth." Livi was all "I want the whole experience!" She climbed right up in the chair all by herself, sat back and opened her mouth! She sat perfectly through the hygienist's quick check, teeth brushing, floride, and dentist check! I was so proud!

 She loved the spitting machine.

We are starting to get ready for the holidays too. With the first snow fall we did a lot of playing outside and warming up with hot cocoa and began to decorate!
Enjoying the Hot chocolate!

Livi had a play date with Jude and they decorated a gingerbread house. They were really good at not eating all the candy until after the house was all done. She keeps saying "No eating the Gingerbread house until Christmas!"

We are still yet to put up the Christmas tree but that is booked for Saturday! I'm quite excited because this is the first year, in memory, that I get to have a real tree! We are going to go cut it down and everything!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Still Waiting

Still No News :( No picture. No name. No nothing. I'm feeling rather down about it. I just want her home now! I know Bulgaria is a faster and easier program than most but that still doesn't relieve my impatience.

I had been told 2-3 weeks, possibly 4, for our daughter's picture... That was 4 weeks ago. I emailed and asked for a status update and was told that the MOJ still hasn't released her file! We were told it would still be another week or two. Argh! I have a sneaking suspicion the ball was dropped some where along the line. The MOJ is supposed to prioritize special needs children so it doesn't quite make sense to me that it would take longer than the time I was quoted. Oh well, she will be home with us soon enough and these extra few weeks will be forgotten.

The Bulgarian government is not the only government that I'm impatient with right now. Canada Citizenship office is a bunch of bull! When I applied back in May to be adoptive parents I was given an acknowledgement letter that said it would only be 8 weeks for an answer... that was 27 weeks ago! How does that even happen? I've called and even got my MP to check on our case and the Citizenship office just say that the wait times can jump with out notice. They said we are due to hear an answer this week so I am hoping for no more set backs. Once we are approved then we have a second application for Sofie to become a citizen sponsored by us. It is so much bureaucracy! I'm am just praying that there is no jump in wait times for the second part of the the application. This issue has the potential to keep Sofie in Bulgaria much longer than need be. If you pray, this one would be a good thing to keep in  your thoughts for us!

When Sofie's picture does come I'm not allowed to put it on my blog until after she is legally ours. So, unless you are family or a close friend you will have to wait, sorry. We are eagerly waiting and will keep you all updated!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Alicia May

Livi watching Glee and seeing Sue's sister with DS, pointed at the TV and said "Alicia May!" It made me smile. Alicia May is the little sister with Down Syndrome from a book I read Livi, called My Sister, Alicia May. She has never associated her Auntie Maggy with Alicia May and Sue's sister looks no more like her than Maggy. I love my kid and I can't wait to see and hear how she reacts to her beautiful new sister who is just like Alicia May!

My Sister, Alicia May is really a FABULOUS book and I would highly recommend it to any family or friendships that have been touched by DS. It is about how special the big sister is to recognize how special her little sister is apart from having DS. See why I love it so much? There is a lot of really horrid, crappy kids books about DS out there but this book looks at the abilities first and foremost, of the child with DS, not the stereotypes and disabilities.

Monday, November 22, 2010


*Warning * 
This is a really rambling post that I wrote just to get all my thoughts out of my head... 
I wouldn't read it if I were you. . 

With our family dynamics about to change and things starting to progress relationally with my sister who has been estranged for two years, I've been thinking about family a lot lately. What are families supposed to look like? What do healthy parent-child relationships and sibling relationships look like? How do you raise your children to have good relationships with each other as children and in to their adult lives?

I have no idea! Jon and I were raised in polar opposite households and as many difficulties as my siblings and I have had over the years, Jon and his siblings have just as many issues between them. One up-bringing was not better than the other. We are both screwed up equally... That's probably why we put up with each other so well! We basically just need to relax, do our best and accept that we are going to mess up the kids some how, love them each unconditionally and equally, and hope that we have given them the tools to be healthy people in every way possible. 

I probably have too high of expectations of what relationships should look like and have had those expectations brought down a few notches in recent years. Things are getting better with my sister. I don't talk about it much but a lot of you know that my sister cut her family out of her life about two years ago. We've been going to family counselling for about a year now in hopes of rebuilding that relationship and just recently there has been enough healing to start seeing some progress in that relationship.

A few weeks ago my sister met Livi for the first time since she was two months old. That was a really big step for me. Livi is my world and introducing Liz back in to my world after so much hurt and mistrust was hard. I didn't want to introduce Livi in to the drama that tends to be in my family. It went really well though. Livi was a little confused. She knew she wasn't her Auntie Sessa but couldn't figure out why they looked so much alike. It was a little weird at first but Livi makes things relaxed and she tries to get to know everyone. She is a pretty amazing kid. I relaxed and it was almost like old times. There is still a long way to go in my relationship with my sister and for the whole family to heal but we are moving in the right direction.

My family has had a lot to deal with... Less than some but more than others. I always considered us really close... especially us girls. As we all got older though, our lives started to take us down different paths. We didn't have as much in common as we used to and figuring out those new dynamics was tricky, especially for me who had been in a parental role most of our lives together and has a controlling personality. I'm really close with my mom, some say a little too close. Because of the trials that we have been through together we are slightly co-dependent, but in the best sense of the word :)

With all the garbage that my family has been through we have had no choice but to be an open book. We've always communicated undisguised, with all the dirt and love that goes with it. I've learned to tame my mouth a little in recent years but authenticity and communication are still so important to me in any relationship. I don't know how else to relate to people but by being honest and I don't really even see the point. It is just too fake for me then.

I understand that there is a time and a place for true authenticity but I also don't think we are truly authentic enough. I don't mean that everyone should go and tell everyone the personal parts of your life that is not there business but I do think that family is where you should be free to be truly authentic and communicate openly. I know that as my kids get older there are things that they are going to keep from me and as a parent there are things that I am not going to tell them but I really do appreciate the openness that I was raised with... even though it was birthed out of dysfunction.

I hope to continue that level of authenticity and communication in my little family while still establishing and maintaining the authority and respect that is deserved as a parent. Hmmm... am I setting my expectations up too high again?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our Baby Girl

Well, she isn't technically a baby... but she is MY baby, OUR BABY!!! Well, soon :)

After talking with our agency this morning we had a lot of questions and gained a lot of clarity. As you know we received two preliminary proposals for little girls on Friday. One proposal only had one paragraph of information  and the other had one page. With the little information that we had, especially on the first girl, we wanted to make the most informed decision possible and were told we could request further information on both girls. I had mixed feelings about this. I was didn't want to have to look at two full files and choose one child over the other. How do you do that?

Well, it turned out that we couldn't request information of both girls at one time. We had to choose one girl that we were interested in adopting, request her information and if we we like what we see we officially commit. If we don't want to adopt her, then we could move on and request the second child information.

With our reasons and beliefs behind adoption, we will not be picking and choosing, looking for the "perfect child". Barring any extremely significant medical or behavioral issues that were not mentioned in the preliminary proposal, we are committing to the child that we received the most information on. She was the one I was drawn to from the beginning any way :) I didn't want to have to choose between the two girls and now I, sort of, don't have too! It makes the most sense to take the more complete proposal as our official proposal! We should get the full file within a few weeks and a picture!!!! :)

Our Daughter:

She is four months older Livi with her birthday at the end of April. We are expecting to have her home by her third birthday!!!! Oh My Gosh, I'm going out of my mind with excitement! She can crawl, sit and stand while holding on to something. She walks while holding someones hands, walks in all directions in a walker and can even stand unassisted for a few seconds. She claps, interacts with toys, make toys interact with each other, carries out simple orders accompanied with gestures (like come to me), and she imitates rhythmic songs and movements.

She was only 18 lbs and 76cm at her second birthday which is tiny! In the third percentile actually.... to put that in perspective Livi is in the 90th. She had a hole in her heart that closed naturally just before her second birthday and has some pulmonary hypertension. She will be under the watch of a cardiologist when she gets home. Other than that, she is perfect! She is going to be ours! I can't wait!!!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Letter

This letter was written by the birth mother of a boy born with special needs in the 1940's. It was sent along with her son as he was being sent to Woodlands, an institution in Burnaby. Back then parents were urged to give up parental rights and put their disabled children in institutions. They were told it was the best thing for everyone and for the child's best interest there should be no further contact. Thankfully we have moved past these beliefs in BC but I think these conditions and pressures are still very prevalent in Eastern Europe. I will have little to no information on my daughters birth family but this letter has softened my attitude towards them. I believe that they loved her. They did the best thing they knew how to do for her. They listened to the advice of the doctors and placed her in a place that they believed would care for her specific needs better then they themselves would be able to do. I am so thankful that my daughter's mother did make that choice. She will have a better life because her mother made that selfless, difficult decision...

To Those In Whose Hands God Has Placed My Darling son,

Dear Sirs:

This is just a few lines to outline to you some of my little boys habits. I do hope you don't mind my writing this to you.

I have put his name on all his clothes, which he has plenty of for the time being. This is the first time I have been parted from him and it seems very terrible to me just now, and yet I know it is all for the best. I  understand him so well and have loved doing everything for him for so long but my strength has given out and so now I must leave the rest to God.

He talks to me quite a bit with his eyes, but does say these few words: Ma Ma, Da Da, car, cow, I go out now, Ma Ma up, Bow Wow, Ball Boat, Walk, Nan Na meaning his granny, and when he wants a drink he says Ma instead of milk.

I have had him trained since he was two years old, and put him to the toilet every morning as soon as he is awake and mostly once or twice in the middle of the night when he wants to go he can't say it but looks down and kicks his legs and when he wants a drink of water at night he opens his mouth wide. I always had terrible trouble with his bowels right from when he was a baby, and so I have given him two tablespoons of mineral oil every night along with the same amount of Cod Liver Oil every night of this life and even then he only has a bowel movement every second night before he is washed for the night. After breakfast I dress him and put him right  in his walker which he calls his car car and he is in it until lunch time, after that a little rest and in it again until supper time, and then after that I prepare him for bed, but he loves his walker and I do hope you will let him be in it a lot, except of  course when he isn't well.

He was ruptured when very small from crying so much but this has never seemed to bother him as I have never let him cry very much. If he is naughty I just wheel him in another room and shut the door and in five minutes he has cried it out and is alright again. He is very patient and I hope you will all love him and that he gets adapted to his surroundings quickly. I am sure he will be happier once he gets used to your ways: I quite understand that he is not the only child to be cared for, that there are so many, and am only writing this because I cannot face bringing him all the way their and I thought these would be a few things you might have asked me if I had come. If there is ever anything you want me to send to him please let me know. I am packing a can of Hot Chocolate in his suit case as he loves that or cocoa but don't drink much milk except cream on his porridge in the morning. He eats and likes practically anything  except  he doesn't digest cabbage or corn very well, and does not chew his food quite as he should. I have really mashed up everything which I know I shouldn't have done.

I am sending along his toys for him to share with the others. I do hope he is allowed to play with them and have others amuse him.

My dear mother and my husband are bringing him and would you please let me know how he is from time to time and please let me know when you transfer him to New Westminster.

I am also sending along his story books he loves being read to and three little pictures to hand at the head of his bed, if you had been short of cribs he has a lovely white one he could have shipped over their, as I know there are so many little patients and I have lots of nice bedding  for him, if you could use his own little crib let me know.

I really must close now. I didn't intend to take up so much of your valuable time reading my long letter but I wanted to make things a little easier by explaining.

Thanking you all in advance for caring for my darling son,
              I am
                 Yours sincerely,
                             Mrs. Muriel

Saturday, November 6, 2010


This week I got the drive to finish up Livi and her soon-to-be sister's room. I don't know what really got in to me... especially since Jon and I have been sick with really bad colds. I think it can only been explained by the "nesting" instinct!

My sister came over and cut in on the edges while I rolled the bright purple paint on :) I took advantage of Jon staying home sick on Thursday and drove out to Richmond to pick up the girls' beds. I found them on Craigslist for a VERY reasonable price from a manufacturer. I got both bed frames and one mattress in my Mom's minivan!

Thursday night things were clean and set up enough for Livi to sleep in her new room. Livi was literally bouncing off the walls with excitement for her new room, but when it came down to being bed time Livi had some anxiety. She cried on and off for a bit while we coddled and tried to comfort her. She only took about an hour to settle down and slept the whole night through! Nap and night time the next day were not an issue. She loves her new bed. She loves her new room and continues to drag us back to play with her in it.

Friday, I finished transferring Livi's clothes and putting up pictures....

This is Livi's bed.

I love the picture on the wall. It inspired the room.
Very Alice in Wonderland-esque.

After running around all day and setting up the girls' room I finally sat down around 7pm to check my email. My heart jumped as I saw one from our adoption agency with the subject "Bulgaria"! Why did I wait until after hours, before a weekend to check my email?!?! Our Dossier was accepted and registered and attached were two proposals for little girls needing a Mommy and Daddy! Jon was sitting beside me and we started reading. I was crying. One of these girls is my baby!!! I still can't believe it!

The proposals were both not very complete and did not have pictures. We have to make an official request to get the full packages of information, which we will be doing on Monday. Both girls were born in April 2008, so they are 4 months older than Livi. Both girls have Down Syndrome, both are in the same orphanage and, from the little information we have, both seem to be developmentally quite similar. How do we choose?!!!! This seems like an impossible task.

We'll be waiting to make our official decision until we have the full files, but we know that one of these girls is our girl! We'll be asking our agency to hold back the pictures of the girls and only send us the one of the child we choose. Since they are both in the same orphanage, I don't want to know which child we said no too and have to leave her in that orphanage. It would break my heart more than having to make this decision. It seems so absurd to choose one child over the other. Please don't get me wrong, this decision is going to bring one of the best blessings for our family and I don't really believe that there is a wrong decision here... I just want to make the right one. Does that make sense?

Stay tuned for more info!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween 2010

Here's my little Ladybug! 
In the afternoon we went to the mall to get some extra use out of Livi's adorable costume. It wasn't the event in Chilliwack that it was in Abbotsford last year, but it was still a lot of fun! Livi was awesome with all the other costumes. Nothing scared her. There was a scarecrow handing out candy that scared some of the kids. Livi was just excited to go up to him and say hi! Someone in a Death costume didn't scare her either. She thought it was a lion and wanted to give it a hug. I love that looks don't scare or confuse Livi. She is interested in everyone no matter what they look like and wants to get to know them.

Before we went out for Livi's first official trick-or-treating Livi was SUPER EXCITED and kept saying "let's go! Let's Go!" I think she overstimulated herself a little because before we left she "needed a little break." We did not put her in time-out...

The first house we hit was, of course, Marmee's. She didn't quite understand that she wasn't supposed to go inside. Livi got better with her "trick-or-treat" as we went up the street. It started off as a whisper but got louder and stronger. She almost always said "thank-you" too!

There was one house that Livi had been very excited to visit. It had a giant inflated pumpkin on their yard. She saw it from a block away and talked about after each house. When we finally got there she started getting really upset that she couldn't go and touch the pumpkin. She stopped listening and threw herself on the ground. I calmly asked her if we should skip this house all together. 
Livi whined "yyyyeeeeaahhh"
Me - "So no trick-or-treating here?"
Livi - "yeah"
Jon - "Is it just too tempting?"
Livi - "Too tempting."
We passed the house without incident and my little Ladybug returned. I love that she knew that she couldn't handle the stimulation and had to skip it :)

Surprisingly, Livi was not enamored with all the chocolate she was getting. All she wanted was the lollipops! I don't think she has ever had one before so it was something new. We gave her the choice of one candy after trick-or-treating and this is what she chose...

It was really a fun evening and a very successful first trick-or-treat! I'm pretty sure I was with the prettiest Ladybug in the town!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Great Soother War of 2010

There is a small window around one year old when most children are ready to give up there soother. We missed it or didn't care enough about it at the time. Recently, Jon and I decided that this would now be a good time for Livi to give it up. We have been talking with Livi for weeks now about giving up her soother to the Fairy to give to the babies. She was on board with the idea and even excited about it. I came up with the idea, inspired from her 'Olivia Acts Out' book, to send her soothers "up, UP, UP to the moon!" to the Soother Fairy to give to the other babies. When she made it through the night soother free the Fairy left a present. In Livi's case it was a baby doll with her own toy soother... we were hoping to reinforce the idea that soothers were for babies. 

 They are all tied on...
 One last pep-talk...
 Ready... Set...

The first night was hell. She cried on and off for 2.5 hours! 15 minutes of crying, 30 minutes of play... the hours went on like this. She eventually wore herself out and fell asleep. I think she woke up once that night, but I can't be sure. It's all been a blur. 

Each morning since she has woken up an hour earlier than normal or been up for over an hour in the night and slept in. She has not napped except for on the third day out of shear exhaustion. Getting to sleep at night has heard less and less crying every night but the quality of sleep has not improved. 

Surprisingly, Livi has only asked for her soother once the first night. She understood that it was gone but does not seem to have the tools to put herself to sleep with out it. We have tried EVERYTHING we could think of and even researched for new ideas on the internet! We extended her night time wind down routine, introduced a bottle for before naps, put towels on her window to keep her room darker, rocked her like I did when she was a baby, tried sleeping with her, tried to show her other things to suck on (thumbs, fingers, blanket, fuzzy), tried to teach her to rock herself in bed, tried white noise, let her cry it out, jumped to coddle her at the first whimper, gave her lots of praise for sleeping soundly, etc... NOTHING worked.

Yesterday was day five of little too no sleep for all of us. Livi was barely coping, not listening well, hyper and grumpy at the same time, not sleeping and I was officially sick with the flu. Sleep deprivation did not help my immune system. Livi wasn't not napping because she was ready to give up her nap, she didn't know how to put herself to sleep without the a soother. She needs sleeps for her health and development. I needed a nap. I needed my sanity! After one and half hours of Livi not napping yesterday, I was defeated. Livi had won. The Soother War of 2010 was over. I gave her a soother. She slept for 2 hours. I slept for 2 hours. I feel like a bit of a failure but we all needed our sleep. I had already discussed the possibility with Jon after he had been up with her for nearly an hour the night before. He almost gave it to her then :)

We gave it our best shot but realized she was not yet ready to be soother free. We are instilling more stringent rules around it now though... in hopes of maybe weaning her off of it instead of the cold turkey approach. She is only allowed to have it in her bed when she is sleeping. We already had a nap and night time rule but would let her have it during morning cartoons and evening wind down time sometimes. No more! Only in bed!

Am I being to harsh on Livi and myself? I think this soother thing is bothering me more than normal because all the literature says 2yrs is about the cut off time. She should be ready. Livi has always been on par or ahead of the literature. I know I sound like a total controlling mother/stuck-up cow but when you have a child as easy as Livi has always been, it is hard not to expect every parenting step to be just as easy. She is going to be a horrid teenager just because I said that, isn't she?

I think the other issue going on here is my own. Realizing it has made me more okay with letting her have her soother back. I sucked my thumb until I was almost 11years old. I was very self-conscience and, I'm sure, teased about it. My mom tried EVERYTHING to get me to give it up. It turned out that leaving my birth father did the trick :) It was a coping mechanism for me that went on for longer than was normal. I need to remember that Livi doesn't have the need for that coping mechanism.... this is just a developmental phase that she is not ready to give up yet. I need to step back and watch her for when she is ready, not tell her when she should be ready.   

Friday, October 22, 2010

My First Born

I haven't updated on Livi recently. Well let me just say that she is AWESOME! I love being her mom. She makes it easy... most of the time. Lets face it, she is a 2 year old.

Her language skills are sky rocketing. She continues to talk non-stop but her annunciations are getting so understandable! I really love it. She is starting to say some pretty hilarious things...

Me: What's that on the wall Livi?
Livi: Just pizza, Mommy.

Me: Don't eat the Playdoh Livi.
Livi: I not eating Mommy, just tasting.

Livi: (as we were driving up a really big hill) "Up, Up, Up to the moon!"

Livi: (after being woke up by selfish Mommy and Daddy for midnight cuddles) "Where's the rainbows?"
I think we must have got her out of a dream for that one.

It seems to me that Livi has a very developed imagination for a two year old. She has been talking to her stuffed animals since she was about 18 months old. Now she has whole conversations, makes me kiss them goodnight, has me talk to them instead of her, has them clean up after herself and describes the delightful scenes she sees in her scribbles. Have I mentioned that I love it?!

Being a two year old she is slightly manic. Her ups are very up! Shrill and screechy in a pleasant sort of way. Her lows are loud and stubborn in a very frustrating sort of way. I'm scared for her teenage years! I entered Livi's second year of life thinking that if these were the "Terrible Twos" that everyone is talking about they aren't so bad... but apparently they don't really start until they are 2 years old plus one month.

I slowly started time-outs with Livi just before she was 18 months old (I think) and they have been great for her! We had decided early on that we were not going to spank or use any form of physical punishment on our children. With my background I don't trust myself to spank when I'm not angry and I can't emotionally handle a man spanking a child... even if they do it properly. So, we started time-outs as more of a break from things when Livi was acting up, to remember how she is supposed to act. It has been awesome. If she is getting frustrated she will put herself in time out and come back to the situation calm. I love that it isn't seen as a punishment to her. I like consequences much better. Generally, I just ask her if she needs a time-out or is she going to listen to mommy. If she chooses a time-out she comes back, apologizes, gets hugs and kisses and does what I was asking... generally speaking :) She is two. 

Potty training had been a breeze up until a few weeks ago. She had been pee trained within a day and poo trained within two weeks. Well a few weeks ago she started having more than the odd dribble before she went on the toilet and even had two poo accidents! The number two accidents happened when she was playing really hard so I can excuse those with she being preoccupied but she seems to have regressed with the peeing for some reason. She is not having full on accidents. She is just having a rather large drip (big enough that I have to change her pants too) and then holding in the rest until she gets to the toilet. There is no new stressors in her life that would justify regression so I'm a little puzzled. Someone suggested that she may have been to young to begin with, but I really don't believe that. If she were too young, she would not have been potty trained in a day and have a near perfect record for nearly three months. I'm don't really know what to do so we've gone back to the basics... chocolate chips when she poops on the toilet and putting her on every few hours whether she says she has to go or not. It seems to slowly be working.

Livi is in a big girl bed and she LOVES it. EVERY morning the first thing she tells me is that she slept in her big girl bed and she's been in it for over a month already. It isn't actually a real bed. It is just her crib with one of the railings taken off. We are holding off on the official big girl bed until we move her to her new room. it just saves us from having to assemble and take it apart more than once.

Livi has recently mastered zipping up her own jacket with out any help from Mommy or Daddy. She can take her shoes off alone too but refuses to even try pulling her pants down alone. She doesn't like getting her hair done but understands it is a necessary evil to getting it out of her face... It is always in her face. She can open most doors now but still stays in her room in the morning until we come to get her. She will sometimes open her door to see if she can see anyone but shut it if no one is there and return to her stuffed animals to play. The only time she really cuddles is if she is watching cartoons and definitely has her favorite shows : Sesame Street, Elmo's World, Super Why, and Dinosaur Train.

She has developed the art of fake crying. She can actually do it really well but it always starts with a "meh". I can't help but laugh, but I probably shouldn't. She has begun crying to try and get things. She has also begun having some major separation issues with going to nursery. When we talk about it at home she is really excited to go and play with all the kids and toys, but when we get to church and start walking to nursery she starts getting really clingy. If I leave, she throws a crying fit. I feel terrible and haven't left her without me or Jon. Its so unlike her so I don't know whether to cater to her or push her through it. She is fine with being left at other places, it is just nursery. This week her Auntie Danielle is supervising so I'm hoping to get there with Livi and hopefully her Auntie Danielle can help Livi get back to normal.

Last Monday we went to the Apple Barn! What a fun place! They had a petting zoo that Livi loved! She went on her first hayride and wasn't afraid at all! She didn't go on the zipline and the slides were  really steep and fast so we didn't let her go on them. Aside from the petting zoo the pillow trampoline was the biggest hit! She had so much fun!

The petting zoo was her favorite part.

She tried to pick it up but it was too heavy...

So she sat on it instead!

She had so much fun on the pillow trampoline,
but there was some bigger kids on it so she spent a lot of time on her bum :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanksgiving Whirlwind

As you could probably gather from the title of this post, Thanksgiving weekend was a whirlwind of friends, family, food, laughter, and a whole lot of love! Apart from three Thanksgiving meals with family, we got to celebrate Jon's best friend get married too!

Friday night we went out to the delicious rehearsal dinner and ended the evening with a spur of the moment date with my love! He took me out for a night cap and creme brule! Saturday we had a delicious ham dinner with my family and as usual played Scrabble! 

Sunday was our really busy day! We woke up that morning and thankfully had all our bags packed or we would have be really behind schedule. We left Livi with my mom because she was going to go to the Wiggles with her Aunties that day! I had bought tickets for us forgetting that we had a wedding to go to. I couldn't sell them so Livi still got to use her ticket and "she" invited her Auntie Lisa, who was visiting the mainland for the weekend, to take my place! Livi had a blast, and Auntie Lisa enjoyed seeing Livi have fun... I'm not sure that the Wiggles was her first choice in concerts :)

After we said goodbye to Livi, I dropped Jon off to hang out with the Geoff and the rest of the grooms entourage. Jon was the best man. I went to finish up my make up and make an appearance at Jon's extended family gathering's annual Thanksgiving wiener roast! The wedding started and the bride looked gorgeous, the groom cried, my husband looked dashing up there in his suit :) The party as a lot of fun! Good food, friends and I actually enjoyed dancing! I'm not a dancer but I let loose and danced the night away... thanks to a few drinks :) 

Monday we enjoyed a lovely breakfast and conversation at a cute little coffee shop in Fort Langley with some friends and then went to meet up with Livi, who had stayed the night at Jon's mom's house after the concert. We had yet another delicious meal that afternoon of Wetaskiwin Ribs. No turkey this year but that was fine with me :) Everything else more than made up for that!

It was a really great weekend. I have a lot to be thankful for... I'm thankful for my family, for precious moments with Livi, cuddles and love with my husband, good talks with my mom, laughter with my sister, and even china pictures from my brother! I'm so thankful for all the supportive, understanding and tolerating friends in my life that make me laugh, listen to me when I bitch and push me out of my comfort zone. I'm grateful for my beautiful grandparents who have taught me so much. I am also thankful for good food, great alcohol, family weekends, sleep, a child that sleeps, fireplaces, fall sunshine, flowers, sushi, Egyptian cotton sheets, beautiful dresses, cameras, music, pedicures, the allure of princesses to little girls, Glee, massages, Christmas, okay... I'm slowing down now so instead of trying to think of more stuff I'm just going to end :) Happy (slightly late) Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bulgarian Q & A

Monday night Jon and I had the opportunity to talk with the president and vice president of Anido, our Bulgarian agency! This evening was just what I needed at this stage of the adoption. I don't feel any less eager to get things moving with the adoption but the anxiety I was feeling has been relieved... for the moment any way :) The information was first hand and complete. I got a lot of the rumors I'd been hearing cleared up and some reasons behind things cleared up. It was invaluable and I'm so glad we got to go.

International adoption is ever changing, very political, and quite based on relationships between agencies. People who think adoption is the "easy" way out are very mistaken. Our Canadian agency, Sunrise, had gone to Bulgaria a few years ago to start developing their relationship with Anido and it was their turn to come check things out here. They started the evening by giving us a bit of a synopsis of how things looked in Bulgaria as it related to adoption. It was a lot of info to take in so I'm just going to write out some of the more pertinent parts that relate to our developmental special needs adoption... which is DEFINITELY not the norm for Anido.

- There are four types of orphanages in Bulgaria...Ages 0-3, 4-7, 7-18, and severe special needs orphanages. Down Syndrome is classified as a severe special need. (Sadly so is deaf and blindness, even if they are developmentally typical.) In the typical orphanages the children have all their needs met (aside from the obvious downsides of orphanage life). The special needs orphanages are not so lucky and "are not is as good a shape" as the vice president put it.

- 90% of the orphans are given up because of poverty. Their parents do not have the resources to care for them.10% are given up because they have health issues. It is the 10% that we are interested in :)

- Children are available for international adoption after one year of age.

- An interesting cultural difference in looking at ages is if you say in your home study that you want child "under 3", you will get a proposal for a 2 year old. If you are open to a 3 year old you have to say "under 4 years old."

- Another rumor that was cleared up for me was the 2 month proposal thing. I, along with a lot of other people, understood that the agencies shuffle files of children between them every two months. This had me really worried about correct timing for finding our child and frustrated with how inefficient that process was. Thankfully, this is misinformation. There is a centralized registry of all the children. When an agency does take a file of a child to propose to a family, they can only hold on to it for two months to make sure no other agencies take it and propose it to another family. This ensures families don't get attached to one child only to have it be adopted before they finish up their own paper work. That does happen in many other countries.

- Once our Dossier is accepted Anido registers us in the Adoptive Parent Registry and we are put on the list. The Ministry of Justice then looks at their list of children and starts going down the list of parents to see if any of the kids meet their criteria. Special needs kids are prioritized. The wait time for a typical, healthy child under three is 3 years... the wait time for a kid with DS is 3 days - 3 weeks!!! Can we all say YAY!!!!

I had a hard time relating to the other potential parents in the room. We were the only people in the meeting interested in adopting a child with special needs. We were the youngest couple in there. We are not looking at a long wait. One woman I talked to has been waiting 4 years already! We (thankfully) don't have grief issues around not being able to have a biological child. I can't imagine the grief that this causes but I get frustrated at the idea that adoption is a way to guarantee parents get a "perfect" child. One woman was frustrated with the fact that there was no way to ensure the birth mother hadn't drank during the pregnancy. This is Europe we are dealing with here... everyone drinks! Perfectly "imperfect" children are the way to go!

So what's the hold up with our Dossier? Well, Bulgaria has a lot of National holidays, like stats in Canada, so their vacation days add up. They don't need to use them because they have so many long weekends. So, the government forced people with too much vacation banked up to take a vacation... which was everyone. Everything stopped and there is at least an extra month added on to everything. We were told between 2-3 months for our Dossier to be approved. It now looks like it will be closer to 4 months. We are almost at the 3 month mark for our wait. Once we are approved though, our waiting should be almost over! I do have to remember that international adoption is very unpredictable and tons of different things could happen or go wrong.

One really exciting thing that Anido told us is that we could probably get a video of our daughter with, or shortly after, our proposal! That will be so fabulous to see her moving and maybe hear her voice and her laugh. How incredible! I just have to detach myself from thinking of her in an orphanage that doesn't have enough of the bare essentials for all the children. I don't know how I'm going to cope with leaving her there after the first trip. I cry just thinking about it. Our friends had a really great experience with the orphanage that they picked up their son from. Hopefully ours isn't as bad as I'm imagining. I need to stop imagining.

I think this evening was really good for Jon too. When we started this adoption process Jon had just started a new job. Most of his attention was going to that and I was in charge of all the particulars with the adoption. I find all the info, get all the paper work and just keep Jon up to date and involved where he needs to be. He knows he wants to adopt but has not begun the attachment process like I have. I think it takes some guys a little longer than moms. It took Jon until after Livi was born to be attached to her, where as I was in the process of attaching since the first time I felt her move in my belly. I think this evening made it a lot more real for him. He couldn't sleep that night because he was "too excited about the adoption!"

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I'm still waiting. I'm tired of waiting. I want to bring my daughter home. I was so sure that everything was going so smoothly up until now. Doubt is starting to creep in. I hate it. I'm getting emotional whenever I think about the adoption... that might also be due to the fact that Livi is teething and I was sick. I have to catch up on the sleep that I've been missing. Livi has been waking up at least 3 times a night due to her sore molars! Not normal for her and I am missing my sleep :(

So, where are we with the adoption? Well, I emailed my agency last week to check up on things. I'm sure they are thoroughly annoyed with my incessant questions. They told me that our Dossier is "actively being translated". Since it has been two and a half months since we submitted our Dossier to our agency and we were told that this stage of the process takes 2-3 months, I'm assuming/hoping that means it is being translated in Bulgaria. Once we are translated and accepted to adopt by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice we officially begin waiting... or hopefully choosing.

I'm having doubts about how long the right referral is going to take though. Like I said in a previous post, they already have our homestudy and we haven't received a referral, even though I know there are waiting little girls who would fit in to our family. I've also received second hand information that the two girls we were starting to consider are being adopted. Don't get me wrong, I'm so happy for them and I hope they have incredible lives... I'm just very eager to meet our daughter.

I think the other trigger to my over emotional state is the that if we hadn't decided to adopt, we would have started trying to get pregnant around now. I'm not feeling the urge to get knocked up at all. I'm just feeling so ready to get on with this adoption! There are so many things in this adoption that are completely out of my control! I don't do well with being out of control :)

The other disheartening thing with the adoption right now is that we haven't heard from the citizenship office. There is two parts to the citizenship process. I've sent in the Part 1 application in and got a response that it would take 8 weeks for a response... That was almost 17 weeks ago. I haven't followed up because I've heard that this office is notorious for this. I will be following up this week though.

The one good adoption news I have is that the connecting agency from Bulgaria is here in Vancouver next week for a conference. Monday night I am going to a question and answer night all about adopting from Bulgaria! I hope this trip of theirs is the other reason our Dossier acceptance is taking so long.

Please pray, or do whatever you do, to help bring our child to us. I'm tired of waiting.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sick and Whining

I'm looking at a pretty busy week and I'm sick. Why do you always get sick at the worst times? My daughter is at the tale end of her cold too... she started it all. Jon is continuing to ward it off with a strict regiment of whiskey. It works. I forgot to take some at the onset and got sick. Jon burned those germs up with the kick of hard liquor and remains healthy. It is only a matter of time before we start giving it to Livi to keep her healthy! (Maybe I shouldn't have written that down :P)

On top of Livi being at the end of her cold, she is a little off too. My mom took her to church this morning and Livi wouldn't stay in the nursery with out her. Then when Jon took her to church tonight (I stayed home sick) she cried again, wouldn't play with the toys and ignored the other kids. This is very unlike her. She usually jumps into the nursery... or anything... without a second look back at Mom or Dad. I'm hoping this is just a short little phase because I am sick. I'm supposed to work the next three days in a row and am hoping she is okay with staying with Gramma, Marmee and Daddy. I feel so guilty leaving her when she is like this. It is so rare that I feel I should cater to it... like she needs a little extra Mommy time right now for some reason that I can't figure out. Maybe she is teething? How many molars are kids supposed to get?

Okay, this is a really boring post. I'll understand if you didn't read this far. I'm sick. I'm complaining. I'm not looking forward to working three days in a row.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Confessions of a Mom with Attachment Disorder

This article nearly made me cry. I think the possibility of not attaching to my future daughter is my biggest fear with our adoption. I can deal with "bad" behaviors, different medical issues and even her not attaching to me, but if I can't attach to her I won't want to deal with anything. This article really hit home and is a must read for any adoptive parents and anyone supporting those adopting parents.

Confessions of a Mom with Attachment Disorder
That's right, I have attachment disorder, not my daughter
September 01,2010 / Dawn Choate
Maybe I should have left my name off this one. Perhaps I could have been one of the anonymous writers who change their name to protect their identity. I will probably open my inbox to find I've been booted off a Yahoo adoption group or two after this confession. I'm sure I won't be invited to the next LifeBook creation group or called up by the Discovery Channel to cover my next adoption. But, I'm not really confessing this to win any popularity contests anyway. The truth is, I am quite certain that what I am about to confess is a dark, deeply held secret of other adoptive parents out there and I am just the one with the big enough mouth to say it. Okay, here I go.

I have attachment issues.

Yes, me. Not my daughter (our second adoption), although she has her own set of attachment issues, too. But I am talking about me. After a year and a half, my heart still struggles to latch on firmly, to feel free and open with her, to feel the wonderful bonded feeling of being completely attached in heart and spirit to another person. I still catch myself looking blankly at her, wondering if I even know her yet. I am still more easily frustrated by her, less patient, slower to forgive and recover after she misbehaves. I still have to fight feelings of wanting to pay more attention to the children with whom it is easier to feel close. And sometimes I am the one who can go without contact with her and not feel like I even miss her absence.

Before you lynch me, before you throw me to the Yahoo group trash bin, before you black list my name to every agency on planet earth and turn me in to Dr. Phil and his evil message boards.
Let me leave you with some thoughts just in case this strange phenomenon ever lurks its way into your adoption fantasy and threatens to turn it into a nightmare.

Why Adoptive Parents Face Difficulties in Bonding
There are many reasons an adoptive parent may experience difficulty in bonding with their new child. Post-adoption depression is actually a term used now by many therapists and experts in the field. Below are some possible reasons a parent might struggle with bonding:
  • Unresolved grief over a previous child-related issue (such as miscarriages, inability to conceive, previous adoptions that fell through or previous difficulties with an adoption)
  • Previous experiences with attachment issues with an adopted child
  • Adopting an older child who no longer exhibits the natural baby/toddler development stages that promote bonding with a parent
  • Adopting out of birth order (this can make navigating the baby of the family developmental stage tricky)
  • Attachment issues in the child that cause the parent to feel rejected
  • Inability to communicate adequately with the child (language difficulties, speech issues, special needs issues)
This is, of course, only a partial list of the myriad of possible reasons a parent may feel that block that prevents the free-flow of emotion from parent to child. It is a list that we could mark off multiple items that relate to our experience. When we adopted our daughter, she was 3.5 years old. While she still had much of the baby look to her rounded cheeks and pixie face, her behaviors were not in any way like a baby. When I tried to follow the advice of re-parenting her (treating the new child like a baby in certain ways), it only became a source of frustration for us both. She would bite the bottles or pacifiers until she chewed them off, she would regress and wet her pants since she thought that was what I wanted her to do (behave like her little sister), and all the effort didn't produce any real feelings of change in either one of us because she seemed to grasp that she was really not a baby and didn't particularly want to be treated like one.

Another issue we faced was that it was an out-of-birth-order adoption. Although there are many successful cases of this type of adoption and we do not regret having done it ourselves, it certainly presented us with challenges. Our younger daughter still needed to be babied in some ways, and it was tough to make sure that our new daughter was receiving the amount of attention she needed. In addition, you really can't trick your mind into seeing a child who is not the baby as a baby. We were learning firsthand how those critical baby years form that soft foundation of bonding before you have to face the more difficult toddler years with a child. Yet we had missed all of that with her and were thrown head-first into the tougher toddler years.

Communication was also a great hurdle for us as our daughter came to us not only as an older child who had learned over 3 years of Mandarin, but as a child with cleft lip and palate that severely impaired her ability to speak at all. Once again, I was startled to realize something we take for granted in parenting other children that is such a vital key to successful bonding was missing in our relationship with her. Even now, if you ask her why she is crying, she can rarely answer you. All you get is,'m crying! Language and communication are the cornerstones of relationships and it is very tough to find alternate ways of communicating with a child who is impaired in a way that truly brings understanding and the ability to form bonds and attachments.

Perhaps the most critical key to understanding my struggle to bond to my daughter, however, is to understand the struggle we had to get our first daughter to attach to us and how that struggle impacted and scarred my parental psyche. Over time, I have learned and recognized that the awesome weight I bore in the journey to help our first daughter through her struggles left me far more emotionally exhausted and wounded than I had realized at the time we completed our second adoption. After all, Hannah was doing great by the time we adopted again and was getting better everyday. The battle was over (for the most part) and now our new daughter was quiet, gentle and much easier to care for than Hannah had been. How could I not be okay and bond instantly with her?

Yet when the first crying jags started, even though they were not nearly as wild and uncontrollable as had been Hannah's, I found myself holding my new daughter up by her shoulders as she wailed and shrieked, looking her straight in the eyes, and pleading with her, I'M NOT GOING TO DO THIS AGAIN!!! I CAN'T DO THIS AGAIN!!! Red flags should go off at that point. Someone with a megaphone might as well have been screaming at me, SECONDARY POST-TRAUMATIC SYNDROME!!! Of course, I had no idea what that even was at the time. It took a few late nights of internet searching before I recognized it several months after it began to surface. My heart had been greatly wounded before, and now my emotions and spirit were struggling to bear up under another child's journey through grief.

Strategies for Navigating the Journey to Attach with Your Child
After months of agonizing over the lack of attachment I felt towards my daughter, we slowly began to piece together some strategies that we hoped would eventually build the necessary bonds between us. Over time, we noticed small changes that eventually led to even more significant changes. Though the process is slow, the effort and energy we have expended has always eventually paid off. Here are some of the strategies we used that have contributed to the growing bonds between us:
  1. If your child is out of birth order, separate time out specifically for that child away from the children who are younger. Find an activity that suits the new child's age and personality and make it a special event between you. For example, my daughter is very domestic (unlike her wild, Harley-riding sister). So, when I bake an apple pie (okay, this is a rare activity), I bring her alongside of me to help instead of Hannah (distracting Hannah by telling her she can go swing from the trees with her brothers, an activity she would prefer anyway).
  2. Do not feel like you have to follow all of the tips of re-parenting if you adopt an older child. When we tried many of the suggestions (giving a bottle, pacifier, etc.), we found it just frustrated us and did not build any connections with her. Those methods may work well with some children, but our daughter did not respond to them, so we had to move on and treat her like the age that she is instead of trying to regress her. She was happier when we did and we found connections with her easier when we did not try to treat her like something she wasn't.
  3. Work hard to find skills, personality traits, and talents unique to your new child. We tried many things until we discovered what a great swimmer our new daughter was. So we spent extra time developing that in her, praising her for that skill, and used the time in the water as a way to attach to her. Some of my best interactions with her and most affectionate times are in the water.
  4. Give yourself permission to not have to feel all gushy about your new child. It is okay if it is not a fairytale. It does not make you a bad parent or evil. It is what it is. Many days I told myself that I was just going to be a good babysitter that day and gave myself permission to not have to force myself to feel anything else.
  5. Work through any unresolved emotional issues you may have that are blocking your ability to bond. If you have issues of grief, resentment of previous failed adoptions or attempts to bond, or secondary post-traumatic issues, it can really impede your ability to connect with a new child. Get help if necessary.
  6. Find at least one person other than your spouse that you can be completely honest with about your struggles . You might need to air some feelings that can cause some to judge you. But if you don't have at least one safe, outside place to vent, the pressure can build and cause further damage to your relationship with your child.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, no matter how you feel, no matter what your emotions tell you, after all is said and done and you have done everything you can to change your feelings.just keep moving forward anyway. This may sound simple, trite or ignorant of your needs. I certainly stress the need for you to have time away, time for yourself and time to vent to others. But in the midst of all that, there are many days you have to just realize that you made a choice to bring this child in and whatever you do or do not feel towards that child, love is a choice.

Choosing to love your child mentally even when you do not feel it emotionally is a powerful step in the journey to bonding with your child. The rewards for that choice may not surface immediately. The process may be very slow and lacking in immediate gratification. But every day that my daughter laughs a full belly laugh instead of a weak giggle, every time she spontaneously comes to me with arms open for a kiss and says, I love you, Mommy, every time she comes running to see me when I return home with a giant yell, MOMMY'S HOOOOME!!!, I realize that though the journey is long, we will get there. Though I have doubted at times, I know it is true. What you reap, you will sow and one day I know there will be a bountiful harvest in my relationship with my daughter.

This is not an adoption that was microwavable. I could not create insta-attachment for her or for me. No, this is a relationship that is in a long, long simmer. Every once in awhile I get a whiff of what it will eventually be. I cannot wait to taste it fully, but until then, I will keep kissing her good-night, brushing her long, beautiful hair, biting my tongue when I'm frustrated, and hugging her just as fully as I do my other children. She's worth the wait. I hope she thinks I am, too.

(I took this from HERE)