Thursday, August 26, 2010


While we were on the Island we got to enjoy dinner with the Keno's! They are a family with lots of experience with adoption and people with special needs. They have three birth daughters, one adopted daughter and four adopted sons. Three of their sons have Down Syndrome and the most recent addition is from Bulgaria! They are obviously great inspirations to us and a fabulous connection to have as we go through this process ourselves.

Jon got to know the Keno family as a teenager at church in Port Alberni. They gave Jon his first introduction in to the world of the differently abled :) Aside from including all their children in the church community, they used to run a summer camp for special needs adults and asked Jon to come help out one year. Since he had just been laid off, he agreed to go and figured it would be a good experience... even though he was kind of terrified and had no idea what to expect. The relationship that developed with the Keno's and their children, as well as the experiences he had those summers were invaluable. They gave him a new perspective, a new world view, and a new understanding. It was the foundation for Jon to fit in with me and my family so well. The passion that began to form then grew in to a career that Jon loves and now in to becoming a father to a child with special needs as well. Basically, if it weren't for the Keno's we probably wouldn't be married, Jon wouldn't have a fabulous jobs that he loves, and we wouldn't be adopting our second precious baby girl!

Dinner was so informative. I should have taken notes because now I am finding it difficult to remember all the information they gave us. Basically, I asked all the questions I could think of. We heard all about their experiences in Bulgaria. Practical things like what to eat, how to tip, where to go, what to expect, how the travels were, what the people were like, what to expect at the orphanage and how they got by with the language barrier. We asked all about meeting their son and how the transition and attachment has gone, how other people reacted to them adopting and how they dealt with that. The dinner (which was delicious) was so informative... I'm still processing everything. I don't think I'll really understand everything they went through and experienced until we've personally gone through it all ourselves... I am not saying we are going to adopt as many kids as they have :)

One of the biggest things I have learned from the Keno's is to have an attitude of gratitude towards Bulgaria. (I'm really sorry that rhymes but I can't think of any other words and Jon won't help because he enjoys seeing me frustrated!) I have struggled with resentment towards the cost of adoption and the hoops that you have to jump through to adopt a child that they don't care for effectively and may not even want. The Keno's have modeled a thankfulness to the country for entrusting them with their precious child. They are right. I need to be thankful. I am thankful! I am blessed to be blessed enough to have a home where their child can thrive! The hoops that we have to jump through are safe guards to try and ensure the children are safe. Many countries, because of political unrest and war, don't have the means to care for these children and are doing the best they can. We need to be sensitive to that and walk along side them. Yes, international adoption is expensive but most of those fees go to the agents, lawyers and travel. We pay thousands of dollars to the agents and lawyers involved in selling and buying our homes... these are our children we are paying for!

Talking with them has raised up a few more questions and concerns too... The main one right now, as we are waiting for our proposal, is that Bulgaria does not have the most efficient child registry to refer orphans from. I'm not entirely convinced that they prioritize international adoptions, let alone special needs adoptions, as I have been told they do. With the amount of special needs orphans in Bulgaria we should have numerous proposals already. Although we have not been legally approved in Bulgaria, we've been told that they have our home study and could send a proposal any time. I'm anxious and impatient to know who my baby is and that plays a lot in to my uncertainty about waiting. We can't make an official decision until we are approved anyway.

So, where are we in our adoption? Well, our Dossier, which is our application to adopt from Bulgaria, has been sent to Bulgaria. We are waiting for approval from 5 different sections of the government there. Once all 5 approvals are given, we will be put on their adoptive parents registry. Even if everything goes smoothly and they don't require any updated paperwork, it takes about two months. We are around the 6 week point in our wait. Typically, after we are on the registry this would mark the beginning of our waiting for our proposal (although with us adopting a child with special needs the proposals could come any time).

 There are two children in our sights already... both not official proposals because they are both a little older than we thought we were thinking. We have been talking about it and discovered that we are a lot more open to an older child than we originally thought. We decided from early on that we would wait until we are accepted by Bulgaria to make a final decision for which child we are going to bring home. We may get more referrals by then too. (This is such a weird situation to be choosing our child.) It is very difficult for me to be patient! I can't help but wonder if one of these girls is our daughter... and yes, we did ask about adopting both of them :) We can't adopt two unrelated children at one time. So, our soon-to-be daughter may not be who we originally thought she'd be but I know that she is going to be perfect for our family and us for her :) I can't wait!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Have A 2 Year Old!

My baby girl turned 2 yesterday... Who thought I was old enough or mature enough to have a two year old?! I love my baby girl and am so thankful to be blessed as her mom. She is truly an amazing child... although definitely entering her terrible two's!

I was looking through the pictures of Livi's first two years and realizing that she is growing up way to fast. I know that is so cliche to say, but you truly understand it when you are watching your children grow up. I have a real little child now. She talks so much, frequently in full sentences. She does have a little bit of a lisp that is pretty cute. She is starting to get quite accomplished with feeding herself and drinking out of a real cup. A lot of the time, she prefers it if we help her because when she does it herself she gets frustrated if she spills. One of her favorite pastimes right now is jumping. She jumps all the time, everywhere, off of everything. She has become quite good at it but I'm sure a broken limb is in her future. Livi can count. She sings a lot. She is starting to learn her colors and a letters. She loves playing with other children, particularly ones who are slightly older than her. She is still my fearless little daredevil who keeps us on our toes but she is getting a little better at using caution and listening to our rules.

As per tradition, on Livi's birthday I took her "Good Morning!" picture...

Then went out for a little mini photo shoot! I think I got a few beauties...

We a a birthday party too. It was actually a combined party for Livi's birthday, my belated birthday and our housewarming! I think about 25 of our dearest family and friends came out to celebrate with us. We felt very loved. The weather forecast was looking pretty bleak but it turned out to be beautiful! I knew it would :) The kids had a lot of fun, minimal melt downs occurred, and I think the adults enjoyed themselves too!

 Instead of a birthday cake I made adorable ladybug cake-pops... They were a hit!

"It's my party and I'll cry if I want to!" 
She didn't want to wear the helmet :)

 Thanks everyone who came out!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beach Day!

 We went to the beach on Sunday and I took just a "few" pictures :) Enjoy...

 Playing in the sand. Loving getting dirty!

 All clean!

 Beach Babe!

 "Not throwing rocks"



Monday, August 16, 2010

The Island

We ventured over the water to Vancouver Island last weekend. Particularly we went back to Port Alberni for the first time in four years. The last time we were there was for Dad's final sermon at Arrowsmith Baptist before he moved to Langley to become the BCBC District Minister... The Pope of the BC Baptist Church :) Jon's mom joined us. She had been back since but this was her chance to show Livi off at church! We went back for the wedding of a dear friend of Jon's that he grew up with. 
We took precautions for the sake of the car seat and put some training pants on Livi, instead of panties, for the 7 hour journey. She was dry the whole way! She used all the strange toilets with out complaint! Mommy was so proud :) We caught an earlier ferry and Livi napped in the car on the way from Naniamo to Cathedral Grove. I wanted to make a quick stop in Cathedral Grove to show Livi the old growth forest. She was pretty amazed by all the big trees. 
Friday night we had the opportunity to visit over dinner with the Keno's! The Keno's introduced Jon to the world of disabilities... so really I have them to thank for preparing my husband for my world! The Keno's have had numerous foster children with varying disabilities over the years and, after having three biological children, they adopted five more! Three with Down Syndrome and one of those three from Bulgaria! Visiting with them was invaluable. I felt so honored being able to glean from their experiences of parenting children with DS and their adoption from Bulgaria! I think I'll save all my thoughts on that for another post though.

After dinner we stopped in at the rehearsal dinner for a quick hello and to meet the groom. We'd heard all about him but never had the opportunity to meet him. They have been living in England. Cambridge to be exact. David, the groom, is even more of a intellect than Jon and won a scholarship for his Doctorate to Cambridge! I don't think I've ever met some one so smart in real life :) It was not the best circumstances to really get to know him but Jon and David both agreed on a rain check and discuss the things that only intellectuals find remotely interesting over a bottle of whiskey... Very CS Lewis-esc. 
The wedding the next day was beautifully perfect for the couple... despite the rain. They are catholic, so of course said their vows in a Catholic church. The plan was to have the though-out community focused reception in a local park, but the weather did not co-operate. Fittingly the reception was held in the church that the bride grew up in... Arrowsmith. I think it was great for us too be in the church again for the first time and not have it be a Sunday morning yet. Jon enjoyed seeing many of his old friends and showing Livi off... although I think his mom enjoyed showing Livi off even more! She was awesome to have along. She babysat Livi while we were at the Keno's and during the wedding ceremony, which was over Livi's nap time. She also helped out A LOT on the ferry rides, long car rides and during the events. 
At the end of the wedding Livi found the unattended, and still on, microphone. 
She started singing along to the bak ground music and working the audience... 
who of course all thought she was adorable!

Sunday morning was not as emotional as I was preparing myself for. I did keep expecting to see Dad come around a corner or sitting on the stage. It was a little weird to sit through some one else preaching from "Dad's" pulpit. I only got a little teary eyed once when Mom took Livi to the front with all the children to get dismissed to Sunday School. Dad was usually the one to tell the little story and pray over the kids before they left. It might have been my imagination but I think there was a little extra bustle of activity and shifting in seats as Mom took Livi to the front. I wish Dad could have been there to take her up himself. He would have been so proud. 

By the end of church Livi was overdue for a nap. We went back to our host's home for a few more hours while Livi napped and we packed up the car. We headed for Naniamo that afternoon, not missing ice cream from Whiskey Creek of course! Dad would almost always offer us a stop there if he was picking us up or dropping us off from the ferry. It was very fitting to end our trip to Port with Whiskey Creek.
We stayed one more night in Naniamo so I could hold our first Chosen Children meeting. We are really starting to see some progress with the Society but still trying to figure out all the CRA stuff. I'll post about that another time too, once I have something more concrete to report on. 

We missed the early ferry we were hoping to catch, but it was probably very good that we were early for the next ferry since the terminal was so busy. The ride home was uneventful except for one little adorable "uh oh" of Livi's. We had again taken precautions to save the car seat from any accidents so she was wearing her pull-ups again. As we were waiting in line at the ferry terminal Livi informed us that she had to use the toilet. So, Jon jumped up threw her over his shoulder and ran the two blocks across the parking lot to the washrooms. I don't think he thought about the impact that the repetitive bouncing on her bladder would have because half way there, Jon heard "uh oh" from behind his head. I laughed... a lot. 
Hanging out the sun roof waiting for the ferry!
We were very happy to reach our home and, more importantly, our beds. We had to share a room with Livi, while in Port, who decided it was play time at 6 am each morning because Mommy and Daddy were right there! Not sure how this is going to work with camping in two weeks!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Potty Training Update #2

Day 6 - Livi partially pooped in the toilet for the first time! We had some friends over and one of the kids was a one year old still in diapers. He had a poopy diaper. While he was being changed, Livi also started pooping... she told me while she was going. I raced her naked body inside to the toilet (they had been in the pool) and had her finish going on the toilet! I thought we had got it all in the toilet at the time. Hooray! I'm counting that as a partial win. To my dismay when we were outside later, I had the misfortune of stepping on a  runaway turd.

Day 7 - Livi has peeing in the toilet down but she did have a pooping accident today. We cleaned it up and put it in the toilet. I was showing her where it was supposed to go, hoping she figures it out.

Today we also started trying to get Livi to pee in the toilet without her potty seat. She was having none of it. We were on a walk and happened to be close to a corner store when she had to pee. I tried to get her to use the big public toilet but I think she was too scared. She held it for 15 minutes until we got home! In the afternoon we went to hang out upstairs with Auntie Maggy and Marmee. When she had to pee I just took her to Marmee's toilet, without the little seat. She didn't like that and wouldn't pee. This happened two or three times until she couldn't hold it anymore. She peed in the big person's toilet! Hooray! I feel much better about going out in public now.

Day 8 - We went shopping in the morning and she had to use the toilet so here was our test... she passed! Without even blinking she let me hold her up on the big toilet and peed! YAY!!! Still no accidents with peeing.

Day 9 - Livi woke up from her nap and was still wearing her diaper when I realized she was about to go poop. I scooped her up, told her to hold it in and put her on the toilet. She didn't want to sit there and poop until I handed her one of her favorite books... and she did it! Mommy was REALLY proud. I'm hoping she has it figured out now and will tell me before she has to go poop instead of me having to read her properly.

She also had her first two accidents this day but I'm chalking them up as my fault. I was busy cleaning and unavailable to her. I didn't immediately jump when she said she had to go so we didn't quite make it. The second time she was in time out. She isn't supposed to talk in time out so she ended up having an accident. She was so upset about it too. I felt pretty bad :( Every time out since I've explained to her that she can't talk unless she has to go to the toilet.

Continuing Potty Training - Since then I've lost track of her progress. She is doing great though! Basically she is pee trained... with only the odd accident very occasionally. We are still working on the #2 part though. It is hit or miss with that. Thankfully she doesn't have very messy bowel movements :) We went to the Island last weekend and she stayed dry the entire trip to Port Alberni! We had used extra precautions and put her in pull-ups, but put her on the toilet every stop we made. She stayed dry! One accident on the way home because we were in the car in the ferry line-up when she told us she had to pee. Jon jumped out and threw her on his shoulder and ran. I don't think the bladder bouncing on Daddy's shoulder was very good for her control because half-way there Jon heard "uh oh" from Livi. I laughed :)

All in all, potty training has been way easier than I thought it would be. I hope any other children I have are going to be this easy! I'm not holding my breath :) We haven't attempted nap or night time training yet, I think I'll wait until she is in a big girl bed and has conquered dressing herself.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

6 Months

It's been six months since we committed to adopting a little girl and giving her a family, bringing home a sister for Livi, another daughter for Jon and I. I am definitely getting impatient. I'm ready to see her face, hold her in my arms, give her a kiss, start discovering her personality, see her playing with her sister (who is already starting to talk about her!), and bring her home! I try not to think of where she is right now, the possibilities make me too sad. I pray that she is in a good orphanage, if there is such a thing, and not in an institution yet.

We are still waiting to be accepted and registered in Bulgaria and we are not expecting that until the end of August or even September, assuming all the paperwork is in order. Apparently, August is a really slow month in Bulgaria for getting things done because everyone takes time off and holidays. We are really hoping for a referral any day, but I get the feeling that the agency in Bulgaria is not trying very hard. I get the feeling that the children with special needs are not very high on their priority list. They have our Homestudy so they can match us at any time but the system in Bulgaria is a little crazy. Agencies only have the files for adoptable children for two months before it gets sent on to another agency. I think there were some changes recently made to develop a national registry but it is still new and I'm not sure how efficient it is... or how it incorporates children with disabilities or in institutions.

I know six months isn't long to wait for an adoption but it still doesn't make it easier. As soon as our Homestudy was over I wanted my baby home! If you pray, please pray that things continue to go smoothly and we get the right referral for our little girl tomorrow!!!