Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Still Thinking

I'm still thinking about and researching this next adoption choice. Today's task involved calling my medical insurance company and asking for some help understanding the policies. Why aren't these things taught in school - along with financial literacy? Tomorrow I have further calls to make and this Saturday I will attend another class at my agency called: How to Support Your Child's School Success. Although I've always intended to homeschool Apple, if I adopt an older child who has already been in school, she may have an expectation of continuing that and it might be right for her. I will only know when the time comes.

Every few days I learn something more that makes me change my mind about the ages of the children I'd seek or if I should try for one, two or just stick with Apple as an only child. Honestly, though, I am hoping that I can adopt two at once, plus Apple later. For the past few days, I've been leaning toward an older girl 6-8 yrs. old and a younger girl around 1 1/2 yrs. old (2 yrs. when I bring her home). From what I've read, having a large gap and being a single mom means that the girls will not be competing for the exact same thing from me.

I realize that at first, the older one needs to be allowed and even encouraged to regress so that I can baby her and complete some of the neurodevelopmental processes she missed out on, but long-term, it seems that this age spread is good. Bonding with two at the same time also has its own challenges so it might be especially rough at first.

One advantage to an older one and much younger one is that Apple will be spaced more naturally so I'll have two little ones and one big one. This will work out for the bedroom layout of my home, allow hand-me-downs in clothing (have to live on a tighter budget with three!), and this will also prevent me from filling up my highest income daycare spaces (my own children count in my childcare ratio). I can ease into the teenage years with one and have a little breather before the next, hopefully learning something that will help me with the next. I like the thought of having special things I can do with my older child that only she and I can do because she's older. Same with the little one.

I'm liable to change my mind the more I learn, so this is only the thought of the moment.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Older Child Adoption Class and More

Yesterday I attended a class required by my agency for those wanting to adopt an older child. They consider an child older over two years old. As with most of the classes I've attended, I feel it's just a repeat of what I've learned so far and I feel well ahead in my preparations for parenthood. My social worker has said I'm at the head of things, too. I was the ONLY one with a list of questions and brought of two topics that my social worker greatly expanded upon.

Now to the more part of this post. I am actually considering adopting two children at the same time as well as continuing my adoption of Apple. I would really love to do this, but the financial aspect is what is holding me back. I just don't know if I can afford health insurance for three children and myself. I am going to investigate options this week. I'm not very knowledgable about health insurance so I will probably contact an insurance agent. I would appreciate any information from you readers about getting good deals on insurance. What should I look for and where do I look?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Forty-One Weeks Logged In

Wow, three years and five months down!

Jie Jie: Next Step

My agency has confirmed that I am eligible to do a concurrent adoption from China of a child from the Waiting Child List. The list is a list of children with special needs of all degrees as well as healthy older children.

A concurrent adoption will not change my adoption of Apple. I will maintain my place in line for Apple. It won't expedite it or slow it down. However, I will not have to submit another dossier. The concurrent adoption will "ride" on Apple's dossier, apparently.

The ultimate question in the adoption equation is, "What is best for the child?"

There are advantages of being an only child and disadvantages. I've imagined life with just Apple and I have imagined life with Apple and Jie Jie. Honestly, it's easier imagining a future life with both girls. I can only imagine Apple as the younger sister, too, not the older one. This is very surprising to me since, until three weeks ago, the most likely second child scenario involved a domestic adoption of a newborn after Apple's been home for awhile, something I haven't really contemplated, but thought would be my only option.

The next step is to go through a process to help me learn more about it. This Sunday just happens to be a class on older adoption at my agency, run by MY social worker. These classes are arranged specially when there is a need. I find it more than coincidental that there is one of these classes right away. I don't like to think of these kinds of coincidences as "signs," but rather as miracles or blessings.

After the class this Sunday, my social worker will give me something she refers to as homework and reading recommendations. Then we will meet. I am very glad for this. The decision to adopt Apple was easy and clear since I heard the Still Small Voice so clearly and many miracles and blessings paved the way. The idea to adopt Jie Jie feels like it came from me, rather than God, but it's strange that as I type this it feels wrong, that it did come from Him. Either way, though, I know His blessing will be over it since I am praying diligently on this matter. To have help is this decision from my agency support system is important to me since it's such a HUGE decision. I feel better knowing I'll have guidance and a process to go through that will dedicate serious time and effort to thinking about Jie Jie and what's best for her. I would appreciate your prayers, too, specifically for:

Knowing if adopting two children is right.
If so, to be able to know my daughter when I begin looking on the list regardless of her age and ability/disability.
That all things necessary for a smooth adoption happen (money, timing, etc.)
That out transition to family life be a smooth as possible.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mandarin Classes

I began Mandarin classes today at my local adult school with a fantastic teacher. I actually took this class three years ago, but didn't move on to the next level because I stopped to care for my TuTu. After that, they were always on the wrong night or I was too poor or moving, etc...

I'm super happy that I can take them now and I have a greater aptitude now that I've done it once already. I think because of the possibility of Jie Jie I'm also more inspired and motivated to learn.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Are You Rich?

I sold one of the plastic play structures I no longer need for my daycare now that I have the wooden one here at my new house. A man and his 6 yr. old (or so) sone came to pick it up. The little boy had to go potty so I let him into the downstairs daycare area. He came out and asked if he could try my swingset. His dad gave permission so he tried it. He looked around some more. He came up to me and asked, "Are you rich?"

I replied, "No, very far from it. Why?"

He answered, "Because you have all this stuff."

I guess my place looked like FAO Wonderland to him.

I explained to him that I am a daycare provider like his mom (she's just getting started) and that during the week when moms go to work, they bring their kids over for me to take care of and then it's like a preschool here. I also explained that for a couple years before buying my house, I did what his mom did and looked on craigslist for items I'd be needing and when I found them, I stored them until I moved.

He was very cute and very smart in such a good way.

Jie Jie Thoughts Reponse

The comment to my last post was very thoughtful and I will address some of the points brought up because my thoughts flow easily when I write/type.

Clothes, toys and material things are superficial, but in my mind, I need to have a clear separation between Apple and Jie Jie and the fact that there are two little lives at stake, each deserving the thought and planning as the other in all aspects. I have bought many things for Apple. What can't be conveyed through simple pictures of objects, though, is that each thing represents time I spent thinking about my future child, planning, daydreaming, and preparing myself to fall in love with her. This is what has been most important to me when I shop for Apple. It's taking time out of my life for her, which, when she comes, will be replaced and increased to time spent with her.

From before the beginning of this adoption journey, I actually knew more about the issues of older child adoption vs. infant adoption because I used to teach piano lessons to three children who were adopted, one as an infant, and a brother/sister who were added to the family at 7 and 8 yrs. old. It really unbalanced the girl who was adopted as an infant because the older two had exposures to things that were completely foreign in this household. The abuse and neglect that these two children had suffered was apparent. In dealing with them and talking extensively with the mother, I got a very clear picture of the challenges this family faced and had a front row seat, so to speak, to the ongoing issues that persisted even after high school.

Throughout the years of waiting for Apple, I have read many, many older child adoption blogs, and read many, many books pertaining to older child adoption. I never posted much about this interest because I never thought I'd have the chance to adopt an older child. I have joined older child adoption egroups. I would not consider an older child from anywhere except China, either, due to the common exposures Easter European children frequently face, and other programs are cost prohibitive and more complicated, but I also know that Chinese children an not immune to these things.

I was extremely excited to be able to attend the premiere of Wo Ai Ni Mommy and be able to talk with Donna, Faith's mother, participate in the Q&A and speak with Donna afterward. At this time, I still considered all information gathering to help me be a better mother to Apple. I didn't realize yet that the possibility of a concurrent adoption was on the horizon.

Although I'm not adopted by my mother, I look like it enough that it was something strangers frequently asked my entire childhood. My mom is 1/4 Japanese and 1/4 Hawaiian. I grew up in a mixed-race household. We didn't label it as such, but the prejudices my mom faced were felt. I also had 4 step-fathers, one of which adopted all my siblings, but not me due to my father not relinquishing his rights. I am so glad to finally understand myself better through all of the studying I've done to prepare for Apple because many of the attachment/bonding/feelings of loss, etc... I've experienced FIRST HAND and I never knew, growing up, that it was these things that caused me to develop in certain ways and how to deal with them now!

Another very, very close family friend adopted an infant boy over twenty years ago. The child never assimilated into the family well, despite being their first child, and is now a dependent adult who lives with them. I am sending them a copy of the Primal Wound because this book is what they needed. When their son was little, there wasn't the awareness that there is now and he was diagnosed with every disorder from AD/HD to bi-polar and many in between. From what I know now, he is the stereo-typical case of the adopted child who acts out. He fits the model so perfectly that the Primal Wound could have been written by him. I was there, in their house, the first time the police showed up at the door due to something their son did and his mom said, as she approached the door, "I knew this day would come." On another occasion, I saw this boy, as a teen, nearly rip the door off their fridge because he was annoyed by something his mom told him to do that was very minor.

I am a planner and a researcher. I plan for the worst and the best, as far as possible. The most sobering books I've read to date are The Handbook of International Adoption Medicine, The Primal Wound and The Primal Connection. I have attended ALL the classes at my agency TWICE because I like to keep in touch with other waiting parents, and each time, I learned something new. I am extremely well-prepared to face what Jie Jie may come with and it does scare me. Apple may come with serious issues, too and this is scary. But I consider this risk a normal part of adoption and I've got a support system in place in case I need it. Adoption is risky. It is difficult. In some cases it's disastrous to a family. In most cases, however, it is not, and it's possible to have a happy, healthy family, with well-adjusted happy, healthy children.

A very important part of my life, the part that lead me to start Apple's adoption, is my faith and trust in God. My adoption path has been miraculous. Things have happened that go far beyond coincidence. The possibility of a concurrent adoption is not an impulsive decision, it's a wonderful blessing.

Jie Jie Thoughts

I read some of the comments on Rumor Queen on her post mentioning the new Special Interest child list. One comment did say that a single woman did adopt concurrently so I'm continuing to give this much thought and research.

The more people I tell about it, the better because it helps me think of it more and more to hear myself talk about it. I'm getting some valuable insights from moms with more than one child, too.

Here are some things I thought about today...

1. If I adopt a much older child, like a 10 yr. old, she will be 11 or 12 by the time Apple comes home. Will it be harder with that large of an age span to bond as sisters and develop and strong enough relationship that will last through adulthood? Remember, if Jie Jie goes to college at 18, Apple may be only 7 yrs. old.

2. If I adopt a toddler or preschooler, do I give her the things I've bought for Apple or buy for her specifically in mind. I began to imagine Jie Jie in Apple's crib and that was fine, but what about Apple's bedding? What about the baby doll I bought for Apple? I feel VERY loyal to Apple and in the things I've done to specifically prepare for HER. I don't feel that way about the clothes. In fact, adopting a toddler means I already have most of her clothes.

3. If I get an older child, do I put her in Apple's room then move her later to the "small" room or put her in my current room, which is the only room that can accommodate two children? How would Jie Jie feel being moved for Apple. I know this happens to bio kids all the time, but if I have Jie Jie for only a year and then Apple's referral comes, Jie Jie may feel displaced.

4. If Jie Jie is over 8 years old, she will have been in school and have highly developed Mandarin skills, reading as well as writing. I want to preserve this and I think the only way to FULLY preserve it is to enroll her in Chinese school, higher a tutor (my own Mandarin teacher comes to mind), and I plan to bring back as many children's books from China as I can pack. The public library also has a Chinese branch with good selection. If Jie Jie is not in school when I adopt her, I will homeschool her as planned with Apple.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Oranges Galore

Remember this post? I am STILL picking oranges and it's five months later! Not only that, but the tree is also filled with new, growing oranges that have already reached golf ball size. The tree has grown so much this summer that it's hard to see the ripe oranges because they are a foot or two deep into the branches now.

Fashion Friday #26

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BIG Announcement

Due to recent changes at CCAA, I MIGHT be able to do a concurrent adoption of an older child and still stay in line for Apple, even as a single woman. The being single part is the catch that I'm having my agency checking on.

According to my agency, which is still scrambling to figure out these new changes, I MIGHT be able to have the concurrent adoption "ride" on my currently logged in dossier and merely make an amendment to my 1-600A.

The idea of adopting an older child is something I've thought about in a sense of, "What would I do if...", never thinking it might be possible. After spending the summer with an 11 yr. old girl in my daycare, and having her after school for a couple years now, tutoring her, dealing with the times she's told lies, etc..., I always said to myself, "Pay attention and learn because it's experience that will help me be a better mom when Apple is older." I also often had thoughts along the lines of, "If this was MY daughter, I'd do things THIS way."

I think it became closer and more personal after attending the premiere of Wo Ai Ni Mommy last March. I didn't really connect my inquiry at my agency to the new announcement at CCAA last week, but that must have triggered something in my subconscious. I've also been looking at clothes for older girls for several months now without really knowing why, since I never planned to shop for Apple past the occasion special size 4.

On a practical note, I have no idea how I can afford an adoption right now, but I know that if it's the right thing to do, that will work itself out.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Even More Fingerprints

I remember my excitement at receiving my first CIS related paperwork, the paper saying I could get my fingerprints done which I even noted in my timeline. Now, I can't remember the day the envelope arrived this time around.

I finally opened it yesterday and was dismayed to find that, instead of a window of days, I was assigned a fingerprinting appointment for Friday, Sept. 24 at 8am. I cannot take off work, or several others must take off work since I am a childcare provider. Fortunately, today I only had three kids and had my assistant watch them while I went to the CIS office to see about changing the appointment. I'd tried calling but never could get a live person on the line.

I easily found parking, which is rare, and turned out to be a lucky omen because when I went in, the guard at the door said they weren't busy and to talk to the boss "at that table over there" and see if he get fit me in. I was in, done and out again in only 24 minutes! I think this is the 6th, 7th or 9thth time I've been fingerprinted since Jan. 2007. Now that I'm trying to think and remember, I realize it's been so many times that I've lost count!